Magellan animates our travel adventures

From Aurora Borealis to Zigzag Roads

We jubilados never settle for capturing our travel with one camera when six are in the suitcase


Eaton's 1948 Xmas Catalogue

What are some of your fondest memories of being a child at Christmas?

For me, Christmas started with the arrival of Eaton’s Mail Order Christmas Book. What a delight and dilemma to crawl through the catalogue, narrowing my choice to just one or two treasures. And then getting to share that choice with Santa—in person!

I don’t remember my first Christmas but I’ve been told it was not a white one. Dad was a fireman with the CNR and on a run that was delayed by snow. Knowing he’d be back late Christmas Eve, Dad bought a tree in Wainwright and put it in the coal tender. Neither shaking nor spraying that tree with water would get the soot out. But I’m sure I loved it anyway.

In pre-school years I wanted presents like a toy hammer and a saw (dad and all my six uncles were skilled carpenters), a train set with a transformer to emulate my Dad, who was now an engineer, tinker toys and a MECCANO Set. Mrs. Claus snuck in a pair of pyjamas (to be opened Christmas Eve, rather than the present that looked suspiciously like a hockey stick.) When I was five, Mrs. Claus upped her game to get me a navy wool blazer and pants that looked spectacular in pictures but were very itchy.

After moving from Biggar to Saskatoon, I spent more time in the sports section of the catalogue. I yearned for shin pads to replace the magazines bound to my legs with sealer rings,  I lusted for a Red Wings jersey and I wasn’t thrilled with the leather helmet Santa thought would protect my glasses’ frames that kept getting broken.

What might have caught mom’s eye in the catalogue?

Mom would have wanted to look swishy at the New Year’s Eve party so she might have circled “A” on the page below as a hint to dad. “DREAM of a dress…perky self ties at back….Crisp Rayon Crystalette with gold-colour splashed print.” Would mom have wanted Grey (shown) or Deep Teal Blue? $10.98.

I remember family holidays in the summer, stopping on a side street in Wenatchee so mom could get into her girdle before some “big city” shopping. Spice thinks “E” might have been what mom would order for herself. “NUBACK  CORSET…firm boning and sliding back panel for comfort and support. Order 2 sizes less than waist to allow for lacing. $4.95.”

What does every woman often get her man for Christmas? A sweater. “E” looks like something mom would choose for dad, but $7.95 would have been a lot of money in 1948.

On Christmas morning,  Mom was even more excited than me. She paced the hallway, knowing exactly where to step on the one board that squeaked. If flushing the toilet wouldn’t wake those sleepy kids, why not flush it two or three times more? Our lights were always the first ones on in the neighbourhood.

Christmas was different then. Kids received just one or two presents each and rarely gave gifts to their parents unless they were homemade. That being said, every year from the time I was eight years old until last Christmas I bought my mom a spatula for her Christmas stocking.

After breakfast, the whole family went skating on the forty-by forty foot rink that Dad built in the backyard every year, along with a six-foot-high toboggan hill. In the afternoon, even if it was forty below (same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius), he lit the Weber bbq to roast the turkey. What a challenge it was to keep the charcoal fired and try to coordinate the turkey’s timing with the vegetable dishes. After dinner I curled up with a new book or magazine, wearing my new jersey while dreaming of my best move around Red Kelly of the Toronto Maple Leafs to score the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final. Having been up since 4 am, it was time to crawl into bed, happy.

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Timothy Eaton’s first catalogue, published in 1884, was a 32-page booklet distributed to out-of-town visitors at the exhibition in Toronto. Eaton expressed his vision for the catalogue in 1887: “This catalogue is destined to go wherever the maple leaf grows, throughout the vast Dominion. We have the facilities for filling mail orders satisfactorily, no matter how far the letter has to come and the goods have to go.” It became the first nationally distributed catalogue in Canada, and by 1894, Eaton’s was filling more than 200,000 orders per year. Colour was added in 1915, and photographs were added in 1919. The most anticipated catalogue of the year was Eaton’s Christmas catalogue, which, by the 1950s, grew to be a hefty wish book, slick and glossy with more than 200 pages and a kaleidoscope of colours.

Pictures Source Library and Archives Canada

Catalogue Pictures Copyright:

  • Eaton’s Fall and Winter 1948-49 Source: T. Eaton Co. Catalogue [English edition]Fall & Winter — Toronto : T. Eaton Co., [188–197-] — v. — P. 1-574© Sears Canada Inc. Reproduced with the permission of Sears Canada Inc. 029006-nlc003958

  • Eaton’s Christmas Book 1956 Source: T. Eaton Co. Catalogue [English edition] Eaton’s Mail Order Christmas Book — Toronto : T. Eaton Co., [188–197-] — v. — P. 1-187 © Sears Canada Inc. Reproduced with the permission of Sears Canada Inc. 029006-nlc003955

Once upon a time at the edge of a forest beside a river there was a magical place, Glenora, a golden valley in the northern wilds of British Columbia. Even its name had the lilt of birdsong, Glenora: glenn, the Gaelic word for valley; and ora, Spanish for gold.

One Sunday in the summer warmth of June, a man called Magellan and his wife Spice decided they wanted to camp at Glenora after hearing about its charms earlier that afternoon.

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Aurora Borealis Around the Moon

Only once have I seen the Aurora Borealis—nature’s fireworks. I remember it vividly: a wave of green ribboning the sky, a tinge of magenta on its tail, the distant crackling of electricity audible above the prairie wind. It was piercing cold that Saskatchewan night, January 25, 1992, after my grandparents’ 65th anniversary dinner. Ever since, I’ve longed for a repeat performance. Read more

At the intersection of the Dempster Highway and Latitude 65 N

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“And we should call it Latitude 65,” Magellan said five years ago when he floated the idea of a blog about our travels, the black-sky rains of November pelting our windows on the forty-ninth parallel in Vancouver.

What places, I’ve always wondered, are on the circle of latitude 65° N of the Earth’s equatorial plane?

And if we were nearby, how would we know the exact spot?

“We’ll be at latitude 65 this morning,” said Magellan as we left Yukon’s Tombstone Territorial Park where we’d camped the night before on our driving trip up to Tuktoyaktak.

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Alice

In this season, in the silence of night, who among us doesn’t pause, rewinding time back to childhood on Christmas Day?

Among those memories, there’s often a grandmother.

In my case, Grandma Danchuk. Alice. Born 110 years ago, on Christmas Day in 1908.

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One of our best experiences this year was on the OceanLight II in the remote Gwaii Haanas (the southern part of what used to be called the Queen Charlotte Islands).

Onboard was a crew of three: Captain Tom; first mate Jennifer; and cook Luise.

And four jubilado couples: Stewart, the eldest, and Denise; George (a storyteller with a killer sense of humour) and Veda with her broken left arm; Jean-Paul (a Frenchman whose first question every morning was “When is fishing?”and Judy (Jean-Paul’s translator and George’s cousin); and the two of us.

“I’ve found Jean-Paul’s diary,” announced George one night when nightfall curtained the July sky.

Gather round the galley and listen to George read the “fake” diary we’re calling Fish Tales.

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