News

1. Heritage committee pleased with proposed addition to Waverley Inn

A rendering of the proposed addition to the Waverley Inn. Screenshot/HRM/Zzap Consulting

Zane Woodford was at the meeting of the Halifax regional council’s heritage committee, which is pleased with a proposal for 10-storey addition to the Waverley Inn on Barrington Street. The committee voted in favour of a motion to recommend that council hold a public hearing on the proposal and approve the alterations to the heritage property. Woodford writes:

Zzap Consulting submitted the proposal for 1266 Barrington St., the Waverley Inn, on behalf of the property owner, Nassim Ghosn’s Sterling Hotel Ltd.

The original building was completed in 1866, “an excellent example of the Italianate style of architecture,” per the staff report to the Heritage Advisory Committee’s virtual meeting on Wednesday. It first opened as a hotel in 1876. Oscar Wilde stayed there once in 1882.

“The proposal focuses on removing the Waverley Inn’s rear wing and constructing a modern 10-storey addition, which would expand its capacity from 14 to roughly 117 rooms,” heritage planner Jesse Morton wrote in the staff report.

The project also adds 32 indoor parking spaces and an accessible entrance.

Committee member Jennifer Clarke-Hines said she thinks the proposal “looks really good.” Fellow committee member Luke Stock said he appreciated that the developers “kind of [went] to lengths to try to work with the existing property.”

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2. COVID update

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang appears remotely at the COVID briefing, Jan. 26, 2022. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Three more Nova Scotians have died from COVID-19 and 346 new cases were announced on Tuesday, although as we say in every COVID update, that number is likely much higher. Tim Bousquet has the COVID update here, if you want to check that out. The deceased are:

• a woman in her 80s in the Central Zone
• a man in his 80s in the Central Zone
• a man in his 90s in the Eastern Zone
In total, 141 Nova Scotians have died from COVID; 31 people have died from COVID since Dec. 3.

And here are the hospitalization numbers:

There are now now 91 people in hospital who were admitted because of COVID symptoms and who are still in COVID units, 15 of whom are in ICU. Those 91 range in age from 6 to 100 years old, and the average age is 67.

Additionally, there are:
• 100 people admitted to hospital for other reasons but who tested positive for COVID during the admissions screening or who were admitted for COVID but no longer require specialized care
• 121 people in hospital who contracted COVID in the hospital outbreak

There was a COVID briefing yesterday in which chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said some of the public health restrictions that are in place now and were scheduled to expire on January 31, will be extended to February 14. He did say some restrictions might be lifted sooner than that.

It may not feel like it, but Strang also said in terms of case numbers, Nova Scotia is past the peak of the Omicron wave, and that in terms of hospitalizations the province is at the peak.

And I don’t know about you, but listening to the COVID briefings is getting wearisome. I follow along with Tim Bousquet’s live tweets, but actually tuning into the briefing itself feels like the same show over and over.

You may not want to tune in, but you can click here to check out Bousquet’s update. 

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3. African student in Wolfville speaks out about experience with RCMP, mayor after filing complaint about an assault

Sara Micheal says it took over two weeks to give a statement to RCMP following a racist assault that left her with neck scars. Photo: Sara Micheal.

Matthew Byard recently interviewed Sara Micheal, a African student who lives in Wolfville, about an assault she said happened earlier this month, and the response she got from RCMP and the town mayor. Micheal says the incident started at the apartment where she used to live when she asked a loud roommate to quiet down in the middle of the night. Byard writes:

In an interview with the Halifax Examiner, Micheal, who is a permanent resident from Eritrea, said she moved out of an apartment where she experienced a lot of racism from the landlord, and into a house with more than half a dozen other roommates she didn’t know.

Micheal said she didn’t expect a college town to be quiet all of the time, especially on weekends, but in the early hours of Saturday, January 8, one roommate, a woman, was making noise by stomping around in the hallway and talking loudly.

“So, I asked her, ‘Can you please keep it down a bit?’” Micheal recalled. “And she reacted by initially telling me she didn’t really care if it was two or five AM. And then she started to walk towards me. I wasn’t really sure what she was trying to do to be honest because I had just woke up at that point.”

“She ended up walking towards me to the point that she was like nose-to-nose, face-to-face, and she started to sort of (body) check me. So after that, I ended up like pushing her off of me, because I asked her, like, to get out of my face, and she wouldn’t. At that point, I didn’t even know what she was saying anymore.”

“Her face was ridiculously close to mine. She was not willing to get off of me, so I pushed her off of me. And then that’s when it escalated because she tried to grab me by the neck, and that’s how I ended up with scratch marks on my neck.”

Micheal said she went to the RCMP to report the incident, worried it might affect her permanent resident status. She said she and a friend who went to the King’s District RCMP detachment with her, were yelled at and talked down to by an officer.

Micheal said she then approached Wendy Donovan, the mayor of Wolfville, about her complaint and how she was treated by the RCMP officer. That entire conversation happened over text, which seems so bizarre to me.

You can read Byard’s full story here. 

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4. Trenton Generating Station

Trenton Generating Station. Photo: Wikipedia

One of the coal-fired electrical units at the Trenton Generating Station won’t be retired for another year, Paul Withers with CBC reports. That’s because Nova Scotia Power says it needs more time to find another source of electricity to replace it. Withers writes:

The utility planned to import electricity from other provinces and add a combustion turbine to make up for lost production when it closes the unit known as Trenton 5 at the 300-megawatt Trenton Generating Station.

In an update filed with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Nova Scotia Power said the closure would now move to 2024.

Environmentalist Gurprasad Gurumurthy of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax says the move is risky.

“Delaying the retirement of Trenton 5 means that we will be burning that amount of coal for another year and that’s going to drive up the emissions and we’re going to be derailed from our plan of meeting our targets,” he said.

There are eight coal-fired generating units at four plants across the province run by Nova Scotia Power. The utility has a deadline of 2030 to shut them down and provide 80% of electricity by renewable resources. And Nova Scotia’s carbon emissions must also be reduced to 53% of 2005 levels.

As Withers writes, Nova Scotia Power had a plan for Trenton that included importing electricity from New Brunswick and Newfoundland, and a gas-combustion turbine that could be fired up as needed, but neither of those options are ready.

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5. The Tideline, Episode 64: Norma MacDonald

Norma MacDonald.

Well, this episode brings back some memories! This week, Tara Thorne chats with singer-songwriter Norma MacDonald — who Thorne has known for a long time, but says she never really interviewed before. In this show, the two talk about MacDonald’s musical style   classic country, folk, Americana — and her latest album Old Future, which was released one month into the pandemic.

Years ago, MacDonald played in the band Highland Heights. My brother was the drummer and I went to see them play a few times at the Lower Deck. That was when I could tolerate going to the Lower Deck. Anyway, I always thought MacDonald had one of the best female singing voices.

This is a good episode and you should see MacDonald perform live when you can. She’ll be playing at The Carleton on Feb. 11. 

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Views

1. In defence of keeping your private life private

Photo: Kristina Flour/Unsplash

We’re now living in a time when it’s never been easier to share every aspect of our lives with virtual strangers. Social media has given us all platforms to share stories. And everyone is sharing — from the hottest celebrities to the guy who lives next door. A lot of people gain huge followings when they put themselves out there. 

Sure, a lot of us find community and connection when we share our lives online. Sharing stories can reduce stigma for people in a lot of communities, which is good for many of us! A lot of people find supports, connections, and friends they may struggle to find elsewhere. 

But some people don’t want every detail of their lives out there. And when they hold back on sharing their private lives, they get labelled many very negative things: Aloof, rude, insecure, snobbish, thoughtless, heartless, a cold fish, anti-social, boring, paranoid; they’re accused of hiding something, or being ashamed or embarrassed.

I am a private person and I like to keep my private life private. I can count on one hand the number of people with whom I share personal details. They’re private people, too, and they aren’t social media sharers; in fact, they’re not really on social media at all. I have always been this way, long before social media was around. This is how I am wired and I prefer it this way. For the most part, I like figuring out stuff on my own, or maybe with the help of a few friends. Not everyone appreciates this need for privacy, though, particularly those online where all those private stories are shared. I mean, share away, if that’s your thing! But there’s not much respect online for people who prefer to remain private. 

So, for today’s Morning File I thought I’d write a defence of people who like to keep their shit to themselves. 

Some people are gossipy as fuck 

This should come as no surprise to anyone. A lot of people love to gossip. And I hate it. It’s one of the reasons I am happy I no longer work in an office. Most offices are fueled by gossip — whispering coworkers in the stairwell,  standing next to your cubicle when you’re just trying to get your work done. And I just want to get my work done. 

Remember that game we played as kids where someone would tell you a random sentence and you’d whisper what you thought you heard in the ear of another person, and they’d do the same to the next person? That’s basically how gossip works. People find out a bit of info about you and depending on their motives, they’ll add/subtract to the story, and then share it with someone else who also adds/subtracts to it, depending on their motives. Lord knows what that information ends up sounding like in the end. 

Keeping things to yourself doesn’t mean you won’t be the subject of gossip, though. You just won’t be sharing in the spreading of misinformation about yourself. Undoubtedly, people will just make up stuff about you. Let them have at it. Also, don’t people who sit around and gossip have better things to do? I know I do. 

Security 

People share information online that simply puts them at risk. They’ll share their address, phone numbers, when they’re on vacation and where they’re going, their credit scores and other financial information, and so on. I see this all the time! Private people want to keep these details to themselves. 

People share their unsolicited advice 

Once you start sharing your stories, you are opening yourself up to the opinions of many others. For some people, this is helpful. But for private people, this makes figuring out how to solve something much more challenging. Private people don’t like being bogged down with people’s advice. I don’t take the advice of randos online. I don’t take the advice of people who love to share their own drama with everyone. When you share your private life, you’re also inviting drama into your life that you probably don’t need. If I need advice, I go to the experts who have it, and who respect privacy. 

Keeping your life private can be good for your mental health 

Yesterday was the big hashtag day in which people were encouraged to tweet or text to raise money for mental health supports. I agree that sharing these stories is helpful for some people, although this can be done without the hashtag day — there should be much more access to counselling, therapy, and other services than there is now.

But oversharing on social media is harmful to your mental health, too. When you share all of your life with others, especially online, someone will always have something to say about it. Yes, you may get a lot of likes, which can be validating, but there’s a lot of hate online, too, and I think it creates anxiety people don’t deserve or need. True, it would be better if social media platforms learned how to deal with the trolls instead, but some people, particularly children, are susceptible to the dangers of this. There are better ways to support them when they have stories to share.

Your stories often involve other people who deserve privacy, too 

Almost no story you tell about yourself is really just about you. This goes specifically for personal relationships. When you’re telling a story that also involves someone else, you’re doing so without their consent. I see this often online, specifically when it involves messy breakups and custody battles. I doubt sharing those details online will help your case in court. Honestly, if I had an ex spilling the beans of our relationship and custody battle online, I’d be pissed. 

And I will die on this hill — and I wrote about this before — but there is no good reason to violate your child’s privacy and share all their struggles and the details of their lives online, with strangers. I have been frequently horrified at what parents share online about their children. It’s not my place to know these stories. I feel uncomfortable knowing them and mute the accounts of the oversharers. On my Facebook account, I have many friends who share photos of their children; you know, pictures from birthday parties, graduations, proms, and so on. I love seeing them! But these same parents, some of whom I’ve known for decades, have strict boundaries, too, and keep their children’s private lives offline. I know nothing about their children that I shouldn’t know. 

And I have a personal rule not to share personal information with parents who overshare about their children. If they’re willing to invade their own child’s privacy, it won’t be much of a stretch for them to invade yours.  

Others’ secrets are safe with you

This is an extension of the last one. Maybe some people feel more comfortable sharing information with private people because they feel it won’t go anywhere else. When someone knows you keep your private life private, maybe they’ll know you’ll keep their private life private, too.

The internet is forever

I don’t share private stories online because I don’t want to regret sharing those stories if they come back to haunt me. Some stuff will not go away, and it may just look worse later — like that butterfly tattoo you got on your stomach that eventually looks like a pterodactyl as your waistline expands. (Not that I did this). I don’t even keep a journal. My thoughts are stored in my head. And I’d rather that Google not know everything about me.

Keep them guessing 

This is the best reason to keep shit to yourself. The mystery of it all! Private people can be understood and underestimated because they’re not out there always talking about their lives, plans, or goals. We prefer being accountable to ourselves. So, when private people keep their cards close to their chest, it often comes as a surprise to others when they do something interesting, fun, or important. I think lots of oversharers think private people are boring. Okay then. 

Private people live in a very public world these days. I wonder if we’re in the minority? It would be tough to find out because we’re so private.

I know it can be tough to feel that pressure to always be sharing your life online. I’d ask private people to tell me more about it, but I also understand if you don’t want to — you can keep that information to yourself.

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2. History of an anti-vaxxer

Pandemics have been around for a long time, and unfortunately, so have anti-vaccination movements. This week, Library and Archives Canada shared this article, An “Epidemic” of Fake News a Century Ago, about anti-vaccination propaganda from 1920 found in the archives collection, in which they debunk the fraudulent claims of conspiracy theorist Ada Muir. The article was written by Forrest Pass, who is a curator in the Exhibitions team at Library and Archives Canada. Pass writes:

In 1920 as in 2021, epidemic disease was very much on Canadians’ minds. As health authorities and the public worked to contain final flare-ups of the devastating Spanish flu pandemic, they also faced the worrisome resurgence of familiar diseases. In 1919, Ontario experienced a smallpox epidemic, perhaps introduced by returning soldiers or cross-border travellers; by August, the disease had spread westward, appearing among itinerant farm workers in the hops fields of the Fraser Valley, east of Vancouver. To stop the spread, British Columbia’s provincial medical officer of health, Dr. Henry Esson Young, enlisted the help of school boards to vaccinate all schoolchildren, except those exempted for reasons of conscience.

Young faced opposition from what he considered “a very active and clamorous minority.” In April 1920, vaccination opponents formed the People’s Anti-Vaccination and Medical Freedom League of British Columbia. The league’s secretary-treasurer, Ada Muir, argued that mandatory vaccination, even during a public health emergency, was a violation of personal liberty. Its objections dismissed by the provincial government, the league complained to the British Colonial Office and published Muir’s correspondence in a small pamphlet. British authorities forwarded the complaint to Ottawa, as public health was an internal Canadian matter. At the time, the Governor General’s office was a main line of communication between the British and Canadian governments. Thus, a rare—and well-travelled—copy of the pamphlet made its way into the records of the Office of the Governor General of Canada fonds at LAC.

So much of this article sounds like arguments we hear from anti-vaxxers today: Muir questioned the “purity” of the vaccines. She warned of serious side effects of the vaccines and cited newspaper reports about deaths, even though the people actually died from other causes, including diphtheria. She also relied on the discredited research of 19-century British doctor, Charles Creighton. Pass writes:

Creighton believed that the smallpox vaccine caused syphilis, and pointed to an increase in syphilis deaths after the United Kingdom enacted mandatory vaccination in 1853.

And she spread conspiracy theories, including that doctors were an “alien element” who were purposely infecting children with disease.

Fortunately, Muir’s campaign of conspiracies had little effect on vaccination against smallpox. Here’s Pass again:

In six months, over 80 percent of British Columbia schoolchildren had been vaccinated. After identifying 576 cases of smallpox in 1920, the province reported only 137 cases in 1921, a decrease of over 75 percent. Muir interpreted the small number of cases in Vancouver as proof that the outbreak was a “scare” and that vaccination was unnecessary. The facts support the opposite conclusion: a swift vaccination campaign had flattened the curve.

There was a global vaccination effort after the Second World War and the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated in 1977. (I was seven years old at the time).

Muir, meanwhile, would go on to another a new hobby, astrology why doesn’t this surprise me? which she argued was just as effective as vaccines.

Muir’s future as a trusted medical expert wasn’t in the stars.

You can read the entire article at the Library and Archives Canada page here. 

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Noticed

Blinking lighthouse map.

I love looking at maps, so earlier this week, this map someone shared on Twitter caught my attention. It’s of lighthouses from around the world. Now, it’s not just a map of where the lighthouses are located, but it shows if the lights in the lighthouses are blinking or static. It also shows the colour of the light in the lighthouse, which is known as its characteristic. The characteristics of lighthouses are white, red, yellow, or green. The size of the dot corresponds to the range of the light. Lighthouse lights have different colours and flicker at different frequencies so mariners can tell them apart from each other.

There’s a good write-up on the map here. 

It was created in 2018 by Jelmer van der Linde who was a student/assistant at Geodienst, the spatial expertise center of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Van der Linde (who is now with the University of Edinburgh) stumbled across OpenSeaMap, an open-source resource for nautical information. According to the Lighthouse Directory, there are at least 23,000 lighthouses in the world.

I didn’t count all the dots on this blinking map, but there are a lot missing in Canada (there are 750 lighthouses in Canada). But the map is open source, so you can go in and add some details. Europe is lit up with dots, although many seem missing elsewhere. For example, there are several lighthouses around Lake Winnipeg, although there’s only one represented with a dot on the map.

After checking out the map and noticing that many of Nova Scotia’s 185 lighthouses weren’t on it, I went to the website of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society and started looking at its list of lighthouses across the province.

As its website says, “Nova Scotia has the largest number of lights of any province in Canada, and some of the oldest, including Sambro, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the Americas.” All of the lighthouses in the province are automated and were de-staffed.

I have visited many of the lighthouses across Nova Scotia during my road trips, including the one at Burntcoat Head, which I just learned is relatively new. It was built in 1992 as a replica of the original lighthouse, which was destroyed by the Coast Guard in 1972 (apparently the land on which the lighthouse stood started eroding). The light is no longer operating, so it’s not on the map.

The same is true of the Walton Lighthouse, which I visited a couple of summers ago. Not on the map and no longer operating, but it’s a great spot to visit for photos, including at sunset.

And then there’s the lighthouse at Cape George overlooking the Northumberland Strait. The current lighthouse is the third on the site, and it has a flashing white characteristic. You can see it on the blinking map.

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is on the map; I think it’s the really large blinking white circle. As is the lighthouse at Cape Forchu in Yarmouth, which also has a white flashing light. This is another lovely spot to visit.

The Preservation’s website also has a list of audio files of foghorns, which each have their own sounds. I just learned about foghorn sounds in the summer of 2020 when I was on Campobello Island, NB, researching a podcast. A tour guide explained the foghorn on one end of the island has a different tone than the other horn at the opposite end of the island.

I feel like a bad Maritimer that I didn’t know all of this! Anyway, you can click here to check out the blinking map. Maybe you can fill in some blanks.

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Government

City

Thursday

Transportation Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm) — virtual meeting

Friday

Budget Committee (Friday, 9:30am) — virtual meeting

Province

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

R-PEACE discusses Why Space Matters in active learning (Thursday, 11:30am) — Via Zoom, Fiona Black and Michael Fox

will discuss the development of an Active Learning space and community engagement, and its influence on pedagogies. As part of the Research Partnerships for Education and Community Engagement (R-PEACE) group, they are interested in “blowing out the walls of the traditional classroom.”

Talking to ‘Others’ from within my Authentic Self (Thursday, 4pm) — James R. Johnson Chair Anniversary Distinguished Lecture with David Divine and Barbara Hamilton-Hinch

Problematizing Eurocentric Social Work Education (Thursday, 5:30pm) — online panel discussion with Merlinda Weinberg, Alec Stratford, Dr. Raluca Bejan​, Michelle Sutherland-Allan, Destiny Mercredi, and Likda Morash

Friday

The Precariousness of Freedom: Slave Resistance as Experience, Process, and Representation (Friday, 3:30pm) — Charmaine Nelson from NSCAD will talk

King’s

Waves of Change: Creating Communities of Accountability (Thursday, 3pm) — In this online workshop, participants

will work together to generate an understanding of what a safe and inclusive community can look like and how to make that vision a reality. Also, how to recognize when someone in your community is causing harm and how direct that person towards more accountable behaviour.


In the harbour

Halifax
06:00: Augusta Luna, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
16:00: Lagrafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland (itinerary)
16:15: Oceanex Avalon, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from St. John’s
19:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
22:00: Lagrafoss sails for Portland
22:00: Augusta Luna sails for Bilboa, Spain

Cape Breton
17:30: Front Cruiser, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea


Footnotes

In yesterday’s Morning File, Ethan Lycan-Lang asked, “doesn’t every profession use coffee to get through the work day?” Well, I am not a coffee drinker; I am a tea drinker. I will drink one of those special coffees at a fancy outing, you know the kind with a shot of booze and whipped cream on top. But my day-to-day hot beverage is tea. I am a big fan of London Fog tea lattes, which is a mix of Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, and a shot of vanilla, although some places include lavender. Delish.


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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. I love the lighthouse map, thank you so much for sharing!

    Funny about your visit to Campobello and the varying sounds of lighthouses. My great-, great-great- and great-great-great-grandfathers tended the fog alarm at Long Eddy Point on Grand Manan. (it didn’t get a beacon there until the 1960s so it wasn’t a lighthouse in their day.) It’s locally known as “the Whistle” due to the high-pitched tone. It’s also the closest point between Grand Manan and Campobello, a mere 5km away.

  2. How refreshing it is to read a news outlet that Does NOT have breathless coverage of that truckers’ protest.

    CBC has been especially egregious. Amazing how the news media can give endless oxygen to dubious causes.

  3. As a teenager and young adult, I did not want to get into drinking coffee to start my day. Those who did at workplaces, would say things like, “Don’t talk to me until I have had a coffee”, “I cant do anything until my first cup.” “I need a coffee to calm me down”. Well, that was enough for me to steer clear of needing something in morning to get my day going (besides a shower). Didn’t want to be beholden to it. Plus their breath stank.