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Stadium in Halifax: here we go again!

Well, here we go again. Or so it seems if the vibes from city hall can be taken seriously.
A sports stadium for Halifax – more accurately for Nova Scotia – is back in the conversation phase. Whether it gets any farther than the mayor’s office remains to be seen.
We’ve been teased so many times in the past.
It reminds me of when I first joined The Chronicle Herald and was assigned to open a news bureau for the paper in Pictou County. That was back in 1959. One of the most talked about stories on the county’s bucket list then was the amalgamation of the five towns and municipality into one governing unit, much like what happened years later in Halifax-Dartmouth. Of course, the idea never happened and, 54 years later, it still hasn’t happened.
But back to a sports stadium. It’s been 30 years since I was first involved with reporting efforts to build a stadium in the metro region and, in some ways, it seems even longer. Now the talk is back, thanks to our aggressive new mayor, Mike Savage.
In case you missed it, the mayor was interviewed on the stadium issue by the CTV television network. His comments weren’t a surprise; he’s been referring to the possibility of a stadium for some time. Now that he’s in the mayor’s office, he has the clout to get the matter back in the forefront.
Savage approaches the building of a stadium like anything else. “Is it in the best long-term interests of the city?” he asked. “I believe it is. I am prepared to say that and be part of leading the charge in it.”
That’s the most positive stance we’ve seen yet from downtown.
Then the mayor added a postscript: “If it’s not done in four years (his present term in office), it’s not going to get done.”
Stadium talk has been on the back-burner forever and a day. Reasons come up where we should be proceeding with such a facility, only to have it pushed back into the closet.
Already Halifax has lost major events because of the failure to get out the hammers and nails. In recent years alone, there have been opportunities to bring international sports to the provincial capital.
Halifax had a chance to host the Commonwealth Games. But there was no stadium, and no plans to build one.
Then the city could have been part of a Canadian undertaking to host the FIFA women’s World Cup. But there was no stadium, and no plans to build one.
The excuse is always repeated.
It reminds me of that often-heard phrase from the movie Field of Dreams. “Build a stadium, and they will come.”
In Halifax’s case, build a stadium and I think Maritimers will come.
It was 30 years ago – in 1983 – when a major effort was made to get a Canadian Football League franchise for Halifax-Dartmouth. That was when the late J.I. Albrecht, a man of many football experiences, breezed into town.
Prior to that, Albrecht’s adventures included front office positions with the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Montreal Alouettes. His lengthy profile may have included controversies and friction through his journey, but there was one thing you had to say about him. He knew football.
J.I. spent a long time in Halifax trying to make his CFL dream a reality. They would be the Atlantic Schooners, he said. While politicians hemmed and hawed about it, Albrecht was working behind the scenes to prepare for a franchise bid. He had an industrialist with Pictou County roots, R.B. Cameron, ready to climb aboard.
Albrecht offered positions to several people. John Huard, who had been a big success as head coach of the Acadia Axemen in university football, was labelled to be the field boss for the Schooners. Jack Conrod, a sports department colleague of mine at The Chronicle Herald, was offered a front office job.
I was drawn into Albrecht’s plans, too. He told me he would double my Chronicle Herald salary and make me the director of community relations. I never said yes, but I do admit his offer was rather tempting. In hindsight, I’m glad I never had to make the decision.
The Schooners never sailed, for an obvious reason. There was no stadium.
Albrecht’s heart was in that effort to get Halifax into the CFL. When he finally accepted the fact it wasn’t going to happen, he moved on to serve for a short time as athletic director at the University College of Cape Breton. There was no second chance to fulfil his Halifax dream. In 2008, he died at the age of 77.
The people he planned to hire? When he bounced back into the CFL with the Toronto Argonauts in 2000, he chose Huard as head coach. I continued on with The Chronicle Herald for another 24 years, mostly as a sports columnist, and Conrod moved to New Glasgow where he wrote a sports column for The Evening News.
Now, all this time later, what happens if Mayor Savage gets somewhere with his idea? What if the right segments of the community get in step and work towards the construction of a stadium?
A potential site is still there. The lands at Shannon Park, on the Dartmouth side of the harbour near the MacKay Bridge, remain available. Such a plan would need the blessing of Peter MacKay in his capacity as justice minister. I think that green light would be possible.
There’s much to be decided, however. What levels of government would be involved? What community groups and leaders would take part?
As Halifax Chamber of Commerce vice-president Nancy Conrad told ATV, “We want to see the business case before we give full endorsement to it.”
If anyone can get it started, I truly believe it’s Mayor Savage.

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Chase the Ace for New Glasgow Academy

NEW GLASGOW – Organizers on the fundraising committee for the New Glasgow Academy enhancement fund have stumbled upon a new fundraising effort.
“We heard of this fundraiser in Noel that went over very well, so I have been contacting them constantly to get information,” explains Tammy MacLaren, one of the organizers of the fundraiser. “It’s called Chase the Ace.”
MacLaren says the fundraiser was an idea from someone who lives out west, a twist on a 50/50 draw.
“Their pot started in the spring and by the end of the summer, the pot grew to $220,000 and was more than that when they did the final draw,” she says.
The way the fundraiser works is every Sunday, they will be selling tickets from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Five tickets are five dollars. Of the funds raised, 50 per cent go to the enhancement fund and the remaining 50 per cent is the pot.
“The winner, who has to be there when we draw at 12:15 p.m. will get 20 per cent of the pot. They then choose a card from the deck, if they draw the Ace of Spades, they win the remaining 30 per cent of the pot.” The card they draw is taken out of the deck and the remaining cards are sealed in an envelope and signed and dated.
The fundraiser started last Sunday and raised a total of $385, half of which goes toward the enhancement fund. The remaining 30 per cent of the pot, $197, is what will be built upon next weekend at the Aberdeen Flea Market.
“We are very grateful that the Aberdeen Flea Market is so generous in donating a table for us,” says MacLaren.
The community portion of the enhancement fund is $200,000, so MacLaren is hoping this fundraiser is as successful as it was in Noel.
“I predict the Ace of Spades will be drawn as card number 51,” she laughs. “But if it does go, we will start over again. There is a winner every week and we are hopeful we will get some support as it is a special fundraiser for enhancements to the new school.”
The enhancements include a natural playground using things like hills to create slides and tires and ropes for swings as well as a better gymnasium, music room with more equipment and a multicultural meeting room as well as sports equipment, uniforms and art supplies, things MacLaren says are not covered in the basic school package.
“Every child who attends that school will benefit from all of these extras, what better way to invest $5. With the holidays fast approaching, who couldn’t use a few extra dollars or hundred in their pocket for shopping?”
Donations to the fund can be made at the New Glasgow Junior High School and Chase the Ace will take place every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Aberdeen Flea Market.

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Frank Mills to take deCoste Centre stage

O Come All Ye Faithful to the deCoste Centre for the iconic Frank Mills – My Piano and Me – “A Music Box Dancer Christmas”.
Mills is returning to the deCoste Centre stage for the first time in approximately four years and he is ecstatic to return to the East Coast.
“Pictou is one of my favourite towns in Canada, I love it. It’s such a wonderful place and I love going into Grohmann Knives – it’s like a toy factory,” laughs Mills.
Mills was born and raised in Montreal and grew up around music. His mother was a piano player and his father was known for his Irish tenor.
But he happened into the music business by chance.
“My father was a businessman and he frowned upon me earning a living through music, it was different in those days,” he notes.
But by chance, as he was heading to sign up for the navy, a friend in the music faculty at McGill suggested he take the entrance exam. Passing it with flying colours, he entered the McGill Faculty of Music.
“It took me a long time to get at it,” he recalls. “I was 29 years old before I really made it, but I was playing all the time.”
Mills now calls Vermont his home, living on a farm and cutting his own wood for the fire.
“They (people in Vermont) are a lot like Nova Scotia people, very laid back and outdoorsy,” he says.
He also makes his own maple syrup from pure rock maple.
“(Maple syrup making) has been a ritual for me since I steamed the wall paper off the kitchen walls at eight years old with my mother,” laughs Mills.
He is excited to return to Pictou for his Christmas show, but admits that it will be quite different this year.
“I’ve come full circle, really, on my concert tours,” he notes. “I started out after the Bells on my own in 1972 when I had my big hit Love Me, Love Me, Love which went well for me. Then I toured with bands of four, six and eight pieces. I went to Japan with a 26-piece orchestra and played with numerous symphonies in Canada then I slowly went backwards to a group of four guys.”
In 2000, Mills decided he was ready to retire and that was the end of his four-piece band.
“I retired mainly for health reasons, but I had time to think about what I wanted to do,” he recalls. “I was always playing and writing – a musician never really retires. But then Rita MacNeil asked me to tour with her for a Christmas show and I was ecstatic.”
Now he is on his own for his first Christmas show since MacNeil’s passing last March.
“It’s going to be very different (without MacNeil).”
His Christmas show at the deCoste will be very intimate.
“I will ramble on about personal things, but people seem to be interested in that these days.”
He will be performing his own songs as well as traditional Christmas carols with the focal point being his greatest hit Music Box Dancer, which was a B side that rocketed Mills to success.
“I will play some of my own stuff as well as newer songs and Christmas carols, a bit of everything. But it works because people still buy the tickets,” laughs Mills.
Mills will also be selling the new project he has been working on, Minus One – Piano Fun with Frank Mills, a two-disc set that features two CDs and a book.
“It actually started when I was a kid. I didn’t really enjoy learning piano so what I have done is come up with a CD with a recording of my top 12 songs as well as a music book and the same CD with just the music, not including me. This way people can listen to the CD, learn how to play the songs and then play along, performing my part.”
This is something Mills was a big fan of when he was young, playing along with the radio or eight track player.
“It is fun for beginners and experts, I think people will find it entertaining,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun, like keyboard karaoke.”
Mills is excited to demo the new project at his show in Pictou where it will also be for sale.
“I am excited to come back. It’s a great theatre and I like the people,” he says.
Although he admits he won’t be singing a whole lot.
Known for his instrumentals, Mills is what he calls a ‘reluctant singer.’
“Having played with the likes of Anne Murray and Rita MacNeil, I know where I’m at. When I sing it puts me in mind of Neil Young – I know my limitations,” he jokes. “I sing about four songs, all my own.”
He doesn’t dare sing the holiday songs, not after touring with Rita MacNeil. But he will be playing MacNeil’s ‘It Really Will be Christmas’.
“I really miss Rita. It’s going to be weird to play Silent Night without her.”
As for Mills’ favourite holiday song he says, “That’s tough. Of the old traditional carols I think Huron Carol is my favourite; as for standard carols, there are ones like Silver Bells and Silent Night…”
Mills is performing the deCoste on December 11 at 7 p.m., his 13th show in a series of 19 across Atlantic and Central Canada.

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The Stanfields prepare acoustic show for the Square

Known for their full contact rock shows, The Stanfields are letting audiences see a softer side with their acoustic tour.
While recording Death and Taxes, the band mates would sit in the corner during breaks and pick up acoustic guitars and mandolins and, in a way, began writing For King and Country.
“For us, the whole concept of doing (an acoustic album) was like coming full circle,” explains frontman Jon Landry. “That’s how the band really developed; we started out playing in mine and Mark’s (Murphy) apartment hanging out and playing. The five of us really clicked and decided to plug in and hit the road.”
Through those short rehearsal sessions during the recording of Death and Taxes, The Stanfields had a handful of songs as well as a few others that had been kicking around that didn’t quite fit on the other albums.
“We spent last New Year’s Eve sober, we went to bed early and took off to a cabin in the middle of the woods in Guysborough County for a week. We locked ourselves in, barbecued, drank wine and recorded the songs,” laughs Landry.
“For one week we basically sat in a circle, secluded from the outside world, snowed in. It was one of the best sessions of my life.”
And from that came For King and Country.
Two months previous to the recording of the acoustic album, The Stanfields were asked to perform an acoustic set opening for the Trews and Landry recalls the response they received.
“People really seemed to respond to it,” he says.
“It was like a kick in the arse to do it (make an acoustic album). We’re all north of 30 now and soon we’ll be north of 40 and 50 and we probably won’t be able to keep up with our rock n’ roll show. Plus there are no pensions with our job. The five of us love playing together and I think that will never change, so it’s invaluable to us to offer something to the folk genre, something acoustic.”
The Stanfields have been blown away by the reaction For King and Country has received.
“It’s totally unexpected, in terms of manning up and putting out the album, it’s great going places. We never try to go somewhere we can’t return in six months.”
Including Germany, where Death and Taxes was released earlier in the fall and a month later, the label picked up on For King and Country.
“We’re confusing everyone,” laughs Landry. “These days people’s playlists are eclectic to say the least; we’re in like a post-genre period. We’re not forging a new path by any means. Our collective heroes have done the same, but I don’t think anyone will be too unsettled (by the acoustic album).”
Landry loved travelling Europe, being able to perform in Iceland and London and a town the size of Antigonish in Germany.
“We were well received, we survived,” he says. “I believe we are going back in about six months.”
As for Landry’s favourite song to perform from King and Country he says, “It’s all a time and place thing; we’ve been performing The Battle of Nowhere, the last song on the album. It’s a real slow ballad, it sounds very old world and I am really enjoying playing that lately.”
When you ask Landry about holiday tunes with Christmas right around the corner, the answer is a little tougher to get.
“I hate Christmas songs, no I loathe Christmas songs,” he jokes. “I do really like ‘So This is Christmas’ by John Lennon and I really enjoy Carol of the Bells.”
So don’t expect any holiday songs at The Stanfields’ Glasgow Square show on December 6 at
8 p.m., fresh off the heels of a B.C. tour.
“We are excited to play Glasgow Square, it’s like our home base. I’m actually a little bit nervous to see how people respond to the show itself. Our rock show is full contact and there’s not a lot of talking, with the acoustic set we are sitting in chairs and taking time in between songs, cutting each other up. Instead of operating like a SWAT team, we are like Sharon, Lois and Bram,” he laughs. “We’ve enjoyed learning this other side to the trade.”
Following the Glasgow Square show, The Stanfields are completing some other dates across the province including a CBC taping in Truro.
“Leading up to Christmas is busy, but we have Christmas off which is nice.”
The Stanfields will round out the year with a New Year’s Eve show with The Divorcees at the Marquee in Halifax and will be working on some new material in the New Year.
“We’re never idle, that’s for sure.”

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Community art program for youth in New Glasgow

The Town of New Glasgow, with the support of the NSCAD-New Glasgow Community Residency and local artists, is hosting an new program for students.
Art for Youth will be held in the Community Art Room at the NSCAD-New Glasgow Community Residency Studio. The sessions are currently being offered twice a month for children from New Glasgow, 12-16 years with the goal to expand with more sessions.
Teaching the classes to the youth are the NSCAD-New Glasgow Artists in Residence residents Brianne Williams, Morgan Slater, M.E. Sparks and also local professional artists.
Over the eight months, students will have the chance to further develop their artistic abilities in a creative atmosphere with other students while being mentored by artists. Other professional artists who will be part of the program are Lyn-Sue Wise, Mike Vienneau, Corey Ceccolini, Raina MacDonald, Heather MacDonald, Debbie Lamey-MacDonald, Red Seal Chef Gilles Godin, Bronte Boucher and Krissi MacKenzie.
Four spaces are still available so those interested are encouraged to contact Tabitha Coleman at

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A call for equal treatment

(Editor’s Note: This is an open letter to Mayor Glenn MacKinnon and Trenton Town Council):
The recent revelation that the Alabama-based Canaan Land Ministries is applying to establish a home in the Town of Trenton that would welcome those who are in need of a turn-around in their lives is of great concern.
Part of the “healing” is based on Bible studies and the leader, Joshua Gober, has vocalized a hateful and decidedly homophobic and discriminatory speech to a recent meeting of town residents.
Mr. Gober has made it quite clear that gay men will not be welcome in this potential establishment. This is of great concern in that it is blatant discrimination against a section of our society that has attained equal rights in Canada and indeed deserves respect, as well as equal treatment as Canadian citizens.
If Trenton Town Council approves this project it will certainly be a huge step back for equal treatment for the LGBT community in Pictou County and beyond.
I strongly urge the Mayor and Council to consider the consequences of this move.
Mr. Gober’s comments and actions are detrimental to the well-being – mentally and physically – of our citizens. Homophobia leads to discrimination and in turn, activates violence, as (I feel) has been the case recently in New Glasgow with the attack on Scott Jones. The Canaan Land Ministries obviously has every intention to speak out against the LGBT community.
Christianity, as I understand it, is about love and embracing all who inhabit this world. Perhaps I am mistaken.
Mayor MacKinnon and Council will hopefully decide on equal treatment for all citizens and reject a group that promotes homophobic hatred and stand by all the citizens of Trenton, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, mental illness, colour, religion, language and all other aspects that make each of us unique.
Gerard Veldhoven
LGBT Activist for Equality New Glasgow

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National Day of Remembrance and Action on December 6

To the Editor:
On Friday, December 6, 2013 the Pictou County Interagency Committee on Family Violence and members of the Pictou County Chapter of Silent Witness along with Silent Witness Nova Scotia will be making a powerful presentation at Pictou Academy to acknowledge the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
December 6 is the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre, in which 14 women were singled out for their gender and murdered.
Violence against women and family violence destroys lives and weakens the fabric of our society. As a population, it takes a heavy toll on our communities and our economy. We have all been touched by Family Violence.
The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Woman represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society.
Since 1990, more than 80 Nova Scotian women have lost their lives to violence at the hands of their intimate partner, forever silencing their voices. The time has come to end the silence.
Silent Witness Nova Scotia is a group of organizations and individuals working together to raise those voices.
Silent Witness Nova Scotia strives to give voice to women in Nova Scotia silenced by domestic violence and commemorate their lives. Silent Witness Nova Scotia is dedicated to the belief that together we can:
• Honour women who have lost their lives due to partner/spousal/common-law violence;
• Raise awareness in Nova Scotia about violence in our communities;
• Involve communities in responding proactively in ending violence;
• Continue this work until such time as there is no longer a need for Silent Witness Nova Scotia.
Please join us on December 6, 2013 as we commemorate the National Day of Remembrance with Silent Witness’ powerful presentation and we invite you to consider our theme: “Past, Present & Future”.
We want to honour the women who have lost their lives to violence. We want to acknowledge the women who may be currently living in fear as they survive daily acts of violence at the hand of their intimate partners. We want to promote hope for a future where gender equality runs deep, where women no longer face daily reminders of sexism and stigma, and a world where violence against women becomes abolished through collaborative social, legal and humanitarian efforts.
The Pictou County Interagency on Family Violence will be having the annual December 6 ceremony in the auditorium of Pictou Academy. The ceremony will take place 9:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Due to space limitations the ceremony cannot be attended by the general public. Instead, the Pictou County Women’s Centre invites individuals to attend a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the 14 women whose lives were taken in the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre due to their gender, and to support ending violence against women.
Follow and connect with us:
Facebook Website Katie Williams
Community Development co-ordinator
Pictou County Women’s Centre

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Lung cancer is the leading cause of Canadian cancer deaths

To the Editor:
As of 2013, lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, for both men and women. On average, 70 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day and each day 55 Canadians will die from lung cancer.
November was Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Physicians encourage all Nova Scotians to educate themselves on lung cancer symptoms and prevention.
The number one cause of lung cancer is smoking. In Canada, more than 90 per cent of lung cancer in men and at least 70 per cent of lung cancer in women is caused by smoking. Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in Nova Scotia. While the average smoking rate in Canada has fallen to 17 per cent during the past five years, Nova Scotia’s smoking rate has stayed at 20 per cent.
Symptoms of lung cancer include a cough that won’t go away or gets worse over time, chronic chest pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, wheezing, hoarse voice, chronic pneumonia or bronchitis, swollen face and neck, loss of appetite and fatigue.
Smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes are main causes of lung cancer. Other risks of contracting the disease include regularly breathing second-hand smoke or exposure to radon, asbestos and other toxic products such as uranium, arsenic, and some petroleum products.
The best way to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking. It’s never too late to quit. Not smoking reduces risk of lung cancer significantly. Avoid second-hand smoke as much as possible and ensure that your home is checked for radon.
Doctors Nova Scotia is a strong advocate for the cessation for smoking. During Lung Cancer Awareness Month, please take the time to research the symptoms and prevention for lung cancer.
For help to quit smoking and more information on lung cancer, visit
Mike Fleming
Doctors Nova Scotia

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Canada can still do more to prevent some diseases

To the Editor:
Each day, pneumonia kills more than 3,000 children under 5 years old. I am immensely proud that Canada is a global lead donor in the GAVI Fund.
Our donations have prevented almost four million deaths and we have surpassed our 2011-2015 commitments. As a Canadian I feel that I should be content. However, I know that we can and should do much more.
The means to rid ourselves of vaccine-preventable diseases is within our grasp and yet, it still remains questionable if donors will continue to invest in the future of our children.
I feel that the time has come for a concerted effort to end needless child deaths once and for all. Working together to save one child at a time is much more than justifying a statistic.
Keeping the GAVI Alliance on track, while crucial to the health of every child, points to another question Can kids wait? Children cry out in despair yet, can hugely be saved. But the International Day Against Pneumonia has passed and Canada has still to step up.
I know that I have one voice – and I congratulate Canada for our united efforts.
But I am also amongst those touched by that glimmer of hope offered on November 20 on National Child Day ( to see the light when grown-ups once and for all come to the plate to discover the tears of a child left out and wonder:
Are these children invisible?
Jocelyn Lee
High School Student
Oakville, Ont.

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Help Share the Warmth

To the Editor:
Family Service of Eastern Nova Scotia has partnered with local Credit Unions from Glace Bay to Halifax for the annual “Share the Warmth Campaign”.
The campaign is running until December 12, 2013 and helps families through the burden of our harsh Nova Scotia winters.
Last year, we collected hundreds of hats, mitts and scarves and distributed them, with the help of volunteers, to families in need within the communities they were collected.
We are asking the public to make a donation of new hats, mitts, or scarves to their local Credit Union branch, to help share the warmth this holiday season.
Thank you for your support,
Katherine Durant
Share the Warmth

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Chase the Ace fundraiser for new school

To the Editor:
Last Sunday and every Sunday going forward, a unique fundraiser has begun for the new school, New Glasgow Academy. At the Aberdeen flea market from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. tickets will be sold five for $5. At 12:15 p.m. the draw will take place for 20 per cent of that day’s sales. The winner must be present to claim the prize. The lucky winner also gets to draw from the deck of cards hoping for the Ace of Spades. If the Ace of Spades is drawn then the winner gets the “pot”; if not, the remaining 30 per cent goes into build the pot for the next week. The card drawn then gets destroyed. The next week this is repeated until the Ace of Spades is drawn.
The other 50 per cent from sales goes directly towards our new school. The odds get better every week as the deck gets smaller and the pot gets bigger.
So for a $5 investment to our fundraiser you have, in effect, contributed directly to every child that will attend this wonderful school. The “enhancements” to this school will make the children eager to attend. Who wouldn’t want a remarkable natural-play playground, a beautiful gym or a music room to mould young minds? Each child deserves nothing less.
For a $5 investment every student will benefit. Your return on investment… immeasurable.
It takes a village, but each person can make a difference. Please support our fundraiser; every child will thank you for it.
Tammy MacLaren
New Glasgow

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Christmas spirit alive and well in local shop owner

To the Editor:
Everyone has heard the story about The Miracle on 34th Street, where Santa at Macy’s sent customers to Gimbles to purchase items they did not have. Santa got fired.
Well, this happened to me at the Scotsburn Country Market where, for the past couple of years, we have purchased my seeded raisins that have been hard to find anywhere for the past few years. This year, the new owner was also out.
The owner took it upon himself to go on the computer to search for them and he found what I needed.
I was so taken aback. I could not believe people like that still existed.
The rest of my Christmas baking products will be purchased at this store.
People will say she will pay an arm and a leg out there. I know the big box stores buy in larger quantities and can sell much cheaper, but you would never get the service I received from the new owner.
One of my cakes will go to him with a big ‘thank you.’
Yes, Jean, there is a Santa Claus.
Jean MacDonald

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NHL, CBC face massive change

To many Canadians, hockey is Canada’s game.
How long it will remain so is another matter.
Some people are seeing the results of a trend showing how hockey is becoming too expensive for more and more people to watch and play at a young age, or any age.
The cost to equip and register minor hockey players is beyond what a growing number of families can afford. An acknowledged high-participation sport is becoming an elite sport.
We didn’t need to read or hear about the recent announcement that Rogers Communications has pulled the broadcast rights for NHL games in Canada out from under the CBC to confirm where hockey is heading.
It’s a giant step in the evolution of the NHL as the best hockey league money can buy. So, one must wonder how a sport can maintain its popularity and hold fans’ passions as it becomes more expensive to play and watch.
This deal cost Rogers $5.2 billion over 12 years. One would have to be wildly optimistic not to realize how this media company will get customers to help it get that money back. The talk has been about the multitude of platforms it will use – and will sorely need – to achieve that. The list goes far beyond television to paid viewing on TV, computer access, phone applications and sources that may not have been invented yet.
The NHL and how we view it will never be the same again.
Nor will the CBC.
Even if the network had more than the platforms it does have in play, it was not ready for what Rogers proposed to the NHL that compelled the league to award it the contract.
The CBC faces a sea of change.
Hockey Night in Canada, besides being a long-standing institution that traces its roots back 60 years, has been the CBC’s biggest source of revenue in a time when recent governments have forced the network to drill deep for other revenue, such as from more paid advertising.
Whatever rule book that existed has been cast aside. New rules, if not complete anarchy, are the CBC’s choices. For, if Rogers can inflict this kind of hit on the static quo, one wonders what’s next.
Hockey is experiencing a cathartic moment. Those running hockey need to decide what is required for it to remain relevant – or, to quote Sam Spade in the film The Maltese Falcon, “the stuff that dreams are made of.”

Steve Goodwin

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It’s baaa-ack: Lotta Lotto campaign returns for 25th year

Twenty-five years have passed since Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pictou County started their Lotta Lotto Calendar fundraiser.
Margie Grant-Walsh, executive director of the local organization says, “The first year was a combined cash calendar with five other agencies across the Atlantic. We did it for one year and thought, we could have something that was all local and make it successful.”
That is just what they did. After 25 years, they have raised thousands of dollars to invest in mentoring programs for children and youth in Pictou County.
Grant-Walsh adds, “The support we receive is amazing and it has allowed us to serve so many kids over the years. Of course all the great prizes, trips and cash never hurt.”
This year’s calendar is once again jammed packed with cash, merchandise and even includes trips to Vegas as well as Cuba. If you are not the travelling type, no problem, you can take the cash instead. The tag draw in celebration of their 25th anniversary for just $5 extra is a $5,000 cash and furniture package supported by Chediac’s Brandsource Home Furnishings, with $2,500 in furniture and $2,500 in cash.
“Chediac’s and the other many sponsors have assisted us in providing a great chance to win for just $25, we couldn’t do it without them.”
The calendar’s price has remained the same – $20.
Instead of your typical early bird prize, Big Brothers Big Sisters has a whopping 12 prizes in their 12 Days of Christmas early bird draw starting December 9. If you purchase a calendar before this date, you will be in for all 12 draws leading up to Christmas Day and can be in on any of the days as long as you purchase your calendar before Christmas Day, everything from gift baskets, Crushers season tickets, $300 in fuel from MacGillivray’s to a Samsung Galaxy tablet from L.M. Computers.
One of the organization’s greatest supporters is Scotiabank. For every calendar purchased at any of its five branches, Scotiabank will match it and on Saturdays, Scotiabank staff volunteer at their booth in the Highland Square mall.
Grant-Walsh says, “The staff are simply amazing. We are truly blessed to have their involvement. Buying a calendar at our booth on Saturday or at any branch will double the proceeds. Scotiabank values what we do with children and youth in the community and we are not by far the only charity they support; they are a community minded business for sure.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters raises more than 90 per cent of their budget through fundraising. They receive nine per cent funding through the Department of Community Services.
Other locations calendars can be purchased at include Chediac’s Brandsource Home Furnishings, Big Al’s or the Big Brothers Big Sisters office. For more information call 752-6260.

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Northumberland students to perform Breakfast Club

ALMA – Students at Northumberland Regional High School are getting ready to host a stage presentation of the Breakfast Club on Dec. 6.
The play will start at 7 p.m. in the school’s presentation room.
The play is an interesting choice in that it is derived from a script for a film instead of the stage.
The Breakfast Club is a coming-of-age comedy drama and is considered one of the greatest high school films in history. The film was written and directed by the late John Hughes and was rated third at the box office when it debuted in 1985. It had a $1 million budget and earned nearly $52 million.
“We’re pretty passionate about the selection,” said Andrea Wadman, who, with Jim Morrison, is directing the show.
The play’s plot opens with students gathered at a school library for an eight-hour detention and instructions for each of them to compose a 1,000-word essay.
The play develops as the characters discover their common doubts and strained family relationships.
One character ends up writing an essay off-topic and signing it The Breakfast Club.

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Portrait project complete

Renovations at the Pictou Justice Centre meant that the photos of the 22 former judges of the centre were taken down so that work could be completed.
When it was time for the photos to go back up, court administrator Judy Whitman wanted to make them more uniform.
“I contacted Judge Clyde Macdonald to help me place the names with the pictures and he suggested contacting the Pictou County Roots Society to get funding to have them repaired,” explains Whitman.
So the PCRS funded the $1,500 project, framing all of the pictures and resizing or restoring some.
There are 22 photos in total hanging in the halls of the centre, all men – although Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Van den Eynden was sworn in that day.
“We have received so many positive comments so far; people are stopping and looking at the photos,” says Whitman.
Clyde Macdonald, lifetime member of PCRS and historian adds, “We hope this will encourage other court houses in the province to do the same project.”
Whitman was pleased to be part of the project and says she found it very informing, getting a chance to read the Judges of Nova Scotia book.
The earliest judge photographed on the wall is Hugh Denoon, for whom Denoon Street was named.
“In 1801, he went to Scotland and rented a boat and transported more than 500 immigrants to the area as a contractor. Later, he became Judge of Common Pleas of Nova Scotia in Pictou,” explains Macdonald.
The Justice Building is a public building which brings in people for various reasons on a daily basis and this gives people the opportunity to see the portraits of the people who practised in and were community leaders according to Whitman.
“It adds to the building.”

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Relay for Life changing in 2014

Staying up all night long is typically a daunting task, even when done for a good cause.
That’s why the organizers of this year’s Pictou County Relay For Life have decided to change the time and day.
The event is moving from Friday at 4 p.m. through Saturday morning, to Saturday at 12 p.m. through midnight Saturday night, June 21.
“We decided to change things this year to make it easier not only for participants, but for the volunteers who help organize the event. We wanted to make the Relay For Life more accessible so that we can get more family and community participation,” explains Tyler Cameron of the organizing committee.
This is a trial, one of the first in the province, to see if the change will garner more participation.
“Friday evening through Saturday morning and then the cleanup is taxing on volunteers and participants. This is a trial and other relays across the province will be looking at us to see if it works,” says Cameron.
Organizers have contacted some of the teams that take part each year and they have been receptive to the change, so Cameron thinks it will be positive.
“We want to get the information out there and get people prepared for relay and raising funds in advance,” he says.
The goal is to make it easier for participants to have full teams for the entire event as attendance tends to dissipate as the night wears on.
“We want everyone to have a fun experience. It’s important in so many ways, because we are not only raising money for cancer research, but we are celebrating cancer survivors and bringing people together with a common cause so that we can get as many people as we can to fight back against cancer.”
At the end of the day, Cameron says it is about raising funds for cancer research as well as the Lodge That Gives.
“With it being easier to participate, we think we will see more teams and more participation which in turn means more funds for the Canadian Cancer Research Foundation,” he notes.
Registration for the 2014 Relay for Life is open and anyone wishing to register can do so online at There will also be registration workshops early in the New Year.
“We encourage teams to register as early as possible because it gives them more time to raise funds and that’s the important thing.”
There is no age restrictions to take part and in fact, the focus this year is on getting more youth involved.
“We are hoping the time change will help us get more young people involved,” says Cameron. “I think the new day will make a huge difference.”

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New Glasgow calls for Most Festive Awards nominations

NEW GLASGOW – The Town of New Glasgow is calling all residents to nominate individuals, businesses and community groups for the New Glasgow Communities in Bloom Most Festive Awards.
If you know a neighbour, friend, or business colleague who has the magic touch decorating their home or business or who demonstrates inspirational community spirit or service to the community during the Christmas and holiday season, then enter their name to be considered for the award.
The award categories are a residential award for each ward in New Glasgow – Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 3. Also presented will be Business Awards for Small Business, Medium to Large Business. There will also be a Most Festive Award to a Community Group or Organization.
“The Most Festive Awards from the Town and Communities in Bloom are an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of citizens and businesses during the winter season,” explains New Glasgow’s Marketing and Communications director Kim Dickson.
“Many people take great care to create a magical atmosphere which adds so much to community spirit and pride of place. Some homes are even attractions for visitors, drawing them into our community to see the beautiful sights. We have also included the criteria of contributions to community service for a community group or business as the generosity and kindness demonstrated by so many is a hallmark of our town. The most festive awards are just a nice gesture to recognize these important contributions.”
Email your nomination with the street address and a contact name and phone number to Deadline for nominations is December 18.

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Historians sharing project to preserve town’s history

NEW GLASGOW – Amateur historians Philip MacKenzie and Clyde MacDonald, who both reside in New Glasgow, have embarked on a new project to preserve the town’s history.
Possessing numerous photographs of buildings, businesses and locations in New Glasgow that were photographed in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s, MacKenzie and Macdonald are prepared to provide them, free of charge, to New Glasgow businesses.
The photographs will be enlarged to 16 inches by 20 inches and will be mounted on plaque boards. They represent locations of past businesses that are relevant to present locations within the town.
MacKenzie and Macdonald plan to contact business owners in town in the New Year to determine if they are prepared to accept and display one of the photographs.
They have an example completed that showed the paddle steamer East Riding along the East River where the present TD bank branch is located in New Glasgow. It is free as long as the business displays it.
They have already presented one enlarged photograph of the former post office where the town hall is currently located to display at the Canada Post Office on Stellarton Road.
The building is significant because it is the first of a series of post offices in Nova Scotia that former Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald commissioned to have built in 1881 under a federal Conservative policy implemented to increase the presence of federal public buildings in Canada. As a result, 78 such federal post offices were built across Canada.
Since New Glasgow was a recognized Conservative stronghold, it became the first community in Nova Scotia to receive a post office.
Donald Grant, a contractor who lived on James Street and was a loyal supporter of the Conservative Party, received the contract to build the New Glasgow Post Office on Provost Street. It was completed in 1884.
Born in Telford in 1829, Grant settled in New Glasgow in about 1852 and soon operated a sash and door factory named D. Grant and Sons. At one time it employed 60 people.
He was 25 when he had a contract to build St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in New Glasgow. He also built the Presbyterian Church in MacLellan’s Mountain that was formally opened in 1860, as well as a large number of houses, a court house, the New Glasgow railway station and churches built in Stellarton, Westville, St. Pauls, Lourdes, Sydney Mines and Canso.
Grant served as mayor of New Glasgow in 1881. He died in 1897.

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Creative cookery

Students in the Nova Scotia Community College Pictou Campus’ Culinary Class had tons of fun along with a sugar high after creating their gingerbread house for the United Way of Pictou County’s Gingerbread Silent Auction.
This is the first of its kind for the United Way where local chefs have been asked to create a gingerbread masterpiece constructed of gingerbread and edible delights which will be bid on by private citizens or businesses and organizations.
The four gingerbread houses were created by Chef Robert Vinton, The Bistro; Chef Thomas Carey, Pictou Lodge; Chef Ryan Skelton and the students at the NSCC.
NSCC cooking instructor, Chef Gilles Godin did not have the time to create the masterpiece, so he put the call out to his students, six of whom happily agreed to do it in their spare time.
Their creation ended up being a replica of the NSCC and the adjacent Allan Park.
“We were brainstorming and I threw the idea out there and drew up a design,” explains Matthew Dahdah, culinary student. “I brought the design back and we started with the base and it snow balled from there.”
All of the gingerbread was made from scratch and measured and cut to make the walls. The structure features fondant, marshmallow fluff, cotton candy, life savers, Smarties, Twizzlers, candy canes, icing and food colouring.
The project took about a week and a half to complete after school, 25 to 30 hours in total.
“It was a lot of work but it was worth it,” says Dahdah.
The six students involved were very pleased with the outcome, especially since only one had created a gingerbread house before from scratch.
The intricate design shows the school with gingerbread people and Acadia Street with Allan Park and trees and even a swing set on the opposite side of the road.
They all admit, it was difficult not to eat it while making it, noting they made approximately 100 gingerbread men and ate more than half of them.
The gingerbread house silent auction runs until Dec. 13 at the United Way of Pictou County office, 342 Stewart St., New Glasgow. Viewing will be Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After-hour viewings can be scheduled by contacting the United Way office at 755-1754 or

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Craig Gives Back bikers given certificates

PICTOU – The team representing the Craig Gives Back cycling tour has received certificates of appreciation from Pictou County Municipal Council.
Cyclists Craig Aucoin, Lloyd McLean and Bob MacDonald were presented with framed certificates by Coun. Jim Turple during a regular meeting of council on Monday night.
“We are very proud to have you as Pictou County residents,” Turple said.
The tour started in August in St. John’s, N.L. and finished in October in Victoria, B.C.
“I’m very honoured to be here,” Aucoin said, before quoting former South African president Nelson Mandela, who said: “A dream is just a goal with a deadline.”
Aucoin recounted his life with no confidence and low self-esteem until he started losing weight and getting active.
“It was great to lose 80 pounds and then wait and see where I end up,” he said. “This is definitely a good place to end up. I don’t know what is in the future for me but I think it will be big.”
Planning and training for the tour took about a year before Aucoin and McLean began biking in St. John’s on Aug. 4. They finished on Oct. 27 in Victoria.
In between, MacDonald substituted for Aucoin after he was sidelined with injuries for more than two months.
“We all finished as a team,” McLean said. “It’s a feeling of accomplishment. It’s also a feeling of gratitude.”
Aucoin’s inspiration for the tour was to raise awareness and encourage donations to three organizations that he says have made a difference in his life: CNIB, the YMCA and Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Overall, slightly more than $10,000 has been raised to date from the campaign for donors to give to the organizations through a Facebook page set up for it during the trip, including more than $4,000 to Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
“On behalf of CNIB, our three charities together are extremely grateful to Craig, Bob and Lloyd for the funds raised as well as the incredible amount of awareness and goodwill generated across the country in support of our three charities,” CNIB spokesman Warren Spires said.
“It has been a wonderful experience for all of us, collectively and independently within our many YMCAs in the country,” added Diana Deakin-Thomas, general manager, of the YMCA’s Philanthropic Capacity.

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MacKay lauds legislation to amend not criminally responsible defence

NEW GLASGOW – Proposed changes to the act dealing with those deemed not criminally responsible balances the needs of those in custody with mental health issues and the intent of the changes to treat victims more fairly, Justice Minister Peter MacKay says.
MacKay met on Saturday with justice advocates to discuss the proposals contained in amendments to the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act that he introduced in the House of Commons on November 25.
He said he would take the responses shared at the roundtable back to Ottawa to be considered in altering the legislation.
He said the changes would prioritize public safety which comes first in decisions made regarding the accused who are found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial due to mental disorder. The proposed legislation would also enhance the safety of victims and promote greater victim input when they choose to be involved.
“(The changes) are crafted in a way that properly balances the rights of the accused and of victims,” he said. The motivator is to protect the public and those found to have mental disorders. We know there are a disproportionate number of people in custody dealing with mental health issues. There has to be a better way to respond.”
New Glasgow Police Chief Delaney Chisholm was among members of the town’s police service who took part in the roundtable. He said his initial examination of the bill has prompted him to support the proposed changes to the act.
“I welcome this legislation, particularly in areas of high-risk,” he said, while citing several recent cases where changes would have made a difference if they had been in effect.
MacKay outlined the three main components he said the amendments address: putting public safety first, enhancing victims’ rights and creating a high-risk designation that would keep someone deemed not criminally responsible in custody longer with more restrictions.

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It’s a first for Jubilee

The New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee has another award to mount on the mantle.
The Jubilee was the recipient of the 2013 Golden Hospitality Award through Tourism Industry Association Nova Scotia.
This is the first time the festival has won a provincial award and organizers are thrilled.
“We’ve won quite a few awards over the years, from Pictou County Tourist Association and the Chamber awards, but this is our first provincial award,” notes Carlton Munroe, executive director of the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee.
Munroe, along with a few members of the board, attended the gala awards evening last week in Halifax at the World Trade and Convention Centre.
“It was really quite a proud moment for the entire board really, even though they all couldn’t be there. The award belongs to the whole community, the board and 300 plus volunteers as well as every business person and resident tourists meet in the community,” explains Munroe.
The Golden Hospitality Award is given for outstanding effort in service of visitors to Nova Scotia.
“We were nominated by the Town of New Glasgow,” says Munroe. “I think any time you get provincial recognition, it certainly helps the festival. I don’t know if we’re the best unknown festival anymore because people seem to know about us, but any recognition will help.”
In a way, it puts the Jubilee on another level.
“We pride ourselves in being one of the premiere festivals in Atlantic Canada and this is an example of our growth and perhaps of things to come.”
The Jubilee has been operating for 18 years, a well established festival in the province and beyond.
As for the 2014 Jubilee, Munroe is tightlipped about who the headliners might be.
“We begin discussing programming a couple weeks after the festival ends, now we are whittling down who we are going to go after,” he says. “We haven’t contracted anyone yet, but once that process starts, it goes pretty quickly from there because you can’t look at one act in isolation, it has to tie in with the rest of the weekend.”
But he says there are no shortages of acts and a lot of names were thrown around.
“I think we have established ourselves on a national stage now because we are getting very reputable agents contacting us and pitching headliners,” says Munroe.
A few years ago, the Jubilee committee created the Jubilee in January event to keep the festival in the forefront of everyone’s minds; however, last year because of booking conflicts, it couldn’t take place.
This year, the committee is organizing a holiday rock show.
“We are trying to make the Jubilee relevant year round so we are having a rock show at the Acro Lounge on December 28.”
The billet will include Reverb Nation Battle of the Bands submissions and a Jubilee performer, Carry the Lost, Black City Avenger and A Call for Submission.
“It is a rock show,” says Munroe, “so there won’t be any fiddles or bagpipes, but we are very excited about being able to put on a show during the holidays when a lot of people are home. It’s an opportunity to get the word out throughout the year.”

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Mural complete

The Pictou Art Society, through Art2Sea, unveiled a mural recently at the Olde Foundry in Pictou. The project, which received funding through the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage, as well as Proudfoot’s Home Hardware and the Town of Pictou, was conducted under artist Carolyn Vienneau.
The mural features 72 tiles which create a scene of the Hector Heritage Quay and the Pictou Waterfront with an additional 78 free-form tiles creating a border for the artwork. Tiles were painted by Grade 4 students from Pictou Elementary, residents of the Oddfellows home and Art2Sea members as well as the community at large.
Vienneau explained that mural was created on paper and then traced onto the tiles. Artists could then paint the tiles in such a way that they linked up with the neighbouring tiles. Though there is the occasional misconnected line or colour mix-match, these details lend the mural a certain collage-like quality.
Vienneau noted there was “a bit more freedom in the sky” where her young grandson and granddaughter happened to apply their skills.
“If (artists) wanted to be really free or far out they’d do the sky or the bottom,” she said.
Artists who opted to paint the small tiles of the border were granted near total creative freedom, unbounded by lines or dictates.
Denise Lynch, a sculptor and member of Art2Sea, assisted Vienneau in administering the project. Lynch noted a certain irony in the project in that most mural concepts are generated by community and then executed by artist, while this project was conceived by an artist and then completed by the community.
Lynch also commented that the artwork is significant in the scope of the various ages, skill levels and walks of life for the artists involved.
The artwork took a weekend to complete and Vienneau stated that both the deCoste Entertainment Centre and Stone Soup Cafe have offered to exhibit the piece.

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Michaels store coming to county

NEW GLASGOW – The news is now official: Michaels is coming to New Glasgow.
Rumours about the arts and crafts giant coming to Pictou County have been running rampant the last year, and it has been confirmed that Michaels is coming to New Glasgow.
When contacted, a representative from Michaels Stores stated, “After reviewing our list of upcoming stores, I do show that we do plan to open a new Michaels in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, which is set to open on September 19, 2014.”
In 1984, Michaels consisted of 16 stores predominantly in the Texas area. Since 1995, they have expanded to more than 500 stores across North America and that number continues to grow.
Offering everything from craft supplies to classes, party paraphernalia and more, they are preparing to set up shop in New Glasgow.
As to where Michaels will be located, that is yet to be determined. Rumours that it will be located in the Highland Square Mall have not been substantiated.
Phone calls to Brian Dobson, senior property manager, have not been returned.
According to their website, Michaels Stores is the largest specialty retailer of arts, crafts, framing, floral, wall decor, scrapbooking and more.

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