Tom Wilson pushes March Lions away with song-writing presence

Tom Wilson performs at Home Routes House Concert in Onanole      Tom Wilson performs at Home Routes House Concert in Onanole


Tom Wilson is a tall man.  He has a big voice.  His presence is large.  His song-writing is full-on.  Everything about Tom Wilson causes you to remember him.  His paintings are delightful.  Over 40 people enjoyed Tom’s humour, songs, and his music at a Home Routes House Concert that was full of  insights, great live music, and laughter.  It seemed that we went down the road of musical Canadiana, into the trials and tribulations of growing up, and in and out of personal stories from Tom’s unique perspective and insights.

Tom and Angela (his roadie who also does his website and Stephen Fearing’s website) were storm-stayed an extra day at our place.  I asked Tom for a few moments of his time to do a short podcast, before they left for Winnipeg.  He obliged.  His words are full of experience.  He sang the beautiful haunting Stoned while sitting at the dining table and left his song-writing mark….moving on to other Home Routes House Concerts in Manitoba this week, and a tour in the US with Cowboy Junkies over the next couple of weeks.  Thank you Tom!

Listen to the short podcast with him and the lovely version of Stoned:

Let us know what you think!  Fill out the comments section below, if you are inclined to give us feedback.  


Riding Mountain trails offer great experiences

New bulletin from Cate Watrous, at Riding Mountain National Park….

With nearly 400 km of trails, Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP) strives to be the premier destination of trail users of all persuasions, whether they prefer travel by foot, bike or horse. There is something for every interest and ability from the handicapped accessible boardwalk trail of Ominnik Marsh, to the spectacular experience of a mountain bike descent on the J.E.T. trail along the North Escarpment.


Hiking Gorge Creek Trail - Photo courtesy Riding Mountain National Park

Hiking Gorge Creek Trail - Photo courtesy Riding Mountain National Park


To understand the trail system in RMNP, it helps to understand the history of the park. In the early days, logging was permitted and even encouraged for relief workers during the Great Depression. This led to a series of roads being built to provide access to stands of timber. When logging was discontinued in the park, these wide level tracks were converted into what still makes up the backbone of the trail system today.

Read more about the trail system, what’s new and comments from various park staff about hiking in Riding Mountain


When you plan your Earth Rhythms customized guided outing (Call us at 1.204.848.4680 to help plan a special family or small group experience), we can make additional recommendations for you for self-guided, unique Riding Mountain trail experiences that will provide you with opportunities for wildlife viewing, photography, or a picnic lunch where few others are to be found. 

Riding Mountain Biosphere Forum features Laura Rance

On March 20 & 21, the Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve facilitated a first of its kind workshop. Attending were a number of invited stakeholders including scientists, licenced tourism operators, local agriculture producers, government enablers, academics from various institutions doing research about biosphere reserves, national park and biosphere reserve staff. Their purpose – to assess issues relating to research, communication, education, and community engagement and develop priorities for these different issues to guide the biosphere reserve efforts.

Over the period of two days, participants had opportunities to listen to several excellent presentations about local economic issues, sustainable tourism, and conservation within the biosphere. Solid data, provocative questions, and great examples from each of these three areas set the tone for good quality discussions.

In a positive manner, and with genuine effort to reach out and begin to develop relevance and engage local stakeholders, the workshop focused on creating dialogue between the various participants present as to what kind of research and other issues they felt the Riding Mountain biosphere reserve should be addressing.

Community Engagement

One of the most significant outcomes was the recommendation and realization by everyone that active communication engagement (involvement in a variety of ways – education, involvement in various projects, communication about the biosphere reserve) is a critical priority. While research will continue to be initiated and carried out, it has to be done in the context of a high priority and investment into community engagement. In my view, this was a very successful workshop.


Laura Rance, editor of the Cooperator – Keynote speaker

To kick off the two-day workshop, the Biosphere Reserve team invited a well-respected journalist Laura Rance, to deliver a keynote address. Laura is the Editor of The Cooperator, a Western Canadian publication for farmers and farmer news. Her talk was outstanding, providing a clear framework for some complex issues that we facing. Alternating between thoughtful, grounded, articulate, and passionate insights and education about agriculture, ecology, and economics, Laura wove a magical journey that really set the tone for great discussions. Laura’s talk is available at the following link – take the time to listen to this wonderful journalist share her passions and knowledge and experiences within Manitoba.  


For the techies in the audience, you’ll be interested to note that the talk was recorded on an iPhone 3G, with an app called Happy Talk Professional Recorder.  I am impressed with the quality of the recording, and happily recommend it.


Video Interview

I also interviewed Laura about her talk and what she was observing during the two days of this workshop. This short video provides her responses and insights, and are well worth viewing. Thank you Laura!


I feel that we were very fortunate to be able to have Laura with us for a couple of days.  She is a very busy person.  The following link gives you access to her presentation in March of this year, to the PEI Adapt Council, as well as several other very good presentations (all summarized in one pdf document).  Laura explains the inter-cropping technique that Saskatchewan farmer Colin Rosengren is using in this article called Crop Husbandry Saves Input Costs.  –Laura Rance.  March 13, 2009.

Comments are welcome!  Please see below and fill out your comments.  Thank you.

Organic herbs and greenhouse

We highly recommend you visit Jason Kelly’s greenhouse any time during the spring and summer months, where you have the opportunity to purchase organically raised seedlings, plants, flowers, and vegetables.  Jason also has excellent organic herbs available all summer long.  Just across from Sportsman’s Park – look for the greenhouse on the west side of the road on Highway #10, just before you enter Riding Mountain National Park.

Good Food – Riding Mountain area

The following are two places I highly recommend for quality local food. You’ll love the hosts, the food, and you’ll get insight into local stories, views, and news.

Harvest Sun Café – Get Directions

The Harvest Sun Cafe – is a small cozy cafe nestled at the heart of the small community of Kelwood which is situated right next to the east gate of the Riding Mountain National Park. We offer cuisine that is made from organic, and more importantly local produce.  Our cafe offers a unique rural experience for visitors, which includes local tastes, flavours and the opportunity to connect with a sma Manitoban community.  

Kelwood, Manitoba Email:


The Harvest Sun Music Fest – is a music festival with a fantastic family atmosphere that is dedicated to the support of local agriculture and community building. The fest offers an incredible line-up of musical acts, and as we are partnered with the local ag fair, there is the opportunity to have a hands on experience with an Agricultural Fair that has been running for over 100 years.  


Prairie Seasons Café & Bakery
Onanole, Manitoba
Look for the big elk statue as you come into Onanole.
Organic baking, fresh and local foods.

Stand By Me !

Sometimes, I just love sharing things that bring a smile to my face, joy to my heart, and real delight that the human spirit is so special that we can make music like this and FEEL it! Enjoy. We love live, roots, traditional music – and are active participants in the Home Routes House Concert Series, as well as hosting regular house concerts ourselves.

Below is a link to one of the best pieces of sound engineering work. It is a composite audio/video of song whereby additional tracks were laid in by different singers and musicians from different places around the world. The finished product is tremendous! The song itself is that classic standard “Stand By Me” originally released in 1955 by The Staple Singers and released again in 1961 by the Drifters. So turn up the speaker volume and CLICK BELOW to watch.

Stand By Me from David Johnson on Vimeo.

World Water Day – March 22, 2009

On 17 March 85 World Water Day 2009 events had been posted from 27 countries on, with the majority from the developed world.  One quarter of the events were submitted by people from the developing world.   Water is increasingly become one of the most important issues in all countries, as the effects of global warming begin to manifest themselves in different ways around the planet.


Canada has a number of interesting events regarding World Water Day:

Riding Mountain Forum – March 20-21

The Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve (RMBR) hosts the 2009 Knowledge and Research Forum at the Elkhorn Resort, Spa and Conference Centre.  The purpose of the forum is:

With the assistance of knowledgeable local individuals, experts, researchers, institutes and agencies,

  • To identify the critical areas of knowledge and research that is needed within the RMBR to ensure healthy and sustainable communities, working landscapes and protected areas.
  • To identify an expanded list of individuals, research institutes and agencies that could be involved in future forums and initiatives
  • To identify a group of interested individuals that would provide on going guidance in the gathering of knowledge and research within the RMBR into the future.    

I look forward to participating in this forum, as an invited member.  Lots to learn.  The Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, in my view, is one of the best locations in Western Canada for investment, business, research, and sustainable tourism over the next few decades.

Why? Because the emerging local carbon economy requires leadership communities where people, businesses, producers, and tourism operators can work together to demonstrate how our economy and environment can sustain each other.  We are blessed by having Riding Mountain National Park in our backyard.  

However, the economic investments that will help local people to sustain themselves will need to include clean energy production (wind, solar, geothermal), agriculture that demonstrates lower scales of production without intensive chemical management, cattle that are range-managed and grass-fed (not feedlot), environmental research and monitoring that is state-of-the-art (and complements the national park mandate), and the establishment of sustainable tourism businesses (new tourism experiences; opportunities for youth to learn about climate change and environmental science; new travel experiences; new B&B accommodations; year-round tourism).    

The Benefits

If we can sustain these types of activities, we will demonstrate community viability (wealth generated by economic activities that keeps local people here and help to nourish and protect the national park, water systems, and ecological health of the area), and long-term sustainability.  I’ll be Twittering as I learn from the forum.  Stay tuned!

Signs of spring in Riding Mountain

The birds are moving around, new ones are arriving, and the sun is much higher in the sky.  Today, the first crows arrived at our seed feeder.  They were eating sunflower seeds on the ground.  Yesterday, we had a Northern Shrike hungrily looking at birds near our feeder.  The Black-Capped Chickadees gave it lots of room, while continuing to scold from a safe distance.