Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

Well folks, it's another beautiful Canada Day morning. Time for beer, barbecues, fireworks and friends.

Oh...speaking of beer...

One of my private music students got me a taster four-pack of Cameron's as an end-of-semester gift. As I unpacked the bottles, I discovered that one of the employees at the Cameron's Brewing Co. might have been taking the employee sampling policy a little too much to heart. See if you can spot it:

Yeah, that bottle's a keeper.

This seems like a good time to report on that most Canadian of outings, the Highland Games. Yes, I know they're Scottish. But the fact that all summer these events will be held all over Ontario, and probably the rest of the country as well, speaks to something uniquely Canadian: a heritage that blends these proud traditions, and peoples dedicated to preserving these traditions and sharing them with their neighbours.

To that end, here's Big Paul brandishing a solid piece of steel from Forth Art Scotland in Alliston, ON:

To give you a frame of reference, that man is 6'7" and has a 465 lb. bench press.

...that's a BIG sword.

The games themselves were the main draw for us, though. Not the bagpipe or dance competitions mind you, but the actual big-guys-throwing-stuff games. We missed out on the amateur competitions earlier in the day, so Paul didn't get to try his hand at the caber toss, but it was still fun to watch Kevin Fast and his crew of strong men fling hunks of metal and lumber around the field.

For those of you who don't know, Kevin Fast is a Lutheran minister from Cobourg who holds several world records in strength, including:

  • arm-wrestling a 16,000 lb. truck (moving it 12 inches with an arm-wrestling pull);
  • pulling a truck weighing 126,292 lbs. a distance of 137 feet;
  • pulling a 280 ton (416,299 lb.) C-17 cargo plane 8.8 metres.


I'm not going to go into detailed explanations about all of the various events at the games. Basically what's pictured here would be the "weight for distance" (a 28 lb. weight, thrown as far as possible) and the caber toss. This one is a bit complicated, but basically the goal is to flip a log end for end. Since the bigger log is some 24' in length, this is no mean feat. In fact, only the brothers Marcus and Christoff Ward were able to get a flip on the caber.

The same two brothers took the lead in the weight for distance as well, with Marcus tossing the ball and chain a whopping 69' 3", and Christoff coming in second just a foot shy of that at 68' 2". I don't know who's pictured here, but they're good pictures, so just enjoy them:

Paul and I had a bit of a running joke going throughout the day. Some of the events seemed like they were just made up on the spot. Like the Stone Put, where they hurl a big rock; hardly seems like an "event" considering it's, you know, a rock. Or the Keg Toss, where they hurl an empty beer keg.

Really? That's an event? OK. Actually it was pretty funny when one of the Ward brothers flung the keg and it rolled right out of the field and into one of the porta-potties you see in the background there. No more quintessentially Canadian pastime than bowling for outhouses with a beer keg! 

All in all, a good day. Here's hoping we can get some good shots of the Canada Day festivities to put up for this week. I'm off to pack my beach stuff.


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