Most of the wood working equipment in the Tyrone Mills shop is powered by this overhead belt and pulley system. |  Duane McCartney photo

Historical water mill still at work in Ontario

The water-powered mill still cuts lumber and grinds flour, but tarts and doughnuts are the main attractions now

TYRONE, Ont. — Like the prairie grain elevators in Western Canada, the grist mill was a main centre of economic interest in the early days of settlement in rural central Ontario. Grist mills or flour mills were situated on or near waterways in the mid-1800s because there was no electricity. On this waterway a dam […] Read more

Connie Westman sorts and prepares bunches of asparagus spears for sale at local markets and the Edgar Country Store.  |  Duane McCartney photo

Alberta farm eager to dish out asparagus

The Edgar family grows 50 acres of asparagus on their farm and opens up to the public three weekends every spring

INNISFAIL, Alta. — It takes courage to be the first and largest asparagus grower in Alberta, but that’s what Doug and Elna Edgar, their daughter, Keri, and her husband, Randy Graham, have done on their sixth generation family farm west of Innsifail. Their farm of 11 quarters raised beef cattle and grain since 1907. “In […] Read more

Viaducts distribute irrigation water to fertile farmland south of Seville. The early Phoenicians developed a sophisticated  irrigation system in the area centuries ago.  |  Duane McCartney photo

Irrigation crucial to farming in southern Spain

Rice is grown in the south while corn is grown in the north as a major fodder; barley and winter wheat are major cereals


The song in the famous musical drama My Fair Lady suggests, “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” That would be why this region of southern Spain has developed into a vast area for agriculture production. The mostly treeless plains are wide open fields stretching to the horizon. Spain’s climate is similar to […] Read more


This is a typical cork tree in southern Portugal. Note the date numberwhen the bark was last harvested marked on the trunk. |  Duane McCartney photo

Harvesting cork a long-term investment

Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork with 7,000 sq. kilometres under cultivation and 30 million corks made a day

Imagine having to wait 25 years to harvest your first crop. That’s what growers in southern Portugal do when harvesting cork. Cork has many uses from sealing champagne bottles to garment-making to use in the aerospace industry. In the 1700s, Dom Perignon, a wine-making monk, revived the use of cork as a tasteless odorless seal […] Read more

Brian Williams talks with service tech Philip Wierenga as he repairs a hay baler at the Pentagon Farm Centre in Lacombe, Alta.  |  Duane McCartney photo

Farm equipment dealership takes its name seriously

LACOMBE, Alta. — Possibly one of the world’s largest equipment centres, the Pentagon Farm Centre in Lacombe, began in 1982 with five people sitting around a kitchen table trying to figure out what to call their new venture. The five decided to call the new company Pentagon. Today, Brian Williams, owner of Pentagon, said he […] Read more


Iqaluit’s shoreline shows the diversity of housing and transportation methods available in the remote community.  |  Duane McCartney photo

Sask.’s connection to the road to nowhere

Former Saskatchewan residents learn to live with the challenges that come with moving to remote Nunavut

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Ever try ordering something on Amazon when your address is The Road to nowhere? That’s the sort of challenge people living in Iqaluit, on Frobisher Bay in Nunavut’s Baffin Island, have when they try ordering something from the “outside world,” said Karren McCartney. “There are no roads leading out of towns up […] Read more

The remains of the head frame and processing plant sit at the old Nordegg coal mine. These coal cars would have hauled thousands of tons of coal from the mine to the processing plant over the years.  |  Duane McCartney photo

Nordegg: the Alta. ghost town that came alive

Tourists can tour the remains of the coal processing plant and loading facilities as well as historical buildings

NORDEGG, Alta. — Deep in the heavily forested hillsides of the foothills of the Canadian Rockies lie the remains of the old coal mining site of Nordegg, an hour’s drive west of Rocky Mountain House, Alta. Martin Nordegg, a German businessperson started to develop a coal mine around 1901. With German, British and Belgian investors, […] Read more

The big red barn at the K2 Ranch is the largest of its type in British Columbia.  |  Duane McCartney photo

B.C.’s historic K2 Ranch has colourful history

The ranch, which was founded in 1898, still custom grazes 300 cattle on its meadowlands during the summer

INVERMERE, B.C. — In a meadow on a long laneway off the Westbank road south of Invermere sits British Columbia’s historic K2 Ranch. Founded in 1898 by rancher and Paradise Mine prospector Tom “Blanket” Jones, the early ranch consisted of 640 acres of forests and meadow lands. The original name of the ranch was named […] Read more


Christmas carols accompanied by a guitar played by Pastor Daniel Jefferies were sung for the congregation at a Christmas candle light service held in the Mirror, Alta., church.  |  Duane McCartney photo

Old church comes alive with candle light service

MIRROR, Alta. — A congregation breathed life into an abandoned northeastern Alberta church by holding a candlelight Christmas service this month. St. Monica’s Anglican log cabin church was built in Mirror and shut down 32 years ago but this summer area residents finished refurbishing it. In the 1990s, Mirror museum members took on the restoration […] Read more

The once flourishing Jackfish General Store is just a memory of great times in the community. |  Duane McCartney photo

Little remains of rural community

JACKFISH, Sask. — The road sign on Highway 26, the church with the historic bell and Rev. Father Leon Bondoux’s log cabin are all that remain of the once thriving Saskatchewan community of Jackfish. The first missionaries in the area were Oblates of Mary Immaculate, with Bondoux forming the first mission in 1890-92. Roman Catholic […] Read more