On campus
In the harbour


1. Ships Start Here


“The cost of a new hydraulic steering system installed as part of the Bluenose II restoration is now in the range of $700,000,” reports the Canadian Press. “The new figure released by Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan is double the previous estimate of $350,000.”

[T]he project, which is nearly four years behind its original schedule, could cost the province three times the original budget because the Heritage Department failed to follow basic management practices.

[Auditor General] Michael Pickup said costs so far have hit $20 million, with up to $5 million on top of that in dispute.

Remember when people put up signs in their yards and in the windows of their businesses to celebrate Nova Scotia’s special skill at building ships? Good times.

2. Northern Pulp Mill

Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner
Northern Pulp Mill. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The province yesterday issued a five-year operational approval for the Northern Pulp Mill. Specific environmental regulations are detailed by the New Glasgow News:

Highlights in the industrial agreement as it relates to air issues include reductions in particulate matter emissions expected once the mill’s new precipitator is operational in May 2015. The new industrial approval requires strict adherence to new tighter limits including:

• Reduction of total particulate matter in stack limits on the recovery boiler – from 375 mg/ Rm3 to below 77 mg/Rm3.

• Annual facility emission caps for particulate matter and sulphur dioxide, starting Jan. 1, 2016

• Stack testing of the recovery boiler and power boiler doubled to four times a year.

Highlights as it relates to water usage:

The mill is a large consumer of water, especially compared to other mills. The new approval restricts water use to a maximum limit of 63,000 cubic metres per day, which will result in a reduction of about 34.5 per cent by 2020. The mill will also be required to study the impact of water withdrawals on Middle River to determine if further reductions may be necessary. There were no limits on water use in the previous industrial approval.

Highlights as it relates to wastewater:

The new industrial approval imposes a maximum limit on wastewater effluent of 67,500 cubic metres per day and will result in about a 25 per cent reduction in the volume of effluent flowing to the Boat Harbour Treatment Facility by 2020. In addition, the mill must develop a plan by 2017 to stop site storm water and run-off from flowing to the facility, and to cease using the facility as a secondary containment area for chemicals used in the pulping process by the end of the approval term. There were no limits on wastewater volumes in the previous industrial approval.

Just moments after the regulations were announced, Bruce Chapman, the mill’s general manager, said the company would appeal them. Reports CBC:

Chapman said the new water and air requirements “have serious impacts on our business.”

The new regulations threaten the viability of the mill’s operations, he said.

“Our goal was to have a permit that enabled us to meet our environmental responsibilities, while at the same growing our business,” Chapman said.

“This permit simply doesn’t allow us to do that. It doesn’t allow us to have a long-term sustainable business in Pictou County.”

As the New Glasgow paper notes with uncharacteristic cynicism, “the province wouldn’t say what penalties the company would face if the standards weren’t met because that is not part of the industrial approval,” so this is probably just a coordinated PR dance performed for a gullible public: province announces stiff new environmental regs, company objects, premier Stephen McNeil thumps chest, company reluctantly agrees [insert election here], new regs come into effect, company doesn’t meet them, McNeil talks about jobs, all is forgiven. Repeat in time for the following election.

3. Beer

Metro says people are excited about the imminent opening of Wrought Iron Brewing Company on Robie Street and Unfiltered Brewing on North Street. I hear the latter, run by the tag team of brewing all-star Greg Nash and photographer Andrew Murphy, will be especially known for its customer service.

4. Penguin toilet

From the King’s County News:

NEW MINAS – A subdivision resident in New Minas called police about some penguin-style mischief.

The female caller reported a toilet was sitting on her front lawn on Jan. 24. She was scared to look in it and fearful whether it was safe to leave her house.

An RCMP officer brave enough to investigate uncovered ‘Poop the Penguin,’ which had been left by fundraisers for the Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) walk.

The property owner requested fingerprints be taken at the scene, but police declined.

5. Docks on Bay of Fundy

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

Docks on Bay of Fundy, artist Arthur Lismer’s creation from 1943, will hang in Canada House in London, England, says a provincial press release. Which is all well and good, but every time I hear “Canada House” I think of the Halifax Commonwealth Games bid committee’s aborted plans for the place:

Lastly, the group discussed the proposed “bid lodgement”—the ceremonial delivery of Halifax’s detailed bid to Commonwealth Games Federation officials in London, England, scheduled for May 9. Horses were to be borrowed from the London police for use by RCMP officers, who would lead a procession to the Langham Hotel. 

The Canadian delegation would include schoolchildren carrying a “school in a box” and athletes delivering the bid book itself, “bringing the concept to life in the middle of London, and drawing significant media interest towards the Canadian Bid,” according to meeting minutes. 

Afterwards, the Canadian High Commission would host a gala reception at Canada House.

School in a box? Borrowed horses? And Fred MacGillivray hosting a gala reception likely would have led to one of those “international incidents.”

6. Wild Kingdom


Hope For Wildlife is tending to a bunch of wounded owls.


Peter MacDonald, a biologist at the Department of Natural Resources, will talk about moose. Photo: CBC
Peter MacDonald, a biologist at the Department of Natural Resources, will talk about moose. Photo: CBC

CBC is tomorrow airing A Tale of Two Moose:

Moose are one of Canada’s largest and most iconic animals. Once plentiful across North America, during the past 50 years their populations have been in decline in every region except Atlantic Canada. In Nova Scotia there are two distinct herds – one on the mainland and the other in Cape Breton – both with very different stories. 

A Tale Of Two Moose is a half hour documentary that reveals the challenges facing the two different moose populations in Nova Scotia. The film introduces a dedicated group of scientists, conservation groups, and members of the Mi’kmaq community who are working together to ensure a healthy moose population for generations to come. 


1. The Yarmouth brand

Photo: Stephen Archibald
Photo: Stephen Archibald

Stephen Archibald notices the newly proposed Yarmouth brand, then look at former logos for that city, and then takes a fascinating turn into… Yarmouth toilet paper.

The connection between the city logo and toilet paper goes back to the Davis branch of Archibald’s family tree which started a paper and printing business in Yarmouth in 1897:

I discovered the trademark on wrappers for their own brands of toilet paper.  The one complete wrapper I’ve seen was for Markland Fine Boudoir Tissue.  Yarmouth long had dreams that early Norse settled in that area and Markland is a name from the Norse sagas.  It was also the name of a grand tourist hotel located at the mouth of Yarmouth harbour in the early 1900s.

2. Frank De Palma

Frank De Palma, the director of the newsroom at the Chronicle Herald, has taken an early retirement offer. He says good-bye today.

3. Nova Centre

Roger Taylor, who is Joe Ramia’s personal public relations agent but gets paid by the Chronicle Herald, tells us that “despite what some people may be saying” all is well at the Nova Centre. Some people. What are you going to do?

4. Cranky letter of the day

To the New Glasgow News:

Within the Province of Nova Scotia we have many harbours, with Halifax being the largest one and which is an open harbour all year.

And we have two ferries that sail from Caribou, N.S., to Woods Islands, P.E.I., and they both winter in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.So I ask why is the McNeil government spending our tax dollars unnecessarily to the sum of  $2.5 millions to send the ferries that sail from Yarmouth to Portland, Maine, to South Carolina for the winter when we have a harbour here that can tie it up for the winter months? I do not see the Canadian Navy sending their ships south for the winter nor do I the see the coast guard for that matter sending their ships south. So the question is what is the McNeil government doing with a ferry that we never needed in the first place. I sure would like a answer.Loyd Murray, New Glasgow


John DeMont, who holds the title of “senior writer” at the Chronicle Herald, is always upbeat and manages to find the best in everything. Today, for example, he talks about Graeme Hicks, the nice-enough old guy in the front row of every city council meeting. Last snow storm, DeMont profiled Freeman’s Little New York, which (unlike some bars) stayed open as a refuge for What do you have to do to get a drink around here? folks. A few months ago he wrote an entire column about driving around Dartmouth; he said he was drinking coffee but his prose sounded like the incoherent babblings of the ecstasy crowd lining up outside a rave.

That’s not to fault DeMont. There’s a real skill in finding that ray of sunshine breaking through the storm clouds, to admire the gleam of the fool’s gold in a seam of coal as the rest of the colliers are fighting over the diminishing rations three weeks after the cave-in, in always finding the bright side of life. Truth be told, I envy him.

YouTube video

DeMont’s civic boosterism goes back to at least 1995, when he wrote a special profile of Halifax for MacLean’s magazine. MacLean’s was then featuring the G7 summit being held in Halifax, and DeMont was determined to show the town in a new light:

For too long, Halifax’s energy has been smothered by a colonial regard for authority and convention. Now, the conservative capital of Nova Scotia seems to have rediscovered a lost youth to go with its penetrating sense of history. “It is like someone turned on the power in this place,” says Colin Starnes, president of King’s College, which was founded in 1789.


Something is happening. And the phrase that echoes through the downtown clubs, the old Victorian residences and the studios and offices of the new-breed entrepreneurs is self-confidence. It is a self-confidence that comes from feeling that, for now at least, one lives in a Place To Be rather than a backwater or an outpost on the edge of the continent.

DeMont then went on about the happening music scene and about how everyone drinks until 3am and then goes to pizza corner.

The “self-confidence” bit struck a cord because 20 years later we have Bold Halifax telling us that we need to be more confident. Bold Halifax is a creation of the Greater Halifax Partnership, which is now calling itself the Halifax Partnership, because rebranding everything will lead to wealth and prosperity for all, amen.

Over at the Greater Halifax Partnership blog, past president Paul Kent is plugging something called the Halifax Ecosystem. Lemme pour a round of shots before we get into Kent’s buzzword-filled description of the project:

It’s about creating the right attitude and entrepreneurial and innovative culture and significantly increasing our individual and collective impact. It taps into the powerful tools of passion, connections, and collaboration and organizes and harnesses the energy, talents and resources in our community to get to action quicker on key economic and social issues. The focus is on dreaming big and taking bold measures to create a more confident and innovative Halifax.

Anyway, back in 1995, DeMont had a second MacLean’s article headlined “Making Halifax tick: a new breed of movers and shakers steps forward,” which explained that:

…as Halifax shakes off the dust of almost 250 years of convention, a new group of movers and shakers is stepping to the fore. Many are newcomers, immigrants or Canadians from other cities. Others grew up in Halifax — but outside the circles that usually ensure influence within the class-conscious city. Whatever their origins, they share something undeniable — energy, confidence and the absolute certainty that coming from outside the Establishment is no barrier to making a mark.

Demont’s picks for “movers and shakers” were all over the map, some the most decent people imaginable, some just in it for themselves, some simply trying to survive. I’ll let readers decide which fit in which category; they were: Chip Sutherland, Dennis Ryan, the staff at Hope Cottage, John Risley, Victor Syperek, Paul and Michael Donovan, Constance Glube, Kenneth Rowe, David Bentley and Lyndon Watkins, Bruce MacKinnon and Theo Moudakis.

I bet someone wrote a similar story circa 1946 about Halifax emerging from the constraints of war with new confidence, and I predict that 30 years from now someone else will write about how Halifax, the climate change apocalypse notwithstanding, is moving into a bright future with renewed confidence.

In fact, I’m confident someone will.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 7:30am Saturday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 7:30am Saturday. Map:

No activity in the harbour today.


Do we have to shovel this morning or will the rain wash it all away?

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

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  1. What is this Bold Halifax business all about? What is it supposed to do exactly? More jobs? More business? More passion?…

  2. Pulp mill max water usage: 63,000 cubic metres
    Pulp mill max affluent: 67,500 cubic

    It is interesting that the water volume would swell by that much.

  3. DeMont has been circulating misleading ideas about Nova Scotia history for years. Notions that “Halifax’s energy has been smothered by a colonial regard for authority and convention” and Halifax is shaking “off the dust of almost 250 years of convention” are public relations statements, not journalism or history.

    Before confederation 148 years ago Nova Scotia was an economic powerhouse doing business with the US along the Atlantic coast. But Nova Scotia took a serious economic hit after confederation when the federal government redirected trade into Ontario and Quebec through the St Lawrence.

    The economic golden years of Halifax were the result of colonization and British rule. Halifax went into a tailspin when the business model of colonization was transformed into the business model of confederation.

    After the Nova Scotia economy was degraded, the people of Nova Scotia were infantilized by Angus L Macdonald and his scheme to remake Nova Scotia as a tourist destination. The place was “rebranded” as Canada’s Ocean Playground. Millions of dollars have been spent making people think that Nova Scotia is a fucking playground for tourists, like Jamaica or Morocco and other places that are devalued in the aftermath of colonization.

    A book like The Last Best Place: Lost in the Heart of Nova Scotia by deMont is a form of Ocean Playground propaganda designed to make Nova Scotia appear warm and fuzzy. Ocean Playground propaganda is dangerous because it anesthetizes the people who smoke it directly or are exposed to it second hand.

    Fortunately, there has been a lot of great writing coming out of Nova Scotia over the past 25 years that deactivates Ocean Playground propaganda. Books & articles worth reading include:

    Justice Denied by Harris
    Not Guilty by Kimber
    Hermit of Africville by Tattrie
    Bagman by Ripley
    Anne of Tim Hortons by Wylie
    Halifax Champion: Black Power in Gloves by Ashe
    and Two Decades of World Class Delusion by Bousquet

    And then there is the great rap tune by Black Union that opens with the voice of Leon Steed and includes the lines

    “How can you compensate a lost culture
    Especially when it’s mashed up in a system of colonial vultures”

    Last Best Place. Yeah, right.