In the harbour


1. Evolution is a fact

These concert goers will have to have fun without drugs this year.
These Evolve attendees will have to have fun without drugs this year.

The Evolve music festival will start as scheduled today, after organizer Jonas Colter backed off plans to use drug-testing kits to test the purity of drugs brought to the event. That plan caused Colter’s insurance company to refuse coverage for the festival. “I signed a waiver that says we wouldn’t do any of the sort at Evolve this year,” Colter told Metro.

Without drug testing kits, no one will bring drugs to the festival and everyone will be safe, safe, safe. That’s the logic of the entire war on drugs, and it’s worked so far, right?

2. Sea King

A 2011 Canadian Press file photo of a Sea King training exercise at Shearwater.
A 2011 Canadian Press file photo of a Sea King training exercise at Shearwater.

“A Sea King helicopter is back at a Halifax-area military base after making an emergency landing on a cul-de-sac,” reports the Canadian Press. “Lt. (N) Len Hickey says the helicopter was conducting a routine training flight on Tuesday morning when it experienced a drop in hydraulic pressure in its flight control system. Hickey says as part of its standard operating procedure, the helicopter made a precautionary landing in a cul-de-sac in the Gammon Lake area of Mineville.”

Mechanics drove out to Mineville and worked on the helicopter; then it flew off to Shearwater.

The Sea King is an ancient helicopter, deployed in Canada in the 1960s. The Canadian Naval Review lists “14 major Sea King accidents” through the years involving seven deaths (an eighth, crewman Ron Greenbury, is presumed to have died when he fell out of a helicopter flying out of Shearwater in 1963, his body never to be found), and concludes:

A brief synopsis of the 40-year CH-124 Sea King accident record has revealed so intriguing trends that have characterized Canadian maritime rotary wing aviation throughout its evolution, as well as offered some potential warning signs for future MH operations.   Experienced aviators understand that there seldom are new accident cause factors: simply old familiar ones forgotten through the passage of time, apathy and/or complacency.  Certainly, relative to other air force fleets, the Sea King community has managed an impressive safety record over an extended 40-year operational period, particularly when on considers the inherent low flight profile and hazardous environmental conditions associated with the sea-going role.

There can be little doubt that engines, transmissions and human factors shall continue to challenge future Sea King operations, thus demanding a close and continuous watch over their status on a recurring basis.  Never has the demand for such oversight been greater than the present as the MH community prepares to take delivery of the more highly advanced, sophisticated and capable CH-148 Cyclones.

The Cyclones have never come, however, and so the military continues to fly these dangerous helicopters.

And yet, repeatedly, maybe 10 times a year, Halifax city council approves “flybys” of Sea Kings over community events, where hundreds or even thousands of people are congregated on the ground. I’m not disparaging the military or the ability of the mechanics who work on the helicopters, but this is a disaster waiting to happen.

3. Peggy’s Cove


“The first meeting to discuss tourist safety at Peggys Cove was held Wednesday, and included a small group of stakeholders and representatives from the provincial and federal governments,” reports the CBC.

For a study in callousness, count how many times the words “Darwin” and “stupid” appear in the comments below any article discussing deaths at Peggy’s Cove.

4. Blame the birds

A city press release from yesterday:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 (Halifax, NS) – The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that Black Rock Beach in Halifax is closed to swimming until further notice due to high bacteria levels in the water.

Beach supervisors regularly test the water quality at all supervised municipal beaches during the summer months. Recent test results indicate bacteria levels at Black Rock exceed Health Canada swimming guidelines.

High bacteria levels can be caused by a number of factors, including weather conditions and wildlife, particularly waterfowl. Staff will continue testing until bacteria levels return to normal. The municipality will advise residents when the beach reopens.

Birds, eh? That’s a new one.

Bacterial growth on inland lakes (I guess by definition all lakes are inland) are exacerbated by fertilizer-laden runoff from nearby residents treating their lawns. But an ocean beach like Black Rock? Birds? Really?

What else could be going on? [thinking, thinking] For some reason I’m recalling this 2010 photo from the Chronicle Herald archives:

Photo: Chronicle Herald
Photo: Eric Wynne / Chronicle Herald

5. Drafted

The latest from the absurdist student art project we’ve been following:

Draft Kelly has learned that Peter Kelly will run for the mayor of Halifax in the 2016 municipal election. Kelly plans to take on Savage on issues related to tax breaks for a billion dollar company and his focus on the Halifax core while neglecting all other areas of the municipality. More on this later. Stay tuned!

Kelly was back in town a few days ago and will return for about a week or so near the end of July.

Supporters should also be aware of the fact the Peter Kelly is currently under contract and will not be able to announce an official decision until his current contract expires in early 2016.

This makes me exhausted just thinking about it.


1. Charlene Gagnon

Charlene Gagnon
Charlene Gagnon

Charlene Gagnon, the independent candidate in Dartmouth South, is running a “credible campaign,” says Graham Steele:

She’s got a decent number of signs, which are endearingly hand-made. She’s knocking on doors. She’s writing an interesting blog.

Her statements and positions are as sensible as any other candidate’s.

Steele is discussing Gagnon’s campaign in the context of the iron grip the parties have on the politics of Nova Scotia, and the considerable drawbacks of that system. He continues:

If you’re in Dartmouth South, there are at least three reasons why you might vote Independent.

  • You know Charlene, or you’ve read her stuff, and you think she sounds like your kind of MLA.
  • You support the Ivany Commission’s call for a new kind of politics, and you believe a new kind of politics requires a new kind of politician.
  • You’re inclined to vote “none of the above” to the traditional parties, but since that doesn’t appear on the ballot, you might not vote at all.

I live in Dartmouth South, and this election will be the first I can cast a vote in since becoming a citizen. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but frankly have been thinking about my vote in terms of the message it sends both in terms of a referendum on the past two years of the provincial Liberal government and as a precursor to the upcoming federal election. In other words, I’ve been thinking within the traditional party framework.

On Steele’s recommendation, however, I will take a hard look at Gagnon, before heading to the polling booth Tuesday. Here is Gagnon’s campaign website, her positions, and her blog.

2. Black Battalion

Black Battallion

George Borden of Dartmouth relates the history of the Black Battalion:

On July 5, 1916, halfway through the conflict and after two years of rejecting the voluntary enlistment of black men to serve their country in a time of war, an encampment of just over 600 proud black raw recruits was erected at the then Pictou Market Wharf in northeast Nova Scotia under the authority of a special piece of legislation by the government in power.

I was unaware of this history until discussing the Mother Canada™ proposal with Corey Slumkoski, a history professor at Halifax’s Mount Saint Vincent University, for the Examineradio podcast.

When researching radical publications this week, I discovered the Atlantic Advocate, a Black newspaper published in Halifax during World War 1. There’s remarkably little information on the internet about the paper, but I eventually found a column written for the Kingston Whig-Standard in 2013 by Susanna McLeod. Headlined “A White Man’s War,” it’s worth quoting at length:

“Colored men! Your King and Country Need You!” shouted the headline in the Atlantic Advocate’s September 1916 issue. “Your fortunes are equally at stake as those of your white brethren.”

The brutal battles of the First World War were taking their toll on troops overseas. Battlefronts had become gruesome scenes of bloodbaths as Allied soldiers were decimated in violent skirmishes. Canadians were hit hard. Back home, men of all backgrounds wanted to join the fight for democracy and the right to freedom. Heeding the call to service and encouraged by the African-Canadian magazine, black men enthusiastically opened the doors of military recruitment offices across Canada to volunteer for duty.

They were rejected.

Were the men too young? Too old? Unhealthy? Weak and unable? No. It was something that was only visible on the surface, only skin-deep.

The selection of new soldiers was in the hands of recruitment officers and individual commanders. Headquarters did not intrude on their ability to choose the candidates deemed appropriate for duty. The war, those officers declared, was “a white man’s war.” The volunteers were rejected because they were black.

The reasons given for refusing black volunteers were absurd and repugnant. “Sorry we cannot see our way to accept [Negroes] as these men would not look good in kilts,” claimed the commander of the 173rd Battalion. “We don’t want a chequer-board army,” Calvin W. Ruck quotes a statement given to the Nova Scotia men in The Black Battalion – 1916-1920: Canada’s Best-Kept Military Secret (Nimbus Publishing, Halifax 1987). Worse yet, many white soldiers claimed they would not fight alongside black soldiers.

McLeod explained how Sam Hughes, the Minister of Militia and Defence, disapproved of the discrimination and supported J.R.B. Whitney’s efforts to establish a black battalion. McLeod continued:

On July 5, 1916, the first – and only – Canadian black battalion was officially authorized as a part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Lieut.-Col. Daniel Hugh Sutherland accepted the post as commanding officer of the Pictou, N.S. unit. (Sutherland was a white railroad contractor who had enlisted a few months earlier.)

“Recruitment for the unit took place throughout Canada, with Nova Scotia providing the largest group – a total of more than 300 recruits,” recorded the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in commemorating the No. 2 Construction Battalion, C.E.F., on July 10, 1993. Recruits also joined from Ontario, Western Canada, the United States and the British West Indies.


Preparing for overseas duty, the “Black Battalion” held a parade through the streets of Dartmouth, N.S., led by the segregated unit’s own brass band. “The soldiers all looked so smart,” Ruck quoted Edith Colley’s recollection. “Their buttons and boots were shining, and they were marching proudly and so straight … A day or two later, they all sailed away for France.”

Boarding the SS Southland on March 28, 1917, the No. 2 Construction Battalion sailed initially for Liverpool, England. The troops, numbering 19 officers and 605 men of other ranks, were not permitted to participate in action but instead were tasked with vital support missions. Attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps in France and the border of Switzerland, the men of No. 2 did the hard labour of digging trenches, repairing roads, and performing bridge and rail work. “The unit was commended for its discipline and faithful service while attached to the Forestry Corps,” records the Department of National Defence in “The legacy of a segregated battalion.”

Recruitment dropped off by 1917 and the government took the last resort of enacting conscription with the Military Service Act to replace the thousands of Canadian casualties. Looking to enlist 100,000 more soldiers, commanders and recruiters were now obligated to take black men into the forces. “In a strange twist of events, Canadian military commanders who had earlier resisted the introduction of blacks in the military now complained to headquarters that since the draft ‘a large number of coloured men’ of military service age had absconded to Michigan and other American border states,” writes Sarah Jane Mathieu in North of the Color Line: Migration and Black Resistance in Canada, 1870-1955 (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

McLeod noted that there is a “polished stone monument and plaque” commemorating the Black Battalion in Pictou. George Borden, the Dartmouthian who was cited above, says that’s not enough:

A suitable tribute to the [Black Battalion] is as much a legacy of our Nova Scotian heritage as marking the arrival of the Hector, whose passengers, by the way, likewise first encamped on or near the same site that would become the Pictou Market Wharf.

Nova Scotia is renowned for its recognition of ethnic and cultural histories and traditions as evidenced by the annual multicultural festival, Scottish games and events and First Nations celebrations. [The centennial of the formation of the Black Battalion next July 5] is an opportunity to engage meaningfully in a black historical event that will come only once in our lifetime. I call on all of Nova Scotia to get behind the centennial celebration of the formation of Canada’s Black Battalion of the First World War.

Maybe a 10-storey figurine of a black woman….

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Chronicle Herald:

I find it sad that all across Canada, Superstore has a five-cent charge for plastic grocery bags — but not in the Maritimes. A few years back, both Superstore and Sobeys tried to introduce this charge to reduce plastic waste and help the environment, but so many people complained that both stores backed off.

Are people so uncaring about the environment that they cannot be bothered to bring reusable bags? Are the Maritimes so backward that we have to be the only exception to this national store policy?

Come on, people. Step up and do the right thing.

Sybil Nunn, Lower Sackville



Design Review Committee (4pm, City Hall)—the committee will take first looks at the proposal for the St. David’s Church Redevelopment project on Brunswick Street and the CBC/YMCA project at the corner of South Park and Sackville.

Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (4:30pm, Office and Maintenance Building, Point Pleasant Park)—nothing much on the agenda.


No public meetings.


Yesterday, #DartmouthNurseryRhymes happened on Twitter.

In the harbour

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

CSL Tacoma, bulker, Philadelphia to National Gypsum
Selfoss, container ship, Argentia, Newfoundland to Pier 41, then to sea

ZIM San Francisco sails to New York
Helene J sails to sea
Tosca sails to sea


The trans-Atlantic liner Queen Mary 2 will be in port tomorrow, then will sail on to Boston and New York, where a very big deal will be made:

When the Queen Mary 2 sails into Boston and New York City next week, it will be met by historic ships and vessels to mark the 175th anniversary of Cunard Cruise Line’s first transatlantic journey, which began July 4, 1840.

The Britannia set sail that day to cross the Atlantic from Liverpool to Canada and then on to the U.S. Now the Queen Mary 2 re-creates the voyage. It left Liverpool on Saturday amid a flourish of fireworks.

The ship is expected to arrive in Halifax, Canada, on Friday and in Boston on Sunday. Capt. Kevin Oprey of the Queen Mary 2 will throw out the first pitch of a Boston Red Sox versus New York Yankees game at Fenway Park.

At 9:45 p.m., there will be a fireworks display near Fan Pier.

The ship then sails for New York City and will arrive July 14 at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge around 5:30 a.m. and berth at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in the Red Hook area at 7:15 a.m.

The John J. Harvey Fireboat, built in 1931, will be there to greet the cruise ship (the fireboat will take passengers for free; check the fireboat’s website for details) as well as the Nantucket Lightship floating lighthouse and other vessels ranging from tugs to oil tankers.

As part of the celebrations, the ship’s captain also will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on July 14.

At 9:30 p.m., the celebration comes to a close when the Queen Mary 2 stops in front of the Statue of Liberty for a light show above the ship that will be visible from Battery Park in New York City.

Here in Halifax, welcoming festivities for the Queen Mary 2 will include a bacterial bloom at Black Rock Beach, vendors hawking “East Coast Lifestyle” hoodies on the boardwalk, and tour bus drivers offering to take passengers to drown at Peggy’s Cove.


Headline reference:

YouTube video

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

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  1. Re Queen Mary and Cunard. I happen to have a couple of cousins taking the cruise that is to be in Halifax on Friday, and the passengers are indeed taking part in several events commemorating Cunard. Too bad the locals (other than VIPs) weren’t included. The difficulty of actually finding time to meet up with the cousins is the only reason I know there is anything going on in Halifax.

  2. I voted at my polling place today. First time I have ever received a ballot where you are required to write the name of the candidate, not just check or X a box. What variants might result in spoiled ballots?

    1. That is very different and almost elitist and way to discourage voters and increase the number of spolied ballots.

  3. And here is what is planned for July 10 according to :

    Friday 10 July, Halifax

    09:00 – Outdoor celebration ceremony which will include the naming of public area of the future waterfront development and a performance by the Rhapsody Quinte whose members are also members of Symphony Nova Scotia. Local dignitaries, port officials and key members of the Halifax community will be present on the day. Guests and the general public are invited to gather at the site of the outdoor event in the public space to watch the ceremony.
    During operating hours, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic’s newly restored Cunard exhibition will be open, as well as a brand new Samuel Cunard retrospective exhibit, showcasing Cunard’s founder’s impact on global business, transportation and world events.
    20:00 – Queen Mary 2 will sail away with a festive evening departure, slated to include local navy cadets, with more details to be announced shortly.

  4. The Queen Mary 2 is due back in Halifax on July 16th which will mark the arrival of the ‘Britannia’ in 1840.
    This site has the details :

    ” 1840 July 4

    Britannia Departs Liverpool

    RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Britannia, the first ship built by the new Cunard line especially for the trans-Atlantic Royal Mail service, was launched on 5 February 1840. On 4 July 1840, Britannia steamed out of Liverpool on her first voyage across the North Atlantic, carrying 80 passengers, including Samuel Cunard, and 200 tons of cargo. Britannia was a large ship for that time, 1200 tons, with two steam engines, each of about 350 to 400 horsepower 250 to 300 kilowatts.

    Painting of Britannia at speed Off the Anglesey Coast
    Photograph of a model of Britannia
    Other shipping lines sacrificed safety for speed, and lives were lost. Not a single life was lost on a Cunard ship in the first 75 years of the company’s history — an incredible and unparalleled record. The first disaster his company experienced — the sinking of Lusitania torpedoed by a German submarine on May 7, 1915 — occurred 50 years after Cunard’s death in 1865.

    1840 July 17

    Britannia Arrives in Halifax

    RMS Britannia arrived in Halifax at the end of her first voyage across the North Atlantic. Her Liverpool to Halifax time was 12 days 10 hours, very fast for that time. Britannia was in Halifax only a few hours, then continued to Boston, where she docked on 20 July. Britannia was 207 feet 63.1 metres long, 1200 tons, and was powered by two one-cylinder side-lever steam engines.


    Of course the Black Battalion should be honoured and remembered. But, it is still sad to remember how eager black men were to fight and die for the white man’s right to demean, diminish and exploit them. Which calls to mind the insight: Class consciousness is knowing what side of the fence you are on. Class analysis is knowing who is there with you.

    The men in the Black Battalion seemed to have lacked both that consciousness and analysis. Not much has changed for any of us. Old men still start wars and young men and women are still eager to die in them. More’s the pity.

    Maybe we could crowdsource a drive to fund some way to change that reality–a way that wouldn’t require a Godzilla monument plastered with urgent messages to herald the replacement of democracy with consumption.

  6. Must have watched that movie 20 times when I was a kid. Always in the dark. Loved it!

  7. I’m really glad Charlene Gagnon is running, because otherwise, I would’ve been forced to spoil my ballot. What a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dismal lineup.

  8. Thank you for the article on the Black Battalion. It is very timely. There is an annual event in the Town of Pictou to remember. It coincides with the Pictou Lobster Carnival this weekend. The Memorial will be held Saturday. The size of the event varies from year to year…but it very touching. Thought your readers would like to know.

  9. Happy to hear about the Queen Mary 2 festivities in Halifax. World Class!

    On another note, Charlene Gagnon is for real. I don’t usually pay much attention to Graham Steele, since I really hate disingenuous Why It Wasn’t My Fault books and my eyes glaze over when I hear the words Ivany Report spouted to… (fill in the blank here). If the Ivany thing is so important, why was Ray Ivany not on the ramparts defending the film industry when the Libs stuck the knife in. Anyway, if you want more info about Gagnon check out her speech via She was the only one to give a credible, intelligent (because she agreed with me, of course) speech. As I said she is for real and would be a breath of fresh air in the legislature.

  10. Well, it looks as though we are certainly letting our side down by not welcoming the Queen Mary II in suitable style. Why the omission?

    Cunard was a very important man in these parts..or.. does that not matter today? Let’s hope the passengers don’t notice. I find it sad and pitiful.

  11. I believe that DND has accepted the first six Cyclones, so they are here. Of course they don’t meet all the initial requirements, but one would assume they’ll be better than 50+ year old Sea Kings.