Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Rainy Lake to Kakabeka Falls - Then On to Dorion, Ontario - 35 years ago last week

On Sunday July 6, 1986 we were up pretty early: 5:30 was early by the standards of this trip. The next two days would be very full on this part of the Trans Canada Highway as we mad our way from Rainy Lake to Kakabeka Falls our our next designated rest spot. Oddly enough all we had for breakfast that day was bread and we were on the road by 6:50, peddling our way eastward on Ontario Highway 11. Though it really wasn’t breakfast it was just something to fill the void we were feeling in our stomachs.

Just East of Rainy River, Ontario

About 22 kilometres down the road from where we had rested we came a little town by the name of Emo. There was nothing particular about that town that I made note of in my travel log, though we did stop there for a complete breakfast. Once again I delve into the annals of Wikipedia in order to flush out my tale of 35 years ago. “Emo was officially created on July 1, 1899, and celebrated its centennial in 1999. Emo's first reeve was Alexander Luttrell, an Irishman who named the town after a namesake village in Ireland near where he was born.” Apparently the town is now famous for two things: its stock car races and its Emo Walleye Classic a catch and release fishing tournament; when we were passing through Emo the second of its claims to fame didn't exist. The tournament was about 18 years away from being born, while the stock car races came into being some 32 years before we were going through that little town. 


In retrospect it seems odd that all I write about is food and when we stop for food. Two entries in a row are about eating in Fort Frances and then stopping Emo and then stopping for lunch. It was really only about 35 kilometres down the road from Emo. How we had gotten so hungry in say the two to two and a half hours we had possibly ridden that morning is a mystery. How we had gotten so hungry in say the two to two and a half hours we had possibly ridden that morning is a mystery. 


It was in this Ontario-Minnesota border town, just across the Rainy River lies International Falls Minnesota, oddly enough there are no falls so what were the founders of that community drinking? However, there is a hydro-electric power station located there to harness the power of the Rainy River. It was just outside of Fort Frances that we met two older men on motorcycles from a place called Togo, Saskatchewan. Thirty-five years ago that little town had a population of 186 people, so these two guys must have known pretty well everyone. From Wikipedia I gleaned the following information: “Togo incorporated as a village on September 4, 1906.[3] This village was founded after the Japanese had won several victories in the war against Russia (Russo-Japanese War 1904–05). Britain was allied with Japan in this war and Japan was a very popular nation throughout the British Empire. Three towns in Saskatchewan along the CN line (Togo, Kuroki, Mikado),[4] a regional park (Oyama),[5] and CN Siding (Fukushiama)[6] were named in honour of Japanese achievements in this war.” 


Crossing Rainy Lake

We didn’t scoff down food in Fort Frances, which lies on the Canadian side of the Rainy River separating Minnesota and Ontario, proper but somewhere a little further up the road where we could see Rainy Lake proper, probably some six kilometres further eastward. It was quite the impressive body of water with a surface area of 932 km2 . And no, it wasn’t something healthy that we scoffed down, but something these guys from Togo were calling dog hots. Yes, you read that right and it’s not to be confused as being the Togolese Republic wedged between Ghana on its west and Benin on its east, though it was two older guys from Togo Saskatchewan mentioned above. However; there is in fact is an area in the Sudbury District of Ontario and falls between Ontario Highway 144 to the west and southward to Sudbury from Timmins and Highway 11 to the east as it runs from Matheson to North Bay, Ontario We thought it must have been some strange local dialect or just some strange form of oral dyslexia. 


Monday, January 25, 2021

Avocado, Mushroom, Pepper and Tomato Salad

A while ago I was missing cucumber so I decided to add two different ingredients: avocado and mushrooms. This turned into what I now call an Avocado, Mushroom, Pepper and Tomato Salad. In fact I decided to only use pepper, tomato and the three base things I use when I start. They are balsamic vinegar, olive oil and sunflower seeds. There were also three new things I combined for this new salad. They were an avocado and two types of mushrooms. 

AMPT Salad plated w/ Pork Loin Chop

Avocado, one small ( 72 g )
Balsamic Vinegar, One Table Spoon ( 16 g ) 
Olive Oil, One Table Spoon ( 13.3 g ) 
Oyster Mushrooms dried ( 7 g ) 
Red Sweet Pepper, medium size ( 100 g ) 
Shiitake Mushrooms dried ( 7 g ) 
Tomatoes, Two small ( 105 g ) 

 Putting it Together 

As mention above, I start all the salads I make with three main ingredients: Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and Sunflower Seeds. Over time I've learnt that if I put in all of these ingredients in the same mixing vessel and stir all these together the sunflower seeds themselves get coated in the mixture. In doing so they have a propensity to stick as individual seeds to the other ingredients that are added. 

In this case I was adding two new ingredients in the form of avocado and mushrooms. When I was young and used to go foraging for mushrooms with my father. Some of those mushrooms he would pickle, while there were others that he used to dry.  I can't remember nor did I ever learn what the different types of mushrooms were called when I was young. However, when I ended up on ground in Ukraine for over ten years, that changed. 

On occasion when I was in my paternal village I would go out foraging for mushrooms with my cousin.  I have a pretty good memory of things I've seen and realized that the mushrooms that my father primarily dried were oyster mushrooms. So when I was at the local grocer's I decided to pick up a few packages of dried mushrooms, hence the reason I added mushrooms to my new salad that morning. 

Dried mushrooms quite literally taste like dirt, so one of the first things you do is to put your mushrooms in a bowl and re-hydrate them with some boiling water. The fungi will quickly soak up the water like a sponge and by the time you have cut up your avocado, pepper and tomato, they will be almost look like fresh mushrooms you just came back from the forest with. 

Cut both your avocado, pepper and tomato into pieces of about one centimetre cubed. Mix these into the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and sunflower seeds. What I like to do with salads is mix them in a container that one can put a lid on to really shake things up. I found that this works quite well when I'm putting avocado into a salad. When you mix it up, the avocado breaks down a little and the pieces mix in with the base fluids, plus the seeds and fluid of the tomatoes also do the same. 

Before doing this check and see if your mushrooms are well re-hydrated. Strain off the water and add your mushrooms to your container for the big shake. Once that's done, its ready to plate. 

That amount of ingredients included above will be enough to make two nice sized salads as a nice side dish for any meal. The mushrooms add a nice texture to the other ingredients. to any meal. 

Vasyl Pawlowsky 
Independent Consultant
Who Loves to Cook


Saturday, January 23, 2021

Destruction of Culture: The Little-known Murder of Mykola Leontovych

Today is a day of historical significance for Ukrainians and the music world, though few people know of the murder of Mykola Leontovych, composer of "Carol of the Bells".

This morning a saw a post by my friend Tina Peresunko, author and curator of a project called "Світовий тріумф "Щедрика" - 100 років культурної дипломатії України" - "The World Triumph of
"Shchedryk" - 100 Years of Cultural Diplomacy of Ukraine"

Shortly after I shared it with friends I received a hint from my friend Olesya Sokalska in Ukrainian, "This should be in English!" So that was my project for this morning. Below is Tina's original post with some additions for clarification for those with little background knowledge of Ukraine's geography or history.

Shchedryk became what we know in North America as "Carol of the Bells" with the lyrics written by Peter J. Wilhousky.

Myklola Leontovych in His Youth
Exactly 100 years ago today at seven in the morning on January 23, 1921 Ukrainians lost one of their bright stars. A shot from a rifle, and a Russian agent of the Cheka killed composer Mykola Leontovych. He bled out on the couch in his parent’s home in the village of Markivka which had historically been known as the Podilia region of South Western Ukraine, currently Vinnytsia oblast.

On the same day, January 23, 1921, in Paris at the famous Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Leontovych's works were met with the applause of the French aristocracy. In fact this happened just few hours after the tragedy in Markivka (that day the concert of the Ukrainian People Republic’s Capella was a Matinée).

"The perfection is indescribable ... I lack words," the Parisian newspaper “La Presse” wrote the same day.

"This is one of the most interesting events in Paris today," says the “Journal Des Debats”.

"This choir is one of the most interesting phenomena. I even dare to say - the best thing I've ever heard in my life, listening day to day to the plays I'm writing about," admitted the music critic of "L'Homme Libre".

"It's as if the people themselves are expressing themselves. It's as if he's speaking to our people," concluded “L'Humanité”.

However, none of the politicians in Paris listened to the delicate and unobtrusive, musical speech of Ukrainians. The Entente did not support Ukraine's independence. The Ukrainian People's Republic
The Sofa Upon Which Leontovych Died,
Leontovych Museum, Markivka

(hereafter UPR) was occupied by the Russian Bolsheviks, who immediately began purging culturally and politically conscious Ukrainians.

Among them was the genius of a composer, the author of “Shchedryk", who had been a former government official of the Ministry of Education and Arts of the UPR, a figure of the Ukrainian autocephalous church movement, and the author of the first Ukrainian-language Liturgy.

The period of triumphs for the UPR Cappella, which lasted from 1919 through 1921 in 10 countries of Western Europe, was an impoverished one in the life of Mykola Leontovych.

"There was not enough food for the family, there were no clothes," wrote Vinnytsia musicologist Anatoliy Zavalnyuk in a monograph on Leontovych.

The composer's daughter Olha also recalled that period: "My parents often sent me to visit my grandfather in Markivka on various religious holidays, hoping that when I returned I would bring some food."

After Koshetz’s choir left Kyiv to tour Europe, Leontovych returned from the capital to Vinnytsia. (He had worked with Koshetz in the music department of the Ministry of Culture of the UPR).

Yakiv Yastrubetsky recalled that in November 1919 he walked from Kyiv to Tulchyn (about 350 km): "In the autumn of November 1919, Mykola Dmytrovych [Leontovych’s patronymic], in a graceful summer jacket on his shoulders and a clumsy hat, completely exhausted and cold, came on foot from Kyiv to Tulchyn and settled here again."

However, it was at this time, in November 1919, when the first premiere of his "Shchedryk" took place in Paris.

“This is a tour of patriotic and musical propaganda, which the President of the young Ukrainian Republic has prepared for France.” Wrote Paris music critic Louis Schneider about Simon Petliura's music-diplomatic project in “The New-York Herald” on November 9, 1919. “In the Ukrainian’s repertoire we liked the gradation of motives, their characteristic Orientalism, as well as the explosions of sincere merriment, especially in "Shchedryk" - a song that begins with a sudden attack, and in which the effects of truly wonderful humour are formed by simple gradation of voices.”

The Ukrainian concerts, which were supposed to raise the prestige of Ukraine in the eyes of the Western world, became the №1 events in the musical life of Europe.

There is an uncountable amount of evidence regarding this. And even more evidence - on the genius of Leontovych. His "Shchedryk" received great acclamation in Vienna, Prague, London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Geneva and Warsaw. In all - 45 cities in 10 countries of Western Europe.

For example, the London newspaper “The Daily News and Leader” wrote on February 4, 1920: “Many songs were performed in the encore - almost all them. Among the most original and beautiful are "Shchedryk" and "Oh there, beyond the mountain" - both created by Leontovych.”

The Belgian newspaper “Le XX Siècle” reported on January 10, 1920, a day after its Ukrainian premiere at the La Monet Opera House: "It's worth mentioning, because this is a magically sung masterpiece of folk art -"Shchedryk"arranged by Leontovych. The audience greeted him with a standing ovation, enthusiastically calling for an encore."

The Barcelona edition of “Das Noticias” wrote after its Ukrainian premiere in Spain on January 29, 1921: "The audience said that they liked Leontovych's arrangements the most, which they often called for an encore."

"This Ukrainian hashish is the sweetest of poisons," said German professor Pavel Zaytsev, regarding Leontovych's "Shchedryk" tothe UPR's chief arts officer, during a concert in Berlin.

And so forth.

The choristers themselves testified to the triumph of Leontovych's works at the concerts of the UPR Cappella.

Levko Bezruchko recalls the premiere in Paris on November 6, 1919: "In the second part of the concert we sang "Shchedryk"(Leontovych) for the encore, and in the third part -"Oy, pryadu, pryadu" (Leontovych).

"Leontovych's"Shchedryk" and Leontovych's "Oy pryadu, pryadu" created a sensation,” wrote a travel magazine about the choir’s concert in Bordeaux.

Shchedryk received the most calls for encores in the Netherlands.

Sofiya Kolodiyivna recalled theconcerts in The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam

- The audience welcomes us warmly, we sing "Shchedryk" as an encore(Rotterdam, Doelen Zaal, January 19, 1920);

- We sang “Shchedryk” and “Open’ky” as encores (The Hague, Koninklijke Schouwburg, January 22, 1920);

- The concert is attended by reviewers of all the Amsterdam periodicals. We sang "Shchedryk" for the encore"(Amsterdam, Hollandsche Schouwburg, January 24, 1920;

- We sang well, with spirit. As an encore we sang Leontovych’s “Shchedryk” (The Hague, Dierenfuju, January 25, 1920).

In January of 1921, the Ukrainian Republican Capella received their last quota of state funding. With their last hopes, the choristers traveled to Paris.

On January 20, 1921, their concert was attended by the famous French (formerly American, as her citizenship had been revoked for her politics) ballerina Isadora Duncan, who wrote in the Capella’s guest book: "BRAVO !!!". General Maurice Pele of the French army also signed the book.

"It seems that the great hall of the Théâtre Des Champs-Elysées has been turned into a temple," wrote the famous French critic Louis Laloy on January 23, 1921, in the newspaper “La Soireé”. - “It is strange that the organ does not play upstairs. The gathering of"the faithful" takes place during the intermission… Mr. Jean Perrier speaks with admiration about these passionate and so majestically set voices. Ms. Isadora Duncan and a group of young people are dressed today as an elegant Parisian woman who surprises "neophytes". The atmosphere is intimate and nice. Director Jacques Hébertot shakes hands with his friends. All those who did not go to "The Bat" [Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss II] gathered here. "

While the Parisian press publishes these words, Leontovych is being killed in Markivka. In Paris, no one knows that the author of their favourite works - "Shchedryk", "Pryali", "Pochayiv Mother of God", "Oh there, beyond the mountain" is no longer.

And does anyone care?

The last meeting with Leontovych is mentioned by his colleague from the diocesan school and music teacher Yakim Hrekh:

"It was after Christmas 1921. I was very surprised to see Leontovych walking towards me in the
yard. He was dressed in an old coat, on his head he had an original hat, which was sewn for him by his wife from an old blanket. He was wearing mittens (also his wife's work) and grey-black trousers with large purple patches. And he carried a large handkerchief tied tied to a stick with a gift for me - cakes. Visually he appeared to be a homeless traveler, starving, but in no way Leontovych…”

Such was the composer shortly before his death.
Leontovych's Grave and Memorial,
Village of Markivka, Ukraine

At this time he was writing his opera "On the Mermaid's Easter." An opera that, after the presentation of Ukrainian folklore, which so impressed Europe, could raise the bar of Ukrainian musical culture even more.

And Ukraine as a state.

However, he never finished the opera.

Vasyl Pawlowsky 
Independent Consultant