On campus
In the harbour


1. Library

About 10,000 people showed up for the opening of the new library on Saturday.

2. PEI

Confederation bridge

Starting January 1 it will cost 50 cents more, $45.50, to leave Prince Edward Island. Still free to go there, though.

3. Mumps

Sidney Crosby has the mumps.

4. Laid-off reporters

Chronicle Herald

Friday was the last day at work for the newsroom employees hit by the latest round of layoffs at the Chronicle Herald. The union tells us the reporters, some of whom had worked at the paper for decades, didn’t even get so much as a “don’t let the door hit you in the ass” notice from management:

There has been a whole lot of unnecessary heartache dished out to our newsroom colleagues over the past several weeks, but the fact that NO ONE from Chronicle Herald management could be bothered to come around to thank our laid off/bought out/early retirees for their decades of long and loyal service to the paper is probably the one thing that has hurt the most. Not even a card or an email?

5. Examiner T-shirts and coffee mugs

I’ll be selling Examiner T-shirts and coffee mugs tomorrow, Tuesday, from 4–7pm at Charlies club, 5580 Cunard Street (at the corner of Maynard, behind the old Armoury). Price for either is $20 plus tax ($23 total). But for a mere $7 more you can buy someone a three-month gift subscription and get a mug or T-shirt for yourself for free.


1. Library

Allison Sparling really, really, really likes the new library.

2. Fruit wrappers

Photos: Stephen Archibald
Photos: Stephen Archibald

“This got me thinking about some paper fruit wrappers I’ve saved,” writes Stephen Archibald, giving us insight into his obsessively curious mind. “Most are 30 years old or more but if I saw a nice one today I would put it in my shopping cart. These are the tissue paper squares wrapped around fruit to protect it in transit and to identify the  point of origin and producer. Now that many fruit have PLU stickers the wrappers are rarely seen.”

Shown above are wrappers from Spanish oranges.

3. Anonymous and Nova Scotia Power

If Anonymous really has evidence of corruption involving Nova Scotia Power, why on Earth aren’t they making that evidence public? asks Stephen Kimber.

4. Torture

Dan Leger’s against it. And, he points out, Canada is complicit:

I don’t believe Canadians torture, at least not in the overt way the CIA has. But if we did, the public would never hear about it. Canadian spies would just as gladly lie to Parliament as the CIA did to Congress and ours have even less oversight.

Abuses happen when oversight fails. When nobody is watching, the brutes go to work.

In any case, our current government seems perfectly cool with torture, just not by us. It won’t allow Canadian goons to torture people, but it’s fine with exchanging information with countries that do, like the U.S.A. That’s state hypocrisy.

5. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

…On Dec. 8, many Catholics went to Mass to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. On Dec. 9, The Chronicle Herald had a theatre review by Arts Reporter Stephen Cooke. 

Tom Smith and Jeff Schwager play Santa and Jesus, among other characters in Tom Smith’s Stupid Christmas (For Jerks) at the Bus Stop Theatre until Dec. 14. 

Blasphemy reigns. Tom needs to go back to the Nativity, when the Virgin Mary “got immaculated all up in her lady guts.” 

Will this type of “art” endure, or do we have to endure it? These barbarian bullies, without taste or class, threaten the civility of civilization. 

They might enjoy throwing rocks at the stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral, for example, but these windows are what built and sustained civilization for millennia. Smarten up!

Tom Roach, Catholic Civil Rights League (Antigonish Chapter)



Executive Standing Committee (10am, City Hall)—in February 2006, council adopted “Service Delivery Standards for Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service” and directed staff to “develop a multi-year response strategy for implementation as outlined in the February 6, 2006 Council report and in accordance with the Business Planning and Budget cycles.” And here we are, nearly nine years later, and staff is finally getting around to it.

Accessibility Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall)—here’s the agenda.

Active Transportation Advisory Committee (4pm, City Hall)—no actual action items on the agenda.

North West Community Council (7pm, Bedford Hammonds Plains Community Centre)—the committee will consider the expansion of the Timber Trail Mobile Home Park, adding 24 mobile homes to the park, and the expansion of Hatfield Farm, including a “rubber rodeo attraction building.” You must be 18 years old to attend a rubber rodeo.


No public meetings.

On campus


No public events today.


King’s College

Mark Sampson (Tuesday, 7pm, Wilson Room, New Academic Building)—Wilson will read from his second novel, Sad Peninsula, which was published this year. The novel “takes the reader across oceans and decades, outlining the boundaries between seduction and coercion, between love and destruction, between a past that can’t be undone and a future that seems just out of reach.”


Portrait of Judge Haliburton hanging in the Red Room, Province House.
Portrait of Judge Haliburton hanging in the Red Room, Province House.

Thomas Chandler Haliburton was born on this date in 1796, in Windsor. Haliburton was a descendant of self-important people openly mocked by Fred Cogswell in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography:

The first North American Haliburton had been an obscure wig-maker, but Thomas Chandler’s grandfather, William Haliburton, who had migrated to Nova Scotia in 1761, and his father were both successful lawyers who in later life became judges. Their achievement within an essentially tory system reinforced the political faith of three generations of Haliburtons. This faith was further strengthened by a consciousness of lineage. Haliburton’s grandfather believed that he was descended from the Haliburtons of Newmains and Mertoun on the Scottish border—maternal ancestors of Sir Walter Scott–and although he could not prove it legally, the Nova Scotian Haliburtons nevertheless considered themselves to be gentry because they were of that stock.

The young Thomas was educated at King’s College, then in Windsor:

There an indoctrination into the correct principles upon which the tory Anglican establishment was based was confirmed by his association with the sons of leading professional men in the Atlantic colonies who were being prepared to take their fathers’ places. To this ethos was added the study of Greek and Roman literature; while imparting useful lessons in the form and beauty of language that were later to stand Haliburton in good stead, it provided examples of a society which believed that history was essentially the sum of wars and politics directed by great men drawn mainly from aristocratic families.

Cogswell goes on to explain the economic context of Haliburton’s future life, and perhaps even of Nova Scotia to this day:

The period in which Haliburton grew up was also an important influence. Great Britain’s struggle with France and with the republican United States gave the added stimulus of patriotism to tory attitudes and the stigma of traitor to democratic ones. The advent of peace in 1815, however, left Nova Scotia with an inflated economy and brought an end to the protective colonial policy of the British government which had occasioned upwards of two decades of prosperity.

Haliburton’s response to the economic collapse of Nova Scotia was two-fold. He tried for decades to secure the various political and judicial appointments—”The security—and the spoils—of office then became something precious to be fought for,” notes Cogswell—and eventually landed a judgeship. But Haliburton’s lasting contribution will be the satirical essays he contributed in 1835 to Joseph Howe’s newspaper, The Novascotian, which were then were collected into a book, The Clockmaker or, The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville, first published in 1836.

Sam Slick was an American clockmaker and salesman on “the circuit” in Nova Scotia. Says Encyclopedia Britannica:

The dialogues between Sam Slick and the squire are satirical attacks on the shiftlessness of the Nova Scotians, mobocracy, the levelling tendencies of the age, and Yankee brashness. They are enriched by the tremendous vitality of Sam’s colloquial speech and by his fund of anecdotes and tall tales. Many of Sam Slick’s sayings, such as “This country is going to the dogs” and “barking up the wrong tree,” have become commonplace in English idiom. 


The book became a best seller in the US and Britain, and Haliburton was the first internationally successful Canadian novelist. Before Dickens, Haliburton was the most widely read English language humourist.

I read most of The Clockmaker last night. I could immediately see how Haliburton was, for perhaps the first time, tapping into the then-emerging cultural distinctiveness of America. In some ways, Haliburton strikes me as a proto-Twain, using American idiom and turns of phrase to illustrate the broad, sometimes outrageous, sometimes hilarious, American character.

I wanted very much to like The Clockmaker, and Haliburton got a good start early on in Sketch III, The Silent Girls, with this passage:

I reckon, said the Clockmaker, as he sat himself down on a bundle of shingles, I reckon they are bad off for inns in this country. When a feller is too lazy to work here, he paints his name over his door, and calls it a tavern, and as like as not he makes the whole neighbourhood as lazy as himself—it is about as easy to find a good inn in Halifax, as it is to find wool on a goat’s back. An inn, to be a good concarn, must be built a purpose, you can no more make a good tavern out of a common dwelling house, I expect, than a good coat out of an old pair of trowsers. They are etarnal lazy, you may depend—now there might be a grand spec made there, in building a good Inn and a good Church. What a sacrilegious and unnatural union, said I, with most unaffected surprise. Not at all, said Mr. Slick, we build both on speculation in the States, and make a good deal of profit out of ’em too, I tell you. We look out a good sightly place, in a town like Halifax, that is pretty considerably well peopled, with folks that are good marks; and if there is no real right down good preacher among them, we build a handsome Church, touched off like a New-York liner, a real taking looking thing—and then we look out for a preacher, a crack man, a regular ten horse power chap —well, we hire him, and we have to give pretty high wages too, say twelve hundred or sixteen hundred dollars a year. We take him at first on trial for a Sabbath or two, to try his paces, and if he takes with the folks, if he goes down well, we clinch the bargain, and let and sell the pews; and, I tell you it pays well and makes a real good investment. There were few better specs among us than Inns and Churches, until the Railroads came on the carpet—as soon as the novelty of the new preacher wears off, we hire another, and that keeps up the steam. I trust it will be long, very long, my friend, said I, ere the rage for speculation introduces “the money changers into the temple,” with us. Mr. Slick looked at me with a most ineffable expression of pity and surprise. Depend on it, Sir, said he, with a most philosophical air, this Province is much behind the intelligence of the age. But if it is behind us in that respect, it is a long chalk ahead on us in others.

But in the end, Haliburton left me cold. The joke—and there’s only one: industrious Americans contrasted to lazy Nova Scotians—gets stale. Where Twain is magnanimous, Haliburton is mean. Where Twain finds individuality within stereotype, Haliburton finds only stereotype. Consider this passage from Sketch XII, The American Eagle:

Now the Blue Noses are like that are gall; they have grown up, and grown up in ignorance of many things they had’nt ought not to know; and its as hard to teach grown up folks as it is to break a six year old horse; and they do ryle one’s temper so—they act so ugly that it tempts one sometimes to break their confounded necks—its near about as much trouble as its worth. What remedy is there for all this supineness, said I; how can these people be awakened out of their ignorant slothfulness, into active exertion? The remedy, said Mr, Slick, is at hand—it is already workin its own cure. They must recede before our free and enlightened citizens like the Indians; our folks will buy them out, and they must give place to a more intelligent and ac-TIVE people. They must go to the lands of Labrador, or be located back of Canada; they can hold on there a few years, until the wave of civilization reaches them, and then they must move again, as the savages do. It is decreed; I hear the bugle of destiny a soundin of their retreat, as plain as any thing. Congress will give them a concession of land, if they petition, away to Alleghany backside territory, and grant them relief for a few years; for we are out of debt, and don’t know what to do with our surplus revenue. The only way to shame them, that I know, would be to sarve them as Uncle Enoch sarved a neighbor of his in Varginey.

Update a few of the words and replace the American interloper with “risk-takers, dreamers, doers, and builders” and this could come right out of Laurel Broten’s tax proposal or the Ivany report.

Haliburton had big influence, especially, strangely enough, with regard to American literature. His biographer, Cogswell, tells us that:

It is ironic that Haliburton, the arch-tory, should have become the “father of American humour” in the most democratic sense. The success and popularity of Sam Slick established at the same time the vogue of the folk hero, the man whose ability and humanity do not depend upon education, position, and ancestry but upon his own intrinsic ability to cope with circumstance. Sam Slick, in his vices and virtues, is the epitome of Jacksonian democracy.


During his own lifetime, Haliburton was not valued in Nova Scotia. His books received there the most unfavourable reviews and were not apparently popular or appreciated. This does not mean that Nova Scotians were more sensitive to satire than were Americans and British. They knew him for his social exclusiveness and overbearing ways and for his desire for the privileges of office. Satire, however well intentioned and executed, is not appreciated from objectionable sources. With the appearance, however, of a new generation of Nova Scotians and with the development after confederation of a growing cultural nationalism, something approaching a Haliburton cult began to appear in Nova Scotia. A Haliburton Club was established in Windsor in 1884 to promote the knowledge of Canadian literature in general and of the works of Haliburton in particular.

In the end, Haliburton’s mean-spirit mischaracterization of Nova Scotians may have been too fully embraced by many Nova Scotians. Like Haliburton angling for a crown appointment to office, our present-day stuffed suits are all too happy to ridicule the backwards and lazy populace in order to advance their own self-entitled interests.

In the harbour

The seas off Nova Scotia, 6am Monday. Map:
The seas off Nova Scotia, 6am Monday. Map:

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)


APL Scotland, container ship,, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove West, then sails for New York
Americas Spirit, tanker, to Anchor Bedford basin, to offload Australian Spirit
Atlantic Conveyor, con-ro, New York to Fairview Cove East, then sails for Liverpool, England

Goteland Maryland sails from Imperial Oil
Toscana sails from Autoport


I’ll be selling Examiner T-shirts and coffee mugs tomorrow, Tuesday, from 4–7pm at Charlies club, 5580 Cunard Street (at the corner of Maynard, behind the old Armoury). Price for either is $20 plus tax ($23 total). But for a mere $7 more you can buy someone a three-month gift subscription and get a mug or T-shirt for yourself for free.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 5.05.00 PMGift Subscriptions now available!

This is a special deal good only for the month of December. Buy a gift subscription for someone else (or yourself) and get newly minted Halifax Examiner swag—a T-shirt or a coffee mug. Here’s the deal:

• Buy a three-month gift subscription for $30 and get a piece of swag.


• Buy a one-year gift subscription at the discounted price of $100, and also get a piece of swag.

Click here to purchase your gift subscription. For the three-month gift subscription use the discount code Holiday90. For the one-year gift subscription, use the discount code Holiday365. Once payment is made, we’ll follow up to get details.

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

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