Stuck in the sweet spot between youth and old age

Seventy-year-old Dave O’Haire, capped in a felt hat with feathers, walks down a side-street in downtown Fernie B.C. He looks up through a tangle of electric cables and transformers to the mountains on the west side of Elk Valley.

“The great thing about Fernie is, whether you walk down a street or an avenue, or an alley, there’s always a view,” he says. “If you go to resort towns, you don’t see anything. In Whistler, you’ve gotta take a chairlift to see the mountains.”

O’Haire shares his story from a desk in the public library – his blue fishing vest illuminated by the afternoon sun. He has the eyes of a young man, even though he almost lost one while forking manure with his brother on the family homestead. O’Haire seems stuck in the sweet spot, somewhere between youth and old age. Continue reading “Stuck in the sweet spot between youth and old age”

Fernie Winter Guide copy

We live in a world that’s getting more fast-paced, hectic and disconnected. Hours blend into days, days into months and months into years. Thank goodness there are still places to get away. Places where it’s ok to live in denial for a few days. Where it snows hard enough to close the highway. Places where the temperature drops and moisture freezes into plates of ice that can snap power lines. Places where people read by candlelight surrounded by impassable mountains. Places where wild fish wait patiently for the insects of summer. Where bears rest dormant under old stumps. Places where you can take the first chairlift of the day and carve your way down through legendary powder. Places where rabbit tracks lead you into a cathedral of white. Where the only sound is that of your heart – or if you’re lucky, a wolf’s howl at twilight. Places where crows and ravens perch in trees waiting for garbage that never comes. Where bundled up people ride fat tired bicycles between Christmas parties. Places where coffee shop windows steam-up with tales of high adventure. Where old stone buildings refuse to fall. Places where great food and drink abound. Where wood smoke hovers like a ghost over homes filled with dreamers and workers. Places you’ll miss when you leave – where loneliness is the grand prize. Places where frozen rivers twist like ribbons, wrapping the valleys like gifts. Where you need to plug in your vehicle, or face a short walk to the shops. Places where live music and live theatre rattle the rafters of an old train station. Places where people smile behind their scarves. Where the stars are bright and the fog is thick. Places with wolverines but no werewolves. Where ski trails outstretch endurance. Places with great hockey teams. Places where you can let go of your cares and fill your battery at the recharging station of life. Places like Fernie, British Columbia.

The Financial Post: ‘We’re in uncharted waters’: Canola ban, swine flu in China adding up to volatile year for Canadian farmers

China’s ban on Canadian canola may be capturing most of the attention, but it’s not the only factor sowing seeds of uncertainty in Canadian agriculture this year.

In a report issued this week, Al Mussell, research lead at Agri-Food Economic Systems in Guelph, Ont., noted that an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in China is also disrupting the global meat supply.

Continue reading “The Financial Post: ‘We’re in uncharted waters’: Canola ban, swine flu in China adding up to volatile year for Canadian farmers”

The Financial Post: North America’s first cobalt refinery inches closer to production — but obstacles remain

First Cobalt Corp., the $50-million company, is inching closer to becoming the first producer of battery-grade cobalt to feed the nascent North American electric vehicle market, but there are still plenty of roadblocks in its way.

The Toronto-based company achieved a breakthrough when it announced earlier this month that it successfully produced battery-grade cobalt sulfate using its refinery’s own processes, or flowsheet, — but the problem is, it was done in a lab using a small sample. Continue reading “The Financial Post: North America’s first cobalt refinery inches closer to production — but obstacles remain”

The Western Producer: A new type of farm boss eager to take charge

Change is constant on the Prairies, starting with new life and then shifting to growth, development, maturation and eventually renewal.

TeddiAnn Skibsted is on the cusp of one such change as one of Canada’s youngest up-and-coming farm bosses.

Skibsted Farms operates 4,500 acres near Drumheller, Alta. The farm has three employees, three dogs, one horse, one donkey, several cats and dozens of gophers. Continue reading “The Western Producer: A new type of farm boss eager to take charge”

Teck Resources streamlining water treatment

Teck Resources Ltd. has four operating steelmaking coal mines in the Fernie area, producing approximately 26 million tonnes of steelmaking coal a year. Most of the product is shipped to the Asia-Pacific region via ports on the West Coast.

Standing on the edge of the Natal West pit is like staring into an abyss of other-world-like technical amazement. The hole is 1.5 kilometres across and 500 metres deep. A three-story drill, which looks the size of an insect from above, works at the bottom of the pit, drilling 12-inch diameter holes that’ll be packed with nitrate-based explosives. In a few hours, technicians will blast a large slab of sedimentary rock. Roughly ninety per cent of the rubble will be hauled away as backfill. The rest is varying grades of steelmaking coal. Continue reading “Teck Resources streamlining water treatment”

Editorial: Butterfly patrol

For six weeks during my first year of journalism school, I was with my mother in Kamloops Hospice. Strange things and beautiful things happened. She was given three weeks to three months to live. Hospice was a large single-level home with gardens and brick patios. From the front yard, you could look west towards Cache Creek ranch country, and east towards the forested Shuswap region.

My mom’s bedroom windows had panoramic views of downtown Kamloops. There were two kitchens and five living room areas at hospice. The place smelled of home-cooked food and lemon essential oil. Over the weeks, I came to associate those smells with death. Continue reading “Editorial: Butterfly patrol”