Saturday, May 17, 2008

Last of Colonialism in North America

In the country to our north, Canada,

pretty close to us here in Maine(orange), is the island of Newfoundland(red).

Just under which, as indicated by the arrow & circle

are the small islands

shown here.

The French Islands Saint Pierre and Michelon are remnants of the age of 'exploration' of the "New World" by European settlers. St. Pierre et Miquelon is a small archipelago comprised of seven islands, the three larger of which are St. Pierre, Miquelon, and Langlade. In addition to their unique geopolitical situation, St. Pierre et Miquelon have an equally interesting history.The main reason the islands have remained French over the last 50 years is because of the importance of the Cod Fishery. Saint Pierre and Michelon have been mainly under French control since the sixteenth century, except a short period when the French left the island under terms of the Treaty of Utrecht. During that time the English controlled the islands, from the early 17th century until the French regained sovereignty in 1763. The 1st European settlers were Basque fisherman and it was an important and thriving fishing center. Today it remains as the only vestige of France located in North America.
As in Newfoundland, the area suffered from over-fishing, which forced Canada to impose a quota system on Saint Pierre and Michelon which permanently impacted the fishing industry of the islands. The islands also served criminals during the prohibition era being used extensively smuggle liquor into the United States gangsters such as Al Capone himself. Life is arduous there, the climate is damp and windy with winters as hard as they are long. Similar to Newfoundland, spring and early summer is foggy, summer and early fall is a pleasant time on the islands. During this short period, the economy depends on tourism, fish farming, crab fishing and very limited agriculture.The French government also provides funding that directly supports ther economy and ensures their continued habitation. The Euro is the official means of exchange as it is the formal currency of France. Beside Saint Pierre, the bigger island of Michelon and Langlade are actually two islands that were joined by an immense sandbar during the 18th century. There are also some small islands that were used during the heyday of the fishing industry. Land on these islands is bare and rocky with the only topsoil being a thin layer of peat. The shore line is steep and the only good harbor is located at Saint Pierre.

There are roughly 6400 residents on the islands today, about 80% of them live on Saint Pierre. Approximately 2000 are permanent or long term with their family ancestry dating back roughly four centuries. The rest are employed by the French government for administrative purposes, and are sent there from one to three years of duty. Even the police are brought in for a one year tour of duty. There are only two gas stations on the island of Saint Pierre while there are approximately a staggering 4,000 cars. Religion on the islands is ninety-five percent Catholic and there is only one church on the island. Crime is almost nonexistent, power is produced from Diesel generators and there has been some testing of the use of wind generators as well.

The island of Saint Pierre is ten square miles and there is one cemetery which has family plots assigned and permits up to four burials in one plot. For years, locals erected 'summer only bungalows' on the far side of thes small island, but more recently modern homes have been constructed for year round living. Food served at the seven or eight small bistros and one bakery is decidedly French. Almost everything reflects French tradition and culture. The people of the islands have tense relations with France. They believe that France that did not protect islander's interests relative to the negotiations with Canada about their fishing rights. Once a month, a ship from France is bringing the most desired stuff: French wine, cheese and other delicacies and specialties. Everyone rushes to buy it in big quantities, first come, first served! Products like cheese, which cannot be kept a long time, are frozen. Almost all supplies are shipped from France to the islands via Halifax, Nova Scotia. France has recently relaxed regulations and now allow islander's to purchase some basic items such as eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables directly from Canada and the United States.

The ferry system is the primary means of access, although a fairly new airport on Saint Pierre can accomodate aircrafy up to the size of a Boeing 737 which are flown in from the Canadian cities of St John’s, Halifax, Moncton, Toronto and there's even one from Havana, Cuba. A longer runway is planned which will then allow direct flights to and from France. The ferries travel to the islands only from around May until October, then the only means of getting to the islands is by plane or private/charter vessel.There isn't any newspaper and television access depends on cable TV from Canada and satellite TV from France. Island schools go through high school, after which students can travel to France for a free University education.
All in all, a pretty neat little hunk of Europe, right in our neighborhood.

Until next time, take care.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

More from the trivial facts files......

Since I seem to have

I've been doing a lot of this.

But, as I still read a lotta this

and spend time doing this

I end up collecting

which get stuffed in places like


So I called in my crack 'Fact Checking Team' to do this

and appropriately dispose of the bad info

and leave me with something like

and I can use the good stuff like this:


-The women of the Tiwi tribe in the South Pacific are married at birth.
-When Albert Einstein died, his final words died with him. The nurse at his side didn't understand German.
-St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was not Irish.
-The lance ceased to be an official battle weapon in the British Army in 1927.
-St. John was the only one of the 12 Apostles to die a natural death.
-Many sailors used to wear gold earrings so that they could afford a proper burial when they died.
-Some very Orthodox Jews refuse to speak Hebrew, believing it to be a language reserved only for the Prophets.
-A South African monkey was once awarded a medal and promoted to the rank of corporal during World War I.
-Admiral Lord Nelson was less than 1.6 meters(5'2.5")tall.
-John Glenn, the American who first orbited the Earth, was showered with 3,529 tons of ticker tape when he got back.
-Some Native American Indians used to name their children after the first thing they saw as they left their tepees subsequent to the birth. Hence such names as Sitting Bull and Running Water.
-Catherine the First of Russia, made a rule that no man was allowed to get drunk at one of her parties before nine o'clock.
-Queen Elizabeth I passed a law which forced everyone except for the rich to wear a flat cap on Sundays.
-In 1969 the shares of the Australian company 'Poseidon' were worth $1, one year later they were worth $280 each.
-Julius Caesar wore a laurel wreath to cover the onset of baldness.
-Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour during World War II, left school at the age of eleven.
-At the age of 12, Martin Luther King became so depressed he tried committing suicide twice, by jumping out of his bedroom window.
-It is illegal to be a prostitute in Siena, Italy, if your name is Mary.
-The Turk's consider it considered unlucky to step on a piece of bread.
-The authorities do not allow tourists to take pictures of Pygmies in Zambia.
-The Dutch in general prefer their french fries with mayonnaise.
-Upon the death of F.D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman became the President of America on 12 April 1945. The initial S in the middle of his name doesn't in fact mean anything. Both his grandfathers had names beginning with 'S', and so Truman's mother didn't want to disappoint either of them.(expanded from previous post)
-Sir Isaac Newton was obsessed with the occult and the supernatural.
-One of Queen Victoria's wedding gifts was a 3 meter(118") diameter, half ton cheese.
-Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, never phoned his wife or his mother, they were both deaf.
-It was considered unfashionable for Venetian women, during the Renaissance, to have anything but silvery-blonde hair.
-Queen Victoria was one of the first women ever to use chloroform to combat pain during childbirth.
-Peter the Great had the head of his wife's lover cut off and put into a jar of preserving alcohol, which he then ordered to be placed by her bed.
-The car manufacturer Henry Ford was awarded Hitler's Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle. Henry Ford was the inventor of the assembly line, and Hitler used this knowledge of the assembly line to speed up production, and to create better and interchangeable products.
-Atilla the Hun is thought to have been a dwarf.
-The warriors tribes of Ethiopia used to hang the testicles of those they killed in battle on the ends of their spears.
-On 15 April 1912 the SS Titanic sunk on her maiden voyage and over 1,500 people died. Fourteen years earlier a novel was published by Morgan Robertson which seemed to foretell the disaster. The book described a ship the same size as the Titanic which crashes into an iceberg on its maiden voyage on a misty April night. The name of Robertson's fictional ship was the Titan.
-There are over 200 religious denominations in the United States.
-Eau de Cologne was originally marketed as a way of protecting yourself against the plague.
-Charles the Simple was the grandson of Charles the Bald, both were rulers of France.
-Theodor Herzi, the Zionist leader who was born on May 2 1860, once had the astonishing idea of converting Jews to Christianity as a way of combating anti-Semitism.
-The women of an African tribe make themselves more attractive by permanently scaring their faces.
-Augustus II, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, seemed to have a prodigious sexual appetite, and fathered hundreds of illegitimate children during his lifetime.
-Some moral purists in the Middle Ages believed that women's ears ought to be covered up because the Virgin May had conceived a child through them.
-Some Hindus don't like dying in bed, they prefer to die beside a river.
-While at Havard University, Edward Kennedy was suspended for cheating on a Spanish exam.
-It is a criminal offence to drive around in a dirty car in Russia.
-The Emperor Caligula once decided to go to war with the Roman God of the sea, Poseidon, and ordered his soldiers to throw their spears into the water at random.
-The Ecuadorian poet, José Olmedo, has a statue in his honour in his home country. But, unable to commission a sculptor, due to limited funds, the government brought a second-hand statue. Of the English poet Lord Byron!
-In 1726, at only 7 years old, Charles Sauson inherited the post of official executioner.
-Sir Winston Churchill rationed himself to 15 cigars a day.
-On 7 January 1904 the distress call 'CQD' was introduced. 'CQ' stood for 'Seek You' and 'D' for 'Danger'. This lasted only until 1906 when it was replaced with 'SOS'.
-Though it is forbidden by the Government, many Indians still adhere to the caste system which says that it is a defilement for even the shadow of a person from a lowly caste to fall on a Brahman ( a member of the highest priestly caste).
-In parts of Malaya, the women keep harems of men.
-The childrens' nursery rhyme 'Ring-around-the-Roses' actually refers to the Black Death which killed about 30 million people in the fourteenth-century.
-The word 'denim' comes from 'de Nimes', Nimes being the town the fabric was originally produced.
-During the reign of Elizabeth I, there was a tax put on men's beards.
-Idi Amin, one of the most ruthless tyrants in the world, before coming to power, served in the British Army.

And that's the truth, I hope. So, until doing this

leads to getting one of these

so I can enter a story in this

Take care and stay safe.