Posted in New thinking

Electoral Reform

By the time this blog is posted, we shall know the results of the Municipal Election in Annapolis County. We shall know in the words of The Reader editorial whether ‘Small Things Matter’. We will see the impact of online voting. At this critical juncture, I wonder whether we need electoral reform.

Do we need eleven Councillors in Annapolis County?
Do we need separate elections for the towns, e.g. Annapolis Royal, Middleton?
Is the management of the natural resources in this province independent of the municipalities?

In the past, I have expressed concern about the management of our landscape, and its relation to climate change.

Looking for solace, in these difficult times, I picked up again, Daniel Botkin’s No Man’s Garden: Thoreau and a new vision for civilization and nature. In the book, Botkin identifies three types of expert (p.111):

  1. Contemporary professional experts
  2. The great thinkers of the past.
  3. Experiential experts – local people with local knowledge based on their experience of living in an area and observing carefully.

My thesis would be that we need a combination of all three. Likewise on municipal council we need all three.

It would be a mistake, in my mind, if we focussed only on the small things, and did not understand the larger context. Or what was happening in our larger geography.

There are many good resources available. This morning, I visited Dawn Oman’s gallery in Bridgetown to ask about tickets to the Dave Gunning concert on October 24th.

While there, I had the chance to pick up the latest issue of Up Here magazine, devoted to Northern Canada.

From Celes Davar, we received the recommendation to watch Kiss the Ground , starring Woody Harrelson on Netflix. It defines the importance of the soil to our global ecosystem.
From Anne Crossman, I was sent the link to Striking Balance, a series on Canada’s biosphere reserves.

They are filming the episode on the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, to be aired at the end of November on the CBC. Finally, we received an update from Larry Powell on the Gordonstoun project. This offers employment opportunities for local business. It emphasizes ‘place-based’ education. Our geography, the Annapolis Valley, fits within the Atlantic Canada bubble, as well as the Canada nation.


To all those friends who continue to share ideas and experiences: Dawn Oman, Celes Davar, Anne Crossman. Heather, who has helped shoulder the burden of a bumper apple crop in the orchard. Edward for ongoing support.


Daniel Botkin, 2001. No Man’s Garden: Thoreau and a new vision for civilization and nature. Island Press.

Posted in Book Review

Fall Magazines

Visiting New Glasgow for the Thanksgiving Weekend, I had the opportunity to catch up on the October/November magazines from Saltscapes, Volume 21 #5.

Saltscapes Magazine
“Some would make us just names on a list. But we are people in a place - and resist.” 

This seemed very appropriate at the time of our municipal elections.

From Walrus, there is notice of a new book by Robert MacFarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris, published by Anansi Press, The Lost Spells. In the latest Brain Pickings, see too, The Unwinding by Jackie Morris published in July 2020.

From Canadian Geographic, Volume 140 #5, there is a rich trove of articles.

  • Michif Revitalized: How to save an endangered language.
  • Mapping Canada’s biggest islands.
  • How to avoid the sixth extinction.
  • Keeping the inlet wild – Princess Louisa Inlet raised $3m in 3 months .

Meanwhile online, Emergence Magazine Episode 6. The Power of Revitalization of Language Keepers: The struggle for Indigenous language survival in California. (Podcast link HERE)

From Chelsea Green Publishing, Chris Smaje’s book, A Small Farm Future. ‘Chris Smaje has worked a small farm in Somerset, southwest England for the last seventeen years. Previously, he was a university-based social scientist’.

At you can find Podcast from the Prairie: Respecting your tools. A conversation with Wes Jackson, now 84 years old, from the Land Institute.


John Stewart for his rich collection of magazines. Heather Stewart and Siqsiq, my travel companions. Sandra Stewart and Don Higgins for the wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner. Edward for searching out the links and associated graphics.

Posted in Opinion

A Green Future?

See blog post, “What is Truth?”

As part of the no spraying of glyphosate in Annapolis County, the Warden sent a letter to the Minister of Lands and Forestry, Ian Rankin and the Minister of Environment, Gordon Wilson. This week, he shared the response from Wilson:

He quoted Health Canada, “it does not present risks of concern to human health or the environment when used according to the revised label directions”.

This response does not answer my concern. My concern is that the spraying of the forest with a herbicide is part of the clear-cutting, industrial approach to forest management. This approach does not recognize the value of all the other species which co-exist in this landscape. We have not heard from Minister Rankin.

Except, that he is running to replace Premier Stephen McNeil on an ‘environmental’ agenda!

Video Link

Over ten years ago, I was directly involved in the recognition of the value of Southwest Nova as a Biosphere Reserve (SNBR) under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere program. Today, you see the signage on the Highway #101. This reserve includes a core protected area: Kejimkujik National Park and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, a buffer zone and the working landscape.

How is this part of the province being impacted by the different forestry practices: clear-cutting, selective cutting and ecological forestry?

Again, it would make a wonderful GIS student project to undertake a polygon on polygon overlay between the SNBR zones, and the forested parcels in Southwest Nova Scotia.
To conduct this analysis, we would need a map of the forest stands and their harvest history. This type of analysis should be of interest to our environmental NGOs e.g. MTRI, CARP and UNESCO MAB.

What does it mean for our ‘island of hope’ – Annapolis County, at a time of municipal election ?

Orchard Experience

It has been a hot , dry Summer. This has led to a bumper apple crop. It now looks like we will exceed 21 bins of NovaMac/MacFree apples. There is no spraying. It is a certified organic product which will be used to make apple cider, cider vinegar and apple brandy.


Heather and I wish to thank the collaborators with the harvest: Rick and Kathy, Neil Bent and Brian Boates. It could not have been done without your encouragement.


We watched David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet” on Netflix. He is 93 years old. The film emphasized the need for rewilding our landscape, for attention to our ocean environment and for the move to alternative renewable energy : solar, wind and hydro.

Posted in Book Review, Event Review

Apple Drops

You likely know the saying, “the apple does not fall far from the tree“. With the warm temperatures, rain and wind, I have gained insight into the way different varieties of apple drop from the tree. The MacFree stays on much longer than the NovaMac.

While waiting at the dentist in Bridgetown, I finished reading Gretel Ehrlich’s book on life in Wyoming. The following quotation caught my attention.

“We live in a culture that has lost its memory. Very little in the specific shapes and traditions of our grandparents’ pasts instructs us how to live today, or tells us who we are or what demand will be made on us as members of society.” p.103.

From the essay, ‘To live in two worlds: Crow Fair and a Sun Dance’ p.102-125.

This evening, I was able to watch on Facebook four candidates for District #7: Timothy Habinski, Russell Hannam, David Hudson and Susan Robinson-Burnie (missing was Mike Taylor) answer a series of questions on the Environment, health services, economic development, engaging the next generation and the Bridgetown Town Hall.

Top row, l to r: Russell Hannam, Anne Crossman (moderator), Timothy Habinski
Bottom row, l to r: David Hudson, Susan Robinson-Burnie
(missing: Mike Taylor)

I find it geographically remarkable that the town of Bridgetown is divided into two districts #3 and #7, either side of Highway #1.How does that help us with a ‘sense of community’?

Kudos to Steve Raftery, Andy Kerr and Anne Crossman for putting the event together. It helped my thinking, in a world without newspapers.

Later, the same evening, I received the following email from Andrew on Baffin Island, entitled ‘Harvest Time’.

“Isla wanted to do a harvest craft of what is happening in Nova Scotia. It’s Bob and Heather doing the picking.”

Here is my reply.
“Yes. We have two types of apple tree: NovaMac and MacFree. The NovaMac produces wonderful sweet, deep red apples.The MacFree is a later apple, stays on the tree longer. It looks more ‘green/orange’. Apparently the two varieties encourage cross-pollination (Raymond Hunter).”


Heather and I had a good day in the orchard, picking from the tree, and the ground. Andrew sent us the photograph of Isla Rose. Anne Crossman moderated the all-candidate event.


Gretel Ehrlich, 1985. The Solace of Open Spaces. Penguin Books.


Where’s Stephen?

Posted in Article Review, Video Review

Times have changed

Do you remember when we had a weekly local newspaper in Bridgetown (The Monitor) and in Middleton (The Mirror-Examiner)? Do you recall reading the column written by Anne Ottow?

As we were completing the organic certification and inspection process with Allison Grant, I discovered in my filing cabinet a copy of Ottow’s interview with Raymond and Rona Hunter. It was published on October 9th, 1996. I hope that you can read it.

After the Hunters, the farm was briefly in the care of Rob and Clara Flanagan. Andrew, my son, purchased the property in 2005. And here we are in 2020, maintaining and harvesting organic apples from trees planted by Raymond.

The news media has changed significantly in the Valley, partly in response to the Internet. Larry Powell, who was a reporter with the Saltwire network is now employed by the municipality of Annapolis. His latest contribution is a YouTube video with Gregory Heming. Gregory has decided to withdraw, and not defend his seat in the forthcoming municipal election. Meanwhile, in Lawrencetown, I received a flier in my mailbox about the voting patterns of Councillor Martha Roberts. The author was Ron Habinski, father of the warden, Timothy. Not sure exactly what this means.

The best source of information for the forthcoming election, meetings and gatherings,and items for sale and service is The Reader. Steve Raftery and Andy Kerr are maintaining an election web site.

In conclusion, I did receive an email from Nina Newington about a moratorium on spraying on private forest land this year. However, it still leaves unanswered a number of questions about forest management in Annapolis County:

How much forested land exists in Annapolis County?
How much forested land in the County has been clear-cut and sprayed? When and where?
If there is a moratorium on clear-cutting/spraying, what is the impact on the forestry sector?
How much of Annapolis County is crown land?
How much is private woodlots?
How much is forested but conserved for outdoor recreation, e.g. parks?
How much is forested but protects the water supply, e.g. Lawrencetown?
How much is forested wetland or deciduous woodland at the slope of North Mountain

This is the type of analyses that the county needs to undertake on behalf its citizens — if, indeed, it believes in ecological forestry. I have suggested to Timothy Habinski that the Municipality should collaborate with COGS to conduct this type of geographic analysis, with maps, imagery and statistics.


Raymond and Rona Hunter were strong advocates for organic agriculture. This means NO SPRAYING on our agricultural land.


Edward and Heather for their abiding interest in the landscape of Annapolis County and the species that live there. The potential for evidence-based management. Anne Crossman for moderating the all-candidate meetings for Districts 3 and 7.


Larry Powell, YouTube video.
Steve Raftery and Andy Kerr for the municipal election web site via The Reader.

Posted in biographical sketch

Two Kinds of Thinking (Updated)

July 15, 2017, I wrote a blog ‘Two Kinds of Thinking’. It described the difference between an academic focused on abstract ideas and the practical, focused on understanding the mechanics of a tractor and it’s related parts.

Two kinds of thinking

Move forward to September 26, 2020 we are harvesting a bumper crop of apples. The requirements are the same: pick into bushel boxes; 20 bushel boxes per bin.

I estimate that this year we will fill at least twenty bins. They will be transported to Boates Farm in Woodville. The drops will go to vinegar. The hand-picked apples from the tree will go to brandy.

The challenge is that I only drive the tractor in the orchard season. I need to move fully loaded bins from the orchard to the yard. Brian loads them onto a flat-bed and transports the apples to his farm for processing into juice.

The task of moving apples from trees to picking bags to boxes to bins to tractor to flatbed to processing plant to bottles of deliciousness.

The solution, as mentioned in 2017, is to find a mentor. Neil Bent, from Lawrencetown, has agreed to move the loaded bins from the orchard to the yard. The challenges are uneven ground, the counterweight of the bush hog mower, with the bins on the front fork lift. Plus the fine motor controls to place the bins on the flatbed.

Some new lessons from this year. We have four varieties of apple : NovaMac, Liberty, Nova Spy and MacFree. The Apple varieties ripen in the same order. Interestingly, Raymond Hunter planted the trees in rows But the diagonal follows each variety.

The third lesson is finding the noxious weed, Wild Parsnip in the north east corner of the orchard. This weed seems to have spread from Lawrencetown, along the roadside of Highway #201.

Three of the four apple varieties in my organic apple orchard (missing is Liberty)

As the reader can attest, it has been a dry, sunny Summer. The result has been a bumper crop. Excellent pollination. The apples seem pest-free and have a beautiful coloration. The lack of rainfall at a critical time may have caused some reduction in apple size.

We are hoping to have everything harvested in the next two weeks. Perhaps a bit later than normal. Partly because we lost a week with the Spray Protest.


The harvesting of an orchard requires considerable fortitude from both Heather and myself. We thank Neil Bent and Brian Boates for their practical expertise. Edward for his encouragement and online graphics.

Our bushel apple boxes are made by Carrol Corkum in Inglisville

Posted in biographical sketch

After Teddy, Bear?

For the last twenty-four hours we have had a reprieve from apple picking. Tropical storm ‘Teddy’ gave us high winds and 50-100 mm. of rain. Fortunately, our organic orchard is somewhat protected, but the storm has added to the drops which need to be picked up and shipped to Brian Boates Farm for organic cider vinegar.

Boates Farm

In response to Edward’s post on ‘Maps Through the Eyes of Children’, I received the following comment from my graduate supervisor, Mike Goodchild.

“An interesting topic indeed. It reminds me of Allestone, William Blake and Benjamin Heath Malkin, imaginary maps in general and imaginary maps created by children in particular.”

“Grandson Alastair (now 15) has been fascinated with maps from an early age; when he was planting out broccoli in our garden this Spring he called his work Utah because of the shape of the area he filled with plants”

After going to the bank in Bridgetown, Heather and I casually dropped into Endless Shores Books. Within fifteen minutes, I had ‘discovered‘ three books.

1 Tim Smit, 2002, Eden. Edenproject Books

‘In March 2001, the completed Eden Project in Cornwall opened its gates for the first time. Out of a disused china clay pit the vision of a living theatre of plants and people, and refuge for the world’s endangered species, had at last been realized.’

2 Tim Homan (Ed.), 1991, A Yearning Towards Wildness. Peachtree Publishers.

The book is divided into three sections:
In Wildness is the Preservation of the World
Consider the Beauty of the Earth
Let Man tread gently through Nature

3 Gretel Ehlich, 1985, The Solace of Open Spaces. Penguin.

’Ehrlich’s best prose is in a league with Annie Dillard and even Thoreau. The Solace of Open Spaces releases the bracing air of the wildness into the stuffy, heated confines of winter in civilization’

This morning, I checked out the orchard. The branches are still heavy with apples and droplets of rain. On the ground, it looks like another critter had enjoyed the fruit (bear scat).

Apple drop and animal droppings

Thank you to Edward on his blog post, and the feedback from Mike Goodchild. I will have to check the references. Heather has been working hard in the orchard picking from the trees, as I attempt to keep up with the drops.


Tim Smit, 2001, Eden. Edenproject Books.
Tim Homan (Ed.), 1991, A Yearning towards Wildness. Peachtree Publishers.
Greta Ehrlich, 1985. The Solace of Open Spaces. Penguin Books.

Posted in Event Review

Anatomy of a Protest

This is written from a Geographer‘s perspective. Nina Newington and the team from Extinction Rebellion would likely have a different, but complementary perspective.

Protest site (a Neil Green drone image).

Step 1 Where are the spray parcels? There were three parcels for spraying in Annapolis County. What are their PIDs? (Parcel Identification)

Given the PIDs, they can be located on a map. David Colville at COGS produced a map showing the three parcels on a topographic map base.

Step 2 How do you get to the parcels if you plan to occupy the site?

This requires field work. Driving rough logging roads looking for access points to the spray parcels. Since the decision has been made to occupy, you need good directions and maps to assist anyone interested in the occupation. David added routes to the parcel map.

Step 3 Which residents of Annapolis County will be directly impacted by the spray? i.e. down slope / down wind. The most adjacent citizens live along West Inglisville Road and Highway 201.

We produced an 8 x 11″ handout with a map of South Mountain showing the parcels. On the back, the warden’s letter to the province requesting NO Spraying in Annapolis County. We distributed the handout to citizens in the immediate area. This led to the identification of Mud Lake as part of the Village of Lawrencetown water supply catchment.

Step 4 Once the protest camp was in place, contacted Neil Green about drone photography of the site. This clearly shows the camp on the spray parcel. Release information to the media.

Protest site at clear-cut (A Neil Green drone image)

These are only some of the actions. Others include making signs visible from the air, placards, posters. We received excellent support from Integrity Printers, Lucky Rabbit, ARCH and PO bakery.

What are the lessons?

  1. Engage other like minded citizens and protest organizations
  2. Create products that can be understood by the different groups (i.e. maps)
  3. Support community organizations representing citizens e.g. Municipality of Annapolis, Village of Lawrencetown to lobby provincial government.

What next?

We now have had a second small victory – first Burlington and now Eel Weir Lake and Paradise Lake (Roxbury). We know there are 42 sites across the province approved for spraying by Nova Scotia Environment in Amherst. We have stopped 3 sites in Annapolis County and one in Kings County. Where are the other 38 sites?

What do citizens need from this government?

  1. A searchable map of all ‘current’ crown land.
  2. A map of the crown land that has been made available to the forest industry for harvest.
  3. A map of the land that has already been harvested by clear-cutting or ecological forestry.
  4. A map of the current clear-cuts. That shows which have already been sprayed. That shows which are designated for spraying. (38 sites). The spray window is September 1 – November 1.


Access to geographic information is critical. We need maps, drone photography, satellite imagery. These resources can help generate input from citizens as part of the decision process. We cannot achieve sustainable Forestry without these inputs. Citizens need to know when crown land has been redefined, and for what purpose.

There is a wonderful role for students at the community college (e.g. COGS) to help make this type of Geographic information available to community groups.

For a different forestry perspective, check out the CBC interview with Ken Gray, the province/WestFor is competing directly with the small loggers in SW Nova Scotia.

The bottom line … we need to start respecting the landscape, it’s inhabitants and fellow citizens. No clear-cutting and no spraying. There is a better way.


I want to acknowledge the efforts of Heather Stewart. She was instrumental in the design of posters, placards and sandwich boards. She also conducted much of the door to door contact with residents. I want acknowledge Nina Newington in her communication and coordination role. Politically, Timothy Habinski and Council, Brian Reid and the water supply committee for Lawrencetown were the interface with the provincial government. Thank you. Finally, Larry Powell for his excellent video and Neil Green for dramatic drone imagery. Edward Wedler for adding the graphics. He understands Remote Sensing too.


Camping out in a gravel pit in a clear-cut, listening to coyotes, makes you appreciate the plight of the homeless in our cities. Reminds me of George Orwell’s book ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’.

Posted in Opinion

What is truth ?

This week, Heather and I have been spending a fair amount of time at the Eel Weir Lake camp with the Extinction Rebellion, protesting the aerial spraying with Glyphosate over three parcels in Annapolis County : one at Eel Weir Lake and two at Paradise Lake.

At the protest site. VIDEO LINK (by media reporter Lawrence Powell)

As we tried to help with directions to the site, Heather noticed a a difference between the fifth edition of The Nova Scotia Atlas (2001) and the seventh edition (2019).

Maps from two dates, about twenty years apart (Left 2001; Right 2019)

Her sharp eye noted:

  1. The location of West Inglisville has moved from the turn in the road on the West Inglisville Road to the end of the Trout Lake Road (cartographic freedom)
  2. the road changed from Local Road (red) to Loose Surface(black)
  3. the areas designated as crown land (Green) were much more extensive in 2019 than 2001.
  4. You can still observe the Eel Weir Lake parcel however it is now surrounded by crown land, especially towards Paradise Lake.

The questions are:

Can the crown land now be clear-cut?

If so, by whom. Freeman Lumber?

After clear-cutting, will we see more aerial spraying?

I remember when I used to teach Geography at the university that Mark Monmonier wrote a wonderful book, How to Lie with Maps (1996).

In the case of the Nova Scotia Atlas, it seems that there have been political decisions to change the designation of crown land. This would then give the government the go ahead to contact the forestry sector for forest management. It could be clear-cutting, including spraying, or it could be ecological forestry. Either way, there should be a process where the citizens can see these maps. At the current rate, the whole province could be designated clear-cut and set to be sprayed. This is TOTALLY unacceptable.

What is the definition of ‘crown land’? Is it land for recreation and enjoyment by Nova Scotians? Or simply a land bank for the forestry industry?

Last night, I was talking to George Rizsanyi at the protest camp. We were talking about Labrador and Mina Hubbard. Here is the reference.
The woman who mapped Labrador: the life and expedition diary of Mina Hubbard.

George, enjoy.


Thanks to those individuals who joined us the camp: Steve, Rick, Carol, Kathy, Heather, Darlene, Debby, Nina, Peter, Neil, Justine, George. Visits from Larry Powell and Tim Habinski. Some dropped in, others stayed overnight. Special kudos to the Extinction Rebellion team. Heather for all her hard work and keen eye. Siqsiq for keeping the coyotes at bay. Edward and David for help with the graphics.


Mark Monmonier, 1996. How to lie with maps. University of Chicago Press

Mina Hubbard, May 2012. The woman who mapped Labrador: the life and expedition diary of Mina Hubbard. McGill University Press.

Posted in Opinion

No Spraying in Paradise

It is a busy time in Paradise. Time to pick apples, and to harvest tomatoes and vegetables from the garden. And, protest about the possibility of aerial spraying at Roxbury on Paradise Lake and at Eel Weir Lake. There are two parcels of land at Roxbury and one parcel at Eel Weir Lake (see map HERE).

“Don’t Spray Us” sign on Hwy 201

The Eel Weir Lake and Mud Lake are part of the water supply catchment for the Village of Lawrencetown.

Heather and I made a reconnaissance of the Eel Weir Lake parcel. We checked out the access roads, off the Inglisville Road. Finally, deciding that the best access to the protest camp would be from the Rifle Range Road.

On our travels, we found the remains of the tree planters bus. Hidden away in the woods, after the last cycle of harvesting and planting.

Bus buried into the South Mountain woods

If you want to obtain a good visual picture of the forest cover, and landscape, key in West Inglisville into Google Earth.

When we were at the Burlington rally, one of the team mentioned the title of a folk song, ‘No cell phones in Paradise’. I would add a sign ‘No spraying in Paradise‘. Note the frog in the above poster.

If you spend time up in the woods on South Mountain, you will notice the beautiful night sky. On the ground, you will see the amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders), the bees on the goldenrod, the birds and other critters. Plus the rich mix of Acadian forest species.

If you live down slope, along the Inglisville Road, Highway #201 or Highway #1 it is likely that the rain falling on the forests of South Mountain is making its way down to the Annapolis River.

Please check the news release for further information , and support ‘No spraying in Paradise’.


Want to see what happens three years after whole forest clear-cutting near Middle Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia? Click HERE.