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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly photoblogs about her trip to Berlin.

  • Dead Things reports on a recent study that unraveled the evolutionary history of the domestic cat.

  • James Nicoll notes that his niece and nephew will each be performing theatre in Toronto.

  • Language Hat has an interesting link to interviews of coders as if they were translators.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at Chinese video game competitions and Chinese tours to Soviet revolutionary sites.

  • Steve Munro shares photos of the old Kitchener trolleybus.

  • Roads and Kingdoms shares the story of the Ramadan drummer of Coney Island.

  • Savage Minds shares an essay arguing that photographers should get their subjects' consent and receive renumeration.

  • Torontoist shares photos of the Trans March.

  • Towleroad
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  • blogTO reported that York University plans on opening a satellite campus in York Region's Markham. This is a first.

  • Dangerous Minds notes a new, posthumous release from Suidide's Alan Vega.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the detectability of Niven ringworlds around pulsars. (Maybe.)

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers burnout among sociology students, and suggests that engagement with issues is key to overcoming it.

  • The Great Grey Bridge's Philip Turner photoblogs his recent Rhode Island vacation.

  • Joe. My. God. reports on the arrest of a Christian activist protesting outside of the Pulse memorial in Orlando.

  • The LRB Blog shares considerable concern that the Democratic Unionists of Northern Ireland are now national powermakers.

  • Spacing Toronto shares the ambitious plan of Buenos Aires to make the city better for cyclists, pedestrians, and mass transit
  • Transit Toronto notes that starting Friday, Metrolinx will co-sponsor $C25 return tickets to Niagara from Toronto.

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  • blogTO notes that the old HMV store in the Dufferin Mall is now a fidget spinner store. This has gone viral.
  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about her week in Paris.

  • Centauri Dreams notes one paper examining the complex formation of the dense TRAPPIST-1 system.

  • Far Outliers reports from early 20th century Albania, about how tribal and language and ethnic identities overlap, and not.

  • Language Log notes efforts to promote Cantonese in the face of Mandarin.

  • The LRB Blog wonders if May's electoral defeat might lead to the United Kingdom changing its Brexit trajectory.

  • Marginal Revolution notes that cars have more complex computer programming these days than fighter jets.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that the counter-cyclical Brazilian fiscal cap still makes no sense.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is edging towards an acknowledgement of its involvement in the Ukrainian war.

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  • Yahoo News shares the story of a cat that visited every national park in the United States, with photos.

  • CBC's Mike Crawley takes a look at the impact of the Ontario $15 minimum wage, finding it should have little effect on the economy at large.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Tony Keller suggests that Donald Trump's actions do a great job of promoting China as a responsible superpower.

  • CBC notes research suggesting that global warming will make the heat island effect in cities much worse.

  • It is easy, editor David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes in The Globe and Mail, to mistake Pittsburgh for Paris.

  • The Toronto Star notes Ariana Grande's surprise visit to her fans in hospital before tomorrow benefit concert.

  • The Atlantic reports on the problems of post-Communist gentrification in Moscow.

  • The Georgia Straight shares one Vancouver artist's goodbye to her adopted city, beloved but now too expensive.

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Last evening, I kept my computer busy by uploading the more than two hundred photos I had taken last weekend, during Jane's Walk in Toronto. At one point, I had planned to take eight, but reality and fatigue intervened so as to limit me to six, five on Saturday the 5th and one on Sunday the 6th.

  • My first was "St. Lawrence Market: Role of Public Markets in Placemaking", led by Samantha Wiles. Wiles ably took her group around St. Lawrence Market, past the archeological excavations to the market's north, around its perimeter, and to the south, introducing us to the market's very long history at the heart of Toronto. Photos are here.

  • In the afternoon, I followed urbanist Richard Longley in his "Harbord Village east side: architecture old, new, diverse, domestic, insitutional, sacred, profane", taking a large contingent through a rapidly changing neighbourhood south of the Annex. I was particularly taken by the abundance of creative graffiti in the back alleys, especially on Croft Street. Photos are here.

  • Later in the afteroon, I followed Brian Sharwood and Melinda Medley, the bloggers behind OssingtonVillage.com, on a short but information-packed stroll north in Indie Ossington, from Ossington at Queen on the CAMH grounds up to Dundas Street. Photos are here.

  • In the evening, I went down to Exhibition Place for the Ghost Walk led there by Steve Collie. As night fell, Collie took dozens of people on a stroll through some of the locales where ghost sightings have been claimed, from the stacks of the centre's archives to the barracks where soldiers sent off to war spent their last moments in Canada. The behind-the-scenes perspective it offered of Exhibition Place was a big plus. Photos are here.

  • Late at night, at 11 o'clock, I joined the Nightwalking & Secret Staircases: Baby Point walk led by Oona Fraser. My photo album includes my pre-walk, east from Old Mill station and up Jane Street to the Baby Point Gates. Walking through the wooded parks along Humber River, up and down the stairs, underneath the luminous sky, was magic.

  • Sunday afternoon, after joining a visiting Taiwanese friend for lunch and then doing some independent walking south on Roncesvalles and east on Queen Street West to Dufferin, I joined "Here's the Thing: A Creative Writing Walk (Part 2 / Downtown)" at Dufferin Station. Led by Denise Pinto and Shari Kasman, this was a guided walk, the participants being given (and providing) prompts at different moments on the walk to write different things. I enjoyed this late afternoon walk, a lot. My output tended more towards prose poetry than fiction, but it was fun regardless.


  • I'm not sure what I'll do with all of these photos. I doubt I'll post most of them to this blog, to Tumblr or Instagram. They remain on Flickr nonetheless, ready for you to peruse. (I also have uploaded them all to Facebook, too, so those of you who follow me there can see them there, too.)
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    • blogTO shares media exploring how Toronto was marketed internationally in the 1980s. This decade apparently saw less concentration on landmarks and more on cultural activities.

    • The Map Room Blog links to a National Geographic collection of the childhood maps of cartographers.

    • Marginal Revolution notes that the loosening of China's one-child policy has not resulted in much change.

    • Justin Petrone wonders if Estonians are weird.

    • Steve Munro reports on the many, many problematic things coming out of Metrolinx, including fare-by-distance and the ongoing PRESTO disasters.

    • Supernova Condensate shares a thought-provoking set of statues on global warming, Follow the Leaders.

    • Torontoist's Kieran Delamont notes the astonishing thoughtlessness of new fashion brand Homeless Toronto.

    • Window on Eurasia looks at a Belarus in a state of political ferment that might--might--be pre-revolutionary, and wonders if disbanding Russia's ethnic republics could be profoundly destabilizing.

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    • blogTO notes that the redevelopment of Toronto's Port Lands is continuing.

    • Crooked Timber argues that climate denialism exposes the socially constructed nature of property rights.

    • D-Brief notes the reburial of Kennewick Man.

    • The Dragon's Gaze notes there is no sign of a second planet around Proxima Centauri.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at life in Texas.

    • The LRB Blog analyzes Milo's stumble.

    • Marginal Revolution considers the levels of disorderliness different societies, like Sweden, can tolerate.

    • The NYRB Daily reports on the poisoning of a Russian dissident.

    • The Planetary Society Blog suggests Voyager 1 picked up Enceladus' plumes.

    • Peter Rukavina writes of his mapping of someone's passage on the Camino Francés.

    • Supernova Condensate looks at the United Arab Emirates' plan to build a city on Mars in a century.

    • Torontoist reported on a protest demanding action on the overdose crisis.
    • Towleroad describes the plight of Mr. Gay Syria in Istanbul and reports on the progress of same-sex marriage in Finland.

    • Understanding Society considers the complexity of managing large technological projects.

    • Window on Eurasia links to one Russian writer arguing Putin should copy Trump and links to anotehr suggesting the Russian Orthodox Church is overreaching.

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    The Toronto Star's Ellen Brait reports on the latest in the struggle to build a hotel at Toronto's Exhibition Place, between environmental concerns with the site and the financial concerns of the builders.

    The construction of Exhibition Place’s Hotel X has been long, complicated, and riddled with problems. But those involved say they’re back on track.

    “May is the target date. We’re making pretty good progress,” Owen Whelan, president of McKay-Cocker, the construction manager for the project, said. “I would say at this point we’re full speed ahead.”

    But a number of liens still remain in place against the property. Liens are typically placed against properties as a means to keep a right of possession until a debt is paid.

    Government records show five companies certified liens between Oct. 2016 and Dec. 2016 that are still in place. They range from around $89,000 up to $32-million. Multiplex Construction Canada Limited, the former construction manager of the project, took out the largest lien, at $32,573,260, on Oct. 19, 2016 and filed a second one for $17,618,739 on Nov. 28, 2016.

    Jeffrey Burke, president of Lift All Crane Service Ltd., one of the companies with a lien against the property, said after Multiplex Construction Canada left the project, they left many companies “in the position where we had to put a lien on the project to ensure we were going to get paid.”
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    Radio free Europe/Radio Liberty's Golnaz Esfandiari covers the reaction in Iran to the prospect of a ban on the issuing of new visas to Iranian citizens. Esfandiari is correct to note that these visa restrictions will not help the Islamic Republic's position and will in fact also hurt American soft power. That by far the most successful anti-American terrorists come from Saudi Arabia, a country not subject to the proposed ban, also deserves mention.

    The United States is a leading destination for students from all over the world, with international student enrollment at public and private U.S. institutions totaling more than 1 million young people in 2015-16, according to the Institute of International Education, with roughly one-third of them coming from China and Iranians well outside the top 10 places of origin.

    Hengameh, a mother of two in Tehran, told RFE/RL via Telegram she was offended by the U.S. decision. "I don't have plans to travel to America, but I know many who have relatives there. This will make things harder for them," she said, adding that obtaining a U.S. visa is already difficult for Iranians.

    [. . .]

    "The adoption of this [executive order] and similar laws will hurt only the Iranian people, and it won't have any impact on the travels of government [officials] to America," a comment on Radio Farda's Facebook page said.

    "It's clear that [Trump] doesn't have a proper understanding of terrorists. Most of them are from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other countries," another comment said.

    Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who used passenger jets to carry out coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, were from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden, the leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network blamed for the attack, was a Saudi citizen.
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    • blogTO notes that Uniqlo will be giving away free thermal clothing tomorrow.

    • James Bow shares his column about the importance of truth.

    • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly shares with us her mid-winter walk.

    • Centauri Dreams reports about cometary water.

    • Dangerous Minds shares German cinema lobby cards from the 1960s.

    • Language Hat talks about dropping apostrophes.

    • Language Log reports about lexical searches on Google.

    • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the latest from Trump.

    • The NYRB Daily shares a review of an Iranian film on gender relations.

    • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes the ongoing gas price protests in Mexico.

    • Spacing links to some articles about affordable housing around the world.

    • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Germany's abolition of a law forbidding insults to foreign heads of state.

    • Window on Eurasia suggests that stable Russian population figures cover up a wholesale collapse in the numbers of ethnic Russians, and looks at the shortages of skilled workers faced by defense industries.

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    Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen offers excellent advice for travellers on how to explore new cities. These strategies are not unlike ones I've applied in the past, for whatever it's worth. Save the big adventures for later, when you have a sense of the city and can appreciate what you are seeing all the better.

    The first thing I do is make sure blog is ready for the day to come (though that is usually pre-arranged if I am traveling).

    The second thing I do is decide whether the country is worth wasting a meal on breakfast. I might just skip it. If not, the next thing I will do is get breakfast. I evaluate breakfast options by walking and by sight, not by using the internet, as I find that old-fashioned method better training for all that life brings us.

    Then I try to walk through at least two neighborhoods, to get a general sense of the city. More importantly, I can then later take some time over lunch without feeling I haven’t seen anything yet. These neighborhoods should be connected to the main drag in some way but not the main drag itself. The main drag is often boring, though essential, and it is more likely to get a fuller treatment on day two, with only a quick peek on day one.
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    The Toronto Star's Betsy Powell describes the many problems faced by Wasaga Beach, a resort community on Georgian Bay popular with Toronto vacationers that has been faced with falling tourist numbers in recent years. (I should mention, for the record, that I have never been here.)

    A bundled-up couple walking a dog and a lone snowmobiler had the world’s longest freshwater beach to themselves on a recent morning as a frigid wind swept across Georgian Bay.

    “Nothing down here will open. Who’s going to come and park here when it’s cold?” Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi says, driving past a stretch of closed-for-three-seasons fast-food eateries and bars facing the beach.

    She was on the losing side when council voted to buy the properties for $13.8 million in 2015, using money borrowed from a bank and the province.

    That’s no small sum for the town of 18,000 that will collect $20.3 million in property taxes this year and spend $48 million in operating and capital costs.

    But waterfront purchase proponents, led by Mayor Brian Smith, argue Wasaga Beach needed a “bold” step after a steady decline in tourists — the town’s economic lifeblood — of roughly 100,000 a year between 2002 and 2012, compounded by a massive fire in 2007 that destroyed a bustling street mall in the beach’s east end. The mall was never rebuilt and has since been replaced by a beer garden and kiosks.
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    Via the Map Room Blog I came across an article in The New York Times offering advice to people with problems in territories unknown to them. . Speaking as someone who generally does not have troubles with orienting himself, these and the other pieces of advice offered make sense to me: Having an idea as to where are you going, both beforehand in initial planning and at the time when you're doing whatever you're doing, helps a lot.

    Create a mental map

    Review a map of your proposed route before heading out, and perhaps even trace it with your finger, Dr. Brendan Kelley, a neurologist at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said in an email. It will help provide context for the route. Once you arrive, review the map and the route you traveled to reinforce the memory of how you got there.

    By reviewing a map before your travel, you can take note of “handrails” — landmarks such as bodies of water, stores and streets — that will visually guide you, Ben G. Oliver, the director of outdoor education at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., said in an interview.

    Be mindful of place

    Stop and enjoy the scenery. Set your phone to vibrate every 15 minutes to remind you to note where you are, Richard S. Citrin, an organizational psychologist from Pittsburgh, said in an email.

    Take notes and comment about what you see. That will help orient you and strengthen connections in your brain about where you are and have been.

    Try not to get stressed, because that makes it more likely you will become disoriented and confused. “When our automatic responses take over, we usually wind up lost emotionally and sometimes physically,” he said.
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    The Guardian of Charlottetown reports on the rapid growth of traffic at Charlottetown Airport, surely a good sign for the airport as for the larger tourism-dependent economy.

    The number of passengers who went through the Charlottetown Airport in 2016 increased by 12 per cent over the previous year.

    The airport authority says the 354,234 people through the terminals last year set a new passenger traffic record, which was previously set in 2014 with 317,827 passengers.

    Charlottetown Airport Authority CEO Doug Newson said it’s the first time the airport’s passenger numbers surpassed 350,000.

    [. . .]

    Newson said increased services to Toronto by Air Canada Rouge and WestJet in 2016 contributed to the record numbers. Air Canada also extended its popular summer flight from Ottawa to operate for six months last year.
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    CBC Prince Edward Island was among the news sources to note that Prince Edward Island was listed first in CNN's list of the top places to go this year.

    With Canada celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017, there's no finer excuse to head to the birthplace of the nation, Prince Edward Island.

    Travelers are falling in love with the island's rocky red shores and picturesque fishing villages all over again thanks to several new TV and movie productions of the Lucy Maud Montgomery classic, "Anne of Green Gables."

    The best way to explore the island's capital, Charlottetown, is on foot.

    Many of the highlights are in the historic downtown core including the Charlottetown Province House -- the famed government building where the Charlottetown Conference took place in 1864. It was here that a small group of elected officials gathered to discuss the possibility of joining the region's independent provinces to create a singular nation.

    Three years later, Canada's Constitution Act was passed by British Parliament and a new country was born.
    Upscale restaurants have multiplied on the island in the last 10 years, taking advantage of the excellent local produce.

    But there's nothing quite like an old fashioned lobster supper -- a massive gathering traditionally held in a cavernous community hall that ends with a table full of empty shells and butter-coated fingers.


    Note that it did not rank #1, but instead was just the first entry. This is a distinction, I think, some people have passed over.
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    Any recommendations for someone visiting Montréal next weekend? #toronto #montreal #montréal #travel #tourism


    Somewhat embarrassingly, the last time I was in Montréal was in the summer of 2003. What can I say but that, sometimes, it's ridiculously easy to get caught in traps, to be bound up in tight patterns and not have the imagination to look outside these at the wider world. At least I'm doing it now.

    Friends, readers, others: What would you recommend to someone going to Montréal? What attraction stands out particularly for you? Are there tricks I might be well-advised to learn in advance? What are your favourite memories of Canada's second city?

    Please, discuss.
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    The National Post carried Gordon Rayner's article in The Telegraph looking at Robert De Niro's controversial development plans for the Caribbean island of Barbuda.

    Once it was a favourite holiday destination of Diana, Princess of Wales, where she would take the young Princes William and Harry for carefree winter breaks.

    Today, passing cruise ships swing by so that passengers can take pictures of Princess Diana Beach.

    But since the Princess’s death, the K Club on the Caribbean island of Barbuda has suffered a reversal of fortunes, closing 12 years ago. Now the once luxurious resort is at the centre of an extraordinary legal battle involving Hollywood legend Robert De Niro and some of the island’s tiny population.

    De Niro, together with his business partner James Packer, has bought the remainder of the lease on the land from its previous owner and has been granted planning permission to revamp, re-open and extend the K Club.

    However, more than 300 of the island’s 1,500 residents have signed a petition objecting to the development, which they say is excessive and illegal.
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    The Globe and Mail's Jeff Gray writes about one front on which the Airbnb struggle continues.

    Outside the brightly decorated lobby of the 32-storey condominium tower at 600 Fleet St. stands artist Douglas Coupland’s statue of a giant British toy soldier standing over a fallen invading Yankee, commemorating the War of 1812. Inside, the building’s security team these days has been dealing with another, more covert invasion: tourists and partiers trying to rent units for the weekend via websites such as Airbnb, in defiance of the condo board’s rules.

    On the front lines, and behind the front desk, is the building’s friendly security chief, Prince Abiona, 41, who greets many of the tower’s hundreds of residents by name as they come and go. In this war against Airbnb, the Nigerian-born Mr. Abiona, who sports a headset and whose biceps stretch the sleeves of his white Calvin Klein polo, says he is winning. His tactics include scanning the website and others like it for up to three hours a day for illicit listings in his building, questioning anyone who wanders into the lobby dragging luggage behind them and kicking out any short-term renters he finds.

    The few that do slip through his defences can cause big problems. Earlier this year, he says, a unit rented out on Airbnb played host to a rowdy drunken party with about 20 people, some of whom urinated in the hallways and even in the elevator. Another time, an Airbnb partier threw up in the condo pool, forcing it to close. Often, the problem is long-term tenants who list their place on Airbnb or other similar websites, without the actual owner of the condo knowing.

    “These people are just here for a few days, they just want to do what they want and they don’t care about the building,” Mr. Abiona says. “That’s why we are fighting it.”
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    Simon Worrell's National Geographic interview with author Salvatore Settis, author of a book arguing that much of the current touristification of Venice both threatens its future as a living city and augurs ill for other metropolis, is thought provoking.

    Most of us who have seen Venice have gone there as tourists. According to you, we are part of a “plague” that is destroying the city. Should we stay away?

    The fact that many tourists are willing to go to Venice is in itself a good thing. I am against any system whereby the number of entry tickets to the city is limited. The minute you would have to pay to enter the city if you are not a citizen, Venice would already have been turned into a theme park. That is precisely what I don’t want to happen.

    But Venice cannot be a city that lives only from tourism. The reason Venice had its glory is because the city and Venetians were able to develop over centuries a number of productive activities. Why can’t we promote the same thing in Venice today? Approximately 2.6 citizens abandon the city every day. Venice now has 54,000 inhabitants, which represents a loss of 120,000 people in the last 50 years.

    Meanwhile, the cost of living in Venice is increasing every day. Young people cannot afford to buy or rent an apartment in Venice, so they are moving to neighboring places. In Switzerland, where I taught for some years, federal law mandates that in every city, even the smallest village, you cannot have more than 20 percent of [houses owned as] second homes. The reason why the Swiss government decided to do this is precisely not to encourage this loss of local identity. If the citizens abandon Venice and it becomes only a tourist location, it will lose its soul.

    You describe several ways in which cities can die. Give us a brief summary and explain how Venice is threatened by what you call “self-oblivion.”

    First, when an enemy destroys them, like Carthage, or when foreign invaders colonize violently, as happened with the conquistadores in Mexico or Peru. But the most dreadful danger for a city now is loss of memory. By loss of memory, I mean not forgetting that we exist, but who we are.

    Long before Venice, an example is Athens, the most glorious city in classical Greece. It completely lost its memory and even its name. In the Middle Ages nobody knew where Athens was because the name of the city got totally lost. It was called Setines, or Satine, which was a barbarized form of the name. In Athens, there was no culture or memory of the city’s past glories. Sometimes visitors from Byzantium would travel to Athens and ask, “Where is the place where Socrates used to teach? Where is the place where Aristotle used to teach?” Nobody could answer them.
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    In NOW Toronto, Nicholas Engelmann reports on how global warming is enabling a new era of mass tourism in the Arctic.

    I am geared up: red Mustang float coat, four layers of polyester, waterproof pants, insulated rubber boots and gloves, radio harness and dry bag. I lean carefully through the port entrance, 2 metres above the teal water. Two nautical miles away on the horizon, a meniscus barely rising above the sea forms the low profile of Igloolik.

    Cranes lower Zodiacs into the water and expedition staff are hopping in, starting engines, loading gear and readying to bring passengers ashore. A 1980s powerboat is bobbing 50 metres off the portside. Propped over its windshield is a video camera with a microphone in a pop filter, speckled grey, the colour of an Arctic fox in summer. Handling the camera in the chop is a 50-something man in an old fleece jacket and baseball cap.

    I am aboard the MV Sea Adventurer, where I work as a guide and lecturer, and we're tracing the Northwest Passage. One week in and we arrive in the hamlet of Igloolik, one of the most isolated communities in the Canadian Arctic.

    It's late summer, and we are the first passenger vessel of the season. In fact, we're the first to arrive on these shores since 2011. We navigated Fury and Hecla Strait, which is notorious for being covered ice but was remarkably clear for our voyage.

    On the way, we passed the Crystal Serenity, which has been making headlines as the first full-sized cruise ship to navigate the Northwest Passage, and thereby ushering in the arrival of a new era of eco-tourism made possible by thinning ice and rising temperatures.

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