Cultural Victories Through The Narrow Door

Words are important and the message matters: language interpretation and translation : English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Spanish and Latin

A Week in the Great Northern Plains

We didn’t expect to be doing a Labour Arbitration Hearing in Edmonton, Capital of Alberta and only a four-hour road trip from Fort McMurray. We were in the Boreal Regions, as the days get longer in the immense spaces that define the splendour of Canada. Edmonton is located on the North Saskatchewan River on the frontier where the prairies move to the majestic Rocky Mountain range. And the city is laid out on a grid between the Avenues running East-West and the Streets in perpendicular intersections.  The main avenue is Jasper Avenue, the central business district. On 110th Street your gaze is drawn Government Park and the Legislative Assembly overlooking the Saskatchewan River, with it’s wonderful domed roof, not unlike a view of Val de grâce as seen from la rue Saint-Jacques in Paris, recognizable for its splendid dome.

On the same Capital Boulevard there is a wonderful sculpture of the Star Gazer - Koo-koo-sint, David Thompson, the great geographer, sitting with his astrolabe atop three stylized canoes.

It is a city in which it was easy to speak French; all the staff at the Edmonton International Airport spoke excellent French and even on the Air Canada Flight bringing a local soccer club, I spoke with the young 11 and 12 year old players in French, who were aspiring to compete in Barcelona.

The grid formation of Edmonton and even the architecture is a tribute to its imperial beginnings; Similar to well organized cities of the Roman Empire, Edmonton was meant as a tribute to Britannia; it has both Paleo and Neo Empire architecture with a few beautifully preserved early Empire Art Deco buildings in the Warehouse district on 104th St. They are set off against the new architecture towers that raise towards the sky in geometric glass and steel.

The cuisine was also excellent with a wide range of choices including the Japanese Grill, the Sicilian Pasta Kitchen, An Chay Vietnamese Vegan, and the Bodega Tapas and Wine Bar, where we couldn’t get a table but managed to stop for a glass of Chardonnay and chat with the affable owners.

In April 2019, the Feast of Easter falls very late, so we were still in Lent, throughout which I practice a mostly vegan diet, without dairy, eggs or meat. This is sometimes a struggle when confronted with so much gastronomic excellence. Fortunately, we found the Copper Branch on Jasper and even after a very long day I stopped for convenience in the Rocky Mountain Ice-House where I had one of their two vegan choices on the menu; the black bean burgher.

Many of the Lenten dietary practices were introduced by Saint Benedict of Nursia, whose Monks go through two very strict vegan seasons, Advent and Lent. Fortunately the wise founder did not exclude wine or beer, after all they are both plant based beverages. So Lent in Edmonton was more of a joy than a burden with quiet moments of recollection at the Basilica of Sunday Joseph, just before the First Passion Sunday, where Gregorian Chant is sung in both English and Latin, and whose great rectangular Gothic interior, for its space and height brings to mind faint echoes of the major Gothic basilica in
Venice, Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari.

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