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Up-and-comer bringing end to series

A whirlwind of talent has blown through New Glasgow recently but when Music Shapes 2015 comes to a close the name Décota McNamara won’t soon be forgotten.
The multi-instrumentalist turned many heads back in February when he took part in JP Cormier’s Birthday Bash. One of those heads was that of Carlton Munroe of Glasgow Square who tapped the up-and-comer to perform in the Music Shapes concert series.
Also performing will be PEI singer-songwriter Ashley Condon and local musician and artist Trevor Stanley.
One of McNamara’s favourite parts of songwriting circles is to be able to collaborate on stage. “I find improv often makes some of the best art. It’s something I’m very much looking forward to.”
There’s a particular science to improv for McNamara and his approach involves a bit of anticipation but leans more on emotion than theory.
“Part of it is just simply listening to where the lyrics are going and listening to what kind of song it is. There’s a finite number of melodies that can really be played, it’s a matter of math. Once you’ve heard and you’ve played along to those you get more of an idea where the chord scheme is going. It’s really about listening to what kind of a song it is, what the story is telling in the song.
“Even if I have heard it before I can still kind of do my own thing in the background. My job in that case is to embellish on what’s already a great song. It makes it very personal for me.”
That emotion over theory thing also seems to be what drives him towards instruments outside of his guitar case. He describes the dobro as “haunting” but “full of energy at the same time” while the mandolin is rich with amazement. McNamara also challenges himself by using instruments outside of genre expectations and finding a way to make them work.
“It broadens my perspective and gives me a bit more an edge on that,” he said.
Another factor that helped shape the tools in his musical tickle trunk was the influence of fellow multi-instrumentalist JP Cormier.
“I discovered his Another Morning record in my parents’ car when I was probably 13 or 14,” McNamara said. “It made its way to my room and never left. When I was learning that was what I started modelling because that was the most intricate guitar work that I had found. JP’s stuff was absolutely a huge part in where I am now.”
McNamara also cites Dave Gunning, Bruce Guthro and the Rankins as influences but also drew from the more contemporary sounds of bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, Matchbox20, Hooty and the Blowfish, and Counting Crows. That mixture became the base-coat of his particular paint set.
As a songwriter, however, the East Coast itself seems to be McNamara’s primary inspiration.
“I think there’s just a lot of history, a lot of story in the East Coast,” McNamara said. “I’m of Irish and Acadian background, just that alone… my grandfather was a fisherman, my family grew up in a French-Acadian fishing village. I feel that’s a huge thing about the East Coast. There’s so much history and such a wealth of stories and culture. It’s hard not to share that.”
For more information contact Glasgow Square.

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Ashley Condon closing out series

Ashley Condon, a rootsy singer-songwriter from Montague, PEI, will be helping to close out Music Shapes New Glasgow 2015 on Thursday, along with Cape Breton’s Décota McNamara and Trevor Stanley.
Condon has some connection to the county in that she was born here. “I usually try to not tell people from PEI ’cause they don’t like that. You’re considered ‘from away’ if you weren’t born on the Island,” Condon laughs.
Although raised in PEI – her official bio lays claims she grew up between two potato fields – Pictou County, or at least her Pictou County residing aunts and uncles, helped shape Condon’s musical tastes.
“They were the first influences that I had,” Condon said. “They’d be playing old country songs mostly, a lot of John Prine. One of my uncles, who grew up in Pictou, was a really big fan of Roy Orbison… just a lot of good sing-a-longs.”
Two guitar chords later, Condon said she “hit the ground running.”
From there, musical influence continued with Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson and other roots-country artists.
“Then I discovered Gillian Welch and that was a really pivotal moment for me because she sort of married the old with the new. Her songs felt to me like they were written 50, 60 years ago but they are really contemporary. I think that’s the vein I feel most comfortable in, sort of writing songs that feel like they’re old songs.
“As a songwriter it’s important that my songs stick around even after I’m not here.”
Outside of her family and assorted Nashville cats the biggest influence on Condon as an artist would be David Francey, whose influence has many direct and indirect affects on her career. The Francey-factor had its greatest impact when Francey produced Condon’s 2013 release This Great Compromise.
“I was a really huge fan of David’s for a long time,” Condon said. “I saw him perform probably about 14 years ago now. It was after that show when I saw David perform I decided I wanted to write songs for the rest of my life. It’s very significant, cool, and synchronistic that 10, 11 years after that we were playing a show together and he approached me and said he had really enjoyed the music and a couple months later I heard from his manager that he wanted to start working with me and produce my next record.”
Francey, for his part, has referred to Condon as a “kindred spirit” while Condon refers to the song-writing team as a pair of “old souls”.
Condon’s accelerated maturity was forged by personal trauma when she lost her mother early in her adulthood.
“I had to learn how to do things by myself,” Condon said. “When you’re 20 your parents still do stuff for you, they’re still your number one support… I had that rug taken from underneath me. I did have to grow up and I had to figure out my identity in the world outside of her. It forced me to have to get out into the world and gain my own legs and it helped me recognize what I wanted to do and who I was.”
It was through studying drama, which led into studying psychology, and finally into song-writing that Condon found her path.
“In a way it saved my life because I think when something really traumatic happens to you, you can go in two different directions. One is down and one is forward.”
This show will take place at Glasgow Square.

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Talents combine in shared event

Music Shapes New Glasgow will be continuing this week. Joining singer-songwriter Don Brownrigg at the NSCAD Community Residency Studio (behind the New Glasgow Library) on Friday night will be ceramic artists Jason Desnoyers and Karolina-Anna Hajna.
For Brownrigg the whole Music Shapes experience is a new one, but one he is looking forward to. It’s probably fair to say the same about sharing an event with ceramic artists Desnoyers and Hajna.
“I love collaboration and especially cross-discipline,” Brownrigg said. “It is intimidating but intriguing. I’m very much looking forward to it.”
As for how or what overlap the two disciplines will carry Friday night, “I honestly have no idea!”
With the backdrop of the drama surrounding the provincial film tax credit there may be at least a spiritual overlap between the two artistic formats. Brownrigg said that the changes to the program are cause for concern among musicians working in Nova Scotia.
“We are all an extended family,” Brownrigg said, “no matter what discipline. This hurts. I know so many hard working people in the film industry. It’s not just about any one discipline – this is leaning on the culture of this province. It is not a good time to be an arts and culture professional in Nova Scotia.”
For his own efforts, Brownrigg said he will soon be ready to begin the process of putting together his next record and said he already has “bunch of songs ready… but I need to fundraise to make the record.”
Brownrigg is hopeful to not repeat the much noted six year gap between his debut Wandering Songs and his 2013 follow up It Takes All Kinds (to make this world, I find). When It Takes All Kinds did finally arrive it did not go unnoticed; in fact, the album won significant praise for its rootsy, folksy base rich with deserve musical flavours.
“I don’t have any one favourite style of music,” Brownrigg said. “I guess in writing I am more folk and roots, but in recording I want to pull in much more influences, like dixieland, rock, pop, soul.”
His Music Shapes show will see Brownrigg relatively fresh off an ECMA buzz. The singer was in St. John’s for the ceremony where he was nominated for Fan’s Choice Video of the Year, but lost the category to Cape Breton rockers The Town Heroes.
Taking home an ECMA surely would have been a highlight, but the experience was an enjoyable time nonetheless.
“The bands at the electronic showcase (bands like) Joshua van Tassel, Vogue Dogs, and Neon Dreams blew me away and I was so inspired,” Brownrigg said.

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Go ‘back to the future’ at 2015 Relay for Life

STELLARTON – Melting snow has exposed a green undergrowth of an as yet unidentified flora. These, historically, are surefire signs that Relay for Life is just around the corner. So just around the corner in fact that the event formally began its registration kick off last week at the Holiday Inn Express.
Organizers for the event said that a number of teams opted to register for the 10th annual Relay for Life prior to the kickoff using online means, and that option will be available throughout the ramp-up period as well. Additionally, teams are welcomed to register right up to the event.
Registration fees are $15 per person, but many teams will bring in amounts well above and beyond that, driven by a friendly rivalry and their own passion for the cause. Teams are typically 10 member units, but the number isn’t set in stone.
“We recommend 10 for a team,” said Vicki Moore, logistics co-chair with the Relay for Life event. “It’s a nice size but it doesn’t have to be. And if they’re short, like if they only have five, we might be able to find some stragglers that don’t have a team. It’s never an issue. It doesn’t matter how big or small a team is as long as they’re there.”
While a high team count is appreciated organizers are hopeful to see strong numbers for the actual number of people getting involved.
“I think our focus is shifting,” said Susan Kaiser, district co-ordinator, Nova Scotia Division, Canadian Cancer Society. “We want our 55 teams but we also want our participants to go up. We want everyone to know they can participate; if they’re on a team or can’t be on a team, everybody’s welcome.”
Kaiser said that many of the teams registering were returning teams from previous years.
This year, organizers hope to see the county, other towns and businesses take part, and as always, welcome cancer survivors to come out and take part.
Previous years have seen a variety of costumes at the track in Parkdale and this year should be no different, owning to the event’s Back to the Future theme.
“People are always really creative with that. This gave them a theme that they could build around and have fun with,” said the event’s media rep Kim Dickson.
The movie, and its signature Delorean-based time machine, have inspired a friendly challenge to area car dealerships to take part in this year’s relay.
“We were talking about maybe going to some of the dealerships and seeing if they wanted to so something in regards to a car,” said Moore. “I know we can’t do a Delorean… they’re kind of rare. But you never know, one of the dealerships might have something that’s close to it and may want to have it on display. Or build a team around that. I challenge all the car dealerships to come to us and see.”
Persons interested in taking part can register online at or by staying informed through the Pictou County Relay for Life facebook page.

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NSCADU student’s union weighs in on budget cuts to film tax credit

To the Editor:
The Students’ Union for NSCAD University, alongside members of the Nova Scotia Community College Screen Arts Program, stand in solidarity against the Liberal Party’s cuts to the Nova Scotia Film Tax Credit. We also condemn measures announced in last week’s provincial budget that deregulated tuition fees for all students in Nova Scotia, and cut university funding.
The provincial budget cuts provincial funding to universities for the fifth consecutive year. These cuts have a direct impact on the quality of education students receive in the classroom. Cuts to post-secondary education funding and the creative industry have greatly damaged our reputation as a school with a stable environment for prospective students, forced NSCAD University to shut down major classes, and lay-off faculty, put the NSCAD film program in danger of losing funding, sponsorship, reliable equipment, and credibility as a leading film program in Canada.
The systematic underfunding of our schools by the NS government has and will affect not only our education, but also that of any future generations of film, media, and arts students. NSCAD University will be hit particularly hard by the elimination of the provincial student bursary for out-of-province students. This bursary played an important role in NSCAD’s ability to attract students from across Canada to attend our school.
NSCAD will also be disproportionality impacted by the millions of dollars being cut in provincial support for the film industry. Our film program is heavily reliant on donations from the Atlantic Film Cooperative (AFCOOP) and William F. Whites, for both equipment and training. AFCOOP also provides invaluable support to our graduates through their FILM5 program. Cuts to the film industry will destroy these vital supports to our members.
Cuts to the Nova Scotia Film Credit leave our students and graduates with uncertain prospects in Nova Scotia. Many of our members expected to go on and work in the province’s booming film industry. With the provincial government seemingly set to destroy this industry, they will have no choice but to leave our province. This uncertainty also affects hundreds of students at the Nova Scotia Community College..
Students feel cheated, lied to, and robbed. We have a right to a post-secondary education, and the right to work in an industry that attracted us to Nova Scotia. We strongly encourage the provincial government to work with stakeholders in the film industry to save the thousands at jobs they have unnecessarily put at risk.
Yalitsa Riden
Raghed Charabaty
on behalf of the Student’s Union for NSCAD Univeristy

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Parking an issue at NG Academy

To the Editor:
Regarding a write up in one of our local papers referring to the snow banks at New Glasgow Academy being a problem for parents dropping of their children’s at the school: It is not just the problem of snow banks at the school. For a good part of the problem stems from the on-street parking by the school staff, for they park along Albert Street and part of Lorne Street.
When the school was designed to take in three schools that were being closed, there was no forethought or planning put in place for parking. Yes, there is a parking lot at the lower end of Lorne Street, but God forbid for anyone to walk. But then there are two sport fields and other grassed in areas that part of them could and should have been used for parking.
Very, very poor planning on the school board part, for there is a time it is not safe to drive on Albert Street. I have seen double parking past the ‘no parking’ signs on both Albert Street and Lorne Street. As well, parents angle park in front of the school waiting for their children.
So one would say that the time has come to put in more off street parking and clean the parking mess up.
Loyd Murray
New Glasgow

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Wiggling into Earth Day

What is one thing that everybody has in common, everybody relies on and sees every day but sometimes forgets about?
The Earth!
Today, April 22, is a day to celebrate Earth, which does so much for the human race; not quite a birthday, but a grand day of thanks for all it does.
Although Earth Day is only one day of the year, students at West Pictou Consolidated and other schools involved in the Green Schools Nova Scotia program have been celebrating Earth all year around by keeping it in mind while doing different activities as a class.
On April 9, one of the Grade 3-4 split classes dug right into their lesson about worms and vermicomposting, organized by Green Schools NS northern mainland engagement officer Tabitha Coleman.
With shouts of excitement saying, “the worm lady is here!” the students were very eager to learn more about worms. Coleman read them a book that taught what worms do and how they help gardens.
The kids had many of their questions answered and then had the opportunity to play with some of the wiggly worms.
“Touching them!” was the best part of the whole experience, according to students Gage Connors, Archie Meier, Marlie Crosby and Maya MacDonald. The class had some time in groups to pick up the worms and look at them up close and feel the slimy skin of the helpful little creatures. They were also given the chance to see wormlets (baby worms), as well as a worm egg, which looks like a tiny brown ball.
The students were able to keep the worms they played with as class pets of sorts until the end of the year when they may distribute them among each other to take home for their gardens. For now, the worms live in a plastic container filled with damp shredded paper, compostable materials and other worm food.
“I want to see how big they get,” said Connors about what he is most looking forward to about the worms. “I think I am going to put them in my garden if we take them home.”
Crosby is most looking forward to “feeding them.”
Wiggly friends were not the only exciting part of the day, however. Members of the school’s Green Team also presented instruments that some of them had made for a class project out of recycled and reusable materials. Later in the day, the Green Team also made lunch containers out of four-liter milk containers to sell in their Green Team store, which raises money for the school garden.

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Club sends six to Atlantics

NEW GLASGOW – Six members of the Pictou County Gymnastics Club are competing in two spring meets.
Andrew Fraser, Sydney Condon, Erin Noftall, Lindsay Wilson, Brady Kennedy and Patrick Minehan are taking part in the Atlantic championships from Thursday to Sunday in Saint John, N.B.
Kennedy is also competing at the Eastern Canadian championships from May 8 to 10 at the University of Moncton.
Head coach Wendy Cruickshank says the club is doing well and enjoying its new home in the former Pictou County YMCA. As a result, equipment is set up and there is ample room for it in the main gym.
The club was represented by 17 gymnasts who attended the Gymnastics Nova Scotia championships from last month in Dartmouth.
Kennedy was floor and vault champion, second in parallel bar, third in high bar and fourth overall in 13 and over Boys 3.
Minehan was seventh in floor and high bar and eighth in parallel bar.
In female events, Condon was sixth in vault, second in uneven bars, third in floor and eighth overall in Open 7.
In Open 6, Wilson was first in floor, fifth in beam and fifth overall.
Fraser was second overall in Boys 2 Under-12 and was first in rings and vault, third in floor and high bar and fourth in parallel bar and pommels.
Noftall was the only competitor in Novice V.
The club has nearly 400 mainly recreational members of varying ages and skill sets.

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Doctors to do their part to get active

NEW GLASGOW – Organizers of this year’s 55-Plus Games have an ally encouraging more people to take part.
Dr. Merv Shaw is encouraging more of his fellow doctors to get more active and register for the games, which Pictou County is hosting from Sept. 17 to 19.
“We should be promoting fitness to the public,” said Shaw, whose first university degree was in physical education. “It’s like smoking. I think doctors were the first to get started to make a difference about the effects of smoking. If we can do this with doctors regarding the needs for fitness, it would be a good thing.”
Shaw said he feels it’s important to assemble a team of doctors to take part in some of the sports the Games will offer at the various venues in Pictou County. He’s even advertised the concept of doctors joining the Games in a medical journal.
Curling, doubles tennis and other team sports are among those Shaw feels doctors can take part in this year.
“As we work on it over the year, we’ll get a team together,” he said.
The Games in Pictou County are a joint effort of the town of New Glasgow and the Municipality of Pictou County.
Deputy Mayor Nancy Dicks from New Glasgow and Deputy Warden Andy Thompson are co-chairing the host committee.
Besides the municipalities, Active Pictou County, Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores (DEANS) and the 55-Plus Club are among groups working on the event.

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Local outlet in running for visit by Zetterberg

NEW GLASGOW – A Pita Pit restaurant in New Glasgow is in the running to bring Detroit Red Wings star Henrik Zetterberg to Pictou County for a day.
“I’d love to see New Glasgow win,” says Elaine Howell at the Pita Pit.
The common denominator is Sweden. The Pita Pit company is based in Kingston, Ont., while Zetterberg is from Sweden and in his 12th season with the Red Wings, who drafted him in 2001.
Zetterberg will visit the winning location by virtue of the contest that is rated on percentage of sales of the Royal Swedish snowballs product to overall sales, percentage criteria makes it fair among locations of all sizes.
They were introduced in Canada for the first time beginning in April. They have vanilla-whipped centres enrobed in chocolate and lightly sprinkled with coconut, which Pita Pit is importing to make available for the first time ever in North America.
“They’re gluten free, cholesterol free, nut free and at only 73 calories, they’re also guilt free,” Howell said.
Beginning in May, cookie crumb coated snowballs will be introduced in addition to the coconut covered ones already sold locally.
“As of this week we were in the top five in Atlantic Canada and the top 10 in Canada, so we’re definitely in the running,” Howell said. “The competition runs through the end of May, so we’re hoping to maintain and build our momentum.”
Individuals and businesses are being encouraged to partner with the outlet and consider trying the snowballs and also adding them to their catering orders when they’re hosting business meetings and other events.

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MacDonald sets record, county second

STELLARTON – Pictou County Athletics sent 25 athletes to the 2015 Atlantic Indoor Championships in Moncton recently and placed second overall.
Ethan MacDonald won his 800-metre race and long jump in the boys’ 12-13 age group and broke the provincial record in winning his 1,200-metre race in a time of four minutes, 5.81 seconds. The previous record was 4:32:26.
Meanwhile, Pictou County Athletics’ 2015 spring edition of run, jump and throw has already begun.
The club operates it as an Athletics Canada Official grass roots program, which includes eight sessions and is being offered in both New Glasgow and Pictou.
Pictou sessions will run Mondays to June 1 at 6:15p.m. Gena Henderson can be contacted at or by phone (902)-485-1914 for more information.
New Glasgow sessions will run Wednesdays to June 3 at 6 p.m. Trevor Boudreau can be contacted at or by phone (902)-695-2940 for more information.
Each session includes games and activities that explore movement and develop skills of running, jumping and throwing.
It is a program designed for children from five to 12 years of age.
The cost is $60 per athlete with family rates available as well.
The following are the other results:

Kelsey Hann: 12/13 yrs 6th- 60m, 1st- long jump
Taylor Mattinson: 14/15 yrs 1st 60m, 1st 300m, 1st 200m
Hailey Fahie: 14/15 yrs 3rd 800m
Gen Lemieux: 16/17 yrs 2nd 800m, 3rd 1,500m
Allie Sandluck: 12/13yrs 2nd 1200m, 1st 2,000m
Jordan Landry: 16/17 yrs 1st 60m hurdles, 3rd 800m
Megan Graham: 16/17 yrs. 2nd 60m hurdles, 4th 60m, 1st 400m
Olivia Pretty: 16/17 yrs 3rd 60m hurdles, 3rd 60m
Maria Garcia-Mira: 16/17 yrs. 5th 60m hurdles
Tatum McLean: 16/17 yrs 1st weight throw, 2nd shot put
Alyssa MacNeil: 18/19 yrs 1st 60m, 1st 200m
Lauren MacLeod: 14/15 yrs 3rd 200m, 4th long jump
Madison Murray: 18/19 yrs 3rd 400m
Breanna Sandluck: 16/17 yrs 2nd 1500m, 2nd 3,000m
Carlin Purvis: 16/17 yrs 4th shot put

Alex Moore: 14/15 yrs 1st 60m, 1st 300m, 3rd 200m
Raymond Simpson: 14/15 yrs 1st 1200m, 1st 2000m
Kaelan Schmidt: 16/17 yrs. 1st high jump, 1st triple jump
Logan Coulet: 18/19 yrs. 2nd 60m, 2nd 200m, 1st high jump
Peter Corbin: 16/17 yrs 1st 3,000m, 2nd 400m
Tony Corbin: 35+ 1st 60m
Dave MacLennan: 35+ 1st 800m, 1st 1,500m

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When wrestling came to town

It was a bright April morning as I walked George and Gracie, my little black and white shih tzu pals, around the Portland Hills sub-division in Dartmouth. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and, if you ignored the deteriorating snowbanks on everyone’s lawn, you’d really believe spring had arrived in Nova Scotia.
As I rounded a corner – the dogs don’t need a GPS system to find their way around the neighbourhood – I met up with Ken, another dog-walker, and while the three dogs sniffed each other in excitement, I thought it was a good time to address the previous night’s activities on the sports channels. With the Stanley Cup playoffs started, the Halifax Mooseheads in post-season action, and the Blue Jays performing in Toronto, there were lots of potential topics.
But guess what Ken brought up the moment we met. “Did you watch the wrestling last night?” he asked rather seriously.
Wrestling? My heavens. I haven’t look at a wrestling match in 50-plus years, and then only occasionally at New Glasgow Stadium. It just isn’t – and never was – my kind of thing.
Oh, I do remember the time I chatted with the Macho Man (his real name was Randy Savage, or so he said). I also recall meeting Andre the Giant when he was 10 feet tall and something like 400 pounds. But that was about it. I confess, through the years I interviewed more Canadian prime ministers than wrestlers.
Later on, when the morning walk was over, I thought about the years I worked in Pictou County, the late 1950s and through the ’60s. Wrestling, I remember, had a significant place on the sports calendar back then. And, yes, New Glasgow was one of the communities that welcomed the grapplers.
Those thoughts got me thinking of Bill MacCulloch.
If you lived in Pictou County – then or now – you would know who I’m talking about. Bill’s that very personable guy who’s done a little bit of everything since his days going through New Glasgow High School. Bill, like myself, inspired by the late John (Brother) MacDonald when he was our athletic director, the local sports voice on radio and, yes, close friend.
There was Bill, a bank employee and later a radio announcer at the old CKEC on George Street. There was Bill the reporter who covered all the top hockey, baseball and boxing events around the county, who often helped me cover stories when there were conflicts on my agenda. There was Bill who used to travel with me in the 1960s to Stanley Cup games and many other news happenings. There was Bill who later became a certified financial planner. There was Bill who was often seen wearing a kilt with pride.
But, for now, let’s get back to Bill MacCulloch and wrestling.
It was in the late 1960s, I seem to recall, when Bill, his radio career already behind him, got a phone call one day from then Stadium manager Freeman Sangster. There was a professional wrestling show at the rink that very evening and they didn’t have a ring announcer for the show. Easy to understand why Sangster was calling.
MacCulloch and wrestling had never met officially before that night, but Bill had done some announcing for boxing cards. It couldn’t be that different, so he accepted the challenge.
Guess what? Things worked out so well that Bill had a new gig on his itinerary. He was given the job to announce wrestling matches on a regular basis. Not only that, he was soon doing wrestling shows on television – and that lasted for something like 10 years.
Bill and wrestling had become a tag team.
One thing I can say about the guy: no matter what new assignment he took on during his varied career, he took it on with enthusiasm and self-confidence. The end result was always a solid, professional job on his part. Wrestling was no exception.
He didn’t get into the ring without a previous knowledge of the sport. In his younger days, he was fully aware of the likes of Bull Montana and Bull Curry, long-time favourites on the wrestling scene.
His radio background made the announcing at the Stadium rather easy. But when the opportunity came to be the ring voice on television, that was a different story. He had no experience in television, so it was a whole new thing when he agreed to give it a try.
Things got crowded on his calendar. He worked full-time in New Glasgow, then had to get to Halifax for the telecasts each week. After a year, the television action switched to Moncton, meaning an even longer drive to the action.
Back in the radio job, what he said on air was often from prepared scripts. There was no such thing for wrestling. Bill wouldn’t know what would take place until it did. He adjusted well, however.
Quite a few years ago, when I interviewed MacCulloch for another newspaper, he said he preferred not knowing how a match would turn out – something many doubters used to claim was the norm. Bill sort of felt some outcomes were known in advance. Many weren’t.
As I said, I was never a wrestling fan. But that certainly wasn’t the case for many people in Pictou County 50 years ago. In fact, Bill said local followers were fanatical in their support. He recalled that the more fans got into the action, the more entertaining the matches became.
The wrestling shows that are carried on the sports networks these days, I suggest, are much more far-fetched from what Bill MacCulloch used to announce. The telecasts now are even preceded by an announcement that “the following program may contain extreme violence.”
Did I watch the wrestling the other night? I sure as heck didn’t.

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Albion club hosting card May 9

TRENTON – The Albion Amateur Boxing Club is preparing to host a card while some of its members have been honoured for their contributions to the club and community.
The club will host its card on May 9 at Summer Street in New Glasgow, a venue that has proven to be a hit for the club and boxing fans.
“It’s going to be our last home card of the season, club president Jim Worthen said. “We’ll have boxers from all over the Maritimes and probably eight local boxers.”
Dawson Fraser, one of the boxers expected to be on the home card, is boxing this weekend in Cape Breton against Charlie MacDougall of P.E.I. After the Albion club’s card, there will be two more cards in Cape Breton and a season-ending card on June 13 in Sackville, N.S.
Worthen was among those honored last week on separate occasions in Trenton. Town council at its regular meeting on April 14 presented the club with an award for the major renovations it completed over the winter in the Trenton Youth Club building where it conducts its training on Main Street.
“It signifies team and the core values we have as a club,” he said.
Worthen received a plaque for his 25 years of coaching the club.
He was also uplifted that club volunteers Peter Bennett and Peter MacIntosh were among those honored at Trenton’s annual volunteer presentations on April 15.
“They’re two solid volunteers on a team of solid volunteers,” Worthen said.
Bennett was cited for leading the club with the renovations to the Trenton Youth Club building. The gym floors were refinished, which was considered a major improvement, as well considerable carpentry work.
MacIntosh was saluted for his fund-raising for the club over the past four years he has been a member.

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Ash & Bloom harmonizing at the deCoste

Ash & Bloom, the under the radar surprise hit of last summer, are returning to Pictou. This time the folky duo will be setting up shop at the deCoste Centre on April 29.
The duo’s pleasant, friendly, and familiar personalities won over many in last year’s crowd. In addition, last year’s stop in Pictou also included the addition of their tour mascot, a plush, red lobster.
“Hector the Lobster. Our friend from Pictou, gave us this little lobster and we thought what better name could we give him than Hector,” explained the duo’s Matt McKenna (Ash). “We took him from coast to coast in Canada. He dipped his little tail in the Atlantic and the Pacific.”
Following that show, and Hector’s addition to the group, things only got bigger and brighter for Ash & Bloom. The duo toured across Canada and dipped into the States. Sadly, Hector was not able to take in the adventures ‘down under’.
“He wasn’t able to get the right visa,” McKenna said. “They’re pretty picky about what lobster they let into the country I think. You have to be respectful of their customs.”
Although Hector-less, the Aussie outing led to the duo sharing crowds with folk legend Buffy Sainte-Marie which was a pretty special moment for all involved, and cited as a tie for highlight of the year by McKenna. The other highlight? Spotting Gordon Lightfoot in an audience.
“We were playing a song writers circle and it just so happened that Gordon Lightfoot was in the audience,” McKenna said. “And we got people to sing along to a song we do called ‘Heaven Is a Ghost Town’ and there Gordon was in the audience just singing along. That was a great moment.”
It’s not just Gordon Lightfoot or the Town of Pictou that digs the duo’s sound. McKenna said he and band mate James Bloemendal (Bloom) have been taken aback by just how responsive their crowds have been over the last year to their debut, Let the Storm Come.
“Overall, people kept responding the way we hoped when we made this music,” McKenna said. One fan, he said, suggested the duo warn the audience just how tissue-needy the night may get.
“You guys really need to warn people before the show that it’s going to be an emotional night,” the fan told them.
The two are fairly busy writing for a follow up, gathering and creating a large batch of songs to pick from but have no firm plans about when to hit the market or even the studio with it. All the same, that notion has led to them attempting to step up their output and the duo even spent sometime in Nashville.
“(For the first album) we had three years to write and work on stuff but now, as we look forward to the future, we want to make sure that we take the time we need to really sort of make sure it’s something that we’re equally as proud of,” McKenna said.
Many Nashville-based writers, McKenna said, might crank out three to five songs a day, a fair few more than what the Toronto-based pair usually do.
“We wanted just to steep ourselves in that culture and see what it looks like to try and just write, write, write and see what comes out.”
The other thing about Nashville is the range of genres actually catered to, although it goes without saying Music City was built on country.
“The music down there is definitely countrified. It’s definitely country music, a lot of people that work there and do stuff there write for and play country music. But I think in general a great song is a great song. We went down there not to write a country song but to just see what sort of chemistry we could come up with with the people that were down there.”

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Writing on Fire draws huge response

RIVER JOHN – It’s a pretty fantastic event. “We believe that youth voices need to be heard and that it is important for youth to have different ways of sharing their voices. Writing is one of those powerful ways,” said Writing on Fire organizer Helen Castonguay.
The third annual event happened recently at the River John Consolidated School and drew participants from Pugwash to Pictou County.
It was another successful year. The brainchild of Read by the Sea alumni, Helen Castonguay, Norene Smiley and Rita Wilson, Writing on Fire was designed to fill a gap in writing programs.
“Writing on Fire came from our realization that Read by the Sea was meeting the needs of adults and Word Play was meeting the needs of the younger crowd, but we were not really engaging young adults/teens,” said Castonguay.
Writing on Fire is aimed at the grades 7 to 12 age group, to provide the creative outlet and support for the burgeoning young writer.
With several Nova Scotia authors on hand, and 40 students able to attend workshops, the day offered exactly what organizers hoped for – the opportunity to learn and share literary ideas.
“The workshops are two hour sessions prepared by the individual writers and they are designed to be experiential and to get everyone writing. At the end of the day, the Literary Cafe is an opportunity for the youth and adults to present some of their writing from the day and it has been a powerful and meaningful event,” said Castonguay. And she’s right.
The Literary Café at the end of the day showcased not only the writing of the authors, but that of the young ingénues as well, in a supportive and creative atmosphere.
And the program doesn’t stop there.
“There is also a mentoring part of the program. We fund writers to mentor a youth writer,” smiled Castonguay.
“Students self-identify and writers let us know they are willing to participate and we match up professional writers and young writers who were at the workshop day. This allows the young writers who are selected to work on a writing project with one to one feedback from a professional writer with mentoring experience.”
This year’s authors on hand were some well known names. “They are all recognized NS authors who have worked with young people as part of their commitment to developing writing throughout the province,” said Castonguay, with a hint of pride.
“And this year we had Sylvia Gunnery, El Jones, Sue Goyette, Steve Vernon, Shauntay Grant, and Josh Macdonald.”
It’s just another example of the diverse and wonderful programs available on the North Shore.
If you want to know more about Writing on Fire, or want to participate next year, just visit their Facebook page.

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Second show for Stanley

Pictou-based artist and musician Trevor Stanley will be unveiling an exhibit of his works at Stone Soup Cafe in Pictou on April 25. It will remain in place until the end of May and Stanley is hopeful that the collection will see some new additions throughout the run.
“I’m going to try to do some more pieces, too, throughout the duration of it,” he said. “I’ve got way too much art in my house.”
This is Stanley’s second public display of works and feedback from his first outing has led to him creating smaller works as well as large pieces.
The artist knows his style isn’t one geared to the masses. “It’s kind of different art,” Stanley said. “It’s the kind of thing you’d probably see more on the side of a building or inside a zine or a comic book, or on the Internet or something.”
Many of Stanley’s pieces are a semi-chaotic mix of inks, paints, lines and circular patterns, although he said his later works have been going in a slightly modified direction.
“I’m trying to do more controlled pieces. Like this one,” he said about a large piece containing sunflowers with other more Stanley-esque imagery. “I’m trying to have a bit of a concept to it but still working within my own style of things. It’s just kind of a play on perspective.”
Stanley’s works tend to be rooted in science and other schools of thought.
“It’s all about science,” he said. “And there’s always going to be some cryptic references to religion. I’m not going to define it or anything. If somebody finds what I’m getting at then great. There’s always some science and religious references. I like the way those two interplay.”
The exhibit’s kick off will include a musical component from Kent Vodden whom Stanley frequently swaps artistic ideas with, singer-songwriter Jon Raven whom he has considerable respect for, and Katie Delaney, an up and coming singer-songwriter whose innovation Stanley finds inspiring.
Additionally, the event will include a sort of community project. A large canvas will be set up and participants will be allowed to paint a portion of it for $2. The money raised will be donated in support of the Lobster Carnival while the eventually completed work will be auctioned with those additional funds also supporting the carnival.
April will prove to be a busy month for Stanley as he will also be taking part in the final night of the Music Shapes New Glasgow Concert Series with his performance taking place on April 30 in the Glasgow Square Greenroom with singer-songwriters Ashley Condon and Decota McNamara.

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Jobs for foreign workers could be filled with students, First Nation, Canadians

To the Editor:
Recently a story appeared and was of interest, “Foreign Worker Loss Spells Shortages.” Many of our foreign workers have finished their four-year foreign worker contracts and must return to their home country. If they would like to apply for citizenship they can certainly apply from their own country.
These foreign worker plans became really big items and you could get the list online of the companies that applied for foreign workers and the number of the companies that did apply was shocking. It was especially sad as we have so many unemployed Canadians. It appeared as if they forgot who their customers were!
If it was not for good investigative reporting by the CBC regarding the Royal Bank hiring foreign workers and putting Canadians out of work, likely this program would be still going. Imagine when a large Canadian company making billions abused the system and got caught. The bank did change after the investigation and gave their regrets to Canadians.
I fully understand that businesses are frustrated but they will have to be more innovative and creative in the future. Years ago, some industrial plants provided bus and taxi service to get the workers to the job site and provided housing and places to live, sometimes even providing meals.
Many Canadian workers had their work hours reduced by their employers to allow some of these foreign workers to get the hours they needed and many of these local workers did not protest, yet were upset with the loss of their much needed income and did look for other work. Yes, even here in Pictou County.
I certainly know of many First Nation and non First Nation Canadians that are unemployed and our own prime minister is always saying, the only people growing in numbers is our First Nation communities. They will be our future work force and we will not have to depend on immigration and we must see they are educated and trained when the jobs come. We can now tell the prime minister that many of the jobs are here now and something should be done now!
Some First Nation communities have up to 72 per cent unemployment, just imagine! Certainly I hope they set up their own Manpower offices and link all First Nation communities across Canada to be able to respond to employment needs across Canada.
We should be paying our First Nation workers and unemployed Canadian workers to travel to the jobs and allow them to get accommodations as well. If you are out of work you certainly can’t even afford to go to Halifax due to the high costs involved.
Certainly our workers could then go to these jobs bolstered with the support of their friends similar to foreign workers coming basically from one country like the Philippines and working together and not alone in a new location. I feel confident it would work in the best interest of Canada!
Let’s not forget even our college students who need jobs from May to September and each of these jobs could be so important to them and help with their university costs. We all recall our summer jobs we had and the friends we met and often friends for life.
We in Canada could and should have a mobile work force of Canadians for Canada.
Lloyd P. MacKay
New Glasgow

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Still time to right wrongs of film tax credit slash

To the Editor:
The government needs to apologize to the film industry as a whole and change their decision to something that works for everyone.
There is still a real opportunity to fix this!
For Bruised Productions, it’s still business as usual as we are in the unique position of having partners in China for 3D feature films.
We also expect we will be moving and building things a lot slower now which could impact all our efforts to date.
Local productions may need to be filmed outside of Nova Scotia, which is the complete opposite to why we are building our head offices here in Pictou County.
Steve Brazil
Producer, Creative Director / Executive Producer
Bruised Productions Ltd
New Glasgow

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Local salute to volunteers

Every April, Pictou County’s six municipalities embark on a common mission: to honour their volunteers.
April is Volunteer Month in Nova Scotia, and each year communities select someone as their volunteer of the year.
This year’s list is another impressive one. The Municipality of Pictou County’s volunteer of the year is Gene McManus, while the others were Sandra Andersen from New Glasgow, Sharon Cheverie from Pictou, Dan Richards from Stellarton, Sandra DeGruchy from Trenton and Edward Ferguson from Westville. They were among those representing their respective communities at the 41st provincial volunteer awards ceremony that took place on April 7 in Halifax.
The ceremony coincided with efforts by communities across Canada that celebrated National Volunteer Week, which this year was observed from April 12 to April 18.
It’s an opportunity for us to thank and honour people who donate their time to help others by supporting the causes that they feel compelled to support and champion.
While some communities have receptions and gatherings to honour their volunteers, the rural municipality has enough award recipients to recognize that they host a dinner at the Plymouth Fire Hall. Not everyone could attend. As an example, volunteer fire departments in Eureka and Scotsburn were hosting events the same evening to pay tribute to those who make their fire departments and their communities effective.
The county function is also a chance for the municipality’s volunteer of the year to share some remarks, and McManus was in top form.
Deputy Warden Andy Thompson shared a long list of groups McManus volunteers with to provide an example of how volunteers spread their resources and gifts throughout the wider community.
“The pay’s not very good but the rewards are great,” he said. “Volunteering gets me out of bed, into my clothes, out of the house and into harness.”
Some of Pictou County’s most cherished volunteer events raise money, such as Curl for Cancer, Bowl for Kids, Relay for Life and walks for causes that include MD and ALS. Some of them also raise awareness, such as the Marathon of Respect and Equality (MORE) and the Run Against Racism that preceded it, as well as the Johnny Miles Running Event Weekend and associated events that stress physical activity.
Volunteering is described as work done freely with no expectation of return. Some people don’t want to do as a volunteer what they do for a living. They want to grow.
Some people want to lead, others support them. Some people do the same thing for years, while others are more comfortable performing a specific task and moving on.
Volunteerism is a powerful engine whose hum we do not always hear. But this is a time when we can say thanks and let volunteers in all communities know they are valued.

Steve Goodwin

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MacDonald, Paris co-chair MORE

NEW GLASGOW – Two champions of human rights will co-chair the 2015 MORE run.
Henderson Paris, the founder of the original Run Against Racism, and Arlene MacDonald, executive director of the Pictou County Women’s Resource and Sexual Health Centre, have been given the honour for the Marathon of Respect and Equality that will take place on May 7 and whose theme is “We’re Not Afraid.”
MacDonald was recently recognized for her leadership skills when she was selected to attend the Canadian Women’s Foundation Leadership Institute.
“We are very excited to have Hennie and Arlene acting as honorary chairs for our event this year,” MORE organizing committee member Peter White said.
“One of the keys of my daily work is empowering women and girls to face their fears and assert their right to be safe and respected for who they are,” MacDonald said. “This year’s theme fits with that very well.”
Paris is serving as the event’s honorary chairman for the sixth time. He said he recognized the relevance of this year’s theme.
“It is important that we acknowledge there are awful things in the world, but at the same time we should not be overwhelmed by them,” he said. “Bring positive and optimistic and doing what we can as individuals to make the world a better place is the best response.”
Besides the run day, two other significant dates are on this year’s calendar.
The annual proclamation signing was celebrated on Tuesday at West Pictou Consolidated School.
A kick-off social is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 30 at North Nova Education Centre.
This year’s run starts at 8 a.m. at the Pictou visitor information centre parking lot before proceeding to downtown Pictou.
Rallies are scheduled for all five towns, starting in Pictou in front of its municipal office at 8:30 a.m. and followed by Westville at its civic building at 9:45 a.m., Stellarton at the Nova Scotia Community College campus at 10:25 a.m., New Glasgow at 11:15 a.m. at Glasgow Square and 1:30 p.m. at the skate board park in Trenton. There is also a rally at Pictou Landing First Nation at 12:45 p.m.
The run ends at NNEC at about 3 p.m.

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Graham says it’s time to “Engage Nova Scotia”

Pictou County is well positioned by share in the economic growth Nova Scotia needs to enhance and maintain its future prosperity, Danny Graham says.
Graham, who is the chief engagement officer with Engage Nova Scotia, was keynote speaker last Thursday at the chamber’s annual general meeting. He said he can identify with the capacity of Pictou County to play a crucial role in the province’s economic recovery from the time he lived here. Born in Antigonish and raised in Sydney, Graham lived for several years in Pictou County before settling in Halifax.
Engage Nova Scotia describes itself as “advancing a province-wide culture of collaboration, innovation and self-reliance” with its “growing network of people, communities, and organizations taking bold action to turn the tide on our economic and social challenges.”
Graham recalled Pictou County as “a place where there is a real sense of diversity.”
He said he hopes the work local groups are doing will translate into solutions that include Pictou County communities.
He noted the event Engage Nova Scotia is co-hosting on June 16 in Halifax, more than a year after the release of the One NS Report by the commission headed by Ray Ivany.
More meetings are planned later this year, with Pictou County considered one of them.
It will be a time to regroup, take stock and mobilize efforts to address the challenges and opportunities communities and the province face, he said.
“It was so candid,” Graham said of the Ivany report. “He called us out as Nova Scotians, that our economy is in trouble and is not sustainable on the track it’s on.”
Chamber executive director Jack Kyte said groups like the Chamber, Pictou County 2020 and Pulse Pictou County are ready to answer the challenge regarding the province’s future economy.
At its annual general meeting, Jim Fitt was returned as president, while James Lundrigan is vice-president and Michael Corkum is treasurer.

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Plaskett added to summer lineup at Wellness Centre

Summer is just around the corner and the Pictou County Wellness Centre is heating things up with the addition of the Joel Plaskett Emergency to its summer line up.
“We are thrilled to have this calibre of artist play at our facility,” said Jennie Greencorn, special events manager.
Joel Plaskett is a Canadian rock musician originally from Lunenburg. He first rose to prominence as a member of Halifax alternative rock band Thrush Hermit in the 1990s, transforming himself through the first decade of the 21st century from an admired regional musician to a “nationally adored” icon.
He has produced one of the most diverse and fan-pleasing albums of his career, proving that he can be all things to everybody, the rock veteran offers up a wide mix of styles on Joel Plaskett and the Park Avenue Sobriety Test. It touches on his solo acoustic side, his guitar rock work with the Emergency, his happy go-lucky rhyming talents, memories of growing up in Nova Scotia, and a little bit of anger at the forces making life tougher these days. There are many moments that draw on previous classic Plaskett, from beloved albums such as Three and Ashtray Rock, right back to his Thrush Hermit days. And there are new sides to his sounds as well.
Plaskett is a multi-ECMA and MusicNS award winner, Juno award winner for his album Three, Billboard World Song and Great American Song contest winner for “Fashionable People” and a record producer for a variety of Atlantic Canadian artists. In May 2011, he became the first artist ever to reach one million plays on CBC Radio 3′s online music streaming station.
The concert takes place June 5. Contact the Wellness Centre for details.

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Kids have a ball with local RCMP

Before even stepping foot in the school shouts of excitement and shrieks of laughter poured out the front doors of Scotsburn Elementary.
The entire school was in the gym watching their soccer team of Grade 4s, beat some of the local RCMP officers at a good spirited game of soccer.
It was obvious that the kids had fun, but they also came away from the day with something besides fond memories: new friends.
To RCMP Const. Skipper Bent, that was the goal of the day.
“It’s nice to be approachable,” said Bent, who mentioned that he enjoys it when kids that he has spoken to in schools can recognize him and approach him in public to say hello.
The group of RCMP officers also played a game of soccer with students at Pictou Elementary School on the same day.
“We would like to get out more often,” said Bent, adding, the RCMP do assign an officer to each school to give presentations for the school, or community outreach activities such as a soccer game.
“The kids get to see a different side of us.”
As for the kids, it was easy to tell they enjoyed their bonding time with the officers as they gave them high fives, and laughed together during the game.
“For me, I know I’ve made an impact,” Bent said.

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She’s ‘golden’

RIVER JOHN – A Pictou County student is scheduled to receive a Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award today during ceremonies in Halifax.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Sara-Dawn Langille, who grew up in River John and is currently a veterinary science student at the Da Vinci Colleges Centre in Halifax.
Governor-General David Johnston is scheduled to present the awards at Saint Mary’s University.
Duke of Edinburgh bronze, silver and gold awards are presented in a program that originates from 1956 for boys and 1957 for girls. The award challenges participants to achieve personal goals in four of the five categories: service, skill, physical recreation, adventurous journey and a residential project.
Langille already has her bronze and silver medals. Bronze level must be completed within six months and silver and gold levels within a year.
“I’m proud to have completed my Duke of Edinburgh awards because I’ve not only helped myself but have helped many others in the process,” she said. “The awards gave me a voice and the confidence I needed to use that voice.”
Langille was able to utilize places in Pictou County to complete her gold level. For one component, she went to Pictou Island and studied its wildlife and learned how people live there.
Plying the trails around Fitzpatrick Mountain and camping there was another way for her to qualify for the gold medal.
“We literally marched up and down Fitzpatrick Mountain over three days,” she said.
During the process of earning the awards, Langille became North Colchester High School’s student body president, was drum sergeant of the Heather Bells Pipes and Drums and was Warrant Officer at 596 Phoenix Air Cadets.
“All of these are leadership roles that I believe I could not have filled without the skills I gained during my time in the Duke awards,” she said. “I am very grateful to the program and extremely excited to receive my Gold certificate, because not many do.”

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