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Monday 30 October 2017

Murdoch Mysteries Props

The Pendrick Bullet in action.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 66 Hymus Road
Date: July 2014
Website: sullivanmovies.com

  In 2014 we attended a two day event called The Murdoch Experience.  The event was designed for fans of the Murdoch Mysteries television show and the first day featured a tour of Sullivan Studios in Scarborough.  The second day was an event at The Old Mill where cast and crew talked about how the show is made. This blog post focuses on the props department.

I had it up to 55 miles per hour!

  When we first arrived at the studios we were passed by an unusual vehicle.  It was being driven by Craig Grant who is the Property Master for the show (photo at top of post).  This vehicle appeared in the Murdoch Mysteries season five episode called "Who Killed the Electric Carriage?".  In the episode, James Pendrick is accused of murder because he could have used his electric car to travel the distance necessary to commit the crime in the limited time.

 Horse Power.

Pendrick's car wins a race against Henry Ford and Ford's gasoline powered engine.  In the early 1900's the electric car actually became quite popular, but as we all know it was the gasoline driven car that ended up dominating for most of the century.  Out on the Sullivan Studios backlot was a car (above) that looks similar in size to what Ford would have driven.  On closer inspection the vehicle above is just a horse cart as it lacks any steering wheel or motor.  Ford's early vehicles were often advertised as horseless carriages.  Good work Murdoch!

Prop Heads.
 Skull Fracture Under Glass.

  As we entered the studios we were greeted by various prop heads and skulls.  Since each episode tends to involve detective Murdoch solving a murder, these had all appeared on the show at one time or another, most likely on Dr. Ogden's table.

Higgins and his automaton friend do some improv for the fans.

  Soon we were outside on the backlot.  The season two episode called "I Murdoch" featured a giant robot.  Constable Higgins and another constable were posing for photos with the robot and entertaining fans of the show.  We also find it interesting that the role of Higgins is played by an actor named Lachlan Murdoch.

Blast Of Silence.

  We walked around the backlot and encountered a few other props.  The episode "Blast of Silence" from season seven featured a man stuck on a pole wearing a sign that read "If the bell tolls the man explodes".  The man had been strapped with a bomb that was sensitive to noise vibrations.  Despite Murdoch's efforts, a backfiring car did end up triggering the bomb.

She's a cheeky monkey but she seems to have taken a bit of a shine to me.

  There was a sign advertising Barnett's Royal Travelling Circus.  The circus was featured in a season seven epsiode called "Blood & Circuses".  In this episode the tiger trainer named Kitty Walker is found dead and the entire circus is brought in for questioning.  Brackenreid befriends a circus monkey named Athena.

Jars of Brains.
 Bloody Tools.

  The props department is also responsible for everything you see inside Dr. Ogden's morgue set. This includes a wall of brains in jars or bloody tools.

Two For Tea.

 And tea service of course.

Hands & Rats.
 Murdoch Mr. Rat

  The next day at the Old Mill, Craig Grant explained how they work hard to be accurate to the time period of Murdoch Mysteries.  Toronto in the early 1900's would have had many rats.   On the table he had many prop rats both dissected and not.  There were also a few severed hands just for good measure.

Mycroft And Some Dummy.
 Mycroft Loses His Head.

  One popular prop was Mycroft the creepy ventriloquist dummy from the very first season of Murdoch Mysteries.  He appeared in the episode "Belly Speaker".  Craig explained how they found a real antique dummy and then used that to design Mycroft.

Mycroft Takes Some Time Out For His Fans.

  It was interesting to hear how the prop department designs the interesting items used on Murdoch Mysteries.  They try to keep things accurate to the period and also have to consider how they will come across on the television screen.  When it comes to Murdoch's gadgets they use modern techniques to create the illusion that his devices actually work using technology of the time.  The props department plays a big role in every episode of the show.  We were also impressed that a big CBC star like Mycroft stuck around after Craig's speech to spend time with his fans.

Map of Our World
Sullivan Studios Backlot
Old Mill Toronto

Post # 196

Friday 20 October 2017

Blue Whale Watching

Route Des Baleines

Location: Les Escoumins, Quebec, Canada
Address:  37 Rue des Pilotes
Date: Aug 2017
Website: www.croisierebaleine.ca

  Since writing a grade school speech about blue whales, one of us has been waiting for a real world encounter with the largest animal on earth.  We planned a trip to Tadoussac, Quebec where the Saguenay River meets the St. Lawrence to try and make this dream come true.  This region is known to attract many of the world's whales, including the blue whale.

Croisières Escoumins Zodiac.

  We arrived in Quebec City and drove north to Tadoussac where we were staying at a bed and breakfast.  At the advice of the rental car guy, the next day we drove a bit further north to Les Escoumins.  He said that our chances of a blue whale encounter would be higher in this region.  We booked a zodiac tour with Croisières Escoumins and headed out into the St. Lawrence River to try our luck.

Our First Blue.

  It wasn't very long at all before we spotted a burst of water rise into the air.  Our guide reported that it was a blue whale.  At last, a dream come true.  Great advice, rental car guy.  Above is our first photo of our first blue whale encounter.  You can see that the whale is more grey than blue and blends in with the waves of the river.  The whale went back under the surface.

Thar She Blows.
Blue Blowholes.

  We were thrilled that we had chosen the right place for a blue whale to come and visit us.  Another plume of water and the whale surfaced once again.  We could see its giant blowholes. We were very lucky that because of the way the whale was feeding, that it came to the surface several times during our boat tour.  Blue whales typically dive while feeding for up to 10 minutes but can sometimes be 30 minutes or more.  When the whales surface they could also be quite a distance from where they were last spotted.

Blue Back.

  The whale surfaced for us one last time.  This time it was very close.  We were treated to another rare display by this gentle giant.  The blue whale dove again, but on the way down it raised its tail as if to wave goodbye.  Bye-bye Blue.   You have given us an experience we will never forget.

Bye-bye Blue.
 Our Blue Whale.
 A Blue Whale Tail.
 A Blue Whale Tale.

Map of Our World
Croisières Escoumins

Post # 195

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Feline Frenzy At Toronto Zoo

The Cheetah Family.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  2000 Meadowvale Road
Date: Sept 2017
Website: www.torontozoo.com

  The Toronto Zoo has seen another baby boom.  This time it is of the furry, feline variety.   There are 9 little cubs from 3 different species.  After a few months of being off display, the cubs now have daily viewing times.  

Mom Means Business.

  The first to arrive were a handful of African cheetah cubs born at the end of April, 2017.  These 5 cubs consist of 3 boys and 2 girls.  Through the years there have been 53 cheetahs born at the Toronto Zoo.
Mother's Watchful Eye.

  The cubs are always under mother's watchful eye.  Whether they are lazing around together under a tree (top photo of blog) or heading out during feeding time, she is on the alert.

A Cautious Cub Approaches.

  During feeding time the cubs cautiously headed towards the front of their enclosure.

Cutey Cheetah.

  A few moments later they became more comfortable and lounged around on the rocks.

Three Little Cheetahs.
 Lunch Flys Overhead.

  A goose flew overhead and almost made the fatal mistake of landing into the enclosure.  Usually the Canada Geese at the zoo walk around like they own the place, but they wouldn't last very long against the fastest land animal on earth.  Especially if outnumbered six to one.

Clouded Leopard Girls.

  The next babies to arrive at the zoo were two clouded leopard sisters born in May, 2017.  Their mother was a first time mother and was not caring for the cubs properly so zoo staff had to take over.

Let's Play Pounce On The Stick.
 Up To Mischief.

  The clouded leopards are only on display for a brief playtime each day.  As soon as they get outside they are ready to jump or climb on anything they can.

Clouded Leopard Baby.

  Their parents are inside the Malayan Woods Pavilion while the zoo keepers have the task of raising and feeding the babies.  The babies are in the lion-tailed macaque exhibit and the macaques have been temporarily displaced.  We noticed the macaques on a pole while riding the zoomobile through Eurasia.

I Think I Can See Our House From Here.

  Another pair of babies is also located in Eurasia.  A few days after the clouded leopards were born, a trio of snow leopards were also born.  Sadly, one of the cubs did not survive.  

Momma's Girl.

  The remaining brother and sister are on display with their mother.

There's No Leopard Like A Snow Leopard.

  They are still a little shy and the brother likes to climb as high as he can and then hide behind the rocks.  In the wild, snow leopards are found at high altitudes on mountain ranges such as the Himalayas.  That shyness will soon disappear as they continue to grow.  Like all wild animals, it won't be long until they are just as big and strong as their parents. Visit them soon if you can.

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo (Cheetahs) , Toronto Zoo (Malayan Woods Pavilion) , Toronto Zoo (Eurasia)

Post # 194