1. Halifax hires new executive director of planning and development

A white woman with dark hair smiles in a professional headshot with a white background.
Jacqueline Hamilton Credit: LinkedIn

“Halifax has hired a new executive director of planning and development, bringing a former employee back from Saint John, N.B.,” Zane Woodford reports:

Jacqueline Hamilton starts on Aug. 14. She takes over the job from Kelly Denty, who retired last month after working for HRM since amalgamation in 1996.

Hamilton was Commissioner of Growth and Community Development in Saint John, and worked in that city for 14 years. Before that, according to LinkedIn, Hamilton worked as a planner and then manager at HRM from 1995 to 2009. Hamilton has a master’s degree in planning from Dalhousie and completed NSCAD’s Environmental Planning and Design program…

O’Toole said HRM “is currently undergoing some of the most transformative development in our region’s history.”

Click or tap here to read “Halifax hires new executive director of planning and development.

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2. Transponders in Atlantic whitefish

17-cent Canadian stamp with a silver fish on a lake or river bottom.
The Atlantic Whitefish was featured on a stamp, way back when a letter cost 17 cents to mail.

Paul Withers reports for CBC on the latest in efforts to save the Atlantic whitefish, one of the most endangered fish in the country.

A hundred and fifty of the fish were raised in captivity, tagged, and released into the Petite Rivière watershed — the only place in the world the species lives. Withers writes:

Tiny transponder tags were inserted with a hypodermic needle into 150 one-year-old fish spawned at the Dalhousie University Aquatron marine research facility in Halifax. 

The fish were anaesthetized, given one week to recover and released at various locations within the watershed. Fish were released into the estuary after acclimatizing to saltwater.

Devices installed at narrow points along the river system will send a signal when a tagged fish swims by.

“We are trialling different approaches, sort of spreading our eggs across different baskets to see what might work best,” [biologist Jeremy] Broome said.

“If we can determine that survival is better with releases into the estuary, we’re seeing more fish come back from that strategy that would be indicative that we would want to proceed with that approach.”

Withers notes the Atlantic whitefish is so critically endangered that more of them live at Dalhousie’s Aquatron (which I will admit I had not heard of, but what a great name) than in the wild.

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3. Mary Campbell on Swarmio

Swarmio uses this nonsensical graphic to explain what it does.

Mary Campbell at the Cape Breton Spectator weighs in on Swarmio seeking creditor protection, after the company soaked up millions in public money. (Tim Bousquet outlined those “loans” and grants here.)

Campbell has covered the company in the past, particularly its ludicrous claim that it was somehow a Cape Breton company. Campbell writes, “Although the ‘registered offices’ for two of these companies [in the Swarmio group] are in Nova Scotia and Swarmio has benefited greatly from ACOA largesse on the understanding that it is an Atlantic Canadian venture, top Swarmio management never relocated from Ontario.”

It’s also my understanding that Swarmio employees were working remotely, so there was no requirement that even those Nova Scotia employees actually be in Nova Scotia.

Campbell goes into the money trail as well, but what I thought was particularly striking about her piece was this:

I’m not a gamer, but I have been learning lately about the monetization of the genre—how it’s no longer enough to simply sell a consumer an expensive game, better you should give them the game then sell to them constantly as they play, charging them for extra content or the chance to advance in an endless series of “micro-transactions” that can involve real money or in-game currency (purchased with real money)…

But I digress, the point is, had the federal and provincial governments gone to the public in 2015 and said, “Should we spend $8.2 million of your money to improve the gaming experience for gamers and facilitate its monetization by telecoms and game developers OR should we build some affordable housing? I like to think the public would have opted for the housing.

Almost 10 years later, we would have had some affordable housing. Instead, we’re left (presumably) as owners of 9,619,400 common shares of a company on the verge of bankruptcy.

Like the Examiner the Cape Breton Spectator is subscriber-supported, and well worth spending a few dollars a month on.

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4. End of the line for Wandlyn Inns

Old-fashioned motel sign that says Auberge Wandlyn Inns, on a rural road.
The iconic Wandlyn Inns sign outside Amherst. Credit: Google Street View

The Wandlyn Inns sign is coming down, and that marks the end for what was once a thriving Maritime chain of hotels, Derek Haggett reports for CTV.

Haggett writes:

“In Bedford and Moncton and Kentville. Fredericton, Saint John. They were all over Atlantic Canada, but this is the last one that still held the name,” said hotel owner Glen Ward.

But the Wandlyn Inn name will be gone soon.

Ward is modernizing the hotel, he said, and in the process the Inn is being converted to a Travelodge franchise…

“There’s a generation that recognizes the Wandlyn, but of course there’s a newer generation that’s never heard of it,” [Ward said.]

Memory is a fickle thing, but I am pretty sure when I saw Ashley MacIsaac in Montreal in the 90s he made a joke about touring and staying at the Wandlyn, and maybe there was a reference to orange carpets? There was a good contingent of Nova Scotians in the crowd (including someone waving a large flag) and I recall a lot of laughs at the reference.

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1. Baseball and literature: ‘We can have as much data as we want, but we always need stories’

A view of Fenway park from behind the first-base line, on a bright, sunny day.
A sunny afternoon of baseball at Fenway Park in Boston. Credit: Philip Moscovitch

My interest was piqued when I heard Bart Vautour, who teaches in the English department at Dalhousie University, was offering a class on baseball and literature next year.

Readings for the class include the novel The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, and the essay collections Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me and The Utility of Boredom, by, respectively, Stacey May Fowles and Andrew Forbes.

And Vautour plans to have his students read this great article by José Bautista, on who is excluded from baseball’s “act like you’ve been here before” culture of stoicism. The class might also discuss this piece of mine for the Examiner about how baseball fosters intimacy.

I chatted with Vautour on Wednesday, and we talked about the human scale and pace of baseball, how much nostalgia informs writing about the sport, changes to the game, and a novel (as in unusual) assignment Vautour is considering.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Philip Moscovitch (PM): Tell me about the course… And is this your first time teaching it?

Bart Vautour (BV): It is the first time I’m teaching it. It’s a sports literature course that has been on the books at Dal for quite a while, but it was last taught several years ago by a retired colleague of mine, David McNeil, and he taught it with a focus on hockey. His father was a goalie for the Canadiens, and he was deep into hockey culture and hockey literature. So, it was an opportunity to make sure that we were using the full range of our courses, and also for me to have a go at talking about baseball in public, which I haven’t done. Unless you count my family and friends as public, in which case I’ve done a lot of it.

PM: Why baseball?

BV: One of the things that fascinates me about baseball in general is the stories that get told about it, and also the stories it tells, and the form that it takes. It seems to me a very human sport, if that makes any sense. As opposed to growing up totally surrounded by a hockey culture, which to me seems extra-human. You strap blades onto your feet, you go faster than humans should go — on ice. You hit a big hard thing faster than it should go, at people trying to keep it out of a net. It’s also carnivalistic, where people can go fight each other and not get arrested. It seems extra-human in that way. Baseball seems very human, so it lends itself to human-ish stories.

PM: Tell me about the two books of essays among the readings.

BV: Books about baseball take all forms. There’s plays, there’s novels, there’s tonnes of poetry. And more and more, I think there’s a kind of life writing about baseball that is really intriguing, because it’s only somewhat about baseball. It uses baseball, but it’s not always just about baseball.

That is different than perhaps what we’re used to with baseball, which is biography or deep history. Sometimes I feel like baseball writing can be the equivalent to military history, when people are really into knowing exactly what model tank was on what hill and what battle at what time. And there are those narratives in baseball as well. You want to know exactly the length and weight of the bat used to hit a home run in this park at that point. I tend to not have the attention for that level of detail when it comes to baseball and baseball writing. It’s just not my jam. I want to look at larger arcs, larger narratives, investigate the ways people are using baseball and what they’re hanging on it.

PM: What other kinds of texts are you going to be reading?

BV: I’ll also be teaching a whole bunch of poetry, not just, you know, the “Casey At the Bat” sort, but contemporary poetry that has used baseball, and has thought about baseball. We’re going to be trying to think about baseball and form, because I think poetry really allows for us to investigate what forms we hold on to, what forms we find compelling. What sort of constraints have you set for yourself when you sit down and write a poem? When do they get subverted? When do they get changed? That type of thing. So, we’ll be looking at rule changes along with changes in poetry.

And we will be looking at The Art of Fielding, which is a big old novel about a college baseball team. It’s about many things, but one of the things it’s about is a college baseball team, and somebody with the yips, and one other player who is mostly a benchwarmer but is having an affair with the university president. I think it is really useful in general at universities to use university-based texts as course texts, to allow people to see the structures that they’re in themselves, to be able to measure and talk about and investigate the structures of a university alongside other things. So, I imagine we’ll be talking a little bit about the role of sport in universities, and I think we’ll talk critically about university funding and sport. You know, using baseball as a hinge to talk about all sorts of different things. We won’t look at full films, but we will be looking at visual representations of baseball as well. So, we’ll be talking about A League of Their Own and the remake, and representation.

Close up of a balding white man with a short sandy beard, standing in front of red siding.
Bart Vautour Credit:

PM: A lot of baseball talk and baseball writing seems tinged with nostalgia.

BV: One of the things I’m most excited to talk about, and investigate, and interrogate is constructions of nostalgia around baseball. Does baseball lend itself to nostalgia, or is it just treated that way by people prone to nostalgia? Baseball is changing, and I’m really excited about that.

The first baseball game I ever went to, I was still a teenager. Early twenties, maybe, you know, at the Skydome, sitting in the outfield. And there are the Blue Jays fans saying horrible things about the outfielder’s mother. And I remember thinking, what? The casual misogyny was palpable in the outfield. I’ve never sat in the outfield again because to me that’s where the worst jeering happens. And a few weeks ago, I was at a game in Toronto, and I think it was the first game that the Jays put [pitcher] Anthony Bass in, after his homophobic comments — and the whole stadium booed him. They weren’t putting up with it. They weren’t putting up with the homophobia. And I was like, wow. Things have changed. I’m in a baseball stadium where the fan base are loudly standing up against homophobia. It felt like a significant shift in the history of my baseball watching.

That gets me excited, because it tells me there’s nothing inherently nostalgic about baseball. It is something that can make space for all sorts of people. In a world that asks us to be constantly extra-human, extra-productive, we can sit for a couple of hours and just watch something where nothing happens, and that’s OK. And in the world of hyper-productivity, baseball still exists, and can exist for more than one demographic who is escaping the confines of that hyper-productivity.

PM: Are you concerned that baseball doesn’t seem to have the same cultural importance it once did? I have a friend who worries about it, because he says when you pick up the paper you hardly ever see anything about baseball in it.

BV: I’m not worried that baseball isn’t on the front page of the newspaper anymore, We have a changing mediascape, and we have a changing sort of relationship to information. We have so much data available to us, which is great and fine, but those of us who study information know that data needs still needs a story. Data isn’t the end result. Data is the material which you can use to form a story. So, we still need narratives. We still need to be able to make sense of the data. We’re always going to need stories. We can have as much data as we want, but we always need stories.

PM: Who do you think is going to sign up for the course?

BV: There are going to be, I’m sure, people in the class who are baseball fans like myself, and I’m hoping there are some people in the class who needed to fill a time slot, and I can maybe tell a compelling story about why this might matter, and how it matters. So, I’m really hoping that it’s a diverse crowd in the class.

PM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

BV: I think we’re going to have some fun writing assignments. I think I’m going to ask them to learn and score a game as a sort of writing assignment. To see what happens to attention and composition over time, and to be able to sit down in a defined period of time and be done that piece of writing. And, you know, just think about the act of writing. When you look at a baseball scorecard — is that a form of writing? You’re documenting a game, but you’re using these weird hieroglyphics and this system of writing that in many ways mirrors a kind of experimental poetry of sorts, or a different kind of writing, a different genre of writing.

I am not a scorekeeper. I am invested in my ability to nap during a game. That’s what my investment is. I can nap halfway through a game, wake up, and the game is still going. And I’m mildly delighted if there’s a change. You can wake up in the middle of it, and that’s a lovely thing about it. It takes hard work to fall asleep during hockey.

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2. Getting paid by the people you’re covering

The SaltWire logo

I would estimate about 75% of my Facebook feed these days is garbage posts designed to elicit hundreds of thousands of comments. Apparently quite successfully. You know, a cartoon of Einstein looking baffled at an equation like 3×3+2-5, challenging you to solve it. Or a statement like, “Nobody remembers the name of their Grade 5 teacher” and then a quarter of a million people posting the name of their Grade 5 teacher. You get the idea.

A good chunk of the rest of my feed over the last week seemed to be sponsored content from SaltWire about the state of the Halifax economy, prosperity, and resident satisfaction — specifically, two stories that were advertised to me repeatedly.

There is a piece called “Nova Scotia’s economy robust despite slower growth,” seemingly sponsored by Halifax Partnership (“We sell and market Halifax to the world”), and another called “At a glance: One year into the ‘People. Planet. Prosperity’ strategy.” I am assuming this one is also sponsored by the same people, but the “for more information” link at the bottom of the page doesn’t work (the Wayback machine shows it as a link to the Halifax Partnership page).

As is to be expected from sponsored content, these pieces paint a rosy picture. Halifax is “continuing to work towards becoming a model for inclusive and sustainable economic growth,” and “the provincial economy is robust in the face of high inflation and interest rates, aside from residential sales and starts.”

Look, sponsored content is one of the ways many publications stay afloat. I don’t think it’s great, but I get it. Writing this stuff is also the way many freelancers stay afloat. But if you are going to get into this game, you need some safeguards. That should mean that your regular journalists don’t also write sponsored content, for instance. And that you draw the line on whose sponsorships you will accept. One of the Chronicle Herald’s key functions is covering city politics, and being paid by people whose job it is to promote the city feels like it is crossing a line.

I want to be clear that I am not calling into question the ethics of Chronicle Herald journalists, who are professionals, and know how to do their jobs. I am not saying they are going to start reporting that all is wonderful with the city because of some sponsored content.

But when you are covering the city and being paid by Halifax Partnership to write about them, that does not look good. And putting a subscription box at the bottom of sponsored pieces touting your “impartial, high-impact, local journalism” blurs the line between that journalism and content paid for by clients. That’s not good.

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Flaming blue drinks and other iconic Nova Scotia restaurant offerings

A vintage photo of a man and woman standing in front of a restaurant called The Sea Food, whose sign has a large lobster. They are leaning on a wooden lobster trap, on top of which is a cooked lobster on a bed of lettuce.
Harris’ Seafood with owners Charlie and Clara Harris. Credit: Facebook group Yarmouth Nova Scotia

Halifax Public Libraries has a delightful local history post up called “A Taste from the Past! Old Nova Scotia Restaurants and Recipes.” It includes write-ups about iconic Nova Scotia eateries past and present, and then shares a recipe from each one.

The restaurants featured are the Ardmore Tea Room, the Blomidon Inn (which, I learned, was once an Acadia dorm), Green Shutters Inn, Clipper Cay, Telegraph House, and Harris’ Seafood.

That last one really caught my eye. First, for the great photo above, and then for the write-up:

When a friend says your cooking is so good you should have your own restaurant, you blush and say thank you. But when that friend takes it a step further and offers you a loan to actually start a restaurant — maybe your cooking really is on a whole other level. It was a friend from Connecticut that offered Clara Harris the start-up money for her own business, believing that her home-cooked fish was better than any they could get at a restaurant.

In the early 1950s, Clara started a very small eatery with just a stove, a fridge, and one table. Her husband Charlie, a fisherman by trade, was in charge of purchasing the fish and seafood, and if it wasn’t up to his standard, he was not afraid to send them back where they came from. The family worked long hours, and in time they were able to expand into an old World War II army barracks-turned-dance hall. Here they expanded to twenty-five tables, and the menu was able to grow as well. The restaurant became particularly well known for Clara’s hot lobster sandwich and their Maritime Brew. Maritime Brew was a rum and amaretto coffee drink that was set on fire when served. It was said that blue flames could often be seen rising from the far side of the dining room.

After reading this, I asked a friend who grew up in Yarmouth, “Do you remember a seafood restaurant, just…” and before I could go any further she said, “Harris’ Seafood. I used to work there. I made the flaming blue drinks.”

Should you want to make the flaming blue drinks, the library includes a recipe.

I never went to Harris’ Seafood, but these quirky small places are my favourite types of restaurants. A few years ago, in Florida, we went to a small fish place that opened at 5pm and closed whenever they ran out of fish. This tended to be early because the owner bought the fish himself and he was picky. We were finishing up our dinner around 9pm and people were being turned away at the door. The owner sat on a barstool by the window, chatting.

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Special Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall and online) — agenda

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate and online) — agenda


No meetings

On campus

No events

In the harbour

06:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 27 from Moa, Cuba
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
07:15: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
11:45: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
15:30: Zaandam sails for Bar Harbor
19:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, moves from anchorage to Gold Bond
19:00: Energy Artemis, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
22:00: Augusta Luna sails for Bilboa, Spain

Cape Breton
03:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Sea
14:00: Ardmore Seafox, oil tanker, sails from EverWind for sea
16:00: AlgoScotia sails for sea


If you like baseball-related music, The Baseball Project, which includes two former members of REM and legendary indie drummer Linda Pitmon, have released their first album in nine years. It’s good.

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Philip Moscovitch is a freelance writer, audio producer, fiction writer, and editor of Write Magazine.

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  1. Interesting and valid comment ! “Getting paid by the people you’re covering” ~ so sad ! On a similar note ads for health care workers ‘ Nova Scotia Health is the largest provider of health services in Nova Scotia, with some specialized services also offered to clients throughout Atlantic Canada ~ AH NO we are the only HEALTH CARE PROVIDER ” and more ludicrous ” Nova Scotia Health employs professionals in all corners of our beautiful province. We believe there’s a place here for everyone to call home, from vibrant cities with exuberant nightlife to quaint towns with picturesque trails. The work-life balance that comes with a Nova Scotia Health role means you’ll have the time to explore, discover, and participate in that coveted Atlantic lifestyle. Visit us today and check out to see why more people from across the globe are moving here “

  2. As far as I know, the number of vertebrates endemic to Canada is numbered in the single digits, and the number endemic to one province or territory can be counted on a single hand.

    The fact that this province has invested more in having Ukrainian con men hypothetically launch hacked-together ICBMs from Nova Scotia than saving the whitefish tells you all you need to know about this place and the fate it deserves.

    The whitefish is also a decent sportfish, and if it could be restored to the point where they could be caught for sport, rich assholes would pay to do it.

  3. Thanks for this – fun Morning File! I may have to audit Mr. Vautour’s class. I’ve read The Art of Fielding but only read reviews of the others you noted. As for scoring games, my mother taught me how to do so in the early 80s, as we listened to Expos broadcasts with Dave van Horne & Duke Snider on CFCB (Corner Brook, NL). She and her sister were huge baseball fans growing up in the 50s, with my mother a Brooklyn fan and my aunt a Yankees fan. They alternated nightly between Dodgers & Yankees games over the radio in their shared bedroom growing up, scoring the games throughout. I agree with Mr. Vautour’s statement that there’s nothing inherently nostalgic about baseball, but nostalgia can certainly be triggered by baseball within one’s personal context. It’s by no means the world’s most exciting sport, but I love it nonetheless.