As all Canadians are supposed to know, the Hudson’s Bay Company was founded on the 2nd of May 1670. But how did that idea start? Not all empires start overnight.

In fact, the HBC started as a “wager” to prove that the northern route through the Arctic and the Hudson Bay was just as effective if not more than the traditional route through the St Lawrence. So, a ship was built and commissioned to sail that route. Its name was the “Nonsuch”.

It was named after the Baroness Nonsuch of Nonsuch Park, Surrey, England, who was the mother of King Charles the 2nd's two natural sons.  The Baroness also bore the illegitimate daughter of John Churchill, who was the First Duke of Marlborough, and became governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1685. Familiar names in Manitoba, from whichever angle you look at them…

The 53 foot long ship sailed in June 1668 and arrived 118 days later at the mouth of a river. The crew called it River Rupert, after Prince Rupert, one of the eighteen supporters of the voyage.

After a typical inhospitable Canadian winter, they started trading fur with the Cree in the region. The same year they were back in London to show that the voyage had been a great success. Fur was in big demand and a ship full of furs was worth a fortune. So, the group of voyagers approached the King and asked to create a trading company. The King granted the request and the Hudson’s Bay Company was born on May 2nd 1670.

In 1968, the Hudson’s Bay Company commissioned the creation of a replica of the original Nonsuch for their 300th anniversary. This one was built in England using traditional methods and materials as they would have existed in the 17th century. The result is now displayed at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.

The Nonsuch harboured in the Manitoba Museum The Nonsuch “harboured” in the Manitoba Museum

This new Nonsuch also had her share of voyage, in salt water as well as in fresh water. She has sailed in the Atlantic, in the Great Lakes and in the Pacific around Seattle and Vancouver.

The captain’s cabin on the Nonsuch The captain’s cabin on the Nonsuch

What is interesting to see is the size of the bunks in the captain’s cabin. If today we need beds at least 2m long, the bunks on the ship would need at least another 6 inches to meet our standards. But even if the beds are too short for our standards, the interior is beautifully done, all in hardwood and practically no mechanical-electrical instruments used. Sanding is done by hand, not with electrical sanders, and the varnish work is beautiful.

Wonderful winter! Frost and icicles everywhere, white snow and walks on the frozen rivers. Skating on the flooded roads and tracks. Wonderful. I love winter. In fact, I love all the seasons. I have also lived in places where there are only two seasons, dry and wet. That gets boring after a few months, though. No, I prefer real seasons.

Here in Winnipeg, all seasons are clearly there, one at a time. Sometimes a season may be a little short like last summer, but anyway it was nice to get a few days of warmth.

White, white, white…

View from the Forks Winnipeg, The Forks from the observation tower

This is what Winnipeg looked like when I arrived here for the very first time. I believe it was the day after my arrival, still jetlagged, that I went up there to contemplate the city. Completely snowed in, but clearly alive, the city. In Europe, if we get 5 snowflakes within a minute all traffic grinds to a halt. A few more snowflakes and even public transport shows signs of trouble. Here, everything continues as usual. Wow!

The next striking view in the city was St Boniface. Not familiar with its past, it looked like a ghost.

St Boniface St Boniface cathedral, Winnipeg

Seeing the graveyard in front of the church was kind of a shock to me. In Europe, graves are to be visited by those who really want to and not to be seen if you’re not in the mood. And then there’s that round hole in that wall… Easy to understand that that was a glass window, but then again: why did they leave that facade standing all by itself? The answer came later. The wall contains the remains of cardinals. They )the remains) had had a very heated time in the fire of 1968. But still this wall was a grave and should never be removed. So, the facade stays, the new cathedral is built behind it, on the premises of the old cathedral.

Here we are. Winter is at its fullest and probably coldest. Whatever pictures you can take, the color is mostly lacking. Pictures of snow and ice, pictures of a bland sky or perhaps, if we are lucky a nice blue sky. All in all nice pictures, but still… I need some color sometimes. That’s why we have our photo albums,be it the paper ones or the digital ones.

Sometimes nature can give us a surprise. For this picture, my wife nearly kicked me out of bed in the early morning. She yelled at me: “Look in the sky Henk! This is unbelievable!”. So, I got out of bed with a sleepy head and looked out from the balcony in Kiev. And what I saw was  indeed unbelievable, I had never seen it before. This is what is called a “sun pillar”:

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Sun pillar or Light pillar in Kiev

The pillar of light is created by reflection on flat lying ice crystals in the air. It can only happen before sunrise or after sunset and in extreme cold. And since I was called out of bed, I found myself in my underwear by –27C on my balcony… (no comments…)

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Dragonfly on the borders of the Dnepr, Kiev

Summer colors. In summer some sources of color are really unexpected. And rather difficult to catch. With a P&S, the focus is of the matrix type, meaning that the background will always have the preferred focus. So I put my hand behind the insect, let the camera focus on the dragonfly, then remove the hand and shoot. I did need a few shots to get this one, not all dragonflies let me put my hand so close to them. With a DSLR there would have been no problem at all.

I’m a sucker for food. Good food that is. Preferably homemade.

I have lived in different countries: Holland, France, Ukraine, Canada, Martinique… and food has always been some kind of passion. I haven’t always had a camera with me, so some regions will have no pictures.

Homemade food for me is the best. Restaurants always have access to some kind of “secrets” that nobody should know about. Prepared food always makes me think of TV-dinners and already makes me feel strange thinking of them. When you start reading the labels it gets worse. With all the chemicals you are supposed to swallow without knowing about them, it’s a miracle the stomach is still capable of extracting nourishment out of that mixture.

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No, for me, homemade food (and drinks) are the best.

Let’s start with the outdoor food. Simple, cooked/grilled on a wood fire, nothing can beat that. At least outdoors. A simple piece of chicken or fish, some marinade, wood and that’s it.

Outdoor pleasures Tasty fish

But of course, if you live in Ukraine you also have to provide drinks with this. Two options: buy it or make it.

The bought stuff, ok. Wine, beer, lemonade all no problem. But the men will want something stronger like vodka. You can buy this too of course, often just as expensive as a bottle of lemonade, but it’s more interesting to make it yourself.

A few years back, in 2007, I lived in Ukraine. Never more than a few months at a time, law forbid! We were staying in a small village in the north east of Ukraine called Dubinka. Villages in Ukraine are worth visiting, although a full-time life there will seem to be very hard.

In Dubinka, there is only limited electricity, no running water and no gas. If you say no running water, that also means that you have to go to the “outhouse” whenever nature calls…

On one of the mornings we were there, at 6AM, nature called :-( On the first of May, you could expect to have decent temperatures, but this morning the weather gods decided to make a difference. After nature had been taken care of, I was so cold that going back to bed was really not an option. I had to get dressed and do something to get warm. So I went out for a walk, with my camera. The first thing I noticed when I got out the first time, was that it was misty. Perfect for some pictures.

Here is a view of the kitchen garden behind the house:

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The sun was just getting up, it was just after 6AM (didn’t I mention that already?) As a kitchen garden it doesn’t look much, but it feeds the family all year round, believe me.

Near the end of the garden there is a small pond, not very deep and not very large. Looking at the mist over the water, there is no doubt that this can give you nice pictures.

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People telling me that with a P&S camera you cannot take beautiful pictures and that you really need a DSLR to get decent pictures, well, they should be thinking again.

Sursohog
14 hours 24 minutes

---Great Blog again Henk - well done..

Henk
1 month 12 days

Thanks :) !

sursohog
1 month 12 days

---Very nice Blog Henk - some nice shots there...-:)

Henk
1 month 17 days

Presets can speed up your workflow a lot, provided you have plenty of the same type of pictures. People doing weddings will a ...

Henk
1 month 17 days

Hi, I hadn't noticed that the typing colour was that dark... changed it to pure white, that should do it ... Henk

'Dan..
1 month 17 days

I certainly agree the use of presets will discourage people learning their own methods but they can offer a shortcut to fulfi ...

Henk
2 months 9 days

Well, I was told so by a "pro" that later recanted... :-) I removed the name, so at least it is now correct.

josie brendle
2 months 10 days

nice blog but sorry the horses are not Clydesdales. Those are a little bigger. :)

Henk
2 months 11 days

Test comment here

Henk Von Pickartz
2 months 11 days

This is a comment. I will see if this works or if this will be taken over by spammers. If so, then I will take it down again.