Government of Canada

August 12, 2015

Examples of articles I have written for the Ministry of Public Works and Government Services during my employment between November 2014 and June 2015.

The Canadian Flag is 50! | The discovery of Sir John Franklin’s flagship | The Fort Langley National Historic Site Cool Jobs: Jordie Goldsmith, EGD Electrician | Mental Health Week May 4-10, 2015


The Canadian Flag is 50!
Celebrating 50 years of the maple leaf

“The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion,” declared the Speaker of the Senate at the Inauguration of the new flag in 1965.

The Canadian flag as we know it today is the culmination of years of debate and discussion.

After the First World War and again after the Second World War, the Government of Canada discussed the importance of our country having its own flag. Attempts to adopt a specific design repeatedly failed as consensus could not be reached. In 1964, the Government made the creation of a distinctive Canadian flag a priority as the 1967 centennial celebration of Confederation was approaching.

When Parliament could not reach agreement on the design, the task of finding a national flag was given to an all-party Parliamentary committee.

After considering thousands of proposals for flags submitted by Canadians, the committee chose three final designs:

Flag1 Flag2_0 Flag3_0
A Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lis and the Union
Three red maple leaves between two blue borders
A red maple leaf on a white square between two borders

It was the single leaf, red and white design that the Committee recommended to Parliament. The motion was passed to adopt this design as the National Flag of Canada with a vote of 163 to 78 on December 15, 1964. Learn more about the origin of the Canadian Flag.

Flag Committee
Flag Committee

Watch: First official Canadian Maple Leaf flag raised (Video from the CBC Digital Archives)

Flag Facts

  • Red and white were designated Canada’s colours by King George V on November 21, 1921, in the proclamation of the Royal Arms of Canada – Canada’s coat of arms.
  • The maple leaf as found on the national flag is a traditional emblem of Canada. It was for many years the symbol of the Canadian Armed Forces and was used to identify Canadian contingents in the two world wars. A PWGSC employee changes the Peace Tower flag every working day, except during unsafe weather conditions. Flags flown on Parliament Hill will never serve another official purpose, regardless of the time spent on the pole.
  • The flag on Parliament Hill’s Peace Tower is 4.6 metres wide by 2.3 metres tall. That’s taller than the average Canadian!
  • In the mid-1990s PWGSC started a wait-list for requesting flags flown on Parliament Hill and started changing the flag daily in 1998 to keep up with the demand. The current wait time is nearly 50 years!
  • Did you know? The flag of the Royal Military College was the basis of the Canadian flag?
  • More fascinating flag facts can be found here and here.

Watch: Learn more about the flag master, a PWGSC employee who changes the flag atop the Peace Tower daily.

Celebrate with the rest of Canada!

On February 11th, the Canadian Mint will unveil commemorative coins and Canada Post will issue special stamps, First Day Covers, postcards and proof sheets to mark the anniversary.

On February 15th, Canadians will gather to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our national flag. What better way to mark the occasion than with your family and friends at one of the events taking place across the country. Whether you’re in British Columbia or Newfoundland, you can join in!

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Captain Franklin
Captain Sir John Franklin.
Library and Archives Canada C-001352

The discovery of Sir John Franklin’s flagship
HMS Erebus was lost in the arctic in 1846

HMS Erebus and HMS Terror left England on May 19, 1845 under the command of Captain Sir John Franklin on an expedition to the find the Northwest Passage. Captain Franklin had 129 officers and men onboard, with enough provisions to last three years.

The two expedition ships were last seen entering Baffin Bay in August 1845.

In late 1846, the ships became trapped in the ice and their provisions ran out. Captain Franklin died June 11, 1847. By 1848, the 105 remaining crew abandoned the ships and started to cross the ice, heading south to a trading post in mainland Canada. All would perish.

Detailed timeline of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition

Searching for the ships

By 1859, 22 expeditions had tried to determine what happened to Franklin and his crew. His wife, Lady Jane, organized a private expedition which resulted in a letter being found which detailed some of the ships’ fate, including news of her husband’s 1847 death.

Over the decades, many expeditions have been made in search of the lost ships. While evidence was found of the crew, the actual location of the sunken vessels remained a mystery.

Timeline of Canada’s search

Great Britain and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2007. As the original owners of the ill-fated ships of the Franklin Expedition, Great Britain designated control over the site investigation, excavation and recovery to Canada. Parks Canada was identified as the federal agency responsible for the search and preservation of the ships.

HMS Erebus Bell
HMS Erebus’ bell aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier. © Parks Canada / Thierry Boyer

Did you know? The wrecks of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were declared National Historic Sites in 1992.

2014 Victoria Strait Expedition

For the Victoria Strait Expedition, begun in the summer of 2014, the Government of Canada partnered with an unprecedented number of organizations from the public, private and non-profit sectors to locate the historic ships of the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition.

Read the Dive Diary from the 2014 Expedition

On September 7, 2014, one of Franklin’s ships was discovered using side-scan sonar towed by the Parks Canada research vessel Investigator, lying on the floor of the Arctic Ocean nearly 170 years after being abandoned by Captain Sir John Franklin and her crew. It was confirmed to be the HMS Erebus on September 30. HMS Erebus’ bell was found and brought to the surface for conservation.

The Franklin Outreach Project

The Government of Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum are partnering to create a travelling exhibit, The Franklin Outreach Project. The exhibit will bring the Franklin story to life through pop-up displays, lectures, and exhibitions and incorporate contemporary research and technology and Inuit traditional knowledge. The centrepiece of the travelling programme is a 3D printed replica of the bell recovered from HMS Erebus. A nationwide program hosted by the ROM is also in development with members of the History Museums Network and Parks Canada to bring to life this important part of Canadian history.


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The Fort Langley National Historic Site
Take a glimpse into the history of British Columbia

Fort Langley in 1894.Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada is the site of a Hudson’s Bay Company post located on the south banks of the Fraser River approximately 48 km east of Vancouver.

Originally constructed in 1827 at a location 4 km upstream of its present site, the post was relocated and rebuilt in 1839, only to be destroyed by fire in 1840 requiring it to be, once again, rebuilt. The fort was used as a post to trade furs with the First Nations, and export furs to Europe, produce to Alaska, cranberries to California, and salmon as far away as Hawaii.

The HBC continued to run a post at Fort Langley until 1886.

Quick Facts:

  • Fort Langley has been designated a national historic site because:
  • it was founded in 1827 to drive off the fur-traders from Boston who had monopolized the maritime trade;
  • it was from Fort Langley, rebuilt in 1840 further up the river, that the Hudson’s Bay Company began to export salmon, supplying the forts of the Company and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii);
  • after the abandonment of the Columbia River as a trade route in 1848, the Company forwarded their goods to Langley for transhipment to their forts in British Columbia; and
  • the act creating the colony of British Columbia was proclaimed at Langley in 1858.

Fort Langley Xplorer ProgramFort Langley today

Since becoming a national historic site in 1923 the location of Fort Langley’s palisades have been identified through archaeological investigation, as have the remains of many of its buildings and structures. The site has gone through two major periods of expansion, first in the 1950s in conjunction with the provincial centennial celebrations, and again in the 1990s.

While most of the buildings at Fort Langley are accurate recreations from the 1950s, the Storehouse dates from 1840 when the fort was rebuilt after the 1839 fire. Visitors can tour the buildings (including a working blacksmith shop), see an exhibit highlighting the fort’s role in history, families can take part in the Parks Canada Xplorers program.

Educational programs are also available for all ages. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, visitors can try their hand at geocaching or stay overnight in an oTENTik. These are just a few of the fun activities at Fort Langley.

Fort Langley's Lighting
The new lighting, installed in 2010 by PWGSC.

Fort Langley Wins Its First Design Award
In 2010, Fort Langley began showing its age. The perimeter walls were at the end of their lifespan and the lighting needed an upgrade to improve site security. When Parks Canada collaborated with Architecture and Engineering Services (AES) Electrical, of the PWGSC, to evaluate the site they didn’t plan on winning the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Award.

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Cool Jobs: Jordie Goldsmith, EGD Electrician
Keeping EGD running smoothly

The Esquimalt Graving Dock (EGD) is the largest solid-bottom commercial drydock on the West Coast of the Americas and is a branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC). The EGD never closes – ship repairs are completed 24/7, 365 days a year.

Jordan Goldsmith
Jordan Goldsmith

To say that a workday is busy for the electricians down at the EGD would be an understatement. They are responsible for keeping the graving dock equipment and infrastructure in good-working order and are always on-call in case repairs are needed.
We talked to Jordie Goldsmith, one of the EGD electricians about his job, his favourite parts, and the coolest project he’s worked on.

One of the giant cranes at the Graving Dock
One of the giant cranes at the Graving Dock

How long have you been with PWGSC?

Two-and-a-half years. I started as a term employee in May 2012, after starting as a casual. When a term job came up, I applied and won that competition.

What do you do as an electrician at the Esquimalt Graving Dock?

Fisgard Lighthouse as seen from the Esquimalt Graving Dock
Fisgard Lighthouse as seen from the Esquimalt Graving Dock

We take care of the maintenance of the machinery and equipment and infrastructure at the Esquimalt Graving Dock including the pumphouse equipment, maintenance and troubleshooting of fire alarms, high-voltage equipment like the pumps and air compressors and 3-rail mounted cranes, Closed Circuit TV security cameras – everything from phone lines to computers!

What training is involved?

The basic requirement is Red Seal certification as a high voltage electrician and a college diploma. We also get site-specific on-the-job training with senior electricians.

What is the best part of the job?

The location! We’re right on the ocean, and I enjoy working outside when the weather’s nice.

What is the coolest project you’ve worked on recently?

A couple of months ago we had to replace a large, high-voltage air compressor. We’re currently replacing the substation high-voltage transformers.

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Mental Health Week May 4-10, 2015
Are you “fine” or “phine”?

Your mental health has a huge impact on your physical well-being because it affects everything in your body, from how you feel, think, act, and relate to others. Everyone has good mental health days and poor mental health days, regardless of whether they have a mental illness or not.

Are you “fine” or “phine”?

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) introduced Mental Health Week in 1951, and in the past 64 years it has become a time to learn about not only mental health and wellness but a host of other addiction and awareness campaigns.

Mental Health Tips

Last year’s Mental Health Week campaign coined a new word “phine” which is defined by the CMHA as:

PHINE ~ definition (adjective) Saying you’re fine when you are not. 

We’ve all been there. Someone asks how you’re feeling and you reply “Fine,” when you’ve had a tough time dealing with a stressful situation or a bout of depression.

The CMHA’s Mental Health Fact Sheet lists six tips for keeping mentally healthy:

  • Build a healthy self-esteem
  • Build positive support networks
  • Get involved in your community
  • Build resiliency when dealing with difficult situations
  • Recognize your emotions
  • Take care of your spiritual well-being

2015 Campaign – Mental health & well-being of men and boys

Mental Health Week 2015Regardless of whether you’re male or female, or how confident you are, the negative messages that we see on TV, read, and what we say to each other have a detrimental effect on our mental well-being.

In recent years, our society has been focusing on teaching our women and girls that these messages are unrealistic and the mental health issues that result from them. This year the CMHA is focusing on the mental health of men and boys because these messages affect them as much as they do women. The difference: it’s OK for women to share their feelings, but men and boys are taught to be “tough” and to keep emotions bottled-up. The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Changing Directions, Changing Lives study found:

  • In any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness, with a cost to the economy of well in excess of $50 billion.
  • Only one in three people who experience a mental health problem or illness — and as few as one in four children or youth — report that they have sought and received services and treatment.
  • Of the 4,000 Canadians who die every year as a result of suicide, most were confronting a mental health problem or illness.
  • Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety and depression, including depression following the birth of a child, and men are more likely to develop schizophrenia at a younger age.
  • Girls and women attempt suicide at higher rates, but men and boys (particularly older men) die by suicide more often.

What can we do?

As a society, we need to make sure men and boys don’t feel like they are being treated as “weak” when they admit to having a mental illness. It has to be OK for them to feel the way they do and to be able to express those feelings. CMHA suggests the following:

Self-care: Teach boys copings skills and self-care practices so they can better recognize unhealthy thoughts and behaviours as teenagers and as adults.

Early intervention: Catching the signs of mental illness early and providing treatment can empower both boys and girls and increase the quality of their lives throughout their lives.

Change the message: Let’s change the messages men and boys receive so they can learn some new lessons. Let’s show them that:

  • It’s OK for boys and men to express their emotions.
  • It’s necessary for boys and men to take care of themselves.
  • Work-life balance is important for men too.
  • Success can be defined by their own criteria, which may include mental health, healthy relationships and happiness.

Mental Health TipsWhat you can do for your mental health:

  • Be kind to yourself. Take time to relax.
  • Practice positive self-talk.
  • Talk about it.
  • Eat well and keep active.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Source

For more information on how to maintain your mental health visit the CMHA’s Mental Health Week site.


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