Tom Northcott

Tom Northcott was a regular on the CBC Vancouver TV program Let’s Go from 1964 to 66, and was nominated for a Juno in 1971 for best male vocalist (losing to Gordon Lightfoot). He was vocalist for The Playboys in 1965, and then formed the Tom Northcott Trio in 1966 (with Rick Enns on bass who would go on to join the United Empire Loyalists). Northcott then formed a band with Howie Vickers and Susan Pesklevits which lasted briefly - Susan then formed the Poppy Family with Terry Jacks (they married in 1967) and Vickers formed the Collectors which later became Chilliwack. Northcott recorded a number of solo singles for Warner records with top session players (Leon Russell, Glen Campbell, Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel). In the early 1970s he gave up his recording career to become a commercial fisherman, went to law school and is now a maritime lawyer.

The track below is Girl of the North Country from 1968 - from the Warner compilation Sunny Goodge Street:

Here’s Lulu introducing Tom Northcott on the tv show Where It’s At playing both Sunny Goodge Street and Girl From The North Country.

Heat Exchange

Heat Exchange started out as a high school blues band called Cloud - originally four members which expanded to a six piece band influenced by British progressive bands such as Jethro Tull and ELP. Their big break came after being booked at the 3-day Rock Hill festival (held near Shelburne ON) - they picked up a manager and recording contract with local ARC/Yorkville records, turning down a potential offer from RCA. They immediately stopped touring to go into the studio where they were given free reign to compose and record their first album. They also changed their name to Heat Exchange due to an existing band named Clouds.

At the time the CRTC was promoting Canadian content by picking a single each week to be played across the country and one week Heat Exchange’s first single (Can You Tell Me / Inferno) was selected for guaranteed airplay. According to flute/sax player Craig Carmody, “…programmers resented being told they had to play this (or any other) song and so deliberately buried it in the dark of night“.

A decidedly FM band was now being asked to create AM pop singles (their contract was revised at the time to focus on hit singles as opposed to an album) - they put 2 more singles (Scorpio Lady / Reminiscence and She Made Me All Alone / Philosophy) neither of which received any attention - the record company lost interest and the band faded away into obscurity. Neil Chapman later turned up as the guitarist for Pukka Orchestra in the 80s.

Recently, the singles and remaining tracks from what would have been their first album were compiled into an excellent set called Reminiscence - it’s a shame the LP wasn’t released at the time, as it’s really something. Below is the track ‘Scat’ which is a superb slab of psychedelic jazz.

Mike Langford: vocals
Neil Chapman: guitars
Marty Morin: drums, vocals
Gord McKinnon: keyboards, harmonica
Ralph Smith: bass
Craig Carmody: saxaphones, flute


Here are my class photos from Blythwood School for the years 1969 through 1974.

Souls of Inspyration

The Souls of Inspyration were formed in Red Lake Ontario (near the Manitoba border) - on a tour east in 1968 they came to roost in Sherbrooke Quebec and from there attracted a following throughout the province. They won a cross-Canada band competition (“Man and his World”) to earn a week engagement playing the Canada pavillion at Expo 1970 in Osaka, Japan. On their return they recorded their first and only LP for Columbia records - it’s a solid and obscure chunk of Canadian psychedelia. The track is Eyes of Nature:

The band members: Mark Paradis (drums), John Maciejewski (guitar), Don Wilson (bass), Raymond Cloutier (keyboards).

The Churls

The Churls were formed in Toronto 1967 and by that summer they were playing gigs at venues such as the Penny Farthing, Rock Pile and Charlie Browns - they gained a reputation as one of the loudest bands around. The band was spotted by the Everly Brothers (in town playing at the King Edward hotel) who made some connections happen and the The Churls were signed to Glotzer and Katz Management (who also managed Blood, Sweat & Tears) by the winter of 1967.

They headed to New York in early 1968 and became houseband at both Cafe a Go-Go and The Scene. From there they moved to Hollywood where they played at The Whiskey a Go-Go, the Experience, and the Electric Circus - they were picked up by Herb Alpert’s A&M records and put out their first (self-titled) album with the band dressed in medieval garb on the cover. From that album is Crystal Palace:

The band consisted of Bob O' Neill on vocals, guitarists Sam Hurrie and Harry Southworth Ames, bassist John Barr and drummer Brad Fowles. In 1969 they put out their second album (Send Me No Flowers), but by this point A&M had lost interest and didn’t release any singles and so the band soon returned to Toronto and disbanded.

Mr. Submarine

Mr. Sub was founded in Toronto, Canada, in 1968 by two friends, Jack Levinson (a gym teacher), and Earl Linzon (an accounting clerk) with $1500 start-up capital. The first Mr. Sub restaurant (then called Mr. Submarine) opened at 130 Yorkville Avenue on the ground floor of a converted Victorian row house.

Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was born in Macedonia in 1949 - he joined the merchant marine but in 1968 jumped ship in Halifax to avoid the draft back home. He eventually ended up in Toronto where he became a dishwasher at the Mr. Sub in Yorkville.

He married Efrosini "Frances" Boulis in 1971 and in 1972 he was still filing appeals deferring deportation back to Greece where he faced likely imprisonment. He's pictured with wife and son Christro.

By 1972 he was part owner of Mr. Sub and responsible for franchising - the chain had expanded to 12 shops in Toronto and Mr. Boulis was making $500.00 a week. The Dining Out column from the Toronto Star Jan 15 1972 compared Toronto submarine shops (as they were new at the time) and Mr. Submarine was "senior sub spot in town".

Gus and family were able to stay in Canada although in 1976 after their second son was born Frances returned to Greece with the boys and filed for divorce. In 1977 Boulis sold his interest in Mr. Sub (after growing it to 200 stores) and moved to the States where he started a number of companies including the Miami Subs franchise. In 1994 he started the company SunCruz which ran "cruises to nowhere" - the boats were floating casinos outside the reach of Florida law.

As a Greek national, Boulis ran into a law barring foreigners from owning American commercial vessels. Although he had become a US citizen in 1997, the US government argued he had purchased most of his fleet of 11 gambling vessels before becoming a citizen. In 2000 the case was settled and Boulis agreed to sell the fleet and stay out of the floating casino business.

The buyers were Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and New York businessman Adam Kidan - they made false representations to banks, investors and the government in order to raise $147.5 million to buy SunCruz. The relationship quickly soured between Boulis and the buyers - Kidan and Boulis accused each other of lying, Kidan alleged that Boulis stabbed him with a pen in a meeting and told reporters Boulis was trying to kill him. Boulis went to court to attempt to regain control of the company.

On Feb 6, 2001, Boulis was ambushed and murdered in a mob-style hit - he was leaving his Ft. Lauderdale office when his car was boxed in by three other cars and he was shot 4 times by a semi-automatic pistol. After the assailants drove off, he managed to drive some distance before he crashed into a tree across the road from a Miami Subs outlet, dying later in hospital.

It wasn't until 2005 that Anthony Ferrari, Anthony Moscatiello and James "Pudgy" Fiorillo were charged with first degree murder (and conspiracy to commit murder). Kidan would tell investigators that he had feared Boulis would try to hire the mob to have him killed so he reached out to the mob to protect him first - he paid protection money in part by buying wine from Moscatiello which was served on the SunCruz boats. According to prosecutors, if Boulis regained control of SunCruz that revenue stream would dry up.

In 2012 James Fiorillo flipped and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to testify in return for time served.

In 2013 Anthony Ferrari was convicted

In 2015 the case was wrapped up with a guilty conviction for Anthony Moscietello.

Gary and Dave

Gary Weeks and Dave Beckett were a recording duo with a string of singles in the early 70's - they were produced by Greg Hambleton (who was the recording engineer on Stompin' Tom Connor's first album - he gave Tom a piece of plywood to stomp on which became his trademark). Gary and Dave co-wrote "Could You Ever Love Me Again" in 1973 which went to #1 in Canada - they toured with the Stampeders, were nominated for 5 Junos in 1974, and had their own TV show on CBC. They continued to release singles on Hambleton's Axe Records until 1975 when they disbanded; both Gary and Dave became airline pilots for Air Canada.

Toronto via Chi-Cheemaun

There's basically two ways to get to Toronto from the north shore of Lake Superior - driving around via Sudbury, or going south via Manitoulin Island and taking the ferry (MS Chi-Cheemaun) to Tobermory. It is about a 2 hour crossing; cost for one person & motorcycle: $40.00.

After the ferry, it's 300 km to Toronto via the SuperBurger at 89 & 10 for banquet burger, fries, gravy on the side.

Here's to the roadside motel may you never go out of business.

The Best Bath Award goes to this self-contained bathing pod from the future:

Total kms: 16,138.



Pukaskwa National Park is situated on the north east shore of Lake Superior - perfectly for viewing 🌅’s and ⛈’s.

The park bills itself as a wilderness park - there are a number of 🚗-⛺️ sites but also reservable back country sites along the Lake Superior shoreline which are accessible by hiking or 🛶 or kayak. There is also a suspension bridge 35 m over the Chigamiwinigum waterfalls.

Sources at the Ojibway and Cree Cultural Centre in Timmins indicate that the correct Roman orthography for "Pukaskwa" should be "Pukasu." The word "Pukasu" describes what people do when they cook the marrow inside the bones of animals.

Parks 🇨🇦 rating: 👍++


Immediately east of Elk Island park is the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, which has a living history museum with period costumed interpreters and a large number of homes & buildings brought to the site.


The first wave of Ukrainian immigrants (170,000 rural poor, primarily from Galicia and Bukovina) was during the years 1891 to 1914, assisted by the Canadian Homestead Act (aka Dominion Lands Act) which was in use from 1872 to 1918.


The Canadian Homestead Act was intended to encourage the settlement of Canada's prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchwan, and Manitoba. Like before the US did.


The act gave 160 acres for free to any male farmer who agreed to cultivate at least 40 acres and to build a permanent dwelling within three years. The only cost to the farmer was a $10 administration fee.


The cabbage rolls weren’t ready yet (*), so they were replaced with more perogies.


(*) I don’t really like cabbage rolls anyways.

Eastward ho. 

Elk Island

Just 1/2 hour east of Edmonton is Elk Island National Park. Originally a small Elk preserve dating back to 1906, it is home to the largest and the smallest terrestrial mammals in North America - the wood bison and pygmy shrew.


There are maintained walkways around part of the shore of Astotin lake (the ⛺️ is across the road) and a floating path through wetlands: 


There is a theatre, playgrounds and tons of programs - it’s super family friendly. A bunch of hiking trails are available. And a 9 hole golf course.


And bison everywhere (there are more bison in the park now than in all of North America in 1890). North of highway 16 (aka the Yellowhead Trail) are plains bison and south of the highway are wood bison.


Morning mist + BC smoke:


Parks 🇨🇦 rating: 👍++


Here’s Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway which is in Dawson Creek, BC. Good news there’s booze just across the street.


The Dawson Creek art gallery: 


Driving south from Dawson Creek - the smoke from the BC fires is on the horizon:


A view from Alberta, right around when the odometer rolled over 80,000:


Pro tip: after days of dusty riding be sure to pressure wash the your key locks - otherwise the dust may turn into concrete and then you may have to borrow an electric drill and destroy the lock as that’s the only way to get your pannier open. Hypothetically speaking of course.

Alaska Highway Redux

The Alaska Highway (also known as the ALCAN Highway) was constructed during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska across Canada.


The last picture is the view from Muncho Lake campground. 

Currently at Fort Nelson which is Mile 300 on the Alaska Highway - continuing south to Mile 0 then on to Edmonton because perogies.


Kluane National Park, along with Wrangell-St. Elias, Glacier Bay and Tatshenshini-Alsekaking make up the largest international protected area in the world - a UNESCO world heritage site since 1979.


Kluane is home to the largest non-polar icefields in the world and contains 17 of Canada’s 20 tallest mountains including Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada. There are bears (grizzly & black), Dall sheep, mountain goats, caribou and wolves. 


When you visit, be sure to spend time in the Da Kų Cultural Centre - I spent an hour with an interpreter from Champagne Aishihik First Nations who outlined aspects of the culture and geography, impact of the neighboring ice fields, relationship to the coastal regions, and all sorts of information - there’s a giant map on the floor so we could move around as he explained the history. 💯


The picture above is from the Da Kų Centre - the dugout canoe in the foreground isn’t made from the trees in the background - the route to the coast for trees like this is what is now the Haines Highway.


This is my new favorite park, situated as it is near top of the Alaska Highway.


The Saint Elias mountain range.

Haines Junction

The town of Haines Junction is at the intersection of the Alaska & Haines highways, and is a major administrative section for CFAN (Champagne and Aishihik First Nations). The original name of the area was "Dakwakada", a Southern Tutchone word meaning "high cache".

Below are a couple pictures of the Da Ku Cultural Center (and Kluane park office) and two little churches in town.


Rain, fog and cold for past 5 days and continuing for a couple more. Some zzzzz time.


Here’s a picture of the rear tire I drove from Toronto, and the beefier tire installed for the Dempster - the first rode as a spare. For some reason 🏍’s are less succeptible than 🚗’s for flat tires (I saw 3 🚙’s plugging or replacing tires on the road). Advice is 2 inflated ready to go spares.

Dempster fun fact: there is CAA coverage on the road, unfortunately the whole way has no cell coverage, even in Eagle Plains (there are a few spots in the northern section). WiFi at Eagle Plains is $5.00 per day, and only works in the restaurant and bar, not in your room.

My turnaround point on the Dempster was about km 480 - 15 kms north of where the road crosses the NWT border; 70 kms south of Fort McPherson.

Word fact: Yukon is derived from dyukun-ah which means ‘great river’ in Gwich’in, the Athapaskan language of the region. The Yukon River was named by HBC trader John Bell in 1846.

The Yukon & NWT have been in a sunny heat wave for 25 days and now the weather has turned - the Top of the World Highway is under fog & rain for the next week and Chicken is socked in. Kluane beckons so south to Whitehorse and then to the park office at Haines Junction to get a hike figured out. Some pics of Whitehorse:


The Dempster

A part of this trip was to drive the Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk. The weather and resulting road conditions (and my driving skills) put a stop to that 2 or 3 hours north of the Arctic Circle. 

Pro tip: if planning to drive the Dempster, ignore everything anyone says. About anything. Go instead to the NWT tourism office in Dawson City and talk to staff there.  They know the score.

Motorcycles are strongly dissuaded from camping the route (which sux as there are excellent ⛺️ sites on way) due to the weight. I dropped off all of my gear (NWT tourism stored everything for me - they are 👍) and pared down to a minimum to make the bike as light as possible. Going motel to motel with bare essentials is the only way. 

The first 1/2 of the Dempster ends at Eagle Plains (there is no services until then). The surface is rough gravel and dirt (beware kms 250-350 as they use shale on the road) and relatively good.


Eagle Plains (aka Midway) is the only game in town. It’s the first set of services (376 km from the start) and has the motel, car wash, mechanic, tire install, and bar.


Day 2 itinerary: Eagle Plains to Innuvik (the second 1/2 of the Dempster). Then Innuvik to Tuktoyaktuk and back on day 3, and return on days 4/5. That’s the plan. Here’s leaving Eagle Plains:


The Arctic Circle is about 36 kms north of Eagle Plains (woot!) and further on is Wright Pass which on this day was a cloud of rain with zero visibility (no 📷).

Further on conditions worsened (aka went to shit) as rain turned the road into long stretches of mud with the consistency of axle grease. 


After slopping around for a few hours (and dumping the 🏍 twice) I found a place to turn around, took the promo shot at the Arctic Circle and returned to Midway.


[Insert a long string of extremely offensive swear words]

Next up is return to gather up gear in Dawson City, then Top of the World Highway, Chicken USA and Kluane Park. 

Dawson City

The Town of the City of Dawson is on the Yukon River in the Yukon.


Dawson was a base during the 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush; a fair number of the buildings are still standing. There are also some cool pubs, coffee shops and a big craft beers scene.


Next turn is 40 kms east of Dawson City - gas up and head north on the Dempster Highway - it’s 365 kms to the next gas station at Eagle Plains.

Alaska Highway

The stretch of the Alaska Highway north of Fort Nelson is my new favorite road in Canada - aside from the odd critter:


The road condition is essentially perfect.


There is a stretch of 3 superb BC Provincial Parks along here - I stayed at 2 on the way north and hope to hit 3rd (Muncho Lake) on the way south.

Summit Lake P. P. campground ($20) has sites right by the lake:


There is excellent hiking nearby with a couple trails leaving the camp site. 


Further north is Liard Hotsprings P. P. ($26). A 10 minute walk from camp along a boardwalk is Canada’s second largest hot springs, which ends up meandering down a marshy river.


Water is hottest to the right (upstream) going in. 


Further downriver the water cools off to about bath temperature and perhaps you have a waterproof case for your kindle with several hours to waste.

The hot springs are open year around (free in off season) and must be unreal on a winter night.

The entire stretch of Alaska Highway from Fort Nelson to Whitehorse is A+++


Forts on the Road

Fort Smith is at the last portage on the water route north and is the only driving entrance to Wood Buffalo National Park.


Fort Simpson is 689 kms west on Highway 5 and 1 (Mackenzie Highway). The town is on an island (ferry runs 6:00 to 24:00) at the juncture of the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers. It is the usual launching point for Nahanni park visits.


Fort Liard is 286 km south on the Liard Highway, which is an indescribably shitty road. It’s a variety from chip-seal to loose gravel to rocks and dirt (when wet it’s a quagmire). Google’s estimate for this part of the journey is 9 hours and 59 minutes. 


36 kms south of Fort Liard is the provincial border where one weeps with joy at the crisp line separating NWT chip-seal from beautiful BC asphalt. And 241 kms south of that is Fort Nelson which is in the Peace Valley at bottom of the Alaska Highway. 

Next step is north-west up the Alaska Highway towards Watson Lake then Whitehorse.