culture language

Saint Jean Baptiste Day 2011 in Lethbridge

Once again this year, the ACFA Regionale de Lethbridge is hosting a Saint Jean Baptiste Day celebration. It’s going to be held this Friday, June 24, 2011 at Cite des prairies — Mayor Magrath & 6th (it’s the French school / community centre) from 3:00pm to 10:00pm.

Please come out to the free celebration and enjoy:

“Bbq, inflatable games, drinks, face paint, free shows including the multilingual world beat musical band from Edmonton : Le fuzz. There will be more…!”

St Jean 2011 Lethbridge

St. Jean Baptiste Day, it turns out, started out over 2000 years ago in the pre-Christian Europe as a pagan solstice celebration originally held on the 21st of June. With the arrival of Christianity the holiday was moved a few days later and has been celebrated on the 24th ever since.

Here is some other interesting info I picked up on the web:

In the beginning, Saint-Joseph had been designated as the patron saint of New France (just like Saint-Patrick is to Ireland). The problem was that his Holy day is in March and the Quebec climate during that time of the year is not very favourable for celebrating. It is for this very practical reason that Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day became more popular, the end of June being a great time to have fun outside. Today, the holiday has lost its religious meaning but has kept its traditional name.

You know that whole, “Kiss me, I’m Irish” meme? I wonder if a t-shirt reading, “Kiss me, I’m French” would work and do you think it would be rude to expect a “French” kiss? It seems reasonable.

Lastly, if you are not in a place that celebrates St. Jean Baptiste, then you can at least appreciate some Quebecois culture with this recipe for poutine, a traditional French Canadian delicacy.

Poutine (Canadian fried potatoes with gravy and cheese curds)
Poutine (poo-TEEN, or puh-TSIN) is a popular fast food in the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec. The name means “mess” in French, and that it is. Poutine’s popularity has spread throughout Canada since the dish first appeared in the 1950s. This recipe makes 2-3 servings.


1 1/2 pounds French fries, cooked and hot
2 cups Cheddar cheese curds, broken into chunks
2 cups hot, Beef gravy

Place the hot French fries in a large bowl or individual serving bowls. Sprinkle over the cheese curds, then pour over a liberal amount of the hot beef gravy. Serve with a fork.

Photo by Jeff Milner 2010

Pictured above is some poutine I had the last time I was in Quebec. Yum.



Canada Day 2009

Last Wednesday was Canada Day. My parents met me in Raymond and we drove out to Waterton to enjoy a day in the world famous Waterton International Peace Park.

I strolled down to the beach with some cousins and their kids and together we put together a Canadian flag using red and white rocks that we found near the lake.


It’s nice to live in Canada and I can’t think of many places I’d prefer to celebrate the nation’s 142nd birthday.


St. Jean Baptiste Day

The National Holiday of Quebec is celebrated annually on June 24, St-Jean-Baptiste Day (the feast day of St. John the Baptist). Yes, it’s odd that a province has its own “national” holiday, nevertheless, it’s a good excuse to celebrate French Canadian culture.

Certainly an unexpected surprise to me is that it’s celebrated even here in Southern Alberta. The Association Canadienne-Francaise de l’Alberta (ACFA) is hosting a party (today) for St-Jean Baptiste day with a barbecue, campfires, fireworks, dancing, and a beer garden right here in Lethbridge.Drapeau Carillon Sacré-Coeur
Drapeau Carillon Sacré-Coeur: A Carillon flag waved by people on Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day from its creation in 1902 until 1948. The current Flag of Quebec is based on this design, and was adopted in 1948. (Source: Wikipedia)

Reading up on St. Jean Baptiste Day, I learned (or possibly relearned) that the Canadian national anthem, O Canada, shares its origins with this celebration:

On June 24, 1880, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society organized the gathering of all francophone communities across North America. The event was the first National Congress of French Canadians (Congrès national des Canadiens français). On this occasion, the citizens of Quebec City were the first ones to hear the “Ô Canada” of Calixa Lavallée, based on a poem by a Quebec Superior Court judge, Adolphe-Basile Routhier.

The song was commissioned by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society. It was well received but did not become a widely known song for many years. (English words were later written for a royal tour in 1901. In 1980, “O Canada” became the official national anthem of Canada.)


Happy New Year

The first day of the year 2008 and so far, no complaints.

It’s back to work tomorrow—I’ve been keeping busy whipping up some web sites but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking for some more projects (ie. give me a shout if you’d like me to create something for you).

I’m very pleased with the new SB-800 flash I got for Christmas from my brother. (Not to mention the 50mm f1.8 lens I picked up for myself a week before Christmas) Keep your eyes peeled for some big improvements in my photography now.

I’m also extremely excited about the new acoustic guitar that has my finger tips in a constant state of numbness. It really killed me for the first couple of days, but now I seem to be able to play as long as I like. I love it!

This month also marks three years since my work with Relic on the video game “The Outfit”. I don’t suppose there is much to say about that, except that three years means that I’m legally allowed to talk about it, and because I couldn’t for so long, I guess there is just a built up urge to share.

Life is good; no new resolutions for the start of the new year. I’ve found it’s more effective to just start them when I need them and not wait for arbitrary days like January 1st.

Have a great year!

education life

Memories of a Forth Grade AIM Class

Despite repeated emails and Christmas cards that continually expound the details, I can’t seem to regurgitate my parents’ plans for Christmas except in the most general terms. I’m expected in Medicine Hat on Sunday? Food will be eaten? Religious differences will be tolerated? The important details just don’t stick in my mind.

However, ask me which questions I couldn’t answer on my 4th grade aptitude test to see if I qualified for AIM, and boy, do I have a list for you!

For the record, I didn’t answer “Christopher Columbus” because my fellow test taker, Christine, who finished it the day previous, told me, “contrary to popular belief it was Captain James Cook that discovered America.”

Why WOULDN’T I believe her? And to be honest, I don’t even know if Columbus is the answer they were looking for—what about the Vikings? And while we’re at it, do the First Nations people count for anything?

Don’t lose any sleep over it. I got into AIM anyway.

In case you’re curious, AIM was this once-a-week afternoon program they had for students who were high achievers. While my peers at George Davidson were learning about the First Nations (Native American Indians as they were called then) and the settlement of Western Canada, I was busy across town learning advanced science, math, and computer skills.

In AIM they taught us about negative numbers, statistics, and among other things how to use a word processor—this was a pretty big deal considering that in 1988 most people hadn’t even heard of word processors. I still remember typing away in front of those state of the art monochrome green monitors. Our teacher Mr. Freeman insisted typing would be a useful skill later in life. Who knew he’d be so right?

And even though this might sound pretty cool, I hated AIM.

One of my complaints was that I wasn’t interested in learning how to type. Computers were for games! and as any 9 year old of that time will testify, learning about home row is significantly less entertaining than Lode Runner.

They also demanded too much homework. Any extra homework, is too much. The weekly afternoon assignments at AIM more than doubled my load for the entire week. And to make matters worse, I was completely stressed out that I wouldn’t do a good job.

Homework wasn’t the worst part though.

The worst part was that none of my regular teachers had ever gotten around to teaching cursive handwriting. Mr. Freeman, liked to mix his chicken scratching with cursive shortcuts. Basically I was in a class of geniuses and I when it came time to read our homework off the board, for all intents and purposes, I was illiterate. Talk about HUMILIATING.

Mr. Freeman wasn’t exactly understanding either. There were a few of us in the same boat and he lipped us off saying that if we couldn’t read his writing, that was our problem. It was the next week that I began skipping. (How did you think I found out what everyone in my regular class was up to on Wednesday afternoons). Shortly after that I ended up dropping the program&8212;but I’ve kept the guilt.

And in so many ways, I can’t help but feel like my performance in AIM has been a reflection of my life in general. If only my circumstances had been different… if only I had a half decent teacher, or someone to inspire me… and besides whatever it is I should be doing, it’s significantly less entertaining than any number of my daily distractions.

At least I can take a break from my worries with some holiday cheer.