Smoking Canadian Rugby Championship semis

A ball boy waits for the return of the Prairie Wolf Pack and Atlantic Rock rugby teams for the start of the second half of their Canadian Rugby Championship game at Calgary Rugby Park on Aug 23, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon


“Holy smoking Canadian Rugby Championship semis, Batman” Robin just might have said to his Dynamic Duo half-back partner about the conditions at Calgary Rugby Park yesterday. For the second time in less than a week, major sports and recreation events were being challenged by the very poor air quality caused by smoke heading east from hundreds of forest fires in BC.

As I was driving along Glenmore Trail to photograph the game, local radio station 660 News was reporting an Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) as high as 9. Walking through the gate, you could taste the smoke. Officials were in deep discussion over whether or not the games should go ahead. What was the trending air quality scale? Should the Calgary average be used? What was the latest info from the nearest meteorological station? And so on.

The compromise decision was to get both semi-finals going simultaneously at 5:00 pm before the air quality got worse. [Note: On checking the local weather data this morning, Calgary recorded a high of 9.4 on the AQHI when the games kicked off.]

In a rather rare event, four teams lined up on the main field to sing the national anthem, then the BC Bears and Ontario Blues popped over to Field 2. I joined them to photograph the first half then returned to the main field for the second half of the Prairie Wolf Pack versus Atlantic Rock game.

In a high scoring, back and forth game, Ontario Blues overcame the BC Bears to win 58-36. The Wolf Pack at halftime were in the lead by a point, 14-13. Atlantic Rock turned that around in the second half with some command and control rugby, taking better advantage of their possession to score two tries. Final score: 31-14.

The two final games are scheduled for Sunday, Aug 26. You might want to check the local weather before going.

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications for more photos through the smoke.

And if you like this sort of stuff, please visit/follow me on Instagram and Twitter.



Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Health, Photography, Rugby, Sports photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canucks front row all in Wolf Pack squad for the Canadian Rugby Championship

The front row of the Calgary Canucks, seen in action versus Calgary Rams earlier this season. The three players have been selected for the Prairie Wolf Pack squad in the Canadian Rugby Championship to be played at Calgary Rugby Park on Aug 23 and Aug 26, 2018. Left-to-right: Logan Jones, Gabriel Kadjy, and Jacob Horton © J. Ashley Nixon



The Calgary Canucks front row are all selected for the Wolf Pack squad to play Atlantic Rock today at Calgary Rugby Park, kicking off at 7:00 pm. Jacob Horton and Logan Jones are the props in this fierce and fast front row union; Gabriel Kajdy is the man in-between playing hooker.  Canucks captain Jake Bentley and Ben Lesage have also been called up to the Pack from the Canucks.

This will be the second semi-final of the Canadian Rugby Championship, which is the highest level of domestic rugby in Canada. The first semi-final, kicking off at 5:00 pm on the same day has the BC Bears playing against Ontario Blues. The winners will play for the MacTier Cup in the final at Calgary Rugby Park on Sunday, Aug 26, 2018.

Please visit my Instagram and Twitter accounts and the galleries at J. Ashley Nixon Communications for more images of these rugby players and others from club to international levels in Canada.


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Hornets take Canucks through the 10+ smoke screen

Action between Calgary Canucks and Calgary Hornets at Calgary Rugby Union, Aug 18, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Spinal Tap would have called this “an eleven”. The Air Quality Health Index called it a 10+ in Calgary on Saturday morning due to the smoke heading east from hundreds of forest fires in BC. It was enough of a health risk for the annual Ride to Conquer Cancer to be cancelled just after the start in Calgary. By game time at 2:00 pm the conditions had improved by a tad but it still felt like I had smoked ten Woodbines as I photographed the rugby games. For the players slogging it out at Calgary Rugby Union, it must have felt like a twenty pack. Definitely not good for the lungs.

The Calgary Canucks were leading 26-22 with sixteen mintes of the Alberta Cup game remaining but it was the Calgary Hornets who got through the smokescreen in better shape to win handsomely over the Canucks, 43-26 in the Division 1 game. In the following Division 2 game, The Canucks came out handsomely on top, 44-10, a score that doesn’t reflect the efforts of the Red Deer Titans who kept going hard to the end. With that win, and a corrected score from last week (it was a win, not a draw to the Beaver Boys) the Canucks take a berth in the Alberta Division 2 playoffs.

Please visit J. Ashley Nixon Communications for more photographs through the haze.

If you like this stuff, please visit/follow me on Instagram here and Twitter here.


Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Documentary photography, Health, Photography, Rugby, Sports photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Yo No Sé Mañana Expo Latino 2018!

Luis Enrique performs at Expo Latino in Calgary, Aug 18, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Luis Enrique

Luis Enrique, the Prince of Salsa was a real catch on the second day at Expo Latino, Calgary’s hottest outdoor festival, and one of the biggest Latino cultural events in Canada. He and his excellent jazzy-salsa band captivated the big crowd of dancers in front of the stage at Princes Island. Enrique showed off his talents not only as a singer but playing a nice looking light blue Fender Telecaster replica and even got behind the drum/timpani set for one song.

Included in the set was his 2018 release Mordaza, a political commentary on violence and the state of the nation in Nicaragua. He left his best-known song until the end, played with a nice slow, romantic introduction in a duo with the keyboard player. It wasn’t long before the audience recognized his hit, one of the very best salsa songs ever produced, and the latino’s lapped it up. Yo No Sé Mañana! I don’t know tomorrow! Such a great song!

Paula Zuleta & Las Divas All Star

Paula Zuleta & Las Divas All Star, came on stage after Luis Enrique to play a great, diverse repertoire of Latin rhythms from Salsa, Merengue, Cha cha cha, Son Cubano, Cumbia, Bachata….did I miss anything? Great performance from this all-girl band featuring trumpet, keyboards and three percussionists led by Latin Grammy-nominated Paula Zuleta from Colombia.

Emcees for the day

Calgary’s own Cristina Mora Blanco, co-owner of the La Rumba Cuban Dance Company danced and emceed the show along with the Venezuelan telenovela actor, Alberto Mauco. Another nice double act pulling the show together.

There’s still time to visit Expo Latino-the final day is today.

For more images from Expo Latino 2018, please visit my gallery at J. Ashley Nixon Communications.

Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Calgary, Canada, Dance, Documentary photography, En español, Heritage, Music, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Expo Latino 2018 gets Calgary moving

A young Capoiera performer from Capoeira Aché Brasil on stage at Expo Latino, Aug 17, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Calgary’s hottest outdoor festival, Expo Latino got the city moving last night in a celebration of Latin America’s rich offerings of food, dance, and music. In its 22nd year, this is one of the biggest Latino cultural expressions in Canada.

Friday night was a free access night, with a donation to the Calgary Food Bank. Well over a thousand turned up to celebrate and show off their best latin moves on the dance floor, encouraged by the Festival MCs, Carla Diaz Silva, the Director of Raíces del Perú and Colombian broadcaster, Mauricio Salazar.

Mango Show Band performed latin pop and rock that found a place for a blast of an AC/DC riff. Mafia Latin Power got the dancers up with some smooth salsa vibes. But it was a little boy on the dance floor and a young girl performing Brazilian Capoeira on stage with Calgary dance school Capoeira Aché Brasil that stole the show on Prince’s Island for me.

For more images from Expo Latino 2018, please visit the gallery at J. Ashley Nixon Communications.


Posted in #YYC, Alberta, Brazil, Calgary, Canada, Dance, Documentary photography, Heritage, Peru, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Most liveable city in North America: a photographic celebration of Calgary

Young cyclists take in the view of downtown Calgary from Patrick Island on the Bow River, Aug 19, 2015.
© J. Ashley Nixon


The 2018 survey of the world’s most liveable cities was published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) this week. In their annual, widely-read ranking that helps indicate how sustainably cities are developing, Melbourne, Australia which has been at the top of the table for seven years, was pipped by Austria’s capital city, Vienna. Osaka, Japan came third.

Three of the top ten cities are in Canada. My hometown, Calgary came in fourth, ahead of Vancouver (6th) and Toronto (8th), making it the most liveable city in North America based on a range of factors, including political and social stability, crime, education, healthcare, infrastructure, and culture and environment.

Measuring Liveability

The EIU describes its methodology as follows: Every city is assigned a rating of relative comfort for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure. Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable. For qualitative indicators, a rating is awarded based on the judgment of in-house analysts and in-city contributors. For quantitative indicators, a rating is calculated based on the relative performance of a number of external data points. The scores are then compiled and weighted to provide a score of 1–100, where 1is considered intolerable and 100 is considered ideal.”

Stability examines the prevalence of crime, the threat of terror/ military conflict or civil unrest.

Healthcare focuses on the availability/quality of private and public healthcare, over-the-counter drugs and other general healthcare indicators.

Culture and Environment measures various indicators that range from temperature rating, climate, level of corruption, social or religious restrictions, food/drink, and other social indicators.

Education looks at the availability/quality of private and public education.

Infrastructure assesses the quality of roads, public transportation, availability of housing, and other indicators.

The rankings are weighted with stability (25 percent), healthcare (20 percent), culture and environment (25 percent), education (10 percent) and infrastructure (20 percent).

Relative Comfort

As well as being in affluent countries, two other characteristics shared by many of the leading cities in the EIU survey are their relatively low population density (Vienna is an exception to this) and overall size (small to medium-, although Tokyo is an exception). These features “can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure” (EIU 2018). Smaller cities, compared to the big urban centres of the world, generally suffer less from crime, congestion and transportation deficiencies.

Calgary: most liveable city in North America

Calgary earned maximum points in four of the five categories, coming down (90/100) only in the Culture and Environment category to gain an overall score of 97.5 percent and the highest ranking of any North American city.

Calgary has grown significantly in recent years (the latest census released in July 2018 showed a year-on-year increase of 21,000 people to raise the city population to 1.27 million) as people from all around the world have been attracted to its economic prospects (especially around the energy industry), its beautiful location in the foothills of the Rockies, cultural diversity and great access to social and municipal services.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said “Calgary is an extraordinary place where people from around the world have come – and continue to come – to invest, to raise their families, and to build great lives. I’m very proud, and we all should be too!” (Calgary Economic Development, 2018).

Gallery of photographs

Please follow this link to my gallery of photographs celebrating Calgary’s achievement of the top North American city in the Economist Intelligence Unit 2018 Global Liveability Index.

EIU 2018 Summary report

You can download The Economist Intelligence Unit 2018 Global Liveability Index summary report here.

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Tubing and surfing Osoyoos Lake

Tubing on Osoyoos Lake, BC, Canada, July 30, 2018.
© J. Ashley Nixon

A summer road trip west with friends, over to Osoyoos, BC, presented a new photo opportunity for me. Dale and Wanda kindly gave us a berth on their boat and the chance to shoot some shots from the stern. The Malibu Response did a nice rate of knots and a plyboard gizmo installed on the stern (a swell wake surf creator) generated bigger waves. All the more fun for our daughters to spice up their pre-season hockey training with some work-outs on the water.

First, there was short-board surfing. Then, after a quick return to shore, we got going again, towing a large red, white and black tube specially designed for this watersport, complete with a platform to lie on and handles to grip. They turned out pretty useful at the speeds we pushed heading south, momentarily crossing the US border, then back over to home Canadian water.

The wider-shots were taken with a Canon 16-35mm f2.8 lens and the close-ups with a Canon 70-200mm f 2.8 lens at as high a speed as I could push to take care of all the banging around at the back (stern, sorry mariners!).

If you like this photo then please take a look at some of the others around Osoyoos Lake in my gallery at J. Ashley Nixon Communications.


Posted in Canada, Documentary photography, Photography, Sports, Sports photography, Travel, Water | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment