A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘maritimes

[LINK] “Farewell to Nova Scotia”

Facebook’s Michael linked to this essay by Allison, a long-time Nova Scotian and Haligonian, who is leaving for Toronto shortly because of the problems of her home city.

This is the city where I co-chaired then chaired the Active Transportation Advisory Committee, the city whose food feels like a full body experience, the city where I went to school, the city where I gained skills outside the classroom, the city where I got my first job, then my second, then another… where I spent that money in local shops, the city that I was always happy to come back to, the city where I started my little family, the city where I met amazing people who did amazing things, the city where I poured countless hours a week into volunteering for people and things who could help me stay in this city, the city that helped me bring visions to life, the city that has helped me so much, the city that I helped whenever I could.

I fought really hard for what we needed to stay in Halifax. I saved my money, I got the best job I could, I worked a second in my spare time. I started interviewing for the next contract before the current one ended. I cobbled together a happy life here that is great, but entirely unsustainable if I ever want my little family to be any bigger. If you’re doing okay in Halifax, you can have the best brunch you’ll ever taste every weekend but you can’t have a baby.

I worked a very short contract in Toronto this past fall. My first weekend, I walked across the entire city, as my step counter can quantify. I got bagels, I got dumplings, I saw friends, and at 7 in the evening, just as I was about to go home, I took the bus to High Park to see the sunset, because I had a transit pass, and I saw the bus coming, and the bus said High Park, and I knew that another bus home would just show up.

In Halifax, there is so much greatness but also so much to consider for every single action. 25 years in this city have made me an exceptional planner, mastering a transit system that is neither consistent nor logical, preparing for work that won’t last, finding new best friends every year because no one stays. In Halifax it’s hard to be present; if you’re not thinking ahead it’s your fault for not being prepared.

Halifax, it is breaking my heart and my identity to leave. I know what happens when people leave. I know we turn against them, we say it was their problem, not ours, we pretend they just had to try harder. I’m not saying that if situations change I won’t be back, I’m just saying it’s looking harder than it makes sense for me to admit to myself. I took my love for this city and made it a series of verbs that I practiced every day to try to stay here.

One thing is, Halifax is probably the best-off city in the Maritimes. If it can’t retain people, what community in the area can?

Written by Randy McDonald

December 18, 2015 at 5:47 pm

[LINK] “Storm Chips are here as New Brunswick’s Covered Bridge reveals new flavour”

CBC’s report on the mainstreaming of #stormchips in the Maritimes is a delight.

A New Brunswick chip company is cashing in on a social media trend started right here in the Nova Scotia newsroom of the CBC.

Covered Bridge Potato Chips unveiled their latest flavour this week: “Storm chips” aren’t just one flavour but a “flurry of flavours” in one delicious bag.

Here’s how it all began:

On a cold and stormy January day in 2014, Mainstreet host Stephanie Domet mused to newsreader Ryan Pierce that on her list of things to get at the grocery store in advance of the storm were ripple chips and dip.

In fact, those two items constituted the entirety of her list. Pierce admitted his own list was similar and #stormchips became a thing.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 18, 2015 at 8:55 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “El Jones, Halifax’s poet laureate, moving to Iowa for work”

CBC’s Catharine Tunney reported on the sadly ironic emigration of Haligonian poet laureate El Jones to the United States in search for work. Greater Halifax, I would note, is probably the most prosperous region of the Maritimes: Things are not better in Sydney.

Halifax’s poet laureate says she is leaving the province at the end of August for a job in the U.S. because she can’t find a permanent teaching job in Nova Scotia.

“I need to eat. I need sleep,” said El Jones in an interview with CBC News.

“I’m going to be homeless for the month.”

[. . .]

The writer and activist has had jobs at Acadia University and the Nova Scotia Community College. She said it’s hard to work in Nova Scotia. Between her teaching, activism and poet laureate duties Jones says she had been working 16 to 20 hours a day, sometimes for free.

According to the Halifax Regional Municipality, the poet laureate is a poet or writer who lives in the city and “has achieved excellence amongst their peers and whose work is of relevance to the citizens of HRM.”

The person in the position receives a small stipend of $4,000 for the two-year term and acts as “an advocate for literary arts and reflects the life of HRM through their work. As an advocate for poetry, language and the arts, the poet laureate attends events across the Municipality to promote and attract people to the literary world.”

Written by Randy McDonald

July 17, 2015 at 10:42 pm

[ISL] “Halifax woman opening her home to P.E.I. women needing abortions”

Good for this woman! From CBC:

A Prince Edward Island woman now living in Halifax is opening her home to women from her province needing abortions in the city because the procedure is not available there.

Chelsey Buchanan posted on social media offering a room, food, bus tickets and transportation to the clinic. She hasn’t had any requests for the room yet.

Buchanan said she was inspired to offer help after reading the Sovereign Uterus, a blog where women were sharing their frustrations with the system.

“I was reading over it and I saw that so many women had travelled home afterwards, like after getting the procedure done and it was against doctor’s orders,” she said. “So I kind of figured there are a lot people out there that don’t have the means to stay in Halifax overnight, and I mean I have space, so why not offer up what I have?”

P.E.I. is the only province in Canada where surgical abortions are not performed, but some doctors will provide a prescription for a medical abortion. The province pays for the service but not the cost of travel. A 2014 Health PEI report indicated the government could have saved $37,000 a year by providing the service on the island. The report said about 153 women had to seek the service in 2013.

The Sovereign Uterus blog, for whatever it’s worth, is here.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm

[NON BLOG] On the election of Wade MacLauchlan and being gay on PEI

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot in the aftermath of the recent general election on Prince Edward Island is the election of Wade MacLauchlan as premier. As noted by, among others, the National Post, MacLauchlan is gay: quite out, partnered, all of it. This did not hinder his election.

This little island is often cast as a bastion of social conservatism in Canada. It is predominantly rural with 140,000 people, where you can throw a cat from anywhere and hit saltwater, as one bar patron put it this week.

All this makes frontrunner Wade MacLauchlan somewhat of an unlikely candidate.

MacLauchlan, an academic with little political experience, stands to be the first openly gay man to be elected premier in the province. But it hasn’t been a factor during the election campaign, he says.

“Absolutely zero,” the Liberal Party leader told the National Post this week. “I’ve been open about the fact that I’m gay. And my partner has been front and centre as appropriate, we try to keep some home life and privacy as anyone with any sense would do.

“That has not come up at any doorstep or any of the discussions that I’ve had across the island,” he said, noting that P.E.I. was the first to elect both a female premier and a premier of non-European descent.

“In some ways this might be a hat trick.”

MacLauchlan has a long career on Prince Edward Island. Among other things, he was president of the University of Prince Edward Island from 1999 through 2011. The first three years of his presidency were the last three in which I was studying at the same university and living and worrying and feeling afraid for reasons I could not articulate to myself.

I had no idea what was going on, on Prince Edward Island in regards to people being gay and living as gay openly or otherwise. I still have no idea what was going on, not really. I just felt afraid all the time, for reasons I was not able to articulate to myself. Fear of being different, fear of being visible, fear of being somehow found out: all of it was there. There was so much fear that I don’t think I can actually say, with any degree of certainty, what was going on, what would have happened if I’d come out earlier than 22 (21, 20, 19, 18, younger). I know only of specific things that happened to me: laughter over the table as friends of my parents laughed at the idea of a Pride parade in Charlottetown, a quite possibly over-friendly high school teacher who killed himself the next term after doing something with a student and the relief I felt, the mockeries of high school and the deepening depression I felt.

I don’t know. I’m not sure you can understand how terribly this frustrates me. When I was much younger, I loved too enthusiastically Descartes and his argument that the human mind could understand its entire environment so long as it was sufficiently rigourous. This seemed to work for me as long as my world was cramped, narrow. Now that it has been exploded, even years later, I don’t know what was actually going on. I wonder if I ever will, if I ever could.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 8, 2015 at 4:00 am

[ISL] On the import of yesterday’s general election in Prince Edward Island

My Facebook feed was full last night of Islanders, resident and otherwise, tracking the general election on Prince Edward Island. With 85.9% turnout, the outcome can be taken to be a reasonable reflection of the human environment of Prince Edward Island. That environment, as noted by the Canadian Press, is changing. It may one day very soon be true that politics on the island will not be genealogical, a matter of inherited and periodically reinforced ties of family and fealty, but rather ideological, involving actual competition.

This is exciting!

A strong election showing Monday by third parties that once struggled for slivers of Prince Edward Island’s vote is a warning to Tories and Liberals that generations-old political loyalties are fading, say political commentators.

History professor Ian Dowbiggin of the University of Prince Edward Island says the gains made by the NDP and the Green party, which each won about 11 per cent of the popular vote, represents a historic shift that won’t be easily erased.

“When you get over 20 per cent of the total number of votes, it’s got to reflect a changing of political allegiance, especially among young people,” he says.

“The people who were voting yesterday for the Greens and the NDP weren’t simply old hippies with pony tails voting their heart.”

The Liberals won their third straight majority under rookie premier Wade MacLauchlan, dropping from 20 seats to 18, while the Tories took eight seats and the Green party claimed its first seat in the legislature.

Dowbiggin says the Liberal win shows the electorate is comfortable with the former university president, the province’s first openly gay premier.

He also says the Greens and NDP still face huge obstacles in fundraising, candidate recruitment and a first-past-the-post system that works against parties that don’t have a strong chance of forming government.

But the old days of predictable swings of the majority of the 27 ridings on the Island from one major party to the other after two to three terms in power are being challenged.

The NDP’s share of the vote shot from 3.2 per cent in 2011, when they seldom attracted more than 200 voters in most ridings, to almost winning a Charlottetown seat and quadrupling their overall support.

Green leader Peter Bevan-Brown swept to victory in the riding of Kellys Cross-Cumberland, with his own total of 2,077 votes equalling two thirds of what the entire party was able to muster in the last election.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 5, 2015 at 10:28 pm

[ISL] “Damn Ice Dams: A Weekend Spent”

Prince Edward Island Peter Rukavina has a <ugreat, funny photo post describing how he saved the roof of his Charlottetown home from the recent record snowfall.

It snowed. And snowed. And snowed. Over a metre of snow over a couple of weeks. So that by last weekend our back yard looked like this:

Back yard + Snow

That’s a 5 foot fence, to give you a sense of the how deep the snow is.

And that’s a tree, not a bush.

And so we ended up with a lot of snow on our roof.

And with my eye off the ball, paying attention to the snow on the ground, not the snow on the roof, we started to get ice dams forming along the gutters.

By Friday afternoon we started to fear that the ice dams would result in water getting into our house, and so it was time for evasive action.

Catherine made a round of calls to teams of shovelers that we’d used before, but we were not alone in our plight and they all replied with “maybe we can get to you by Monday.”

So it was up to me.

Feeble old me. Action.

Go, read.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 28, 2015 at 3:00 am

[BRIEF NOTE] On the selection of Wade MacLauchlan as premier of Prince Edward Island

Wade MacLauchlan, former president of the University of Prince Edward Island, is now the 32nd premier of Prince Edward Island.

Newly confirmed P.E.I. Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan turned to the words of Island songwriter Stompin’ Tom Connors to inspire his party for a campaign expected this spring.

“As Stompin’ Tom has taught us, ‘If ya don’t get at it when ya get to it, you won’t get to it to get at it again,'” said MacLauchlan.

MacLauchlan was the only candidate for the leadership, and the convention Saturday afternoon was a formality. He will be sworn in as premier on Monday morning, along with a new cabinet. He replaces Robert Ghiz, who announced in November he would resign pending the election of a new leader.

MacLauchlan, the former president of the University of Prince Edward Island, has been criticized for not laying out more details of his agenda as he moves into government. He was short on specifics Saturday as well, but did present the pillars of a strategy for a provincial election campaign expected in the spring: economic growth, demographic change, and open government.

His election symbolizes the extent to which the Island has become cosmopolitan. (The Chinese vote may be noteworthy.)

On demographic change, MacLauchlan said the province must continue in its recent successes in attracting immigrants. The province has to do better at retaining its own talented and most mobile people, and encouraging expatriate Islanders to return.

“We cannot prosper without an effective population strategy,” he said.

MacLauchlan directly addressed the growing Chinese population on P.E.I., speaking in Mandarin wishing them a happy new year.

The Chinese population could be a significant factor in the coming election, especially in Charlottetown. There is the potential for thousands of new Chinese Canadians voting for the first time in the capital city.

Perhaps more notably, MacLauchlan himself is gay: out, partnered, all of it.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 25, 2015 at 3:38 am

[LINK] “How #stormchips became a Maritime phenomenon”

Adrian Lee of MacLean’s describes the Maritime Canadian tradition of stormchips.

New York may not have been slammed by snow as predicted, but the eastern seaboard, including the Maritimes, was hit by heavy gusts, and more than 30 cm of snow in some areas. For Atlantic Canada, though, these tough wintry times have only one balm: #stormchips, a year-old hashtag for Haligonians to fete the snacks they’ve stocked up on. As Tuesday’s storm approached, the tag began to trend nationally yet again, and East Coast businesses and political parties took up the stormchip cause. It all started with Stephanie Domet, who hosts the Mainstreet Halifax program at CBC Radio One. Domet spoke to Maclean’s about how it all started, her personal #stormchip rules, why stormchips feel quintessentially Maritime, and what it’s like to have all this (strange) power.

So how did it begin?

We here in Nova Scotia went through quite a period last year of winter storms all the time, it felt like, for weeks and weeks and weeks. And it seemed like, last January, that every time the forecast was for stormy weather, I got the urge to get chips. I love chips. My total kryptonite is plain ripple chips—but we never have them in the house, probably because I love them too much. So they’re a super treat-thing for me, and I realized that every time there was a storm I got this incredible urge to get chips. So this one morning I go to my husband and say, “It’s going to really snow tomorrow, we should get some chips tonight.” And then in an off-the-cuff conversation, live conversation on the show that I host, I was talking with our news reader Ryan Pierce and he talked about the storm, and I said that the only thing on my grocery list to stock up for the storm is chips and dip, and he admitted that it was a similar conversation they were having at his place, what snacks to get before the storm. Maybe we talked about it a little more on the show before we were off air, and then I went to the grocery store and I got my ripple chips and dip, and took a photo of it, and tweeted, “Success! #stormchips.” The rest, as they say, is history, I guess. (Laughs)

So why do you think this blew up? There’s a feeling, for me, that the #stormchips phenomenon is kind of this essentially Maritimey thing.

The only thing I can think about it was that this was a thing that everyone was always doing, and that I just happened to tap into the zeitgeist and that’s why it resonated. I don’t know if it’s a particularly Maritimey thing. Maybe we take storms more seriously here because of the ocean? I don’t know!

Written by Randy McDonald

January 28, 2015 at 11:34 pm

[DM] “On the inevitability of out-migration from Atlantic Canada”

I’ve a post up at Demography Matters noting the inevitability of substantial out-migration from Atlantic Canada.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 20, 2015 at 4:59 am