Jeremy Bergen

Jeremy Bergen

Tuesday, 04 June 2024 09:19

Sharing Culture

Swan Valley Folkfest returned for the first time since 2018, with plenty of food, drinks, entertainment and cultural sharing at the Swan River Community Centre on Friday and Saturday (May 31 and June 1). Swan Valley’s diverse residents were able to share their culture from their home country or other ethnic backgrounds, as well as visiting groups from Winnipeg’s Folklorama...

Tuesday, 23 April 2024 08:31

Bronze Medal Wins

SVRSS students Nolan Mangin, Arden Baskier and Sammy Jo Moshenko all returned home with bronze medals from their respective competitions at the Skills Manitoba Competition that took place in Winnipeg on April 11...

Solar eclipses are one of those things that aren’t really as rare as they seem, as there tends to be an annular or total solar eclipse about once a year or once every couple of years or so somewhere on the globe. The feeling of them occurring once in a generation or even once in a lifetime tends to be because the Earth is such a phenomenally massive place and about 71 percent of it is covered by water.
Thus, depending on where you live and depending on your financial means or ability to travel, there very well may be quite limited opportunities when it comes to experiencing a solar eclipse, and when I had the ability and means to travel to experience a total solar eclipse – possibly the greatest celestial wonder visible by the naked eye on planet Earth – I didn’t hesitate that I needed to make this happen.
Loaded with a bag of camcorders and my travelling essentials, I set forth on a trip to Niagara Falls, Ont., that only took me out of Manitoba for barely over 48 hours for an experience that I have anticipated since 2017 – the last time a total solar eclipse crossed the North American continent – but have longed to see ever since hearing stories as a child of a solar eclipse crossing Manitoba in 1979.
As it turns out, this trip was a bundle of anticipation realized as well as plenty of disappointment. It seemed every time I struck good fortune, there was bad to follow. Really though, I’m just glad I got on all my flights and there were no unreasonable delays. I’m grateful for that.
But, I did have to sleep in my rental car the first night I was in Niagara Falls, due to the limitation of reasonably priced accommodations. My choice of viewing the solar eclipse from one of the busiest tourist areas in Canada also meant that I had to pinch my nose and tap my card when it came to paying for parking. And, it took me 45 minutes to get a burrito for lunch, standing in line just down the block from Clifton Hill. Not to mention, I missed the Blue Jays game I bought a ticket for on Monday evening because Queen Elizabeth Way on the way back to Toronto was so obscenely busy and slow. (If I had made it to downtown Toronto, instead of stopping in Mississauga where my Airbnb was, I might have been lucky enough to see part of the ninth inning, followed by more traffic on an evening that also had a Maple Leafs game scheduled.)
My bad fortune also consisted of me losing my phone in the park along Niagara Falls, with the slimmest of chances of ever getting it back, provided the perfect combination of kind souls has it in their possession and can contact me about my locked device that I happened to put into Airplane Mode minutes before I lost it.
Not to mention, the viewing location I chose also happened to have complete and consistent cloud cover for most of the day, conveniently clearing about an hour after the moon totally covered the sun.
I was in the same boat as the tens of thousands of other people who decided to visit Niagara Falls on April 8. I suppose I should be grateful that the city was not as busy as anticipated. What was projected to be an influx of nearly 1 million extra people that day only tallied to about 200,000 according to numbers reported by Niagara Parks, which still ended up being the biggest tourism draw in the area ever at one time, beating out the time tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walked across the Falls, which at the time had 130,000 watching live on location, not to mention an additional 10,000 in New York just on the other side of the water.
The Niagara Falls mayor was quoted as saying that “this was a gift that we could never afford to pay for”, showing his appreciation for the boon to the local economy that relies heavily on tourism, following the economic downfall that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As it turned out, had I driven from the airport the day before and gone north to Montreal or Sherbrooke, Que., I would have been treated to perfectly clear conditions. I wouldn’t have had a place to stay, but, let’s be honest, I slept in my car anyway.
That being said, it is difficult to describe or even depict with pictures or videos what it is like when – even when it is cloudy – the sky goes from the 9 o’clock twilight of a partial eclipse to the midnight blackness of totality within just a couple of minutes. The air gets cold, the horizon in every direction gets a sunset at once because of where the shadow stops, the sounds of night pick up for a few minutes and the energy of thousands of people all as amazed as you is overwhelming, especially when the clouds parted for a few seconds during totality and everyone was able to briefly look at our sun and moon in a way they’ve likely never seen in person before.
You can see pictures, you can see the video, but it’s different when you’re staring at it there in the sky, no safety glasses, no safety squints, the only time you are able to view the corona – or outer atmosphere – of the sun with the naked eye.
It was a moment that was so dazzling – yet incomplete as I was unable to witness the full and complete phenomenon without atmospheric obstruction – that I feel the itch to jump on another plane to catch one in the future.
But alas, if my financial situation will not allow for me to fly to Iceland or Australia or Morocco for a few days on a whim, with the chance that I might look up and see similar clouds, then I can always wait for 2044 when a total solar eclipse crosses the Rocky Mountains in August, right over one of Canada’s other major tourist meccas - Banff, Alta..
In listening to the many podcasts, YouTube videos and first-hand accounts from other community members who have seen a total solar eclipse – such as high school teacher and fellow videographer Kevin Penner, who shot a wonderful documentary about his experience in 2017 – it was expressed how much of a memorable experience to view a total solar eclipse in person and you owe it to yourself to see it if ever presented with the opportunity.
Indeed, I would have to agree, because, ultimately, the only part of my total solar eclipse experience that I was disappointed by was by how much of it I didn’t get to see.

Tuesday, 09 April 2024 08:31

Spring Sports

Spring Mass Registration at the Swan River Centennial Arena on Thursday (April 5) saw children get signed up for all sorts of sports and activities coming up this spring, including minor football, soccer, mountain biking, golf and the different flavours of baseball available.

Tuesday, 09 April 2024 08:29

Spring has Sprung

Spring is arriving in a hurry, with snow melting and water bodies flooding the countryside. Here, in the Municipality of Swan Valley West, water from a saturated field flows across a low area of a municipal roadway.

Tuesday, 02 April 2024 08:16

Spring Break Activities

The Elbert Chartrand Friendship Centre booked recreational facilities in Swan River during spring break, getting children involved in fun opportunities in their community during their holiday from school

Tuesday, 19 March 2024 08:28

Leading Ladies

The Swan River Ladies Curling Club held their 94th annual bonspiel last weekend (March 15-17), with 28 rinks participating. Here, Rayna Badowski (left), Paula Jones (second from left), Julie Baskier (second from right) and Laurie Evans (right) head to the banquet dressed as a roller coaster, sticking with the theme of Carnival/Circus...

Tuesday, 19 March 2024 08:25

Frozen Fishing

The Billy Beal Classic Ice Fishing Derby had another successful year at Whitefish Lake on Saturday (March 16), with a 14 pound, two ounce Northern Pike earning Kevin Frank $10,000 at the event, which raises money for Valley Lions Medical Assistance Fund...

Tuesday, 05 March 2024 08:23

Evening of Colour

The Minitonas Figure Skating Club showcased the work from their season with their year-end carnival, held on Friday (March 1) at the Minitonas and District Arena, coached by Chantelle Moshenko and Alison Burgess...

Tuesday, 27 February 2024 08:17

Night Skiing

The Thunderhill Ski Area was opened up on Friday evening (Feb. 23) for Kinsmen Night Skiing, with more than 120 people enjoying the hill and the new Co-op Chalet...

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