Sunday, May 29, 2022

Historic church in Canmore

REDress Project
Watercolour and computer
©2022 Charlene Brown

The dresses now on display at this church are part of an on-going project to increase awareness of the horrendous findings of the MMIWG.

My interest in painting this church relates to a much less dire controversy involving it and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Banff. 

The Canmore church, built in 1890 and 1891 in the ‘Carpenter Gothic’ style, was one of the first Presbyterian churches in Alberta.  Ralph Connor, an ordained Presbyterian minister, was sent on a mission to the Canadian Rockies, serving Banff, Anthracite and Canmore about a hundred years ago.  He was an ardent advocate of temperance, labour rights, and the progressive ideals of the Social Gospel movement.

In 1925, he was strongly in favour of joining other Presbyterian churches, as well as Methodists and Congregationalists to form the United Church of Canada.  The idea was popular with his congregation in Canmore, but the Clerk of the Session in Banff (my grandfather, Jock Thomson) led a successful revolt to “ensure that St. Paul’s remained Presbyterian.” 

This resulted in Ralph Connor serving the remainder of his mission in Canmore only.  In spite of this, he played a leading role in bringing the various denominations together, and was soon called to serve in St. Stephen’s Church in Winnipeg. 

By the time of his death in 1937, Ralph Connor had become a prominent figure in the United Church and a best-selling author of several books, some relating to "difficulties in the mission fields of the Canadian West."  The church in this painting was named the Ralph Connor Memorial United Church in 1942.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Finally – a Real Trip to Paint!

A new view of Cascade
Watercolour and computer
©2022 Charlene Brown

When I was growing up in Banff, we would occasionally swim in Johnson Lake (which we called Johnson’s Lake and still do).  And somehow we never noticed the spectacular view of Cascade and its reflection in that lake. Maybe that was because we never walked far enough along the lake, beyond the heavily wooded area near the road,  to see it.  More likely it was because when you live in Banff you don’t even see Cascade because it’s always there

Anyway, I was in Alberta a couple of weeks ago for the Mothers Day weekend (my first time off the Island in two years!) and made a point of finding some new painting locations. 

Full disclosure:  I took photos at these locations to be used as reference pictures back here in Victoria.  It’s still much too cold to be sitting around painting in Banff.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Sankey diagram* of the Albedo Effect

It’s complicated
Watercolour, crayon and marker
©2022 Charlene Brown

Albedo, or degree of whiteness, determines the fraction of light that is reflected by a body or surface, and the complementary fraction that is absorbed. Albedo is a simple concept that plays a complicated role in climate change, especially in the Arctic.

Sea ice covered with snow reflects as much as 85% of the sunlight that strikes it, absorbing only 15% of the heat. Whereas deep blue open water can absorb as much as 90% of the sun’s light and heat. The heating effect of climate change is compounded over the years as melting results in more open water and longer ice-free periods.  Melted ice is replaced with thinner ice, resulting in an earlier thaw the following year.

A similar compounded effect has been observed on land in the Arctic, where the length of the snow-free period each year will have an effect on the amount of time that the land is absorbing and holding heat, and subsequent speeding up of the spring thaw.  In addition to this, the lower albedo of bare land varies with the darkness of the vegetation.  Generally lighter deciduous vegetation will reflect more sunlight and absorb less than evergreen trees and shrubs.

An unexpected phenomenon, a shift in vegetation from conifer to deciduous ground cover, has been observed in the taiga of northern Canada by measuring the albedo of the area over a period of years. Last September, I wrote about the possibility that this increased reflectivity of the land surface will exert a negative radiative effect, or cooling, on the climate. 

 * Sankey flow diagrams feature directed flow lines the widths of which are proportional to the size or intensity of whatever is being measured, in this case incident and reflected sunlight.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

The hybrid electric ferries have all been delivered

Heading to the Upper Harbour to be prepped for service
Watercolour and marker
©2022 Charlene Brown

I talked about the new hybrid-electric ferries being built in Romania in a blog post written just before the pandemic hit.

Despite all the disruption, these ferries have continued to arrive. 

But they have continued to operate on diesel power because the small Gulf Island ports they serve are not yet set up with on-shore power sources for charging their batteries.  So, still Step 1 in transitioning to zero-emission by 2050 that I mentioned two years ago.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Creative Archaeology in Arizona

Montezuma Castle
Watercolour and crayon
©2022 Charlene Brown

Some of the pictures my daughter sent reminded me of similar pictures I’d taken when we visited Arizona in 2006.  There seemed to be a lot more very paintable-looking trees in our pictures so I’ve added them. I was told at the time that the trees were ‘ghost gums,’ but have since wondered if that was a little creative forest taxonomy to accompany the following creative archeology that led to the subject of this painting being called Montezuma Castle.  

About 150 years ago, European settlers, under the impression that all the really impressive archaeological sites in the southern part of North America were engineered by the Aztecs, named the structure after Montezuma II, the ruler during the Aztec Empire’s greatest expansion.  The name stuck even after it was determined that the place was abandoned in 1425 CE, about 40 years before Montezuma was born.  A Western National Parks publication, ‘A Past Preserved in Stone: A History of Montezuma Castle National Monument,’ states the ingeniously-located structure functioned more like a “prehistoric high-rise apartment complex.”