Posted in biographical sketch

Citizen Advisory

This week, I had two opportunities to discuss citizen advisory committees. The first arose from my conversations with Brian Arnott. Brian and his partner Leslie Wright run an international cultural consulting business, Novita Interpares, from Lunenburg.Screenshot_2019-05-20-09-01-43 We were comparing notes on community development in the Annapolis Valley and along the South Shore. In my previous blog, I had raised questions about technology and education from the perspective of a citizen living in rural Annapolis County. Asking difficult questions, and offering solutions are very different activities.

From Brian, I recognized that small towns are scaled down versions of our larger metropolitan areas. As such their economic development depends upon input from different sectors. This input can be obtained through citizen advisory committees or sectoral interest groups.

The second opportunity was a meeting with Danielle Robinson. Danielle is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Guelph.Screenshot_2019-05-20-09-12-57 Her Ph.D research is a comparative analysis of food tourism in the Okanagan Valley with the Annapolis Valley. As we talked about the structures in Nova Scotia , I realized there is a real difference in both approach and culture between BC and NS. Comparative research can help us redefine our approach to seemingly intractable issues: changing demographics, municipal competition, the relationship between communities and their educational institutions.


While in Lunenburg, Brian introduced me to Alastair Jarvis who runs Woodscamp Technologies Inc. This company is owned by the American Forest Foundation. Their business model is to assist private woodlot owners in several US states. They use a combination of technologies to meet the needs of their clients. Interestingly, their staff has expertise in GIS, cloud computing, as well as gaming technologies. They are able to meet the needs of their American clients from Lunenburg, in rural Nova Scotia.

This week, we have started to ramp up the publicity for the Ernest Buckler Literary Event Society (EBLES) bi-ennial event, in support of local writing. This year it will be Saturday, June 29th at the Temple on Queen in Bridgetown. Keynote speakers are Whit Fraser and John Demont. Both bring a reporter’s experience to their writing and understanding of the North, and the Maritimes, respectively.

b52c602a-2817-4905-9c36-9fda35f157e7Tickets for the EBLES event are available at The Endless Shores Books, Bridgetown; Shelf Life Used Books, Kentville; The Inside Story, Greenwood; Mad Hatter Books, Annapolis Royal and the MacDonald Museum, Middleton.


To Brian Arnott, Alastair Jarvis and Danielle Robinson for a series of stimulating conversations. To the members of the EBLES team for their ongoing commitment to writing about place: Jane Borecky, Anne Crossman and John Montgomerie. Edward Wedler for his graphics contribution.


Woodscamp Technologies Inc. see their web site at

Whit Fraser 2018. True North Rising. Burnstown Publishing House.

John Demont 2017. The Long Way Home. A personal history of Nova Scotia. Penguin Random House.




Posted in Opinion

Carpe Diem

On Friday, I cycled to COGS to meet with Wayne St-Amour (Principal, Annapolis Valley campus NSCC) and Michael Purcell (Manager, COGS). The chat was about the new residence on the Lawrencetown site. On my way, I noticed the OPEN sign at the WineMakers  Tavern on the corner.Screenshot_2019-05-11-10-35-03 Later in the day, Heather and I stopped there for an inaugural lunch. This opening, combined with the renovations at the Lawrencetown restaurant, shows a real commitment by local business to the community. These investments are complemented by the activities across the river at the BeaverCreek Winery and Lunn’s Mill Beer Company.

This week proved to be a painful transition for me. It was time to start up the ride-on lawn mower, as well as the tractor for the orchard. My enthusiasm was dampened by the need to replace the batteries, but also to switch mental gears. I had to ‘get out of my head’ and ‘get into my hands’. Two very different types of thinking.

This transition coincided with listening to a couple of podcasts on CBC Radio Ideas. This week, Jean Vanier died, aged 91, in Paris. Vanier was the founder of the L’Arche movement. The podcasts, The Rabbit and the Giraffe replayed  interviews with Vanier about his life and philosophy. I was struck by his holistic philosophy, but also his deep sense of community.

As I reflect on the initiatives taking place in the Annapolis Valley, it seems that we must ‘seize the moment’. In my conversation with Wayne and Michael, it appears that not a lot has changed since the early days of COGS (1980’s). We still possess a unique circumstance of a specialized technical institute, located in a diverse, culturally-rich, rural setting. There are however some questions that we need to collectively answer:

What is happening to the high speed Internet for the region ?

We have talented elders in the region who are having a difficult time conducting their business because of the continuing poor Internet service; undoubtedly placing some at a competitive disadvantage.

What is happening to Gordonstoun Nova Scotia ?

This initiative makes sense, especially if it is coupled with the interests of other post-secondary institutions, like COGS. The underlying values are consistent.

What is the vision and business plan for the new residence  at COGS ?

We need to understand the market for the courses that will be offered at this facility, so that it will cover the initial investment and annual costs.

From where I sit, on the East Side of Eden, the opportunity  to grow ‘the creative rural economy’ remains. Carpe Diem. But we do need answers to these three questions. Within the community, there are elders who can assist in finding these answers.


We went to see Sharkwater Extinction at the Kings Theatre, Annapolis Royal on Friday evening. It is a documentary on the life of film maker and conservationist, Rob Stewart. We were surprised at the low attendance. Perhaps, our marine environment remains under-appreciated by land-based rural residents.


CBC Radio Ideas. 2019. Two part series. Remembering Jean Vanier: The Rabbit and the Giraffe. Available as podcast.


To Wayne St Amour and Michael Purcell for their willingness to chat. John Wightman and Roger Mosher for their regular Friday afternoon feedback. And Edward Wedler for his remote contribution.

Posted in Event Review, New thinking

COGS celebration and reflections

Last Friday, I attended the 17th Annual COGS Student Success celebration at the Lawrencetown Fire Hall. Approximately fifty awards were handed out to students in the Geographic Sciences. COGSawardsThis included GIS, Remote Sensing, Marine Geomatics, Survey Technology and Technician, Community Planning and Information Technology. Today, the student population is around one hundred and fifty.  In my day (1980-88), we had similar student numbers, divided into three departments: Surveying, Computer Programming, and Cartography/Planning. It will be interesting to speculate on the numbers and disciplinary interests over the next thirty years.

Konrad Dramowicz and Kathleen Stewart, both announced their retirement from the NSCC. We wish them well in the third age.

bookCover_ArtisticApproachesToCulturalMappingA couple of conversations caught my attention. The first was a chat about the conversion of a LiDAR-derived topographic landscape into a hooked rug. This resonated with a new book that I had signed out from the COGS library. Artistic Approaches to Cultural Mapping: activating imaginaries and means of knowing. The second conversation, with Ed Symons, related to my experience at the walk-in clinic in Berwick, looking for a doctor. There, I had picked up a brochure describing the process for 811 registration. Here was my question: why not allow communities to actively engage in the doctor shortage issue. Can we not map citizens who do not have a family doctor from the registry?  Can we not map the communities where doctors are retiring? This would allow individual communities, without government oversight and control, to be more proactive.

logo_WWSCYesterday, Heather and I joined a group of about thirty woodlot owners for a field trip organized by the Western Woodlot Services Cooperative (WWSC) to North Range, Digby County. It started at the Forest Products Mill outside of Barton. Our host was Harold Alexander who has been managing woodlots in the area for over forty years. It was a joy to spend the time in the woods with a knowledgeable person and to appreciate the complexity of the decision process behind woodlot management and to understand the potential for a better alternative through citizen collaboration.

bookCover_UnderlandThis week, I received emails, from my brother and Frank Fox, about the new book by Robert MacFarlane, Underland. On BBC Radio 4 at 9:45 am, each day there was a short podcast from a different chapter. The book looks at landscape features below the ground, especially caves, mines, sewer systems throughout Europe. It reminded me of two occasions in my own life. While at the University of Birmingham, we hitch-hiked to the west coast of Ireland to go caving near Lisdoonvarna and the Burren. A few years later (1970) I joined Derek Ford, Michael Goodchild and others to explore Castleguard Cave in the Canadian Rockies, beneath the Columbia Icefields. Both are a classic example of physical geography in action.

One final reflection. Again beginning with a conversation with Ed Symons,  he gave me the latest issue of Municipal World (May 2019). It includes an article New Uses for Historic Places of Faith. Up near Wolfville, they have converted a church into a local craft brewery. Yesterday I noticed at Plympton, they are deconstructing the church. Only the frame remains standing. What an interesting commentary on society.


Ed Symons for the conversations, before and during at the COGS Award Ceremony. Harold Alexander for his in-depth knowledge of the woods in Southwest Nova Scotia. Peter Maher and Frank Fox for forwarding the reviews of Robert McFarlane’s new book. Edward Wedler for his artistic contribution.


Nancy Duxbury, WF Garrett-Petts and A. Longley. (ed). 2019. Artistic Approaches to Cultural Mapping: activating imaginaries and means of knowing. Routledge Publishing.

Robert MacFarlane. 2019 Underland: a deep time journey. Hamish Hamilton Publishing.


In the Duxbury book, two items caught my eye. There is a reference to Tom van Sant’s  map The Earth – From Space: a Satellite View of the World. Here, right next to my computer, I have a signed copy of this image dated 12-13-90 from my days with Esri, Redlands and meeting Tom at his studio.

The second item is a reference to the work of radical geographer, William Bunge: 1968. Where Detroit’s run over Black Children on the Pointes-Downtown Track map. Bill spent time in the Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.


Posted in Event Review, Opinion

COGS awards night 2019


I have been invited to hand out four awards on Friday, May 3rd at the Lawrencetown Fire Hall to graduates of COGS. They are two CANMAP awards, and two  Roger F. Tomlinson awards for excellence in GIS; one associated with Esri Redlands and the other with CANMAP. Given this unique opportunity, I thought that I would write a blog to share some of the history behind these relationships. If you are interested in more details, go to the web site

We have to go back to 1980.  At that time, COGS was called the Nova Scotia Land Survey Institute (NSLSI). It was one of only a handful of technical institutes training surveyors in Canada. I arrived, with my young family, to establish a new program in Scientific Computer Programming (SCP) with Bruce Peveril. We purchased a Prime mini-computer. During the 1980’s we designed and delivered new programs in Business Computer Programming, Computer Graphics, GIS, and Remote Sensing. After eight years of contract employment, I was exhausted and we headed for Indonesia and later California.

With access to new digital technology, we were looking for application software. From my previous academic career at Memorial University, I was familiar with the mapping software from the Harvard Lab of Computer Graphics. I was also aware that Scott Morehouse had left Harvard to join Jack Dangermond in California at Esri. By chance, the Esri software Arc/Info and Grid ran on Prime computers.

John Wightman was Vice-Principal at NSLSI. John had previously been a Cartography instructor at NSLSI. John and Jim Doig (Principal) recognized the value of this new technology. He formed CANMAP (Centre for Advanced Numerical Mapping Applications) to apply the new technologies to government and industry projects in Nova Scotia. This was really the predecessor to the Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) and the only mechanism to conduct applied research outside of the teaching environment. CANMAP made a profit. The CANMAP awards come from those funds.

In 1986, NSLSI changed its name to the College of Geographic Sciences (COGS) to better reflect the wider range of technologies in Lawrencetown. At that time, besides our industry relationship with Esri and Esri Canada, we had similar relationships with Geobase (Strings), TYDAC (Spans), Dipix and PCI.

When John instigated the name change, he consulted with his friend, and mentor, from Acadia University days, Roger Tomlinson. Roger taught Physical Geography at Acadia and John was his teaching assistant. Roger was running a Consulting Geographers business in Ottawa, called Tomlinson Associates.

Besides Roger’s fundamental role in the Canadian Geographic Information System (CGIS), he advised governments and industry on the implementation of GIS. Associates of Tomlinson included Ray Boyle (inventor of the digitizing table), Michael Goodchild (champion of Geographic Information Science) and myself (instructor at COGS). I worked with Roger on a number of GIS systems implementation for the New Brunswick government, the Nova Scotia government and the City of Ottawa.

In the 1980s diploma programs were three sixteen week semesters. The third semester was dedicated to a cooperative project with government or industry. When Alex Miller left MMM and formed Esri Canada he recruited from the SCP program: David Roscoe, John Houwelling and Eric Melanson. Almost all new Esri Canada installations hired COGS graduates to run their systems. David MacLean started his career with Alan Brackley at JD Irving in New Brunswick. We also started to send our graduates down to Redlands, California.

There is still a connection today. Current instructors: David MacLean, David Colville, Jim Verran all followed this pathway from the SCP program. Other graduates include Tim Webster, Kathleen Stewart, Joy Brown and Konrad Dramowicz. Many graduates find their first job with Esri or an Esri Canada customer.


Eventually, COGS became part of the NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College) system. It was renamed the Centre of Geographic Sciences.

Today and beyond.

This year, the NSCC has announced a new $9M expansion of the Lawrencetown campus. How will that impact the curriculum, the instructors, the relationship between industry/government and community? Will we see a new relationship with the elders? There are over a dozen ex-COGS instructors living within a one hour drive of the campus. Will we follow Albert Marshall, Mi’kmaq concept and adopt ‘two-eyed seeing’? Will we see the residences used for international students? In the 1980’s we modelled ourselves on the ITC in the Netherlands. We worked with the Environmental Management Development Indonesia (EMDI) program at Dalhousie University. Today, we have a joint Masters degree in Applied Geomatics with Acadia University. There is a program at BIOTROP in Indonesia following the original COGS curriculum. What is their status today? Valerie Thomas and Stephen Rawlinson, both COGS graduates, went there as instructors for a year, to help with the technology transfer.

Will we continue to recruit both local instructors and instructors from the global market? What is the difference between research at AGRG, and research at COGS? What is the new equivalent company to Esri today? Is there a new Roger Tomlinson? Could it be Jon Murphy who is organizing the GeoIgnite conference in Ottawa next month? Jon is a COGS graduate.


Thanks to John Wightman and David MacLean for suggesting my name to present these four awards. I look forward to meeting the next generation of Geographic Scientists. I hope you enjoy this snapshot of history. Ted MacKinnon curates the site on my behalf. Edward Wedler, another ex-COGS instructor brings both his Remote Sensing teaching expertise and graphics skills to this blog. In memory of Pat Castel and Bill Power, both SCP instructors at COGS.




Posted in Book Review

Returning Home

map_easternCanada_2bAfter five weeks in the North, what has changed on the home front? First, Dr Mackinnon has retired. This means no family doctor. Make sure that you have registered on the 811 list; not an encouraging sign, especially given the recent video that went viral on a young cancer patient. Second, Highway #201 is still full of logging trucks removing trees from the remaining forests of Southwest Nova Scotia. Third, no news on the Gordonstoun build outside of Bridgetown. It does make you wonder whether we need a change in our political leadership. or are most of our woes related to the performance of the civil service? In which case, we need a ‘change in the culture’.

bookCover_WonderWithinYouOn a more positive note, courtesy of Amazon, I returned to find two new books by David Manners. You may recall from an earlier blog, that he wrote a novel in the 1940s about rural living in Centrelea. In The Wonder within You, David Morgan-Jones gives a useful biographical introduction to Manners’ life. Manners was born in Halifax in 1900. After going to the University of Toronto to study Forestry, while there, he started his acting career. In the 1930’s he was a Hollywood film star. He dropped out, and moved to Yucca Loma where he wrote two novels: Convenient Season (1941) and Under Running Laughter (1943). He shared his life with Bill Mercer (1948-1978) in both Yucca Loma and Santa Barbara. Manners died in 1998. Awakening from the Dream of Me (1987) was described as ‘a unique collection of aphorisms from an American sage‘. The Wonder within You (2005), edited by Morgan-Jones, was published after his death. It contains a selection of quotation from both his newsletters and journals. For example,

‘No tools, no money, no travel, no teacher, no group, no organization is needed. The ultimate is here, and it is free and open to everyone. No identification card is needed, no scroll of great deeds or list of failures. Come as you are, naked of the world’s judgements.’

From the past, this month, I have received emails from students who were in Lawrencetown in the 1980s. Bill Castel and his mother, Pat, were both students at NSLSI in the Scientific Computer programming program. Sidey Timmins and his sister, Ann, were both students in the new GIS program from the mid-eighties. I have also been in contact with Danielle Robinson. She is PhD candidate at the University of Guelph looking at food sustainability and rural tourism.  She is making a comparison between the Okanagan Valley, BC and the Annapolis Valley, NS. I look forward to her visit to Nova Scotia next month.

bookCover_NovaScotiasLostCommunitiesMy last piece of reading, I picked up this week, at my father-in-law’s house in New Glasgow. The book is by Joan Dawson Nova Scotia’s Lost Communities: the early settlements that helped build the provinceBesides raising questions about the historical exploitation of the Nova Scotian landscape, whether saw mills, shipbuilding or mining, it offers us a reminder that the current overexploitation of our resources will again pass into history. However, it does beg the question: will we ever learn? To do things differently?


To those friends and relatives who believe that ‘there must be a better way’ without exploiting people and the planet. To Heather Stewart and Edward Wedler, fellow travellers.


After five weeks away, I have five issues of The Guardian Weekly to digest. Just imagine.     In the April 19th. edition, there is a promising book review of Outpost by Dan Richards. Alex Preston, the reviewer compares the writing to the work of Robert MacFarlane. Time to use the services of inter-library loan in Lawrencetown.



David Manners.1987. Awakening from the Dream of Me. Non-stop Books.

David Morgan-Jones. (ed).2005. The Wonder within You. From the Metaphysical journals of David Manners. Trafford Publishing.

Joan Dawson. 2018. Nova Scotia’s Lost Communities: The Early Settlements that helped Build the Province. Nimbus Publishing.

Posted in biographical sketch

Reading to Grandchildren

One of the real pleasures of visiting grandchildren is the opportunity to read bedtime stories. Reading to Quinn brings back memories of Birmingham University in the 1960’s: Manfred Mann and ‘The Mighty Quinn’, and the Spencer Davis Group. Quinn the Eskimo, or was it Anthony Quinn, in Zorba the Greek.

Recent books include Halifax ABCStephen Hawking Little People, Big Dreams, and Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different.

bookCovers_halifaxHawkingBoysThe Halifax ABC was picked up at Woozles in Halifax. It has excellent artwork. Stories for Boys who dare to be different, provides one-page biographies, from Patch Adams to Benjamin Zephaniah and includes such luminaries as Stephen Hawking and Nelson Mandela. For each person, Quinn always asks ‘what age were they when they died ?’ The Stephen Hawking book gives more details on his life.

For those interested in walking, my brother sent me a review in the Guardian of a new book by a Norwegian author, Walking: one step at a time

As I prepared to leave Iqaluit, I stopped for one last time at Arctic Ventures. I picked up Nick Newbery’s autobiography Never a Dull Moment. It describes his forty years in Education in Canada’s North. He lived in  , Taloyoak and Iqaluit.

Today, we expected to watch the dog sled races. However, this may be delayed by a search and rescue mission. Reflecting, both the uncertainty of the North, as well as the level of community support and spirit.

From Newbery, p190.

”The North isn’t just a place, it’s a lifestyle, the small-town lifestyle that is the glue to Nunavut’s character personified by Inuit and their culture, a people different from qallunaat but not that different any more, just different enough to get one to think about one’s own culture and priorities and perhaps do some adjusting”


Neil Christopher. 2015. On the Shoulder of a Giant. An Inuit folktale. Inhabit Media.


To Quinn and Isla Rose for sharing ‘story time’. To the authors who share their experiences of the Arctic. To Peter for the links to the Guardian. Edward for his graphics skills.


Ben Brooks. 2018. Stories for Boys who dare to be different. RP Kids, Philadelphia.
Isabel Vergara. Stephen Hawking. Little People, Big Dreams. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
Nick Newbery. 2019. Never a Dull Moment. Nortext Publishing Corp.
Yolanda Poplawska. 2009. A Halifax ABC. Published by Nimbus.

Erling Kagge. 2019. Walking: one step at a time. Penguin Books.



Posted in Event Review

Memory and Place

On Tuesday, I went to hear Wayne Johnston at the Unikkaarvik Visitors Centre in Iqaluit. The Centre also houses the Library. In preparation, I had signed out The Navigator of New York. I was surprised to learn that there are two Wayne Johnstons; same name, same birthdate.bookCover_navigatorOfNewYork

Last night it was Wayne Johnston, performing artist and librarian who showed up. His literary performance was entitled Ten Cities: the past is presentHe selected ten cities where he had lived. He was returning to each city, seeking to understand the effect of memory on place. It was twenty years since he was last in Iqaluit. While in town,  he planned to visit ten different locations that he recalled from the past.

Wayne organized his presentation in alphabetic order, from  A to Z, Accra to Zagreb. In between, we visited Geneva, Kathmandu, London, New York, Ottawa, Toronto. Each city and individual locations triggered recollections, new observations, writing and painting. These memories were organized by place. They included a collage of events that happened over a life span.

After the presentation, I inquired about access to his collection of memories. In time, the memoir will be available in both book form and online.Ten Cities

This format raised a number of interesting questions about how you organize your thoughts in space/time. It reminded me of the work of my brother who had developed a series of videos about his life; in his case, organized chronologically. To organize events by place leads to thoughts about maps and geography. Often, when discussing ideas, I am led to putting things into context: Where were we living there? and when?

Wayne started his presentation with a quotation from Dylan Trigg from The Memory of Place.bookCover_memoryOfPlace

My sense of place for Iqaluit reflects a number of visits over almost eight years. Each time, there is the opportunity to observe the community, changes in a growing family, and changes in myself (with age).

The alphabetic organization, A-Z, perhaps reflects the influence of Wayne’s career as a librarian. The painting and the writing showed us the performance artist.

My final thought relates to identity. Unless you are there, at the same time and place, you will not know who shows up. Or you can be there, at the same time and place, and still, you do not show up.


Wayne Johnston for his presence in Iqaluit. Jane Borecky who asked me to forward a note to Wayne Johnston.

Dylan Trigg. The Memory of Place
Wayne Johnston. The Navigator of New York
Wayne Johnston. Ten Cities: the past is present. Presentation on April 16, 2019.
Peter Maher. The DAD videos. produced by Jason Maher.







Posted in Opinion

Toonik Tyme

This weekend, it is the start of Toonik Tyme, a celebration of the start of Spring in the North.

It includes outdoor events: ski, snowmobile and dogsled races and the sharing of traditional food and crafts.

Last night, at the Visitors Centre, we went to see two classic NFB films, Land of the Long Day (1952) and People of the Ice (2003). The latter featured Sheila Watt-Cloutier and is a documentary on the effects of global warming on the Arctic environment and the Inuit culture. The film is now sixteen years old, pre-dating the argument in her book, The Right to be Cold.

Next week, Wayne Johnston comes to town. He will talk on Ten Cities: the past becomes the present. He will look at the relationship between place and memory through writing and drawing. In preparation, I picked up his novel, The Navigator of New York at the Iqaluit library.

banner_BBChereBeDragonsFrom my brother, I received another BBC podcast, Here be DragonsIt explores the relationship between poetry and maps. The most obscure was the idea of using a city map of Havana to navigate the landscape of the Isle of Angelsey.

I did manage to finish Rubinstein’s book Born to Walk. While I enjoyed the chapter on Creativity, I found the book overall, very uneven.

COGSexpansionThis week, I received an email about the expansion of the COGS campus. While the additional infrastructure will provide a short term economic boost to the village of Lawrencetown. There were no details on the impact on the curriculum, research and teaching, or the relationship to the larger community, and rural economic development. It continues to amaze me at the lack of connectivity with place.

In a different context, to quote Sheila Watt-Cloutier:

“A great disconnect has grown between our communities, our economies and our environment. This has resulted in rapid climate change that now spirals out of control and fundamentally threatens the world. Those who have traditionally lived closest to the land, and who today maintain the strongest connections to nature, are now at risk of becoming just a footnote in the history of globalization.” p.323.

I would add that we need to demonstrate much more holistic, inclusive thinking, especially from our educational institutions.


To Heather and Edward willing participants in the journey.


Posted in New thinking

Elder Travel

bookCover_TrueNorthRisingIn True North Rising, Whit Fraser describes meeting Mary Simon’s parents in the Arizona Desert (p.138). For nearly twenty years, the in-laws made winter camping trips. Bob May started work for the Hudson Bay Company at Arctic Bay, where he met his wife, Nancy. This story reminds me of the changes in technology, and its relation to elder travel.

We head North, to Iqaluit, with a cell phone and iPad. On arrival, we are reminded that this is ‘old’ technology. Here are smartphones, text messaging and no landline in the house. My iPad only gives me access to email.

In Iqaluit, at the Black Heart Cafe and at the Aquatic Centre, I notice that they have a free book exchange. This allows me to read an essay by Margaret Laurence, ‘My Final Hour’. Laurence was Chancellor at Trent University, living in Lakefield. This connects me with my son, Patrick. They have recently moved their family to Peterborough. We once lived there, when I worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

bookCover_BornToWalkOn our way North, we had a stopover in Ottawa. This was our chance to visit an urban Chapters bookstore. I picked up Dan Rubinstein’s Born to Walk: the transformative power of a pedestrian act. The book contains a reference to a wonderful Ray Bradbury short story, The Pedestrian.

“The year is 2053. Leonard Mead loves to walk. Every night, he strolls alone along the buckling concrete sidewalks of an empty silent city, peering at houses who citizens are riveted to their viewing screens. Suddenly, he is stopped by the city’s lone police car. (There is no more crime, nobody goes outside).

“Business or Profession ?” A metallic voice asks.
“I guess you’d call me a writer.”
“No profession”, says the voice.
“What are you doing out ?”
“Walking” replies Mead.
“Walking !”
“Just walking.”
“Walking, just walking, walking ?”
“Yes Sir”.
“Walking where? For what?”
“Walking for air. Walking to see.”

Mead is told to get into the car. There is no driver. He is taken to the Psychiatric Centre for Research on Regressive Tendencies.

Rubinstein, page 193. Chapter 6. Creativity.

As part of our elder travel, we need to understand the appropriate combination of technology in North America and elsewhere. We also need to make sure that we engage in walking, and have ready access to a variety of printed matter (books).

At the end of our third week up North, I am coming to the end of Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s book, The Right to be Cold. Recently, I became aware of a new blog site — northbooks

Heather Stewart, my travel companion, and Edward Wedler, my technology support person down South.

Whit Fraser. 2018. True North Rising. Burnstown Publishing House.
Dan Rubinstein. 2015.  Born to Walk. ECW Press.
Christl Verduyn (Ed). Margaret Laurence: an appreciation.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 2015. The Right to be Cold. Penguin Books.





Posted in Opinion

Lessons from Nunavut

banner_nunavutApril 1st. Twenty years ago, Nunavut was created as a separate territory from Canada’s NWT.flag_Nunavut
In the weekly Nunatsiaq News, there was a special 20th-anniversary supplement. It includes the following articles, in both Inuktitut and English.

  • Don’t forget Nunavut’s rural and remote regions
  • Has Nunavut’s economic boom left the small communities behind?
  • Learning our own language
  • Nunavut high performers: twenty years up on stage
  • The connected territory? Nunavut still waits (high-speed Internet)
  • After 165 years Inuit knowledge leads to Franklin’s wrecks
  • The big thaw: climate change
  • Nunavut’s protected areas for wilderness and wildlife

It would be interesting if our politicians in Nova Scotia could develop a relationship with Nunavut, and see how different jurisdictions address the same issues.

bookCover_2booksThis week, I visited one of the book/craft stores in Iqaluit and purchased two new books: True North Rising by Whit Fraser (book launch video) and The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt Cloutier (presentation video). Both are biographical in nature. It was fun to read Whit’s book which starts with his employment at the CBC Northern Service in 1967, while I was looking out across the sea ice on Frobisher Bay. Both books provide a model for ‘life as an elder’.

There are also connections. Whit describes his association with Fred Roots, through Students on Ice. I recall Fred from the UNESCO MAB program. Heather and I were shepherding the nomination document for the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve through the bureaucratic process. Another connection, going back even further, was to Trevor and Hugh Lloyd, Geographers. I remember meeting them at the McGill SubArctic Research Lab in Schefferville, Quebec in 1964/65.

Whit is a keynote speaker at the EBLES event at the Temple on Queen Street, Bridgetown on June 29th. The other keynote is John Demont, who also comes from the reporting tradition, at the Chronicle Herald.

On Saturday night, we attended a concert at the Iqaluit High School. It was a high energy performance by the Jerry Cans. What was most surprising, was the audience demographic. Young Inuit families. Such a contrast to the Kings Theatre.

Another point of reference is the Iqaluit Centennial Library. This was a chance to catch up on lost gems.  I found Robert McGhee’s book  The Last Imaginary Place. A Human History of the Arctic World and Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism.

sleemanLagerA final note. There is now a beer store in Iqaluit. Twenty-four Sleeman Silver Creek lager cost me $86. BTW the new snow has created excellent conditions for cross country skiing.

Thanks to Andrew and Julia for their hospitality. Edward for his support.

Nunatsiag News Nunatsiaq News
The Jerry Cans The Jerry Cans
Whit Fraser. 2018. True North Rising. Burnstown Publishing.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier. 2015. The Right to be Cold. Penguin  Books.
Robert McGhee. 2004. The Last Imaginary Place. Key Porter.
Edward Said. 1993. Culture and Imperialism. Alfred Knopf.