Thursday Tidbits

Posted on October 25, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

The Clyburn River


“All my life’s a circle, but I can’t tell you why,

The seasons spinning round again, the years keep rolling by.”

All My Life’s a Circle. Harry Chapin



I have a pair of transition lens glasses. When I’m indoors, the lenses are clear. When I step out into the sunlight, they go dark, protecting my fragile, aging eyes from the bright sunlight. And when I return home, the darkness fades.

A few days ago on my early morning walk, the leaves were falling off the trees in large numbers. The previous night, the temperature had dipped below zero and this was enough to loosen the leaves from their branches. Fall is turning into winter right before our eyes. The seasons are indeed spinning around again. For many, this is a depressing thought as they dread the cold and the snow. Others salivate at the thought of a walk in the snow on their snowshoes or a long ride in the outback on their skidoos. It’s hard to get unanimity on any subject, especially the tough ones.

Fasten your seatbelts. I’m about to get a wee bit philosophical here.

There’s another big transition going on for many in my age group as we move through old age and, inevitably, to our deaths. No one really wants to acknowledge this in any overt way but trust me, I expect just about everyone over 65 thinks about this from time to time, especially those of us who have watched an elderly parent pass away. Many of you have gone through a similar experience.

There have been many shocking, unexpected deaths lately which gives all of us a cause to reflect on the fragility of life and what lies ahead.

What does lie ahead?

As far as I can tell, no one knows with 100% certainty. Everyone’s belief system is different. Last weekend, I took a drive around the Cape with a dear friend from Ontario. It was a glorious day and while the leaves were past their prime, the scenery was nonetheless spectacular. Somehow we got on the topic of religion and the afterlife.

Sorry. We didn’t come up with any startling revelations. However, my friend made one astute observation. She referenced Leon Dubinsky’s famous song, “We Rise Again” to explain her thoughts on what happens after we’re gone.

“When the light goes dark, with the forces of creation, across a stormy sky,

We look to reincarnation, to explain our lives…

That as sure as the sunrise, as sure as the sea, as sure as the wind in the trees,

We rise again in the faces of our children.”

Long after we are gone, our legacy is in our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter- silvered wings.

High Flight. John Magee

Let us not forget those who have left us.


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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 27, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

A bald eagle sighting at Salsman Park

(Betty MacDonald photo)


You may have noticed that like many other baby boomers, I like to travel.

Actually, I have always enjoyed traveling. As children, our trips to P.E.I. in the summer were a big deal. The sport of golf took me to some far flung places. I played junior and senior hockey where almost all the travel was by car. Back in the golden days of the Montreal Canadiens in the early 70’s, I hopped on the train in Antigonish and alit in the bowels of Gare Central underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hotel to watch my beloved Habs. In recent years, I have vacationed in Florida, traveled extensively in the U.S. with my son, traveled to the homeland of my ancestors in Scotland and Ireland and spent six months in India.

And just a few weeks ago, Peter and I crossed our great country from Victoria to Antigonish.

Travel is educational and gives a person a broader perspective. One thing I have learned is that most ordinary citizens want the same things: a roof over their head, enough food to eat and somewhere to feel safe.

So when my wife proposed a road trip to Salsman Park in Guysborough County last Sunday, who was I to turn down an opportunity to go somewhere I’d never been. Have you been to Salsman Provincial Park?

Until the new divided highway opened in Antigonish a few years ago, I must confess that I had never heard of Salsman Park. When the new signage appeared at one of the interchanges on the outskirts of town, it mentioned the park. It is located on a small peninsula on the east side of Country Harbour. My only stipulation for going was that we would be back in time to watch the final round of golf where Tiger Woods was in the lead. This hardly seemed problematic as Google Maps indicated our destination was a mere 57 minutes away.

It was a picture perfect Sunday morning with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. We traveled in a clockwise direction driving through St.Andrew’s and Upper South River. We passed the Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery where staff was busy preparing for the 90th anniversary celebrations of the facility to be held that very day.

The number 316 highway meanders through Antigonish and Guysborough Counties. You have to pay attention to the signage especially if you’re a tourist. The gates to Salsman Park were closed so we parked the car and wandered in. It’s hard to describe how beautiful this place is so you’ll just have to pack a picnic and go there someday. In a few weeks’ time, it will be spectacular there when the leaves turn color. I humoured my wife by posing for the picture shown above. Minutes before this, on that very same railing, sat a majestic bald eagle. Imagine that. Two bald eagles in the space of a minute!

Exiting the park, we decided to go home by a different route, the road less traveled as it were.

Passing through Goldboro, we wandered up a side road to the gas plant. This facility has been processing offshore gas for nearly twenty years, shipping the final product to markets in Eastern Canada and North Eastern United States through an onshore pipeline. The plant is due to be decommissioned in the near future as the offshore wells reach their end stages of productivity. I have lived most of my life around these parts but this was my first visit to the plant. Go and check it out if you have a chance.

Drumhead, Coddles Harbour and Seal Harbour. These are names I’ve heard before. The scenery is stunning, at least in mid-September. I try to imagine what it must be like in the dead of winter with icy North Atlantic winds whipping through these communities.

You haven’t been to the Tor Bay Provincial Park? This is a must see if you decide to travel the 316. You have to take a 5 minute detour off the main highway to get there but it is so worth the effort. Once parked, a boardwalk takes you to one of the most picturesque sandy beaches you will ever see.

We are now three hours into our day trip and hunger is calling. We pass through Larry’s River. The road forks here.To continue on the 316 would take us through Charlos Cove, Port Felix and Whitehead and back along the 16 through Queensport and Halfway Cove. While this would be a stunning drive, it would have to be for another day. We take the road to Lundy and land in the town of Guysborough around 12:30.

The parking lot at the Days Gone By Bakery (eatery, antiques and gifts) is full, the aftermath of after mass. The food is wonderful and the service second to none. Did I mention pie? I think that the word “pie” has appeared in more of my stories than the word “the”! I am too full to eat a slice of homemade raspberry pie but with no weight restrictions on the highways, I am able to transport a piece for takeout. At the checkout, conveniently located in the bakery section (the ownership are very clever people), I spy and smell, freshly baked dinner rolls. My wife has also been lured by some antiques… besides me. The back seat of our car is occupied with goodies from Days Gone By.

Oh yes. If it is your birthday, they’ll treat you to a free turkey dinner.

The last leg of our trip takes us on the back roads through Roman Valley en route to St.Andrew’s. This turns out to be a dust eating exercise.

Nearly 5.5 hours after our departure, we pull into our parking lot in Antigonish, just in time to watch Tiger Wood’s historic win.

Guysborough County is a treasure. You don’t have to travel halfway around the world to experience the wonders of nature. Be a tourist in your own province.

Have a great weekend.


Tor Bay


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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 20, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

“Poetree”- L’Arche Hearts and Hands at Antigonight

(Place your positive intentions on the tree)


To an outsider, Antigonish must look pretty darn good.

Having just traveled across Canada, one quickly realizes that everyone considers their hometown as something special. Every village, town and city has its attributes which engenders civic pride. Antigonish is blessed with so many wonderful resources including a university and a regional hospital. The economy seems to purr along nicely even when global issues cause major disruptions. We have world class sporting facilities and we take great pride in our culture and heritage. On the surface, it appears to be one of the most prosperous communities in Canada.

But for all of the blessings Antigonish enjoys, not everyone participates equally in the spoils of success. According to the most recent census, Antigonish town and county have an alarming amount of poverty. We may not see it, but it is definitely there.

On a macro scale, you can draw lines to income inequality or power and wealth imbalance. It seems that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to expand and you can sense that the average Joe is agitated. Discontent with power structures, the corporate elites and politicians, people are electing people to positions of power who seem content to upend the status quo.

The reasons for poverty in towns and cities across this country are easy to pinpoint but oh so difficult to find solutions. Poor people don’t have enough money to live on. This includes, ever increasingly, the working poor. Income assistance levels and minimum wage are not enough to cover the basics of life nor to rise above the poverty level. There is gender discrimination and exploitation. Many women still do not earn what their male counterparts earn for work of equal value. There is institutional racism and class oppression.

The local Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition (APRC) recognizes, all too well, the challenges faced by people living in poverty. The big issues locally are transportation, affordable housing, income security, food security, energy security and inclusive recreation. Over the past several years the Coalition has expended a great deal of time and energy to build affordable housing units and help with the creation of Antigonish Transit. It was the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society, a member of the Coalition, that built the new affordable housing units. The action plan of the APRC ignited the Antigonish Community Transit initiative.

Earlier this week, I attended a full day conference of the many stakeholders who work with and for the people who struggle to live in poverty. Many of the problems are systemic. Just about everyone in that room works hard dealing with the consequences of poverty whether it is the public health system, the justice system, the Food Bank or St.Vincent de Paul.

The Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition wants to hear from you. During the month of October, a number of “People’s Schools” will be held throughout Antigonish town and county to get input from the general public. Sessions will be held in Pomquet, Upper Big Tracadie, and Paqtnkek First Nation as well as in the town of Antigonish. I have agreed to help organize the Antigonish meeting. So please, if you care about this issue and have some thoughts to share, join us on Tuesday, October 16th from 6-8:30 p.m. at the People’s Place Library Community Room. I must say that I found the session this week very enlightening.

Have you been following the NAFTA negotiations? Some may equate this with watching paint dry but there is some very serious stuff going on which could affect everyone’s pocketbook. The dairy industry in Canada is caught in the crosshairs of this debate. I want you to know that I did my level best this summer to do my share for dairy producers by eating ice cream almost every single day. We had grandchildren visiting almost daily for three months and with the endless warm, sunny days, a trip to the ice cream stand, strategically located about a 5 minute crawl from our apartment door, was a daily occurrence.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. You should have no trouble remembering the date for the Antigonish People’s School session on October 16th. This is the day before cannabis becomes legal. I think I’ll camp out in front of the NSLC on the 17th. I might get a story or two!



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