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

B.C.’s Windermere church has unscrupulous history

WINDEMERE, B.C. — It’s perhaps the most romantic tale of love and crime from the early days of B.C.’s Columbia Valley. St. Peter’s Church in Windermere, B.C., is known locally as the stolen church. In 1900, Rufus Kimpton, as a gesture of love for his wife, Celina, moved it via rail, wagon and riverboat from […] Read more

Construction began in the spring of 1929 and by fall the the bridge at Meskanawa, Sask., welcomed deliveries by train.  |  Duane McCartney photo

Saskatchewan’s longest trestle railway bridge

MESKANAW, Sask. — The steel tracks are gone now but the wooden railway trestle bridge remains along with the memories of a thriving community at Meskanaw, Sask. The last train crossed the bridge in 1979, and the trestle alongside Highway 41 has stood unused ever since. Constructed in 1929 to get the Canadian National Railway […] Read more

Habitat builds homes to break cycle of poverty

Vision is a world where everyone — despite a lower income — has a safe and decent place to call home

LACOMBE, Alta. — Habitat Red Deer has 193 low-income families from central Alberta needing a place to call their own. Susan Smith, the chief executive officer of Habitat Canada who recently visited one of the organization’s building sites in Lacombe, said they are part of the 1.6 million Canadians needing affordable housing. “Although I work […] Read more