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1. COVID-19 update: More advisories, more spread

Last night, Nova Scotia Public Health sent out an advisory listing nine locations where there was potential exposure to COVID-19.

Anyone who was at any of these places at these times can monitor for symptoms and do a COVID-19 self-assessment here. 

Then later in the evening, the Department of Health and Wellness announced there was a second case of COVID-19 at Auburn High School in Cole Harbour. This new case is a close contact of the previous case.  According to the press release, all of the students in a class with a confirmed case are being tested and are self-isolating at home. They’re also back to online learning, for now.

Also, all the schools in the family of schools connected with Auburn are closed today. That includes:

  • Astral Drive Elementary
  • Astral Drive Junior High
  • Bell Park Academic Centre
  • Caldwell Road Elementary
  • Colby Village Elementary
  • Graham Creighton Junior High
  • Humber Park Elementary
  • Joseph Giles Elementary
Today is an assessment and evaluation day for pre-primary to Grade 9, so those schools were closed anyway, but the only people allowed in the schools are caretakers and janitorial staff.
There’s a COVID-19 update at 1 p.m. today. Is anyone else waiting for anything more than a stern warning?

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2. Province plans for second wave at nursing homes

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There are six locations across the province where residents of long-term care homes will go if they test positive for COVID-19. Jennifer Henderson reports on the announcement by the province about these  “Regional Care Units.” Five of these units are in hospitals, including Cape Breton Regional Hospital, St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, Colchester East Hants Health Centre, Valley Regional Hospital, and Yarmouth Regional Hospital. The sixth unit is in a building connected with the Ocean View Continuing Care Centre in Dartmouth. In a news release, Leo Glavine, Minister of Health and Wellness says:

Residents in our continuing care system are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19. We have made changes to strengthen how the sector responds to a second wave of the virus and Regional Care Units (RCUs) for nursing home residents who test positive is one of these measures.

The news release says organizations such as Shannex, Northwood, and Gem Group “may choose” to create “the regional care unit model” in their own nursing homes instead of moving residents to one of these six units.

According to an email sent by Murray Stenton, a communications officer at Northwood, residents will continue to be treated on site at Northwood locations in Bedford and Halifax.

As part of our infection prevention and control practices, we have continued to swab staff and residents if anyone displays possible COVID-19 symptoms. Northwood continues to follow the guidance of Public Health regarding appropriate testing protocols.

Meanwhile, Shannex will treat its residents with COVID-19 at four of their own regional designated care areas (DCAs), within our communities. Gillian Costello, senior communications manager for Shannex Inc. tells the Examiner: “Our DCAs were established during the first wave of COVID-19 and remain in place should they be needed to care for residents during the second wave. They have a separate entrance, proper ventilation installed, and offer increased staffing levels with dedicated teams working exclusively in these areas.”

Click here to read Henderson’s complete article. 

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3. IWK insists hospital safe after rumours of COVID-19 exposure

Image of IWK from

Carolyn Ray at CBC reports on a potential privacy breach at the IWK after rumours started that a patient lied about having COVID-19 and then tested positive for the virus. 

CBC got an internal memo from executive leadership at the children’s hospital that said social media posts and questions from media “strongly suggests that IWK staff member(s) were inappropriately sharing patient care related information.” 

A social media posted a week ago had some worried about the risk of COVID-19 at the hospital. No one was named in the posted, but it included information that could identify the patient. But as Ray reports, the IWK can’t legally comment on a patient’s diagnosis.  

Nick Cox, a spokesperson for the IWK, told Ray the hospital is still safe for patients and families.  

Patients and families should never delay or avoid receiving care at the IWK or any health institution at any time.The safety of our patients, families and staff is at the core of what we do.

Cox couldn’t say if any staff at the hospital were exposed to COVID-19.

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4. Radio cuts in Halifax

Sheldon MacLeod. Photo: Twitter

There were lots of cuts in the local radio this week. At News 95.7, hosts Sheldon MacLeod and Todd Veinotte, morning editor Steve MacArthur, anchors Skye Bryden-Blom and Steve Gow, and morning reporter David Heintzman were all given layoff notices (MacLeod will be on the air until Nov. 27 and Veinotte will host shows this weekend and next).  

MacLeod interviewed me on his show a couple of times for different projects I work on. He’s a very gracious host who asks great questions. A lot of people and organizations will miss the opportunities he gave them to share their stories. 

Bell Aliant made cuts across the Maritimes, including morning hosts JC Douglas and Melody Rose at C100 in Halifax. According to this Facebook post from On the Air in Atlantic Canada, C100 recently flipped to an all-Christmas format.  

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5.  Bedford dentist suspended

Dr. Errol Gaum. Photo: RateMDs

A dentist in Bedford has been suspended from practice after several allegation of misconduct and assault. Sarah Plowman at CTV reports on the suspension of. Dr. Errol Gaum after the family of six-year-old Peyton Binder reported filed a complaint with police. No charges were laid.  

Binder’s grandmother, Kelly Smith, tells Plowman the young girl was hysterical after getting teeth pulled at Gaum’s office.  

She said that he pinched her nose and, at the same time, held his hand over her mouth so she couldn’t breathe. He pressed against her and he put his finger in her face and just repeatedly told her to shut up. 

The Binder family shared their story on social media and others came forward. Former patient Olivia Theriault tells Plowman she went to Gaum 25 years ago to get two fillings, but left with two front teeth pulled and eight silver caps.  

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Erasing history? You just didn’t do your research

Sir John A. Macdonald High School in Tantallon will get a new name, but history won’t be erased. Photo: Wikipedia

I have a saying: Life is better when you don’t read the comments (I DO read the comments here at the Examiner because they are informative and thoughtful). But I broke my own rule recently when I read comments on a news story on Facebook about the renaming of Sir John A. Macdonald High School in Tantallon. Someone asked if the bridge will be torn down next. I responded that the bridge wasn’t named for Sir John A. Macdonald, but Angus L. Macdonald, a former premier of Nova Scotia. The notifications came flying in. I’m sure you all know the kinds of comments I read, including “Enough is enough!” and, of course, “You can’t erase history!” 

The “you can’t erase history” comments are especially frustrating because in the time people took to post that comment they could have used a few key words in Google to learn some actual history. But they didn’t, so I did it for them (not that I think they’ll read this).

Yesterday, I reached out to several people whose work includes researching history and asked them to share some resources — books, archives, names of museums, or their own work — to show these people you can’t erase history with a name change or taking down a statue (again, I don’t know if they’ll read it, but we’ll try). Here we go:  

On Tuesday, Zane Woodford interviewed Rebecca Thomas about Coun. Sam Austin’s motion to change the names on several streets whose names currently include Micmac. I personally liked Thomas’s suggestion to name these streets after plants and animals that inhabited these areas before colonization. Thomas also shared with me several suggestions for resources: 

Credit: Zane Woodford

I’d put my collection of poetry (I Place You Into the Fire) or more specifically, Not Perfect, Dan Paul’s We Were Not The Savages, Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian, and Bob Joseph’s 21 Things You May Not Have Known About the Indian Act. 

Sara Spike, a cultural historian and postdoctoral fellow at the University of New Brunswick, whose work includes researching the cultural history of fog, sent along a list and explanations of why she chose them:

I begin my list of suggestions with a wish that everyone would read a professional peer-reviewed historical survey of the province. Let’s all get a basic sense of chronology and a general context for the specific historical events and personalities that have shaped this place. Textbooks are not the dusty tomes they used to be! The best one currently available is Margaret R. Conrad and James K. Hillier’s Atlantic Canada: A History, now in its 3rd edition from Oxford University Press. It’s expensive — someone ask the Halifax Public Library to stock professional works on Nova Scotia history please?
Ever wonder where all that folksy crap about Nova Scotia comes from? It has a history and scholars have been talking about it for a long time. Ian McKay’s The Quest of the Folk is a fairly dense scholarly study, but it gets to the heart of how the province was re-imagined as a quaint land-that-time-forgot in the early twentieth century, and the lasting effects this has had on the province.
Assertions of treaty rights by the Mi’kmaq aren’t new. William Wicken’s study of Chief Gabriel Sylliboy is a fascinating account of an earlier assertion of treaty rights and the ways that community memory is shaped by colonialism.
A quicker, related read on this topic is Mercedes Peters’s recent essay that presents historical assertions of treaty rights as an ongoing series of reminders, a brilliant, care-full rejoinder to centuries of deliberate, violent settler forgetting.
Marie Battiste’s edited volume is a strong collection of personal and scholarly essays by mostly Mi’kmaw writers reflecting on the life of the Peace and Friendship Treaties.
I created this list of scholarly titles about Black Nova Scotian history, primarily by Black authors, for the Black Lives Matter social media takeover in June. It remains as relevant as ever.

Sara Spike is the Twitter account Small History Nova Scotia. It’s a wonderful account of people who may never have their names on anything, but whose histories and stories are important and will never be erased. Last year, Spike published a chapbook on some of the tweets she’s shared through the account. You can buy that here.

Spike also suggested I connect with Shirley Tillotson, who’s retired from Dalhousie. Tillotson shared this with me:

The best single concentrated source of local history resources to read on paper is undoubtedly the Local History Room in the Halifax Central Library. And membership in the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society (follow us on Twitter and Facebook) is an ongoing source of new research in a wide variety of areas.  Here are some past lectures: Winter term schedule coming soon.
The Nova Scotia Archives has a wonderful virtual archives page that connects to original documents and also provinces short contextual essays.   Here, for example, is one of their Second World War pages.
The website of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is also increasingly rich.
And, beyond local history, a great way to get the panoply of Canada’s past and the pasts that preceded Canada, is the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, from Macdonald to Muquinna
Tillotson was one of several scholars on the Lord Dalhousie Scholarly Panel on Slavery and Race, which was chaired by Afua Cooper. Click here to read the entire report.
I connected with a few history professors at Saint Mary’s University. Now, I have a history degree from Saint Mary’s and not once did a professor suggest we study statues or high schools named after former prime ministers.  

Karly Kehoe is the Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Communities. She researches religion, migration, and minority identities in the British Atlantic. Kehoe writes: 

I worry about ‘erasing history,’ but not that existing understandings will be lost, but rather about the damage that certain narratives have already done. I worry about a perception that there is only one right history because it excludes other, equally important, research-based perspectives. We can see that clearly, for example, with women’s and gender history. His­-story…. My own discipline excludes me… Asking for new voices to be included in our analyses shouldn’t be problematic – it’s actually far more responsible and a more honest approach to our diverse societies. 

Kehoe sent along an introduction to a book she co-edited titled Reappraisals of British Colonisation in Atlantic Canada. She also included a link to a talk she recently gave at Dalhousie about rethinking rural Scottish Highland Settlement in northern Cape Breton. “It’s an acknowledgment of what I’d missed and why seeing that matters,” Kehoe says. 

John Reid is the senior research fellow at the Gorsebrook Research Institute, and studies and researches the history of early modern northeastern North America, including imperial-Indigenous relations. He sent along the Cornwallis Task Force report, and suggested I check out a discussion called Monumental Questions: Revisiting Controversial Monuments and Memorials, which was part of Wordfest in London, Ontario last weekend. The discussion included Monica MacDonald, the co-chair of Halifax’s Task Force on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History; Lisa Helps, the mayor of the City of Victoria; and Melanie Newton, an historian at the University of Toronto who researches topics related to gender, slavery and slave emancipation, and indigenous Caribbean history. Click here for the recording of the discussion.

Reid also suggested searching the website, where there are lots of discussions on statues and monuments (simply search the words statues or monuments, or names Edward Cornwallis, John A. MacDonald, and Edward Colston).

And Peter Twohig, who is a professor of Atlantic Canada studies and associate dean of arts, sent this my way: 

Statues are fundamentally about power. There are lots of examples of ‘regime change’ resulting in the destruction of statues and monuments. In some places (such as Mongolia) statues were beheaded by invading forces but left standing, a reminder of who was now in control. When the Taliban rose to power in Afghanistan, many will remember that one of the early acts of the new regime was to blow up the Buddhist statues at Bamiyan, in an effort to obliterate the pre-Islamic history of the area. 

Of course, powerful men built statues to themselves and people they admired. So, we have statues that reflected their priorities and values. Many were funded by the private sector. John Reid explored, for example, how private interests created a space for the Cornwallis statue in Halifax – as he notes the statues had both an “ideological basis” and a “commercial purpose” (I have attached that article). 

In her book Bronzes to Bullets, our colleague Kirrily Freeman notes that French statues and monuments were melted down by the Vichy government and shipped to Nazi munitions factories during the Second World War. French citizens protested the collaboration of the Vichy government and lamented the loss of their public art. 

Karen Cox’s book Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture shows how the United Daughters of the Confederacy exerted their social influence to preserve artifacts, memorabilia, and documents – and erect new statues to the Confederacy. 

Charmaine Nelson is the Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at NSCAD and a former professor of art history at McGill University. Photo: McGill University

Back in June, I interviewed Charmaine Nelson, a former professor of art history at McGill and now the Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at NSCAD. Over the next several years, Nelson will develop the Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery. In June, we talked about a painting called Portrait of a Haitian Woman, which is on display at the McCord Museum in Montreal (click here to read that article). Nelson suggested reading her website, Black Canadian Studies, where you can also learn about her books on race and slavery in Canada, including Racism Eh?: A Critical Inter-Disciplinary Anthology of Race and Racism in Canada; the edited volumes Ebony Roots; Northern Soil: Perspectives on Blackness in Canada; Legacies Denied: Unearthing the Visual Culture of Canadian Slavery; Towards an African Canadian Art History: Art, Memory, and Resistance; and three single-authored books including The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America; Representing the Black Female Subject in Western Art; and Slavery, Geography, and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica;   and her latest book, Slavery, Geography and Empire. 

Martha Walls is an associate professor in the history department at Mount Saint Vincent. She sent me a slew of resources, including links to Provincial Archives of New BrunswickNova Scotia ArchivesPEI Public Archives and Records OfficeIslandArchivesNova Scotia Historical Newspapers Online,Memory’sAtlantic Canada Portal, Pier 21 Research CollectionsCanadiana Discovery PortalThe Canadian Letters & Images ProjectImages Canada, and Library and Archives Canada.

She also suggested the local website, Historic Nova Scotia, which I wrote about in September. Like Reid, Walls also suggested the blog ActiveHistory, but also the journal Acadiensis, a journal related to Atlantic Canadian History, and NICHE (Network in Canadian History and the Environment), as well as historical societies, including Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society and the Hammonds Plains Historical Society.

Walls ended her list with these thoughts: 

For the record, I would just like to add that as a professional historian it is my belief that removing names/statues that cause people trauma today, does not ‘erase’ history – it is a reflection of exactly what history does, which to constantly assess and reassess our understandings of the past. History has never been static and unchanging — and never will be – this is good news for those of us in the business! (And John A will always be part of the Canadian history I teach). 

I personally enjoy searching my own family history. Several months ago, I found records about my great-grandmother. Her daughter, my grandmother, who for years lived in an orphanage on Quinpool Road, didn’t really know her, and she was a bit of a family mystery until I started digging. 

About four years ago, Halifax-based genealogist Douglas Cochrane researched my Rent family history. He found the first Rent (a Rund, actually) to arrive in Halifax. Adam Rund came to the city onboard the Alderney in 1750. The Alderney was one of Cornwallis’s ships (my family history wasn’t erased when the statue came down).

There are so many local genealogy resources locally and online. Pamela Wile, who’s the secretary of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia sent me a few suggestions, including the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia itself, which Wile tells me has lots of unique records on file that can’t be found online. She also suggested Historical Vital Statics, and Family Search (you need an account to search the site).  

This isn’t an exhaustive list of resources, of course. I just sent out several emails and people responded. It took me no time at all, really, and I could search for hours. Those people who believe taking down statues and renaming buildings is “erasing history” haven’t bothered to do their own research. And maybe they don’t want to, which is worse. 

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On Wednesday, Mary Campbell at the Cape Breton Spectator shared a job posting for an ad for a CBRM Communications/Information Officer 

The deadline to apply for the job was yesterday (although the posting is still online) and I’m curious to know who applied. The posting lists 21 “main functions” for the job. Here they are: 

  • Coordination of communications via the various channels including web, Social Media, and traditional media including coordination with external partners. 
  • Ensure CBRM’s website (CBRM, Police, and Centre 200) and social media channels have regular, quality content posted featuring our diverse programs, services and accomplishments 
  • Development of Corporate Communications Plan 
  • Media monitoring and social media analytics. 
  • Writing and Editing for web, social media, and traditional media to get relevant CBRM information out to the public in the various forms 
  • Create original content for newsletter articles and other written communications. 
  • Proof advertising and other promotional / marketing materials for grammar, readability, and adherence to corporate communications requirements including branding and visual standards. 
  • Provide advice to staff regarding consistent branding. Maintain templates and update style guide to enhance our brand. 
  • Ensure all public facing communications products are readily accessible to our residents and stakeholders. 
  • Liaise with the CBRM FOIPOP Officer in the processing of FOIPOP requests 
  • Providing advice and guidance to CBRM employees on the collection, use, disclosure and protection of personal information pursuant to FOIPOP privacy provisions 
  • Researching and analyzing legislation, OIPC and court decisions, policies and procedures to provide interpretation, advice and recommendations on privacy and security matters in relation to FOIPOP 
  • Developing orientation and training material and deliver sessions on FOIPOP to staff 
  • Work with EMO Coordinator in development of Plans including necessary ongoing communications for EMO 
  • Act as an Emergency Information Officer in event local state of emergency activated 
  • Work with senior CBRM staff in identifying and developing dataset for submission to CBRM’s Open Data Portal 
  • Liaise with external stakeholders in quantifying datasets and presentation of data 
  • Devising technical training programs according to organizational requirements 
  • Prepare training material (presentations, worksheets etc.) 
  • Execute training sessions, webinars, workshops etc. in groups or individually 
  • Other duties as assigned by the Director of Technology or designate. 

Like a lot of communications jobs, this is more than one job (check out the list of knowledge, skills, and abilities). Campbell’s not happy to see many FOIPOP-related tasks in this list. That’s a job of its own. Writes Campbell: 

First, because it’s 2020 and the CBRM apparently has no FOIPOP “orientation and training material” for staff. 

Second, because all of these FOIPOP-related responsibilities are tucked away in a list that includes 17 other “main” responsibilities. 

But chiefly, because, as I’ve noted elsewhere this week, tasking a communications person with interpreting FOIPOP legislation seems like a bad idea. I think it would make more sense to separate the two positions and hire a communications person to handle the municipal Twitter account, etc, and a lawyer whose specialty is access to information to serve as information officer. 

Like the Examiner, the Cape Breton Spectator relies on subscriptions. Click here to subscribe.  

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No public meetings.

On campus


The Mifepristone Policy and Regulatory Journey: Addressing Inequitable Abortion Access in Canada (Friday, 12:10pm) — Wendy V. Norman from the University of British Columbia and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will talk. Zoom link here.

DMAA Alumni Recognition Awards (Friday, 4pm) — the 2020 Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association awards recognize Dalhousie Medical School alumni for their outstanding achievements in research and clinical practice, as well as their contributions to the medical school, our students, and the community. Info and link here.

Cello Masterclass and Q&A With Amit Peled (Friday, 4:30pm) — Zoom link and more info here.

In the harbour

05:00: ZIM Monaco, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
14:30: East Coast, oil tanker, moves from Irving Oil to anchorage
15:30: ZIM Monaco sails for New York
16:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
17:00: Taipei Trader, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Kingston, Jamaica
23:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Sydney


I stepped in and slid on cat barf after finishing this Morning File.

This article was amended on November 20 to correct Sara Spike’s position at the University of new Brunswick.

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Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world devoid of racism prejudice and bigotry as some of the naive among us do? And wouldn’t it be grand if the embarrassing bits of history could placed in a vault of isolation like a virus on a computer,exiled, never to be heard from again. Perhaps a bleach strong enough to brighten the dark side of our collective histories would do us all good.

    We can only erase the recording of history and its tangible and visible mementos, it like the truth is self sustaining. Truth and history converge but rarely touch amid the grey and muddied mist of interpretation and opinion.

    We in the present are without the ability to see the future nor can we view the past. What we can do is qualify the facts on hand we to choose to accept.

    The myriad errors made by our ancestors are exponential in number and cannot be corrected. What is needed is an acceptance of what’s been did and what’s been hid and then push that big reset button and start our history of understanding each other today.

    The time for apologies is over let us build not tear down and live with the ugly and beautiful memories of times past they both have shaped us into what we have become, they are simply memories after all.

  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful “statues are not history” article and the comprehensive collection of resources that unfortunately, most will not access. It drives me mad every time I see the ridiculous complaint that “we cannot tear down our history”! IMHO statues and named institutions were done to hon our an individual and it is the honour that is removed, not the history. For the resources that I have not accessed, I can promise I will look at every one and be ready with a list the next time I encounter the “we cannot tear down our history” crowd. One can never give up. Keep up the good work Suzanne.

  3. I think the board regulating the dental profession needs to answer for what seems like 40+ years of complaints going unrecognized. I’ve seen way too many people say they submitted complaints decades ago and got no reply.

    Should they be trusted to regulate themselves if this is the result?

  4. “not once did a professor suggest we study statues or high schools named after former prime ministers” Love it. I never saw a statue of Sir John A until I was middle-aged, but I learned in grade 4 about his role in Confederation, and gleaned from adult chit-chat that he was a drunk. I did not learn of his involvement in residential schools, etc, until the last decade (date?? – the information crept into my consciousness). It was not taught in public school, nor in either of the two undergrad history courses I took. We can’t rewrite history – it is what it is – but we can surely rewrite the history books.

  5. Suzanne! Great job on the overview of sources for history. I think you did a really good job at pulling all of that together. Having been taught by John Reid and knowing personally a few of the other people you mentioned, as a Certified Genealogist and member of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia and semi-active contributor to local history research in and around Halifax(through my former blog The Old North End and my active website the Prospect Genealogical Website ( I think these reminders are important – the history of Atlantic Canada is deep and rich and varied.

  6. The job losses at News 95.7 are so disappointing. I worry that soon that station is going to be nothing but re-runs of Rick Howe all day and the American CBS sports radio feed all night.

    News and talk radio is an important way for local organizations, advocates and experts to have their voice heard. The Sheldon Macleod show did an excellent job of this. Here’s hoping the barren news radio landscape in this city recovers. It’s essential that we’re able to hear about local news and local issues on our airwaves.

  7. My god the erasing history trope is sooooo disheartening.

    History is vast and deep and if you cut a little below the lily white surface you might be amazed at the amazing stories that (oftentimes literally) bleed brown and black and everything in between.

    Canada was, is and always will be more than Angus L or John A.

  8. Whatever your national/local/family history may be it is always useful to look to the east; especially the middle east and contrast your/our heritage with the lands where human civilization appears to have started. On Wednesday evening PBS rebroadcast the video ‘Hagia Sofia’. The history of Canada is puny compared to that of the the warmer parts of the globe to the east of N America.

    1. And Sir John A’s last name is also spelled with the lower case ‘d’. As my first year Canadian History professor told us, “if you spell it wrong, I’ll know you weren’t in class today”.