Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years.

A dictionary definition of a "Hot Mess"

May your stomach be settled and your morning be headache free. May you awake ready to take on new adventures and hobbies.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Megafaun - "Real Slow"

This tune has been on repeat this whole Christmas season, possible the only thing making it bearable. Having the flu over the holidays is not going in my book of "Awesome Things To Do Over Christmas".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Sign Off.

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas, and Fantastic New Year. May your year ahead be full of laughs, love, and great memories! Till the New Year my friends.

P.S. Got to love the Yule log on Father Christmas' back. Looking at it, it should burn the full 12 days! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Robertson's Candy.

Nova Scotia’s largest family owned hard candy factory was established Truro, Nova Scotia in 1928 by William C. Robertson. Now William’s son, Roy Robertson, runs this producer of fine quality hard candy. Specializing In traditional sweets, you will not see the likes of Sour keys, or jube-jubes in this factory. One of their iconic treats, and claim to fame is Barley Toys. Dating back to 1880, Barley Toys, also known as Toy Candy, Clear Toys, or Animal Candy have been a staple of Maritime Christmas’ since Robertson Candy started producing them when they originally opened.  Today Robertson’s has one of the largest collections of Barley Toy moulds in the world.

Along with Historical “toys”, they also produce a whack of other traditional candies.
Like Chicken Bones, Humbugs, Rum and Butter, Maple Kisses, Natural flavoured candies made with Maltose (not as sweet, perfectly balanced), and one of my favourite flavours, Clove. Their packaging is top notch, and durable, and the candies are large and flavorful. You can order online, and have these nuggets of joy delivered right to your door.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas List.

In case anyone thinks I have been good this year.

1. Mike Mignola Batman Black & White Statue.
2. Tandy Craftool Pro Rotary Punch.
3. Carhartt Double Front Work Pant.
4. Filson Tin Cloth Hood - For Tin Cruiser.
5. Dominica Bay Rum After Shave.
6. Hendrick's Gin.
7. Chicago Blackhawks Jersey with Griswold "00".
8. Barbour Handkerchiefs - Yes, I actually use them!
9. Pointer Brand Blanket Cap.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vintage Tobogganing.

Hopefully soon, we here in Southern Ontario will have a good dumping of snow. So I can wax up the toboggaon and hit the hills!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Vince Guaraldi - A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Recorded in 1965 by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas has become one of the greatest all time selling Christmas albums. In my home, the season begins with a play-through of the entire album while putting up the tree. I dare you to listen to the instrumental "Christmas Time is here" during a snowfall, and not instantly get into the Holiday spirit. I grabbed a reissued vinyl copy from Urban Outfitters last year at the end of the season for $3. If you like fantastic jazz music and Christmas Carols, you best be getting it before Old St. Nick come down your chimney.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Damn Yak Dry Goods At Tinder Shop.

I am super excited to see the newly designed Tinder Shop up and running.  Good friends, archaeologists, and shop owners Donna and Angus, have put together a plethora of fantastic sundries from hot water bottle cover from BC and Scotland, Stanley flasks and thermos', to German Feuerhand Hurricane Lanterns. They carry quite a unique bunch of cottage industry goods at obtainable prices. Tinder has also grabbed the last mason jars of Damn Yak Wilderness Remedy {pine pitch Salve}, and a bunch of canvas cups. Swing by their online shop to take a browse, and don't forget to take a look at their blog as well. 

Spicy Orange Pomander.

The smell of Christmas is something I look forward to every year. I could buy a candle that smells of cinnamon, clove, apple, and citrus and be done with it, but why not make the original. It's a great way to spend a couple hours with your family and it can become traditional tradition. The idea behind this has its roots in Victorian times. As all ornaments were handmade back then, usually fabric, metal, or brightly coloured exotic fruit. The fresh pomanders were then hung by ribbon around the house to dry and release their citrusy-spice aroma. At the end of the Christmas season when the orange has completely dried you are left with a permanent ornament that can be put away if you like for next year and light enough to be hung on a tree. I have had one hanging in my living room for 4 years now and it looks so beautiful!, and yes there still a bit of fragrance to it! 

Here is how to do it [from]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Pietersma Tinworks

Looking for that touch of Christmas History to add to you upcoming Christmas tree.  Over the past couple years I have collected many cans of Pietersma Tinworks Tinsel and other tin ornaments. I first saw them at Lee Valley Tools about 4 years ago, and now finding them at BCPV and other Historical location. Started by Greg Pietersma, who learned the art of tinsmithing at Upper Canada Village in the 90's. Since then he has opened quite a busy shop involving his whole family and carrying on the traditions of quality and craftsmanship in the numerous products it sells. Besides the tinsel and stars, I have quite a number of the Mason Jar tea light holders casting their unique glow around my pad.  He also crafts other traditional items like lanterns, hurricanes, tin cups, cookie cutters, and an amazing shop lamp. Based in Chesterville, Ontario (south east of Ottawa) the shop is sometimes open as a storefront by chance, but no need to wait out front as many retailers across Canada and USA (plenty in VT!?) carry Pietersma products for you to decorate this Christmas season.
Buy Online Direct From The Pietersma Tinworks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Shopping @ Damn Yak Dry Goods Co.

This Christmas be sure to grab your haul of Damn Yak Dry Goods for that somewhat special person in your life. Click on the pictures to be directed to Etsy or Email me at damnyak(at)

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Klondike Quest: A Photographic Essay 1897-1899.


This book should be on every one's shelf who appreciates the early outdoors equipment, photography, and hardships of the human. While not all the images are pleasant, most show the struggle and hardship of what Pierre Berton has called "one of the strangest mass movements in history."  Apparently the Klondike Gold rush was one of the most photographed events of the 19th century, so one could imagine the fantastic photos archived in this book. I haven't read the full book by Pierre Berton, but there is a fair bit of summarized reading regarding the images which makes this book great for your coffee table.  In a nutshell, the Klondike Gold Rush was spurred on by a small amount of gold and huge newspaper hype.  This mixture caused a mass uproar of approximately 100,000 people to drop and leave everything behind to get to Dawson City via the mountains and the famous Chilkoot Pass. Then when arriving, only to find out that most of the gold fields were already claimed.  In the end about 4000 people were to actually strike gold. It was quite a endeavor as most people were not well versed in the ways of the outdoors, let alone the harshness of the deep Yukon. At the now historical park in Washington, Alaska you can hike White Pass Trail. During the gold rush was promoted as a horse-packing trail. That meant a person should have been able to take all of their goods by pack animal up over the 45-mile trail. Even though this trail was supposed to be easier than the Chilkoot Trail, it turned out to be more difficult because of muddy bogs and steep rocky cliffs. Even experienced stampeders could not lead the horses around the obstacles. The trail was so rough on horses that 3,000 died along the way, and it was quickly renamed the “Dead Horse Trail.” Author Jack London said about the Dead Horse trail "The horses died like mosquitoes in the first frost, and from Skagway to Bennett they rotted in heaps." This is quite an epic book for sure, the photos tell as much of a story as the words beside them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wanted: Winter Campers.

Hello all,

This an open invitation to anyone who is willing to perhaps partake in some winter camping this season.  I would like to get out for a couple overnights this coming cold weather. My loving Wife will not tent camp in the freezing weather as she does not fair well after a long days outside in the upcoming cold weather. Me on the other hand fairs well in the cold. Whether we hike in to a site and stay put for a couple nights, or drive up and yurt camp, thus doing some day hiking is fine.  I have been told that Silent Lake PP has really nice non hydro, wood heated yurts. That would be a great two night trip, as they can sleep 6 people, The ideal person has their own equipment, enjoys the cold, willing to plan and perhaps drive (sometimes) and especially has a great sense of humor.  On the same lines I am wondering if any readers have a Hot Tent (canvas tent and wood stove) that they would either rent, let me borrow, or participate for some extended winter camping.

Shoot me an email Damnyak(at)

Monday, November 28, 2011

David Davidse - Hand Engraver.

Based in Beaverton, ON, David has been hand engraving for over 15 years, and 5 of those specializing in Bagpipe mounts. Taught in his 20's by his Step-Father Ron Spillman, who was a master engraver originally based in UK. At first he was apprehensive like most of us would be about learning his fathers trade, then 15 years later and over 200 sets of mounts David has become a master in his own right. I contacted David this past Sept, looking for someone to engrave a memento for my 6th wedding anniversary, and David was more than happy to help me out. He engraved this 1.75" Silver disc to fit within a miniature cast iron post (Iron being the traditional 6th anniversary gift).  After a couple email discussing design, David set to work. The finished piece blew my mind. Its really hard to believe that the hand is able to carve out such intricate, fluid detail into metal. When looking at antique lockets and such it was always all hand engraved, now all but super high-end  is all the liner cut from a machine, four choices of fonts and that's it. Hand engraving is so full of the artists energy, the work flows within the piece, filling every nook with something to look and appreciate. It is very pleasant and at the same time exciting to the eye. I am really glad that to have met David, Turns out we both had a custom knife made by the same local knife-maker. Small World. If you are looking to add something extremely special to a piece of jewelry, a silver cup are anything that can be engraved head over to Truehand, and I am sure David will be more than willing to help you out.  Tell him Chris from Damn yak sent you!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Grey Jay, Canada Jay, or Whiskey Jack.

 One of our followers looking for food.


While in Algonquin Park last weekend, we were inundated with swooping Whiskey Jacks looking for hand-outs.  While my Wife succumbed to it once, I was surprised that on every hike we went on they would follow us for kilometers, flying from tree to tree watching us ever so closely. These are beautiful, fairly big birds. I'm not talking Raven here, but way bigger than the chickadee I am use to having eat out of my hand. This friendly bird has been known as many things, in Latin - Perisoreus canadensis, English - Canada Jay, Grey Jay, Butcher's boy, Meat Bird, Camp Robber. Moose Bird, and Finally my favorite - Whiskey Jack. its this name that interests me, because I can understand the other names. Average names that have to do with something what the Grey Jays do, whether is land on moose or steal your food. In doing some research I found in Katherine Barber's 2007 book "Only in Canada", it suggests that Whiskey Jack comes from the Cree word for blacksmith, "wiskatjan." The bird's colour supposedly made people think of ashes and soot. Hudson's Bay Company workers in the 18th century, who heard the Cree word as "whiskeyjohn," then altered John to the more informal Jack.  Please take a look at this quote from a Metis-Cree discription of Wisakecahk, the boreal trickster.
"Wisakecahk is one of the most famous Cree heroes. There are hundreds of endless stories about him. He is a joker, always playing jokes on his brothers and sisters, the animals, plants and rocks. Stories about Wisakecahk always have a moral. They are called story cycles because they are all connected. Each story is from the collective memory of everyone who has told it and may change each time it is told. The narrator may add characters from another story or change the story slightly to make a certain point. Wisakecahk has many powers, such as the ability to change shape and be anything he wants, and to speak the languages of the animals and plants. No one really knows what he looks like. He is believed to have left the earth and to have headed north, but he returns sometimes to attend dances and other celebrations. However, his presence is never mentioned at these functions. The mischievous Wisakecahk is always getting into trouble in his attempts to prove his intelligence and strength. Stories about Wisakecahk usually begin with him walking and feeling hungry. He is too lazy to get food for himself, so he will try to trick other animals into giving him their food, or into becoming his food. Tricks are often played on Wisakecahk himself. The stories also tell of Wisakecahk's entrance into the world and his experiences, teaching us about how animals and plants came to have their present colours, forms and special characteristics. Stories about Wisakecahk are to be told only in the winter. If they are told during the summer, when there is good weather and we should be working as much as possible, the lizards will ruin the narrator's life by sucking his or her blood. These stories are meant to be narrated and not read; much is lost in the written word. Much of the spirit, humour and excitement are also lost in the translation of these stories; they can be best appreciated in the language in which they were first told. Wisakecahk is regarded as a pseudo-religious character in the Cree culture. His actions may seem evil or bad, according to Christian standards, but the Cree don't consider him or his actions evil. Christian morality is imposed in this situation. To the Cree, the means is less important than the end. Stories about Wisakecahk were told for entertainment and as a way teaching people how not to do things."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winslow Homer.

Winslow Homer born 1836. was an American landscape painter as well as a printmaker. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art. I stumbled across these great outdoors-men pictures while looking for some images of canoe art.
Largely self-taught, Homer began his career working as a commercial illustrator. Then in 1861 he was sent to the front of the Civil War in Virginia as an artist-correspondent for the new illustrated journal, Harper's Weekly.  His long career took him to France, England, and finally back to the USA, where he lived in New York, and finally settling in Prout's Neck, Maine. I could go on and on about his history, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art does a fine job of that.  So please just sit back and enjoy these amazing watercolours.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Damn Yak Report On Archival Clothing.

Hey Friends. Head on over to Archival Clothing and take a read on a report I was asked by Co-Writer Lesli Larson to write. Its regarding a late 50's Filson Forestry Cloth Cruiser.  I was stumped when I purchased it, as to the fabric type, and Lesli was super kind to help me sort that out.  Take a read !

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For Sale: Damn Yak Dry Goods Wool & Canvas Possibles Pouch.

Damn Yak Dry Goods Co. is very proud to present this small run of Wool and Canvas Possibles Pouches. The Wool was purchased from Johnson Woolen Mill in VT, while on my way to Maine this past year.  The 12" x 7" pouches are lined with unbleached raw canvas, tough as nails!  The brass zipper is sure to provide years of solid use, and sewn with heavy nylon thread.  The twisted leather toggle and D.Y. logo is hand riveted on. The possibles pouch is meant to carry any items you may find essential to you, and to keep them all in one place.  I am using mine as a map case for canoe trips, and during the off season, small gears for day hikes. If you are a cyclist, you could store a inner tube, some oil and a couple tools no problem. The possibilities are endless with a possibles pouch.  I have given a few out and have only four three two left at the moment, with enough material for 4 more in the future.  So scoop one up now, as it might be the New Year till you see the last four.  They are $35, and flat rate shipping is $5 in CAN, and $8 US.  Shoot me a email damnyak(at) if you are interested, if you require shipping Paypal only.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Slate Falls Loggers' Memorial.

While reading some old manuscripts of the history of Algonquin park, many accounts of canoeist stumbling upon loggers graves was common place. Usually these graves were for the log drivers, from horrible accidents while on the job. Logging back in the late 1800's involved dragging the logs out on to the ice of a river during the winter months, then the swollen rivers of spring thaw would guide them down river to log markets in Ottawa and Quebec. One main logging river route started in Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park and finishes at Arnprior Ont, where it flows into the Ottawa River. This river is called The Madawaska River, and along this river is Slate Falls. Slate Falls was a particularly dangerous place as the logs would jam up continuously, and the poorly paid log drivers would have to scramble out and free the logs with their pikes before it became to large. In larger jams they would have to resort to dynamite to release the jam and get the logs moving again. Many men would slip and fall under the mass of wood, as safety precautions were nil, and PFD's were not around. Being in the middle of the woods with no access to villages or towns, if they did in fact find the body, they were buried on site. Then out of respect, fellow loggers or friends would chisel his name and the date of his death on a nearby rock. At Madawaska river there are over 12 inscriptions in the granite around Slate Falls. Quite a piece of Canadian history to be seen while on a portage, for sure.

For pictures of all the graves visit The Slate Falls Loggers' Memorial Site.