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Local businesses reach out to help

The tragedy in Fort McMurray has hit close to home for many who have relatives and loved ones who have been evacuated from their homes due to the fires.
The need to help is strong among those residing in the county.
That’s how Ken Martell feels about the situation which is why he is collecting donations of household items to send to those in need.
There is a 52-foot trailer set up next to Magic Valley in Pleasant Valley on loan from Connors Transfer that will be replaced with a trailer from DeMont’s Transport willing to take the items to Alberta.
“We are accepting donations until the trailer is full,” explains Martell. “By the looks of it, we are going to be quite overwhelmed.”
Martell says he is looking for donations of clothing, basic everyday items like toiletries, socks, undergarments and non-perishable food items as well as water.
“The biggest thing we need is boxes for all of the stuff so we can organize it,” he says.
Martell is waiting for someone to get back to him so he can determine exactly where the items will be going so DeMont’s knows where to take it.
“We are willing to help out,” says Kevin DeMont, co-ordinator at DeMont’s Transport. “It seemed like the right thing to do. They’re in a bad state out there and they need help from somewhere.”
Martell says he spoke to Red Cross but they were asking for monetary donations only.
“I’m one person, I can’t expect people to just hand over money. But money to those (in Fort McMurray) won’t immediately help, this stuff will.”
The trailer will be set up until it is full and the hope is to send it off next week.
To donate items or to help out, phone Martell at 902-331-1737 or email

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Sobeys lends helping hand to fire victims

In typical Sobeys generous fashion, Sobeys is lending a hand to those affected by the fire there.
Sobeys Fort McMurray’s Facebook posts states: “Since last night we have been working closely with our community partners, Red Cross, local emergency response teams and Noralta lodges’ evacuee camps to provide emergency supplies to those affected by the fires in Northern Alberta. Our thoughts are with fellow employees, businesses and neighbours impacted during this difficult time.”
In fact, Sobeys Inc. stores across Canada have launched a campaign to provide support to the thousands impacted by the fires in the Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo, Alberta
regions. Customers can make cash donations of $2 at the cash at their local stores with 100 per cent of the donations supporting the Canadian Red Cross relief efforts in Northern Alberta. Sobeys Inc. will match all cash donations made in store to a maximum of $100,000 and provide $100,000 of in-kind products.
The donations can be made at any Sobeys banner store including Food Land, Fast Fuel and Shell.
“Our thoughts are with our employees and the residents impacted by the fires in Northern Alberta,” said Marc Poulin, president and CEO, Sobeys Inc.
“We’re proud to join forces with our customers to support the relief efforts of the Canadian Red Cross, while our team continues to work around the clock with partners to get much needed supplies to the area.”
Sobeys Inc. is working directly with Noralta, the operator of three large workforce camps currently being used as evacuation centres for displaced residents, ensuring the availability of necessary provisions such as water, fresh fruit, baby food, pet food and hygiene products.
Sobeys is also working closely with local relief organizations and agencies to determine where additional help and supplies are needed.

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Another adjournment for accused murdered

The man accused of murder was granted another extension today.
Robert Jason MacKenzie, 36, appeared in Pictou Provincial Court via video link last Thursday morning.
The New Glasgow man is currently in custody for the murder of Nicole Campbell of New Glasgow. MacKenzie is facing one count of second degree murder, as well as a count of theft of prescription drugs with a weapon and possession of a weapon with the intent to commit a crime, both indictable.
During the appearance, the defence requested another adjournment in order for them to receive additional disclosure that has become available for the case. The case was adjourned to July 21 of this year.
Upon the mention of the additional adjournment some of the audience expressed their frustration with the time the case was taking, to which Judge Del Atwood noted that cases as serious as this and of this nature often take longer and that MacKenzie was not receiving “some sort of extraordinary treatment.”

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Local couple among fire evacuees

Rest is the last thing on Holly Bungay’s mind.
Bungay is a Pictou woman who has been living in Fort McMurray, working in the oil sands.
As of Tuesday, her life got flipped upside down.
“Basically it happened on Sunday,” she recalls. “I was out with the dogs and I looked over toward Gregoire and it was very smoky.”
Bungay told her fiancé, Dave Marcott, who is originally from Trenton, about the smoke as he manages a business in Gregoire and they learned about the wildfires spreading through Fort McMurray.
“On Monday it seemed like things were dying down with the wind shift and Tuesday was nice and sunny.”
Tuesday morning, Bungay got up for work at 4 a.m. and that was the last time she slept for more than 27 hours.
Bungay arrived at work in her own vehicle instead of taking the bus to camp, and by 2 p.m. she knew it was time to go.
“I took two girls with me and headed home,” she says. “Dave had the dogs, food and water and some clothes packed.”
At this point, her area had yet to be evacuated so they impatiently watched the news for word of what was happening.
“By 6 p.m., it popped up there was a mandatory evacuation for all of Fort McMurray.”
Bungay grabbed her wedding bands and upcoming wedding items before escaping the city.
Because of the congestion they tried to head south, but ran into a road closure and had to turn back. An hour later the highway was open and they hit the road again.
“We were driving across the bridge and all I could see on the right were flames crawling down the hill. Vehicles were abandoned on the sides of the roads, there was a huge bus abandoned in the median.”
She says the closer they got to Beacon Hill, the worse the fire got with a hotel in flames and the Flying J gas station in ashes.
As they drove out of town, they saw Marcott’s business still standing, which she says was a huge relief.
“Beacon Hill is completely gone, Abasand burnt to the ground and Waterways burnt to the ground (areas within Fort McMurray). They thought we would be fine because the Athabasca River runs through Fort McMurray, but (the fire) made its way through the river and it’s in the area I live.”
She was hard pressed to find any information on her home or Marcott’s business once they left Fort McMurray.
What should have taken four and a half hours to drive, took 11 hours to get from Fort McMurray to Edmonton.
“We made it here at 5:30 a.m.,” she says. “They called the highway between Edmonton and Fort McMurray the Highway to Hell. It’s in the middle of nowhere and it was bumper to bumper.”
Bungay says all of the gas stations were closed and most people were heading out without a full tank of gas.
“I had a friend break down on the side of the road, but thanks to the power of social media, someone came to her with (gas) cans.”
CNRL, where Bungay works, began flying crew and their family members that live in Fort McMurray to Calgary and Edmonton to safety.
“There are 82,000 people evacuated, they don’t know if their homes are still standing or not,” she says, “15,000 of them went north to camps that have been taking people in. All of the camps are being very accommodating.”
At this point, Bungay has no idea when she can return home, if she has a home to go to.
“It was like something out of a movie. All we can do is follow Facebook to see updates.”
For Bungay, what got them through was a full tank of gas, of course, and the outpouring of people willing to give their help to those in need.
“We got out safe.”

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Wildfire in Fort McMurray hits close to home

It’s a waiting game.
Amidst the raging wildfires in Fort McMurray, AB, some people are still awaiting word on evacuation.
The fire began Sunday and spread ferociously, causing the evacuation of Fort McMurray – save a few outlying areas that are waiting to see what the hot weather and strong wind will bring.
The wildfire is one kilometre west of Gregoire in Fort McMurray and remains out of control. So far it has burned approximately 2,650 hectares including many homes, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded.
“It’s in the town,” explains Terry Harvie, a Pictou resident working 30 minutes outside of Fort McMurray. “Everyone that lives in town has gone home (from the worksite). More than 600 people have left the field.”
The oil field he works at has gone from 3,000 people to around 150 people in the matter of a day.
Harvie says from what he has heard, a number of restaurants have burned and a gas station blew up.
“The fire is across Highway 63, you can only keep going north,” he says.
They are still waiting to see what will happen. If the wind changes, it’s likely the remaining workers will be sent home.
“There are close to 70,000 people that are homeless, including children, they may be sending us home to give our rooms to those who have nowhere to go,” he says. “There was actually a baby born at the Noralta camp last night.”
There are firefighters, aircraft and heavy equipment working on the fire and more resources are on their way.
Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie is calling on the McNeil Liberals to send firefighters and aid to help fight the devastating wildfires.
“We all know a Nova Scotian who is out west for work and these men and women are in trouble,” says Baillie. “We owe it to Fort McMurray, and most importantly to these Nova Scotians, to send help immediately.”

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And the winners are …

Lots of smiles could be seen on faces during the recent annual New Glasgow Music Festival and the Stars of the Festival Concert held Sunday.
Participants, parents, judges and audience members were all pleased with the results.
The 2016 awards and scholarships were announced during the Stars concert held at the deCoste Centre. Here are the results:

Bernadette Halliday-Smith Memorial Awards ($50) – Awarded to a performer of any age in Musical Theatre who is not the winner of their classes but who, in the opinion of the adjudicator, demonstrated a joy of performing and the love of music.
Donor: Sandra Johnson
Winner: Elise Canning

Bernadette Halliday-Smith Memorial Award ($100) or two ($50 ea) – Awarded to a performer in an Elementary and/or Junior class in Musical Theatre who is not the winner of a class but who, in the opinion of the adjudicator, demonstrated a joy of performing and a love of music.
Donor: The Trinitarian Choir
Winners: Ava MacDonald and William Austin

$100 or two $50 ea. – Awarded to a performer in an Intermediate and/or Senior class in Musical Theatre who is not the winner of a class but who, in the opinion of the adjudicator, demonstrated a joy of performing and a love of music.
Donor: Pictou County Y’ Menettes
Winners: Grayson Hudson and Miranda Goodman

Helen & Esther Lawrence Memorial Award, Trophy and $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding elementary performer in Musical Theatre. In memory of Ann Hobin.
Winner: Annika Murray

Dairy Queen, New Glasgow, Award, Trophy and $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding junior performer in Musical Theatre.
Donor: Dr. Caroline Carmichael Chapter, I.O.D.E.
Winner: Brennan MacDonald

70th New Glasgow Music Festival Award, Trophy and $75 – Given in memory of Richard Hobin. Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding intermediate performer in Musical Theatre. In memory of Ann Hobin.
Winner: Noel Fougere. Recommended Junior Musical Theatre, Provincial Music Festival

65th New Glasgow Music Festival Anniversary Trophy and $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding senior performer in Musical Theatre.
In memory of Ann Hobin.
Winner: Adrienne Munroe

Gertrude MacLeod Holton Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding senior performer in Musical Theatre.
Donor: Rotary Club of Pictou
Winner: Josee Champoux. Recommended Senior Musical Theatre, Provincial Music Festival

Elizabeth Delaney MacNeil Memorial Trophy and $100 ($50 ea.) – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to the outstanding duet in Musical Theatre.
Donor: Jessie Parkinson MacNei
Winners: Noel Fougere and Cameron Osgood

Senior/Open Class Musical Theatre Award, $250 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator to a competitor in one of these two classes who gives a distinguished performance, although not necessarily a winning performance, of a piece from a recent stage musical. The piece must be deemed appropriate to the competitor’s age, performance potential, and vocal; development.
Donor: MacLeod Group Health Services Ltd.
Winners: Sarah English ($100); Alexandria Benson ($100) and Carleigh Halliday ($50). Alexandria Recommended Alternate Senior Musical Theatre, Provincial Music Festival.

The Peter Halley Adjudicator’s Award, $50. Winner: Laura Sellers. Recommended Alternate Junior Musical Theatre

$100 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator, to the most promising band of the festival.
Donor: Sylvia and Duncan Dingle
Winner : New Glasgow Academy Jazz Band

70th New Glasgow Music Festival Band Award, $200 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to the outstanding band of the festival.
Donor: Grant Thornton
Winner: Truro Community Band

Mary Embree Band Scholarship Awards, $750 ea. – Each Pictou County school band director will recommend one player to receive this scholarship. This player will be from their bands, be an active participant in the band and the Music Festival, show musical promise, and benefit from attending a summer music camp.
Winners: New Glasgow Academy: Sarah Higdon
A.G. Baillie: Hannah Bryant
Northumberland Regional HS: Mullen Boulter
Dr. W.A.MacLeod: Aidan MacMaster
West Pictou: Carson Cameron
North Nova EC: Luke Henderson
Dr. John Hugh Gillis: Garrett Jenkins

New Glasgow Music Festival Plaque and $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding middle school instrumental or choral ensemble.
Donor: New Glasgow Academy Music Auxiliary
Winner: New Glasgow Academy Beginner Clarinet Ensemble A

New Glasgow Music Festival Plaque and $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding senior instrumental or choral ensemble.
Donor: North Nova Education Centre Music Auxiliary
Winner: North Nova Education Centre: Duet – Lucas March and Clare Henderson

$50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving elementary school choir.
Donor: Sir Frederick Banting Chapter, I.O.D.E.
Winner: A.G.Baillie

Marion Irving Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving entry in a choral class.
Winner: Seinneadair

$100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to the outstanding choir of the festival.
Donor. Trinity United Church Choir
Winner: Trinitarians

New Glasgow School Music Festival Plaque, donated by the New Glasgow High School Music Auxiliary, and $100 given in memory of Sister Blanche Gillis. Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to the outstanding school choir of the festival.
Donor: Donum Optimi Society
Winner: North Nova Education Centre Jazz Choir. Recommended Bouret Class Provincial Music Festival

$100 in memory of Sister Blanche Gillis. Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving school choir.
Donor: Donum Optimi Society
Winner: New Glasgow Academy Concert Choir

$50 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving instrumental student.
Donor: Sir Frederick Banting Chapter, I.O.D.E.
Winner: Mary Henderson

$50 Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving flute player.
Donor: First Presbyterian Church Choir, New Glasgow
Winner: Miranda Goodman

$50 Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving instrumental student.
Donor: Pictou County Progressive Conservative Women’s Association
Winner : Annette Diao. Recommended Junior Brass, Provincial Music Festival

Sister Blanche Gillis Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a senior instrumental student. Donor: New Glasgow Academy Music Auxiliary
Winner: Lucas March. Recommended Junior Woodwind, Provincial Music Festival

$50 Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving string student.
Donor: Pictou County Community Orchestra
Winner: Nell Cameron

Jim McInnis Memorial Award, two $50 ea. Or $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an emerging and talented fiddler in a Scottish class.
Donor: Pictou East Progressive Conservative Association
Winners : Katey Aucoin and Amelia Parker

$100 Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a competitor in a Scottish Class.
Donor: Clan Murray
Winner: Klorissa Farnsworth

Pictou County Celtic Association Workshops in Music and Gaelic Scholarships in Memory of Fleur Mainville, $75 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator to emerging fiddle players who have a love of music and would benefit from attending this summer camp.
Donor: St. John the Baptist Church Choir
Winner: Hannah Fraser

Pictou County Celtic Association Workshops in Music and Gaelic Scholarships in Memory of Fleur Mainville, Full Tuition Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator to three emerging fiddle players who have a love of music and would benefit from attending this summer camp.
Donor: Pictou County Celtic Association
Winners: Chantelle Ramsey, Anika Murray, Rowan Larson

Mary Benvie Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving string (bowed instrument) player of any age, from northern Nova Scotia, who has achieved a minimum mark of 85 in a sonata, concerto or advanced solo class.
Donors: Doris Fraser Hiltz and Robert D. Murray
Winner: Hannah Fraser

Joyce Goodman Memorial Award for Strings, $200 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding string player (bowed instrument) who has played advanced level repertoire in at least three classes and who has also competed in a sight reading class, and who shows both musical talent and a joy in music making (if no string player is eligible for this award, it may be given to a student of voice).
Winner: Jesse Hemmings. Recommended Junior Voice Provincial Music Festival

Mima C. Day Memorial Trophy and $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a promising young singer. In memory of Ann Hobin.
Winner: Reese Richards

Ann (Nan) Roblee Memorial Trophy, and $50 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a promising young singer. In memory of Ann Hobin.
Winner: Ainsley DeCoste

$50 Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving voice participant, and not necessarily to the winner of a class. For Pictou County competitors only between the ages of 11 to 14 years.
Donor: Dr Caroline Carmichael Chapter, I.O.D.E.
Winner: Justin Skinner

$50 Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator to an emerging young soprano displaying commitment and versatility in repertoire.
Donor: St. John the Baptist Catholic Women’s League
Winner: Burke Murray

A & B. Two $50 ea. – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a boy and a girl who each gave an outstanding performance of a sacred solo.
Donor: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Choir, New Glasgow
Winners: Jesse Hemmings, Hannah Bryant

A & B. Two $50 ea. – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving boy or girl and not necessarily the winner of a class. The winner should be 16 years of age or younger and from the Antigonish and County area.
Donor: The Sisters of St. Martha, Antigonish
Winners: Grayson Hudson and Oliver Long

Doreen Blenkhorn Memorial Award, two $50 ea. – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a promising junior singer, who was not necessarily the winner of a class.
Donor: Nova Scotia Provincial Chapter, I.O.D.E.
Winners: Robert MacPherson and Ben Coleman

$100 Voice Adjudicator’s Award for 2016
Winner: Ainslie Murray

$100 and Laureate Kappa Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi Sheild – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding singer of folk songs.
Donor: Mark Sutherland
Winner: Alexandria Benson

Helen Creighton Folk Song Award and $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to the outstanding performance of a selection from the Helen Creighton Collection.
Donor: Helen Creighton Folklore Society
Winner: Justin Skinner

Fleur Mainville Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding of a traditional folk song.
Donor: The Smith Family
Winner: Victoria Straub

Emma Lee Stewart Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding singer and/or composer of a contemporary folk song.
Donor: The Reason For Hope Society
Winner: Cameron Osgood

Jane Sutherland Memorial Award, $125 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving student in a Junior Voice Class.
Winner: Leah MacPherson

Margaret Durning Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding senior student of voice.
Donor: Durning/Alcorn Family
Winner: Alexandria Benson

Susan Fraser Memorial Award, $200 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator to an outstanding senior vocalist who has performed advanced level repertoire in at least three classes that must include. Operatic Solo, Sacred Aria, and Lieder.
Donor: John Fraser
Winner: Laycie Sutherland. Recommended Alternate Senior Voice, Provincial Music Festival

Joyce Goodman Memorial Award for Voice, $200 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding student of voice who has sung advanced repertoire in at least three classes and who has competed in a sight reading class, and who shows both musical talent and a joy in making music.
Winner: Adrienne Munroe. Recommended Alternate Junior Voice, Provincial Music Festival

Evelyn Adamson Johnstone Memorial Award, $300 – Awarded, at the discretion of the voice adjudicator, to the most promising Soprano, 16 years of age and over.
Donor: Mrs. Lavonne Thompson
Winner: Sarah English. Recommended Senior Voice, Provincial Music Festival

Juanita Connors Memorial Trophy and $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a promising young pianist. In memory of Ann Hobin.
Winner: Katey Aucoin

Norma E. Young Scholarship, $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving male or female student in piano.
Winner: Andrew Fraser

$50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving piano participant, and not necessarily to the winner of a class. For Pictou County Competitors only between the ages of 11 to 14 years.
Donor: Dr Caroline Carmichael Chapter, I.O.D.E.
Winner: Nikos Bonvie

A & B, $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving young pianist, and not necessarily the winner of a class. The winner will be 11 to 16 years of age and from the Antigonish and County area.
Donor: The Sisters of St. Martha, Antigonish
Winner: Brian Yang and Audrey Yang

A & B Heather and Charles Coll Awards, $75 ea. and keeper trophies – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a deserving Intermediate boy and Intermediate girl performer on piano.
Donors: Heather and Charles Coll
Winners: Lucas March, Aliyah Fraser

Llaina Donkin Memorial Scholarship, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding piano student.
Winner: Emma Cameron

Scottie Cameron Memorial Award, $500 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator(s) of the New Glasgow Music Festival, to a piano student age 15 to 17 years, who has exhibited exceptional ability and the quality of dedication required to pursue a career in music. In addition, the student must have entered a piano baroque class and a piano sonata class, both at a minimum Grade 8 level of difficulty; and one other piano class, which may be an ensemble class. The combined marks awarded by the adjudicator (including a sight reading class) must total 340 points or more.
Winner: Annette Diao

Bernadette Halliday Memorial Plaque, Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator(s) for the best in family music.
Donor: The Durning /Alcorn Family
Winner: Cameron Family

The Mary Diane Polley Award, $7 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a performer in strings, piano or voice, who best exemplified a “One of a Kind” love and talent for music. The performer does not necessarily have to be a winner of any class at the festival.
Donor: Friends of Mary Polley
Winner: Pierre Aucoin

Elizabeth J. Stalker Memorial Award, $50 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator(s), to one who is a resident of Pictou County, who has not received any other award this year and, who shows musical talent.
Winner: Eilidh Cameron

Commitment and Dedication Award, Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00) Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator to a young performer who is not a first place winner but who has displayed outstanding commitment and dedication to the art of music making. Donor: Highland Hearing Clinic Ltd
Winner: Charlotte Adams

The William Sebastian Georgallas Scholarship, $75, and Silver Medal. Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a young performer (under 12 years) who best exemplifies a joy of performing and a love of music. (This young performer does not necessarily have to be a winner of any class at the festival.)
Winner: Rory Cameron

Ollie Bowen Memorial Award, Fifty Dollars ($50.00) Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding performer in either voice or piano. Donor: Melda Bowen MacMillan
Winner: Hannah Bryant

Shirley Bent Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator to an outstanding performer in either voice or piano.
Donors: Jan Keefe and Debbie Siddall
Winner: Rachel MacIvor

Harry Murray Memorial Award, $100 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator(s).
Donor: Branch 34 Royal Canadian Legion
Winner: Annika Murray

$100 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator.
Donor: Scotsburn Co-operative Services Ltd.
Winner: Hayley MacGregor

Chris Mac Karacher Memorial Award, $150 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator(s), to a deserving student in Pictou County.
Winner: Nicole Ross

Vivian Brand Memorial Scholarship, $150 – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator, to a senior performer from Pictou County, who has displayed outstanding artistry and musicianship in at least three classes in any discipline. Preference will be given to a graduating high school student.
Winner: Jill Morrison

$250 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator(s), to a senior student, in either voice, piano or instrumental, who shows musical promise.
Donor: MacKay Meters
Winner: Emery van de Wiel. Recommended Senior Woodwind, Provincial Music Festival

Isabel Morton Award, $200 – Awarded at the discretion of the adjudicator, to an outstanding performer in at least three classes, which must include a concert group, of any discipline, and one who exemplifies a genuine passion for making music.
Donor: Don Morton
Winner: Luke Henderson. Recommended Senior Brass, Provincial Music Festival

Municipality of Guysborough County Awards ($200) – Awarded, at the discretion of the adjudicator to deserving students from Guysborough County.
Donor: Municipality of Guysborough County
Winners: Rebecca MacKeen, Meagan Kettley


The Junior Cup, $500 – donated by the Fraser family in memory of their mother. Mary Tait Fraser was a supporter and attender of the New Glasgow Music Festival for over 60 years. Her interest was not in the competitive aspect of the festival but in the opportunity it gave young people to share the joy of music making. It is awarded to a competitor, 16 years and under, who in the opinion of the adjudicators, shows most promise and musical ability, having competed in at least six classes, four of which must be in the same discipline, with repertoire at least at a Junior Level.
Winner: Jesse Hemmings

The Rose Bowl, $1.000 – is donated by Harold Renouf. It is awarded to a solo performer, 18 years and under, who is playing at least advanced level repertoire. The solo competitor will, in the opinion of the adjudicators, show outstanding promise and musical ability, having competed in at least six classes, four of which must be in the same discipline
Winner: Luke Henderson

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MORE run Thursday

The annual Marathon of Respect and Equality takes places Thursday throughout the county.
The event begins in Pictou and continues through the county, stopping at various venues.
Here are the 2016 route details:
• 7:50 a.m. – All runners gather at Pictou Tourist Bureau to prepare for run, sign waivers, etc. Call 928-9347 or 752-2709 if you need a drive from New Glasgow to Pictou on the morning of the run.
• 8:10 a.m. – Run leaves tourist bureau and travels north toward Pictou along West River Road, then Water Street to rally at Town Square
• 8:25 a.m. – Run arrives at Pictou Rally
• 8:40 a.m. – Run departs rally, travels along Water Street, then left on Coleraine Street, then left on Church Street and returns to tourist bureau
• 8:55 a.m.– All core runners board bus to travel to up-river towns section of run
• 9:15 a.m. – Bus arrives at Celtic School Board office on Westville Road
• 9:20 a.m. – Run leaves the school board office and travels along Westville Road toward Town of Westville
• 9:50 a.m. – Run arrives at the Westville Rally at the town office
• 10:05 a.m. – Run departs Westville Rally and proceeds along Drummond Road/Acadia Avenue toward Town of Stellarton
• 10:40 a.m. – Run arrives at Stellarton Rally at Nova Scotia Community College Campus on Acadia Avenue
• 11 a.m. – Run departs Stellarton Rally and travels along Acadia Avenue, turns left onto Foord Street and continues on Foord/Stellarton Road toward Town of New Glasgow (route toward New Glasgow Rally at New Glasgow Academy is Stellarton Road to George Street, George Street to Riverside Parkway, from Riverside Parkway to MacLean Street, MacLean Street to Albert Street, and Albert Street to New Glasgow Academy)
• 11:40 a.m. – Run arrives at New Glasgow Rally at New Glasgow Academy
• 12:00 a.m. – Core runners board bus to travel to Pictou Landing section of run
• 12:25 p.m. – Bus arrives at sharp turn in Pictou Landing; run travels along Pictou Landing Road toward Pictou Landing First Nation
• 12:45 p.m. – Run arrives at Pictou Landing Rally
• 1:15 p.m. – Core runners depart Pictou Landing First Nation by bus and travel toward Town of Trenton and last section of run
• 1:35 p.m. – Runners get off bus at Superior Propane driveway and travel along Pictou Landing Road/Main Street to arrive at Trenton Rally at old ball field by skate board park at 1:45 p.m.
• 2 p.m. – Run departs Trenton Rally and travels south along Main Street toward New Glasgow
• Run continues along Trenton Road to Provost Street and travels toward East River Road
• 2:30 p.m. – Run turns left onto Marsh Street and stops at Calvary Temple parking lot on Marsh Street for drink/snack (time permitting)
• 2:40 p.m. – Run continues east on Marsh Street, travels from Marsh Street to Vale Road, bears right to Vale Road, travels Vale Road to Park Street, turns right to Park Street and travels toward North Nova Education Centre
• 3:05 p.m. – Run ends at North Nova Education Centre Rally in the gym

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Ticks: Been bitten? Now what?

To the Editor:
The ticks are out and about questing for a blood meal and there is an ever increasing risk of being bitten.
There was a bite, the tick has been removed so what now?
There is no tick surveillance in the province so chances are if it was removed at a hospital it would be trashed. I think if you have the tick that bit you it would be wise to keep the tick, have it identified and if it is a blacklegged tick have it tested. There is a research project at Mount Allison University where they are testing ticks
When they receive ticks from humans they try to get testing results within two weeks, but they need a phone number or e-mail address so they can get the results back to the people. They are not testing ticks from Nova Scotia dogs as there are just too many. Some veterinarians can at least ID the tick species or they can be sent to the Museum of Natural History to identify.
The National Guidelines Clearinghouse (NGC), a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for providing the most up-to-date clinical guidelines to physicians. In January of this year the NGC removed the IDSA Infectious Diseases Society of America Lyme disease guidelines for being out of date and not conforming to the standards required for clinical guidelines, leaving only the ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) Lyme disease guidelines. Nova Scotia/Canada has been following the IDSA guidelines that have been removed. The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, Doctors Nova Scotia and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia are aware of these changes but for some reason continue to follow the outdated guidelines.
Lyme is a clinical diagnosis that can be supported by testing. There is no test that is 100 per cent. The testing in Canada is poor and only tests for one lab-derived strain of Borrelia that has never been found in the wild (there are over 100 wild strains of Borrelia in North America). A negative test does not mean you do not have Lyme, it means the test was negative.
When you see a doctor there is no standard way of treatment. There are still doctors who do not acknowledge that there are ticks in Nova Scotia that have the potential to carry disease. Perhaps these doctors should speak with a veterinarian. A bull’s eye rash after a tick bite is a definitive sign and warrants treatment. There are some doctors who have a wait and see attitude and other doctors who will prescribe a one-day dose of antibiotic. How many infections are cleared with just one dose of antibiotic? Not many. Lyme is an emerging vector borne illness that needs more research.
There are some who will get two weeks of treatment with 28 days being the maximum amount of treatment recommended by the guidelines the doctors follow. It has been said if you are not better after the prescribed treatment that you have something other than Lyme. The treatment is the same no matter what stage you are at with the infection.
You can have a tick bite and be fine but then go on and develop health concerns in the future. Lyme and co-infections should be considered as a possible diagnosis.
Lyme if treated early can usually be resolved with a relatively short course of antibiotic. In the later chronic stage it can take numerous rounds of treatment, repeat treatment for years and then there is the possibility of a relapse. Every case is different; it is not a one treatment fits all.
Lyme is known as the great impostor as it mimics so many conditions that have no definitive cause. Some of the conditions included in the long list are: early Alzheimer ’s disease, early ALS, arthritis, ADD and ADHD, autism, Bell’s palsy, brain tumour, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, headaches (severe), juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, memory impairment, MS, optic neuritis, Parkinson’s, psychiatric disorders like bipolar and depression, Raynaud’s syndrome, seizure disorders, sleep disorders, thyroid disease, Tourette’s syndrome, urticaria, vertigo and the list goes on. It would be wise to check to see if Borrelia may be the root of the problem.
If someone has had a tick bite and then goes on and develops health concerns in the future, Lyme and co-infections should be considered as a possible diagnosis. In some cases, a trial treatment using antibiotics is given and the results are monitored.
Doctors need to increase their knowledge of vector borne diseases; we all need to increase our awareness.
Our doctors and health care system need to increase their knowledge of vector borne diseases and hopefully with the Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Conference in May things will start to move towards change.
Education is key!
Brenda Sterling-Goodwin
New Glasgow

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Sutherland eyes return to Boston

PICTOU – Distance running is almost a way of life for Michelle Sutherland.
Sutherland, who lives in Lyons Brook and works and trains at True Potential Fitness in Pictou, has been running for years and completed her second Boston Marathon on April 18 in an official time of four hours, 33 minutes, 57 seconds. That’s slower than the 3:49 time she recorded at a marathon on October, 2014 in Moncton, N.B. to qualify for this year’s run in Boston.
“I’m competitive but, like everybody else, it wasn’t a good time for me,” she said. “The course and the weather in Boston is always a challenge. It was hot, and has not been here, so it was hard.”
Sutherland was one of nearly 10,000 women and nearly 23,000 runners in this year’s marathon.
“It takes a year and a half to qualify,” she said, explaining that she will need to run another qualifying time to run a future Boston Marathon.
“I want to work on going back,” she said. “After you do Boston, you don’t want to do it again. Then you want to go back. The whole weekend is such an experience. You’re treated like royalty.”
She has participated in 14 events during the Johnny Miles Running Event Weekend. For the last two years she has been the top local female finisher in the marathon and Dave MacLennan has been the fastest local male finisher.
She also likes running 50-K ultra marathons.
“I like endurance running,” she said. “Running is very free and in ultras you need to go beyond yourself.”
Sutherland has been at True Potential Fitness for two years. She teaches cardiovascular tips and helps train others who want to run, in groups of eight.
Sutherland was one of three Pictou County runners to complete the 2016 Boston Marathon.
Walter Linthorne of Stellarton finished the course in 3:22:12. It was his third marathon overall and his first Boston Marathon.
Amelia Fraser completed the course for the first time in slightly less than four hours after recording a 3:27 qualifying time.
It was Fraser’s fifth marathon.

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Murray, Hines join N.S. team

ANTIGONISH – Two members of the Pictou County Highland Dance Association qualified for the provincial team recently after the 38th annual Nova Scotia closed championship and selection meet.
Annika Murray of Green Hill won in the 10 to 12 age group, while Hines earned a championship in the 16 to 18 category.
They were among 13 Pictou County dancers vying for a spot on the provincial team. Twenty representatives were chosen with only the top three from each age category earning a place on the team, which will compete in Winnipeg in July at the Canadian championships.
Both Murray and Hines attend the Holly MacDonald-Bent dance school in Pictou. Murray is representing the province for the fourth year and Hines for the sixth time.
Piper for the day’s event was Daniel Carr from Ontario.
Results are as follows:
10 and under 12 years: Annika Murray – Fling 1st, Sword 2nd, Seann Truibhas 1st, Reel 1st, Champion and Provincial Representative; Amelia Parker – Reel 4th
12 and under 14 years: Ainslie Salter – Fling 4th, Seann Truibhas 5th, Reel 6th, 4th Runner Up
14 and under 16 years: Alaina Bryce – Reel 6th
16 and under 18 years: Emma Hines – Fling 2nd, Sword 2nd, Seann Truibhas 1st, Reel 1st, Champion and Provincial Representative; Kiara Sutherland – Seann Truibhas 6th.

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When NGHS girls won two crowns

I find it rather amazing – sometimes startling – how people frequently bring up the subject of girls playing competitive sports, then add comments suggesting it’s a brand new fad in our communities. It bugs me.
Sure, girls hockey is growing and improving at a rapid pace, something I’ve addressed on different occasions, something that excites me to no end. Having two young granddaughters in the sport, I see first-hand how popular it has become. Girls no longer need to take a back seat out there on the ice. And sure, girls have been doing wonderfully well – and enjoying greatly – numerous other sports, from soccer to basketball, from swimming to track and field, from tennis to golf. The list could become lengthy.
Decades ago? Do people really think girls then were merely spectators, maybe cheerleaders, in our rinks, in our gymnasiums, on our soccer fields? Do they really believe girls have only been participating in competitive athletic activities in more recent years?
How naive.
I could recite example after example of girls and women who were demonstrating their skills a long, long time ago. One I often think about was a great aunt who, something close to 100 years ago, could play and win golf tournaments as well as the best men.
But let’s get a bit more recent – like six decades ago.
Did you know that in the school year of 1956-57, New Glasgow High teams won two provincial championships? No, not boys rugby. Not boys hockey either. I’m talking about the school’s girls basketball team and the girls soccer club. Yes, girls.
That year was my first after graduating from NGHS. I was studying – or supposed to be studying – at St. Francis Xavier University. As a result, I only saw one basketball game at the school and no soccer games in that big year. However, I saw many of those girls competing on other occasions and, indeed, there were many fine talents among them.
I had an up-close interest, of course, because my younger sister Barbara was on the championship basketball team.
Barbara and I have talked about her team off and on during these 59 years since, even though I have to admit she’s not what you would call a big sports fan. That results in a lot of laughs when I try to extract sports knowledge from her. It was her phone call last week that got me reflecting, once more, on that 1956-57 winter.
Barbara called this time to tell me one of the members of the soccer team, the former Heather MacLeod, died at the age of 74. Yes, the years have gone by. Heather was one of the ones who brought victory to the home of the green and white. As Barbara recalled, Heather was a dedicated member of the soccer club, one of those who always showed up early for practices and games, who always gave 100 per cent every moment on the field. Heather later became a registered nurse, graduating from the Aberdeen Hospital School of Nursing. She stayed on staff and later was a valued nurse at Glen Haven Manor. She and husband Jimmy Ferguson had almost half a century together, raising a lovely family. Jimmy passed away in 2013.
Sports were never far away for Heather. A sister, Helen, married Bob Stroud, who was an outstanding athlete at rival Stellarton High when I was writing high school sports during my NGHS years. Much more recently, in her role as “Grammy,” she was a regular in hockey rinks, as her obituary said, “cheering on her favourite little hockey stars.”
Just six years ago, Heather and her soccer teammates, along with the members of the basketball team, received well-deserved honours when the two clubs were simultaneously inducted into the Pictou County Sports Heritage Hall of Fame.
Yes, 1956-57 was big.
The soccer team, coached by teacher Bill Fraser, was in only its second season when it won what was then called the Nova Scotia Headmasters’ title. New Glasgow came out of the county after winning local honours against Pictou Academy, Westville High and Stellarton High. A two-game total-goal series with Brookfield ended in a deadlock, so a third match was necessary, won by NGHS. The provincial final was a one-game affair against Lockeport, and it was a glorious afternoon for the green and white, an impressive 6-0 victory.
Later, it was the basketball girls in the limelight, the team being coached by Lawrence (Yud) McKinnon.
New Glasgow won the Pictou County crown against East Pictou, then defeated Glace Bay in the provincial quarter-finals. That was followed by a dramatic Nova Scotia semi-final against powerful Queen Elizabeth High of Halifax. In a two-game showdown, New Glasgow lost the opener by 17 points. That could have been it. But in the second contest at home, the locals produced a thrilling 20-point comeback to win by three points. The excitement didn’t end there. In a two-game battle with Bridgetown, NGHS held on for a one-point win and the provincial crown.
When I talk about outstanding athletes in the county, I never forget the name Willena Borden. Wow, what a talent! She was the top star with both the soccer and basketball champions. In that big 17-point hoops comeback against QEH, she had 18 points.
Who were the champions?
The soccer squad: Willena Borden, Linda Mackie, Gloria Borden, Heather MacLeod, Mary Sproull, Georgie Cochrane, Barbara Cameron, Phyllis Glenn, Betty Fleming, Jean Grant, Pat Fraser, Genesta Bigney, Pat MacKay and manager Lynn Armstrong.
The basketball winners: Willena Borden, Linda Mackie, Barbara Townsend, Georgie Cochrane, Lynn Armstrong, Sharon Wamback, Jean Grant, Phyllis Glenn, Betty Fleming, Priscilla MacAlpine, Margot Horne, Janet Thompson and manager Pat MacKay.
The lesson learned: In the 1950s, girls did excel in competitive sports.
And became champions.

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Crushers find home at Yvonne’s

STELLARTON – It was hardly hockey weather last Saturday.
But it was a chance for players who tried out or played for the Pictou County Weeks Crushers to hang out with Yvonne McChesney, some of whom have come to respect and adore, after billeting with her.
McChesney billeted defenceman Taylor Davis and rookie Mark Kennedy all season and Mark Derraugh, Braydon Munn and Kiern Devine for part of the 2015-16 campaign.
“This is my first year billeting,” McChesney said. “It’s been quite a year, one that I will repeat. I enjoy the energy from the boys.”
Munn said it was good to stay at the McChesney household.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said.
Davis, 20, is finishing his junior eligibility with the Crushers as they begin representing the Maritime Hockey League at the Fred Page Cup this week in Woodstock, N.B.
“It’s been unreal,” he said. “The year flew by, but it’s been the best time of my life. It’s been a great experience.”
The Crushers earned their spot at the Fred Page Cup by capturing the Kent Cup, emblematic of the league championship, on April 25 with a thrilling 4-3 double-overtime victory over the Dieppe Commandoes.
The win gave the Crushers the best–of-seven series by four games to two.
The Crushers will meet a team from Longueuil, Que. today at 4 p.m. before meeting Carleton on Thursday and the host Woodstock Slammers on Friday.
The Crushers received a huge sendoff on Monday at the Pictou County Wellness Centre prior to their trip to Woodstock on Tuesday.

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Laugh your way into the weekend with comedian Mike MacDonald

This weekend will start with a step in the right direction as Mike MacDonald – an internationally renowned comedian with Sunny Brae roots – takes stage at Glasgow Square Theatre on Friday evening.
MacDonald, a veteran of Just for Laughs, the North American comedy circuit and TV from the CBC to Letterman, offered Advocate readers sage insight into writing stand up.
“If there were a formula to my jokes it would be: concept; joke; act out the joke,” MacDonald said. “First there’s the idea of what you’re trying to say and then there’s the actual joke about it, and then there’s the illustration of the joke.”
Certain subject matter can be expanded upon, MacDonald continued. “A lot of times I have a joke that starts off and might be a minute or two and then I add on things that it logically leads into and all of a sudden there’s a five to 10 minute bit about that particular subject.”
MacDonald said his second TV special took that notion to the extreme as the entire hour of comedy was dedicated exclusively to the topic of family – a topic he approached from every conceivable angle.
“I picked the bones pretty good on that,” MacDonald said.
Lazy jokes, tired jokes and dad jokes aren’t likely to get much of a laugh out of MacDonald, a fate he chalks up to the “curse of being a comedian.”
“It’s like being a magician,” MacDonald said. “When other magicians pull a rabbit out of the hat you go, ‘Oh, it’s no big deal, I could do that… It has to be something fantastic that he pulls out of his hat to impress everybody else. There’s a lot of jokes, street jokes, some of them are okay but most of them are like, ‘Uh, you know, if that’s what you think is funny…’ When I’m in a public area with people and I hear people laughing I’m always curious about what made them laugh and sometimes I’m disappointed when I find out what made them laugh.”
While it may be hard to get MacDonald laughing, generating laughs in others has never been much of a problem.
“Even in high school I sort of had an audience. I’d be outside and people would kind of gather around me because I kept them entertained.”
MacDonald said while he will do material on touchy subjects the key is to have a sound moral-compass.
“I think most of the subjects that I approach, I approach them from the right angle,” MacDonald said. Doing so allows him to discuss the most taboo of topics in an era where even Jerry Seinfeld has been deemed as un-PC.
“To me it’s not a burden, this PC stuff,” MacDonald said, “It’s not a burden to refer to people the way they want to be referred to.”
MacDonald said that Seinfeld earned his PC-backlash due to a poor choice of words. The joke would have worked just as well, MacDonald said, if Seinfeld had been more exacting in his characterization rather than relying on the baggage of a stereotypical – and loaded – generalization.
“A lot of the comedians that complain about PC are a little lazy,” MacDonald said, “because being aware of what’s politically correct makes you examine stuff. You really have to have a good reason for saying stuff. There’s a certain responsibility for entertainers and performers that we have when we’re on stage but on the other hand I’ll fight to the death for somebody’s right to say whatever they want. But whenever you say whatever you want you have to deal with the consequence of the audience reacting to it either positively or negatively. To complain about that is irrelevant.”

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Rankin walks ‘A Fine Line’ with solo album

Last month saw the release of A Fine Line, the debut solo album from Heather Rankin.
Rankin – the youngest of the Rankin family – will be performing May 11 at Glasgow Square Theatre with Kim Dunn co-headling.
One may have expected a Heather Rankin solo album before now, as both Jimmy and Raylene Rankin began releasing solo material during the group’s early 2000s, pre-reunion period. She, however, was following a different path, one that included work with Carly Simon, theatre pursuits and managing the Rankin sisters’ Red Shoe Pub. In short, she may be late to the party but it’s a party she didn’t mind being late to.
“I never really felt any pressure to do a solo record to be perfectly honest,” Rankin said. “It was something I never really thought that seriously about until in recent years when (The Rankins) started touring again. I’d been writing a little bit and a few people had been giving me the nudge saying I should continue doing it… It was just something I never really saw myself as, a solo singer. Sometimes life makes decisions for you and leads you in directions you never expected to go.”
The notion of releasing a solo album meant not only competing with her past and the Rankin Family back catalogue but also audience perceptions of what a Heather Rankin album should sound like.
“I think I had a lot of insecurities about stepping out on my own,” Rankin said. “I’ve always been surrounded by family in whatever musical endeavours I’ve taken part in. I guess once I said it out loud I was committed to it. You’re always afraid it will be a failure, at least that’s the way my brain thinks. It’s really hard coming from a situation that’s very successful and stepping out on your own.”
She continued, “People have expectations. The Rankin Family shows were so lively and there was so much variety with five people and all the different voices and different elements we brought to it. It’s a high bar and I think all of those reservations are just a natural thing coming out of that kind of successful situation.”
Rankin eventually paired up with David Tyson, co-writer of ‘Black Velvet’ by Alannah Myles. Rankin said working with Tyson made her see things from a different point of view and he encouraged her to write more songs. In the end, Rankin co-wrote seven of the album’s tracks.
While A Fine Line does have some of the traditional seasoning a Rankin Family fan may expect, it also floats through modern pop sounds, old standards and show tune-esque material.
“I know it’s a departure,” Rankin said, “and at first I was afraid of that because the safe thing would have been to make a traditional record or make something that was much more in the direction of what I did with the Rankin Family; but it also would have been very predictable and not really a period of growth for me.
“I’ve learned to step out of that comfort zone and explore other genres a bit more and although the music does run the gamut from pop to show tunes to the direction of what I would have done with the Rankins, it does have a thematic thread that runs through all of the music.”
That sense of unpredictability – and thematic thread – is extended to the album’s lead single, a cover of Tears for Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’, which includes a guest spot from Halifax hip-hop artist Quake.
“We had a lot of discussion about that,” Rankin said, “and quite honestly I thought it was the greatest departure from what I’d always done. I thought why not come out with a bang. We could have easily started off with ‘We Walk as One’ which is very much in the direction of what I did with the Family but again, why do what people are expecting and what’s more predictable?
“…When it was suggested it was so out on a limb that it made me embrace it all the more because when I set out to make this record I didn’t want to close any doors, I wanted to be open to all opportunities and ideas.”

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Stronger together

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next several weeks, The Advocate is happy to bring a series of information columns from the MOU Steering Committee on a variety of topics related to the proposal.

Last week, Doug Griffiths, an MLA from Alberta, visited Pictou County to share the wisdom he has gathered from working with communities in his province. He said communities need to create their own solutions to their challenges and that those solutions are often found through working with your neighbours.
That, in a nutshell, is the goal of amalgamation in Pictou County.
Mr. Griffiths echoes advice in the “Now or Never” report released in 2014 which talks about the need for our communities to work more closely together. Soon after, a grassroots group of independent citizens called Pictou County 2020 began a series of consultations to help people in this area envision their future.
Hundreds of people attended these sessions. They consistently identified the need for unification, regional government, less red tape, working together to achieve common goals and eliminating competition and duplication of services between municipalities. We’ve also heard concerns about population decline, school closures, employment opportunities, fair taxation and the lack of one vision and plan for this area.
We responded by coming together to study municipal reform. It’s been discussed in Pictou County since the 1800s, but the proposal that is before the people of Pictou County is by far the most comprehensive and thoroughly vetted. It is also the first time that the people of Pictou County have a say through the Utility and Review Board process and the plebiscites on May 28.
To help citizens decide how to vote in the plebiscites, we’ve been sharing information online, at community meetings and through other opportunities. This information sheds a positive light on amalgamation because that’s what the evidence shows.
Amalgamation is a big step forward to reduce duplication and competition for scarce resources, add more specialized expertise, allow better planning for our region to attract new business, grow our population and take care of our people. Greater efficiency in one municipality means everyone will pay lower taxes for the same or better services. This evidence was reviewed by qualified, independent auditors who agree with our financial projections.
There was a time when several municipalities in this area made sense. But that time has passed. Today, we need one municipal government working for the benefit of all our communities.
To learn more about the proposal to amalgamate, please visit

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Don’t put rural county in the back seat

To the Editor:
I am opposed to the amalgamation plan in its current form for numerous reasons. First and foremost, I am concerned that rural Pictou County (meaning the county, not the towns) will lose its authority over its own destiny. We have so much going for us right now (far from “going backwards”) here in the truly rural parts of the county… low tax rates, affordable properties, decent high-speed Internet and cell service, natural beauty in abundance, peace and quiet, numerous local small businesses and volunteer organizations, active churches and community halls, etc.
Financially, our county is in the black, and we are represented by 14 county councillors who understand the issues of importance to their people and work hard to do what they can to help keep the fabric of their communities strong. These are all good things, and factual evidence that our future looks bright, so long as we can remain in the drivers’ seat. I do not want to be a part of putting rural Pictou County in the back seat! (which is what would happen if we merge with the towns in a tiny new council). I have read and listened to the OnePictouCounty materials online, in print and at meetings. Overall, I have found the material presented to be a marketing-type sales pitch firmly biased in favour of amalgamation and I feel they have done a disservice to county residents, both town and rural, in not presenting a fair and balanced look at the pros and cons of the proposal.
I can see the common sense of the towns, if residents wish, of working together to implement cost savings for big infrastructure projects like sewer and water. The county residents’ issues, on the other hand, are in a whole different world. For example, our communities rely on the vitality and viability of our community halls, churches, fire halls, small businesses including farms and forestry, recreational organizations such as snowmobile clubs, fishing, hunting, hiking and nature conservation and educational activities, etc. We look after our own wells and septic systems, we live in the country by choice and enjoy the benefits. We have a strong foundation upon which improvements and growth can be achieved… so long as we say “No Thank You” to the amalgamation plan put before us now.
Jane Morrigan
West Branch

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Thanks for the music

To the Editor:
The 78th Annual New Glasgow Music Festival was truly a celebration of our vibrant musical community in Northern Nova Scotia. As Shelley Neville stated at the Family Night festivities hosted at Trinity United Church on Thursday evening, “A community with music is a happy community.”
Over 800 students participated in this year’s festival, with an increase in registration for the first time since 2008. The festival would like to thank students for attending our musical event, and for inspiring us all with your gifts of vocal and instrumental talent. We, as festival volunteers, are consistently and deeply touched by your generosity to share your musical performance gifts with us.
The New Glasgow Music attracted teachers and students from as far away as Guysborough County and throughout the northern region. We would like to thank the parents, grandparents and care givers who provide the time and space for your children to learn and explore their musical interests and who continue to support our organization by registering your children with us each year. Whether at the North Nova Education Centre, St. George’s Anglican Church, Trinity United Church, or First Presbyterian Church, you filled the halls with smiling and proud faces that reflect on your courageous performers. And thank you to the venues for providing safe and warm spaces for performance.
We would also like to thank the teachers who bring their students to festival. We look forward to growing our relationship with you and ensuring that our offerings meet the needs of your students.
Music professionals Peter Halley, Jennifer Hart, Kevin Watson, Timi Levy, Shelley Neville, Barbara Long and Lynn Johnson inspired students and teachers alike with fine adjudication and teaching. Each adjudicator brought their own unique gifts to the festival and we are thankful to attract such a high caliber of professionals to our rural community, so that local musical talent can learn and grow.
A robust and enthusiastic team of volunteers supported the talented students. Almost 80 individuals stepped forward this year to ensure that the festival ran as smoothly as possible. We thank the long-standing volunteers, some of whom have been with the Festival for five decades, the new volunteers, including those who found themselves on our stages not that long ago, and everyone in between.
And finally, thank you to the generous donors and sponsors who contribute to ensure that music can thrive in our communities. Your financial contributions are essential to the health of our festival. Your support ensures that we can provide a space for musical learning, competition and performance. Children are our future, and your kindness will help them flourish.
Experience a celebration of music by joining us at the Stars of the Festival Concert on Sunday, May 3rd at the DeCoste Centre in Pictou. Participants of all ages will delight you with their powerful and touching performances.
To learn more about the New Glasgow Music Festival, or to volunteer or donate to our organization, please check out: and
Jaime Smith
New Glasgow Music Festival

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Current governance is respected by those outside Pictou County

To the Editor:
There must be a sense that we Pictou County folks are too trusting, and thus, complacent when it concerns our having a ‘say’ in our own daily affairs. One county councillor has ‘taken that to heart’ – publicly declaring that, if there’s less than 80 per cent turnout, with a close vote, for the May 28 plebiscite, he will go ‘Father Knows Best’ on us, and vote as ‘He Knows Best’, ignoring all of us ‘79 per centers’ – the very ones who cared enough to actually get out and cast their ballot!
Great! Should we expect, that if there’s only a 79 per cent turnout and a close vote in the next county elections, that he will throw out that result and stay on as councillor? That should serve as a wakeup call for what we can expect in a post-amalgamated Pictou County – “Old King Cole” and his Merry Court of councillors, ruling from somewhere deep in the county, more the like!
Pictou County has long been admired by outsiders for our local district representative type of self-governance. Although it may not be perfect, it’s the best we could have, short of having everyone gather in the village square for a show of hands on every single issue. The take away from this should be: if we don’t think and practise democracy, it, as happens in other countries, can rapidly deteriorate into something more feral. Instead of helping Third World countries, we could easily become a Third World county ourselves.
A neighbour on Cape John once remarked, “If we never stand for something, we’ll fall for anything!” So, what happened in River John on April 13 is a literal example of that. The entire MOU audience rose as one, in a silent vigil for Pictou County and its past champions. For more than a minute, except for the ‘hum’ from overhead lighting, the room couldn’t have been more quiet than if it had been locked up for the night!
We’ve all seen the TV commercial with Ty Domi urging us all to ‘stand up to the Big Guys.” Well, one of the last speakers of the evening managed to do just that – stood up to the big guys and in closing did Ty Domi ‘one better’, inviting us all to show support for the Good Old County, by standing on behalf of ‘it’, and all of us as well.
Thomas Rogers
Cape John

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Send MOU packing

To the Editor:
I wasn’t going to write to the editor this week. I was going to chill out, collect my thoughts and try to make some sense out of all this mess before it made me any madder.
Sorry, no can do. I had to go and read about the meeting in Pictou. Where do these supporters get off holding the good people of Pictou at ransom over water and sewer? If people were following the federal budget, is there not billions of bucks to be spent on things like water and sewer? Are they not entitled to a bite of that, or is this just going to be another of their hidden tricks? What does this not binding plebiscite mean? A 51 per cent vote means yes or no? Very strange thing that the placement of this letter was right beside the soldiers picture in On Guard for Thee. This was a man who fought in the war so that people like Hilter could not say this is the way it is going to be and you can’t do nothing about it.
Some councillors, do you realize how fast you are losing your support and respect from your ridings and county because you chose to let us down, just to support New Glasgow? If pennies were voters you would not have enough to buy a coffee.
What has water and sewer in Abercrombie got to do with Pictou? Do people blame Trenton for not wanting to lose a big slice of their tax revenue for nothing in return? It seems to me most of our county councillors don’t mind. Did anyone hear anything on the walk-in clinic in Pictou? Is this another sneaky move like the Wellness Center, undercover. Will our wise people be posting a speed limit on the causeway for wheelchairs and walkers as they head to New Glasgow for a six-hour wait, if they are lucky. How about some of you wise people put your heads together and fix something that needs to be fixed. Let’s send MOU packing guys.
Gary Heighton

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Where is the truth?

To the Editor:
Kumbaya Queens County. Mayor Clarke, the astute politician, is using his political position to reorganize the facts. Omitting detrimental facts to control the plot. Deception is becoming the norm, rather than the exception.
My grandfather would counsel me, saying figures don’t lie, but liars figure. This MOU crowd must think we are a flock of sheep lacking individuality.
Politicians are by nature politicians, protecting the kingdom, known to put positive spins on their political decisions. Mayor Clarke, part of the decision-making process to amalgamate Queens, would defend his presentation? The good mayor came waltzing into Pictou County with fallacies and half truths, telling the audience what they wanted to hear.
To answer the MOU name calling, branding free thinkers as naysayers. When like-minded people debate a topic, conclusions drawn are narrow minded. When the topic is debated, all aspects are explored. Favoured to putting the cart before the horse.
Queens citizen: “Now, there’s just a couple of grocery and hardware stores and couple of dollar stores,” Kirk Mitton, who spent 26 years in the mill and now operates an insulation company. “But you can’t buy a pair of socks here anymore.” There are no clothing stores in Liverpool either. The court house is closing. The curling club, started by Mersey Paper executives in 1935, could soon follow. (
Forgot: Emera Centre manager Steve Burns at council meeting gave council the centre’s financial forecast until the end of 2015, and it showed a deficit of $592,838 – up more than $30,000 over last year. “I looked at the numbers and I’m really discouraged,” said Mayor Clarke.
Clark on deficit: “We’ve got to find ways to control that deficit otherwise we’ll be cutting out programs elsewhere,” he said. “ The only two ways you handle this is you cut programs or you raise the tax rate, that’s the only source of revenue.”
Clark’s decision making: “We’ve got that great big foyer that sits empty all the time. That was built and I voted to build that great big pretty foyer because I was told that was a place where we could do art, entertainment. We could have music on weekends, we could do all sorts of stuff. We built that great big community room so the community could use it. The rent is atrocious to rent that community room.” So the wise Mayor took bad advice. (–600-000.html)
Helping young home owners: a new family buying a home here for $300,000 almost sends municipal governments into orgasmic ecstasy. Not because they are new people that might contribute to Queens but because they must pay $3,000 just to get in the door. Best of all the region does almost nothing to earn the money. ( by Stacey Colwell)
The MOU trying hard to hide these facts? Why are they spending thousands of tax dollars? It requires thousands of tax dollars to push a bad idea. Now they are flying special speakers in from Alberta to win the argument. They figure if they go far enough away we will not find the truth.
Bryan Knight

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Amalgamation can work

To the Editor:
It has been asked why and how we can expect amalgamation to bring people and jobs to Pictou County, since we need to be looking for “jobs, business, industry and tourism” … so I’ll share my thoughts. (Also, I do refer to “six” units rather than just four, because I am optimistically looking more forward than May 29th).
It’s a great question. Amalgamation is a tool. It can be good or bad; it is up to us how to use it and up to us to make it work. If it can work anywhere, (and it CAN work), it should be Pictou County. So why not add ourselves to the other success stories?
If united, we can use the government funding to address some major infrastructure needs which have been delayed for decades. If we miss this opportunity, that funding will not be available again. By addressing those, such as the water quality in Pictou, it makes our community far more attractive for people and business to come. (Alternatively, we forgo $27 million, and some of these projects will continue to get delayed, or to use Pictou again as an example, they may either have to dissolve to the county, or borrow money to fix this problem which will give them the highest water rates in Nova Scotia, according to the mayor.)
If united, we will have far more consistent taxes, bylaws, land usage, etc, which is much easier and more organized for someone looking to set up business here. (Alternatively, we currently have six different sets…). Not only that, but it will be one group (my hopeful thinking of all six units down the road) trying to attract and welcome these business opportunities, instead of six vying for their attention and competing, to the detriment of the entire community.
If united, we will all be in it together. “Together, we are stronger.” Pooling our resources, one council thinking of the best interest of our whole area, with more efficient decision making, and a vision for a regional plan. A stronger voice for us at the table in Halifax, the Maritimes, or Ottawa. (Alternatively, we now have six different decision-making units/councils with six different plans, in six directions, with inefficient and delayed decisions with regard to regional assets.) What is good for one is good for the whole region. A rising tide lifts all boats. We cannot stand alone. (Alternatively, even if one town is stable, if it is surrounded by failing communities, it will die as well.)
If united, we can also market ourselves as one region and have far more strategy and resources and cohesive vision when doing so. This is important to attract jobs, business, industry and tourism, but also citizens, doctors, young families, professionals, etc. So that affects our services, your services, as well as taxes and what is available for our quality of life. (Alternatively, we continue to go it alone, with a population continuing to decline and age, with less citizens, so less people in the schools and hospitals, less doctors, less commercial and residential taxpayers, which means guaranteed increased taxes.)
If united, we are saying yes! We are ready to move forward together. We are a progressive community who wants to succeed. We are forward thinking and proactive and cooperative. That and energy which attracts young people (and entrepreneurs, businesses, tourists, etc.) to your community. (Alternatively, we again choose the status quo of the past, our separate silos, and decline, driving people away.)
I’m only “young”, but I see there are many benefits; I’m sure more can be added to this list! Many people agree that the time is now to make a change. We have a ‘Made In Pictou County’ plan presented before us. It isn’t perfect, but it is an alternative to the declining status quo we acknowledge, so let’s make it work.
It will take some time, but we can succeed. Surely there could never be a plan created that is so perfect it appeases everyone! So we can’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good” and continue to waste time. We can’t out-wait our challenges. Our challenges won’t disappear… but we might.
It’s been asked what the names are of the businesses that are just waiting to come when we amalgamate but, unless we create the conditions for them to succeed, and attract them to come, we’ll never know.
The status quo is not a viable option, and the NSUARB decided this amalgamation is “in the best interests of the residents”, so let’s say YES! What other better plans or solutions are ready right now for the positive changes we need so much?
Dr. Amanda Hill
New Glasgow

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See roads as assets

To the Editor:
The Province is responsible for about 8,000 kilometers of “gravel” roads. The problem is that many aren’t even gravel anymore: they are now “dirt” roads. It’s frustrating and it’s all too common.
According to Department of Transportation estimates, roughly half of our gravel roads are overdue for gravel. The gravel on many roads is long gone. To quote my son, these roads “just suck.”
A bad road is a safety issue (dodging potholes), a household budget issue (vehicle repairs) and a social issue (isolation). People deserve better roads and one way or another, they must get them.
A proper maintenance schedule would see gravel roads get re-graveled every eight to ten years. This hasn’t happened and they didn’t just fall into disrepair this year; it has taken years to get to this state and it will take time to reverse it. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. We need a plan. It all rests with the Minister. If he is open to suggestions, I have one.
Right now, most money spent on gravel roads is classified as an operating “expense”, from the operating budget. Maybe it is time the Minister look for ways to recognize our roads as true “assets” and fund the necessary investments in road improvements as “capital” items, from his capital budget bucket. This isn’t just accounting mumbo-jumbo; it could be a real way to make the necessary cash available.
This is just one suggestion, the Minister may have other ideas but whatever happens, something has to happen.
I am happy to work with the Minister on this important issue; somebody needs to tackle it.
Tim Houston
MLA for Pictou East

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UARB supports amalgamation

This just in: amalgamation appears to be a good idea for Pictou County.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board issued its preliminary decision last Friday that amalgamation of the four participating municipalities in the process that has followed their memorandum of understanding would be in the best interests of their residents.
For those working and supporting the One Pictou County movement, the decision and the accompanying 101-page report is a comprehensive, sweeping and compelling endorsement of the work done to date to fashion and promote a road to amalgamation during municipal elections next fall.
Those who oppose amalgamation feel misrepresented by the report and its decisions.
The report and decision is convincing, if one agrees that the UARB is a dispassionate, independent body that draws conclusions based on evidence.
An argument could be made that in the days since the UARB released the report, most people with an opinion about it haven’t read it all. Many have not even accessed it.
The report is filled with references to extensive third-party evidence that says the MOU steering committee has accurately shared a financial analysis that works, and that forsaking amalgamation will mean higher property taxes caused by deferred maintenance, growing infrastructure deficit, declining population and a reduced tax base.
Many people, even civic leaders leading the MOU charge now, did not support amalgamation five or 10 years ago. Things have changed a lot in that time. So have their attitudes. The numbers are there and they are frightening to anyone who cares about this cherished place.
So yes, the UARB decision is fodder for the Yes side in this historic debate, and debates can be intelligent, respectful and ultimately beneficial – or not.
One claim requires attention. The MOU issue is not causing divisions. It is exposing them. An undercurrent of division, of co-operation up to a point, has been with us for a very long time.
The UARB report may not say it in so many words, but the conclusion is easily drawn how opportunity can be traced over urgency.
No community or institution in Pictou County – large or small – is immune to the forces that are causing their decline.
We can blame it on outside forces. They are there, but the message contained in MOU documents and flowing through the UARB report is that an amalgamated, united Pictou County can counteract those forces in a way six separate units cannot.
There is a more threatening force at work. We need to realize that communities decline the way cars rust, from the inside out.
That is why owning the process is crucial, why this one offers us a way to better times.

Steve Goodwin

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Lotta lotto getting reboot

NEW GLASGOW – The times, they are a changing. Those who don’t change or adapt often fall to the wayside.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County is fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen with the annual Lotta Lotto Calendar campaign so they are asking for the public’s assistance in making the fundraiser more relevant.
“The campaign is 25-plus years old and it’s time for a change,” explains Margie Grant-Walsh, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County.
Grant-Walsh says sales were down substantially after this year’s campaign prompting the need to take another look at the fundraiser.
“Now is the time to revisit and see how we can improve. The prizes, I think, for $20 seem reasonable, but maybe it’s how we market it.”
That’s where the public comes in. On May 12 at 5 p.m. Big Brothers is hosting a community feedback session on the Lotta Lotto Calendars to see what the public wants.
“We are having the meeting at the office here, on 74 Stellarton Road in New Glasgow and we are asking anyone who wants to attend to RSVP so we can make sure we have enough seating.”
The meeting will be no longer than an hour and a half, maximum, and will talk about the format, the prizes, vendors and any other problems people see with the fundraiser.
“We want to hear from people on how we can make this better. We are also facing another challenge with Sears in the (Highland Square) mall closing, we sell a lot of calendars at that location.”
Grant-Walsh is hoping the session will allow BBBSPC to come back with a better calendar geared toward the people of Pictou County.
“It’s not really a pretty calendar, it’s more like a lottery ticket,” she explains adding the cost of the current calendar is a fraction of the price of a real 12-month calendar.
“We want to make it better but in a way that doesn’t increase our expenses greatly.”
But, she said, if people want a real wall calendar that is something they can look into.
“We are open to suggestions. We know it’s a tough time for people right now and it’s difficult to come up with the extra $20, particularly at Christmas.”
The hope is that the session will generate some new ideas for the organization to explore.
“We appreciate everyone’s support over the years in purchasing the calendar; it allows us to do the work we do.”
To RSVP for the meeting email:, visit the Facebook page at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County or phone the office at 902-752-6260.

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Routes to Riches ramping up

Excitement was palpable in the cozy kitchen of the Roots for Youth house in New Glasgow.
The aroma of freshly brewed hot coffee was a welcoming contrast to the cold and driving snow falling this late April morning, but the two women inside the kitchen were brimming with energy and hopeful possibilities.
Hot coffee was not the only thing brewing on this grey day. A plan was percolating for a fundraiser the likes of which Pictou County has never before seen.
Get your motor running and prepare to enjoy an ‘amazing race’.
Pictou County Roots for Youth organization has come up with a unique fundraising idea designed to encourage participants to get out, have fun and talk about it!
“We decided we needed a major fundraising activity,” explained Jan Keefe, event planner. “We wanted something different, unique; something that encompassed a larger vision of the community.”
What they came up with is The Great Pictou County Routes to Riches Race, loosely modelled on the popular reality TV series The Amazing Race.
Anyone familiar with the TV race knows that teams of two race around the world uncovering clues that send them to another destination and another clue. Along the way are challenges – both physical and mental – detours and hijinks. Teams are eliminated one by one at the end of each leg of the journey with the end result being a cash prize.
The Great Pictou County Routes to Riches Race will be similar in that teams will travel throughout the county looking for clues in what organizers are calling “best kept secrets, lesser known special places or hidden gems of Pictou County.”
The event will take place July 16 – rain or shine – with both the start and finish line on the grounds of the Pictou County Gymnastics Club in the old YMCA building in New Glasgow, just around the corner from the Roots for Youth House. There will be a carnival-like atmosphere there with games and food as the community will gather to celebrate the spirit of the event.
The local concept is simple: There is no entry fee, but participating teams must fundraise at least $100; organizers are thrilled to have Scotiabank onboard as a sponsor which means all funds raised will be matched. A team can be comprised of as many people as will fit safely in a vehicle – be it compact car, pickup truck or mini-van. Teams will receive a clue at the beginning of the race that will direct them to their first destination; there will be six legs of this competition.
Organizers are hoping for 50 teams for the inaugural event so there will be a shotgun start which means all teams will visit each destination in the same order, however, teams will start from each of the six destinations.
“The idea first took route a couple of months ago when we were planning fundraising events for the year,” explained Stacey Dlamini, Roots for Youth program director.
“We wanted an annual event that would be fun,” added Keefe. “And we wanted to include a tourism angle.”
Organizers are hoping the event will attract a lot of interest and that anyone coming home from away to attend a summer festival or event will want to make The Great Pictou County Routes to Riches Race part of their summer fun.
Dlamini noted, “We are also hopeful that companies will see it as a great team building experience and will recognize it as a good cause.”
Proceeds will go to Pictou County Roots for Youth Society, a non-profit organization that provides programs and services to youth experiencing difficulties in relation to homelessness and those fleeing abusive situations.
There are cash prizes for the first- and second-place teams as well as a variety of other prizes for teams and team work. “And the team that raises the most amount of money will get 30 minutes knocked off their final time,” grins Keefe. By the same token, a time penalty will be incurred if teams don’t complete a challenge.
Sound like fun? Get a group of friends, colleagues, family members or neighbours together and plan to discover parts of your home community you may not have discovered – yet! Contact Stacey or Jan at 902-695-3241 or visit to find out how you can have fun at The Great Pictou County Routes to Riches Race.

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