Thursday, December 4, 2014


Panorama Oldman River, Lethbridge, Alberta - January 2008
Living in a much more temperate climate now, I often reminisce about my 40+ years in Canada, regaling my friends with tales of bone shattering winter temperatures of days gone by. These tales, I hasten to add, are not from the safe spot beside a warm fireplace, looking out the window at a frozen landscape and occasional trips to the convenience store for a pack of smokes and then wiping icicles off my mustache. No, I actually worked mostly outdoors at the most extreme and inclement weather conditions imaginable. While Lethbridge and the Region of Southern Alberta does not reach the extreme coldest temperatures recorded in Canada, I remember many a wintry day reaching -35 C  where we considered it a relief when it improved to only -25 C. I worked for Canadian Pacific Rail, and at temperatures below approximately -25 C rubber gaskets and trainline hoses became hard as steel. While not the coldest spot in Alberta (actually, in the north of the province Fort Vermillion holds the record at -60.6 C) we were one of the windiest cities in Canada, and the combination of cold temperatures with higher than average wind would result in extreme windchill factors. Check this Windchill Chart for details.
Rising Fog, Oldman River, Lethbridge, Alberta - January 2008
Most of the work I did at CP Rail was outdoors, either repairing rail cars or inspecting trains. As a Health & Safety Representative I had to continuously monitor conditions for safe work conditions in such cold environments. Proper protective clothing is essential, both for work and for play outdoors. I found, while not inexpensive, Canada Goose down garments provided the best insulation against the cold. 
Canada Geese, Oldman River - January 2008
But not all goose down is created equal. The best down with the highest fill rating comes from mature geese, as opposed to lower fill ratings of immature geese. Learn more about this here: Down Fill Power Ratings: The Low Down on Goose Down. It also depends on the area where these geese live throughout the year. While migrating geese are a familiar sight in Canada late Fall, there are those, such as the ones pictured above, that would not venture any further south than our region in Southern Alberta, often braving the extreme cold temperatures and windchill associated with it (considered non-migratory geese). The down these birds develop is particularly valuable! A rather expensive, but great quality label is Canada Goose Down. Check out also Down and Feather Quality, particularly the section critical of live plucking (it should be stressed that this is not a practice in Canada).
Well insulated - Canada Geese
 All photos were taken on one cold winter morning (aproximately 9 AM), January 21st 2008 at the Oldman River, Indian Battle Park, Lethbridge, Alberta. According to the weather history, it was rather "balmy" that day, with the recorded low of only -23 C.
More information about Canada Geese can be found in this Canadian Government pamphlet:
Canada Geese - Canadian Wildlife Service 

Near Oldman River, with High Level Bridge, Lethbridge, Alberta
A different chapter of my Canadian History would be a Christmas visit to Fort Smith, NWT in the early nineties. A experience I may write about some other time. Suffice it to say in comparison, Lethbridge seemed rather 'tropical'. 

Visionary Artist of the Month December 2014 - ANGERER DER ÄLTERE


Our Artist for the month of December 2014 is


The Trojan Horse
Please click the image above to visit his gallery page.