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My European Favourites – Emilia-Romagna, Italy

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My European Favourites – Emilia-Romagna, Italy

When people think of Italy, the first places that usually come to mind are Rome, Venice, Milan and the region of Tuscany, which includes Florence and Pisa. I would go to any of these places in a heartbeat. I love them all, but a region that many tourists overlook is Emilia-Romagna. The region’s name might not be well known, but its exceptional agricultural, automotive and mechanical sectors are known the world over.

Much of the gastronomy we associate with Italian cuisine has its roots in Emilia-Romagna. The region is famous for Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), Modena balsamic vinegar, Parma ham (prosciutto), and various types of pasta, just to name a few items. If you are a wine lover, Sangiovese and Lambrusco are two of their well-known “vinos” for their unique taste and quality.

If you are a motor sport buff, Ducati motorcycles and luxury car manufacturers Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari all have their roots in the area. With this racing heritage, it’s only natural that two major circuits are located in the region. The motorcycle racing Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli is located near Misano Adriatico and is named after a local rider who died during a race in Malaysia in 2011. The Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari located in Imola, which has been used for Formula 1 Grand Prix races, is named after Ferrari’s founder and his son. The track is sadly the location where three time World Champion Ayrton Senna of Brazil died in 1994.

It is best to do these tours with Parma as your base in Emilia-Romagna, but I enjoy its capital and largest city, Bologna. The city is Italy’s seventh largest with about 400,000 people, and it is famous for its medieval towers, churches, colonnades and historical city centre. The University of Bologna, which was established in 1088 AD, is the oldest university in the Western world. I love exploring the narrow city centre streets and browsing the food markets and shops with fresh produce, cured meats, fish, breads, pastas and regional products. I’m no chef, but I imagine that it would be sensory overload for any culinary expert. The small restaurants with street front patios make some of the best dishes you will eat in all of Italy. You have to go there.

Bologna’s medieval towers, a colonnade, a street full of restaurants and the Neptune Fountain.

Parmigiano Reggiano

We depart in the morning from our hotel in central Bologna to a family cheese making operation that produces the “king of cheeses,” Parmigiano Reggiano. The just over an hour drive brings us to a farm and factory near the town of Parma. They are members of the consortium that designates and controls authentic Parmigiano Reggiano production. Under law, the designation Parmigiano Reggiano is protected as a PDO (Protected Designations of Origin) and can be used only by certified producers from this area, so consumers know they have the real deal.

Around 1000 AD, monks reclaimed the marshy lands in the Po valley. The fertile land was plowed and worked by the monks using cows. With numerous cows, the monks had to invent a method to preserve the large quantities of high-quality milk they produced into a product that could be stored and used over time. The monks eventually developed a technique to produce a distinctive cheese in large boilers. The large round Parmigiano Reggiano is still made the same way today.

The Minardi family own and operate the Borgo del Gazzano farm factory that we are visiting. As an organic farm, they pay close attention to the entire local supply chain process to ensure the highest quality of ingredients. We arrive as they are reaching their final steps of the boiler process that was perfected by the monks long ago. Two men collect the curd from the boiler using muslin cloth and place it in large round molds. The cheese is left to set for a day or two then the mold will be removed to add a plastic wrap that has the imprint of the famous Parmigiano Reggiano stamp along with the date and the producer’s number. The mold is then reattached over the plastic wrap and tightened. The imprint from the wrap will solidify as a permanent mark on the rind over the next day. The wrap and mold are then removed and the cheese is placed in a rectangular vessel filled with a brine mixture for 20-25 days so that the cheese can absorb salt.

Production boilers, collecting the curd, the cheese freshly set in a mold and the brine bath.

Finally, the cheese is placed on a shelf in the warehouse to age for 12 months. Prepare to be astounded to see row after row of these shelves that are over 20 cheeses high and at least 80 cheeses long per side. It feels like a library made of cheese! Do you hear a mechanical sound coming from the next aisle? It is a machine working its way up, down and across the shelves. Its job is to grab one heavy cheese off the shelf at a time, spin it around so it can brush off the excess bits, flip the cheese, then place it safely back on the shelf, before automatically moving on to the next one. I guess now we know where they get the parmesan cheese shavings for the cheese shakers we buy at our local grocery store.

We will step outside to the barn area to see the cows and dairy operation before moving to the tasting area and shop. Tasting the celebrated “fromaggio,” with its distinctive texture and sharp flavour, at the very place where it is produced is really something special. This is not to be mistaken with the cheese we often get at home, as outside of Europe, companies can only use the word “Parmesan” to describe their cheese. To get the real deal, you have to make sure that it is clearly sold as, or even better, see it stamped as Parmigiano Reggiano.

Parmigiano shelves, the stamp on the rind, the cleaning machine and me with Alfonso Minardi.

Parma Ham (Prosciutto)

Just 30 minutes from the Borgo del Gazzano is a producer that makes another iconic food. The Lanfranchi family are specialists in the making of a cured meat known the world over as Raw Parma Ham (Prosciutto Crudo di Parma). For 20 years, they have been selecting the finest raw materials and using their traditional methods and expertise to produce the finest and tastiest prosciutto, salamis, pancetta, culatello and coppa di parma. Like the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese producers, the Parma Ham producers are also part of a consortium, and as such, must adhere to high standards and follow precise rules of production.

We will get an introduction of the prosciutto making process. Our tour starts with the trimming of the excess fat and rind of the pork thigh to give the ham its rounded shape and to assist in the salting process. The rind is treated with wet salt while the lean parts are sprinkled with dry salt. During a three week period, the ham is salted twice and placed in walk-in freezers with different temperatures. During this period, it slowly absorbs salt, loses moisture, and loses about 4% of its weight.

Our guide explaining the production process, the ham cellar and the “5 point crown” stamp.

In the next stage, the ham’s residual salt is removed and it is placed in a special room with controlled humidity and temperature for just over two months. While in this room, the salt penetrates even deeper and it is reduced by another 8-10%. We continue into a room with windows that are opened for the ham to dry over the next few months in natural process that will result in another weight loss of 8-10%.

The ham’s final move is to the cellar on the seventh month. In the cellar, important biochemical and enzymatic processes occur. Here it loses another 5% of weight but gains the distinct aroma and taste of the Param Ham.

The finished La Perla Prosciutto, a mixed plate of their products and me with Mr. Lafranchi.

At the end of the curing process, the ham is penetrated by a horse bone needle by experts who can verify its quality with a trained sense of smell. Finally, after a twelve month journey, the ham is inspected by the Parma Quality Institute and branded with the “5 pointed crown” as a guarantee to the consumer that the product is of the highest quality.

The tour gives us a great appreciation for the care that goes into making these products, and underscores why they are highly sought after. We move to the La Perla tasting room where we can try some of the local wines while enjoying lunch, which of course, includes pasta, cured meats, prosciutto, Parmesan cheese, bread and a dessert. It is always tough to get a group to leave because the Lafranchi family are great hosts who love to meet people from around the world. But we must leave, as one hour away, is a mecca for car enthusiasts.

The red arch at the Ferrari Museum entrance, the Ferrari 330 P3 and the AF Corse # 51.

Ferrari Museum

As we arrive at Maranello, we are greeted by a traffic circle that has a familiar silver prancing horse in the middle. This is undeniably, the home of Ferrari. Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1929 as Scuderia Ferrari, the company sponsored drivers and manufactured race cars before moving into production of street-legal vehicles as Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947.

As we arrive to the Museum, we see a F1 race car in what looks like scaffolding and a welcoming bright red arch. Ferrari is the most successful Formula 1 team in history and has millions of loyal and exuberant fans worldwide. The motorsports cars in the museum are dedicated to the 90 years of Ferrari racing heritage. The cars will take your breath away.

The “Prancing Horse” logo, a 1950’s vintage race car and a classic Ferrari.

My favourite area of the museum is the Michael Schumacher exhibition dedicated to his 11 years of racing with Ferrari. The room has some of his F1 race cars on display in an awe-inspiring semi-circle with a video wall in the background playing highlights of his career. On the other side of the room is a lower wall dedicated to Ferarri champion drivers and an upper wall full of shiny trophies.

A few F1 cars from the Michael Schumacher exhibition, Ferrari champions and the trophies.

In addition to the racing automobiles, the museum also displays its most famous street cars through history, including the iconic Ferrari Testarossa. The Ferrari shop is full of items with the iconic item emblazoned on them, but like the high performance cars, they are pricey.

A Ferrari Portofino, a LaFerrari Aperta, and the Ferrari 5999 HY-KERS test “MULOTIPO.”

With your adrenalin pumping from being surrounded by automotive power, you will be ready to try a couple of unique experiences. If you are mechanically inclined, you will love the Pit Stop Experience, where they time you as you make a front tire change on a Formula 1 car. Those that “feel the need for speed” will drool at the sight of the unbelievable Scuderia Ferrari F1 simulators. After you climb into the pilot’s cockpit, you are given a brief explanation of how to use the paddles behind the steering wheel and the gear box. They can set up the simulator for regular driver or in a more advanced mode for “professionals.” You even get to choose one of the famous F1 tracks for your race experience. The simulator lets you feel the track surface including rubbing strips feel the breaking and throttle forces.

If you are interested, you can combine the museum ticket with a tour of the Ferrari track and factory. For the duration of the tour, you must remain on the company’s shuttle buses and no photos or video are allowed. The factory entrance has been kept the same as it was in 1947 and the track is where all of Ferrari’s competition and road cars have been tested since 1972.

Those that want to get behind the wheel can go to the nearby Autodromo di Modena race circuit and drive a Ferrari for 15 minutes or longer. The experience includes track information and safety protocols from a professional driver.

The tire changing Ferrari Pit Stop Experience and the Formula 1 racing simulators.

Balsamic Vinegar

After the heart racing Ferrari experience, we make a short early evening drive to a Balsamic Vinegar producer or “Acetaia” that was founded in the 1800s. The Paltrinieri Acetaia, established in 1845, maintains the family tradition and replenishes over 1000 barrels of balsamic using the experience handed down generation after generation. Adhering to the strict regulations and using local ingredients from the Trebiano and Lambrusco vineyards, Guido Paltrinieri guides the production of the vinegar must.

The company harvests 160,000 kilograms of grapes on their 25 acre farm, which produces 15,000 litres of balsamic vinegar. We will visit the warehouse attic to see the medium sized barrels made from durmast, chestnut, mulberry, cherry, acacia, ash and precious juniper wood.

The flavour garnered from the barrels, along with the aging process, result in the unique scent and flavour of the balsamic. In the tasting room, we try a range of balsamic they produce, and it is amazing how varied the taste can be in terms of the sweet and sour tones. They also vary in density. The denser the vinegar, the more of a syrupy texture it has. Mind you, this is not the balsamic you find at your local grocery store. A high quality Modena balsamic in a 100 ml bottle, and aged up to 25 years, can cost hundreds of dollars. The company also produces balsamic based products like Balsamotto, Acet-Up, Dulcia and Saba which are great for use in cooking or as a condiment, including on ice cream!

The Acetaia’s barrel sign, processing equipment, barrels of balsamic and the tasting room.

One of my favourite meals in Italy is at the Acetaia Paltrinieri restaurant. After our balsamic tasting and tour, we head across the courtyard to the rustic farm house restaurant. Just before we arrive to the restaurant doors, we are greeted with a glass of Pignoletto sparkling wine and crumbled Parmigiano Reggiano drizzled with DOP Modena Balsamic Vinegar. The balsamic and the cheese go so well together.

The Acetaia’s courtyard, restaurant entrance, Parmigiano with balsamic and their products.

Once inside, we are greeted with bottles of Lambrusco wine on the table, which everyone is quick to spot and partake in. Soon, a plate of a local flatbread called “tigelle” similar to an English muffin, and served warm, arrives with a spread. They are so good!

I have had two different first courses, and I’m not sure which I love more. One is a creamy risotto made with “riserva” balsamic vinegar, and the other is a pasta called Strozzapreti or “choke the priest” pasta. The name always makes me laugh, but the pasta, which also contains balsamic, is absolutely fantastic.

The second course is a meat course which is served with vegetables or salad. During my previous visits, I’ve enjoyed stuffed roast pig, chicken with ham or Balsamotto roast beef, with each dish including balsamic as an ingredient. Even my ice cream dessert contains balsamic. After a glass of a special local walnut liqueur called “nocino” or a nice espresso, we are on our way back to Bologna. It will be a late return to our hotel in Bologna but I’m sure we will venture out to find a nice place in the historic city centre to have a glass of wine and to talk about our amazing day in Emilia-Romagna.

Explore Europe With Us

Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing Tours have taken thousands to Europe on their custom group tours since 1994. Visit azorcan.net to see all our custom tour possibilities for your group of 26 or more. Individuals can join our “open” signature sport, sightseeing and sport fan tours including our popular Canada hockey fan tours to the World Juniors. At azorcan.net/media you can read our newsletters and listen to our podcasts.

Images compliments of Paul Almeida and Azorcan Tours.

Click here to read more of Paul’s travel series on Europe.

My European Favourites – Lisbon’s Belem District

 

 

I have been in sports management and the sports tour business since 1994 when I created my company, Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing tours. Please visit our website at azorcan.net for more information on our company, our tours and our destinations. We are European group tour experts specializing in custom sightseeing tours, sport tours (hockey, soccer, ringette, school academies) and fan tours (World Juniors). Check out our newsletters, and listen to our podcasts at azorcan.net/media.

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My European Favourites: Český Krumlov

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Český Krumlov is the most picturesque medieval town in the Czech Republic, and one of the best small town destinations in Central Europe. Český Krumlov is located in the South Bohemia Region of the Czech Republic about a two hour drive directly south from Prague and only thirty minutes from the nearby city of Ceske Budejovice. It is only about thirty kilometers from the Austrian border, and Linz is only an hour away. It is a natural stop from Prague to Salzburg, and we frequently stay in Ceske Budejovice, where many of our hockey groups play games or train at former NHL and Czech hockey star, Jaroslav Pouzar’s arena.

Český Krumlov’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is nestled in between a meandering river and is surrounded by lush green hills and a towering castle above. With narrow cobblestone streets and a mixture of baroque and renaissance architecture, this could be the backdrop to any fairytale.

After we enter the town, we will park our bus across the street from a little park, called the Deer Garden, that is dwarfed by the back side of the Český Krumlov Castle. To get up to the castle, there is a path at an incline just on the right of the park or there are stairs up to the castle located at the back right of the park.

Once you reach the top, on the right you will find the eleven hectare castle garden. The garden includes a cascade fountain, an outdoor amphitheatre with a revolving auditorium, the Bellaria summer palace and the castle’s winter riding hall, which is now used to host special events.

If we go left instead of going into the park, a few steps away is a small gated entrance to a terrace that you should not miss. The terrace offers a spectacular panorama of the river, the town below, the castle on the left and the surrounding area. Your camera will be busy here and, at times, you will have numerous people jockeying for position to get that perfect shot. Please note that the terrace is not always open in the evening.

Cesky Krumlov Castle from the photo terrace and from the Lavka pod Zamkem wooden bridge.

Český Krumlov Castle

The Český Krumlov Castle dates back to 1240 when it was built by the Witigonen (Vitkovci) dynasty. In 1302, the Rosenberg dynasty became owners of the castle, and you will see their family’s five petalled rose logo at various locations throughout the city. In 1622, the castle was transferred to the Austrian Eggenberg family who expanded the castle, including adding the unique baroque theatre that bears their name. Today, the local brewery in Český Krumlov is named after the Eggenbergs. The Schwarzenberg family took over the castle from 1719 until 1947 when it was transferred to the Czechoslovak state. The castle complex, with five courtyards, is listed as a Czech National Monument and is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

What would an old castle be without a good ghost story? In medieval times, the appearance of a White Lady during the day or night was an omen that someone in the family would soon die. At the Český Krumlov Castle, legend has it that the castle is haunted by their own White Lady, Perchta of Rosenberg. Her husband treated her poorly and on his death bed he asked her for forgiveness. She refused and her husband cursed her. Since her death, her ghost has haunted her former husband’s estates including the castle.

 

Cloak bridge, entrance into the 4th courtyard and frescoes on the courtyard walls.

When we leave the photo terrace, we cross the fifth castle courtyard surrounded by the baroque castle theatre and the renaissance house to the white and grey Cloak Bridge. The bridge, which offers more great views of the old town and river, has three stories above the arched walkway that connect the castle to the theatre.

Entering the area called the Upper Castle, we pass through two small courtyards, named the fourth and third castle courtyards. The courtyards’ facades were painted in the 16th and 17th centuries. The frescoes painted on flat walls use the “trompe–l’oeil” technique to create the optical illusion that the walls are three-dimensional brick with intricate stone decorations and inlayed statues. The “Upper Castle’s” renaissance interiors are palatial with an important collection of paintings, tapestries and furniture. The castle’s underground foundations, called the Wenceslas Cellars, are a labyrinth of pillars and arches. Exiting the third courtyard, we go down a steep and windy passage way, which may have been used for vehicles.

A sundial, the second courtyard fountain and tower. The first courtyard and the red gate.

Arriving at the second castle courtyard, we find the Burgrave’s house from 1578. The Burgrave, or “Count”, was the governor of the town, with judicial and military powers bestowed on him by the Holy Roman Emperor. From 1742-1948, the lower floor of the Burgrave’s house was used to house the Schwarzenberg grenadier guard.

The courtyard has a stone fountain from 1641 in the middle and the colorful castle tower in the corner. The tower and the adjoining “Hradek” building are the two oldest parts of the castle. If you climb the tower, you will get amazing views of the castle and the town.

The castle Bear Moat with bears enjoying bread, vegetables, apples and watermelon snacks.

To access the first courtyard, we cross a small bridge that has a Bear Moat below. There have been bears in the moat since 1707, and most times we can see them walking around or eating their vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, we don’t always see them as they like the area under the bridge. This is the largest courtyard and was used as an agricultural area and animal enclosure. We leave the castle through the Red Gate and continue until we reach the Latrán street where we turn right. A few meters away on your left is the entrance to the Monastery. 

Monastery of the Minorites

After the castle, the monastery is the second largest historic complex in Český Krumlov. The medieval monastery was founded for the brothers and sisters of the order of St. Francis of Assisi in 1350. St. Francis gave the name “Friar Minor” or “Minorites” to the Franciscans. The order of St. Clare, “Poor Claires” or the “Clarissas,” is the name of the female branch of the Franciscans. The monastery church located in the center of the complex separates the convents of the Minorites (here from 1357-1950) and Clarissas (here from 1361-1782).

The Latrán street, a Trdelník vendor and the crucifix on Lazebnicky bridge.

 Latrán Street and Lazebnicky Most

The renaissance area just outside the castle and across the river from the old town center was once the home of castle servants. Today the cobble stone Latrán Street’s colorful houses are full of shops, cafes, restaurants and artist galleries. Just off the Latrán, you will find artist workshops featuring paintings, iron works, statues and furniture. Some of these artist workshops are decorated with interesting murals.

Undoubtably, you will be hit by the sweet aroma of the chimney cake or Trdelník. The Trdelník is a rolled dough which is wrapped around a thick spit, baked over hot coals and topped with sugar, walnuts and sometimes cinnamon. You can find variations of this treat throughout the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

Connecting the Latrán street to the old town is the wooden Lazebnicky bridge with a large crucifix in the middle. Form the bridge, you have a magnificent view of the castle above, the Vltava river meandering its way around the town, and the riverfront houses and restaurant patios of the old town.

The Český Krumlov old town square with the Marian Plague column and city hall.

Historic Old Town

Once you cross the bridge, if you go forward on the Radniční street for about a hundred meters you will arrive at the Town Square. Instead, we will turn right and take the curved Dlouhá Street with interesting cafes, restaurants and hotels. At the end of the Dlouhá street, we arrive at the Široká street. Turning right we will come to the old mill where we can see the waterwheel still turning and we get another great view of the castle. We continue in the other direction leisurely making our way down the wide and vibrant Široká street until we reach a junction where three streets meet. This is a very picturesque little square with colorful buildings decorated with frescoes.

Only a few meters away from this junction, we find ourselves in the Český Krumlov town square or Náměstí Svornosti. The square has served not only as a market in medieval times, but also as a place of execution. The large white building with renaissance arcades is the 16th century Český Krumlov Town Hall. The four coats-of-arms painted on the façade of the building are those of the Eggenbergs, the Schwarzenbergs, the town and of the Czech state of Bohemia. Like many towns in the Czech Republic, the square has a Marian Plague Column with a fountain at the center. The plague columns give thanks to the Virgin Mary for the end of the plague that killed many throughout Europe in the 17th century. The beautiful buildings adorned with stucco decorations and frescoes around the square once belonged to the town’s upper class and have been restored to their original splendor.

The St. Vitus church from the river, the old town’s Široká street and the three street junction.

Church of St. Vitus

From the town square you will see the 19th century spire and tall roof of the Roman Catholic church of St. Vitus. A short climb up Horní Ulice street you will reach the church entrance. The gothic church has a white interior with an impressive vaulted ceiling supported by stone columns. The tall but clear gothic windows allow light to flood the nave and they push your eyes upwards to the magnificent ceiling. Dating back to the 13th century when the site became a place of worship, the church has undergone a few additions and changes over the years. The church is the burial place of notable Bohemian families including generations of the aforementioned Rosenbergs and Schwartzenbergs.

Not far from the church is a little garden called the Seminární Zahrada, or the Seminary Garden. The garden is part of the Regional Museum, which used to be a seminary for the Jesuits. Like the terrace by the castle, this garden is one of the best spots in town to get that spectacular panoramic photo. The castle and tower are prominent in the background, seemingly rising above a sea of the red tiled roofs below.

Panoramic view from the Seminary Garden and buskers on the Latrán Street.

Rafting on the Vltava

As you leave the old town back to the parking area, you will cross the Lavka pod Zamkem wooden bridge which leads to the Deer Garden. The bridge offers a few more photo opportunities of the river, the castle and the Cloak Bridge. One of the most interesting things to see from the bridge is the wier on the Vltava River that has a spot on the right for rafters to slide down from the higher water level to the lower level. Rafting is very popular, and in summer months you will see raft after raft leisurely floating down the river. The Malecek Rafting company offers canoe and raft rentals with trips of various durations from a thirty-minute trip in the city center all the way to half-day and full-day trips further down the river. They also offer a fifty-minute historical cruise on a twelve-person wooden raft. In the middle ages and beyond raftsmen used the Vltava to transport goods and raw materials like wood and salt. Today, people can enjoy this experience in amazing surroundings.

Rafters and canoers going down the Vltava Rivers’ weir and leisurely past the castle.

Český Krumlov has many small museums worth visiting. My favourite is the Museum of Commerce (Muzeum Obchodu) located in the old town just as you cross the Lazebnicky bridge. The museum has recreated shop interiors, shop machinery and advertising from the early 1900s. Individual packaging of products, like we are used to today, was non-existent. They have a great display of metal dispensary containers where customers would get their coffee beans, sugar, flour or other goods. They also have old style metallic advertising signs for sale. Across from that museum, there is an antique shop with very unique items and next door is the Fairytale House & Puppet Museum.

Other museums you may want to visit in Český Krumlov include the Museum Fotoatelier Seidel, the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, the Moldavite Museum (Muzeum Vltavinu), the Regional Museum and the Torture Museum. There are many other little museums around town worth visiting. Nearby, hikers enjoy climbing the 1,084 meter high Mount Klet’ and guided tours of the Graphite Mine.

Český Krumlov is the second most popular tourist destination in the Czech Republic. I have been to this medieval town numerous times with my tour groups and I am always excited to include it in my itineraries.

Explore Europe With Us

Azorcan Global Sport, School and Sightseeing Tours have taken thousands to Europe on their custom group tours since 1994. Visit azorcan.net to see all our custom tour possibilities for your group of 26 or more. Individuals can join our “open” signature sport, sightseeing and sport fan tours including our popular Canada hockey fan tours to the World Juniors. At azorcan.net/media you can read our newsletters and listen to our podcasts.

Images compliments of Paul Almeida and Azorcan Tours.

Click below to read Paul’s sobering story about Canada’s role in WWI.

 

My European Favourites – Canada in WWI Belgium

 

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Alberta

Open letter to Canada’s Premiers calling for pivot in response, end to lockdowns

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Premiers,

It has been over one full year since the declaration of the Pandemic. SARS CoV-2 has been in Canada much longer than that, as you well know.

You are responsible for the response in each of your jurisdictions.  While the Medical Officers of Health (MOH) are equally responsible for the advice they have given, you personally were elected to lead. They were not.

Your own statistics prove that for people under the age of 60, SARS CoV-2 is not something to be feared. In one full year, people under the age of 60 are twice as likely to die from a heart disease. For people 20 – 40 years old, they are five times more likely to die in a car accident. Worldwide 2.54 million people die from Pneumonic annually. SARS CoV-2 has killed under 2 Million in a year. The risk from SARS CoV-2 has been widely exaggerated, by you, your MOH and the media.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2021.625778/full

For people over 60, your approach has failed our seniors.

Canada has ranked last in the Organization of Economically Developed Countries (OECD) in care of those most at risk to SARS CoV-2. Over 96% of all reported SARS CoV-2 deaths were in our seniors. Even Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health admitted this is Canada’s shame.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/we-failed-the-most-vulnerable-dr-tam-s-biggest-takeaway-after-a-year-of-covid-19-1.5345393

Your use of “lockdowns” did not save over 21,000 of our seniors. It failed them.

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/canadas-nursing-homes-have-worst-record-for-covid-deaths-among-wealthy-nations-report/ar-BB1f76sw

The use of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) which we now call “lockdowns” was known to have little effect on the spread of infectious diseases long before SARS CoV-2 arrived. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) assembled the best infectious disease doctors in the world to write the 2019 version of “Non-Pharmaceutical Public Health Measures”. If you read the document, for a Pandemic of the severity of SARS CoV-2, most of these measures were not recommended for use. Yet we used almost all of them.

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/329438/9789241516839-eng.pdf

Top infectious disease doctors in the world have proven in repeated detail peer reviewed research papers all over again that “lockdowns” do not have significant impacts on either the spread or deaths for SARS CoV-2. Yet you and the media constantly tell us they do. But one of the many in depth studies found: “While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with lessrestrictive interventions”.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eci.13484

https://off-guardian.org/2021/03/23/lockdown-one-year-on-it-doesnt-work-it-never-worked-it-wasnt-supposed-to-work/

What is also know is that “lockdowns” cause terrible collateral damage. The damage to Canadians Mental Health, Societal Health, Children’s Education and Social Development, Patients with other Severe Illnesses and to our National Economy (Federal and Provincial/Territorial) will continue, until you remove and promise never to inflict “lockdowns again. These impacts and deaths seem not to be considered in any cost benefit analysis by you or your MOH.

Many of the world’s experts have tried to help target the response to SARS CoV-2 to save the most vulnerable, while minimizing the effects on the rest of our population. You have ignored these experts. In fact, most of these experts have been completely censored by you, your MOH and the media.

https://gbdeclaration.org/

Please read the attached Paper, “One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada”. The Paper states what we had collectively planned to do in a Pandemic, what we have done, and how to pivot out of our failed response.

It is time to stop.

Listen to all expert voices.

Pivot.

Thank you for your time.

David Redman

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)

Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta

 

One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada March 31, 2021
David Redman
Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta

Emergency Management

Pandemics happen continuously. Since 1955, this is the world’s fifth pandemic. In the next fifty-five years there is going to be five more. We have never responded to a pandemic like we responded to COVID-19.

It must be clear that a pandemic is not a Public Health Emergency, it is a Public Emergency because all areas of society are affected: public sector, private sector, not- for-profit sector, and all citizens.

In Canada, we have an Emergency Management Process that we normally use in a pandemic. We have pre-written Pandemic Response plans. These plans were written incorporating the hard lessons learned from previous pandemics.

Part of the lessons learned from previous pandemics is contained in the World Health Organization (WHO) “Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza” dated 2019.

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/329438/9789241516839-eng.pdf

This document included the world’s best studies and information on the use of 15 separate non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). The use of these NPIs was discussed in the development of the existing Provincial Plans.

The 2019 WHO document was known, or should have been known, by all Medical Officers of Health in Canada. The use of each of the NPIs was dependant on the severity of the pandemic. Even in a High or Extraordinary Pandemic the use of all or most of these NPIs at the same time was not envisioned.

Prior to the use of each NPI, the Federal and Provincial/Territorial governments needed to demonstrably justify how each NPI would protect the life of Canadians. Some of the NPIs were not recommended for use in any pandemic, including:

  • Contact Tracing (not recommended after first two weeks)
  • Quarantine of Exposed Individuals
  • Entry and Exit Screening
  • Border Closures

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One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada March 31, 2021
David Redman
Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta

Some of the NPIs were recommended for use only as a last resort, including: • Workplace Measures and Closures

Despite this, they were used as a first resort.

Some NPIs were not recommended for a pandemic with the severity of COVID-19, including:

  • School Measures and Closures
  • Face Masks for Public These recommendations were ignored.The lack of any attempt to publicly demonstrate a cost benefit analysis based on life and impact on lives shows a complete disregard for “Due Diligence” by both our Medical Officers of Health (MOH) and our Premiers.

    In summary on NPIs, the collateral damage from the use of each NPI needed to be justified in a cost benefit analysis, showing not only what life saving could be expected, but what the short-term and long-term impact on lives would be. Further, it needed to be demonstrably shown why the WHO recommendations were ignored. This was never done for any of the NPIs invoked.

    The aim of the pre-written pandemic plans is to allow our leaders to rapidly minimize the impact of a new pandemic on our society. The four goals of the pandemic plans are clearly defined:

    • Controlling the spread of influenza disease and reducing illness (morbidity) and death (mortality) by providing access to appropriate prevention measures, care, and treatment.

    • Mitigating societal disruption in Alberta through ensuring the continuity and recovery of critical services.

    • Minimizing adverse economic impact.

    • Supporting an efficient and effective use of resources during response and recovery

    https://www.alberta.ca/pandemic-influenza.aspx#toc-1

    The purpose in writing these plans in advance is to ensure the government could rapidly advise the public of the scope of the new hazard and publicly issue a complete written plan to address it. That way the public can see the entire plan, see the phases of the plan, and all steps that will be taken. The public understands their role in the plan. The response to the pandemic would then be coherent.

    This has not happened.

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One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada March 31, 2021
David Redman
Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta

The Canadian Response – Not Based on Emergency Management

The Canadian response to COVID-19 has been incoherent, constantly changing, and with no plan. The sole focus on COVID-19 case counts led to a completely flawed response trying to deal only with the first pandemic goal, and failing.

In February and March 2020 we knew that over 95% of the deaths in China and Europe were in seniors, over the age of 60, with multiple co-morbidities.

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One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada March 31, 2021
David Redman
Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta

We should have immediately developed options for the protection of concentrations of our seniors over 60 with co-morbidities. Our Long Term Care (LTC) homes should have developed and offered quarantine options, for both the residents and the staff.

In our first full year of COVID-19 in Canada, 96% of our over 22,800 deaths have been in seniors, over the age of 60, with multiple co-morbidities. See Figure 5 in link below, updated weekly by Health Canada.

https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19- cases.html

That is over 21,890 deaths. It is likely that thousands of these deaths could have been avoided, as over 80% of the deaths in the first wave occurred in LTC homes.

After one full year, we stand at 73% of the 22,880 deaths in LTC homes, 16,700 of our seniors. Our country ranked last in the OECD for protecting our seniors.

Long-Term Care Homes in Canada – The Impact of COVID-19

https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/canadas-nursing-homes-have-worst-record- for-covid-deaths-among-wealthy-nations-report/ar-BB1f76sw

This may have cost $2 billion, but could have saved over 16,700 lives as 73% of Canadian deaths have been in LTC homes in the first year of COVID-19. Instead we locked down healthy Canadians and our businesses and spent well over $240 billion to force over 8 million healthy Canadians to stay at home. The cost mounts daily.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/tracking-unprecedented-federal-coronavirus-spending- 1.5827045

We did not need to follow the failed lock down practice of China or Europe. Lockdowns have not saved 21,890 of our Canadian seniors. We knew who was most at risk and had time to provide the option of quarantine for our seniors, both in LTC homes and in society. Instead, we sacrificed our seniors.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/26/world/elderly-care-homes-coronavirus-intl/index.html

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In June 2020, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported that Canada had a higher

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proportion of COVID-19 deaths within LTC settings than other OECD countries included in its

comparison. At that time, deaths in Canadian LTCs from COVID-19 were at 81% of the total, while

OECD countries reported LTC COVID-19 deaths of 10-66% (average of 38%) of their totals.

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The CBC News analysis has tracked $105.66 billion in federal payments to individuals; $118.37

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billion that has gone to businesses, non-profits and charitable organizations; and a further

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$16.18 billion in transfers to provinces, territories, municipalities and government agencies.

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One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada March 31, 2021
David Redman
Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta

Our leaders and doctors constantly tell us we are in danger of overwhelming our medical system. If we had acted to quarantine our seniors’ long term care facilities, our hospital capacity would not have been challenged, as 71% of our hospital beds and 64% of our ICU capacity continue to this day to be filled with seniors. See Figure 5 in link below, updated daily by Health Canada.

https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19- cases.html

We would not have needed to stop other medical procedures.

https://lfpress.com/opinion/columnists/goldstein-canadas-medical-wait-times-longest- ever-because-of-covid-19

We should never have forced healthy medical staff to self-isolate. We should have made rapid testing a priority for all orders of government.

We ignored the other three goals of our pre-existing pandemic plans:

• Mitigating societal disruption in Alberta through ensuring the continuity and recovery of critical services.

• Minimizing adverse economic impact.

• Supporting an efficient and effective use of resources during response and recovery

Ignoring these three goals and following a failed lockdown response has caused massive collateral damage in terms of deaths and long-term effects on our population. Collateral damage, largely ignored by mainstream media, includes but is not limited to:

  • Societal health,
  • Mental health,
  • Other health conditions,
  • Children’s education and social development,
  • Economic healthhttps://pandemicalternative.org/ https://collateralglobal.org/

    We are told that lockdowns (i.e. the persistent use of NPIs) has decreased the spread and deaths from COVID-19. Therefore, it is assumed that the collateral deaths are somehow justified. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada March 31, 2021
David Redman
Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta

We knew from the WHO 2019 NPI document cited earlier that the use of most NPIs have little effect on the spread of a virus. It was a lesson learned. Unfortunately, it had to be proved again through studies by some of the best infectious disease doctors in the world. One such study on the spread of COVID-19 is quoted:

“European Journal of Clinical Investigation
Assessing mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closure effects on the spread of

COVID‐19

Methods

We first estimate COVID‐19 case growth in relation to any NPI implementation in subnational regions of 10 countries: England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the United States. Using first‐difference models with fixed effects, we isolate the effects of mrNPIs by subtracting the combined effects of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics from all NPIs. We use case growth in Sweden and South Korea, 2 countries that did not implement mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures, as comparison countries for the other 8 countries (16 total comparisons).

Conclusions
While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less‐restrictive interventions.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eci.13484

Further comment on deaths from COVID-19 and non-lockdown countries compared to lockdown countries:

https://off-guardian.org/2021/03/23/lockdown-one-year-on-it-doesnt-work-it-never- worked-it-wasnt-supposed-to-work/

COVID-19 has followed the annual seasonal infection curve almost exactly, in spite of lockdowns in our country. Our MOH and Premiers take credit for the seasons when it is in their favour and blame their citizens when seasons dictate “exponential increases”. Our Premiers and MOHs continue to abandon our Emergency Management Process and give in to fear.

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One Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Canada March 31, 2021
David Redman
Former Head of Emergency Management Alberta