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My Canadian Experience
September / October 2007

Started off this period by attending the annual labour day Sail Past put on by the Scottish Studies Society of Toronto.  Put up lots of pictures of the event and a few videos. Certainly had a great day. The afternoon sailing was sold out but there was some room on the morning sailing which I was on. I think the numbers were something like 175 in the morning and 250 in the afternoon.

Got a visit from a couple of neighbours this month...

On the left is LeRoy and on the right Derek and my other neighbour err.. Don I think his name is. LeRoy has dual USA/Canadian citizenship. You can see both are enjoying some of my home brew :-)

Am having an interesting month with my web site... at time of writing this Scottish TV (STV) have taken out an advert and their Internet arm ScotlandOnTV have also advertised.  I'm told that in October we'll be able to embed some of their videos into the site and we'll also be including their RSS text and videos feeds. All of that should be good stuff.

There is also a possibility that we'll be doing a lot more on the music front.  We might be able to let you purchase music tracks... a bit like ITunes. So you can mix and match individual tracks from a whole variety of CD's to make up your very own collection.  Sound like this could develop into an excellent facility.

I've agreed a contract to get my Garage done and get a door knocked through the wall into it. This should get done around end of October.

I made a Jiffy loaf and very good is was too :-) You can get the recipe at

I've been working on new books for my web site and especially the "Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland".  At time of writing I've been adding the 1876 edition and the stories are huge in it... almost books in their own right.  They are very detailed accounts of farming conditions in various areas of Scotland along with specific articles on various farming topics such as improvement of waste land, drainage, trees, various crops, various breeds of livestock, etc.

Visited Jim Shields on Sunday 16th September to pick up my oil painting and here it is for you see here... both in his studio and then up on my wall :-)

As Jim explains it... this is an evening scene in Autumn with the sun coming through the clouds from the left of the picture.  I might add that Jim will take commissions and he can even do a painting from a picture sent into him and do check out his web site at

On Saturday 22nd September I got promoted to Knight Commander and we had the annual investiture in Toronto.  I confess to thinking it was a bit weird as we lost the Grand Prior of Canada's Banner. There was no mention of the new Chancellor of the Priory, Nola Crewe, and they forgot to process my own promotion so no certificate, medal and no presentation <sigh>. We did bring in 8 new Knights however so that was good and an enjoyable banquet afterwards at the Royal Canadian Military Institute.

Got my award at the Windsor Investiture on 3rd November

Also had dinner with Harold and Janus in an Armenian restaurant and Janus, being an Estonian, kindly gave me a Estonia/Canada flag pin. He also tells me he's ordered up an Estonian Tartan Tie :-)

On Saturday 29th September I headed to the University of Guelph, some two hours drive from my house, to attend the Fall meeting of the Scottish Studies Dept. which I learned on the day that they are now called Centre for Scottish Studies.

And the Centre for Scottish Studies now have their own merchandise

And lots of books both new and old to purchase

And the auditorium was pretty well filled for both the morning and afternoon sessions

Dr Graeme Morton did an excellent job of chairing the meeting and on the right Alan McKenzie was in attendance for the inaugrial Jill McKenzie lecture in honour of his wife who died earlier in the year. The talk was given by Professor Christopher Whatley (University of Dundee) on "The Union of 1707 on its 300th anniversary".

Everyone in attendance enjoyed the lectures and there were many questions for the presenters. Coffee, lunch and afternoon tea were all part of the fee and enjoyed by all.

On October 15th I attended a get together in Toronto for Jim Mather MSP who is the Scottish Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism.  I wasn't actually going to attend the event but after getting some 8 emails and two phone calls asking me to reconsider I did.  I have to say it was pretty much as I'd envisioned in that I really learned very little. Certainly there were many less in attendance than the last meeting when the then First Minister came over.  For me personally, apart from meeting a few folk, it was a waste of time.  Absolutely nothing to report from it. I don't even know what they thought they'd get out of it.

On the 25th I went to take a few photographs to find that my camera was faulty.  It couldn't take a still photograph or at least it could but it also gave loads of horizontal lines across each picture. Mind you I had contemplated getting a new camera so it wasn't too much of an issue.  Anyway... headed out in the car to get a new camera only to find I had a flat tyre.  So it was out to get it fixed and as it was 4.30pm wasn't much time to get to the garage to get it fixed.  Anyway... I made it and while they were fixing it I got the new camera which is a Canon S5 1S.

Features at a glance:
  • 12x optical zoom lens with Ultrasonic Motor (USM) and UD lens
  • Optical Image Stabilizer
  • 8.0 Megapixel CCD
  • DIGIC III with advanced Noise Reduction technology and Face Detection for stills and movies
  • Red-Eye Correction in playback
  • 2.5 high-resolution vari-angle LCD
  • Long-play VGA movies with stereo sound and Photo in Movie
  • 22 shooting modes including full manual control and 0cm Super Macro
  • High ISO 1600 and Auto ISO Shift
  • Compatible with Wide/Tele/Close-up converter lenses and Canon EX Speedlite flashes

There were 3 features I was interested in...

1. The 8.0 Megapixel CCD as sometimes I get maps in some of the old books I purchase and they are far too large to scan in from my A4/Legal scanner.  I did try to take photographs from broadsheet newspapers as well and not overly successful.  And so this new camera should do a far better job of taking these types of pictures.

2. I did want the facility to take a still picture while taking a movie and this camera allows that.

3. I did want a better zoom facility as sometimes you just can't get near to a place you want a picture.

And an additional feature that will be useful is that the camera can just record audio and so that could be useful if I want to just record an audio track or voice recording.

I went out the next day to purchase a 4Gbyte card as they only supply a 32Mb card with the camera.

And so I now have what I need to move forward with my photography work :-)

This month has also been interesting due to working with David B Thomson to add his book to the site. David is a long time fisherman who left school in Scotland at 14 to go onto his Dad's fishing boat. Since then he has worked in some 70 countries around the world helping people to do better on fishing both on the sea and in inland waterways. He's been an assistant professor in Universities in Canada and the USA and has worked on many United Nations projects. You can read his book at

As as to working on the web I've also spent quite some time this month with Clan MacIntyre helping them get the 2008 MacIntyre Gathering organised which takes place in Scotland.

I'm also working on an interesting project to do with the Knight Templars where we hope to be doing some charitable work.  I'm working with David Thomson, mentioned above, to see if we can help a community in Cambodia to get a supply of good quality water. The thing is that there are a couple of English speaking volunteers in the area that might be willing to supply us with photographs of the community and regular reports on how they are doing.  This means I could develop a web site for them on Electric Scotland where we could get to know them and actually see what progress is being made. It would be nice to get Electric Scotland visitors involved with this so will see how this develops.

Anyway... the weather has been very good with lots of warm sunny days.  Have managed to sit out on the porch a few evenings enjoying the sun.  So on the whole not a great deal to report this past 2 months as mostly I've been working on the site.

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