Monthly Archives: November 2014

Twigonometry Revisited

There's always room for more students in twigonometry class. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

There’s always room for more students in twigonometry class. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Are you a student of twigonometry? If not, chances are you might enjoy this.

DSC_0498 (2)‘Twigonometry’, as I like to call it, is the scrutiny of tree branches. It’s an amazing field, as I have come to learn from walks in the outdoors. There seems to be no end to shapes and patterns in branches and their twigs.

This is a good time of year to learn something about twigonometry. In most cases, branches are bare or close to it, they’ve dropped their leaves. When you approach, it can seem as if some are reaching out for the chance to show off the intricate designs of their branches. Berries, seed pods and other hangers-on are a bonus, they enhance the eye-appeal factor.

You won’t need paper and pencil for twigonometry, but a camera would come in handy. It helps to be inquisitive and not walk by trees on your route without giving them as much as a passing glance. Twigonometry has become more than a passing fancy for me. There’s always room for more students in this class, and a next semester too. It starts in early spring.

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DSC_0495 (2)DSC_0506 (2)DSC_0503 (2)(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

My View: Brace Yourself For That “Winter Wonderland”

A light dusting of snow on leaves this morning. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

A light dusting of snow on leaves this morning. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

No, it wasn’t a “winter wonderland.” Well, not yet. And gosh, how I dislike that term.

DSC_0364 (2)But it was pretty outdoors early this morning. A light dusting of snow clung to leaves still on trees and snuggled into nooks and crannies in shrubs and bushes. A sliver of ice was on a walking trail. Frost was on rooftops. A sign was rough and bumpy because of ice that had crusted overnight on top.

Overhead the sky was a panorama. Dark, ominous clouds loomed in the distance. Pillows of pink took shape, coloured by the sun behind them. The sky brightened as the sun lit the sky far to the east.

DSC_0367 (2)It was a bit nippy, I felt it in the tips of my gloveless hands and on my ears. But it was a great morning for a walk, opportunity to experience a time of transition, a gentle breaking in, I suppose, for what lies ahead.

One morning (not too soon!) I’ll awaken, look out the window and see the surrounding landscape covered with snow. The blue spruce in the front yard will be beautiful, as it always is in the first snowfall. Plumes of smoke will climb from chimneys on nearby houses. Early risers will be outdoors cutting trails through untouched snow. Yep, the beauty (and harshness) of our winter is ahead – within sight some already are saying. It is inescapable.

As is that term, winter wonderland. So bring it on. I’m ready for it. I can warm up to it. I think.

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DSC_0419 (2)DSC_0414 (2)(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown, Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. My View is a recurring feature on the blog.)

Service And Sacrifice Abroad, At Home Are Paid Tribute

A woman is one of two figures on the Welland-Crowland War Memorial which was built to honour  war dead from the First World War. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

A woman is one of two figures on the Welland-Crowland War Memorial which was built to honour war dead from the First World War. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Sculptor Elizabeth Wyn Wood was a trailblazer.

The sculptor of the Welland-Crowland War Memorial, the last large World War 1 memorial erected in Canada, paid tribute to folks on the home front along with those who served in the Great War, 1914-1918.

And so the memorial in Welland not only has the figure of a soldier but also a woman.

Here’s how it is explained on the official program from the memorial’s Designation and Plaquing ceremony in 1999:

“This WW1 memorial is unique in that it departs from the design of a single soldier, so common on other monuments of that vintage. It incorporates stylized elements of the Canadian landscape: red pines and sheaves of wheat along with the representation of a WW1 trench mortar and two heroic figures, a soldier and a woman. These symbolized the “Service and Sacrifice” not only of those who fought but of those who supported the war effort at home…”

In 1934, 29 of the top Canadian architects, artists and sculptors were invited to submit design proposals for the memorial, the program booklet notes. Wyn Wood was 31 when she won the competition.

I’m inclined to think Wyn Wood was years ahead of her time not only in recognizing the role played by those on the home front but by representing that in the figure of a woman. In the culture of the 1930s, I dare say that was a bold decision.

It may be one of the reasons a member of the selection committee that chose her design was prompted to describe it as “the most original and personal design among those submitted and I believe it will be one of the most outstanding war memorials in Canada.”

The program book says  the memorial’s fine surface carving “was left to the fine hands” of stone carver Louis Temporale, a former student of Wyn Wood. Between 30 and 40 people were involved working in the quarries, the modelling studios and stone shops and erecting it on site.

The memorial’s unveiling took place Sept. 4, 1939 in Welland’s Chippawa Park where it still stands today. I see it as one more reason to visit Welland and see what our community has to offer.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

My View: Pay A Visit On Our Day Of Remembrance

Names of  "local boys" from Welland and Crowland who gave their lives in the First World War, as inscribed on the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

Names of “local boys” from Welland and Crowland who gave their lives in the First World War, as inscribed on the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Today is a day we should visit the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park, Welland.

DSC_0325 (2)No, there is not a Remembrance Day service there; it was held earlier, on a Sunday afternoon, as is tradition in Welland. We should visit just for the sake of being there. If even just for a few minutes.

A walk by will do. A pause in front of the memorial would be better. And walking ‘round to the memorial’s west face, the one overlooking First Avenue, to scan or read the names of those from Welland and Crowland who gave their lives in the First World War 1914-18 (this year is 100 years since the start of the so-called Great War) and the Second World War 1939-45 would be most fitting, I think.

And we should give pause to remember those who gave their lives for their country since those two wars and the war in Korea – in places like Cyprus, the former Yugolsavia, Afghanistan and most recently right here in Canada as events of the past few weeks remind us.

Today is a day of remembrance. Let’s not forget. That’s my view.

Names of "local boys" who gave their lives in the Second World War.

Names of “local boys” who gave their lives in the Second World War.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. My View is a recurring feature on the blog.)

A Name Scripted Into Granite

The name as it appears on the back of the war memorial. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

The name as it appears on the back of the war memorial. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I made a surprising discovery at the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park just the other day.

Well, “discovery” as far as I am concerned. Chances are many people are already aware of it and have been for some time. In my case, despite many visits to the locally-famous war memorial over the years, I hadn’t noticed it before.

What’s this about? Well, the name of the sculptor is scripted into the back wall of the granite cenotaph.

It doesn’t jump out at you but it’s there: Elizabeth Wyn Wood sculptor. Clear as day. Almost.

DSC_0325 (2)This is no exaggeration: I’ve looked at that monument, up close and from a distance, hundreds of times especially in the past few years. I’ve read the names of those from Welland and Crowland who were killed in the First World War and Second World War, along with other words that are inscribed in our beautiful cenotaph.

On Saturday while photographing the cenotaph, my eyes fell upon script in the granite. Upon closer look I was able to read the words.

I was shocked. Why hadn’t I seen them before?

I checked with a long-time heritage activist here in the city and learned he was not aware of them either.

I asked if they could have been added when the monument was restored a few years ago but he said no. Perhaps it was the cleaning during the restoration project that brought them out?

The Welland-Crowland War Memorial was officially unveiled Sept. 4, 1939. It would seem the words have been there all this time but have gone unnoticed by many – myself included.

Seeing that I made this “discovery” it’s fitting that I present some background about the woman whose name is on the cenotaph wall. The following text is as it appears in the souvenir program for the Designation and Plaquing of the Welland-Crowland War Memorial:

“Elizabeth Wyn Wood was born in Orillia in 1903 and, at an early age, determined that she would be a sculptor. In 1921 she enrolled at the Ontario College of Art. She distinguished herself by winning scholarships and the Governor General’s medal for modelling and sculpture. In her final year she won a post-graduate scholarship and elected to stay at O.C.A. to do independent work in the discipline of sculpture.

In 1934, twenty-nine of the top Canadian architects, artist (sic) and sculptors were invited to submit design proposals for the Welland-Crowland War Memorial. Only 31, Wyn Wood won the competition. This commission occupied her for nearly five years, and the completed work firmly established her as a front-ranking monument sculptor.

In 1948 she was made a full Royal Canadian Academician. She continued to work on large sculptures. Locally, the most notable are the statues of King George VI in Niagara Falls and of Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Her bas-relief design of Canadian historical scenes can be seen at Oakes Park in Niagara Falls. Some of these have been preserved and incorporated into the south wall of the new Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

She died from cancer in 1996 at her home in York Mills, Ontario.”

Elizabeth Wyn Wood’s name is scripted into the back wall, above the names of those from our communities who gave their lives in the Second World War.

The Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park as photographed Nov. 8.

The Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park as photographed Nov. 8.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

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Legacy of Leaves

Fallen, wind-swept leaves adorn the surface of a park pond in Welland, Ontario. Did they come from trees reflected on the pond's surface?  (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

Fallen, wind-swept leaves adorn the surface of a park pond in Welland, Ontario. Did they come from trees reflected on the pond’s surface? (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Our falls for fall foliage are far too short-lived.

We admire leaves from afar and from up close as they go through changes in colour.

Fashionably popular, watching the colours has become opportunity for Sunday afternoon drives down rustic country roads or weekend getaways to cottage country and beyond, all in the name of autumnal adventure.

DSC_0286 (2)Palettes of seasonal hues are breathtaking for many. They’re talked about ‘round the tables at charming bed and breakfasts that attract overnight guests by displaying “fall colour specials” on their outdoor message boards for drive-by traffic to notice.

What happens, though, when colours fade and leaves drop to the ground? Trysting-time is over, until same time next year. Is that all there is?

Maybe it shouldn’t be that way.

Fallen leaves form patchwork quilts on the ground below, leaves brought down in swirls by gusts of wind form grand geometric designs and patterns on all kinds of terrain. Leaves lodge themselves in knots of trees, under evergreen branches, in hosta beds and more. Nature shows her creativity in these displays.

There’s much to see when leaves, especially maple leaves, are in full colour on limbs of trees, but still more to be seen after they’ve made their separation. It’s what I call the legacy of leaves.

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DSC_0242 (2)DSC_0156 (2)(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)