Monday, July 31, 2017

Heritage House

The bust in the window was pointless.

Unless you've been to Heritage House, have walked around the 1889 Queen Anne Revival-style structure, have looked in the windows, you would never have seen it.

Instead, I decided to show you something the next day that, while not clearly visible, was easy to see from the road.

If you were paying attention as you drove by.

Also known as Building Number 60 on the Central Experimental Farm, the location of this month's Where In Ottawa is Heritage House, home to the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal.

Congratulations to Marc Bru, of Square Timber Brewing, for solving the photo challenge. Marc is one of my contest's winningest players, having solved the challenges about a half-dozen times. He has proven that he knows Ottawa time and time again.

Here are the clues, explained:
  1. Here since 1889—in 1886, then-Minister of Agriculture Sir John Carling successfully lobbied for a 188-hectare plot of land in which to conduct scientific experiments that were related to botany and horticulture. This land was granted just outside of Ottawa and is now known as the Central Experimental Farm. Heritage House was built three years later by the Department of Public Works and was the residence for cereal grains research staff.
  2. There's a roundabout way to find this place—while there are many roads that lead into the Experimental Farm, the closest access point to Heritage House is via the roundabout, on Prince of Wales Drive.
  3. Home of arbitration—the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal reviews violation notices that are issued by federal agencies that regulate food. They act like a court to arbitrate grievances between agricultural agencies.
  4. Food fight!—this is my simple way of explaining clue number 3.
  5. 60—as I said, Heritage House is also known as Building 60.
  6. Do you have a permit for that food?—according to the tribunal's Web site, the tribunal listens to cases dealing with those who have been charged for bringing animal or plant products into the country without permission.

There you have it.

Thanks to everybody who played. The next Where In Ottawa is next Monday, August 7. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Photo Friday: Beauty in Ruins

I had too much on my plate, last Saturday, and too little time in which to accomplish each of those bucket-list tasks.

My first priority was to get to Châteauguay, on the south shore of the St.Lawrence, across from the Island of Montréal. I had a family reunion and I didn't want to be late: there were people I hadn't seen in decades. There was a lot of catching up to do.

I also wanted to visit one of my favourite Québec breweries, was surprised that I hadn't done so years ago. Earlier this year, when I was driving through the run-down neighbourhood of Verdun,  I learned that this brewery was close to the streets where I first lived when I was born. It was a cold day, and I promised that I would return, check out the brewery, and explore these old streets.

I made it to the brewery. Stopped in for a pint. But what I didn't have time for was a walking tour of the old neighbourhood.

That would have to wait.

I'm headed back to Montréal, today. This evening, DW and I will go to the Just For Laughs Festival, check out Trevor Noah.

Tomorrow, we're spending a fair chunk of the day in Verdun. I have some unfinished business with the streets and my camera.

For now, I'll leave you with one of the few photos I took, from the terrace of McAuslan Brewery. It's not Verdun, but across the canal from it. This old building, known only as 12110 letellier on Google Maps, looks as though it's about to collapse on itself.

I hope it doesn't happen any time soon. I hope the city never pulls it down.

Because there's a sort of beauty in these ruins.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Brownfoot Mulata

Each summer, as I sample various beers for my Beer O'Clock reviews, I try to find a brew that I decide will be my go-to pick for the warm days. Something, that when a hot day hits, I can pick up and know that my thirst will be quenched and that will fully satisfy me.

So far, this season, I've come close to picking a favourite, but no luck so far. But there is a drink that I've had more than any other alcoholic beverage.

It's inspiration comes from my recent family vacation to Cuba, and no, it's not a Cuba Libre (though that drink comes in second).

Toward the end of the week in our all-inclusive resort, as I went down the list of various cocktails that was laminated on a card at every bar table, my eyes landed on something that piqued my curiosity.

It was called a mulata.

According to the drink card, the mulata consisted of lemonade, sugar, dark rum, and "elixir." I never learned what that elixir was, as the servers couldn't describe it and I never thought to ask the bar tender.

When I returned home, I looked up mulata on Google, and found out that creme de cacao could be used. Some recipes even called for Kahlua.

At the LCBO, I found that two types of creme de cacao were available: a clear variety and a dark one. Because my Cuban mulata had dark rum, it was impossible to tell if a dark creme de cacao was added or the clear one. Plus, at the time, my LCBO only had 40-ounce bottles, and that was more than I wanted to keep in the house.

I went home, feeling that I would try the liquor store again, another time, but I really wanted to have that drink. So I searched my liquor cabinet and checked to see what I could use to make a similar drink.

I had a large bottle of lemonade that we had picked up from Costco. We had purchased three bottles of Cuban rum: light, amber, and dark. I had Kahlua. Plus one other bottle that made me go "Hmm..."

Here's what I made:
  • one 20-ounce pint glass, filled with ice
  • two ounces of dark rum
  • one ounce of Kahlua
  • one ounce of Jamaican coconut-flavoured rum
Fill the rest of the glass with lemonade (already sweetened) and give it a stir.

I haven't looked for a smaller bottle of creme de cacao, nor have I tried to make a genuine mulata. I prefer this beverage.

I call this the Brownfoot Mulata.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017

What Is It?

Is it a spinning 45? (Do you even know what I mean by a 45?)

Is it a closeup of the sun?

Is it a bagel with a lot of light surrounding it?

Is it a backlit, empty pint glass, looking down at it?

You tell me.

Happy Monday!


Friday, July 21, 2017

Photo Friday: O-Train Overpass

I love the winding path through Vincent Massey Park, how it meanders under the full, summer-grown trees.

The Rideau River, having violently fallen over Hog's Back, calms as it bends eastward, and flows calmly, from Carleton University to Billings Bridge.

For decades, the bridge had no traffic, as though the line, having been tunnelled under Dow's Lake, had been buried for good. Yet now, for the past handful of years, a commuter train carries the public from Lebreton Flats to South Keys, stopping short of the airport, and back.

In between, university students have the light rail trains stop on the campus doorsteps, the red vehicles moving back and forth with more frequency than the buses ever did.

And passing over the river, the deep hum of the diesel engines, the wheels screeching on the iron rails, shows motion above and below the bridge. Three thoroughfares: river, rails, and path.

Happy Friday!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Playing Fair: Where In Ottawa

You know, as soon as I saw yesterday's post for Where In Ottawa and saw the photo, I thought, no one's going to get this.

The bust in the window just doesn't tell anything about the location. Unless you take in the reflection, but even then, my photo editing has really subdued what you can see.

So, for the first time ever with my photo challenge, I'm having a do-over. If you think that yesterday's photo will help you find the location of this challenge, all the power to you. But for those who may need something more to go on, here it is:


Consider this your first clue. More clues, if required, start tomorrow. You can leave your guess in the Comments section for this post or in yesterday's post.

This photo is still valid. Try to use both in solving the challenge.
Think you know Ottawa? Prove it!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Where In Ottawa LXVI

I know: no one was expecting this.

This isn't the first Monday of the month, but it is a Monday. I skipped this photo challenge in June and had promised to bring it back for July, but because of the Canada Day weekend, which also includes my wedding anniversary (23 years and going moderately!), I simply forgot.

That's right, I forgot about Where In Ottawa.

For those who have never participated in my photo challenge, it's very simple: below, I have a photo that I shot somewhere in Ottawa. Your job is to determine the location and place your answer in the Comments section of this post.

Only this post.

Don't send me your guess on Twitter. Don't message me on Facebook. Don't text me or ping me through e-mail. If your guess isn't in the Comments section, at the end of this post, it won't count, whether you're right or not.

If the challenge isn't solved by the end of the day, I'll start leaving clues on the main page of The Brown Knowser for every day that the contest remains unresolved.

The first person to correctly identify the location wins the challenge. Sorry, there's no giveaway this time, though you do retain bragging rights.

Ready for the photo? Here it is:

Think you know Ottawa? Prove it!

Update: there's another photo that gives a better chance at solving this challenge. Click here to see it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Photo Friday: Wet

As of this posting, Ottawa has set a record for the amount of days with rainfall. To date, there have been as many 98 days of precipitation, which is just over 50 percent of this year.

Put into perspective, it's rained every other day in Ottawa.

No wonder we were flooded in the spring. No wonder farmers are struggling to get their crops in.

At the Central Experimental Farm, crops have been planted but, as you can see, some of them are a little soggy.

Kind of like having your veggies washed before they're harvested.

Fingers crossed for a drier summer.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Still Away

I still haven't come up with a topic for this blog. Or, rather, there's nothing that I want to write about.

Instead, here's a photo of me, having a nap in my car. Sometimes, at work, I need to get away from my desk and recharge, so I'll walk out to my car, set a timer, put my feet up, and close my eyes.

It's nice to know that if I ever had to sleep in my vehicle, I could do that.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Stepping Away

I was utterly brain-dead, last night. Tired, both mentally and physically. As DW would say, I was tired at the molecular level.

I didn't have the energy to spend a lot of time here, nor did I have the mental capacity to write something interesting. I think that yesterday's post took all my concentration, and I had to recharge my cerebral battery.

So, I don't have much to say, today. I'm stepping back, hopefully for only a couple of days (tomorrow is Wordless Wednesday, as usual), and I'll have something worth reading on Thursday.

In the meantime, here's a farm silo. It was a potential POTD from a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, July 10, 2017


Every time I've heard the term fake news from the Trump administration, I've rolled my eyes and grieved for the decline of American civilization.

The term has become the rallying cry for those who don't want to have to think: they just want to be told something and have an emotional response that somehow, magically, gets turned into their idea of reality. What makes it sad is that it has created a society of morons who don't care to think critically.

On Saturday, as my family and I were enjoying a delicious shawarma lunch at a small restaurant in the far, south-east corner of Fisher Glen, I spied the daily edition of Ottawa's tabloid, The Sun. I saw the headline near the top of the front page and was moved to an emotional reaction.

I was immediately outraged.

But my anger was not directed at the subject of the headline; rather, it was directed at the tabloid itself. And I immediately thought: if ever there was a case to scream "FAKE NEWS," this was it.

In today's political climate, one has to tread carefully. We have seen a polarization in the United States, and there are some who clearly want the same for Canada. Let's look at the reckless statement that this disreputable publication has put out, and sort the falsehoods from the truth.

"Terror Tycoon"—Macmillan Dictionary defines a tycoon as "a rich and powerful person who is involved in business or industry." And while Omar Khadr may be receiving a large cash settlement, he is hardly powerful, nor is he involved in any business or industry in which he profited. And, while many people have called Khadr a "terrorist," it galls me to think how quickly people brush aside the facts that
  • he was only 15 years old when he was captured, making him a child soldier, at best 
  • he was brainwashed by his father, who took him to Afghanistan, where he was made to fight
  • he was fighting the Americans, who had invaded Afghanistan, which makes him more of an insurgent than a terrorist
"Trudeau throws cash grenade at Khadr to blow up U.S. widow's lawsuit"—this statement makes it look like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally made a decision to give Khadr the $10.5M just because he wanted to, that he personally handed over a cheque or a suitcase full of cash to the former Guantanamo inmate.

Let's be clear: the Liberal government didn't initiate this payment; the lawyers for Khadr did, after the Charter of Rights was violated in his case. The initial suit called for almost double the settled amount, but the Supreme Court, not the Liberals, came up with the amount to be paid.

Laws were broken, rights were violated, and the court rightly favoured on Khadr's side.

Trudeau wasn't even involved in the apology to Khadr: Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered the statement of apology. Of course, Trudeau knew about the apology and approved it, but I don't blame any government for admitting that rights have been denied and for trying to make amends.

Come on, folks, Trudeau wasn't even the leader of the Liberals nor was his party in power when Khadr was finally repatriated.

The references to "grenade" and the U.S. widow are in poor taste. This settlement has nothing to do with her. As unfortunate as her husband's death was (Khadr confessed, under torture, to throwing the grenade, but later admitted that he doesn't remember if he even threw it), he was a soldier in a war zone and knew the risks associated with combat. One government can sue another government over the reparations in war but who honestly thinks one combatant can be sued for another combatant's death?

If that's the case, I hope the families of the Canadian soldiers who were bombed by an American fighter pilot took him to the cleaners.

It doesn't matter what opinion you hold on this Omar Khadr settlement as long as your opinions are backed with facts, that the sources of your information are credible and are not delivered for the sole reason of evoking an emotional, knee-jerk reaction.

This weekend, federal Conservative Party leader, Andrew Scheer tweeted, "Canadians are shocked by Justin Trudeau’s decision to give a $10.5 million secret payout to the Omar Khadr. Now it’s up to him to explain." Again, this was not a decision that Trudeau made but an order from the Supreme Court to the Government of Canada. The payout wasn't secret, it was the settled amount as dictated by the court.

Trudeau has nothing to explain, but rather it makes one thing clear about Scheer: either he's terribly naive and doesn't understand how the court system works or he is manipulating the public, through misinformation, to achieve an emotional response from those who don't want to think for themselves.

Either way, it's shameful. I replied to that tweet, saying, "If you don't understand why this had to be done, you don't belong in a leadership position."

Even former Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, who fought against bringing Khadr back to Canada, falsely blamed the Liberals for some "secret deal" to pay off Khadr. On Facebook, Harper opined, “The government today attempted to lay blame elsewhere for their decision to conclude a secret deal with Omar Khadr. The decision to enter into this deal is theirs, and theirs alone, and it is simply wrong. Canadians deserve better than this.”

He should go back to staying out of politics and not cast stones. Especially rubber ones.

This post is, of course, my opinion, too. But my opinion is based on the information that I've checked from different news sources. I'm not reacting out of hearsay, but on trusted news sources.

Not The Sun. Not Scheer. Never Harper.

I don't necessarily like that Canadian taxpayers had to pay out such a large sum, but I like even less that a Canadian citizen, who was raised by a father who turned his back on a country that had welcomed him and his family, only to return to his home country and force his son to fight against the West.

I don't like that a Canadian citizen, who was a child soldier, was taken to an American detention facility and tortured. I don't like that his rights were violated.

It's enough that Khadr lived through that ordeal. Listening to him now, as he's been repatriated and given a taste of freedom after being locked up for 10 years, it's amazing that he appears as calm and forgiving as he does. I can't imagine the physical and mental anguish that he's endured.

Our revered military veterans have fought and died to preserve our way of life and to protect our Charter of Rights: not for a select few but for all Canadians. I think that Justin Trudeau put it aptly when he said, "When the government violates any Canadian's Charter rights, we all end up paying for it," adding that the Charter protects all Canadians, "even when it is uncomfortable." 

So if you're uncomfortable, that's okay. But before you provide a knee-jerk, emotional response, make sure it's intelligent, that your information is provided by credible sources.

Don't ever trust The Sun or any news source that flowers it's headlines with inflammatory statements.

I welcome your opinions.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Photo Friday: Private Sunset

There were signs all over, which read Private Property and No Trespassing.

In my defence, I didn't see them until I was practically standing in front of them. Actually, I was ignoring them: I had a sunset that occupied my attention.

And besides, as I proved last December, it's better to beg forgiveness than to ask for permission.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Beer O'Clock: First World Problems

For Canada's 150th anniversary, Scottish brewer Innis and Gunn released a special-edition brew to celebrate this major milestone. After all, it was a Scot who became one of Canada's founding fathers and first prime minister of this great land, so why not get a beer that celebrates Canada from Scotland?

Sadly, I couldn't find it in any of my local beer stores, though I did find an oak-aged stout from Innis and Gunn that I might review sometime down the road.

Not finding the Maple and Thistle Rye Ale by I&G is not the end of the world. It's not a first-world problem.

Luckily, I found another ale by another Edinburgh brewery, and after reading the label, I had to pick it up. I love humourous labels and fun names for beer and, seeing that I'm performing live stand-up comedy, tonight, I thought it would be fitting to share this beer today.

First World Problems Belgian IPA (6.2% ABV)
Stewart Brewing
Edinburgh, Scotland

Appearance: an unfiltered, burnt copper, with an orangy-beige head that pours to a perfect one-centimetre height before quickly settling to a razor-tin cap and then a dense lace.

Nose: fresh, ripe oranges with a touch of floral notes.

Palate: almost-sweet oranges and pink grapefruit, with a tad of ginger and caramel. The hops and malt are perfectly balanced so that it's not too bitter and not too heavily bodied. The finish is short and light, making this a very sessionable IPA.

Overall impression: if not for the high-ish alcohol content, I could drink this all day. No problem. On a hot day where you want a refreshing ale, First World Problems does that without going on the light side of summer ales.

If you find this Scottish beauty in the LCBO or your local retailer of craft beer, your thirst problems are solved.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4