News

1. Pandemic update: 100th Nova Scotian dies from COVID-19

Graphic: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

A woman in her 70s has become the 100th person to die from COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. The woman lived in Nova Scotia Health’s Western Zone where a recent outbreak of the disease occurred at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville, but the Department of Health has not said if this most recent death is related to that outbreak. (UPDATE: Nova Scotia Health confirms that the 2 recent COVID deaths in the Western Zone, including the death announced on Tuesday, are NOT related to the outbreak at Valley Regional Hospital).

The province announced the death Tuesday along with seven new cases of the virus — all in the Central Zone — bringing the total known active caseload in Nova Scotia to 134. Ten people are in hospital with COVID-19; one of those people is in ICU. Tim Bousquet had the update. 

The century mark is a grim milestone, but the overall outlook of the pandemic in Nova Scotia remains positive. The province had 0.72 cases per 100,000 people yesterday — more than half of what Ontario saw the same day — and 77.9% of all Nova Scotians have received two doses of the vaccine. So, we still appear to be on the right track.

Also, now that we can look back at the past 18 months from a relatively good place, we might remember that 53 people had died at Northwood alone before we were even in three months into the pandemic. In the year-plus since that tragedy, there haven’t been that many COVID-related deaths provincewide.

Still, I’m sure that’s little solace to those who’ve lost friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues over the past year and a half. It is worth remembering where we were at the start of this thing and how far we’ve come.

For more info on vaccination numbers, case demographics, testing, and all things pandemic-related in Nova Scotia, check out Tim Bousquet’s full report from Tuesday here.

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2. Halifax regional council passes second part of Centre Plan

A map showing the Centre Plan area with colour-coded zones denoting the types of buildings permitted. — Screenshot/HRM

It’s been about 15 years in the making, but last night the Centre Plan got a whole lot closer to being a reality.

Last night, Halifax regional council unanimously passed Package B of the Centre Plan, the second and final part of the plan that will shape development and design in Halifax for the foreseeable future. Zane Woodford reports:

The plan rezones all of peninsular Halifax, and urban Dartmouth, generally consisting of the area within the Circumferential Highway. The idea is to add thousands of units in that area, the regional centre, where there are already services like water, sewer, roads, and transit. It also disposes of the outdated and inconsistent planning rules that have long drowned HRM’s planning department in one-off development agreements and unpredictable approval processes.

“There was no clarity on what sort of development we wanted where, and it turned every single project proposal into a neighbourhood by neighbourhood fight over every one of them. It sucked up resources, and I don’t think it produced very good outcomes for community or for developer,” Coun. Sam Austin said before Tuesday’s vote.

“With the Centre Plan, with the stitching together here of the second half of it onto Package A, we have closed the door on that era.”

The vote to pass the plan took place at City Hall Tuesday night, during a public hearing on the package. Thirteen people got up to speak, one of whom, Woodford notes, was just nine years old when the idea for the Centre Plan came into being. Some speakers voiced their concerns about the second part of the plan and how it will, among other things, address the environmental impact of the built environment and limit building heights for new developments. Most of the speakers were on board with the second part of the Plan.

I had the Halifax Regional Council meeting’s virtual broadcast on in the background while I was writing last night. Any time I sit through those meetings, even from the comfort of my own home, I am thankful we have Zane Woodford to sum it all up for us after. I mean, this thing went on longer than that baseball game last night.

If you’d like to read Woodford’s full recap of how the plan was passed, and what that means for Halifax, you can do so by clicking on this link right here.

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3. Atlantic Gold agrees to pay $120,000 to the Nova Scotia Salmon Association for breaking environmental rules, but the Salmon Association refuses to take it

Atlantic Gold Touquoy open pit gold mine in Moose River Photo: Joan Baxter

Atlantic Gold’s legal dealings continued yesterday.

First, a refresher. You might remember that Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia has already appeared in provincial court seven times this year on 32 environmental charges laid under the Nova Scotia Environment Act, all related to the company’s open-pit gold mining operation at Moose River and gold exploration at Fifteen Mile Stream on the Eastern Shore. The company has so far failed to enter a plea on those charges laid back in September 2020, as the Halifax Examiner reported on October 23, the day after the most recent court hearing. Atlantic Gold is also facing three federal charges under the Fisheries Act.

Now, Joan Baxter has more news on the company’s legal struggles in her article published Tuesday afternoon:

The Crown prosecutor handling the environmental prosecution against Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia, an affiliate of Atlantic Gold, has reached a tentative plea deal with the company.

The deal: Atlantic Gold pays a $5,000 fine to the government, and makes a $120,000 donation to the Nova Scotia Salmon Association (NSSA).

You may be asking, why the NSSA? The Examiner spoke with Mike Bardsley, executive director and member of the executive of NSSA, who had this to say:

To the best of my knowledge, it was the Department of Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change that made a suggestion to the Crown prosecutor… And the Nova Scotia Salmon Association was brought up as a group who would have suffered the most damage and then potentially be the most threatened by the actions of Atlantic Gold. And so we were put forward as a potential recipient of the donation and the fine.

(The Examiner has asked Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change if the department put NSSA forward as a recipient of the donation, and will add an update to Baxter’s article when the they respond).

The NSSA, and the 21 affiliate groups it represents, aren’t interested in taking any money from Atlantic Gold. Bardsley told the Examiner:

The value of the watersheds that are being threatened, the West River Sheet Harbour and especially the St. Mary’s River far exceed any kind of six-figure donation or penalty.

Also concerning to the NSSA, according to a notice to their affiliates, they say Atlantic Gold wanted to see the funds used for physical habitat improvement, and be updated and informed on how the funds were being used. Bardsley says the NSSA and its affiliates agreed that they would not take any money with conditions attached to it. Further than that, he said the association is “very, very reticent to accept any money from organizations that are working against the health and well-being of those watersheds.”

The NSSA has also opposed Atlantic Gold’s planned open pit gold mines for Beaver Dam and Cochrane Hill, where a great deal of work and money has gone into river and salmon restoration.

As always with these mining stories, there’s a lot to dig into here. You can get all the details in Baxter’s full article. It’s for subscribers only. If you’re not a subscriber, but you’d like full access to this type of comprehensive reporting covering what’s going on around your province, you can subscribe right here.

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4. Protests that block hospital access banned

The Victoria Building at the Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in July, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

The Canadian Press is reporting that Nova Scotia has now officially banned protests that block access to hospitals and other health care facilities.

The legislation was introduced earlier in the month following anti-vaccination protests outside hospitals.

The Protecting Access to Health Services Act passed its final reading Tuesday and “establishes a 50-metre ‘safe access bubble’ around hospitals and other facilities, such as doctors’ offices, where protests won’t be permitted.”

Union picket lines will still be allowed outside health facilities under the new Act. The Canadian Press had previously reported on union concerns over limiting protests. From an Oct. 14 article:

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin and NDP Leader Gary Burrill both expressed support for the idea behind the legislation, but they said they needed to evaluate the bill further before staking a position.

However, both said they wouldn’t support a law that would also prohibit health workers from setting up union pickets during labour disputes.

“People have a right to collective bargaining and a right to protest, and I think that is foundational to our democracy,” Rankin told reporters.

Obviously, protecting staff and patients from harassment is the intent here, not preventing workers from organizing outside their jobsite.

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5. New cabinet

Sean Fraser

The new federal cabinet was announced yesterday.

In a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Justin Trudeau is quoted saying, “Canadians need a strong and diverse Cabinet to deliver on their priorities and keep Canada moving forward for everyone. This team will finish the fight against COVID‑19, deliver on $10-a-day child care, help Canadians find a home of their own, tackle the climate…” ah, why bother including the rest.

As Trudeau’s government heads into its third “mandate,” here are a few highlight facts regarding the new cabinet:

  • There are 38 ministers (not including Trudeau) in the new cabinet. Half men, half women.
  • Anita Anand becomes the second woman, after former PM Kim Campbell, to become defence minister. Harjit Sajjan moves to minister of international development.
  • Mélanie Joly becomes foreign affairs minister
  • Environmental activist Steven Guilbeault will become environment and climate change minister as Canada prepares to attend the UN climate change conference in Glasgow at the end of the month
  • Jean-Yves Duclos becomes health minister as the country continues to deal with what is hopefully the tail-end of the pandemic
  • And Central Nova MP Sean Fraser was appointed as new minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.

You can find a full list of the new cabinet members at this link. 

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Views

Baseball and the right side of the brain

There was a baseball stadium on the Wanderers Grounds in the early 20th century. Photo: NS Archives

Yesterday was the start of the World Series.

Are you still reading this? I promise baseball’s almost done for the year so I won’t have the chance to write about it again for many months. And I’ll make this brief. Just bear with me here.

While I was watching Atlanta beat up on the most-hated team in the American League, I thought of a recent episode of Ideas I listened to at the start of the week.

In the episode — itself an adaptation of a TV doc — they look at the work of Dr. Iain McGilchrist, who argues that modern society has put so-called left-brain thinking ahead of right-brain thinking, which has led to massive technological innovation and financial gain, but has allowed human relationships and society to suffer. (That’s my over-simplified version; it’s a really interesting listen, even if the jury’s still out on the science).

Here’s what McGilchrist has to say about the two sides of the brain:

The left hemisphere’s goal is to enable us to manipulate things, whereas the goal of the right hemisphere is to relate to things and understand them as a whole. Two ways of thinking that are both needed, but are fundamentally at the same time incompatible.

We behave like people who have right hemisphere damage.

[The left side of the brain] treats the world as a simple resource to be exploited. It’s made us enormously powerful. It’s enabled us to become wealthy, but it’s also meant that we’ve lost the means to understand the world, to make sense of it, to feel satisfaction and fulfilment through our place in the world.”

You can look at how we’ve treated the environment through that lens. Same with our idolization of the economy or how social media companies have designed their platforms to increase profit at the cost of mental health and societal trust.

But even something as simple as baseball’s been touched by this lack of right-brain thinking, as McGilchrist calls it.

Players have become more specialized, to the point that pitchers are asked to play a fraction of the game so that they only throw their “best stuff,” never forced to show off their athleticism and push through tight jams and tough innings. Soon, it’s likely that pitchers won’t have to hit anymore in either Major League. Pitchers are traditionally horrible at batting, something that always made the game interesting. Managers had to work around this weakness in the batting lineup. Leave your pitcher in and hope he has a few more good innings? Or take him out and send a better hitter up for one crucial at-bat. Likely next year there will be a designated hitter in the national league. Someone who only bats, doesn’t even field, making the game more homogenous.

Moneyball may be a great book/movie, but the way of thinking portrayed in it, making statistics and analysis the God of the sport, has made it less interesting. Why do something exciting like steal a base or bunt when just trying to hit a home run every time is apparently more effective.

There’s a problem of financial disparity — it truly is a sport woven into the fabric of America, isn’t it? — that’s hurting competition and destroying smaller clubs. There’s a legitimate reason people hate the Yankees and the Dodgers. Owners won’t consider profit-sharing, and the leagues could eventually suffer as a whole for it.

Technology has allowed managers to cheat — see the 2017 Houston Astros — and it’s brought in replay, slowing the game to snail’s pace and changing the way the game is called. If I beat you to the base by two feet, safe, but take my foot off a centimetre for a millisecond, something that can only be picked up in slow motion, zoomed all the way in, I’m out (Phillip Moscovitch wrote a bit about this a few months back — who else?). Not exactly the spirit of the game, in my opinion.

The game has lost a lot of its beauty. And it’s definitely lost its balance, as more and more specialization leaves less variety of plays (only homers, strikeouts and walks — plays in which the ball isn’t even fielded).

And Major League Baseball increasingly finds itself in a crisis. A crisis of viewership, boring gameplay, and a lack of parity within the league.

And I chalk so much of it up to that relentless pursuit of efficiency and perfection. Every call must be perfectly made so replay has to come in and add time while removing drama, hitters should only swing for the fences because exciting plays are too risky, etc.

It’s funny how much the game’s reflected American society over the years. From the integration of the game with Jackie Robinson in the 1940s, to the labour disputes of Curt Flood in the 1960s.

It looks like a game frozen in time, but it’s always changed with the times. Always making little tweaks to ensure the exciting, human side of the game isn’t lost. Now, it has to do it again.

Like I said earlier, you can apply that domination of left-brained thinking — of taking numbers in a vacuum over real people — and apply it to areas like the environment, economy, housing, social media etc.

Baseball’s just an example that springs to my mind because, well, I watch a lot of it. Despite my frustration with it.

The point of the game isn’t just to game the system to win, but to create a system where the play is beautiful and competitive. Where teams are balanced and players, management and fans are all rewarded. Major League Baseball obviously isn’t the only institution that needs to take a look at the bigger picture. A little right-brained thinking would do us all good.

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Noticed: Halifax 150 years ago…

Now that the second part of the Centre Plan has passed its second reading, we’ve got a new policy that will shape Halifax for years to come. But before we look to the future, let’s take a look back, shall we?

I found this book in the stacks of my local second-hand shop this week:

Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

It’s one of the earliest collections of photographs we have documenting the streetscapes of Halifax. The photos were taken 150 years ago by Joseph S. Rogers and reprinted in 1971 by the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia from a private collection. In the book’s foreword, written by L.B. Jenson, it says that little is known about Rogers. He owned a photography studio on Barrington and was one of 10 photographers in Halifax at the time he took these shots. Other than that, the Public Archives of Canada only state that “in 1870 he had a fair credit rating and a business worth under $2,000.” What a legacy. I hope people remember me for my financial standing one day.

Anyway, the photographs depict a Halifax that is simultaneously familiar and unrecognizable. Of the time these photos were taken, L.B. Jenson wrote:

Overhead wires and motor-driven vehicles have not arrived on the scene, for this is one of the last years of the old era. The modern economic and social world is about to be born. Within five years the telephone, electric light, the phonograph and the gasoline engine will be invented, with all their implications for the following century.

Maybe in 2171, people will look back at photos of Halifax now and be surprised to see gasoline engines and overhead wires…or Lower Water Street…but let’s not go there right now.

After sifting through the 100 or so photos, many of them ads for old businesses, the rest shots around HRM, I have a few big takeaways.

Here’s Granville Street:

The corner of Duke and Granville, looking North. The future home of NSCAD. Photo: Joseph S. Rogers/NS Archives

And the same shot from a different angle, looking at what is now a Boston Pizza on the corner.

Granville Street, where Boston Pizza now sits. Photo: Joseph S. Rogers/NS Archives
Granville street block, west side. Photo: Joseph S. Rogers/NS Archives
Granville Street 1871. Photo: Joseph S. Rogers/NS Archives

Here’s the current view of Granville Street looking south:

Granville, looking south. Photo: Google Maps

And looking north:

Granville, looking north. Photo: Google Maps

To be fair, there’s not enough description of the final two photos of Granville Street in 1871 for me to place them. They use address numbers that don’t exist anymore. Maybe there’s a part of Granville that’s always been under construction and Rogers just chose not to shoot the area with a giant cement parking garage. Plus, the NSCAD section is still pretty charming.

Speaking of the Centre Plan, in Package B there’s some interesting notes in the section on heritage buildings. My first thought on heritage buildings is, at what time is a city supposed to be frozen in time? For Halifax, the consensus seems to be any time in the 19th century. While I’ll admit there are some beautiful buildings from that time, I always find it strange that a city’s character should be defined by one era. People have lived on K’jipuktuk for a long, long time. Do we preserve some of the traditional structures of those native to this land? What would that look like?

The Centre Plan has this to say:

The Municipality may support the preservation, celebration, and development of diverse and inclusive cultural resources in the Regional Centre by continuing to highlight, build, and broaden the inventory of cultural resources in the Regional Centre to be more inclusive of Mi’kmaq First Nations, Urban Indigenous, African Nova Scotian, Acadian, and other diverse cultures and communities.

Here’s a photo with the dated caption: “Indian encampment at Tufts Cove.”

Photo: Joseph S. Rogers/NS Archives

Tough to preserve the culture of that area now, I suppose.

The Tufts Coves power plant smokestacks in the distance above Halifax Harbour. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Northwest Arm looked gorgeous in 1871, still with plenty of room for infilling!

Photo: Joseph S Rogers/NS Archives

The prison on Melville Island, however…

Photo: Joseph S Rogers/NS Archives

Is long gone…

Photo: virtualglobetrotting.com

And transit was different back in the day.

That’s the old Livery Stables on Hollis Street. Horses would pass by the hotel on the other side of the street every 10 minutes, according to the ad attached on the back of this photo. If true, they were actually more reliable then the bus today. I’d say bring back the horses, but the Lancers Stables smell bad enough — always makes me think of home when I pass by — plus the hill in downtown Halifax could not have made for an easy trot for those animals.

There are a lot of street photos showing horses and dirt roads. I think those two items really standout in a lot of these pictures. The lack of electric scooters is a bit jarring too.

I’ll finish with a couple quick ads from the day. Most of the ads in the book are selling sewing machines, hardware, or piano-fortes. But there are some more interesting ones.

For instance, at one point, the YMCA really was for young Christian men apparently…

I say take out that swimming pool on Sackville Street and get that library and reading room back on the go for prayer meetings and Bible classes.

And as for Alexander Keith’s…

Photo: Joseph S Rogers/NS Archives

It seems that his India Pale Ale took a little while to become his signature brand.

I also prefer Porter.

Lastly, here’s an ad for an old shoe and boot manufacturer.

The Blundstone company was founded in Tasmania in 1870, so this was a pretty bad time to get into the boot-making game in Halifax. I’ll assume they went out of business whenever the first Aussie tourist of the 1870s hopped off the boat with a fresh pair of black Blundstones. The city never looked back from there.

That’s all. Get out there and take some pictures for posterity, Nova Scotia.

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Government

City

Wednesday

Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm) — via YouTube

Thursday

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 3pm, City Hall) — agenda here

Province

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Rossetti-Watson Travel Scholarship Exhibition (Wednesday, 12pm, Exhibition Room, School of Architecture) — the findings of six Master of Architecture students who received a scholarship for thesis-related travel and research

Safe Space for White Questions (Wednesday, 2pm) — This is a series of free, public, monthly drop-in sessions that are open to all but aimed at people who identify as white and are interested in working toward collective liberation. Come ask the questions about race, racism, social change, and social justice you wondered about.

This event will be live-streamed via Fernwood Publishing’s YouTube channel.

Destigmatizing the impact of trauma and PTSD (Wednesday, 2:30pm) — Session 6 of the Moral Courage: Dallaire Cleveringa Critical Conversation Series. This conversation focuses on the stigmatization of trauma and PTSD, which continue to be difficult topics to talk about for both individuals and communities. But stigmatization has a price, since prolonged time to diagnosis can impact the efficacy of treatment. How might we best destigmatize these injuries so that we can help people recover and minimize the impact?

Register here.

Multifaceted Role of Transcription Factor EB in Breast Cancer Pathobiology (Wednesday, 4pm) — Logan Slade will talk. Get the link here.

Thursday

Rossetti-Watson Travel Scholarship Exhibition (Thursday, 12pm, Exhibition Room, School of Architecture) — the findings of six Master of Architecture students who received a scholarship for thesis-related travel and research

Re-envisioning leadership (Thursday, 2:30pm) — Session 7 of the Moral Courage: Dallaire Cleveringa Critical Conversation Series. This conversation asks participants to consider what approach to leadership is needed in our current context. What can we learn from examples of moral courage to inform the future of leadership? What are some strategies to effectively teach moral courage? Register here.

Saint Mary’s

Wednesday

Communities, Conservation and Livelihoods (Wednesday, 12pm, LI 135, Patrick Power Library) — author Tony Charles discusses his new and freely-available book  which “focuses on the role of local communities, around the world, in conserving their environment while sustaining their local economies and livelihoods.” Register here.

Thursday

Treat Accessibly (Thursday, 1pm, SMU Quad) — Pick up a free lawn sign, and read these tips to make your home more accessible for trick-or-treaters. More info here.

5th Annual National Retail Innovation Awards (Thursday, 4pm) — online celebration; register here


In the harbour


Footnotes

Another book on display at my local second-hand shop that I will likely never be able to shoehorn into a Morning File, but deserves recognition all the same:

Seen in display case of my local book store. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

Stay classy, Wolfville.


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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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  1. Thanks for the wonderful profile of Halifax 150 Years Ago as revealed in the works of Joseph S. Rogers and published as a facsimile edition of ‘Roger’s Photographic Advertising Album of Halifax’ (1871) by the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia in 1970.

    For your reader’s information, Rogers had actually arrived from Maine, U.S.A. in his early twenties in 1851. After apprenticing with a local photographer, Isaac Parish (and fellow American), he later set up his own photographic shop in May of 1863 called The People’s Photographic Gallery. At the time, he was one of seven photographers in the city – soon to be ten. As a relatively new technology, photography had shown up in Halifax in 1842.

    Like any new business, Rogers had to attract customers in a competitive environment. He decided tp create the before-mentioned Rogers’ Photographic Advertising Album, Halifax, N.S., featuring pictures and advertisements from many prominent businesses in Halifax. The album was met with great success and sold out quickly.

    In viewing Rogers’ album, one becomes aware of a bygone era – Canada was just four years old and the United States less than one hundred. In the images, overhead wires and motor-driven vehicles have not yet arrived. But the railway had. And within five years, the telephone, electric light, the phonograph and gasoline engines would also be invented and forever change the world that Rogers had captured in 1871. His album is recognized as one of the few visual records of Halifax’s architectural heritage of pre-confederation streetscapes in the downtown core – little of which exists today.

    Following the death of his wife, Margaret Hanna (neé Martin) in December 1873, Rogers sold The People’s Photographic Gallery and his inventory of over 7,000 negatives, and moved back to Maine, where he later remarried and took up farming. He died at the age of 58. Less than 300 negatives of Rogers’ photographs currently survive, largely held by the Nova Scotia Archives.

  2. I’ve given up on baseball (at least at the MLB level) and it’s liberating – I recommend it.

    I grew up on the early-80s Expos, with my mother teaching me how to score games while we listened to Dave Van Horne & Duke Snider radio broadcasts on CFCB. I was an absolute fanatic of the game for decades. But for many of the reasons you point out, Ethan, the game has changed for the worse. I can’t be arsed to watch four hours of Ks and home runs with fielders standing around with nothing to do but scratch themselves and spit.

    As for this year’s World Series, I’ll take the cheatin’ Astros as the lesser of two evils. The team from “Atlanta” clings to a racist nickname and a racist chant while fleeing the actual city for a new home in the wealthiest, whitest exurb they could find… in a cushy new (taxpayer-funded, natch) stadium. And they trotted out Travis Tritt to sing the national anthem last week, fresh off his anti-vax tour.

    And as a topper, here’s the MLB commissioner from last night re: the “Tomahawk Chop” chant:

    “We don’t market our game on a nationwide basis. Ours is an everyday game. You’ve gotta sell tickets every single day to the fans in that market. And there are all sorts of differences between the regions in terms of how the teams are marketed. … The Native American community in that region is wholly supportive of the Braves program, including the Chop. For me, that’s kind of the end of the story. In that market, we’re taking into account the Native American community.”

    The “Native American community” he references is a solitary band who happen to be a corporate sponsor of the team. The actual Native American community across North America has loudly denounced it for decades.

  3. the prison on Melville island still exists. its storage for the Armdale yacht club.
    the bottom Granville street photo is taken from George st. the ex RBC building, occupies the block to the right. the tallish building on the far back right corner is the split crow.

  4. So naive to think that any kind of a plan will prevent our cadre of robber baron developers from doing exactly what they want to do. Time will tell, but I doubt the Centre Plan will make much difference to the onslaught of McBuildings being slapped up wherever there is an old building to be demolished and relegated to history as seen in those 150 year old photos.