Posted in Event Review

A Blast from the Past

This was a tumultuous week. First, I persuaded COGS to allow me to attend their two-day conference on Sensors in return for writing a review on the GoGeomatics web site (see link under GoGeomatics). My thoughts on the COGS conference are available on the online GoGeomatics blog. Second, I attended a one-day MashUp in Annapolis Royal looking at the potential for new businesses in the region. Between these two events, I received the photograph below from David Hildebrand of the first GIS class at NSLSI (now COGS) (1985-86).scan-130919-0016_600w90dpi

As a backdrop, I finished reading George Orwell Illustrated, before moving on to David Manners Convenient Season and Kate Raworth Doughnut Economics. At the end of the week, I picked up David Adams Richards novel Principles to Live By at the new Annapolis Royal library.

Here, I will focus on the MashUp event and its relationship to reading. In 2014, Heather, Edward and I walked the Road to Georgetown. At that conference on rural economic development in Atlantic Canada, we met Andrew Button, who lives on the South Shore. Today Andrew organizes and hosts MashUp events. The one, yesterday, in Annapolis Royal was his fourteenth. The concept is to bring together members of the community with ideas for new businesses in the region and to help them articulate their business plan, through coaching, criticism and feedback. At 8 am there were twenty-five citizens at the Annapolis Royal library.

My interest was not necessarily to create a business, but rather to understand how to create a climate where businesses can thrive. Here, I am not going to delve into the details or describe the results. Indeed, once we get into the business economics, my eyes glaze over, and I have little to offer.

This was the process. Everyone selects two words that resonate with their interests. From each table, one person takes three words from the word pool that will be used to drive their thinking. This translates into a collection of potential business ideas. We then go through the usual dot voting process that leads to one business idea per table (seven tables).

Here was my path. My two words were ‘gardening’ and ‘place’. Gardening because I believe that our relationship towards the landscape should be more akin to gardening. Place because, as a Geographer, I think that ‘place’ drives many decisions and ideas.

My issue (or concern) was ‘how can we better connect the creativity which exists in the community with our post-secondary education environment ?’ Not exactly a revenue-generating idea in the short term.

Subsequently, I joined a group of individuals who were interested in the role of writers in rural Nova Scotia (no surprise there). It included Brenda Thompson who had recently published ‘Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses of Nova Scotia’ (see her web site

By 2 pm, I was drained. It was hard for me to focus on the economics of a regional publishing house for rural stories. I will have to check with Andrew to find out the result of the different business plans.

bookcover_georgeorwellillustratedBack home, in my own comfort zone,  I can heartily recommend George Orwell Illustrated. It is very accessible, with cartoons by Mike Mosher. It has two parts: Orwell for Beginners and Planet Orwell. In the second part, there is a human rights manifesto, co-authored by Orwell,  with Bertrand Russell and Arthur Koestler. This returned me to my sixties reading on ‘Beyond Reductionism’, including contributions from Koestler, van Bertalanffy and CH Waddington. Other familiar Koestler titles were The Act of Creation and The Ghost in the Machine.

bookcover_mannersDavid Manners book:

He writes about Centrelea and Bridgetown. Published in 1941. Manners was a Hollywood actor who had an Aunt living in the Annapolis Valley. This was his first novel.  (BTW, I am only on page 68).

Kate Raworth book

Celes Davar sent me a link to her YouTube video. I subsequently received the book through interlibrary loan. I found the video much more accessible than the book.

bookcover_principleslivebyDavid Adams Richards book

Through Sandra Barry, I heard that DAR thought highly of the writing of Ernest Buckler. Since I was at the Annapolis Royal library for the MashUp event, perhaps I could find one of his novels.


Manners describes life in the Annapolis Valley, before the Second World War. Hildebrand is illustrating life at NSLSI in the 1980s. Today, we are holding MashUps which may impact life in the 2020s. Three very different snapshots of rural life. And yet, they could be covered in a single lifetime today (80-100 years).

We can envisage the economics of Kate Raworth and we can reflect on the economics underpinning Brenda Thompson’s book (and the poor houses). This can be placed in the context of the newly discovered human rights manifesto co-authored by Orwell.


Anne Crossman tells me that the movie, Dracula 1931, starring Bela Lugosi and David Manners, is showing at the Centrelea Community Centre on February 23rd at 7 pm.


Thanks to David Hildebrand for the photograph. To Tim Webster and Michael Purcell for the conference opportunity. To Andrew Button for the MashUp event. Technical help from Edward Wedler, Ted McKinnon and Jon Murphy. Anne Crossman, Sandra Barry and Celes Davar for local intelligence.


David Smith. 2018. George Orwell Illustrated. Haymarket Books.

David J. Manners. 1941. Convenient Season. EP Dutton.

Kate Raworth. 2017. Doughnut Economics. Chelsea Green Publishing.

David Adams Richards. 2016. Principles to Live By. Doubleday Canada.

Brenda Thompson. 2018. A Wholesome Horror: Poor Houses of Nova Scotia.  SSP Publications.




Posted in Event Review


This week, we held a Board meeting of the Ernest Buckler Literary Event Society (EBLES). We invited Sandra Barry to attend because of her experience with the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia. There were two main agenda items:
a) how to support local writers
b) keynote speaker for the Summer event

3bookcoversEvidence suggests that there has been a long tradition of self-publication in the Annapolis Valley. Anne Crossman arrived with a canvas bag full of books by local authors. Two notable historic treasures were Andrew Merkel’s narrative poems, The Order of Good Cheer and Tallahassee. Both published by Abanaki Press, Lower Granville, Annapolis County 1946. Second, Charles Hanson Towne’s Ambling through Acadia, 1923. It describes a trip from Yarmouth along the Annapolis Valley – Digby, Bear River, Annapolis Royal, Bridgetown, Wolfville to Halifax, with a side trip to Parrsboro.

Describing Bridgetown,

“No town is too small to have its Nickelodeon and the ‘Pathe News’ reaches the most forlorn regions. Soon the radio will penetrate the dullest hamlets, and the whole world will be linked as it never has been. But alas! all this has its drawbacks too; for it sounds the death-knell of privacy; and in a few years there will be no such things as an obscure farmer.” p.130.

This prescient passage was written almost a hundred years ago.

We discussed several options for a keynote speaker. Sandra advised us on the intricacies of the Writers Union of Canada. We will see what happens next.

brexitbritexAs we were discussing the relationship between ‘place’ and ‘writing’, I remember an earlier blog by Dick Groot on Highway #201 and the BRITEX plant in Centrelea. Centrelea was the home base for Ernest Buckler.

BRITEX is the abbreviation for Bridgetown Textiles. With changes in the manufacturing sector and global competition, BRITEX closed down a number of years ago. Whether the building can be repurposed, is another question.

What intrigued me, playing with words, was that BRITEX could be transformed into BREXIT. We live in a time when the trade relationships between Great Britain and the European Union are at risk. Whatever the final outcome it seems that this six-letter abbreviation has outlived its shelf life.

Finally, it should be noted that the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia Annual General Meeting will be Saturday, June 22nd at Great Village. The keynote speaker will be Harry Thurston, writer and naturalist.

This blog was written by an ex-Brit, now a resident in Canada


Thank you to Anne Crossman, Jane Borecky and Sandra Barry for their input at the EBLES board meeting. To Edward Wedler for his graphics contribution


Andrew Merkel. 1946. The Order of Good Cheer. A Narrative Poem. Abanaki Press.Andrew Merkel. Tallahassee. A Ballad of Nova Scotia in the Sixties. Abanaki PressCharles Hanson Towne. 1923. Ambling through Acadia. Crowell Publishing Co.
Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia


Posted in Event Review

Preview of Sensors conference

banner_cogsconference_2019On Wednesday and Thursday (January 23 and 24th), COGS in Lawrencetown is hosting a two-day conference, entitled: Sensors High and Low: Measuring the reality of our world. A draft copy of the agenda is available online. My plan is to write a review after the event for GoGeomatics.

Here, at this time, I want to explore the main components of the conference and make a few personal observations. The conference title suggests that it will cover a variety of sensor systems for different environments; terrestrial as well as marine. High and low presumably refers to both spatial and spectral resolution.

Looking at the list of speakers, we can identify three different perspectives: industry, academia and the community. AGRG has had a lengthy involvement with sensor technology. From my time at AGRG, this ranged from LIDAR technology to weather station networks. In parallel, COGS has maintained strong relationships with a number of technology leaders.

From industry, there are speakers from Leica Geosystems, Esri, IBM, Hoskins Scientific, Stantec Consulting, Global Spatial Technology Solutions and Hanatech IoT Inc.

From the academic community, speakers are from the NSCC (AGRG, Applied Oceans Research Group, COGS), St Marys University (Beacon Labs), Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) and CIDCO.

While there are a number of businesses and colleges with regional interest, there does not appear to be specific presentations by community groups. The one exception is Nathan Crowell’s presentation on the Garrison graveyard in Annapolis Royal, combining UAV and ground penetrating radar. Partners are Boreas Heritage and MapAnnapolis.  This leads me to the following suggestion.

As an instructor at COGS in the 1980s, I recall the yeoman efforts by Phil Milo, Survey Department in reaching out to the high schools in Annapolis County and well beyond. In this same spirit of community outreach,  it would be unorthodox, yet progressive, if COGS/CANMAP could provide a select number of gratis seats for high school students across Annapolis County to allow them to attend the conference. This would encourage future community engagement. Sensor technology is only as useful as our ability to ground truth the results. Ongoing monitoring of change in both the terrestrial and marine environment requires collaboration with the user communities, whether in the context of fisheries, forestry, agriculture or other types of land use. Or whether to address questions of alternative energy, climate change or physical infrastructure.

Note on Terminology

If we think about imaging the earth’s surface we can use satellites, aircraft or drones. As the platform is placed closer to the surface you can expect a higher resolution. If you think in terms of trail cameras for wildlife, the camera can be triggered by movement or sound. Another approach is to put in place a network of sensors, for example, weather stations across the Annapolis Valley or a set of sensors for temperature and moisture in a vineyard. AGRG has used LiDAR onboard aircraft and boats to measure the topography of the land as well as the sea bed. Many of these applications will be presented at the conference.


I appreciate my recent conversations with both Rachel Brighton and  Edward Wedler on community engagement.


The web site for the conference is at It includes the draft agenda. It also details the industry expo, the GANS  and GoGeomatics social event at Lunn’s Mill Beer Company.

ADDENDUM by Edward Wedler
Considering Annapolis Royal high school students have launched their own “Annapolis Royal Space Agency” balloons, with sensors, I’d like to think that COGS/CANMAP could promote these UK-Kettering-type students at events such as these and maybe even have them tell their stories.
11jan19 4-43-40 pm


Posted in Event Review

Gordonstoun Nova Scotia

Congratulations to our hard-working councillors for their procurement of this opportunity. In my terms, it speaks volumes for ‘place-based education’ in Nova Scotia. I had every intention of being at the announcement. There were swirling rumours about a new Cannabis operation at the Britex plant in Centrelea, as well as the Gordonstoun connection.

Saturday, Heather Stewart decided to attend the workshop at Mersey Tobeatic Research Institure (MTRI) for woodlot owners on the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Being car-less, I walked down to the Lawrencetown library to retrieve David Quammen’s The Tangled Tree. This is a revision of Darwin’s tree of life. Afterwards, I did not have the energy to walk into Bridgetown from East Paradise for the announcement.

In the Annapolis County Spectator, Tim Habinski makes an interesting observation.

“If there’s a point I really want people to know about the school, and about why this project, it is this: when we went to Gordonstoun, I presented specifically on the values and culture of Annapolis County. I wanted them to know what kind of county it was.”

This is our collective challenge ‘what are the values and culture of Annapolis County ?”

Being a Geographer, with a long-term commitment to the educational institutions in the County, I would argue they are ‘place-based’: the Bay of Fundy, Annapolis Valley, South Mountain (Kejimkujik National Park and the Tobeatic Wilderness Area), North Mountain.

Historically, this will takes us from the Mi’kmaq culture, to Samuel Champlain, the Acadians, Black Nova Scotians to Joshua Slocum and then more recently, the writings of Ernest Buckler, and other artists.

Of course, its way too soon for me to recall, digest and reflect on my memories of the United Kingdom, the monarchy and the school system there. Oddly enough, we were watching Prince Philip in an old episode of The Crown on Netflix last night. Its now over fifty years since I made Canada my permanent home.


Edward Wedler is away in the Caribbean, and so we will miss his graphics.


David Quammen. 2018. The Tangled Tree. A Radical New History of Life.  Simon and Schuster.

Annapolis County Spectator December 9, 2018. Annapolis County Spectator

Developer’s interest in vacant Annapolis County schools leads council to Scotland.

Mutual ethos and historic connection – ‘Gordonstoun reflects our values’, says Annapolis County Warden Habinski.

World Class – Top international private boarding school franchise coming to Annapolis County.

Posted in Event Review

Climate Change and the Human Prospect: Annapolis Royal

On Wednesday evening, we attended the screening of Climate Change and the Human Prospect in Annapolis Royal. This was a month after we attended a screening at the Municipal building in Kentville (see earlier blog October 25). I want to highlight a number of differences in the context, as well as offer some thoughts on next steps.

“The 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming …”

The venue last night was at King’s Theatre. Janet Larkman spoke well to the role that the theatre plays as an educational hub in the region.  It also allowed for the use of modern technology. We were able to ‘Skype’ with Crystal Chissell in San Francisco. She is Vice-President of Operations and Engagement at Project Drawdown. We had access to a large screen. The viewing of Andrea Vandenboer’s documentary on the Thinkers Retreat was a very different experience. Thirdly, we had the pleasure of Gregory Heming, Centre for Local Prosperity and local Councillor facilitating the evening. Again, this was missing in Kentville. The Centre for Local Prosperity sponsored the making of the documentary and the screening. The audience in Kentville was primarily municipal officials whereas in Annapolis Royal the much larger audience was a diverse group of interested, informed citizens.

Starting with Project Drawdown, solutions were divided into seven sectors: Materials, Electricity Generation, Food, Land Use, Women and Girls, Transport, Building and Cities. These solutions formed the core of the discussion at the retreat. The documentary presented the view from the twenty-four thinkers at the three-day retreat.

After the screening, Gregory hosted a question and answer session with the audience. Some questions addressed specific concerns in Annapolis County, namely forestry practices, sea level rise, as well as the larger issue of citizen engagement.

What can citizens do?

There is a new group in town, Annapolis Climate Change Action Group. Specific questions related to how we can influence politicians and the necessity for place-based education.

There were some missing pieces. In Kentville, all members of the audience were invited to sign up, if they wanted to keep in touch. Unfortunately, the same thought did not arise last night in Annapolis Royal.

assetMapping_2In the documentary, there was a focus on Energize Bridgewater, perhaps Annapolis Royal could play a similar focal role with Land Use. If so, they may seek to collaborate with the Centre of Geographic Sciences, Lawrencetown and develop current maps and statistics on the status of the forest, agriculture and other land use types in the County.

logo_centreForLocalProsperityFrom the audience, the comment was made that ‘we only have twelve years’. How can we organize resources that go beyond the Centre for Local Prosperity and the Municipality of Annapolis County? What can we do to change our institutions: provincial and municipal government, as well as schools and post-secondary education institutions? How do we fully utilize the creative human resources in the region?  Are we taking full advantage of town hall-style meetings? We need to continue to keep looking everywhere for good ideas, innovation, and where appropriate new technology. Conversely, we need to share the special resources that we have locally with other communities. The impossible becomes an opportunity.


Edward Wedler continues to find relevant resources and images on the Internet. Heather Stewart always reminds me of the needs of other non-human species that inhabit our regional landscape, both on the land and in the surrounding waters.


Project Drawdown Project Drawdown

Centre for Local Prosperity Centre for Local Prosperity

Energize Bridgewater Energize Bridgewater




Posted in Event Review

Coppicing and Charcoal-making

This weekend, we supported Alex and Selene Cole from Little Foot Yurts, Gaspereau with their annual November workshop on coppicing and charcoal-making. For the last eight years, Alex has been coppicing red maple on Andrew’s property across the road. The red maple is found on the floodplain above the Annapolis River. Coppicing is the practice of cutting the tree so that new shoots grow up from the main stem.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This is an annual cycle. After eight years, we have poles, two inches in diameter suitable for yurt construction. A second product from the residual branches is the making of charcoal. For this purpose, the branches are cut into lengths and packed into an airtight container. In our case, a recycled milk condenser. By burning, excluding the oxygen, the wood converts to charcoal. Both of these practices are traditional woodland skills from Europe.

Other by-products of the coppicing cycle are firewood to heat the home. Also wood for the creation of corduroy woods roads. These practices together offer an alternative model of small woodlot management, where you have mixed deciduous woodland.

For more information on the workshop and yurt construction contact little foot yurts.

Last week, as part of our research into landscape change in Cumberland County. We went to GeoNova, the Geomatics Centre in Amherst. Our interest was to obtain aerial photography for Heather’s family property at Hansford. We were able to purchase images at ten-year intervals from 1965 to 2015. This will allow us to map the end of farming, forest regrowth, and later-cutting. We envisage undertaking a similar analysis for our property in Annapolis County.

Harry Thurston. Gaspereau Press

Visiting Amherst, Oxford, Pugwash and Truro we are able to make comparisons of small towns in rural Nova Scotia: the cycle of service centre, decay and re-invention. At the Dayles Grand Market in Amherst, I  picked up a book by local author, Harry Thurston entitled Keeping watch at the End of the World. This book of poetry from Gaspereau Press is described on the back cover in the following terms.

“Harry Thurston explores ways in which poetry stands sentinel at the edge-places where known and unknown meet. Whether that frontier lies between land and sea, present and past, health and illness, or youth and ageing”

Thurston lives at Tidnish Bridge. With prompting from Sandra Barry, I subsequently revisited his 1990 book. Tidal Life. A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy.with photographs by Stephen Homer.

Another find at the GeoNova office was Nova Scotia Nature Map published in 1993. It was based on the book, Natural History of Nova Scotia.

Given the assault on our forested and marine landscape, perhaps it is time to revisit these 1990’s publications, to update them, and make them available to the schools.

Returning home, and stopping at the post office in Bridgetown, I found that they too have second-hand books. I picked up Thomas Merton, The True Solitude. Two passages in this small book caught my attention.

Our minds are like crows. They pick up everything that glitters, no matter how uncomfortable our nests get with all that metal in them‘. p.33
and p.36, in relation to poetry,
The poet enters into himself in order to create. The contemplative enters into God in order to be created“.

Merton was both a monk and a poet.


On November 28th at 7:30 pm at Kings Theatre, there will be a screening of Andrea Vandenboer video on Climate Change and the Human Prospect. The film documents the retreat at the Thinker’s Lodge in Pugwash, October 2017. Both Timothy Habinski and Gregory Heming attended the retreat and will be on hand to answer questions on the implications for the Municipality of Annapolis County.


Sandra Barry for encouraging me to pull Tidal Life off the bookshelves. Alex and Selene Cole for their consistent enthusiasm for sustainable forestry and traditional house structures.  Heather Stewart for her support and companionship. Edward Wedler for his graphic contributions.


Harry Thurston. 2015. Keeping Watch at the End of the World. Gaspereau Press.

Harry Thurston. 1990. Tidal Life. A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy.Nimbus Press.

Derek Davis. 1993. Nova Scotia Nature Map. LRIS Amherst.

M.Simmons, D.Davis, L. Griffiths and A. Muecke. 1984. Natural History of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Departments of Education and Lands and Forests.

Thomas Merton. 1969. The True Solitude. Selections from the Writings of Thomas Merton. Hallmark Editions.

Little Foot Yurts  .little foot yurts


I loved the title of this poem by Harry Thurston in his 2015 book. Dedicated to Sandra Barry.

Geography: on first discovering Elizabeth Bishop in a used bookstore in Manhattan.


Posted in Event Review

Road to Shelburne

This weekend, we drove down to Shelburne to attend a workshop put on by the Centre for Local Prosperity, held at the NSCC School of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Our facilitators were Robert Cervelli and Andrew Horsnell. The topic was Expanding Community Wealth. Import replacement: local institutional procurement.

My interest was to hear directly about the work of the Centre. I was also interested in the opportunity to see a different geography: Shelburne and Yarmouth.

assetMapping_00What did I hear? A number of stories, about pilot projects in Atlantic Canada. Specific Nova Scotia examples included the Cape Breton Food Hub, Energize Bridgewater. For import replacement, there were successful models in the UK (Preston, Lancashire) and in the USA (Cleveland).  The concept is to replace the demand for goods and services by 10% (or more)  by local procurement.

From the report brief:

What local communities can do today?

  1. start having conversations
  2. start community import replacement working group
  3. inventory community assets
  4. inventory economic leakage and import replacement opportunities
  5. educate the community about the leakage
  6. identify roadblocks, and find solutions or creative workarounds
  7. start with low hanging fruit
  8. celebrate the real innovators

assetMapping_01Examples of local need and local producers included:

Boxing Rock Beer

FoodARC (Food Action Research Centre). Patty Williams at Mount St Vincent University

SASI (Shelburne Association Supporting Inclusion) and Home Services Nova Scotia

By mid-afternoon, the focus was on local procurement in the Shelburne area. This included identification of anchor public sector institutions e.g. NSCC, local schools, Roseway hospital, municipal units and others A second component was the identification of major private sector businesses in the county.

At this point, we did not possess the local knowledge but I recognized that the foundation concept was ABCD (Asset Based Community Development).

Time to take the road from Shelburne. Rather than the 100 series highways (Highway #103 and #101) we went through Ohio, Kemptville, Clare to Weymouth. This was another lesson in local geography.

Looking at the work from Preston, UK, the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) produced maps of suppliers by theme and geography. If we were to follow this approach in the municipalities of Shelburne or Annapolis, asset mapping would be essential. The approach would combine the spreadsheets of procurement by the anchor institutions and link the products and services by theme and location. This would allow us to target the best options to reach 10% by import replacement.

One of the messages from Bob Cervelli was Trust, Connect, Collaborate (within the community). A second message was stories/gatherings/initiatives. Within this spirit, there are many opportunities for community innovation – whether in the municipalities of Shelburne, Annapolis or other parts of Nova Scotia. Every region has its share of creative community members as well as its unique geographic assets.


Thanks to Edward Wedler for adding the graphic logos. There is a lot happening in rural Nova Scotia.


Centre for Local Prosperity. centre for local prosperity

Cape Breton Food Hub Cape Breton Food Hub

Energize Bridgewater Energize Bridgewater



Posted in Article Review, Event Review

Encouraging Signs

This week, I received a copy of the Forestry Report 2018 Municipality of Annapolis County. 11Jul18 8-07-16 AMIt was forwarded  to me by Gregory Heming, Chair, Forestry Advisory Committee. It is a summary of their initial research and makes a set of recommendations to council. The primary recommendation is to adopt the ‘Climate Forest’ paradigm.

‘It will lay out the ecological and economic case for curtailing all clear cutting on crown land within the county’.

‘It will summarize the current ecological diversity and overall health of all forested land in the county’.

Collaborators will include Annapolis County, Medway Community Forest Coop, Local Mill operators, DNR, private land owners, Mi’kmaq, Western Woodlot Services Coop, Forest industry.

11Jul18 8-11-57 AM


A second email, forwarded to me by John Wightman, is a notice of a Forestry Research Tour on July 13. This is a collaboration between the Medway Community Forestry Coop and DNR. Unfortunately, prior family commitments will not permit me to attend the event.


After reviewing the Municipal Forestry report, my response to Gregory Heming was that the Municipality of Annapolis County should ensure that they have current maps of ALL the landscape components. If the claim is ‘to make decisions on the best scientific evidence, then we need maps which are maintained to show changes in land use: forestry, agriculture,fisheries. This ‘geographic information’ should be available online to all citizens of Annapolis County. This would assist the County in its planning, and ensure accountability to the residents. Other candidate spatial layers would be hydrology, soils, geology, climate. This would support our efforts at sustainability in a changing climate e.g.late frosts, high Summer temperatures, changing storm tracks.

Our efforts should be regional in scope, from a holistic landscape perspective, deploying the expertise and technology readily available in the county (e.g. COGS and AGRG at NSCC Annapolis Valley campus).


Forestry Report 2018. Municipality of the County of Annapolis. Prepared by Annapolis County Forestry Advisory Committee.

Forestry Research Tour. July 13. at MTRI Kempt 6-8 pm. Collaboration between Medway Community Forest Coop and DNR.

Posted in Event Review

A Place in Space

After the Canadian Cartographic Conference (CCA), it was time return to questions of forestry practices in Nova Scotia. With small woodlots in both Cumberland and Annapolis County, we had the opportunity to attend both the North Nova Forest Owners Co-operative (NNFOC) and the Western Woodlot Services Co-operative (WWSC) Annual General Meetings (AGM). NNFOC has been running for forty two years. The WWSC has been in operation for a year. Greg Watson, Manager NNFOC presented at both AGMs. In Wentworth at the NNFOC AGM, Sandy Hyde and Adrian Martynkiw were able to show the increase and distribution in the number of managed woodlots over the last four decades. Today, NNFOC has two hundred and eight six members and manages 69,600 acres, primarily in Cumberland and Colchester counties. Adrian has entered all the woodlots into a GIS database. This allows presentations of different treatments over time, as well as the capacity to co-ordinate operations on a geographic basis.

The WWSC has one hundred members and manages 27,675 acres in the seven county region: Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth, Digby, Annapolis and Kings. One of the topics which arose at both AGMs was the need for technically trained forest technicians with current GIS skills. To my mind, this offers a challenge to the NSCC, whether at the Annapolis or Lunenburg campus. If the co-operatives have digital maps of the individual management plans for each member, the next stage is to share the digital files so that woodlot owners can provide updates and input into these plans.

At the WWSC meeting in Cornwallis Park, Harold Alexander gave a presentation on his visit to Finland, and also the use of low grade wood for heating public buildings. This included a delegation to PEI.

The forest co-operative model of woodlot owners contrasts sharply with the current provincial policies, especially with regards the cutting on crown land. Of course, we will have to wait to see the contents of the Lahey report, expected later this Summer.

image of child with hat that reads "Never Stop Exploring"
Never Stop Exploring

My blog title ‘A Place in Space’ comes from a book by Gary Snyder. After a week of politics, it helps to reflect on his bioregional philosophy. Or as the Seattle Times quotes on the back cover:

A Place in Space, like a visit to an old forest, offers a refreshingly clear perspective on our relationship to the natural community – and the larger human community as well “.

This can be combined with re-exploring the local landscape. Monday, we cycled from the Station Road in Lawrencetown along the old CN Railway tracks (not the Harvest Moon trail) to Bridgetown. As the photograph shows “Never stop exploring”.


Gary Snyder. 19995. A Place in Space. Ethics, Aesthetics and Watersheds. Counterpoint. Washington, DC.

North Nova Forestry Owners Co-operative

Western Woodlot Services Co-operative

North Nova Forest Owners Co-opewrative contact Sandy Hyde or Greg Watson.

Western Woodlot Services Co-operative contact Patricia Amero.


Debby Hebb and Heather Stewart shared the ride along the abandoned railway between Lawrencetown and Bridgetown.

Footnote. Check this week’s Brain Pickings at

It includes a Soundcloud interview with Michael McCarthy on his book The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy.

Posted in Event Review

From Space to Place in Three Days

The 43rd Annual Canadian Cartographic Association (CCA) conference was held at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia from May 30-June 1st. The flow of the conference can be characterized by the three keynotes.

Day 1. Ken Field. Esri, Redlands, California.  Fake maps ! The Cartography of Elections.

Day 2. Mike Goodchild. Seattle, Washington. Place, Maps, GIS.

Day 3. Marcel Morin, Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia. GIS, Adobe and Creative Cartographic Design.

The first day included technical workshops by Esri on ArcGIS Pro/ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud. Before the breakout sessions, Ken Field presented a talk on the cartographic representation of election results, with primary reference to the latest US election. The day concluded with a lobster dinner at Port George and a bonfire on the beach along the Bay of Fundy shore. This offered a moment of nostalgia, harking back to the CCA GIS Summer Institute in 1987. (Photo below: @DaveAtCOGS)

Mike Goodchild delivered the keynote on the next day. He drew a comparison between a place-centric view and a space-centric view, using the language of GIS to illustrate the difference. In the automated space-centric view the attention is given to positional accuracy on the earth’s surface and the concept of map layers. In the place-centric view, the focus is more upon the human context within the landscape. Further presentations on Day 2, emphasized the Inuit view of landscape (Claudio Aporta), as well the blurring of the line between art and cartography (Philip Bailey). During the final session, Ian Spooner discussed the work of Ian Brookes and the life of Robert Bell, in relation to place names in Northern Canada.

Marcel Morin kicked off Day 3 with a presentation on his work with First Nations groups across Canada. This was complemented by presentations by Thomas Herbreteau (Wolastoqey Nation, NB) and Tim Bernard and Gerald Gloade (Mainland Mi’kmaq, NS) on their place name digital atlas. The field trip on Saturday, hosted by Marcel Morin, was to the Grand Pre area, looking at the impact of the Acadian and New England Planters on the landscape. (Grand-Pre map on stretched canvas by Marcel Morin & photo of work by @kennethfield)

Over the three days, we were challenged by a number of new concepts. What do we mean by ‘place hierarchy ?’ What is implied by ‘informality’ and empty space in Nairobi, Kenya. Is the same true of the forests on South Mountain, Annapolis County ? Or Goodchild’s talk of the ‘robot car’ ?

The venue of the CCA conference in Lawrencetown allowed a group of Canadian cartographers to see the Walter Morrison Historic Map Collection, to view the art of Philip Bailey, the cartography of Marcel Morin and Jim Todd, as well as Dave Raymond’s collection of historic hydrographic charts of the Bay of Fundy.

From COGS, we had in attendance, several generations of Cartography instructors: Paul Illsley, David Raymond, Piers Churchill, Martha Bostwick, Monica Lloyd, John Wightman, Ada Cheung and John Belbin. Together, they have managed to keep the mapping torch aflame.

One memorable moment on the Thursday evening, at the Temple on Queen, was the induction of Michael Goodchild into the Order of CANMAP by John Wightman. Showing that Canadians, in collaboration with our neighbours and First Nations have been able to share our knowledge and experience of the landscape, using modern technology.

It is my expectation that the next time the CCA brings its annual conference to Lawrencetown, we will be talking about ‘place-based’ technology rather than ‘space-based’ technology. We shall not be talking about ’empty spaces’ but rather our immersion within the landscape.

I will close with a couple of afterthoughts. At the time of the conference, I was reading Claude Bissel’s book on Ernest Buckler. The following quotation about Buckler struck me as relevant.

” For his work (and peace of mind) he needed isolation and a particular place….. And the place for him was the house in Centrelea.”

We all have our particular place or a series of places over a lifetime. The CCA conference confirmed that Lawrencetown is a special place for many Cartographers and Geographers.

During the field trip to the Grand-Pré, I learned that Ian Spooner and Gerald Gloade had collaborated on bringing together western landscape science and Mi’kmac stories. This led me to check my copy of the book by Trudy Sable and Bernie Francis The Language of this Land, Mi’kma’ki. Phillip Bailey in his art had developed ‘merged maps’. This set me thinking about combining different versions of the same landscape e.g. Micmac, Acadien, Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia. Or take, Nicholas Crane ‘s book The Making of the British Landscape, and imagine the richness of a similar book ‘The Making of the Canadian Landscape’. (Merged Maps below by Phillip Bailey – CartographeMe).


Claude Bissell. 1989. Ernest Buckler Remembered. University of Toronto Press.

Trudy Sable and Bernie Francis.2012.The Language of this Land, Mi’kma’ki. CBU Press.

Nicholas Crane. 2016.  The Making of the British Landscape. From the Ice Age to the Present. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson.


Thanks to Monica Lloyd, Michael Goodchild and Marcel Morin for their specific contributions, and to sponsors: John Wightman, CANMAP and Eric Melanson, Esri Canada.

Thanks to all presenters and to Dave MacLean for photographs and conference details, go to link to presentations