1. Fish kills

Photo: Eric Hewey.

“Digby Neck fishermen say unusual weather and tides is the simple explanation for the dead herring people are seeing on the beaches of southwest Nova Scotia,” reports Jonathan Riley for the Digby Courier:

“This isn’t anything man is doing, this isn’t any illness or poisons or toxins in the environment,” says Royce Elderkin, a fisherman from Little River on Digby Neck. “There is simply a massive amount of herring in the bay and later than normal.”


Elderkin says he is no expert, but he has fished his whole life, like his father and grandfather before him.

“This is an unprecedented amount of herring, no one has ever seen anything like it and when we get those big winds, the herring are squished up against the shore and they suffocate in the shallow water, and when the tides go out, it leaves them up on the beach,” said Elderkin.

Another fisher, Jason Denton, blames warm water:

Denton figures the warm water this summer and fall kept the herring in St. Mary’s Bay longer than normal and in greater numbers.

And then when the big winds of fall swept in, the fish were trapped and crushed by the sheer number of fish.

“The bay is the warmest it has been in a long time, that kept the herring here eating plankton is my theory, and then the winds, these are biggest winds we’ve ever experienced for a fall – so you get these massive schools of herring close to shore, they run up on the beach, they use up all the oxygen and they smother out,” he said.

So, maybe we’re back to climate change?

2. No news is bad news: Examineradio, episode #94

“I think an investigation is required at what’s going on at the Chronicle Herald. You basically have proprietors tearing apart a company … completely degrading a product.” – Ian Gill

This week we speak with author Ian Gill. An ex-pat Australian, Gill cut his teeth as a journalist with the Vancouver Sun in the 1980s before moving on to produce documentaries for the CBC.

In his 2016 book, No News is Bad News: Canada’s Media Collapse — and What Comes Next, Gill explores the decimation of the newspaper industry — including right here in Halifax. He also looks at new journalistic ventures and enterprises around the world and wonders which of them might be a good fit in Canada.

Also, we look at how the white elephant currently sitting half-built on Argyle Street could’ve ended up in a better-suited location where the Cogswell Interchange sits.

[iframe style=”border:none” src=”//” height=”100″ width=”480″ scrolling=”no” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen]

(direct download)
(RSS feed)
(Subscribe via iTunes)

3. Halifax Poor House fire

The Halifax Poor House after the fire. Photo: Nova Scotia Archives

Steven Laffoley, the headmaster at the Halifax Grammar School, has written a book, The Halifax Poor House Fire: A Victorian Tragedy, about the 1882 fire, which killed 30 residents of the house. Zak Markan, writing for the CBC, explains:

Laffoley’s book explores the fire, the furious public outcry that followed, the investigation and the “shadowy bias woven into the fabric of the city” that let those responsible for the deaths get off scot-free.

Nearly 400 people, so-called “inmates,” were sleeping in the huge Victorian structure when flames tore though the building.

Fire burned the building to the ground, taking with it those who could not escape on their own.

4. Firebomb

From the end-of-shift email police send to reporters:

Central Division members were called to the 6000 Block of Chebucto Road at 1130 PM in relation to a residence on fire.  Upon arrival, officers learned the house was deliberately set by an unknown white man who pulled up in a white sedan and threw an incendiary device igniting the building and drove off down Quinn Street. Forensic Identification Officers and Arson Investigators are currently onscene processing the evidence. The investigation is continuing and when more information is known it will be released. Although the building was occupied by adults and children, some who were sleeping, there were no injuries reported.

5. Old Coast Guard base

An architectural rendering of our glorious future.

The province this morning issued a tender for demolition of interior spaces in the Old Coast Guard base in Dartmouth, which evidently is full of asbestos and lead paint. The remodel of the existing building is to make way for the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship, which sounds to me like just another way to give rich people more public money (“entrepreneurship” is the tell), but we’ll wait and see, I guess.


1. Who is Joseph Boyden and does that answer matter?

“What does Boyden’s recent outing as someone other than what he has claimed to be say about his ability — and his right — to speak about indigenous issues?” asks Stephen Kimber. “And what will all of that ultimately say about the body of literary work Boyden has created… now that we think we know this new truth about him?”

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.

2. Tiny stuff

Stephen Archibald’s storeroom.

“I support minimalism but also enjoy being surrounded  by pockets of visual richness,” writes Stephen Archibald, the guy who must save everything he’s ever touched in a Hangar 51-like storeroom. Continues Archibald:

It occurred to me that one solution might be to just have small stuff that didn’t take up much space. This got me looking around the house to see if I could test the theory and be amused at the same time.

Quickly a couple of dozen intriguing, diminutive, but useless items were assembled. Perfect for adorning a desirable, tiny house or my future corner in the Golden Age Facility. For scale in the photo there is a camera memory card in the lower right corner.

Photo: Stephen Archibald

3. Cranky letter of the day

To the Charlottetown Guardian:

I need help with the new math. Last month our light bill was $116.73. This month it is $176.30. 

The cost per day in November was $3.63 per day. In December it was $4.79 as per statement, an increase of $1.16 per day for a 32-day billing cycle.

Multiplied by $1.16, it should equate to approximately $37.12, plus HST of $5.57 for an increase of $42.69. So, $176.30 minus $116.73 equals $59.57. Right?

My old school math must have became twisted up somewhere along the way.

Red MacKenzie, Morell 


Local Xpress photographers have collected and published some of their best photos of 2016. “They built the galleries themselves with no template for presentation or what to say, so each gallery is a little different from the others — which is somehow better anyway,” explains the unnamed web editor.

It’s worth the time to page through the photos to see the kind of quality work we’re missing from the Chronicle Herald. My take:

Gerard Mitchell, police commissioner for Prince Edward Island and a retired chief justice, releases the results of his independent review into the 2005 death of three-year-old Samantha Mercer during a news conference in Truro. Photo: Ingrid Bulmer

Ingrid Bulmer has a knack for the portrait, capturing and framing faces in a way that evokes the emotion of the scene.

Photo: Tim Krochak

“Due to the year-long strike between the Halifax Typographical Union and the ‘paper that shall forever be nameless,’ it’s the first time in 25 years that I haven’t been a a staff photographer at a daily newspaper,” writes Tim Krochak. “The year 2016 had its share of beauty, oddity and tragedy, this is a collection of some of those moments.”

Photo: Christian Laforce

Christian Laforce excels at the action shot — hockey players against the boards, a conductor leading a choir, or (above) Canada’s Denis Shapovalov celebrating a point during Davis Cup play.

Photo: Ryan Taplin

Ryan Taplin has been around since at least the old Daily News days, and now seems to be everywhere — at sporting eventsat the courthouse, or (above) at Gord Downie’s Secret Path show.

Photo: Eric Wynne

There’s a quality to Eric Wynne’s photos that I don’t quite know how to categorize. Whether it’s a mural painter in the moment; a convict hiding her face; or (above) Linda Bolton and her four-year-old daughter, Maria, involved in “an epic water gun fight” at the Halifax Common, their faces revealing an emotional world I’ve never visited, Wynne manages to distill complex stories into a single shot.

Photography is a science and an art. It takes a training and a lifetime of practice to be able to produce the kind of photos that the photographers above produce.

There’s no way to measure the worth of a photo — two photos can’t be compared against each other, there’s no way to assess the photographer’s productivity, no labour-saving shortcuts that can be demanded from budget-cutting managers. And yet, there is value in a news photographer. Newspaper owners used to know this instinctively — it wasn’t just the news stories and advertising that gave the paper heft when it landed on the subscriber’s porch; it was quality that was in large part conveyed through presentation, including through the photos of professional photographers.

But in the age of stupid and short-sighted newspaper owners, that quality and heft that cannot be measured are increasingly considered valueless and so tossed out. Like the Irving papers before it, the Chronicle Herald wants to do away with its professional photographers and replace their work by having reporters take pictures with their iPhones.

Let me tell you: reporters with iPhones are no replacement. First of all, it is impossible to accurately follow and report on a news event and take photos at the same time. Secondly, and more importantly, even if it were possible, reporters don’t know the first thing about taking photos that matter — not from a technical standpoint, and certainly not from an artistic standpoint.

We rightly mourn the loss of hundreds of reporting jobs across Canada and the devaluing of the professionalism of reporting, as those remaining few with jobs are over-tasked, not given the time or resources to properly investigate stories, and find their jobs reduced to producing 300-word blurbs and listicles geared not to telling important stories but rather for SEO maximization. Alongside that loss, however, is a parallel loss in the professional news photography that once brought poignancy, intelligence, and beauty right to the breakfast table, but which has of late been reduced to a simple filler, a substance-less break for readers who can’t handle a block of text. We are the worse for it.


No public meetings.

On campus

Come back, students!

In the harbour

Them’s a lot of ships. Map:

3:30am: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for Liverpool, England
Noon: Cape Brasilia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Beaumont, Texas
1pm: Palena, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy


I needed the long weekend. Back at it…

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

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. Anyone know where the best (i.e cheapest), secure, dead space storage (paper mainly) is in NS? Proximity to HRM nice but not vital. Up to 2k sq. ft?

    Not any chain storage units.

  2. Re: Demise of news photographers

    Thanks for raising this. The loss of photojournalists is truly a loss to journalism. Contrary to what Mark Lever says, not anyone can take a picture anymore than just anyone can write a news story.
    We have had some great news photographers here in Halifax. Their names hardly get mentioned, but their work is integral to the continuing creation of history. They are highly skilled and talented and specialize in a highly refined form of communication. I have had the priviledge of working with many great news photographers over the years. I was a reporter/photographer in my early years and a darn good one, but never as good a shooter as a real pro. The list is long, but some of those I will mention in addition to the list of people currently on the street thanks to Mark Lever include: Al Eastman, Bud Delaney, Jack Cusano, Lee Wamboldt, Terry Waterfield, Peter Parsons, Albert Lee, Mike Cregan, Leo Wrobleski, Len Wagg, Bob Brooks, Shirley Robb, Rosemary Eaton, and many more who are of equal or greater prominence. I invite others to add to this list and help us realize what we are losing by not having dedicated, trained and professional photo journalists.

  3. Re marine – apply a filter and show only tankers, the red arrows.
    And then do a close up to show the two large tankers shuttling Alberta crude from Montreal to the St Romauld refinery. The 75,000 ton dwt ships, built in Croatia, are Quebec owned with Quebec crews and carry 2 pilots each way.
    I won’t mention the chemical tankers on the St Lawrence and Great Lakes.

  4. For “the age of stupid and short-sighted newspaper owners,” read, “the age of the internet,” and “the breakneck transition from an economy of scarcity to an economy of unimaginable abundance.”

    Railing against the venality of newspaper owners may feel righteous, but it sheds no light.

    1. Parker Donham….I am starting to think you are a troll working on behalf of the above said newspaper owners.

      1. The problems for legacy media poised by the internet are obvious. But you know what? They’ve been obvious for 15 years (at least) and the owners have repeatedly made the same mistakes over and over again– trying to compete on the internet without a workable revenue model, while simultaneously taking value away from their dead tree product by giving their product away for free on the internet and reducing the quality of the printed page, reducing it to tabloids, firing photographers, etc.

        Were I the owner of a legacy dead tree paper, I’d do one of two things: I’d either give up on the dead tree completely, downsize to a much-reduced staff while giving the laid off decent severance packages, and go to a subscription model using what was left of the professional staff I had inherited from more prosperous times, OR I’d forego the internet completely, and double down on the dead tree, guard my copyright tightly against people posting copy on the web, and concentrate on turning the paper into a work of art, with high-quality graphics and photos and long-form journalism with gigantic blocks of text. I’d want the dead tree to be a collector’s item, something people would search out for precisely because it wasn’t available online.

        1. Those are good strategies. I like the idea of an artful paper that’s exciting to see and collect.

        2. The Guardian has tried everything, including demeaning what was once a great newspaper by publishing click-bait articles which would never have seen the light of day prior to the last decade. I read the paper starting in the 60s and the writing was of a greater standard than today. I read the online edition everyday and the good parts are often excellent. The Observer always had great photographers and Jane Bown was known around the world, outstanding black and white photos :

        3. I would happily pay five or ten bucks for a weekend edition of a dead-tree newspaper under that model.