Tag Archives: Canada

French Islands in North America

You’ve heard about the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, but have you heard about the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, located off the coast of Canada at the entrance of Fortune Bay?

Amazingly, hundreds of years after France relinquished its hold over other North American territories, it maintains the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.

Equally amazing is the history of the islands, which transferred back and forth between England and France several times since Europeans took notice of them in 1520. At that time, they were held by the Micmac Indian tribe.

Today, the islands are a French territory. Located close to the Grand Banks, fishing is a major industry for the residents of the islands, although many also work in the public sector.

Approximately 6,300 people live on the two islands; more than 5,700 of them live on the island of Saint-Pierre.

Since the islands are so small, there are no street names. Residents give directions using landmarks, nicknames, and people’s residences as markers.

The only time the guillatine was used in North America was on a man convicted of murder on the island of St. Pierre. The guillatine had to be shipped from France. It was never used again and is now in a museum on Saint-Pierre.


Filed under Europe, North America

KidCulture Travel

The Philadelphia Inquirer has run an article I wrote about traveling to Montreal with my son.

Read it here and let me know what travel tips you’ve picked up – with or without your kids.

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Filed under Read

Cookies 12: Maple Bars

Maple BarsFor Day 12, we go North to Canada to sample their famous maple bars.

Here’s a recipe from Food.com.

Canadian Maple Bars


Coconut-Graham Layer

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 1/4 cups finely ground pecans

1 1/4 cups sweetened coconut, shredded

1 1/4 cups chocolate, semisweet pieces

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


Maple-Cream Layer

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup maple syrup (I use Amber Maple Syrup)


Chocolate Topping

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (Eight 1 oz squares)

1 cup heavy cream

2 ounces white chocolate, chopped


Combine crumbs, pecans, coconut, chocolate and butter in bowl. Press evenly over bottom of 13 x 9 x2 inch baking dish. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Maple-Cream Layer: Beat confectioners sugar, butter and maple syrup in bowl until smooth and creamy. Spread evenly over graham layer. Refrigerate until firm, for about 3 hours.

Topping: Melt Semisweet chocolate in cream in saucepan over low heat. Cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Pour evenly over maple layer. Refrigerate until firm, for 3 hours. Melt white chocolate in small saucepan over low heat. Cool Slightly. Pour into paper cone. Drizzle over chocolate topping. Refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes. Cut into 24 two inch squares. Cut each square into half for 48 bars. This can be frozen, or refrigerated

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Filed under Eat, Holiday

Oh Canada!

Call me une folle (crazy lady) but I thought it would be fun to take mon fils (my son) to Montreal to show off a little bit – uh, I mean, expose him to a francophone culture.

So – passports in hand – my son and I packed our bags (brought the stuffed animals along for the ride), filled a cooler with Diet Coke, lemonade, and Reese’s peanut butter cups, made a couple of mixed CDs for the car stereo, and hit I-87.

And even though it meant this Jersey girl had to pump her own gas, it was an awesome trip.

Since I was traveling with a seven year old, I had to take it a little easy on the sightseeing. Instead, we enjoyed the simpler pleasures of exploring a new city.

We walked down unfamiliar streets taking pictures of everything from street signs to graffiti.

We rented bixi bikes for $5 each and rode around Montreal’s waterfront for a half-hour.

We pedaled a paddle boat next to the Bonsecours Marche and bickered like old men.

We listened to a man with a totally awesome Quebecois accent sing American folkie songs like “Blowin in the Wind.”

We watched a nearly endless train pass through the tourist area to my son’s supreme delight.

And I got to eat some of the best moules (mussels) I’ve ever had. But don’t just let your mouth water over our fun vacation, take a look for yourself.

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Now, go book your hotel room because not only does Montreal have a lot to offer as an echo of France in North America, but it has charms all its own that make it – and all of Canada – a really great, family- and budget-friendly vacation.

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The International Sport of Baseball

Despite the fact that the “World Series” actually only includes teams from the United States and Canada, baseball itself is an incredibly international sport.

In honor of the opening day of baseball I did a little research on baseball’s global connections and I found out some really cool information.

Since baseball is a sport that loves statistics, here are a few:

  • Major league ball players have come from 54 different countries since the 19th century.
  • Jeff Bronkey, a pitcher with the Texas Rangers for three seasons in the 1990s, was born in Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • There are more major leaguers from the Dominican Republic than any other country (other than the U.S.).
  • Venezuela, Canada, and Cuba round out the top 5.

The first baseball game played outside the United States was in England but one of the most unique games was probably the one played in front of the Sphinx in Egypt.

Statistics from the Baseball Almanac.

But perhaps nothing accurately captures the spirit of baseball than this quote from Tommy Lasorda:

“For starting pitchers we have two Dominicans, one Italian, one Mexican, and one Japanese. In the bullpen we have a Venezuelan, a Mexican, a guy from the United States, and a guy from St. Louis.”

But no matter where you go in the world, you won’t find a better mascot than the Philly Fanatic.

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