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.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest We Forget.

Victorious Canadians celebrating after fighting on Vimy Ridge, [ca. 1918] 

Please take a moment today to remember the people who stepped up, and helped make this amazing Country what it is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In The Blood.

Check out this Doc "In The Blood" by Sumner McKane. Putting together audio interviews, film, and photographs, Sumner paints an amazing picture of Maine lumber life during the late 19th century. I love listening to the accounts of these people, always happy to re-tell their stories. Pick up the DVD, take a watch and see if you can easily say "Gosh, what a tough day at work!". Check out some other clips below!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

I recently visited Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum located at the Hamilton International Airport.  The museum is quite a spectacle, offering 36 different plane to look at. Various fighters, bombers, trainers, and fighter jets sprawl across this brightly lit hanger for all to view and touch. Before you enter the hanger you walk through a self guided toured history of the RCAF, including some great militaria. One of the Key planes in the hanger is a working Avro Lancaster, probably the most famous Allied Bomber from WWII. This massive aircraft can be seen every now and them flying to airshows around Ontario. The also off the chance to fly in a warplane, there are many to choose from, but when I was there someone was out in a North American Harvard. Looked like a grand time for sure!! Seeing this Museum and all the wonderful pieces of history within it, I wonder why the powers that be would even consider the fate of the Canadian Air & Space Museum. These Museums are integral to the history of Canada and need be experienced by young and old.  For more info on this matter and to sign the petition check out the Online Petition.

Gallery of other pictures from my visit

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mo'vember - Team: Hercule-Poirot.

Mo'vember is among us, and I am sure we all know someone who is participating in the fundraiser for prostate cancer awareness.  This is my second year being a part of this crumb catcher growing party.  It was great fun last year sprouting a full blown handlebar stache, waxing it up every day for the cause! I actually kept it till the New Year!  This year I am part of team "Hercule-Poirot" with my good Friend Jeremy Baron, and we are taking it a step further.  We are going to be getting mustache tattoos on our forearm to commemorate this event by his lovely wife Jonina.  The arm can them be held up at anytime to sport the handlebar and be a constant reminder to look after our health.  That being a true "Manly Man" involves prostate health and that you cannot simply "walk it off".  So please Support Team Hercule-Poirot, and stay tuned for pictures of the finished tattoo in the weeks to come!

Image by : Kromdor.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tough Traveler - Patrol Padre Backpack.

Located in Schenectady, NY, Tough Traveler has been making tough as nails bags since 1970.  With hundreds of bags and colours to choose from, the combos are endless.  I found out about them when I preemptively picked up an one of their baby carriers at a thrift store for $2.  US made, looks sturdy and comfortable...why not!?  Then I got home and did a search and found that they were still in business and the baby carriers are quite popular in the hiking community.  Also they apparently are in the business of making every kind of bag under the sun.  From bike bags, to musical instrument bags, camera bags, backpacking bags, luggage, wallets and purses just to name a few.  One of my favorites is the above Patrol Padre, made for ski patrol.   I love how each pouch is made of a different colour nylon, to avoid confusion of where supplies and equipment are stored if you are rushing or telling someone where to look.  That aside it also adds to the eye catching appeal as a pack.  At $390 its up there in cost, however most items that deal with safety and rescue tend to be a tad more expensive then general use items.  Check out Tough Traveler, as they have some unique items and they construct solid bags at really reasonable prices.

Take a look at their massive collection here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

David A. Smith - Sign Painter.

Check out this amazing short documentary about David A. Smith.  He is a Professional Sign Painter based in the UK.  One of the last of his kind, his works include reversed glass signs and decorative silvered and gilded mirrors.  Its really is mind blowing and inspirational to watch.  He really has a knack for slowing down and focusing to achieve near perfection!  A trait, I think we could all use more of.  Incredible.