Time For A Break!

Well, so far I have walked 454 kilometres across the province of Saskatchewan in order to raise awareness and funds for Huntington Disease and the Huntington Society of Canada.

Saturday night (July 22) I made it to the town of Wadena, Saskatchewan. It looks like I am going to turn south now at Wadena and pick up the trail on the Yellowhead Highway heading east towards Yorkton and then the Manitoba border. July 23 is a rest day at my mom’s place in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.  I will go back and pick up my trail Monday, July 24th.

Here are the towns I have covered so far:

Macklin, Evesham, Unity, Wilkie, Landis, Biggar, Perdue, Asquith, Saskatoon, Humboldt, Muenster, Engelfeld, Watson, Quill Lake, Clair, Wadena

Tales From the Road:

  1.  Seth and I were having lunch in Unity, when the waitress asked what I was up to.  I told her that I was walking across Saskatchewan in order to raise awareness about Huntington Disease.  As she went back into the kitchen we could hear her tell the cooking staff: “Hey that guy is running across Canada for Parkinson’s”
  2. As I was about to cross the 25th street bridge in Saskatoon, I came across a young man who had just been arrested.  The Saskatoon police were not messing around.  The young man was handcuffed, with his hands behind his back and was told that he was off to jail.  When he asked why he was being arrested, the police informed him simply and sternly that he had been “jaywalking.”  I did not record the incident, nor did I jaywalk for the rest of the tour through Saskatoon.
  3. About 1 kilometer west of Wadena, I met another walker headed west.  He asked if he could use my cell phone to call his mom and let her know that he was fine.  I dialed the number but did not get a dial tone, nor did the telephone ring on the other end. I then texted the number instead and typed: “This is Shaleco (the boy’s name). I am fine and am just west of Wadena, SK.  I just met another traveller who has given me water and energy bars.  All is well.” As we parted, ways, I asked where Shaleco was headed.  He said “Alberta”. I said: “That’s interesting, I’m headed for Manitoba.” A few minutes later, I dialed the number again and actually spoke with Shaleco’s mom.  I told her what happened and where I had last seen her son.  She informed me that she had the RCMP looking for him. Then, as I was just about to finish the conversation, she said: “You spelled his name wrong.”

Many Thanks to:

1. The hundreds of people who have sponsored me so far.  I am over my 10 and then 15000 dollar goal.  Thank you so much!

2.  My event sponsors: Knight Nissan, Bickner Trucking, Sterling Truck and Trailer, Hornoi Leasing, Full Line Ag, The Village of Vanguard, Steelview Oilfield Services, and Speedy Creek Signs.  My plan was to backpack across this province on my own.  It was not a good a good plan.  Best case scenario is I would have failed, worst case is I would have died.  These sponsors have ensured that I have a pace vehicle to keep me safe on the road, coaching to keep my body going, and rest at night and nutrition along the way. Thanks!

By the way, our pace vehicle is a Nissan Rouge.  It is very comfortable, handles well, and is overall a very nice vehicle to drive (just ask Val).  Here are the specs in case you are interested in checking one out. 

3.  John Bickner at Bickner Trucking.  He made the above sponsorship (and this campaign) possible.

4.  My pace drivers Seth, Jessalyn and my wife Valerie.  You can imagine that walking across the province at 5km per hour is boring.  Driving a vehicle at that speed isn’t any better.

5.  People that have walked with me; Dan, Jessalyn, Gordon, Amber, Brittney, Laurie, Janet and Lorne, Betty, Loyd, Brian, Carrie, Kassie, Wendy, and Alvina.  It does pass the time having people to walk with.

Scenes From Saskatchewan:

Here is a link to some pictures that I have taken along the way.

Playlist:

I haven’t been able to listen to as much music on the road as I would have liked.  There is just too much traffic.  In addition, after we had the Facebook block on our live feed because Val was playing XM radio, I thought if my pace car driver can’t have music then I can’t either.

Here is one of my favourite songs from my absolute favourite band growing up.

Fight the Good Fight – Triumph

Hailing from Mississauga, Ontario, Triumph was a power rock trio in the mid 1970s and 1980s.  They were my favourite band, and I must have listened to their records a million times. In fact, growing up, I wanted to be one of two guys, Rik Emmett of Triumph or Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This is Rik Emmett, one of my two boyhood heros.  His skills on the guitar are like no other. Originally, I wanted to name my first son, “Rik Emmett Shwaga.” It was decided.  There was no other option.  That is until the time of birth when my wife informed me “His name will be Seth.”

Image result for rik emmett

 

My other boyhood hero was Darryl Sittler.  He was the captain and best hockey player on my favourite team the Toronto Maple leafs.  Sometimes when the game would end on Saturday night, I could hardly bear the thought that I would have to wait a whole week to see Darryl Sittler and the Leafs again. Even then, often you would wait an entire week only to find out CBC was airing the Montreal Canadiens or Vancouver Canucks  game.  That was unbearable!

Image result for darryl sittler

Until this day, when I am at a teacher’s conference or convention or any place where people don’t know who I am and we are required to have name tags, I will put Rik Emmett or Darryl Sittler on my tag and just pretend to be them all day long. They are still my boyhood heroes.

Links:

Here is a link to my fundraising page. 

Please also check out the Huntington Society of Canada’s website.  It has a ton of information and articles.

Follow me on Twitter @gshwaga – Please like or retweet if you can. It gets my message to more people that way.

Follow me on Facebook: Greg Shwaga or my event page @GregsHDwalkSK

Follow me here at www.igslearn.com

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On the Road!

So I have hit the road, walking across Saskatchewan in in order to raise research funds and awareness for the Huntington Society of Canada.  I have covered 120 km in three days and today I had to break from my intended itinerary in order to do this interview:

http://regina.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1166513

I am planning on starting today at 4:00 p.m. from just outside of Landis, SK. and arriving in Biggar tomorrow.  I likely don’t get to Saskatoon until Sunday now. I’ll have to post pictures once I have better internet access.

Here are two songs that I listened to a lot on the road:

I met a man on the road from Winnipeg named Dan. That reminded me of The Guess Who and this song:

 

That song reminded me that Pearl Jam covered this song when they played in Saskatoon and made me think of this song:

 

 

 

Vanguard, Saskatchewan – Home Base!

Before I set out to see this province on my hike for Huntington Disease awareness and research, I thought I would like to profile my hometown of Vanguard, Saskatchewan by doing a little walking tour.

We are celebrating Canada’s 150 this Saturday, July 8.  There will be a social, dance, inflatable battle rings, and a huge fireworks display.

Here is where I am from:

 

Links:

Here is a link to my fundraising page. 

Please also check out the Huntington Society of Canada’s website.  It has a ton of information and articles.

Follow me on Twitter @gshwaga – Please like or retweet if you can. It gets my message to more people that way.

Follow me on Facebook: Greg Shwaga or my event page @GregsHDwalkSK

Packing!

Water, t-shirts, shorts, jogging shoes, sunscreen, bug spray and that is about it!  That is my list for my 676-kilometre hike across the province of Saskatchewan in my attempt to raise awareness of and funding for Huntington Disease research.  I have published my itinerary here and as expected it will already have to be adjusted. I have an interview scheduled with CTV on July 13, as well as a potential media opportunity in Moose Jaw later that morning.

The pace has definitely picked up here in the last couple of days.  My best friend John Bickner at Bickner Trucking Ltd. in Vanguard, SK was concerned about my safety and well-being while on the road.  He made more than a few calls and managed to secure a few sponsors so that I would be looked after in terms of accommodations and nutrition. So far, Bickner Trucking Ltd. in Vanguard, Sterling Truck and Trailer Sales Ltd. in Regina, The Village of Vanguard, and Full Line Ag Ltd. in Swift Current have come together in order to help me across the province (I have one more to come, but will release that information shortly).   Level Coaching has put together a comprehensive nutrition plan for me to follow in order to minimize the chances of me basically self-destructing on the side of the highway in the middle of the province (let’s face it in my mind I still feel anywhere from 7-17 years old, but at 46 I’m a bit of a geezer).

I also have had some other help along the way.  Sport Chek in Swift Current set me up with some jogging shoes and athletic socks, Swift Current Pharmasave and Walmart Swift Current provided me with bottled water for the trip and Et Cetera in the Swift Current Mall even gave me a microwave steamer so that I can raffle it off to all my Twitter and Facebook followers and retweeters.

Thanks everyone for helping me out!

In addition, thank you to everyone who has been donating to the Huntington Society of Canada online and through me.  I set my goal of 10,000 dollars, and I am basically there already and still four days away from starting the walk. Thank you so much!

I also have some readers tuning in from places like India, Finland, The UK and the United States.  Welcome!  I should tell you about Saskatchewan:

My home province of Saskatchewan is a trapezoid in the middle of Canada. We are one of only two landlocked provinces in our country (though we have about 100,000 lakes most of which nobody ever sees).   We are slightly larger than the country of France in area but with 65 times fewer people.  Yes, that means we only have about 1 million people in our entire province.  Our 1 million people though, produce a whole lot of food (if you have eaten bread, margarine, or lentils, you’ve likely had a taste of Saskatchewan), oil and gas (unless you are from the United States though, you likely haven’t had our oil.  We only get to sell it to ourselves or the United States – long story.) and Uranium (if your electricity is generated by a nuclear reactor, the uranium used to power it came from us). Also, potash; if your farmers put fertilizer on their fields it probably came from about 3500 feet below the surface of my province. We are kind of the Saudi Arabi of potash.

We produce a lot of hockey players too!

What is Huntington Disease(7)?

One aspect of the disease that I haven’t touched on at all, is the Juvenile form of Huntington Disease or Juvenile HD. I was contacted today by someone that has been affected by this form of Huntington Disease and this manifestation of HD is very sad indeed.

About 10% percent of HD cases are of the juvenile form.  Whereas most HD victims remain asymptomatic until around 30-50 years of age, the juvenile incarnation hits kids in their teens (plus or minus a few years) and it hits them hard.  Generally speaking, if a teen starts showing symptoms of HD, they won’t see 30 years of age.  Misdiagnosis is more likely here too, because a child may show signs before the parent from which they inherited the disease. Symptoms are similar to adult-onset HD with less likelihood of chorea (dance movements) but more likelihood of epileptic seizures.

Here is a video that explains Juvenile HD:

Featured Town:

Wilkie SK

Wilkie’s population is about 1300 people.  It is named after Daniel Robert Wilkie who was president of the Imperial Bank of Canada from 1906-1914.  From what I can tell, all of the streets in Wilkie are named after their founder or after the Imperial Bank. The Imperial Bank was the forerunner of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  I started my first bank account with the CIBC because it was the “Bank of the (Toronto) Blue Jays” and because of this commercial:

I should be in Wilkie July 11.

Training Update:

I have effectively shut myself down until Monday.  I did go out for a walk with my wife and some friends yesterday that lasted for about 9 kilometres. I took this picture:

20170704_210659

Interesting note:  I lived in British Columbia for six years.  My son was born there.  B.C. was great.  I even wrote about it here. My born and raised B.C. friends would say they could never be without their mountains.  I always felt like the mountains were in the way!

Links:

Here is a link to my fundraising page. 

Please also check out the Huntington Society of Canada’s website.  It has a ton of information and articles.

Follow me on Twitter @gshwaga – Please like or retweet if you can. It gets my message to more people that way.

Follow me on Facebook: Greg Shwaga or my event page @GregsHDwalkSK

Follow me here at www.igslearn.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Plans!

I have worked out a tentative schedule for my walk across the province of Saskatchewan in support of Huntington Disease research and awareness.  I totally expect the schedule to be ruined by noon of the first day but if all goes as planned (which it never does) I should be on the road from July 10-27.  Here is the breakdown:

July 9 – Sunday

Leave from my hometown of Vanguard SK.  Drive to Macklin.

July 10 – Monday

7:00 a.m. – Leave the Alberta/Saskatchewan border.

8:00 a.m. – Arrive in Macklin SK – The rest of the towns are all in Saskatchewan.

10:30 a.m. – Arrive in Evesham 

I won`t see any other towns today.

Total Kilometres:  44

July 11 – Tuesday

7:00 a.m. start

11:00 a.m. – Arrive in Unity

7:30 p.m. – Arrive in Wilkie

Total Kilometres:  49

July 12 – Wednesday

6:00 a.m. start

I won`t see any new towns today. I will be between Wilkie and Biggar

Total Kilometres : 45

July 13 – Thursday

6:00 a.m. start

11:30 a.m. – Arrive in Biggar

No new towns.

Total Kilometres: 42

July 14 – Friday

6:00 a.m. start

8:30 a.m. – Arrive in Perdue

4:00 p.m. Arrive in Asquith

Total Kilometres: 45

July 15 – Saturday

7:00 a.m. – start

1:00 p.m. – Arrive in Saskatoon

Total Kilometres: 25

July 16 – Sunday

Recovery Day in Saskatoon

July 17 – Monday

6:00 a.m. start

No towns on the road between Saskatoon and Humboldt.

Total Kilometres: 50

July 18 – Tuesday

6:00 a.m. start

No towns on the road today.

Total Kilometres: 50

July 19 – Wednesday

6:00 a.m. start

9:00 a.m. – Arrive in Humboldt

12:00 noon – Arrive in Muenster

3:00 p.m. – Arrive in St. Gregor

5:30 p.m. – Arrive in Englefeld

Total Kilometres: 47

July 20 – Thursday

6:00 a.m. start

8:00 a.m. – Arrive in Watson

3:00 p.m. Arrive in Quill Lake

6:00 p.m. – Arrive in Clair

Total Kilometres: 44

July 21 – Friday

6:00 a.m. start

11:30 a.m. – Arrive in Wadena

3:30 p.m. – Arrive in Kylemore

6:00 p.m. – Arrive in Kuroki

Total Kilometres: 43

July 22 – Saturday

8:00 a.m. start

10:00 a.m. – Arrive in Margo

1:00 p.m. – Arrive in Invermay

Total Kilometres: 23

July 23 – Sunday

Rest in Yorkton

July 24 – Monday

6:00 a.m. start

8:30 a.m. – Arrive in Rama

12:30 p.m. – Arrive in Buchanan

6:30 – p.m. – Arrive at Good Spirit Lake

Total Kilometres:  50

July 25 – Tuesday

6:00 a.m. start

3:00 p.m. – Arrive in Springside

6:30 p.m. – Arrive in White Spruce

Total Kilometres – 42

July 26 – Wednesday

7:00 a.m. start

9:30 a.m. – Arrive in Yorkton

12:30 p.m. – Arrive in Tonkin

Total Kilometres: 45

July 27 – Thursday

7:00 a.m. start

9:30 a.m. – Arrive in Wroxton

4:00 p.m. – Jump in the Lake of the Prairies! (Saskatchewan/Manitoba border)

Total Kilometres: 32

Spend the evening concluding my trip in Esterhazy, SK

Total Kilometres: 676

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Comes Alive!

On July 1, 2017, Canada will celebrate its 150th year of existence! This is quite an accomplishment considering our odd, accidental, unwelcome, rejected, unwanted, unconventional birth.

Remember the American Revolution and the 13 Colonies kicking the shackles of tyranny to curb and emerging as the United States of America? That didn’t happen with us.  Great Britain couldn’t afford and didn’t want us anymore, so basically on July 1, 1867, they had a vote in London and told us we were on our own.  “Nice knowing you.”  “See you later.” “Call us once in a while!”

Now obviously, there is more to this story and it’s not like we wanted to stay anyway, so how did all of those leftover British Colonies manage to grow up and become independent?

Basically, it all started with the American Civil War. By 1861, our neighbours to the South hated each other.  The states in the South wanted to leave and form their own country so they could continue to use slavery as a means of keeping their large cotton and tobacco plantations profitable. The North didn’t want the South to leave and didn’t want or need slavery with its more industrial economy. In the end (1865), the North won and the United States remained the United States.  Great Britain however (unlike the French in the American Revolution) had bet on the wrong horse and supported the South during the Civil War. They had even built a Confederate warship, the Alabama, in England.  When the North finally won in 1865, the United States was justifiably angry with Great Britain.  But why sail across the Atlantic to punish Great Britain?  Why not take some revenge on those British Colonies to the North?

The United States did this by ending reciprocity agreements with the British Colonies.  This meant no more free trade.  Canada and the Maritime colonies had gotten used to freely selling lumber, fish and agricultural products to the large  US market. With this free ride over, the British colonies had to look to each other as trading partners.

Railways also played a key role here.  Railways in the 1800s were like the cell phones of today.  They were they KEY communication device that everyone wanted in on.  The problem for the British colonies was that railways were expensive to build. Getting together would help solve the cost issue and once built the railways would obviously accelerate trade and the spreading of new ideas.

The colony of Canada also had a huge problem at this time.  The Act of Union in 1841 was so successful in creating equality between Canada East and Canada West that the colony had reached a total political stalemate.  They couldn’t decide on anything and couldn’t move forward as a result. Canada had to look to get bigger in order to find alliances and get moving again. Canada had a breakthrough of sorts with what was referred to as the Great Coalition in 1864.  George Brown and the Reformers actually joined with John A. Macdonald and the Conservatives.  The modern day equivalent would be Justin Trudeau joining forces with whoever will lead the Conservative Party of Canada. The catch here was that this coalition’s purpose was to work towards a larger union of British North American colonies.

The coalition found their opportunity in September 1864 at the Charlottetown Conference.  The Maritime colonies had gathered to discuss their own union; nothing to do with Canada at this point.  The Canadian boys found out about the Conference,  crashed the party and turned the Charlottetown Conference’s agenda into one that discussed a merger of all British Colonies in North America.  They were persuasive.  A month later the group met again in Quebec and hammered out the framework for the BNA Union.  Among other items, they wanted the new country to be a federal system with two levels of government; a provincial government to administer things such as education and health and a federal government to handle such items as defence and currency.  Any residual powers (anything they couldn’t think of at the time) would belong to the Federal government.

Proud of their accomplishment, the would be Fathers of Confederation took their idea of a unified Canada back to the colonies hoping for a stamp of approval.  Instead, they were soundly rejected.  Canada voted yes, but the French in Canada East were split.  Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island said “no thanks” outright.  New Brunswick was split and Nova Scotia said “no” but their premier, Charles Tupper, rammed it through anyway. Canada was on hold, destined to expire in 1864.

Then along came the Fenians in 1866.  The Fenians were Irish Americans in the Northern United States that out of nowhere started to raid British North American border towns. The reason:  They wanted Great Britain out of Ireland.  Their campaign had nothing to do with Canada or the United States but it couldn’t have happened at a better time for confederation. Supporters of a larger Canadian union basically said: “See the Americans are attacking us like we said they would.”  The British Colonies basically replied: “You’re right, we’ll join together even though we don’t want to.”

That (the Fenian raids) was the catalyst that brought Canada together. The Confederation boys got together in London and dusted off their notes from the Quebec Conference. On March 29, 1867, by an Act of British Parliament, the Dominion of Canada was created.  Great Britain essentially told us: “Okay get out of here, and have all your stuff out by July 1.” So on July 1, 1867, the British North America Act came into effect and Canada became a country with four provinces: Ontario (Canada West), Quebec (Canada East), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Here is a summary:

British Columbia: Just a Little Different

I lived in British Columbia for six years.  The province is flat out awesome!  It is, however, a little different than the rest of Canada.  Growing up in Saskatchewan, we used to have one or maybe two television channels on a good day.  Everything seemed to happen outside of Saskatchewan in places like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.   Furthermore, our roads and railways always seemed to me to be taking everything outside of Saskatchewan to far off destinations. As a result, I, like many other residents of Saskatchewan, saw myself as Canadian first, and a Saskatchewanian second. I learned very quickly that this was not the case in British Columbia.  People from British Columbia are British Columbian first.

Even just a quick glance at the province shows that British Columbia is a bit different than its provincial brothers to the east. For one, it is separated from the rest of Canada by the mountains. It has more geographic features and climate variation than perhaps the rest of Canada combined.  Its economy and trade patterns are different.  British Columbia also has differences when it comes to history.

First Nations people inhabited British Columbia first.  That is no different. There is, however, this Spanish element to British Columbia that the rest of Canada does not have. Spanish explorers explored the coast of British Columbia well before Alexander Mackenzie got scared off by the Heiltsuk Nation and painted his name on a rock in 1793.  Even the fur trade was based on sea otter pelts and not beaver like the rest of Canada.

British Columbia is very much like the rest of Canada, in that it came from what was left over from the United States.  At first part of British North America left after the American Revolution, British Columbia and the rest of the great North-West became of interest to American president James Polk in 1844.  Basically, the United States became really good at expanding.  The 1800s was a great time to be an American and there was this view that it was just simply a natural progression that all of North America would eventually be the United States. This was known as Manifest Destiny and it is an idea that a few historians and economists would suggest has never really died.  In 1844, however, it wasn’t just an idea, it was a belief that many Americans, including Polk, felt should be acted upon. He was even willing to go to war over it.  His battle cry was “54’40 or fight”.  This meant that James Polk wanted the United States to extend to the 54th parallel, not the present day 49th parallel. If this were to happen in present day Canada, the border would be north of places like Edmonton, Prince George and Saskatoon and about where Smithers, Slave Lake and La Ronge are located.  Essentially 98% of Canada’s population would be American.

Needless to say, this never happened.  Great Britain worked out a deal with the United States that established the 49th parallel as the border between the United States and Canada.  A few years later in 1858, a gold rush in the Fraser Valley brought many people to British Columbia (it wasn’t known as British Columbia yet)  and it would later join Canada as a full province in 1871.

Here is a brief video summary:

The Pemmican War of 1811-1816

We have seen that while the eastern part of North America was involved in wars and rebellions from a period of 1756 to 1837 (Seven Years War, American Revolution, War of 1812, 1837 Rebellions), the northwestern part of North America was still very much in the thick of the fur trade.

Two fur trading companies, the Hudson`s Bay Company and the North-West Company were battling it out to see who could make the most money buying and selling furs in North America. It wasn`t much of a battle.  The Hudson`s Bay Company had a massive geographical advantage in that it could take ocean-going ships half-way across the continent, whereas the North-West Company had to rely on an elaborate system of lakes and rivers that old French fur traders had established during the days of New France. The North-West company remained competitive as long there was new territory to find and exploit.  This ended in July of 1793 when Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific Ocean by land. This meant that there was simply no more fur trading areas to reach.  The Hudson`s Bay Company`s competitive advantage eventually started to wear on its failing competitor.

To further pressure the North-West Company, the HBC began opening up areas for agricultural settlement.  Agriculture and settlement meant the end of the fur trade and when the HBC started the Selkirk settlement in southern Manitoba, the demise of the fur trade soon followed.

The problem with the Selkirk settlement was that is was strategically located where the Metis had set up shop trading and supplying Pemmican to the North-West company voyageurs.  The Metis owed their livelihood (not to mention their origin)to the fur trade.  The Selkirk settlement was a clear and direct threat to their way of life. When the Metis mentioned to the HBC that they maybe could have moved their settlement somewhere that wouldn`t bring about the ruin of the Metis way of life, arguments started.  These arguments led to armed battles, which for a five-year period between 1811 and 1816 became known as the Pemmican War.  The last and most violent of these battles was at Seven Oaks in 1816.  Here is a summary:

By the way, pemmican seems like really cool stuff.It is a mixture of powdered dried meat, berries, and sugar or honey.  Apparently,  it can last for years and is highly nutritious and calorie dense.  It could sustain voyageurs for months at a time. Here is a recipe that I found and that we will try in class.

Pemmican

Recipe # 1

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups lean meat (deer, beef, caribou or moose)
  • 3 cups dried fruit
  • 2 cups rendered fat
  • Unsalted nuts and about 1 shot of honey

Instructions:

Meat should be as lean as possible and double ground from your butcher if you do not have you own meat grinder. Spread it out very thin on a cookie sheet and dry at 180 degrees F for at least 8 hours or until sinewy and crispy. Pound the meat into nearly a powder consistency using a blender or other tool. Grind the dried fruit, but leave a little bit lumpy for fun texture. Heat rendered fat on the stove at medium until liquid. Add liquid fat to dried meat and dried fruit, and mix in nuts and honey. Mix everything by hand. Let cool and store. Can keep and be consumed for several years.