In the harbour


1. The Battle of Mother Canada

Mother Canada™
Mother Canada™

The Vimy Foundation, which was “created to promote Canada’s victory at Vimy Ridge in 1917, wants the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation to stop calling its proposed eight-storey statue in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park by the [name Mother Canada],” reports the CBC:

Sweeney says his group contacted the Never Forgotten Memorial Foundation and asked it to change its name.

That’s when the lawyers’ letter arrived.

“Basically they had trademarked the term Mother Canada and were applying it to merchandise that’s going to be associated with this Never Forgotten monument that’s planned for Cape Breton,” he said.


The Vimy Foundation say it plans to run national ads reminding Canadians there is one Mother Canada and she is in France.

That’s right, there’s going to be Mother Canada merchandise. Class act, this.

2. Rednecks

"Redneck competition" photos from Google, collected by Timothy Gillespie.
“Redneck competition” photos from Google, collected by Timothy Gillespie.
“Redneck competition” photos from Google, collected by Timothy Gillespie.

“A controversy has erupted in Shelburne (Nova Scotia) about plans to have a ‘redneck’ competition as part of the venerable Founders’ Days celebration in July,” reports Timothy Gillespie:

As a self-proclaimed “loyalist” town, settled by middle class whites and free, indentured and enslaved blacks more than 225 years ago, the town has always had mixed feelings about claiming its rightful history. 

The redneck competition idea was offered up at community meetings in 2014 by mayor Karen Mattatall and others and subsequently adopted by the Founders Days Committee, which is sponsored by the Town of Shelburne.


Local businessman and former mayoral candidate Ed Cayer said on Facebook, “The definition of a redneck is slang and a derogatory term for a poor white person, often who lives in the rural Southern United States and who often has conservative or bigoted attitudes. An example of a redneck is a poor, uneducated white person in the South who engages in prejudiced behavior.” More recently, added Cayer, a redneck TV show made headlines because of the bigoted, racist, sexist statements of its main characters. “Featuring this stuff as part of the Founders Days schedule is wrong and someone should remove it NOW! This is not funny stuff.”


The Province introduced a study Thursday which shows that Nova Scotia is struggling to be noticed as a viable business and investment destination in an increasingly competitive world. A local business leader, who asked not to be named, told SCT, “If Nova Scotia is struggling for credibility, how do Town officials and event organizers think promoting Shelburne as some hillbilly haven or redneck retreat think it will affect the Town’s chances of attracting serious people or capital?”

3. Three if by bottle rocket

Halifax police release from yesterday morning:

Throughout the night, several residents of HRM reported hearing what sounded like gunshots. All incidents were investigated and appeared to be the result of people setting off fireworks for July 4th.


1. Haunted

Stephen Archibald has a post about earthquakes in Nova Scotia, but never mind that… he veers off to a story about his grandmother, Mary Davis, born in 1867:

In 1937 she wrote a series of letters to her first grand daughter recounting stories from her childhood. She mentions:

In winter we had sleds and I remember hearing the folks talk about a big earthquake. I told Charlie [her cousin Charlie Bower] “let’s have an earthquake,” so we banged up all the shell ice in the ditch and called it an earthquake and loaded the big pieces on our sleds.”

This is what Mary looked like about the time she was making earthquakes in the ditch:

Mary and doll

…She was living with her grandparents because her father was the captain of a large Yarmouth sailing vessel and her mother accompanied him on voyages. The family story is her parents were away so long that little Mary was uncertain about who these people were when they returned. But they had brought her a fancy French, porcelain headed, doll, so she decided they must be OK.

In the photo she is holding that doll, named Luella.

And, in that giant Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse that Archibald lives in, he’s got, yep, you guessed it, Luella:

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Can you imagine? Talk about your haunted doll… I’m imagining secret tales of terror and madness in the Archibald home, all Luella’s doing. Are there a score of unsolved murders in Bridgetown? Luella. You know those two spooky identical twin girls in The Shining? They’re afraid of Luella.

2. Mills

“[W]ho, or what, killed Mills?” asks Stephen Kimber.

It’s curious. We live in a society that worships the free market, which necessarily involves a kill-or-be-killed business environment. We celebrate “creative destruction” and repeat the mantra that business failure is just a step in the evolution of the market — don’t mourn the closure of the buggy whip factory; celebrate the opening of the Model T factory! Yet whenever a downtown store closes everyone starts pointing fingers, implicitly suggesting that businesses are supposed to stay open forever, and if they don’t someone besides the business owner is to blame.

We saw this with Barrington Street in particular. Louis Reznick evicted an entire building worth of businesses — the profitable Dooley’s and scores of scrappy entrepreneurs and successful nonprofits on the floors above — and left the windows of the place papered over for five or six years. Across the street, Sam the Record Man closed, clearly a victim of innovation in the music industry. Next door, the stuck-in-the-mud Ginger’s Tavern refused to change its business model to meet changing customer tastes and also had to close (hint: Stillwell, which a few years later opened just a few doors down, catering to the craft beer scene, is one of the busiest bars in town). And yet, the prevailing attitude in Halifax was that someone was to blame for the business closures. Lots of people blamed city council, as if council was supposed to order Reznick to keep his building open or pass a law making it illegal for people to download mp3s.

When someone starts paying the blame game for Mills closing, ask them if they actually shopped there.

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

One of my earliest memories as a four-year-old is sleeping on the North Common near the armory, wrapped in blankets. With me, 70 years ago, were my grandparents, my parents and my younger brother, Jim. 

I remember refusing to go to sleep that night until a woman sitting nearby on the grass was also given a blanket to sleep on. A Red Cross worker finally gave her one and then I went to sleep. In the early morning, we walked down the hill to our home after the all-clear sounded. As we descended, I remember seeing a fire boat sailing in the harbour.

That night, a repetition of the 1917 explosion was averted because firefighters were stationed at the munitions depot on Magazine Hill. They extinguished the fire before it could reach an estimated 50,000 depth charges and other ammunition stored there. Had they failed, thousands of Haligonians might have been killed, just as thousands were killed in 1917.

Some DND bureaucrat has made the decision to get rid of the on-site fire department to save a few dollars. 

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Maybe someone in Ottawa will remind this hapless bureaucrat of the temptation he is putting in the way of fate.

Jon Coates, Halifax



Police Commission (noon, City Hall)—nothing much on the agenda, but the chief is having lunch with reporters after. I sent regrets, as I have other business to attend to.


No public meetings.

On this date in 1967, Edgar S. Archibald was appointed to the Order of Canada.

Born in 1885 in Yarmouth, Archibald had to leave Nova Scotia and make a name for himself out west. I adore the Canadian habit of claiming people as Canadian, no matter how tenuous the connection — someone flew over Canada on their way to the States? Canadian. Had a great aunt who owned a summer cottage in Cape Breton? Canadian. I guess as much applies to each of the provinces, which is why Archibald’s name pops up on the provincial calendar today. Anyway, more about him:

Following graduation from OAC [Ontario Agricultural College], Edgar Archibald was a lecturer at the new Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro from 1908-1912 and Dominion Animal Husbandryman at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa from 1912-1919.  During Archibald’s tenure as director of the Canadian government’s Experimental Farms, he expanded regionally-specialized scientific agriculture at new experimental farms in all provinces. Mount Archibald in Yukon Territory is named for him.


Archibald was the director of Experimental Farms between 1919 and 1950 despite numerous changes of government. During this time he strengthened the application of scientific research to agricultural problems. In the inter-war period, 1918 through 1939, which included a post-war recession and the Great Depression, the Canadian government was hard pressed to satisfy farmers’ demands for stable markets and fair prices. The challenge was politicized by the geographic diversity of farm production: livestock, food and feed crops. As agriculture became more industrialized, Archibald supported producers, scientists, processors and manufacturers.

His keen interest in the North American chemurgy movement, a catchy name for chemical engineering and similar to biomaterials engineering in the twenty-first century, illustrates this support. Archibald was a charter member of the Canadian Society of Technical Agriculturalists, now the Agricultural Institute of Canada, which surveyed chemurgic research in Canada in 1941. Under his directorship, agricultural scientists co-operated with scientists at the National Research Council to search for commercially viable products manufactured from farm products and by-products, including paper, building materials, and fuel made from excess wheat straw; antibiotics extracted from soil microorganisms; synthetic rubber from wheat; edible and industrial oils, plastics, glue and flour from soybeans; and countless other value-added commodities.

Archibald assisted in the creation of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, which developed and subsidized soil conservation between 1935 and 1951. When he retired, he worked as agricultural advisor for Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Ethiopia.


Cape Breton Highlander, April 22, 1964.
Cape Breton Highlander, April 22, 1964.
A Highlander article from January 20, 1971.
A Highlander article from January 20, 1971.

Over the weekend I received a delightful email from Katie Campbell, alerting me to her efforts to get the Highlander newspaper fully digitized and online. Explains Campbell:

The Highlander was a weekly newspaper based in Sydney, Nova Scotia and it’s has been described (by the Mysterious East) as the first real opposition paper in the Maritimes, perhaps the first in Canada.

It ran from 1963 to 1976. It was a paper that worked to be the voice of workers, unions, labour, the poor and the progressive in Cape Breton at a changing and difficult time.

The paper was formed and run by the Campbell family, brothers and sisters [Katie’s parents, uncles and aunts], who grew up in the city and were interested in new and evolving ideas that were not necessarily popular at the time. There are stories about environmental concerns, the corporate heavy hand, racism toward the Native and Black communities and Immigrants, Unionism, Religion, Poverty, Affordable Housing and so forth. Issues and language that is familiar to us today. They were well ahead of their times.

Cape Breton has a rich and strong labour history; there were struggles and corruption in the coal mines, steel plant, fisheries, where it was hard for working people to find a voice, and fight against business interests, and the Highlander was front and centre for 13 years. The paper also covered and urged social change from the community. They documented and reflected attitudes on multiculturalism, racism, equal opportunity, cultural celebration and even philosophy in way other papers were not attempting to do at the time.

The headlines and reporting is bold and daring and it is still a good and relevant read today.

Campbell has posted a small collection of front pages from the Highlander on her website, and says she’s hard at work scanning in the rest of the collection. “I have the page 2 with the editorials, but will release them later. Page 2 kind of gets people going,” she says.

All of this will cost money, and in November she’ll launch a Kickstarter campaign to help cover costs.

I’m a big fan of the old radical publications, and I think it’s important to preserve the history of them as best we can. One problem faced by progressives is that their movements aren’t part of the mainstream history, which means that they’re continually re-inventing the movements from scratch. Collecting and publishing that history helps give context to current struggles and provide insight into successful, and unsuccessful, strategies.

I’ve written before about the Fourth Estate, which thankfully is completely archived on the internet.

Campbell mentions The Mysterious East, published in Fredericton from 1969 to 1972:

The magazine’s beginning can be traced to the New Brunswick Supreme Court’s case against Tom Murphy. Murphy, a student/journalist at the University of New Brunswick, was found guilty of contempt of court and spent ten days in jail for writing that the Supreme Court “was a tool for the corporate elite” (The Mysterious East fonds). He made that assessment after attending a hearing in 1968 concerning Norman Strax, a radical professor at the University of New Brunswick who was charged with inciting students over the Vietnam War. The group that would later create The Mysterious East came together to help with Murphy’s defense, and their magazine became a continuation of their activist work.


The fledgling editors of The Mysterious East were Robert Reid Campbell, a graduate student at the University of New Brunswick focusing on the Canadian little magazine and its function in Canadian culture; Russell Arthur Hunt, an assistant professor of English at St. Thomas University who was interested in politics and literature as well as journalism and education; Thomas Peter Warney, a poet, musician, and graduate teaching assistant at the University of New Brunswick; and Donald Cameron, a professor of English at the University of New Brunswick who contributed to a variety of Canadian periodicals and was a commentator for CBC.

Cameron is now the publisher of The Green Interview, among other projects. I’m told the complete collection of the Mysterious East is on microfilm at Cape Breton University, but it very much needs to be digitized and put online.

There was also a radical labour newspaper published in Dartmouth, I believe in the 1950s, but I can’t find mention of it on the internet this morning.

If anyone knows of any other local radical publications, please let me know about them.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Monday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:30am Monday. Map:

NYK Rumina, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove West
Atlantic Concert, ro-ro container, arrived at Fairview Cove East this morning

The cruise ship Maasdam is in port today.


Monday, yep.

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

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  1. My current favourite subversive east coast news source is the Halifax Examiner. It is subversive, east coasty, and currently my favourite. The owner is a disarmingly handsome gentleman, with or without a beard.

  2. Pandora was a feminist newspaper that was published from the mid-’80s into the early ’90s. It was a huge education for many people — including women who had identified as feminist many years before. (I was editor of Atlantic Insight and an enthusiastic volunteer for Pandora.) It was there that many women (I was one of them) were made aware of the enormous gaps between white and black feminism, gay and straight feminism. It wasn’t always pleasant but it was necessary and important.

    Pandora was taken before the Human Rights Commission after being accused of discrimination by a well-known anti-feminist crusader. Pandora refused to publish submissions from men.

    Anne Derrick — now a judge — was our lawyer and we won the case. It took its toll, however, and Pandora folded in 1994.

  3. In response to your request for other publications, the monthly “New Maritimes” edited by Gary Burrill (now running for the NDP leadership) in the 1980s was an important source of investigative journalism and critical commentary and analysis

  4. Katie Campbell’s description of The Highlander reflects its earliest years, when a broad group with diverse views guided the publication. Unfortunately, control gradually shifted to the Campbell brothers, who were ardent Liberal partisans. For the last 3-4 years of its existence, the paper shilled incessantly for the Liberal Party, which was by then the government of the day in Nova Scotia. This was hardly radical, let alone subversive. By the end, it was pro-government, utterly predictable, and boring. Still, it would be great to see it digitized and on line.

    What about New Maritimes, the truly radical magazine first edited by Rev. Gary Burrill, now candidate for leader of the NDP, and later by the late, wonderful Scott Milsom, a genuine radical and just a great, great guy? Has it been digitized online?

  5. The Highlander was a wonderful paper, always getting into trouble. I remember Sandy Campbell, the big, bluff, cigar-smoking publisher, responding to one of his prominent critics with, “What can you expect from a pig but a grunt?” There was a kind of informal network of alternative publications in the region at the time (and beyond the region, too). We at The Mysterious East often ran stuff that had appeared elsewhere (e.g. in The Last Post, in Montreal), and my own writing (I wasn’t Silver yet) occasionally appeared in The Highlander, The Fourth Estate, The Square Deal (in Charlottetown) and The Alternate Press (St. John’s, NL). It was a great period. Keith Davey’s Senate Committee on Mass Media dubbed the alternative press across the country “the Volkswagen Press,” viewing us as a challenge to the mainstream not unlike the challenge to mainstream automakers posed by the Beetle. I think the only survivor is The Georgia Straight in Vancouver. I’m really happy Katie Campbell is digitizing The Highlander. It shouldn’t be forgotten.

    1. The Davey Report is one of my favourite reads. You’d almost think it was written in the 21st century – all the conclusions seem to apply today.

      In particular, this quote from 1925:
      “”Why is The McGill Daily?”
      Asked the pessimist sourly.
      “Thank God,” said the optimist gaily,
      “That it isn’t hourly!””


      “[The student press] have too often ignored the interests of the general campus audience for the
      sake of propagandizing along very narrow lines…. The student press has become increasingly ineffective, for it has increasingly alienated its own audience” and “Newspapers such as The Varsity, The McGill Daily and The Ubyssey have a long tradition of editorial freedom, and an equally long tradition of abusing it.”

      ” Canada’s best student newspapers are still un-‘ professional, shrill, scurrilous, radical,. tasteless, inaccurate, obscene, and wildly unrepresentative of their campus audience”

      This, about the places many of us learned to write.

    2. The Davey Report actually used the popularity of the alternative newspapers at the time to deliver some pretty harsh words about the state of the Nova Scotian media:

      “The Dennis newspapers [the Herald and an evening paper], which are highly profitable, have for years been guilty of uncaring, lazy journalism. This is not merely our opinion.· It appears to
      be shared by a substantial minority of the reading public in Nova Scotia. How else do you explain the remarkable growth of The 4th Estate, a boat-rocking biweekly (now a weekly) that has achieved a circulation of 8,000 in less than a year, and a readership estimated at several times that number? Or that this Committee received more letters from unhappy newspaper readers in Halifax than from any other area in the country? “