Our house at 100 Prince Street has a sandstone foundation that has kept it standing for 191 years. It is not a museum piece, but it is mighty.

On top of the sandstone along the driveway, supporting the sill, is a layer of bricks; I’d always assumed, for no other reason than ignorance, that the bricks were a later addition, but learned this week that they’re original equipment.

I know this by way of work on the bricks that we’re having done this week by Jake the mason and his crew. The need for the work was brought on by a driveway reconstruction project spearheaded by our indefatigable neighbour Angus. Removing the driveway asphalt revealed more clearly issues with the brick that were seen evidence of for some years, and if there was ever a time to do something, it is now.

The bricks, Jake tells us with his experienced eye, have been there from the beginning of the house in 1827. The work he’s doing for us this week will allow them to continue to be there for another generation; it’s not a total system reboot, but rather a careful and deliberate surgery. It is a joy to watch.

Such a joy, at it happens, that yesterday, looking at brickwork and not where I was going, I twisted my ankle on the driveway. It’s been sore ever since, but seems to be slowly on the mend (rest, ice, compress, elevate).

With luck, me and the foundation should be fully supportive by early next week.

A&W Beyond Meat Burger

I’m no great fan of the fast food industry, but A&W deserves a hat-tip for its Beyond Meat Burger and the way they’ve presented it.

I remember, many years ago, going through the drivethru at the Burger King in Charlottetown and ordering a “veggie burger.” What I received was a bun with a tomato slice and lettuce. Technically qualified, but hardly satisfying.

I Made a Wikipedia Page for the Charlottetown Boulder Park

As the son of a geologist, and as someone with a soft spot for underdog monuments, the Charlottetown Boulder Park has always been an object of fascination for me. It was born the same year I was, in 1966; now, 52 years on, few people seem to know anything about its origins; indeed it’s easy to miss that it’s there at all, given the various renovations to the yard of the Hon. George Coles Building that have lessened the prominence and accessibility of the boulders.

I decided, given this, that I was the right person to shine light on the park and its history.

My inspiration came from a mention in Mita Williams’ weekly email newsletter of the utility of populating Wikimedia Commons with the images of Wikipedia and Wikidata entries that are missing them; this led me to the Wikimedia Commons app, and, in turn, I learned how Wikidata, Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia are linked together.

To lay the groundwork for this project, I started by taking out of cold storage a set of images of the boulders in the Boulder Park and the plaques describing them; I uploaded these to Wikimedia Commons, and tied them together with a Category called Charlottetown Boulder Park.

Next, I created a Wikidata entry for Charlottetown Boulder Park, along with Wikidata entries for each individual boulder (here’s Alberta, for example). I attached the Wikimedia Commons images I’d just uploaded to each boulder, along with its geographic location and, where possible, made each an “instance of” the type of rock it’s composed of.

I then edited OpenStreetMap and added links to the Wikidata entries to each of the boulders I’d plotted on the map several years ago.

Finally, I set out to author a Wikipedia page, the most daunting task of all, as it was completely new terrain for me, and something cloaked in mystery, with seemingly arcane rules and style requirements.

It turns out that there’s a remarkably helpful set of resources to help the new Wikipedia author, starting from Wikipedia: Your first article.

Wikipedia requires sources to be cited, so my first task was to find documentation for the history of the Boulder Park; I had help in this regard from the Public Archives and from Robertson Library, and this helped me find my way to articles from The Guardian and the Evening Patriot from 1966 that documented the opening of the park. I found an additional, contemporary reference in The Guardian–a column by former editor Gary MacDougall–in a full-text search of the paper on the library site:

  • The Guardian, September 2, 1966: page 1 and page 3
  • The Evening Patriot, September 2, 1966: page 2
  • The Guardian, September 6, 2014: page 13

With these references in place, I set out to create the page: I wrote a paragraph about the history of the park, a paragraph about its opening, and I filled in the details of the “info box” template for parks. I added a table with information about each boulder (using the Wikimedia Commons images I’d created earlier), and I added an embedded OpenStreetMap map showing the location of each boulder.

Once I’d finished, double-checked everything for typos and style, and had some trusted friends review it with fresh eyes, I clicked “Publish” and the new article went into a queue for review; there was a box at the bottom of the article at this point alerting me that this could take up to 5 weeks, as there were 2000+ articles in the queue at this point.

The review happened much more quickly than that, though: within 24 hours I got an email alert telling me that someone had updated the article, and, sure enough, the history for the article showed that it had passed the review and was now public.

So, ta da, here it is: Charlottetown Boulder Park in Wikipedia.

I finished up the linked by connecting the OpenStreetMap boulder park relation and the boulder park Wikidata entry to the Wikipedia page, thus nicely knitting all the various manifestations of the park together.

But I’m not done yet!

I’ve been in touch with the operators of the Street Eats food truck that’s set up this summer on the edge of the Boulder Park, and they’ve agreed to provide a home for a printed guide to the Boulder Park, so my next step is to make one.

Thank you to Mita for the inspiration, Olle, Simon, John and Ed for the reference help and proofread, and to Graeme for the Wikipedia review.

Bind, Iterate, Bind

Today’s project was to take the hardbound book I made last week and make another one, improving some of the parts that went sideways in that first iteration. Up

Here’s what I ended up with:

Photo of hardbound book

The paper is from a pad of 70 lb. Strathmore drawing paper I purchased at Michaels; it’s a step up from the Staples copier paper that I used for my coptic stitched book.

While not as toothsome as the St. Armand paper I used in the last version, it has the benefit of being slightly less precious-feeling (Catherine said “the paper is so nice I don’t want to draw on it” about the last book; this is not a good quality for a sketchbook to have). It was a bit of a challenge to wrangle the paper out of the pad along its perforated edges, so I suspect this isn’t a paper source I’ll go back to. But it did the job.

The stitching, in red cotton thread, went much easier, partly because it was my second time, and partly because the thread didn’t get bunched up nearly as much.

Photo of signature stitches in book opened wide.

The cover stock and book board beneath it are the same combination I used last time, but I got the spacing of the covers and the spine right this time, meaning that the book opens and closes very pleasantly.

For the endpapers I used a map of Mbarara, Uganda that I rescued from the University of Calgary Library in 2014. I felt bad about cutting up the map; but otherwise it was destined to live a live of solitude on my paper shelf, and at least now parts of it will have a new life.

Photo of endpapers of book, a map of Mbarara, Uganda

As you can see in that photo, I was liberal in my ribbon-marker length; truth be told, when I cut the ribbon I thought “this is way, way too long.” It wasn’t. I need to singe the end of the ribbon lest it fray; I’m afraid to do this, as there’s some chance the book might burn to the ground if I’m not careful.

Another photo of the book itself, in the summer sun

There is still much, much to get better at. My glue-management is still dreadful. I haven’t mastered the art of cutting reams of paper with a knife (I was formally trained to cut single sheets of paper only). I need to become better at right angles. And bone folder use.

I really could throw it all in and do this all the time, though; it’s lovely work to practise.


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