• This illustration released by NASA depicts a view of the night sky just before the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy, left, and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. About 3.75 billion years from now, Andromeda's disk fills the field of view and its gravity begins to create tidal distortions in the Milky Way. The view is inspired by dynamical computer modeling of the future collision between the two galaxies. The two galaxies collide about 4 billion years from now and merge to form a single galaxy about 6 billion years from now. Astronomers in a Thursday, May 31, 2012, NASA news conference announced that observations from the Hubble Space Telescope detail a long-anticipated galactic smash-up.The mining town of Timmins Ontario,  birthplace of Shania Twain and hockey's Mahovlich brothers, is about to become Canada's newest Mecca of space exploration — sort of.

    The Globe and Mail is reporting that the Northeastern Ontario community will become home to a new space-balloon launch site, a partnership between the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and France's Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES).  Canada's space agency is committing $10-million to the cost of construction and flights in which it participates, while the French are providing their expertise and balloons, pledging to fly one in Timmins about every two years.

    According to Timmins mayor Tom Laughren, his city was chosen after a rigourous selection criteria.

    "The latitude, wind and weather conditions, the low population density in key areas surrounding the city and optimal on-site infrastructure meet the stringent national and international security regulations governing balloon launch and recovery systems," he told

    Read More »from Timmins, Ontario, joins France to balloon into the space age
  • Three children drowned in Southern Ontario's Lake Erie this past weekend.

    Two of the deceased were siblings who couldn't swim. They weren't wearing life jackets.

    A young man in his 20s was rescued from Lake Ontario before he met the same fate.

    In Quebec, the province with more backyard pools per capita than anywhere else in Canada, a heart-breaking record seven drownings occurred within 21 days this summer. All of the victims were under the age of 5.

    The Globe and Mail reports that national surveys "have shown private pools pose by far the greatest drowning threat to young children, while older children and adults tend to drown in larger bodies of water."

    [ Related: Many immigrants can't swim, says safety society ]

    In Quebec, the high number of deaths "renewed calls for aggressive public education campaigns and more accessible water-safety courses for children. It has also prompted stern reminders from officials that keeping an eye on kids near the water's edge is critical," writes

    Read More »from More drownings in Canada: What needs to be done?
  • Fairmont Hot Springs mudslide traps 600 at RV park

    This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. EST

    About 600 people remain trapped at an RV park near the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in the East Kootenay region of southeastern B.C., due to a massive mudslide that rolled through the area at 4:30 PM Mountain Time on Sunday.

    Most of the roads were re-opened Monday after the mudslide swept down a creek bed through the popular resort town north of Cranbrook, closing Highway 93/95 for several hours and washing out the road.

    A lifeguard working at the town's hot spring pools noticed the water was getting murky and sounded the alarm, according to Wendy Booth, a director with the East Kootenay Regional District.

    The mudslide flooded the Fairmont resort, its golf course and forced the evacuation of a number of homes in the affected area.

    [ Related: B.C. landslide search recovers man's body ]

    Doug Clovechok watched the torrent of water, mud, boulders, logs and at least one car rush past one resort and take out another down the road.

    "There's

    Read More »from Fairmont Hot Springs mudslide traps 600 at RV park
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper (C), his wife Laureen (R) and his daughter Rachel watch the annual Stampede parade.If you live in Calgary, you are one happy cowpoke these days.

    And if you're chillin' on Kits Beach in Vancouver, likewise.

    Pollster Angus Reid says Calgarians and Vancouverites reported the highest satisfaction in their quality of life in a survey done earlier this month.

    Some 87 per cent of Calgarians in the poll said they were satisfied, followed by Vancouver at 82 per cent.

    So Prime Minister Stephen Harper may not have been far off this week when he praised his adopted home town (he's a son of Etobicoke, Ont.) as the best city in Canada.

    The remark, repeated in two speeches during the Calgary Stampede, set critics' tongues clucking.

    "Toronto is my hometown," interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae told the National Post, but added, "Now that I am a national leader all of Canada is my home."

    NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, born in Ottawa but now a Montrealer, likewise refused to play favourites.

    "I want to work hard for all Canadian cities," he said, taking Harper's understandable pander to the

    Read More »from Calgarians have highest quality-of-life satisfaction, poll finds
  • Chad Harden races his wagon in the Rangeland Derby Chuckwagon event during the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede.The deaths of three horses in a chuckwagon-racing accident at the Calgary Stampede has ignited renewed demands by animal-welfare advocates to ban the exciting but dangerous event.

    "We think that all the changes that the Calgary Stampede has been publicizing over the past few months that were supposed to make this race safe obviously haven't worked," Peter Fricker, a spokesman for the Vancouver Humane Society, told the Globe and Mail on Friday.

    [ Related: Research aims to reduce horse deaths at chuckwagon races ]

    Going into this year's centennial edition of the "Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth," some 50 horses have died since 1986 in chuckwagon racing, four in 2010 and two last year.

    The GMC Rangeland Derby is the highlight of the Stampede's daily rodeo events.

    The fourth heat of Thursday night's racing card was underway when the lead horse in Chad Harden's wagon collapsed in the back stretch, CBC News reported. That caused a chain-reaction that brought down three other horses on the

    Read More »from Chuckwagon race that killed three Calgary Stampede horses spurs fresh calls to ban event
  • I once worked with a guy who occasionally called in sick. They were short-lived maladies that seemed to coincide with prime skiing or golfing weather.

    Now I now why.

    Labour economics professor Mikal Skuterud of the University of Waterloo has discovered what he calls the "bliss point" - a ideal combination of sun, wind and temperature that makes playing hooky from work irresistible.

    Skuterud applied a formula to data that included daily activity reports and 32 years' worth of Canadian weather information to zero in on the exact bliss point, the Globe and Mail reports.

    Here's what to look for: A clear day with a humidex of exactly 27.2 C and a wind speed of 14.7 kilometres an hour.

    "People wake up, they see there's this great weather and they have a pent-up demand to do some recreational activities," Skuterud told the Globe.

    Skuterud co-authored a paper last October that spelled out his approach to what he calls "shirking absenteeism."

    While it's amusing to think we react reflexively to

    Read More »from Canadians most like to play hooky from work when it’s sunny and warm
  • The new $100 polymer bill (CBC photo)One of my momma's favourite sayings was 'don't burn your money.'

    While it was — obviously — a figurative phrase, it seems I'll have to start using the phrase with my kids in a more literal sense. Several reports are surfacing about Canada's new polymer banknotes melting in the heat.

    Brittney Halldorson, a teller at the Interior Savings Credit Union in Kelowna, B.C., said the new $50 and $100 bills are supposed to withstand boiling water but she has seen cases where several of the bills melted.

    "We have seen it a few times now where there have been either three to four, or five to ten [bills] all melted together," she told Metro News.

    In Cambridge, Ont., Mona Billard returned eight plastic bills in January, after her son stashed his $800 Christmas bonus in a tin can and hid it near a baseboard heater. When he retrieved them the next day to make a deposit, the $100 banknotes had shriveled and melted. Billard exchanged clean bills for the shrunken, unusable ones.

    "The leather couch is up

    Read More »from Canada’s new plastic $50, $100 bills melting in the heat: reports
  • A motorcycle club on cruisers drives into town at the 2012 Atlantic Beach Bikefest in Atlantic Beach, South Carolina, May 25, 2012.It's tradition. Every Friday the 13th since 1981, bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts converge on the small Ontario town of Port Dover on the north shore of Lake Erie.

    The very first gathering of bikers, initiated by a local bike shop owner, had just 25 people show up.

    Today, an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 bikers are expected to arrive in town, the largest turnout in the bike rally's history. The high-number expectation is due to the great weather and the fact that today is the last Friday the 13th of 2012.

    To welcome the cyclists, Port Dover set up additional portable washrooms and garbage cans, increased police presence, brought in vendors, and organized an outdoor rock concert on Main Street.

    [ Related: Spring brings out drivers, bikers competing in the Darwin 500 ]

    The rallies are great for Port Dover's economy, often generating up to $2 million for the town, CityNews reports.

    While the Port Dover celebrations might seem overwhelming for the small town of 6,387 (according to a 2011

    Read More »from Port Dover Friday the 13th biker rally expected to be largest ever
  • Natives from the Yinka Dene Alliance march through downtown Calgary, May 11, 2011, protesting Enbridge Pipeline's Northern Gateway project.A damning report over Enbridge Inc.'s handling of a massive U.S. oil-pipeline spill may be giving B.C. Premier Christy Clark the pretext she needs to climb off the fence on the Calgary firm's controversial Northern Gateway project.

    Clark slammed Enbridge on Wednesday after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded pipeline operators waited more than 17 hours before shutting down a pipeline that dumped more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in southern Michigan.

    Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman compared Enbridge's performance to the "Keystone Kops," bumbling stars of the silent-movie era whose name still today is synonymous with incompetence.

    "I think the company should be deeply embarrassed about what unfolded — we saw that in the report," Clark told reporters in Kamloops, B.C., according to The Canadian Press.

    "If they think they're going to operate like that in British Columbia, forget it."

    Clark has said in the past she'll wait

    Read More »from Is B.C.’s government now leaning against backing the Northern Gateway pipeline?
  • Canadians are the second-largest per capita consumers of prescription drugs and other controlled substances in the world, but the country has no national strategy to deal with abuse, The Canadian Press reports.

    "We haven't developed a co-ordinated approach that makes sense in Canada that allows each province to have a bit of a framework to guide their own direction," said Dr. Susan Ulan, co-chair of the Alberta-based Coalition on Prescription Drug Misuse.

    The prescription drug consumption figure comes from the International Narcotics Control Board. Yet, there's no national system to track addiction and related deaths, The Canadian Press noted.

    Ulan said some provinces, including Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, have had their own monitoring programs in place for years but others are just beginning.

    The Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse has recruited 30 experts to help develop a national strategy to track drug abuse and overdose rates. The centre expects to

    Read More »from Canadians love their prescription drugs but experts call for national strategy on abuse

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