If it looks like a pumpkin, you can call it a pumpkin

By Lee Reich


Friends have complimented me on my pumpkins, but are these things I’ve grown really pumpkins? Sure, they are round and orange and fluted. But look again: There’s more than a hint of red in their skins, and their shape is more akin to a doughnut than to a basketball.

But yes, they are pumpkins, if only because the word “pumpkin” refers to any squashy-type fruit that looks sort of like a pumpkin. No, a “pumpkin” doesn’t even have to be spherical and fluted and orange; there is at least one pumpkin variety, Lumina, whose skin is pale, almost white. Just the kind of pumpkin to scare Halloween goblins, eh?

Segue over into the world of botanical classification and you find what you and I call “pumpkins” falling into any of four different species. Each of these species also embraces one or more kinds of squashes.



The easiest way to tell these species apart is by their fruit stalks. Look at the fruit stalk of Hubbard, Turk’s Cap, buttercup or banana squashes: it’s soft, round and prickly. The second part of the botanical name _ Cucurbita maxima _ hints at one of the pumpkins included in this group, the variety Dill’s Atlantic Giant. It has been the usual record holder for the world’s largest pumpkin, even if it does have more than a hint of non-pumpkinish pink in its skin. This group also includes the pale Lumina. (The record for the world’s largest pumpkin sits at a whopping 2,624.6 pounds.)

Next, look at the stalk of a Butternut squash; it’s smooth, hard and flares out where it joins the fruit. This species _ Cucurbita moschata _ includes so-called “cheese” pumpkins, such as Long Island Cheese, a variety esteemed for pies. Why cheese? Because the flattened shape and light ribbing suggests a wheel of cheese.

Yet another species that includes pumpkins are the gourd-like Cushaws, with smooth, hard and angled fruit stalks. Few pumpkins are represented here, but Japanese Pie pumpkin is one. The species name is mixta.

The species with the most pumpkins is Cucurbita pepo, with pentagonal fruit stalks and prickly stems and leaves. You are right to be reminded of zucchini squash here, because this species includes, besides pumpkins, zucchini and other summer squashes, acorn squashes and some miscellaneous gourds. Among pumpkins, here’s where you find varieties such as Connecticut Field, Small Sugar and Jack Be Little.



Knowing your pumpkins’ lineage isn’t merely academic. Lineage might be important if you’re growing pumpkins for eating.

Most pumpkins used for pies come from the species pepo or moschata. Actually, butternut squash _ a moschata _ is often the ingredient of the “pumpkin pie filling” that you buy canned.

Lineage also factors into how long you can store your crop. Moschata and maxima pumpkins excel at “common” storage, the traditional method of keeping the fruits through winter by just sitting them on shelves in a cool, dry room.

If you are among the growing legion of gardeners who save their own seed, here’s another reason to know your pumpkins’ lineage: Grow more than one variety of pumpkin, and they just might cross-pollinate. Sow seeds from the cross-pollinated pumpkins and you’ll get pumpkins different from the mother ones.

The only pumpkin species that surely will not cross-pollinate each other are pepo and maxima types. On the other hand, crosses between moschata and maxima or between moschata and mixta are possible, while pepo crosses readily with either moschata or mixta pumpkins.

Finally, a pumpkin’s lineage tells you something about its handle. My pumpkins were an old French variety, Rouge Vif d’Etampe, a maxima species. I tried to lift the first one I harvested by its stalk; the soft stalk quickly said good-bye to the fruit. Pepo pumpkins have better handles.

Economical and Atlantic broker Macdonald Chisholm Trask Insurance raise more than $25,500 for Victorian Order of Nurses

When Macdonald Chisholm Trask Insurance (MCT), one of Atlantic Canada’s largest insurance brokerages, teams up with Economical Insurance on MCT Day to raise funds for charity, good things happen.

This year, their partnership raised more than $25,500 for the Victorian Order of Nurses, a critical part of health care services in the numerous communities where MCT has offices in Atlantic Canada.

Every year for the past five years, MCT has hosted MCT Day, its largest annual fundraising initiative, in partnership with Economical, one of Canada’s leading providers of home, auto and business insurance.

Leading up to MCT Day, brokerage staff throughout Atlantic Canada sold 1,850 tickets to win a $5,000 travel voucher from Maritime Travel. The lucky winner was Kathy Atwood of Barrington Passage, NS.

In Bedford, staff held a Washer Toss Tournament and a dessert cook-off at which MCT and Economical staff brought their best dessert and people paid $5 to taste and judge the best of the lot. Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, MCT staff was joined by Economical employees at local BBQs, bake sales and bottle drives to raise funds for the VON.

“MCT Day is an opportunity for MCT Insurance and Economical Insurance to show support and appreciation of organizations that help those in need,” said Liz Cosgrove, Head of Atlantic Canada for MCT. “Over the years, MCT has raised funds for the IWK Heath Centre and KidSport. This year, our employees selected the VON, which provides home and community care every day in our communities. We’re grateful to Economical Insurance, our employees and communities for their time, energy and dedication in making fundraising initiatives for the VON a success. Giving back is a team effort.”

“We are honoured to have been selected as MCT’s cause of choice this year,” said Jo-Anne Poirier, President and CEO, VON Canada.  “This partnership injects critical funds to support VON investment in innovative approaches to delivering care, and will have a direct impact on those we serve.  The funds will support safety and assistive devices and kits that reduce risk for our clients and service providers, and will boost our ability to invest in time-saving technology that allows our service providers to spend more of their time with clients. MCT’s support will also enable investment in important leadership training for our teams, once again with a focus on delivering exemplary care to those we serve.”

“We are delighted to partner with MCT every year to give back to the communities where we live and work,” said Karen Kaminska, Regional Vice-President of Atlantic Canada for Economical Insurance. “This partnership highlights the depth and quality of our relationship with MCT that benefits our customers and the communities we are so proud to support.”

About MCT
Macdonald Chisholm Trask Insurance (MCT) is a progressive insurance brokerage dating back over 70 years with a tradition of building long-lasting relationships with customers and local communities. With over 135 insurance professionals in 18 urban and rural offices, MCT is one of the largest brokerages in Atlantic Canada. MCT is a BrokerLink company. The BrokerLink companies are subsidiaries of Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) and affiliated with Intact Insurance Company, Novex Insurance Company and Jevco Insurance Company.

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with more than $2.2 billion in annualized premium volume and more than $5.5 billion in assets as at June 30, 2017. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Sonnet, Petsecure, Economical Financial, and Family Insurance Solutions.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

New Farm Business Unit to better serve SGI CANADA’s farm customers

As farms have become bigger and operations more expensive, farmers’ insurance needs have become more sophisticated. The staff in SGI CANADA’s newly-launched Farm Business Unit understand these changes in the industry and are equipped with the farming knowledge and insurance know-how to better protect today’s agricultural producers.

“Customers have told us that the insurance industry in general hasn’t done a good enough job understanding or serving the ag sector,” SGI CANADA Chief Operating Officer Don Thompson said. “We agree. After talking with customers and independent broker partners, we have begun to make some improvements.  With the new Farm Business Unit we’re looking forward to giving our farm customers better service and the best coverage possible to meet their needs.”

According to the 2016 Census, the average value of Canadian farmland and buildings was 39 per cent higher in 2016 than it was just five years earlier. Farm equipment is getting more sophisticated every year, which also means it’s getting more expensive.  Farmers need an insurance company that understands how the agriculture industry is evolving and is committed to evolving with it.

The Farm Business Unit is ready to meet the growing demands of this rapidly evolving sector, with a specialized team of underwriters and adjusters dedicated to serving only farming and ranching customers. A professional agrologist leads the unit, and all staff have training and knowledge of farming and ranching operations, crop production, farm vehicles, machinery, livestock, equipment, farm buildings and other assets.

“We get that it’s still a busy time of year as farmers race to get the last of the crop in the bin,” Thompson said. “Once harvest has wrapped up, we encourage them to talk to their insurance broker to learn more about SGI CANADA’s Farm Business Unit. We’re here to help.”


ICBC’s top tips to help keep kids safe on summer break

With B.C. school children and teens starting their summer break from school this week, ICBC is asking drivers to be especially alert this season, particularly near playgrounds and around youth walking or riding their bikes.

Every year in B.C., five pedestrians aged five to 18 die and 250 are injured in crashes involving a vehicle. A young cyclist dies every year in B.C. and another 120 young cyclists are injured in crashes involving a vehicle.*

Tips for drivers:

  • Playground speed limits are year-round: With longer summer days, drivers should remember that the 30km/hr speed limit is from dawn to dusk, every day.

  • Summer school speed limits are in effect: For schools that hold summer classes, the school zone speed limit of 30 km/hr is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days. School zone signs will indicate if a school is holding summer sessions.

  • Wait at crosswalks: Parents and their young children may need more time when crossing the street. Don’t pass any car waiting at a crosswalk as they may be stopped for those crossing the street. Wait for pedestrians to get to the other side of the street before resuming your travel.

  • Slow down on residential streets: Expect the unexpected when children are at play, including the possibility of a teen running to catch an errant ball or a child running out from between parked cars. Slow down and be prepared to stop suddenly.

  • Be patient with younger cyclists: Leave plenty of room between your car and young cyclists, in particular. Shoulder check for cyclists before turning right and watch for oncoming cyclists before turning left.

  • Distracted walkers: Be aware of pedestrians around you, especially for teens who are wearing headphones or using their cell phones while walking, as they not be paying close attention to the road.

Tips for parents:

  • Review safety rules: Review road safety rules with your children and practice how to use crosswalks safely. Set limits to where they can walk alone and where they must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Accompany young children: Children under 10 should always be accompanied by an adult when crossing a street or walking close to the road.

  • Safe outdoor play areas: Establish safe play areas around your home for younger children, such as your backyard. Supervise your children or assign an older child to be in charge. Teach your child that the road is never a safe place to play, even if their toy rolls into the street or a driveway.

  • Demonstrate good walking habits: Practice good walking habits that keep you and your family safe. Teach your child to stand a few steps from the curb while waiting at a crosswalk. Instruct your child to always use a crosswalk, and that jaywalking is never OK.

  • Distracted walking: Remind your teen to be aware of their surroundings when walking. Looking at their cell phone or wearing headphones can prevent them from noticing oncoming cars and other hazards.

  • Cycling safety: Teach safe cycling behaviour to your children such as cycling in a straight line, performing hand signals and shoulder checking. Outfit their bike with a bell, lights and reflective materials. Children should wear bright, reflective clothing so they can be seen in the dark.
  • Head safety: Make wearing a helmet a rule for your child if they want to use their bike, skateboard or rollerblades.

Additional statistics:

Youth pedestrians:

  • Every year, 180 children are injured in crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, 33 children are injured in crashes in the Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, 25 children are injured in crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, 10 children are injured in crashes in the North Central region.

Youth cyclists:

  • Every year, 73 children are injured in crashes in the Lower Mainland.

  • Every year, 22 children are injured in crashes each year on Vancouver Island.

  • Every year, 18 children are injured in crashes in the Southern Interior.

  • Every year, six children are injured in crashes in the North Central region.

*Notes: ICBC crash and injury data used (2011 to 2015). Annual average province-wide. Youth defined as aged five to 18.

** ICBC crash and injury data used (2011to 2015). Annual average per region. Youth defined as aged five to 18.

Longboard rider faces legal battle after $598 ticket for using electric board

A Vancouver man has pulled the plug on his electric skateboard after receiving a $598 ticket the first time he took it out on the street.

Daniel Dahlberg said he was riding the longboard, marketed as a Boosted Board, on Friday, June 9, 2017 down a hill in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood when he was pulled over by police.

The board can be used as a normal skateboard but also has a battery attached to the bottom, giving the wheels enough torque to push a rider up a steep hill.

Dahlberg said he hadn’t even engaged the battery yet, but his maiden voyage was also the first time he learned from a police officer that riders need insurance.

“I asked him, I had no idea, how do I get insurance, and he told me that there isn’t any to purchase, it doesn’t exist,” Dahlberg said.

“I kinda stared at him. I was trying to think of a way to respond to that because it doesn’t make any sense to me, and then he hands me a $598 ticket.

“Not once was I warned about this or did I read about this.”

Dahlberg has filed notice that he intends to dispute the ticket and said he had already received offers of support after posting about his predicament online.

“I’ve had a lot of attention from that and a lot of people reaching out to me with advice, retired B.C. lawyers who are interested in offering me advice,” he said.

The local boarding community was also rallying, Dahlberg said.

Online checks show the boards sell in shops in Vancouver for more than $2,100 and Dahlberg said the store where his board was purchased has been selling them for at least two years.

But Dahlberg said his board isn’t rolling anywhere, anymore.

“Luckily the manufacturer of the board has a 30-day return policy. So I have already been in touch with them and I’ll be sending back my board for the time being because I don’t really see a reason to use it if I’ll get another fine like this,” he said.

“And then I’ll contest the ticket in court.”

The court process is just beginning and Dahlberg said he didn’t know when the matter might be heard.


Drug Screening Device Pilot Project receives positive reviews from police

Public Safety Canada:

Participating police officers were able to successfully use oral fluid drug screening devices in various conditions across Canada.

Results from the oral fluid drug screening device pilot project suggest the devices can be successfully used in Canada to identify drivers who test positive for certain drugs, and can provide another tool for law enforcement to detect and deter drug-impaired driving.

While drivers can currently be tested for impairment by Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) and Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST), Public Safety Canada, in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA), led the pilot project to test the use of oral fluid drug screening devices as an additional tool for detecting drug-impaired drivers.

Police officers from seven jurisdictions across Canada collected over 1,140 samples between December 18, 2016 and March 6, 2017. Feedback from officers involved in the pilot project was largely positive. Officers reported that the devices were easy to use at the roadside with some standard operating procedures. They also said they were able to successfully use them in various weather, temperature and lighting conditions. The officers also noted their comfort and confidence increased the longer they used the devices, and they were able to adapt and trouble-shoot problems encountered at the roadside.

The pilot project is an excellent example of a successful federal partnership with provinces, territories and police forces across Canada. The report includes key recommendations such as developing a list of standards for device functionality, as well as standard operating procedures at the roadside, and development of core training for police forces.

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