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Re: Nova Scotia
well...I still have not found any Sinclair musicans from the east coast
of Canada (which is not to say that there are or weren't any)...and I
haven't dug out the lyrics for Song for the Mira yet...
But the enquiry of Sinclair earns some answer...
Nova Scotia is a peninsula on the Northeastern Coast of North America
with 5000 miles of coastline nooks, crannies, harbours and beaches, and
a peculiar history...some of the greatest fossil sites on the continent
are found in the Bay of Fundy area, which boast the most visual physical
evidence of the effect of the Moon on the Earth - the highest tides in
the world...I read once that the area has the most difficult to predict
weather in the world...the subject being one of considerable daily
speculation amongst the locals...
10,600 years ago there was a thriving Paleo-Indian city near Debert -
not far from Bill Mann's theoretical Grail site in Green Oaks...they had
established trade links with Latin America...5000 years later the
current Mi'k maq aboriginal's forebears came to stay...
It has been a known European fishing base for millenia - exactly how
many depends on who you talk to...the offical party line in the province
is about three hundred years...I'm in the two-to-twenty millenia range
Lief Erikson toured through, Prince Henry hid the Grail and became an
aboriginal spirit here...John Cabot dreamed about coming here...A bunch
of French Folk came and established the first music award in North
America...Samuel de Champlain dreamed up the Order of Good Cheer for
best entertainers to get his troops through their first long winter of
1605-06...by 1608 they gave up - probably because of bitching by the
local musicians...that's a very inside joke...
A bunch of English folk and Freemason's showed up...Francis Drake hid
Bacon's Shakespeare manuscripts at Oak Island where a lot people liked
to hide a lot of things (last time I was in the tunnels I found a
battered pocket watch autographed: "to Whitey, from the whole Wonderland
Crew")...pirates hid gold and did pirate things to women...a scourge
finally eradicated when the Highland Clearances established a fearsome
bagpipe presence in Antigonish which protects the province against
invasion to this day...
Blacks came from Jamaica and the U.S....later, in a bizarre turn of
events, blacks from Nova Scotia founded Sierra Leone in Africa...German
immigrants settled Lunenburg and the English gave Wordsworth the
inspiration for his epic poem Evangeline...the Brits decided to send the
French packing and shipped thousands to the U.S. - especially Lousiana
where the "Acadians" became "Cajuns" in the local dialect and started
using hot sauce on much smaller lobsters...
The land was farmed, the forests provided endless lumber, and the
oceans were the bounty of the lord...
The fortress of Louisbourg controlled the entrances to the St. Lawrence
Seaway and the routes to the growing population in Upper Canada...It
only stood for a couple of decades, and changed hands like a joint on
the Halifax Library lawn but version Louisbourg 3.0, which began
construction in the late sixties, will outlast them all...
Through two World Wars Halifax Harbour served as the staging centre for
Canada's not insignificant war efforts...and all the while historic Pier
21 was the Ellis Island of Canada - bringing a flood of European
refugees to add colour and bizarre recipes for cabbage to our national
During WW1 two ships collided in Halifax Harbour causing the largest
man-made explosion before Hiroshima and flattening half the city...then
we buried the Titanic dead...last year we got Swiss Air Flight 111 in
the heart and soul of the province - Peggy's Cove...and now we get to
the heart of the matter...
Peggy's Cove is where the neurons of North America meet all of the
power and majesty of the North Atlantic Ocean...there are days when the
place throbs distantly and contentedly with power...and then days when
not-so-smart American tourists are swept off the rocks to feed her
There are many other places in the province which are every postcard as
beautiful and there are some with as much, or more, power...Nova Scotia
has it's fair share of pagan religions and about 15 years ago an entire
Buddist sect moved their world headquarters here and established Gampo
Abbey in Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton...
This power may be manifest in the Bay of Fundy or in the mist movered
mountains of Cape Breton, in the beautiful orchards of the Annapolis
Valley, or the rivers of Guysborough County...there are reams of
pastoral lyrics on the endless dripping beauty and splendour of our
wonderful blah blah blah...much has been written...buy really - you have
to see it to feel it...
The warmest saltwater beaches north of the Carolina's are to found on
the Northumberland Straight between Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
and Cape Breton...50 feet outside the window where I sit in Belle Cote
on the western side of Cape Breton, winds of 80 km/hr drive huge
white-crowned waves that carve out a 3-mile crescent sand beach - and
the rain sweeps through in complimentary waves...the ocean is 25 C...we
are getting Tropical Bath Floyd which some of our less fortunate
contributors have recently experienced as a hurricane...this is our
fifth month of ocean swimming in the most glorious summer in memory...
Our current culture developed three hundred years ago and remains
fundamentally unchanged...the economy was built on government and
military principles, for exploiting natural resources...naturally, those
who could not get a cut of this game turned, or returned, to vice...
Many a current local fortune was built on rumrunning and then beer and
national prostitution scemes, and many others on drugs...we built the
fastest sailing schooners not to catch fish - how fast can they be? -
but to slink about the seas with sin designed to fullfill the "pursuit
of happiness" clause in the American Declaration of Independence...
In the past three decades it has mostly been drugs...8 zillion kilos of
pure rock columian tie stick something or other was being dumped
overboard from boats that the Hector passengers wouldn't have
boarded...it was washing up on the beaches in bales more often than
fish-kill down at the hard-board plant...
Alas, all that has changed with modern policing efforts...our finest
are still out there Miami-Vicing around in cigar boats while the locals
learned to grow pot hydroponically and now they're too lazy to import
cocaine...drug problem solved...
Today Nova Scotia and Cape Breton are in transition...and what part of
the world isn't...until the mid-twentieth century Nova Scotia was a
major connector for the European/North American routes...then airplanes
let everyone fly to the centre and an increasing population in Upper
Canada overshadowed the east...then the central government passed laws
that diminished trading between the region and our natural trading
partners - the east coast of the U.S....that would be a gross
oversimplification - but most of you are asleep by now anyway...
Being severed from the largest capital markets in North America had has
a profound effect on the economy...Marconi was dead, Alexander Graham
Bell had moved to Boston and Hank Snow to Nashville and the greatness of
the region dwindled...people bought tv's and set their kids in front of
them...if they couldn't get a job the government paid them to stay home
until the government created a job for them...
The government started thinking about sheep...
Global economic changes in the early 90's hit the region hard...The
fish were gone, the mines and the steel mill were being run out of a
call centre...all the levels of government were cutting and tens of
thousands of jobs were lost...they were later found in more places
around North America than parts of Jimmy Hoffa...
At about the same time a couple of things came together...
The region has always benefited from an educated population - there are
almost as many universities as bagpipers...on the other end of the
spectrum were planted a rural popluation dedicated to preserving their
way of life - mostly because it was the only thing that kept them alive
with little to exercise free will about...
But many did just that and bolted - at the turn of the century there
were more Maritimers living in Boston than in the Maritimes...the
migration to Alberta in the 70s and 80s is well documented in our
national folklore...Newfoundland is relocating to Vancouver...
Back home the extremes started intermingling more and their point of
contact was the cultural sector, specifically the music and film
industries...and let us not underestimate the power of the internet...
This period coincided with the great debates over our nationhood and
the Quebec question and the Maritimes were the first region to find that
they also had a "distinct society"...when the soul searching started
everyone was surprised to find that Cape Breton had a soul for
generations beyond count...
They sang, they danced, they told a whopper of a story, they gathered
around the piano every weekend with their neighbors or went to the local
community hall to hear many of the best fiddlers in the world play for
nothing but the pure joy of the playing...they know who everyone's
It's all based on a 200-year old frozen moment-in-time when the Brits
did a nasty on the Scots and replaced them with sheep - much the same
way that Ronald Reagan replaced all of the air traffic controllers...
Anyway, they brought their culture, language, music, scotch, and they
did despicable things to sheep - both in the kitchen and - allegedly -
behind the barn...but that may just be a series of jokes handed down
from generation to generation, preserved like the funny plaid pleated
skirts that the guys wear...and more guys in Nova Scotia wear them than
They had been singing the same songs for 200 years...then, someone
stole a page from Bob Dylan and got a electric guitar and some drums and
off they went to be rock stars...it sure beat the coal mines...have you
ever worked with fish?
The Scottish oral traditions had been put to music and preserved intact
in isolated Cape Breton - hidden away safe to be rediscovered in an era
where talking about Scottish independence doesn't get you thrown in jail
anymore, or drawn and quartered...hmmm...
Many a Cape Bretoner earns a living teaching here and in
Scotland...many a book is sold, many a film produced, many a festival
celebrated and much much water of the gods consumed as the fiddles play
into the morning sun...
and that traditional Scottish music is now infused with the soul of New
Scotland... all of the beauty of the mountains and the cry of the eagle
as it soars above the ocean waves...the magic of the rivers and the
mysteries that lies beneath the lands...the voices of the earth
whispering through the forests and the winds that howl and shake my
windows this eve...
Leon Dubinsky, a none too shabby songwriter once wrote:
In the springtime we go off in the woods
Under a rainfall when the earth smells so good
And never far are we from the sea
In the summer we go down to the shore
back to the waters our hearts to restore
and never far are we from the sea
and it surrounds us this ocean of plenty
hungry and homeless, world's overflow
Deep inside us, she reminds us
Deep inside us we know
We are one world
There's some ramblings...I have seen too much and am overtired - it
would take a month of solid work to distill 2500 usefull words to
adequately capture this subject - it is beyond me as a writer...but I
hope this is something...thanks for asking...some of this stuff may or
may not be true...it's a different experience for each individual...Nova
Scotia is a place where your spirit can physically manifest itself...not
for naught has it been named Arcadia and Avalon by some...
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