1. Randy Riley trial

A Black man with wire rimmed glasses, wearing a dark shirt.
Randy Riley in the lobby of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Sept. 14, 2023. Credit: Tim Bousquet

“After just three and a half hours of deliberation, a jury has found Randy Riley not guilty for the 2010 murder of Chad Smith,” reports Tim Bousquet.

As the verdict was being read, Riley remained stoic as ever, showing no emotion. He simply turned to his Aunt Betty and silently mouthed “I love you.”

The Crown’s case rested on two very problematic witnesses. Both Paul Smith (no relation to Chad Smith) and Kaitlin Fuller have changed their stories over the years — Paul Smith in a way that cleared Riley of the murder, and Fuller in a way that further implicated Riley in the murder.

Bousquet is back at court at 10am today to make submissions at the publication ban hearing. More to come later.

Click here to read “Randy Riley found not guilty for the murder of Chad Smith.”

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2. A tribute to Barbara Markovits

This item is written by Joan Baxter.

Nova Scotia has lost one of its giants of environmental activism. Barbara Markovits, a member of the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association since 2007, passed away yesterday.

Her remarkable legacy, however, lives on.

Barbara’s colleagues at the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association (ESFWA), put together this tribute:

Barbara cared deeply about the environment. She was a tenacious and shrewd campaigner for environmental protection on the Eastern Shore and Nova Scotia more generally. She was a force to be reckoned with.

She cared deeply about the integrity of the Wabanaki-Acadian forest, and was a leader in the drive for meaningful community participation in environmental decisions. She was a driving force for the provincial protection of the Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area, more than 16,500 hectares of rugged woodlands, lakes and waterways.

In addition to wilderness protection, Barbara campaigned strenuously for the protection of the boreal felt lichen, a particular concern for her, now a Species at Risk, important for monitoring forestry impacts and the protection of wildlife.

When gold mining was proposed for the Eastern Shore, Barbara led the charge in organizing community input to force the regulators to require rigorous environmental safeguards and monitoring measures. When multiple satellite mines were proposed, she dug in her heels and demanded full environmental assessments by the federal government. Her efforts were rewarded when the Moose River gold mine recently shut down and the remaining proposals were put on long-term hold.

But her most recent achievement, maybe her crowning glory, was the saving of Owl’s Head lands, near her long-time Clam Harbour home, from golf course development and, in the process, forcing the provincial government to honour its wilderness protection policy and process.

Of course, these accomplishments were achieved with the help of many others but Barbara was the acknowledged leader, inspiring others in the cause of environmental protection. Ray Plourde of the Ecology Action Centre in a recent card to Barbara summarized it well. He thanked her for her decades of environmental work and her amazing legacy of environmental leadership.

Barbara was a long-time Halifax Examiner subscriber, and a great help whenever I needed insights and background on the gold mines and environmental issues along the Eastern Shore. I first interviewed her by phone in 2018, when I was working on my very first articles for the Halifax Examiner, the Fool’s Gold series looking into the latest gold rush in Nova Scotia, which was co-published with the Cape Breton Spectator.

During that interview, Barbara told me that with the rampant clearcutting, and Atlantic Gold’s plans for four open pit mines in Moose River, Beaver Dam, Fifteen Mile Stream, and Cochrane Hill, the Eastern Shore was becoming Nova Scotia’s “sacrifice zone.”

Barbara possessed encyclopedic knowledge of Atlantic Gold’s (formerly DDV Gold) projects in the province, and had read many thousands of pages of documents the company had submitted to Nova Scotia Environment, since it first registered its open pit Touquoy mine at Moose River for environmental assessment. She was able to fill me in on the history of the project, offer some colourful comments about a couple of the swashbuckling DDV men with whom she had locked horns in 2006 and 2007, and sent me all the comments concerned citizens had made to Nova Scotia Environment questioning and criticizing the mine project and the lax environmental assessment process. In spite of those criticisms, the Nova Scotia government approved the Touquoy mine — the province’s very first open pit gold mine — in 2008.

Since 2018, Barbara and I have spoken many times on the phone or corresponded by email, but I met her only once in person. That is a fond memory that will stay with me until the day I close my eyes for the last time.

The occasion was an open house in Sheet Harbour where Atlantic Gold was showcasing its proposed open pit gold mine at Fifteen Mile Stream in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary. I followed her around the venue in Sheet Harbour, as she made her way — a silver-haired woman moving slowly with a cane, and a mind sharp as a steel trap and a wit to match — from one display board to another, studying each and then expertly and effectively challenging the Atlantic Gold employees and consultants about the details missing from their posters, demanding to know why there was no cumulative environmental assessment for the four open pit mines the company wanted to operate on the Eastern Shore.

Barbara was, as her Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association colleagues write, “a force to be reckoned with.”

Barbara’s graveside service will take place at noon today, Friday, Oct. 6, at the Clam Harbour Cemetery at 3651 Clam Harbour Rd., Lake Charlotte. After the service there will be a celebration of Barbara’s life until about 4pm at the Deanery Project, 751 W Ship Harbour Rd., Lake Charlotte. All who knew and loved Barb are invited to attend.

ESFWA chair Karen Schlick tells the Halifax Examiner that the association will be celebrating its 25th anniversary at the Deanery Project on Oct. 22. On that day they will remember Barbara’s life and legacy with a tree-planting ceremony for her.

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A bright yellow and green COVID test box with a positive test in front of it.
A positive COVID-19 test. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

On Tuesday, I wrote this COVID update after chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang gave a briefing on respiratory illness and the fall vaccination rollout. I asked about testing, specifically if rapid tests are still available. Strang said not everyone who has cold or flu symptoms has to test anymore, and only those who are high risk can get a PCR test.

Today the first respiratory watch will be released, with one published every second Friday in October, and then weekly after that. But I wondered if not many people who have cold and flu symptoms are getting PCR tests, how accurate will the data in the report be about the overall picture of COVID in the province?

I contacted the Department of Health and Wellness. Here’s the response I received from Khalehla Perrault:

The public health surveillance system uses available indicators to understand the overall picture of what’s occurring in the province. We do not need to capture every case of a notifiable disease to prepare for potential surges or to monitor the severity of the disease. Monitoring cases, outcomes, and influenza-like illness visits to emergency departments all play an important part in informing public health action and response.

I know people who are still at least using rapid tests; I keep some at home and personally would like to know if what I have is a cold or COVID.

So, we will see what the respiratory watch says today. I’ll update this Morning File when that report is out.

As Strang mentioned at the briefing, flu and COVID vaccines will be available at various stages throughout this month. You can visit this website to book an appointment.

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4. Nova Scotia Power to pay more for Muskrat Falls under-performance

A map showing the various transmission components that connect Muskrat Falls to Nova Scotia. Credit: Emera

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

The NS Utility and Review Board has doubled to $4 million a month the penalty imposed on Nova Scotia Power for failing to receive all the promised hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls.   

Paul Withers at CBC reports “the UARB reviewed one year of monthly deliveries ending this spring and found they fell short of the 90 per cent target six times. In three months, the 90 per cent target was reached by using makeup electricity.” 

When Nova Scotia Power has to buy replacement fuel to make up for not receiving cheaper renewable hydro from Labrador, those fuel increases drive up power rates for ratepayers. The $4 million a month that the company would have used to pay down the $1.6 billion cost of building the Maritime Link — an underwater transmission cable that continues to bring hydroelectricity from Newfoundland to Cape Breton — must now to be diverted to pay for higher replacement fuel costs. 

In the long run, this should help ratepayers. The issue is whether that is sufficient, considering Muskrat Falls has overpromised and under delivered since 2018. A software problem with the Labrador Link transmission system between Labrador and Newfoundland, which is partly owned by Emera, has been blamed for those delays and under deliveries. 

A consultant hired by the consumer advocate argued the current penalty on Nova Scotia Power should be increased from $2 million a month to $6 million a month. Nova Scotia Power’s position before the UARB was that the penalty should be eliminated because deliveries of Muskrat Falls energy have improved significantly in 2023. Withers quotes Emera spokesperson Dina Seely: 

While the decision includes an increase in the holdback amount, it also emphasizes the recent strong performance and customer benefits of the Maritime Link.

Seely told CBC News this year the Maritime Link has delivered more than one million megawatt hours to Nova Scotia, equivalent to 115% of contractual requirements, and over 250,000 megawatt hours of additional market-priced energy. 

But those recent improvements were not enough to convince the UARB the penalty should be dropped. The regulator remains concerned about the impact on ratepayers of higher fuel costs because deliveries of Labrador hydro have been and may continue to be unreliable. In a written decision, the three-person review panel stated: 

In the board’s opinion, a much longer period of consistent performance is required to show that the Maritime Link is providing energy at levels which were originally contemplated. 

The $4 million a month penalty will remain in place until Nova Scotia Power receives 12 consecutive months of Muskrat Falls energy at 90% of what was contracted plus an additional amount at market price. 

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5. Cell phone service dead zones

A green road sign that says Ecum Secum standing along a rural highway. There are lots of trees in the background.
Photo: Halifax Examiner

“More than 1,000 kilometres of primary road and slightly under five per cent of civic addresses in Nova Scotia are in dead zones for cellphone service, according to a report commissioned for the province and released to CBC under access to information,” reports Shaina Luck with CBC.

It’s an issue that Public Works Minister Kim Masland acknowledges causes her concern as a safety issue and an economic drag.

“Cell service is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity,” Masland told reporters following a cabinet meeting in Halifax on Thursday.

The report on cell service found 21,143 civic addresses in the province had no service, out of a total of about 461,000. Civic addresses include all homes, businesses and facilities in the province.

The report was commissioned by the Crown corporation Build Nova Scotia from an outside company and delivered in July 2022. 

It found Cumberland County, Guysborough County, Halifax County and Inverness County all have more than 2,000 civic addresses without service.

According to the report, more than 1,010 kilometres of the primary roads across Nova Scotia have no cell coverage.

I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone who lives in or who has visited rural areas of the province. Luck interviewed Sue Amberg who lives in Ecum Secum about the lack of cell phone coverage there. Amberg started a petition to get a cell tower on the Eastern Shore. I interviewed her about this in August.

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6. Cogswell

A construction site is seen from above on a sunny day. In the background, there's a bridge.
Work on the Cogswell interchange redevelopment project is seen on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023. The trench in the centre shows the new alignment of Barrington Street. Credit: Zane Woodford

Street closures around the construction at Cogswell will start on Oct.18 and will run in two phases. HRM detailed the closures in a press release on Thursday:

When Phase 1 begins, Cogswell Street, from Brunswick to Barrington streets, will be closed from October 18 to June 2024. Residents may detour via Brunswick, Duke or Cornwallis streets. To view the Halifax Transit routes that will be re-routed, visit our website.

During Phase 1, crews will work on mass excavation, installing underground services and the construction of a new detour road that will open in conjunction with the beginning of Phase 2.

When Phase 2 begins, a new detour road connecting the new permanent Cogswell Street to Barrington Street (north) will open. Barrington Street, from the former Cogswell Street intersection to Duke Street, will be closed from June to December 2024. Residents may detour via Upper Water or Cornwallis streets. During this closure, the Halifax Transit Terminal on Barrington Street will be temporarily relocated.

During Phase 2, crews will work on mass excavation, installing underground services and the construction of a new transit terminal.

Last month, Zane Woodford reported on expected delays for Halifax Transit because of the Cogswell construction.

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Fashioning Acadians: discovering an ‘incredibly beautiful diversity’ through small clothesmaking artifacts

A historic illustration showing four women making clothing in a room with shelves filled with fabric.
An image from Fashioning Acadians. Credit: Fashioning Acadians/McGill-Queen's University Press

Hilary Doda teaches in the costume studies department at the Fountain School for the Performing Arts at Dalhousie University, and has a PhD in the fields of dress studies, material culture studies, archaeology, and Atlantic history.

She’s also now an author. Her book, Fashioning Acadians: Clothing in the Atlantic World, 1650-1750, will be released on Oct. 31.

For her research Doda spent hours in a lab in Dartmouth studying artefacts from four Acadians sites in Nova Scotia: the Melanson Settlement just outside of Annapolis Royal, Belle-Isle Marsh, Beaubassin (near present-day Amherst,) and the Fortress of Louisbourg. With those artefacts, Doda was able to sketch out a larger picture of how the Acadians dressed and what their lives might have looked like.

I interviewed Doda about her book and her research on Tuesday.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

A smiling white woman with a reddish-brown bob hairstyle wearing glasse and a black shirt under a black blazer. There is a bookcase of books behind her.
Hilary Doda. Credit: Contributed

Halifax Examiner: What got you interested in Acadian fashion?

Hilary Doda: I was interested in dress studies first. I did costume studies as a student and I worked in theatre, but I have always been fascinated by the visual messaging in clothing. I knew I wanted to do my graduate work on fashion. When I moved here from Ontario about 20 years ago, I hadn’t actually learned anything about the Acadians in my Canadian history class in high school. I moved to Nova Scotia and I realized there was so much I actually didn’t know yet about Canadian history. I started reading about the Acadians and their story really resonated with me. I’m Ashkenazi Jewish from an Eastern European background and I’ve always felt a connection with other diasporic communities; people who have been displaced, been deported, had to reinvent themselves in new environments. When it came time to start working on this research project, I realized I really wanted to look into what we had from prior Deportation and see if I could learn something new about the Acadians.

HE: What did you learn about the Acadians through clothing? 

HD: Diversity. The public perception of Acadians before the Deportation tends to run along sort of similar lines. We have this idea of a more homogenous peasant community, lots of striped skirts, that sort of standard imagery. And what I learned through the research I did, through archaeology particularly, is that the settlements were growing in slightly different directions. That there’s actually this incredibly beautiful diversity to pre-Deportation Acadian life and a lot of it was shaped by the environments and the politics of the different settlements, and partly how close they were to authority, whether it was French or English authority.

HE: What items were available to study? Buttons, shoes, buckles, pieces of material?

HD: Our soil is so acidic that no fabric has actually survived, which is a huge problem. Part of what I studied was ‘Is there a way to figure out the clothing they wore from other bits of stuff left behind?’ It turns out we can. In the book, I propose ways we can use the sewing equipment, the buttons, the cufflinks, and jewellry to create the garments mentally, ways we can pick out the edges of the garments and see the ghosts of the garments that used to be there. We have lots of pairs of scissors, which are really neat. Far more embroidery scissors than I expected to find, and that was a huge thing for me because we have this image of the pastoral peasant and a lot of subsistence level activity. But what I actually found were a lot of beautiful pairs of embroidery scissors, which are works of art in and of themselves, but also definitely used for leisure activity and decorative activity, which was fantastic.

HE: How do you go from that ghost image you mentioned to actually figuring how what the fashioned looked like? Do you draw that on paper?

HD: I’m not really an artist. I’m incredibly lucky my husband is an artist, so he can do these things for me. His art is in the book; he recreated some of the artefacts we weren’t able to get good photographs of. I work predominantly with the theory, coming out of historical archaeology, called entanglement, which was the brainchild of Ian Hodder. He describes ways you can figure out interactions between objects and people, even when you’re missing some of them, because of the way they push and pull on each other. If you have one thing, you can extrapolate other things from it.

What I found in a lot of these small findings from archaeology sites, as well as through some of the documentation, were lots of little bits and pieces that suggested, as a whole, certain garments. One of them, which was found in a garbage pile at the Melanson site, was a bone that was described originally as a bone needle. But what it actually is is a bodkin, which was used to lace things. So, you’d put the lace through the eye and you would use this as essentially the way to quickly lace a bodice back up. That strongly suggests there was a woman on site who owned this bodkin who probably made it from cattle they owned; it was made from cow bone, so it was made locally. This would have been something she would have carried on a daily basis to lace and unlace a bodice, especially if she was nursing, so you could get in and out of it quickly.

When we did the accumulation of those little bits and pieces like that, you can start to figure out, well, I’ve got these lacing rings, I’ve got this bodkin, I’ve got this little pile of buttons that were found in the same place, and these needles. Here’s a piece of a thimble, and here’s a shoe buckle, let’s start to assemble what the outfit in between might have looked like. Supplement that with some documentation. We have some descriptions, not from Acadians themselves, unfortunately, but from British and French authorities who were talking about the Acadians. They had their own biases built into these descriptions, of course.

The cover of a book called Fashioning Acadians: Clothing in the Atlantic World, 1650 to 1750. The cover is black and has gold font for the title with pins replacing the letter i in each word. There are golden scissors, buttons, needles, buckles, and other sewing accessories. The book is by Hilary Doda.
Fashioning Acadians: Clothing in the Atlantic World, 1650 to 1750, by Hilary Doda. Credit: McGill-Queen's University Press

HE: So what did the fashions look like for Acadians in communities that were closer to those authorities?

HD: What I saw at the Melanson site were more elaborate, decorative elements than I expected to find and more elaborative and decorative elements than I found at places like Belle-Isle Marsh, which is predominantly a farming community. So, the Melansons had brass spur buckles and paste gem cufflinks, fancy brass cufflinks, and Melanson had some jewellry at that site, including this wonderful heart-shaped badge, which would probably have been a shoe decoration. More richer items, more expensive items than I expected to find, but also items that strongly indicated middle-class European-style clothing. 

At the French site, we predominantly have inventories rather than artefacts from Louisbourg because the site had burned down, it was resettled, there were people living in the houses over different periods of time. We do have some archaeological evidence, but what we predominantly have from there that we don’t have from the other sites are written inventories of the belongings of a number Acadian women who married French officers.

There is a real indication they were trying hard to fit into aristocratic French society. There were hoops skirts, which we don’t see anywhere else, but were very much in French fashion, but you don’t often see in colonial wear. A lot of silk gowns as well, and Indian cottons, which are fascinating in and of themselves because they were banned in England for quite a while, but they were not banned in the colonies. It’s one of those wonderful situations where they could get access to certain things at Louisbourg that weren’t actually available in the big cities in Europe.

HE: What does all of this work tell you about the lives of Acadian women?

HD: Mary Beaudry is an archaeologist who wrote a brilliant book called Findings: The Material Culture of Needlework and Sewing, which was the basis for my interest in small archaeological finds. She posited in this book that you could take little bits of this stuff that we tend to ignore at archaeological sites — the pins, the sewing needles and things — and construct meaning out of them. I took some of her theories and used that when I was looking at a lot of this evidence.

One of the things she found was that at colonial sites, each homestead tended to have one pair of scissors. I found a vastly different result at the Acadian sites. We generally had one pair of big scissors, and then smaller scissors, one for each female member of the household. What that suggests to me is that we had a huge amount of communal labour taking place. We’ve got daughters with their own sewing kits. We’ve got the women of the households with their own sewing kits. Archaeologist Marc Lavoie, who was a supervisor I worked with very closely, he’s consistently found sewing kits tucked away under the front door stoop of Acadian homesteads that he’s excavated, which suggests they did their sewing in public areas.

What we’ve got is this image of women coming together to do the making, to do the mending, to do the decorating in these groups, which would also be the gossip circles, and the ways to maintain relationships between families, between neighbours, between generations. You’re teaching the little ones while you’re reaffirming your connections to all of those around you, which is something you really need when you’re in an early colonial space and trying to set up households.

HE: And probably a way to share ideas on designs and so on.

HD: Absolutely. We know they’re getting inspiration as well from their Mi’kmaw connections. There is some language that comes in terms of some names of some of the dyes and things that arrived from Mi’kma’ki. Perhaps Mi’kmaw wives, perhaps men who have married into Mi’kmaw families coming back with some of this information and language and communicating it to people working with textiles and dye in their own families.

HE: What would have been some of the other local influences?

HD: There are lots of things that are related to the immediate environment they found themselves in. We do know there is moccasin use, for sure, but we also have evidence of European-style leather shoes. We know from descriptions they are wearing sabots, the wooden shoes. What we’re likely seeing is adaptation based on the physical environment.

An old illustration of three women in dresses with bodicies showing the clothing from three different angles: side, front on, and back.
Bodices from Garsault. Credit: Fashioning Acadians/McGill-Queen's University Press

HE: Do you know if those designs stayed around after Deportation or if they influenced other cultures?

HD: We know there is a certain amount of stuff that stuck. One of these things is a very specific Acadian weaving technique, which is known as a barber pole or a barber pole twist. That’s a particular technique where you end up with a twisted fibre, a white twist around another colour in a weaving pattern. That’s something we found in Acadian weaving in Louisiana, in Quebec, in other places the Acadians went after the Deportation. They kept the same styles, so it must have developed here prior to the Deportation for all these different groups to have taken it with them.

HE: What do you think was lost with Deportation?

HD: We lost so much. Each of these communities were developing their own method of non-visual dialect, essentially. Their own ways of engaging with their environments, the people around them, deciding who they wanted to be and what they wanted to present. And then you have this incredibly violent event that destroyed entire communities. You have survivors, of course, but nothing will ever be the same. Those who did come back, came back with other influences. They’re going to pick up ideas from Louisiana, Quebec, and New Brunswick. They’re going to come back with all these ideas to add onto what they kept, but you’re not going to evolve the same way anymore because too much is different.

HE: What do you think the clothing says about the larger story of Acadians in Nova Scotia?

HD: They were absolutely deeply connected to not just Nova Scotia society, but to the Atlantic world. Even farmers were bringing in interesting things from elsewhere. They’re bringing in pottery, crystal, they’ve got jewellry, they’ve got pieces of art in their homes, and they’re engaging in this proto-capitalist society of the early-modern period to an extent I don’t think I realized. They are aware of the fashions of the big cities, they’re interested in the fashions of the big cities, and they’re wearing those fashions, but in different respects in different regions.

In Beaubassin, we see more code switching; there’s more evidence of folks wearing working-class clothing as well as the fancy stuff. At Melanson, you see more of the fancy stuff. At Belle-Isle, they tended to be fairly practical, except for some of the embroidery. There are variations at different settlements, but overall it speaks to the connection they’ve got to France, as well as to places like Louisbourg, Boston, and Montreal.

HE: What do you want people to get from your book?

HD: We need to pay attention to the small finds at archaeological sites. Big finds are fantastic. We all want to uncover some kind of massive building complex. But things like the pins and needles actually have a huge story to tell on their own. And dress history is vitally important to integrate into our understanding of history because it opens up new venues for understanding people, what they’re doing, who they are trying to impress, and what they’re trying to say to themselves and each other.

And Acadian society before Deportation had an incredible amount of things happening. It was a diverse, complicated, beautiful series of communities that were going in some interesting ways.

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No meetings

On campus


Piano Noon Hour Recital (Friday, 11:45am, Strug Concert Hall) — with students from the Fountain School of Performing Arts

Joy of Jigging (Friday, 2:30pm, Studio 2, Dalhousie Arts Centre) — Jeanette Kotowich will lead this Métis inspired movement masterclass exploring the dance’s relationship with fiddle music

On the Choice and Freedom of a Transnational Migrant: European Trajectories of Soviet Jewish Emigration during the 1970s and 1980s (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain Building and online) — Denis Kozlov will talk; more info here; Teams link here

In the harbour

Ships will be posted later.


Have a great Turkey Weekend.

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

Joan Baxter is an award-winning Nova Scotian journalist and author of seven books, including "The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest." Website:; Twitter @joan_baxter

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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