Monday, May 30, 2011

Gizeh Shriners ~ Spring Ceremonial Parade ~ Kamloops, BC

I believe that most of us who live in North America would be familiar with the Gizeh Shriners and have seen the hats (fez) they wear and the scooters they drive in parades.  Some of us may even be aware of their connection to Children’s hospitals but I think very few of us realize the extent of the amazing work Shriners do and contributions they make and have done for the Childrens hospitals for so many years.

Parade Marshall leads the Gizeh Shriners parade in Kamloops, BC
Shriners International first began in New York 139 years ago and the Shriners of British Columbia and Yukon are 109 years old.  They have always been a fraternal and charitable organization and in 1924 began helping children of BC and they’ve carried that on for 87 years now.

Shriners have fun on their mini cars in the parade
There are now 22 private hospitals that are funded only by the Shriners with no cost to the children or the government for their care and that includes transportation to and from the hospitals, wherever that may be.  Some of those hospitals specialize in different treatments, so the kids may be taken to a hospital out of their area.  Click here if you wish to learn how to apply to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Visiting Gizeh Shriners to the Kamloops Spring Ceremonial
In 2010 alone the Shriners contributed over $5,500,000.00 to Health Care of BC. Most of this would be medical treatment but a portion is also in transporting children to various hospitals for their treatment. There is one hospital in Montreal, PQ, one in Mexico City and the rest are in the U.S. These hospitals are all privately owned by Canadian and American Shriners.

Candidates for Gizeh Shriners participate in the parade in Kamloops
This group of men are 23 candidates who have come to the Spring Ceremonial from all over the province, to be initiated into the Gizeh Shriners. They are all good sports to be willing to parade through town like this, it is all part of the entertainment the Shriners offer.
Shriners perform famous scooter routine during the parade
The scooters or unique small vehicles are all privately owned and transported here at their Shriners owners’ expense but all part of the fun that they enjoy bringing to the cause.  Their focus is on the kids and the scooters have been a big part of the organizations for the entertainment part of the club.  Many clubs have their own style of vehicles so offer a variety to the parade, as well.

The Clown unit of the Gizeh Shriners adds color to the parade
There is a clown unit as part of the Gizeh Shriners and they make a commitment to be part of the entertainment at all these events for the clubs.  They enjoy what they do and the kids enjoy them, too, it is all about the kids.

Fez hats are worn proudly by the Shriners.
Shriners International chose the Near Eastern symbolism to be their fraternity theme when it was founded in 1872 and they still wear the fez (hats) and sometimes the costumes to pay tribute to the tradition.You may learn about becoming a Shriner and how to be involved in their incredible organization by clicking here and learning more about their legacy, mission and goals. 

Kamloops Keystone Kops of the Gizeh Shriners
The Kamloops Gizeh Shriners have been a big part of many parades in the Kamloops area as the always-entertaining Keystone Kops.  They are up to their usual antics as they play to the children on the sidelines of the parade.  Locally the Kamloops Shriners have donated $100,000.00 to the Royal Inland Hospital over the past 10 years.

The Shriners Care Cruiser Program
The Shriners Care Cruiser Program is 10 years old and now has five units which travel in British Columbia transporting the kids to the BC Childrens Hospital as well as to other Shriners hospitals including Portland and Spokane, Washington.  They have carried almost 26,000 children and family in the time since they began, spending over $1 million a year taking kids to these hospitals.  If you wish to learn more about this, click here for their webpage.  They are an amazing organization.

 Just another reason why we love Kamloops ~ there is no place like home.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kamloops Art Council's Artwalk ~ Downtown Spring Arts Festival ~ Kamloops, BC, Canada

The Downtown Spring Art Festival is a three day event held during the Kamloops Arts Council’s Artwalk being held April 16 to May 23, 2011.  These are both annual events held downtown Kamloops to feature our local artists and their wares.  The event covers all kinds of art so it will appeal to all art lovers, whether your interest is in paintings, photography, pottery or otherwise.

Downtown Spring Art Festival
The Downtown Spring Art Festival has different activities included with the artwork that will entertain young and old and create a nice enjoyable setting on Victoria Street with lots of participation from the business owners.

Keishia Treber ~ Artist
Keishia Treber, a very talented young artist recently appeared in the May/June 2011 Kamloops Currents magazine where her artwork was featured on the cover as well as sharing her story ‘A Career on Canvas’ in the magazine.  There was no mistaking her beautiful painting of Marilyn Monroe on display when I visited the Downtown Spring Art Festival and it was a treat to see her work up close.  She has also used her talents to design jewelry which she had on display.  Visit Keishia’s webpage by clicking here.

Al's Wood 'n Things 250-376-2153
Retirement can be a time to relax or not and for one retiree, it has become a way to spend the winter months in the workshop making birdhouses.  These aren’t just any birdhouse, these are fun birdhouses for the swallows who like to nest in your backyard and raise their babies.  The prices are great and the birdhouses are fun to look at with all those homey touches, even after the baby birds have left the nest. Watch for these fun birdhouses at the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market.

Trina Gregson of Kamloops
Another retirement story on my visit to the Spring Art Festival was from an old classmate who moved back to Kamloops a few years ago.  Trina Gregson, daughter of Jack and Barb Gregson, following in her father’s painting footsteps, took up painting after she retired to Kamloops.  Trina is a talented musician but now also has time for her painting which shows she has talent there, as well.  She also had some of her dad’s paintings on display.  Contact Trina @ for more info.

Clowns delight all ages during the Spring Arts Festival
The 300 block of Victoria was open to pedestrian traffic only and there were stations for the kids to paint pictures or have face painting done or be entertained by the clowns.

Akimbo Dance Studio dancers
Some of the young members of the Akimbo Dance Studios were dancing in the street and entertaining the crowds gathered there. 

Kathleen Raven ~ Artist
Kathleen Raven was working on some of her art as passersby stopped to watch.  Kathleen  would explain and demonstrate the process of creating her whimsical and functional artwork.

Glen Mantie Pottery
Glen Mantie had a booth set up with many pottery pieces as well as a window display down the street that shows he was inspired by “the roots of culture all over the world”.

Andirondack chair by Muriel Miller
Muriel Miller has given this andirondack chair a great dramatic design, which will certainly make it stand out from the rest on someone’s patio.  It is part of the Kamloops CanGo Grannies Art Chair Auction that will be held May 26, 2011 in the Terrace Room at TRU.

Community Band Festival
Different bands were featured throughout the event with more local musicians also playing in other locations of Victoria Street. Music is always an attraction and many were able to sit and enjoy the big band sound during this performance.

This event gives us a wonderful way to see some of the artists that Kamloops has to offer. There are some that are new to the Art Festival and some we recognize from other exhibits but there is something for everyone when it is such a diversified assortment of mediums. Wandering through the downtown displays is a fun way to show support for the artists that are willing to share their talents with us and to thank the merchants that give the artists window space to display their art during the Artwalk.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kamloops Railways ~ CPR ~ CNR ~ Kamloops, BC

Kamloops has a long history and much of that includes the railways.  It all began in 1879 when Sir John A. Macdonald, the Prime Minister of Canada, called for tender to construct 206 km (128 mi.) section of railway from Yale, BC to Savona’s Ferry on Kamloops Lake. The Canadian Pacific Railway, commonly referred to as the CPR was founded in 1881.

Kamloops Lake, Kamloops, BC
CPR hired workers from China, called coolies, and other workers including European, called navies were also hired to construct the railway lines as we know it now.  The Chinese were paid less but did the most dangerous jobs including explosives. They were treated poorly but played a major role in building the western stretch of railway.

Railway tracks follow Kamloops Lake edge
Following WW 1 and several changes to the systems of control, the Canadian government took control and formed the new Canadian National Railway, the CNR by combining eastern and western railway companies and made it national. 

Railway routes were carved out of mountains and rock
The CNR completed a track in 1915 that used the Yellowhead Pass through the Rockies that then ran parallel to the CPR from Kamloops to Vancouver, BC.  There were several mountain passes that would have seemed impossible to lay tracks through but it was done.  We can read about but only imagine the hardships that the men who constructed these miles of railroads that we still use today, had to endure.

Viewpoint from Cherry Creek as train arrives into Kamloops, BC
The completion of the transcontinental railway was a condition set by Sir John A. Macdonald for British Columbia’s entry into Confederation to connect the west to the east.  He saw a unified Canadian nation and Quebec and Ontario had sought access to the raw materials and markets found in the west.  The last spike was driven in at Craigellachie, BC on November 7, 1885.

Freight train seen while boating on Kamloops Lake
Both the CNR and the CPR now have railways that are on either side of the Kamloops Lake and many times a day there are freight trains carrying cargo for destinations, some to go all the way across Canada from Vancouver. 

Railway tracks line both sides of Kamloops Lake
CNR freight travels through Kamloops to Edmonton, AB and northern Alberta.  The CPR travels onto Calgary, AB to the east.  There is a total of 72,212 km (44,870 mi) of functioning railway tracks in Canada.

Spectacular sight for visitors arriving in Kamloops by train
Over the years, there has been a passenger train service for those wishing to enjoy that mode of travel as well as the scenery they will get to enjoy as they travel through the Fraser Valley or the scenic routes it would follow from Kamloops. 

The Rocky Mountaineer arrives at the CPR station in Kamloops, BC
If you are wanting to travel some of these railroads and wish to have a tour of some of our beautiful BC scenery, a great way to do that would be with the Rocky Mountaineer.  I hear they offer wonderful holiday packages.  The Rocky Mountaineer now carries passengers following the CNR tracks on the northern side of Kamloops Lake as it approaches Kamloops and its overnight stay. 

The old CPR Staion in Kamloops, BC
The original CPR railway station has been restored to be a restaurant as well as facilities for the passengers of the Rocky Mountaineer and closely resembles a true railway station of days gone by.  I can almost hear those famous words.   Aaaaaall aboaaard!

The Kamloops Heritage Society restored the old CNR Steam Locomotive 2141 and has been offering train rides for all to enjoy.  The “Spirit of Kamloops” will soon be ready to begin the 2011 season.  Watch for the summer schedule and plan to take a ride on that old train for an unforgettable experience.