Category Archives: Personal History

How winter’s bone tests us

Permanent winter for a Moncton events centre?

We may remember the dreaded winter of 1992. Perhaps we choose to forget in the Hub City, which took the brunt of one of the worst white dumps in the recorded history of the province.

My sister was living here at that time and she remembers – so well, in fact, that she rarely sets foot in this fair town after the fall equinox and before the summer solstice.

The snow in 1992 reached the second-floor window of her apartment near Steadman Street. To escape, to get, say, milk and eggs, she crafted a makeshift bunny hill on which she slid to ground. (How she returned to her abode, I’m not entirely clear; something about climbers’ axes and pitons hovers into my long-fossilized mind).

The point is, as rough as we’ve had it recently in New Brunswick. . .well. . .it’s been rougher.

Nineteen-Ninety-Two was also the first full year of a brand, new tax introduced in a brand, new recession – the HST. As the snow continued to fall, joblessness in this province rose well above 15 per cent. Poverty and illiteracy rates were among the highest in the country. Violent crime was a daily occurrence in Moncton’s downtown core, which was, by the way, easily mistaken for certain boroughs of the burning, benighted southern reaches of London, England, where hooligans and punks roamed the streets nightly.

Last winter, one snowplow driver told Global News, “We’ve got as much snow now as we had then (in 1992). But then it came kinda all in like two or three days where this has taken a week. Then, we could not even drive with the truck with the wing down.”

All of which is to reiterate that notwithstanding last winter’s absurd “White Juan”, which seemed to last for weeks (trust me, it did; I have the pictures to prove it to my Los Angeles-based, Venice-Beach hovering, muscle-bound brother), we’ve actually had it pretty good in Moncton over the past two decades.

We’ve rebuilt our local and surrounding economies. We’ve diversified away from solitary, single industries and into integrated, diverse ones. We’ve embraced the notion of cultural and linguistic duality so completely that we’ve managed to host a baker’s dozen of major, international francophone events without materially or socially threatening anyone in this community who can’t (or doesn’t) speak and read the French language.

We have become, in effect, what we intended to become: a cosmopolitan city that welcomes newcomers with a shake of the hand and a slap on the back; an urban centre of 140,000 people that, on a good day, habitually behaves as if its region is ten times larger, as if its heart is 20 times as big, as its census data routinely reports.

We may one day remember the dreaded winters of 1992, 2015 or, indeed, the one we’re in.

In the meantime, the HST will surely rise. Toll fees will surely smack travellers on provincial highways. Income taxes might rise.

But all of this won’t stop us from inventing better tools for digging out from under an avalanche of debt and deficit. We are, in the end, remorselessly resourceful; we will outlast this particular winter.

And if we do eventually touch that rim at the edge of the world – on a hot summer day when the clouds gather over the ocean, and the sun shines through and onto New Brunswick – it will be ours to grab.

We will have sacrificed the memories of bad times to erect those of good ones, when winter’s bone does not so easily test us.

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The walking cure

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I rise from my perch, where I scribble, throw on a parka from the back closet, grab my keys, wallet and phone, and struggle to lock the door behind me. I face the wind, look both ways before I cross the threshold of the front porch and then I begin. I am going for a walk.

I do this every day, but I do not do it lightly. At a specific time, usually mid-morning, the sun squeaks through the blinds of my downtown Moncton home as if to remind me that my feet must move, my legs must stretch, my lungs must breathe. Take, it says, the walking cure.

The cure to what, you may ask? Well, whaddya got?

The fact that more Canadians live in poverty than at any time since the Great Depression of the last century; there’s that. The realization that big corporations in this country are literally flowing with retained earnings, yet penny-pinching their employees to the blood-blister point; there’s that too.

But, no, the real spiritual malaise in all of us stems from a desperate certainty that we have become pawns on the chess board of global politics; that the right hand of power meets the left, daily and dutifully, in the assemblies and parliaments we once assumed were ours to direct, as citizens of elected democracies, from the muddy, munificent middle.

No more, no more. I’m walking.

I trudge through the streets of the old West End of Moncton, admiring the modest homes that a socially democratic nation made possible 60 years ago. I pause, occasionally, to stare at the mansions that absurd wealth and privilege have purchased only recently.

Should we be that rich? Should we be that poor? How shall we all live together, living, as we do, in such close quarters?

I march down Gordon Street, which inexplicably becomes Queen Street, past the halfway houses and empty lots, past the real estate companies and condo developments, past the placards that taggers have signed, “What do you have to hide?”, past the agents’ billboards that declare there are dreamy properties in the offing if only you will offer, perhaps, your first-born cheque on a dare of belief in the future of a province that can’t seem to balance its books, care for its invalids, and educate its precious young.

No more, no more. I’m walking.

I walk the way a man stumbles into the woods: with one knee pounded into the ground and one hand splayed angrily against the sky.

As the late, great polemicist Henry David Thoreau wrote in the 1900s, “We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man; then you are ready for a walk.”

Are we, then, men and women in Canada, in New Brunswick, prepared to ask, challenge and agitate – in effect, to rise from our various perches for a gritty stroll that risks changing our attitudes, our very minds about what we can achieve?

How many of us are actually willing to go for a truly meaningful walk in this country, in this province, in this city, in this time of our lives – to cross the threshold and, in the wind, begin again?

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The hitchhiker’s guide to marriage

When, from time to time, people of my acquaintance ask me how we’ve managed to do it – that is, to stay together for three-and-a-half decades without observable scars, psychic injuries, or durable mental anguish, I invariably answer in one, or both, of two ways:

“A sense of humour helps. . .So does a truly bad memory.”

Today, my wife and I celebrate our 35th anniversary of wedded bliss; twenty years of this span, we’ve spent in Moncton. And, as a recipe for marriage nothing beats the time-tested strategy of bad jokes and selective amnesia.

“Do you remember when we first arrived here?” I asked her just the other day in the midst of a binge-viewing session of the Star Wars franchise. (We had reserved seating for the newest one, you see, so boning up on the mythology was Job # 1).

“I remember that you never could shut up while we were watching our favorite shows,” she barbed.

“Hah! That’s a good one, my dear.”

“Yeah, here’s a better one: Why don’t you shovel the walk like you said you would before it freezes over?”

That’s an even better one, I thought. (As if I would ever perform a household chore before it became utterly intractable.) Of course, that’s one reason why I love her so: She’s a truly funny lady.

I am, on the other hand, a truly forgetful man.

I remember my daughters’ birthdays and, lately, those of my grandkids. But ask me what date my own occurs, and I’m likely to mumble something about November, towards the end of the month. (In fact, I rely on Facebook to tell me these things).

On the other hand, I rarely remember what I ate last night, what show I watched, what book I read, or which newscast threw me into an apoplectic fit of self-righteous indignation.

Did I walk four miles or merely three today? Did I work out on the floor mat for 30 or 45 minutes today? Do my pants make me look fat?

“Yes, actually. . .your pants make you look fat,” my beloved confirms. “But that’s only because you buy them from the little-boy section of Gap.”

Funny stuff. She should go on the road, she’s so fine; get herself a Netflix stand-up gig. I would be her manager, parsing out bottles of water and running interference between her and her legion of fans. I would give up everything to see her tell the big, wide world exactly what’s on her superb, incisive mind.

Of course, these are the moments of which I have perfect recall: The look on her face when she laughed in the summer of 1977, having seen a wild lily in a broken ditch along Hollis Street in Halifax; the way the setting sun steamed the waves at Crystal Crescent Beach on the South Shore of Nova Scotia as she searched in vain for her missing hiking boot in the winter of 1978; the old, grumbling roar of the rollers crashing onto the shore of Chedebucto Bay as we walked silently to the tip of Ragged Head and then back again in the fall of 1984.

How do you stay together for 35 years? It’s a good question. No pat answer serves. A sense of humour is crucial, yes; so is a convenient memory. Most of all, though, the recipe involves a daily dose of imagination, empathy and forgiveness.

And isn’t that that the reason for any of us to get up each morning?

Aren’t we all hitchhikers on the road to love?

Are the kids actually all right?

Whence the minions came to me, seeking my munificence as laird of Bruce manor, I said unto them: “Daughters, kneel close, for I shall not sayest unto thee again.”

And so they did.

“Uh, Dad,” one queried, “What do you want?”

The other one, loaded with homework, merely uttered, “I don’t have time for this. . .Can you write me a letter, or something?”

I bellowed, as befits the King of the Castle, Nay! “Now here’s the deal: I command you both to become print journalists. In this way, you will carry on a valiant tradition – now three generations in the making – of making no money, subjecting yourself to the whims of editorial style, and becoming a self-loathing supplicant of various chain-store media flavors. Oh, and by the way, you should go to college poste haste, rack up enormous debt to prepare yourself for the life of which I speak, and spend the rest of your productive careers looking for good gigs interviewing rappers and garden ladies on CBC. Sound like a plan?”

Oddly enough, my minions don’t remember any of this – most likely because none of this actually happened, except, perhaps in my own feverish brain on a night when I had hoped that I would be heard, considered and then, finally, dismissed as any kind of example.

Indeed, if you read a recent RBC report you discover that “parents underestimate the influence they have over their children’s education. . . While 28 per cent of students say they chose the program they’re in to please their parents, only 21 per cent of parents think they have this influence. What’s more, when it came to deciding whether or not to go to post-secondary school, 10 per cent of students made this decision to satisfy their parents, but half as many parents felt the same.”

I’m reasonably certain that when I decided to go to Dalhousie University and study geology, physics and math in the late 1970s, it was not to please my artistically inclined, journalistically bent parents who – upon hearing my freshman-year course selections – could barely contain their mirth. As it happened, within a year, I had joined them in the general, family giggle.

Yet, I do remember my father and mother encouraging me to follow my dream, whatever it was, in my young life.

I also remember telling my own kids to do the same. One is now an analyst in early childhood education. One is a practicing veterinarian.

Says Mandy Mail, director of Student Banking at RBC Royal Bank: “From choosing which school to attend to selecting a program, students are making decisions to please their parents. It’s important for parents to maintain an open line of communication to ensure students are being thoughtful with their approach and to help ease the stress and encourage a more optimistic outlook on their future.”

Well, Mandy, with all due respect, that just sounds like another speech from another throne situated on a podium to which both students and their parents come to worship, hoping to score the bucks necessary to fill the banking industry’s notion of mortgage-worthy success.

Here, young ones, have another interest-free credit card. Do your university courses dovetail with our actuarial tables predicting income success? If so, have another credit card. Have three.

Come minions; come to us. We’re not your mum or dad. Worship at the feet of the real King of the Castle, mammon.

Unlike your parents, who love you unconditionally and support just about any direction you choose, we’re simply waiting at the crossroads.

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Dancing in the light

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A word to the wise: A daily, six-kilometer fast walk and a nightly, 45-minute endurance routine on a floor mat does not prepare a 55-year-old body for a sudden dismount from a handstand – especially if said body lands on its tippy toes, like Baryshnikov on a really, really bad morning.

“CRUNCH!” was the sound heard round the living room of the Bruce family homestead in Port Shoreham, Nova Scotia, on Labour Day.

To be clear, this was not morning and I cannot confirm or deny the presence of certain liquid substances at the ready to lubricate the traditional, family dance party that, thanks to a wide variety of eclectic music on hand, tends to drown out the yipping and yapping of the ever-increasing population of coyotes in that dark, starry Guysborough county of the Maritimes.

What I can confirm is the solicitude of my wife, sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, and a close friend from England. We had been dancing for hours, affecting every style – from punk, to doo-wop, to head-banger, to ballroom, to the hokey-pokey – before I managed in one fell swoop (literally) to crack my foot.

“I think it looks dislocated,” my wife helpfully advised, having surveyed the 90-degree angle the big toe on my right foot had assumed.

“Maybe, you could pop it back in,” my nephew offered.

“I don’t think it’s broken,” my niece observed. “Can you move it?”

I looked at all of them as if they were terrorists intent on hobbling me forever. (After all, my dance moves put them all to shame. . .ahem).

“Look away,” I instructed. “I will handle this.”
And so I did. I grabbed the offending appendage and hauled it over to the neutral position. “CRUNCH!”, again, was the sound heard round the living room. And the dancing continued, as it most certainly should have (sans moi, bien sur).

In fact, there is no better way to appreciate the Maritime spirit than from a reclined position. The odd mood of contemplation that injury and humiliation engender is a priceless asset in the ancient effort to get back onto one’s feet.

Sitting there on the couch, watching them all dance like fools, I remembered why my wife and I and our grown children, with children of their own, fully appreciate this part of the world.

This is where the main chance hits the yellow brick road. This is where fantasy meets reality and you slide down the rabbit hole with both. This is when, the moment you think you’ve got everything nailed down in Bristol fashion, you break your foot.

It’s happened before in this region; it will happen again.

The trick is to ice that part of our Maritime souls, to exercise it, to nurture it, to believe in its recovery – in its sturdy capacity to surge ahead even, especially, when it’s injured.

In a nerdy sort of way, I recalled a passage from the 2014 Ivany Report in Nova Scotia: “While the continuing retreat of the federal government from a regional development role and fiscal weakness at the provincial level are serious constraints, the single most significant impediment to change and renewal is the lack of a shared vision and commitment to economic growth and renewal across our province.”

Yup, say it brother.

“How’s the foot?” my niece inquired. “Can you move it yet?”

I smiled and said, “Shall we dance?”

And so we did, in the light of a strong moon, a starry sky and the company of family. She pranced like a gazelle; I limped like a troll.

But, at least, we danced.

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In the garden of possibility

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With the sweet reflection of late middle age, I will mark the 20th anniversary of my first day of permanent residence in New Brunswick this coming October. This thought astonishes, as much as terrifies, me.

When did that happen? It seems only a week ago when my wife and I trundled down the highway from Halifax, with a trunk full of clothes and books, to set me up in a dingy hotel room on the banks of the Petitcodiac.

There I was with a drawer brimming of socks and underwear and 24 bottles of the cheapest beer our dwindling bank account could support. We were 35 years old and – having lost our first life thanks to a sectoral recession that effectively made economic nomads of every journalist I ever knew in this region – looking for a new, main chance.

Eventually, we found an apartment to lease, then a house to rent, then, finally, a home to own. And we’ve never been happier.

Here is where we finished raising our children; supporting their dreams and ambitions, cradling their professional aspirations, delighting in their marriages.

Here is where we also fell desperately in love with our four grandchildren.

To be clear, none of this was supposed to happen. We were doomed, we had thought, to an endless circuit of small-town opportunities, operating almost like grifters from the Dirty Thirties: Hey folks, roll up and check out the three-card Monte table that is the confidence game of our talents.

That wasn’t actually true, of course, but for years it felt that way. Would we ever land, ever know friends again? Would we ever root ourselves, finally?

One hard, March day in 2006, we surveyed the gravel driveway that was our backyard at that time. We peered at one another and wondered aloud: Does this wreckage have to look this way, be this way, spite us in its ugliness and uselessness?

Within 24 hours, we were out there with shovels and spades, digging deep into the ground, building beds for planting, making room for roses and weeping crab trees, ditch flowers and campanula, bleeding hearts and day lilies, witchy yarrow and supernatural dahlias.

It was, to be sure, one of the biggest leaps of faith we had taken together since our marriage at age 20: Can we make this impossible garden thrive?

When you look at your life over half-a-century, you don’t tend to imagine it as a script played out for other people’s edification or. But it is. It always will be. We are as responsible to one another as we are to the plants in our various gardens.

We either tend our kids and our parents with affection, or we face the certainty of their withering souls. We either tend our communities with love and faith, or we risk losing them to random acts of hopelessness, crime and dissolution.

Coming to Moncton taught me this in the reaches of a backyard garden where everything now blooms (with a little help from organic fertilizer).

As William Blake once wrote long ago, “To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.”

In this province, at this time, we can either allow our flowers to prosper or we can abandon all hope to the terrifying proposition that aging necessarily equals retreat, that the status quo, with all its weeds, will inevitably choke the life from this fragile planting bed.

Or we can remake ourselves.

We can be young again.

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In the lemur cage

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Almost nothing incinerates in me that odd, albeit infrequent, mood of reticence more thoroughly than a ring-tailed lemur perching gamely on my shoulder.

To be sure, this was not how I expected my day to unfold when I grabbed my camera and headed out to the Magnetic Hill Zoo in the outer burbs of Moncton. My job was routine enough: Snap a few pics of the establishment’s manager, Bruce Dougan, for a magazine piece I had been writing.

Mr. Dougan, a burly man with an Arctic fringe of beard and a safari leader’s comportment, is a born showman. He has to be. Without an effective promoter at the helm, a zoo can become as endangered as many of the wild animals they house.

So, it really shouldn’t have surprised me when he led me into the lemur cage to pose with a handful of friendly, inquisitive primates. Suddenly, the joint was bustling with dozens of the human variety, their noses pressed against the chain-link fence, delighted to watch the photog struggle to regain control of his camera from the creature attached to his forearms.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that in the 20 years I’ve lived in Moncton I’ve only been to the zoo three times – two of those occasions within the past month (once with one set of grandkids; the other on the aforementioned photo assignment). Frankly, I really haven’t known what I’ve been missing.

On one of my trips, the line of young families and old folks waiting patiently for admittance stretched all the way to the far end of the parking lot. A recent CBC story provided the context when it reported in June that “The Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton is opening a $1.4-million exhibit that will showcase three big cats. Visitors will be treated to a new exhibit featuring two Amur Tigers – Alik and Anya – and a leopard, named Katushka.

“Jeremy Nelson, a board member of Friends of the Zoo and chair of the fundraising campaign, said the new exhibit is the biggest project the zoo has ever undertaken. ‘I can’t believe we’re finally here today. There’s not a person who won’t be wowed when they walk in,’ he said.”

Added Mr. Dougan, in a statement: “It’s amazing that we have two of the most endangered cats in the world right here in Moncton.”

I’m not sure “amazing” is the right word. After all, the city’s public website describes the facility thusly: “The Magnetic Hill Zoo. . .is committed to safeguarding animal species and raising public awareness of endangered species. The zoo is designed with the well being of the animals. . . in mind.”

What’s more, “The staff of the. . .zoo is very concerned with protecting endangered animals. They follow national protection movements closely and participate in diverse repopulation programs. The . . .zoo is the provincial headquarters for the Frog Watch program, an initiative of the Canadian Minister of Environment to gather environmental information on Canada’s diverse frog species. . .In 2010 and 2011, the. . .zoo worked in partnership with Parks Canada to implement the Piping Plover Recovery Program. Eggs from abandoned nests from two maritime National Parks were brought to the . . .zoo for incubation and hatching.”

Protecting endangered species – or at least raising awareness of them – appears to be in the zoo’s organizational DNA.

Still, Mr. Dougan’s amazement is well taken. It stands to reason that a city – whose latin motto “resurgo” means, in English, “rise again” – should boast a zoo where reticence is impossible – especially in the lemur cage

What old Guysborough town teaches

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When the mid-summer sun shines sweetly on the roads of Guysborough town, and a breeze brings news of waves breaking on the far shore of Chedabucto Bay, you know it is high season – that time of the year, after the last black fly and before the first frost, when this village of 400 at the eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia is at its best.

Up and down the main street – which may be only as long as quick breath on lover’s lane – evidence of revival is everywhere. Bunting flies at pretty cafes and shops festooned with homemade goods and specialty fare.

There, along the boulevard, the Rare Bird Pub & Eatery jostles the Skipping Stone Cafe and Store. Not far away, the Full Steam Coffee Co. shakes hands with the Harbour Belle Bakery. Elsewhere, the Osprey Shores Golf Resort caters to those of a clubbier mindset, and the DesBarres Manor Inn provides a year-round destination for romantic foodies of every inclination.

Here was where Prince Henry Sinclair was rumoured to make landfall in 1398. Here was where peripatetic Acadians settled between 1604 and 1659. Then, in the 18th Century, came the Scots and the Irish, fresh from the Napoleonic wars.

My original forebear, a fellow by the name of James, apparently sailed from Scotland with a land grant of 100 acres, given to him as a reward for his military service in Europe. Of course, in the late 1700’s, there were no roads to speak of, let alone physicians. So, when a tree fell on the poor sap’s head, he did what most transplanted Scots of good, sturdy character did at the time: He died.

Still, the family he sired and the community he helped build persisted which is, all things considered, a minor miracle.

One of the more urgent conversations in Atlantic Canada concerns the plight of its rural areas, most of which can boast notable provenances. Faced with aging and dwindling populations, inadequate access to educational opportunities, crumbling transportation and communications infrastructure, and winnowing industrial bases, many are on the brink of extinction.

In fact, more than once in both distant and recent memory, Guysborough, itself, has flirted with calamity.

Once, lumbering and shipbuilding dominated the local land and seascapes. Not anymore and for all the reasons familiar to coastal communities across the region (changing technology, a shrinking pool of skilled labour, shifting government policies and priorities).

Commercial fishing, a traditionally vital engine of employment, came to a screeching halt during the 1980s and ‘90s in the wake of the federally imposed cod moratorium. Since then, stabs at long-term economic development have enjoyed only mixed success, though don’t utter such a blasphemy anywhere in Guysborough County, lest you prepare yourself for a long debate.

Still, the deeper truth is, as prominent Maritime writer Harry Bruce (pater familias to me) once noted, “Wave after wave after wave of Maritimers have left their beloved homeland, rolling westward again and again to seek jobs up and down the Atlantic seaboard, in the American midwest and far west, in Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia, and the northern territories . . . Maritimers, more than other Canadians, have had to keep their eyes on the horizons, and Leaving Home has long outlasted the golden age of sail as part of their heritage.

Yet, now that Alberta has given up the ghost of its oil and gas promise, we may live long enough to witness a mass return of Maritimers to these shores.

Perhaps this is all that old Guysborough town teaches: faith.

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A summer trip down home

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To reach paradise, you drive from Moncton about four hours through some of the prettiest country the Maritimes offer.

You take the Trans-Canada past the village of Memramcook and the university town where my grandfather, dad and daughter once spent many happy and productive years. If you are peckish, you stop at the elegant and still exquisitely appointed Marshlands Inn in Sackville, New Brunswick, for a quick and supremely satisfying repast.

You rejoin the road at the Tantramar Marshes, where ancient Acadians once diked and dammed the land to eke out an existence from the brackish sea. You pass the glorious windmill farm near Amherst, where Don Quixote – if he were real and a long-haul trucker – might roll up to challenge the mighty blades spinning in the sun.

You move along with speed and alacrity until you reach Bible Hill, Nova Scotia, forge through until you are on Mount Thom, then descend into the vales of New Glasgow, Antigonish and Monastery, where the real deal describes itself this way: “Our Lady of Grace Monastery is home to the Contemplative Augustinian Nuns. Here, these religious sisters live out their lives consecrated to Our Lord where they pray for the Church and the whole world. The Monastery of Saint Lucy, which is the mother house is located in Rome.”

Still, on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in the summertime, Rome seems far away. Paradise, on the other hand, is just around the corner.

You take the paved road through Lincolnville and arrive at the bustling outskirts of Bolyston, a town the Globe and Mail’s Kim Mackrael once described as “The pearl of the East.” In her 2011 piece, she enthused, “The tiny seaside village is perched on the northeast side of Nova Scotia, close to Cape Breton Island. Like many of its neighbours, Boylston suffered deeply following the collapse of the Atlantic fishing industry and the loss of thousands of jobs along the coast. These days, Boylston is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, one driven by people looking for a place to call home after they retire.”

Indeed, she reported, “Some of its residents have discovered the town only recently, while others are finding themselves drawn back home after a long absence. What they have in common is the sense of being instantly welcomed into the community. That’s why Marilyn McLean nominated Boylston as one of Canada’s great communities. She and her husband are. . .settling down after a life in the military.”

Said Marilyn: “Our neighbours are neighbourly; our darling doctor mends bones and brings hot casseroles until you can manage your crutches. You awaken after a monster snowfall to a freshly shovelled walkway. How can there be any better place on earth to live out one’s life?”

Added Ms. Mackrael: “On calm mornings in Boylston, the water by the wharf becomes as smooth as glass. Tourists driving through choose this spot to pull over and take photos of the boats as they bob gently beside the dock, casting colourful reflections across the water.”

That’s about right. I should know. My family settled these parts in the late 18th Century, fresh off the boat from Scotland. Our forbears and us have maintained “The Place” on the banks of Chedabucto Bay ever since. It’s a small, and yet somehow rambling, former farmhouse perched on 80 acres of prime rock-growing territory.

It really isn’t much, but it’s ours. And the view is, well. . .what you might expect from paradise.

As for me, I’m going for a long-missed drive down the road to down home.

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