This date in history
On campus
In the harbour


1. Nova Star creditors line up


“The operator of the Nova Star ended its 2015 service with at least $800,000 in unpaid bills trailing in its wake,” reports the Portland Press Herald. Unpaid bills include:

➡ Nearly $200,000 is owed to Portland Pilots for past due on pilot services in and out of Portland Harbor since August. Portland Pilots’ claim led to the arrest warrant being issued against the boat Friday.

➡ About $500,000 is owed to an unnamed supplier for bunker fuel.

➡ About $100,000 is owed to the city of Portland for unpaid rent and fees.

➡ $13,000 is owed to a South Portland ship chandler for unspecified services.

➡ An undisclosed amount is owed to a Portland TV station for commercials.

But the creditors are not just a problem for Nova Star Cruises Limited, the company that operated the ferry; the unpaid bills are a problem for the Nova Scotian government and any future ferry operator. As the Press Herald reports:

[Chris d’Entremont, the PC MLA for the South Shore] said Nova Scotians want Portland to be a partner for future ferry services, and it’s important that Maine businesses get paid because they might hesitate doing business with any future Nova Scotia ferry line.

“We’d shoot ourselves in the foot and not have a port to go to,” he said. “That is what I am worried about.”

The boat itself has been seized by the US Marshals service and moved from the international terminal. It is now anchored in the outer harbor.

2. Refugees caught in health care Catch 22

Gillian Zubizarreta advocates for refugee health care. Photo: Facebook
Gillian Zubizarreta advocates for refugee health care. Photo: Facebook

“If you’re on income assistance in Nova Scotia, you’re eligible for pharmacare – unless, that is, you’re a refugee claimant,” reports Moira Donovan.

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3. ’tis the season

One of last year's bogus "candy tampering" cases. Photo: RCMP
One of last year’s bogus “candy tampering” cases. Photo: RCMP

…for what will undoubtedly be yet another unconfirmed case of Halloween candy tampering, this time in Pictou County:

November 2, 2015, Pictou, Nova Scotia . . . Pictou District RCMP are investigating a complaint of a metal object inside a Halloween-size candy bar.

On Sunday November 1, at approximately 1:00 p.m. a 15-year-old female discovered a piece of flexible metal strip inside a small candy bar after opening the wrapper. The youth brought the candy bar and metal object to her mother, who notified Pictou District RCMP. A preliminary investigation has determined that the youth was trick or treating in the downtown area of Pictou on Halloween Night. The youth was not injured during this incident and did not bite the candy bar.

Not one of the recent reports of Halloween candy tampering has been confirmed, and police seem to rather not comment on it because, frankly, who wants to call kids liars? But, well, that’s most likely what’s going on here.  As I pointed out last year:

There has never been a confirmed case of candy tampering in Nova Scotia nor, so far as I can determine, even a report of one before this year. Is it likely that suddenly, all at once this year, five or six people in Nova Scotia suddenly decided to put pins and needles in candy?

And why would that criminal and perverse behaviour be restricted to Nova Scotia and a few small towns out west? Why aren’t there candy tamperers in the metropolises of Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver? Why don’t perverted people in New Brunswick stick needles in candy?


Here in Nova Scotia, the candy tampering reports started with single 14-year-old girl who supposedly found a pin in her candy but instead of telling her mother, put a photo of it on Instagram. I’m guessing that this started as a joke, but the girl quickly lost control of it—”the mother of her friend saw the photo and called police,” Global tells us.

After that initial report, other people—many of them also children—watching the same provincial media reports, started finding needles. All of the incidents were reported by people who could conceivably be watching the CBC Nova Scotia TV news. None of the incidents were reported by people who would likely be watching CBC New Brunswick TV news…

And many of the incidents involved long chains of reporting: the mother of a friend. A neighbour dropping by to visit. Parents eating their children’s candy. All possible, sure, but when the reporting chain gets this long, it’s good to be skeptical.

4. Inquiry council appointed

Premier Stephen McNeil yesterday announced he has appointed the council that will oversee the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children Restorative Inquiry. They are:

— Mike Dull, legal advisor (non-voting)
— Jean Flynn, Premier’s representative
— Wayn Hamilton, provincial government representative
— Shawna Hoyte, community representative
— Joan Jones, community representative
— Jennifer Llewellyn, restorative process advisor (non-voting)
— Gerry Morrison, VOICES representative
— LaMeia Reddick, community youth representative
— Sylvia Parris, NSHCC board representative
— Tony Smith, VOICES representative
— Chief Judge Pamela Williams, judicial representative
— Carolann Wright-Parks, Restorative Inquiry co-ordinating director

VOICES is the Victims of Institutional Child Exploitation Society, the group that represents many of the former residents of the Home.


1. China

Jan Wong talks about China abandoning the one-child policy.

2. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

Re: “One dead in head-on crash on Hwy. 103” (Oct. 31 story). I read it in the paper or hear it on the radio or TV: the reporters say the transport truck driver who survived the collision was not hurt. Wrong. When an oncoming driver strikes their rig, truck drivers are hurt: they have flashbacks for the rest of their lives. Every time they travel on the road or when they close their eyes, they will never get over the tragedy. Never say they are not hurt, because they are. I am not a truck driver, but I do have friends who drive these big rigs, and I pray to God they are safe on the highways near and far.

Stephen Carver, Blockhouse



Public information meeting (7pm, Tallahassee Community School, Eastern Passage) — KWR Approvals wants to rezone eight lots (of 24) of its property at 1818 Shore Road from R-1 (Single Unit Dwelling) to R-2 (Two Unit Dwelling). More info here.


Community Services (1pm, One Government Place) — Marie-France LeBlanc, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, will be questioned.

This date in history

Owen Connor Struan Robertson, the man who saved Halifax.
Owen Connor Struan Robertson, the man who saved Halifax.

On November 3, 1943, Halifax was nearly destroyed, again:

Owen Connor Struan (Long Robbie) Robertson OC GM RD CD DSC was born in Victoria, British Columbia. He went to sea, “below decks” as an Ordinary Seaman with the Canadian Government Merchant Marine.

In 1943, he was commander of HMCS Dockyard and harbormaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

On November 3, 1943, at 0720 hours, an American freighter S.S. Volunteer was on fire in Halifax Harbour. She was loaded with ammunition — 500 tons of light ammunition, 2000 drums of highly combustible magnesium, 1800 tons of heavy howitzer ammunition, depth charges and cases of dynamite.

Twenty six years earlier the French munitions ship, Mont Blanc, blew up in Halifax Harbour killing almost 2,000 people and wounding more than 4,000: 1700 homes were destroyed and 12,000 damaged. Few panes of glass remained in the Halifax/Dartmouth area.

By way of comparison, Mont Blanc was carrying 2,300 tons of picric acid, 200 tons of TNT, ten tons of gun cotton and 35 tons of benzoil. S.S. Volunteer had the potential for disaster equal to the 1917 Halifax explosion.

Robertson boarded the vessel and found that most of the crew had abandoned ship and the officers were drunk. He donned an asbestos hood and oxygen mask and descended into the stokehold where the fire had started. Explosions began in No. 3 hold.

Robertson asked the intoxicated ship’s master for permission to flood No. 3 hold and was refused. “Long Robbie” began to flood the hold and called the United States Naval Liaison officer Lieutenant Commander Stanley. The US Navy arrived, stripped the intoxicated captain of his command, took command himself and turned it over to Robertson.

By this time the fire had spread to No. 2 hold. Robertson called for tugs and had S.S. Volunteer towed to MacNabs Island, where he intended to open the sea cocks and scuttle the vessel off Mauger’s beach in a deep trough.

But first he had to deal with a build up of cordite fumes that could blow any second. He ordered his firefighting party to stack bales of tobacco around the magnesium drums and cut holes in the main deck above the drums. Then he fired a rifle at the magnesium drums —  the resulting explosion snuffed out the fire.

The holes he had cut in the deck allowed the flames and gases to escape. A time bomb had been defused.

For over eight hours Halifax had been on the verge of a second devastating “Halifax Explosion”. Robertson was awarded the George Medal (GM), for bravery in avoiding a devastating disaster.

On campus

There’s nothing interesting going on at local universities today. Just go to the pub.


Watch Comet ISON being destroyed by the Sun:

YouTube video

Explains NASA:

Most comets don’t survive a close encounter with the Sun. Two years ago this month, though, Comet ISON was thought by some to be big enough to withstand its perilous sungrazing dive. The featured video shows the drama as it was recorded by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint mission of ESA and NASA. As many Earthlings watched in fascination, a bright area did emerge from closest approach, but it soon faded and dispersed. It is now assumed that no large fragments of Comet C/2012 S1(ISON) survived.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:20am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:20am Tuesday. Map:

Nanny, oil tanker, arrived at Pier 9 from Come By Chance, Newfoundland this morning
Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, St. John’s to Pier 41
Maersk Magellan, oil tanker, Quebec to berth TBD
Herma P, container ship, Antwerp to berth TBD

Torrens sails to sea


There’s been a noticeable drop-off in local commentary since, oh, mid-summer. I don’t know what happened to David Jones, the Dartmouth historian. Bruce Wark hasn’t posted any media commentary since August. Parker Donham’s heart doesn’t seem in it anymore. Kate Watson seems bored with Dartmouth. My RSS feed reader has been idle for weeks. Even the newspaper columnists are off their game. It’s like everyone got tired of the internet.

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Re your footnote, have noticed same and on a wider scope. On Twitter, there’s been a noticeable decrease in journos posting. Re latter, theorize it’s possibly struggling media telling journos to “stop giving it away,” a practice media unwittingly began in early internet days. Reasons may be many, including ones you’ve suggested; whatever they are, result lessens public information, education, discourse and debate.

  2. Re:Footnotes
    I can only speak for myself here: about 90% of the time, I read HfxExaminer on my iPhone. That means in order to comment, I have to login each time which, if I’m not dying to say something, I don’t usually do (call it digital attention-span or whatever you like). Now, if the Examiner had a mobile device app, one which stored my complete profile (including password), I would comment way more. Just saying’ 😀

    1. In a few weeks, I’ll be considering a revamp of the site, freshen it up, etc. I’ll note your comment.

      I wasn’t writing about commenters *here*, however, but rather in the larger local media and blog world.

  3. Amazing story about Robertson. Sadly, he would have been more famous if he had been less successful at averting the tragedy.

    1. What a wild story, fired a rifle to cause an explosion and snuff out an out of control fire on a munitions ship. That takes brass. Never heard of him until now, thanks for telling the story.

  4. Is there a container ship slowly sinking into the harbour adjacent to the Dartmouth sewage treatment plant?

    1. I assume you’re talking about the Nova Dock, the old floating dry dock that used to be at the Irving Shipyard. It was floated across the harbour last month, and split in two. The first part was shipped off a couple of weeks ago to Argentina, if I remember correctly, and the second part will soon follow.