Category: Manitoba

Father of Boreal ecology passes away

Earlier this month Dr. Bill Pruitt passed away. He was called the father of North American boreal ecology, and one of the world’s leading experts on snow ecology. I had the fortune to work at his Taiga Biological Station near Walace Lake, Manitoba during a winter, helping his student Jim Schaefer track woodland caribou. We were out skiing transects every day in -30C weather, looking for caribou tracks. Never saw many tracks, let alone caribou. But it was great experience nevertheless. Pruitt recruited me at a conference with his famous line: “we can house you, we can feed you, but we can’t pay you.”  That sounded good enough to me, and the field station was sufficiently remote, so jumped aboard a train for Winnipeg as soon as I could.

As mentioned in his obituary, Pruitt was a firm believer in true, old-fashioned fieldwork, spending as much time outside as possible. His motto was: “the quality of one’s data is inversely related to the amount of glass and metal in one’s surroundings”.

He was, however, a strong supporter of everything Finnish, including saunas. No field station was complete without one, and ideally it should be built first, so it was available during construction of other buildings.

My time at Taiga station and Pruitt’s work on snow helped to inspire me to pursue a Masters in winter ecology, observing ptarmigan in the Yukon/BC for two winters. My accommodations in Chilkat Pass the first year were simple at best – Pruitt would have approved.

Sierra Noble, another great Canadian music talent

I made it to the Paul McCartney concert in Halifax yesterday. Sir Paul’s show was impressive, and a great experience, but a surprise was the last minute addition of Sierra Noble from Winnipeg. This 19-year old Métis fiddler wowed the crowd with both her fiddling and her songs. Reminded me of another Manitoba musical talent, Eagle and Hawk.

BTW, not bad for a 19-year old to be asked on a Monday if she wants to open up for Sir Paul on the weekend, in front of about 20,000 people!

Eagle and Hawk

I recently was fortunate enough to see a performance by Winnipeg’s Eagle and Hawk. They blew us all away – amazing blend of modern rock and traditional First Nations sounds. Another great Canadian gem!

Winnepeg beats out Ottawa for longest skating rink

Ottawa may boast that it has the world’s longest skating rink on the Rideau Canal, but this year Winnipeg has beat them with their new nine km long rink. They’re expecting 20,000 skaters this weekend, while Ottawa has only been able to open a short 1km stretch, due to the warm weather.

It’s great to see that Canada has the two longest skating rinks. Of course, if ever it would freeze again in the Netherlands, they could easily beat either city. When there is ice, half the country is turned into one massive skating rink! Just a shame that they haven’t had much decent ice in the past few years.