If you can’t afford to be fossilized…

Screaming trees

Screaming trees

There’s another scheme in the works, almost as good. A high-school teacher and visionary near Burk’s Falls, Ontario, has converted an old farm into a fantasyland and potential memorial gardens for people who like Hallowe’en. Peter Camani offers people the chance to reserve a giant “screaming head” sculpture or other grotesquerie for their cremated ashes. Reservations cost U.S. $10,000. And here I was wondering how he afforded all that cement.

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Fishes of Ontario

Ont-fish-Walleye=Pickerel=Pike-Perch, originally uploaded by monado.

The Ontario government has provided a guide to the fish species found in Ontario, as a PDF file of a booklet. I’ve grabbed separate images and made it a set in my Flickr stream: 38 kinds of Ontario fish. Just click on the image link to go to the pictures.

Unfortunately, there are no formal names, just a mix of confusing common names.

C’est en français aussi.

Piping plovers return to Wasaga Beach

For four years now, piping plovers have nested at one end of a popular beach resort in Ontario. Wasaga Beach, better known for its parties than its birds, is leaving half a kilometer ungroomed so that it reverts to its natural state and provides a home for these endangered birds. Read “Piping plovers at Wasaga Beach.”

June in Kenora

Blogger Laurence Hunt sends some pictures of Northern Ontario after a month of sunshine and rain. It looks splendid: The Kenora Palette.

Identifying Ontario sport fish

I guess that leaves out native minnows. Everything else seems to be, er, game. See “Fish Identification & Urban Fishing Opportunities” (PDF). Unfortunately, this field guide does not include species names.

fish identifying information

Go here to find links to other interesting publications, such as lists of lakes and their fish.

Dr. Sheela Basrur dies

Sheela Basrur, M.D., has died of a rare form of cancer. She was East York’s Medical Officer of Health and then Toronto’s. As such, she was responsible for public health. She is best known for being the voice of health authority during Toronto’s SARS crisis in 2003. She was appointed Chief Medical Office or Health for Ontario in 2004.

Dr. Sheela Basrur during SARS crisis

The Belleville Intelligencer said that her death was felt in Belleville:

Dr. Richard Schabas, medical officer of health for the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit, said he not only knew Basrur, but they walked the same career paths….

“She was obviously very, very respected,” he said, and “passionate” about her job. “She believed passionately in public health.”

In March, Basrur sent word out to her friends that she did not expect to live much longer. Leiomyosarcoma, the disease that caused her to step down as medical officer of health for Ontario in December 2006, had quickly progressed to her spine, lungs and liver.

That same month, the new Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion was created, the province’s first arm’s-length public agency. It will be named the Sheela Basrur Centre, something that would have made her happy, Schabas said.

Sheela Basrur, M.D., during SARS crisis

The Toronto Star says,

Cancer took her life, robbing Ontario of one of its most trusted and beloved medical authorities. When Toronto was in the grip of the SARS crisis, in 2003, Basrur rose to the challenge issuing protocols, advising governments and calming public fears with daily briefings.

As the first medical officer of health for an amalgamated Toronto, she brought frankness, compassion and humour to her work as well as cool expertise under pressure. It was what the city needed to defeat SARS and institute changes designed to ward off similar outbreaks.

Her success led her to the provincial level – she became Ontario’s chief medical officer in 2004. It was a post where she should have served many more years but in 2006 Basrur was diagnosed with a rare cancer afflicting the muscles and other soft tissue. She stepped down and bravely fought the disease before finally succumbing, at age 51, in the care of her father, radiation oncologist Dr. Vasanth Basrur.

As well as leading the battle against SARS, Basrur was instrumental in creating Toronto’s anti-smoking bylaw and, later, Ontario’s ban of smoking in enclosed public places. She also led the way in outlawing non-essential pesticide use, in fighting toxic air pollution, and in improving restaurant safety.

Her loss is a blow to all Ontarians. But Basrur’s contribution to the province endures, and so does her inspiring example of courage and good humour, even in the face of deadly illness.

Sheela Basrur, M.D., with Order of Ontario

Biomedical research in Toronto

Larry Morran at Sandwalk points out that there is a hotbed of biomedical research at the University of Toronto, part of a substantial research base in Ontario.

The area around my building contains one of the densest populations of researchers in the world. The problem is that hardly anyone knows about it. Toronto isn’t on everyone’s radar in spite of the fact that there’s a lot of high quality work being done.

Larry points out that Nature magazine has an article about called “Toronto Rising.” There’s a lot of research going on here but we’re not communicating about it to the rest of the world.

The MaRS Centre is a relatively new research facility in an older building at University & College.

MaRS building on College St. near Toronto General Hospital

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