Looking ahead to 2014

Japanese Tourism Poster, collection of the Boston Public Library
Japanese Tourism Poster, collection of the Boston Public Library

Last night we had dinner with some friends in our neighbourhood and, because of their Japanese heritage, they served us delicious home-made sushi. This led to discussions of Japan; its food, language and landscape. I’ve been fascinated with Japan for many years, so it was nice to get some authentic insight. Soon after, with beer, wine and tuna coursing through our veins, we excitedly made plans to go on a camping trip together to Japan.

At the moment, our youngest children are two and, while they’ve both been camping plenty of times, we figured it would be better to wait until they’re five. A lot can happen in three years, but I really hope this trip happens.

Challenge of the Yukon

Challenge of the Yukon began life as a local radio show in the 30s. It told the adventures of Sergeant Preston of the Northwest Mounted Police and his dog King as they battled evildoers during the Yukon gold rush. It proved to be very popular program, was turned into a comic in 1951 and made it’s way onto TV in 1955.

Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Dell Comics, 1953
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Dell Comics, 1953

In 1947, the radio show gained Quaker Oats as a sponsor and this lead to a very successful ad campaign — well, successful for Quaker, but maybe not for their customers. As a tie in with the show, Quaker began adding deeds to one inch of land in the Yukon as prizes in their boxes. Imagine that, owning a piece of paradise. If I had been around at the time, I can guarantee my 10-year old self would have been all over this. I would have eaten Quaker Oats at every meal just so my Mom would buy more.

By the end of the campaign, Quaker had given away 21 millions deeds. Unfortunately, they failed to pay their taxes and the land was eventually repossessed by the Canadian Government, so no deed holders actually got their land. This story is told in the 2006 documentary film Cereal Thrillers. I haven’t seen it, but NPR has small piece on it.

So, the deeds didn’t bear fruit, but we still have the radio program. The Old Time Radio Researchers group has collected a number of episodes and made them available for download. When my kids are a little older, I can see us sitting around the campfire, listening to episodes and dreaming of the North.

Lantern Rock, Challenge of the North, October 16, 1943

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Mile Zero

Crossing Howe Sound
Crossing Howe Sound, 2011.

This past weekend, my family rented a 17ft boat and went to our property on Gambier Island for an afternoon picnic. It was a last minute idea on the part of my wife and I will forever thank her for it because it was the highlight of an amazing family weekend and served as the final inspiration to starting this new site. Stay tuned.