It’s famously stated that the Inuit have over 50 words for snow. For example, pukak means crystalline snow that looks like salt. The Inuit make a meaningful distinction between falling snow – qaniɣ – and snow on the ground – apun. The Sami language found in Scandinavia has even more words related to ice and snow. These experts in the nuances in shades of white would be well advised to go into the paint production business. Shades of white, are, after all, the best selling paint colours and who better to curate such things other than those who live surrounded by white?
I’ve got the Benjamin Moore fan deck in my lap right now and it has over 140 white paint colours to choose from. I’ve just counted 91 shades of white from the Sherwin Williams fan deck, give or take. Even Farrow and Ball, the pricey British paint, offers 17 shades of white, distinguishing, as they do, between Lime White, Old White, Great White, and James White. The Inupiaq descriptors of utuqaq, ice that lasts year after year, and siguliaksraq, a patchwork of crystals that forms as the sea begins to freeze, are actually far more descriptive. I’m thinking siguliaksraq would be a kind of greyed white, likely with a hint of deepest green? James White? I dunno. Perhaps Boris Johnson’s complexion on a particularly rough Sunday morning?
Choosing a paint colour is a vexing task. Even decisive captains of industry can be paralyzed when having to choose between Vanilla Milkshake and Vanilla Ice Cream, two shades from the Benjamin Moore palette of white shades. It gets worse: Hazy Skies, versus Overcast, versus November Rain? This is enough to give anyone the vapours … or maybe even, the Vapours?
Colour is big business and colour drives business. There’s a company industry relies upon to systematize colour and generate the palettes that we, mostly unwittingly, adhere to. The New Jersey company, Pantone, is famous for creating the system where, regardless of the equipment used, a specific colour can be generated thereby ensuring a precise match. That means that your Tiffany Blue bag is the same Tiffany Blue regardless of where your bag was produced. Each December Pantone declares what the Colour of the Year will be. This edict will affect everything from car colours to nail polish, and most certainly the residential paint industry. Brace yourself – we’re in for a lot of red shades this year. As dictated by Pantone, you’ll be seeing a lot of Pantone Matching System 18-1750, otherwise known as Viva Magenta. According to Pantone, this shade ‘injects excitement and drama into home interiors”. They call it a ‘nuanced crimson’.
Sherwin Williams offers as its Colour of the Year, Redend Point, ‘a soulful-yet-subtle hue’ which to my eye is a sort of peachy-terra cotta. Farrow and Ball weighs in with a ‘lively flame red’ named Bamboozle. Benjamin Moore has cleaved to the same side of the colour wheel with its designate for 2023 being Raspberry Blush, ‘an unapologetic shade of red-orange’. Unlike the aforementioned paint companies, Benjamin Moore goes one step further and commissioned the electro funk duo, Chromeo, to compose a song entitled Raspberry Blush. It’s nice but I prefer Prince’s Raspberry Beret.
Paint names are quixotic. Farrow and Ball is famous for a shade mystifyingly called Dead Salmon. Does Balboa Mist versus Meadow Mist mean anything to anyone? A Los Angeles jester had some fun with paint names a few years back. He generated a batch of fake paint sample cards and put them in the display racks to watch the responses. One of my favourites was Yellow, Is It Me You’re Looking For? The real fun was with the colour code listed below the name. The paint formula was listed as L10NL 39/537.
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This week’s question for readers:
WHAT’S YOUR BOLDEST PAINT DECISION EVER? DO YOU USUALLY GO WITH A SHADE OF WHITE JUST TO BE ON THE SAFE SIDE?
Submissions to last week’s question:
What are your train travel experiences? Have you taken any of the luxury train trips?
Seventeen glorious days, from Joburg to Victoria Falls on the Shongololo Express – a slow moving millipede, but it’s an amazing trip through seven African countries, stopping at historical sites and game reserves. Each day begins at a new location, having arrived there overnight. After a hearty breakfast, we board luxurious Mercedes vans transported on the train, on a new adventure. On some days returning to the starting point, other days catching up to the train at the next overnight stop. Is there any other way to explore Africa? Certainly not by plane!
A friend and I travelled on the Rocky Mountaineer in 2021. One of the train’s first trips after the pandemic shutdown. We did the complete round trip from Vancouver including Banff, Lake Louise and Whistler. It was a marvellous, relaxing trip. The train is comfortable, food is delicious and staff friendly and helpful. The scenery is incomparable! We met many interesting people, mainly Americans whose trips had been postponed for over a year because of the pandemic. We were all thrilled to be out and about again.
In 1947 at age 19, I sailed alone from England and then across Canada from Montreal to Vancouver on one of the last CPR steam trains .There was a stopover in Manitoba and I decided to explore. Unfortunately when I got back the train had left! No worries- the conductor was alerted and I was put on a shuttle, while the train waited up ahead for me. The trip took six days and was a great adventure, especially the jaw dropping scenery through the Rockies.
My best train memory is taking the train from North Vancouver to Williams Lake for Christmas in 1980 and revisiting this trip with a beautiful weekend on the Rocky Mountaineer to Whistler and a lovely stay at the Chateau. We need to bring back these trains!
In the late summer early fall of 2019 we took the train from Halifax to Prince Rupert. We took a month to make the trip as we spent three days in every major and some minor Canadian cities. To complete the train experience we stayed at the grand, old railway hotels. From Halifax we took the sleeper train for the entire length of the journey changing trains in Toronto and Jasper. The meals were great and the scenery from the dome cars was beautiful. The experience was a wonderful way to see the country and enjoy the heritage of Canada.
James & Paula Moran
I still have fond memories of my two train rides across Canada in the fall of 1966 on my way to do my postgraduate studies at the University of Ottawa. Upon arrival in Vancouver, some friends told me that I should take the train and experience the vastness of the country.
I took their advice and traded in my air ticket for a train ticket which in fact was more expensive because I got a sleeping berth which included all the meals. What an experience I had during those four days and three nights, all the way from the Fraser Canyon, through the Rockies, the Prairies and then the Great Lakes before arriving at the Nation’s Capital. I’ll never forget my solo train ride as well as the one with my mom and daughter! Although our daughter has no memory of her ride, I do, which I’ll never forget!
I have enjoyed various train journeys in Europe. My first high speed train journey was from Madrid to Barcelona travelling at 300 km per hour. Amazing and exciting.The Atocha train station in Madrid is wonderful to pass through with its lovely tropical gardens and turtles. My longest train journey was from Naples to Taormina in Sicily. Ten hours with interesting passengers. A Buddhist nun who smiled all the time. A young man travelling with a Guinea pig in a carrier on a seat and a man who glared at him. Passing by vineyards and coastal villages and suddenly realizing our carriage was on a boat crossing to Sicily. We alighted in Taormina.
I love the train. I crossed Canada several times by train and went to LA and back and through Europe. But my most memorable ride was in 1975 from Bamako to Dakar. My husband and I had just circumnavigated West Africa from Tangier, across the Sahara, to the coast, then north to Bamako. It was a gruelling trip. The train was a joy. Even though it was dirty,crammed with people, kids, wailing babies and chickens. We had to sit in the vestibule. Someone threw up next to us, and we were close to the loo.Nevertheless, I was thrilled: we were going home!
My wife has often told me of her train adventures. Because her father worked for CN Rail she could travel for free by train until she turned 19. She lived in Vancouver but her ten-year older sister lived in Toronto. She made the trip four times – described by her as, “miles and miles of miles”! Because she travelled economy, she slept when and where she could. As she’s not a big person she could fit inside the overhead luggage racks! She also had the additional benefit of the fact her father worked for the company so there was always someone looking out for her.
We’d made the acquaintance of another family sharing our train who also enjoy our favourite board game, “Settlers of Catan”. We’d brought our travel version but in our checked luggage! I asked our VIA attendant if there was any possibility of getting access to our checked bags at the next major station stop. “I’ll do you better than that!”, he replied, taking us right into the baggage car where we fetched our game to play with our newfound friends. Never in a million years would that happen on an airplane!
My husband and I rode The Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt. This trip is titled ‘the slowest express train’. The views as we climbed the mountainous countryside were breathtaking. At one stage of the journey the train switches to a cog rail. Very slow, but excellent views of the Matterhorn as it looms over Zermatt.
I’ve taken the train between Edmonton and Winnipeg several times both during the summer and winter. Going Economy Class has meant not only do I save money but I get to be with a wide variety of train-loving travellers. One summer I saw Batman! He was flapping his cape as he raced up the aisle. Although he was no taller than a metre, he was fast and determined to fly … ‘faster than a speeding train’.
Jacqueline M. Iwasienko
My friend and I wanted to go to Expo 67 in Montreal. We booked the two of us into a lower berth on the CN train from Vancouver to Montreal. The price included meals for the two of us. What a trip! She in the top and me at the bottom of the berth; tight quarters, but cozy. There were lots of young people on board with us so there were song fests and lots of camaraderie, and smuggled rum, to boot. It was a gentler time and a wonderful trip. We were exhausted when we reached Montreal but a trip of a lifetime ….. so very long ago.
Travelling from Vancouver to Halifax on Via was an experience I’ll never forget. The majesty of the mountains (although some of that was in the dark, but there was such a bright full moon it wasn’t all missed), the seemingly endless prairie (but we did go through the little town in Saskatchewan where my mother was born in 1908), and the lakes in Ontario. Who knew Ontario had so many lakes!! The trip was in October and while there was some color. The accommodation wasn’t luxurious but it was adequate, and I didn’t spend that much time there, except to sleep. The food was good; the scenery was amazing; the trip was everything it was meant to be. It isn’t inexpensive, and you do spend some time on sidings waiting for freight trains to pass, but so worth it! Put it on your bucket list.
In 2008, I was in Australia renting a lovely apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour. To see more of the country, I booked an Indian-Pacific Rail journey Sydney to Perth; three nights, 4352 kms through the Blue Mountains across the Nullarbour Plain to Western Australia. My ticket included a private cabin, meals and excursions in Broken Hill, Adelaide and Kalgorlie Goldfields. I had been recently widowed (age 52) and it proved to be a perfect solo trip with amazing service and friendly Aussie conversation.
I came to Vancouver on a temporary assignment, a long, long, time ago; and arranged to deplane in Montreal, to take a train across the continent, so that I could see the country. The story-books came to be true: historic Quebec; built-up Ontario, on through rolling countryside, and then the prairies of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, until reaching the huge wall of Rocky Mountains that we would wind our way through. I was enthralled, stuck to my window or in the dome car, with my eyes glued to the changing geography of this great country.
A golden egg was at the very end: a lady that I met within minutes after leaving the train. My temporary assignment turned into a life of adventure. I married that lady.
Some years ago, in Switzerland, we needed to board a connecting train to get across town from Interlaken East to Interlaken West. Once on board, we discovered that for this five minute journey, we were on the Orient Express, on its way to some exotic destination, and stopping briefly in this little Swiss town. It was a pity to have to get off.
My father worked for Canadian National Railway and our family of eight kids travelled free to visit relatives in Edmonton and Ottawa. We loved every bit of it from sleeping on the top bunks, to fighting to get a chance to sleep on the bottom and look out the window all night. They had kitchenettes at the end of each railcar and mom would cook our meals rather than taking us to the dining car. It was an education for Canadian kids to see how big and vast our country is. The trip through the Rockies happened during the day and they always stopped at Mount Robson to let us take pictures of the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
In England, as a child, I watched trains go by and longed to ride on one. My wish came true. In 1946, my mother and I left Montreal for New Westminster, sleeping and eating on the train for four days and nights. No other children were in our carriage and the porter made special time for me, showing our journey on a map and telling stories of the places we passed. As the train crossed the prairies and climbed into the foothills of the Rockies, the porter picked me wildflowers when the train stopped. He also named the mountains around and gave me my first taste of blueberry pie! It was an amazing introduction to my new country and to this day I remember those kind men who made the journey special for me.
Could the ‘luxury’ trains be more special than this ?
Before our kids turned four they were regulars on the Royal Hudson, and had been to Jasper on VIA. In September 2009 we took the VIA Canadian home from Toronto. What a way for them to see the prairie harvest. But wait! The train had a special guest. Our kids sat with him several times in the dome car. It was none other than CTV National news anchor Lloyd Robertson coming to Vancouver to prepare for the 2010 Olympics. Air travel is forgettable except when it is awful, but I will never forget crossing Canada, listening to those dulcet tones.
David Bailey, P.Eng.
At the age of 18, I was fortunate enough to travel through Europe with a group of high school grads. We rode trains a lot and sometimes the cars would be crowded and noisy. While travelling in France, another traveller and I moved to the next car to read. Surprisingly, our new car was joined up to a train travelling in the opposite direction from our group. We only had our books and the clothes on our backs.. With our limited high school French, we were able to explain our dilemma to the staff and they made a plan via train communication. We stayed on the train, getting off at a station where we spent most of the night waiting and then boarded another train to meet our group in the morning. It was a very emotional, happy reunion for us all, especially the 2 relieved teacher chaperones.
My wife and I took a trip on the Amtrak Starlight, leaving from the fabulous Union Station in Portland, Oregon for parts south. We, of course, saw rain in Oregon but we also saw lots of agricultural land. We disembarked in Klamath Falls for a 24 hour visit. We learned that, just because the sun is shining in KF, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to see the island in the middle of Crater Lake. We boarded the train again and squeezed into our berth. It was no problem falling asleep as the rails clacked and our car swayed. Our train slowed as we neared our next stop, San Jose, and we appreciated the size of Levi Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
After 24 hours there, we were on our way to LA. We were amazed at the number of people working in the fields in the middle of the day in 40 degree (C)/104F heat around Soledad. Our train approached San Luis Obispo and wound down the hills to the city. Next time; we’d stay more than 24 hours in each place, we’d catch the train from Vancouver, BC, and we’d stay in San Luís Obispo. So much to do and see.
Jim Van Meer
I have crisscrossed the Australian outback on luxury trains. I rode the Ghan Expedition from Darwin to Adelaide, and then the Indian Pacific from Sydney to Perth. I chose the Gold Service sleeper cabin. Service included gourmet meals and Australian spirits. There were some off train excursions at key stops. Otherwise, days were spent relaxing in the cabin or sharing a glass of wine with fellow travellers in the lounge. All the while marvelling at the ever-changing red desert landscape in the middle of Australia and the vast nothingness of the Nullarbor Plain of Western Australia.
I love train travel. In 1970 I travelled for almost three months on trains in Europe using a Eurail Pass. At the time, this was first-class travel. A wonderful way to see the countryside and a way to meet people. Fast forward to 1997 when I took the Blue Train from Pretoria to Cape Town in Africa. A First-class, luxurious, very expensive, once in a lifetime experience. Canadian rail from Vancouver to Banff in the winter gives a wonderfully scenic ride. When on a train you have to slow down and relax and you meet the most interesting fellow travellers. A chance to recharge one’s batteries.
Around five years ago I did a six week, unlimited off and on ticket on our own Canada Rail. The trip was amazing for the sense of community on that trip. From some college kids I learned how to sleep in the cafe car with a sleeping mask on (I was in my 60s then), played card games with a bunch of little kids and chatted with a group of 90 year-old fishermen in the observation car. I visited nine cities along the way, spent lots of time on side rails waiting for the freight cars to go by, often in the middle of either farm land or wilderness. I’ll never forget that trip. Trains will always be my favourite way to see any country, but particularly our own.
I worked for BC Rail beginning in the early seventies and travelled all over the line from North Vancouver to Fort Nelson as a trainman/conductor. Without a doubt the “Budd Car” trip, now cancelled, from North Vancouver to Prince George was the best way to see British Columbia’s variety of geography. Starting from the coast, winding along Howe Sound then up through the Coast Mountains, along huge beautiful lakes to Lillooet and up the Fraser Canyon to the Cariboo and on to Prince George. All in about 12 hours. Hopefully.