Canada 150 – #17 – In our Blood

Nova Scotia has a long & proud history of rum running…

But we also had some perfectly legal alcohol enterprises over the years as well. One such business was Acadian Distillers in Bridgetown which operated from the mid fifties until the early eighties. I am fortunate to have, in my cupboard, four of their whiskey glasses which belonged to my parents. A little piece of local history.

I remember touring the distillery as a school kid on a field trip – I guess as Nova Scotians it was important that we be taught early about liquor production! After the tour, I remember thinking that the most boring job in the world HAD to be the lady who watched the bottles go by to make sure the labels were all there. And she was able to read a book and watch the bottles go by – mutli-tasking at its best?

For more on our rum running heritage, check out this Land & Sea episode… http://www.cbc.ca/landandsea/2012/02/rum-runners.html

Now, off for a wee dram…

TGS

Canada 150 – #16 – Old Fashioned Nor’easters

Canada 150 - #16 - Old Fashioned Nor'easters.

Since everyone seems to be conforming to “the obvious” today for a post, I too shall stick to Canadian winters for my Canada 150 theme for the day. Atlantic Canadians are very familiar with the “Nor’easter” – always a storm situation to be respected. Today’s is one of the worst we have had in recent years – a good old fashioned blizzard.

There’s not much I can say about Atlantic Canadian winters except that winter definitely happens here, and we Canucks are pretty good at dealing with it.  Without winter we would not have the same appreciation for the other seasons, would we?

This photo – Sometimes we Canadians build carports, so that we don’t have to clean off the car and so that we don’t have to shovel off the woodpile. That worked like a charm, didn’t it?

And a few more shots from this afternoon, when I ventured out briefly to shovel my doors clear…

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The pile outside my back door…

 

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A view back at the house…

 

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Blizzing on St George Street…

 

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This sundial isn’t telling time right now…

 

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Yes, I think my Merry Grinchmas sign will be in the ground for a while yet!

TGS

Canada 150 – #15 – My father, well disguised.

Canada 150 - #15 – My father, well disguised.

Re-enactments, pageants, skits… call them what you may, but theatrical presentations have been part of our history for a very long time. And as this “photo of a photo” indicates, my father was known to play a role in some of these productions.

This photo took me on a rather convoluted path, as I had originally thought it was from a pageant at the Grist Mill (of which I have a very vague memory and you can read about in a future post). It turns out that this photo was from another event, I think at the Habitation although I am still trying to nail that down. It would have been in the sixties I think.

All I know for sure is that this photo is of Larry Bower (left) and Dad (right). There used to be a number of photos from this re-enactment hanging at the Legion, but they are no longer there. I’m sure there are folks in the community who can fill in some details for me so please comment if you remember this event!

TGS

Canada 150 – #14 – A Stormy Past on a Stormy Night.

Canada 150 - #14 – A Stormy Past on a Stormy Night.

An unanticipated result of my Canada 150 photo challenge is that I find myself digging into the past as I build context around some of my photos. Maybe that should have been predictable – I hadn’t really looked at this as a year-long history lesson but it seems to be heading that way.

So, also unpredictably, I now find myself reading about our stormy past on this stormy night – digging into Barry Moody’s book: The History of Annapolis Royal – Volume 2 – 1749-2005. I bought it in 2014 and it has been on my “should read” list ever since, but fiction always wins my vote in reading (my father was the historian in the family, not me!). Nevertheless, I picked it up this morning, opened the cover, and was immediately hooked. Our history is so rich and so interesting, and Barry’s way of writing makes it very readable as well.  Learning lots – no doubt some of this newfound knowledge will shine through as I background future Canada 150 photos.

Thanks Barry for presenting our past in such a good read! You’ll make a history student out of me yet…

TGS

 

Canada 150 – #13 – And here’s to you Mr. Robinson.

Canada 150 – #13 – And here’s to you Mr. Robinson.  (…with apologies once again to Simon & Garfunkel…)

Canada 150 - #13 - And here's to you Mr. Robinson.

In the course of remodelling the Rec Room, I have been checking out some artwork that I haven’t really noticed for some time. One of those pieces is “Sou’wester” by L. Robinson. Laurence Robinson was a teacher in Annapolis Royal, better known as “Rip” Robinson (for reasons unknown to me). He and his wife Helen lived in Annapolis Royal until their deaths in 1986 and 2009 respectively. He had retired from teaching before I hit high school, but my older siblings had him as an English teacher.

Art was a hobby for him, and Mom & Dad had several of his works. This one was has a tag on the back for Chas Dargie & Sons, a long time business in Annapolis Royal for the better part of 100 years (a research project/story for another day). From what I can gather, I believe my parents may have purchased this one as a gift for my mother’s parents, because also on the back of the frame is “Norma” in my grandmother’s handwriting – she was always known for labelling her special things so that their eventual destination would be very clear when she died.

Anyway, here’s to you Mr. Robinson for your work in immortalizing various Nova Scotian scenes through your art.

TGS

Canada 150 – #12 – Barbara’s Ball.

Canada 150 - #12 - Barbara's Ball.

I drove back from Bridgetown on the 201 the other day, and stopped to take a photo of what we always referred to as “Barbara’s Ball”. Clearly visible from either side of the river, it was always a sign that we were getting close to Bridgetown. (When you are a kid in a car, Annapolis Royal to Bridgetown seemed like an incredibly long drive so we were always excited to see Barbara’s Ball!).

Most of you will recognize this as the Britex ball, standing sentinel over what was the “Elastic Plant” in the early days, having opened in 1960 as a branch of United Elastic Limited. They made elastic for garments (as opposed to rubber bands). I remember school tours of the plant, and using donated elastic in our gym classes in elementary school – some kind of jumping activity that involved elastic… Much later, the company became Britex. Through the years they were always generous in donations – at the Gardens we still have reams of “Britex fabric” that we use as tablecloths and for decorating for special events.

At its peak, UEL/Britex employed hundreds but sadly modern trade and technology issues led to its demise and it closed in 2004. There are lots of great things about its history, as told in this article I found: http://www.ribbontothefuture.ca/blog/the-amazing-story-of-britex

The building is now abandoned and derelict, but Barbara’s Ball still stands sentinel, although certainly not the bright and shiny beacon it once was.

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Incidentally, the name “Barbara’s Ball” is attributable to my neighbour Barbara who evidently coveted the ball enough that the rest of us began referring to it as hers… Barbara’s sister Heather Foote can fill in any blanks on that end of things! Call it what you want, it is an iconic feature in the Bridgetown area.

PS – does anyone know if the tower/ball had an actual function?

TGS

Canada 150 – #11 – Of Witching and Witch Hazels…

Canada 150 - #11 - Of Witching and Witch Hazels.

Funny where a photo can take you sometimes. I started with the mindset of snagging a pretty picture, so headed out to see how the Witch Hazels were blooming. Which of course led me to consider what, if any, Canadian connection there might be. Which led me from our hybrids to the native witch hazels, which predictably (or not so much) led me to the always popular topic of water divining. Still with me?

Let me start again. Here we have a photograph of one of the Witch Hazels in the Gardens. These Hamamelis x intermedia hybrids are crosses between Japanese witch hazel (H. japonica) and Chinese witch hazel (H. mollis). Their job is to bloom in the winter, and for that alone they deserve an A+, right?

There is another Witch Hazel – H. virginiana – which is native to Nova Scotia among other places. You can see this in the woods in the more southern parts of the Province. It is rumoured that Point Pleasant Park is home to a number as well. It is a fall bloomer, rather than a winter one like the hybrids.

It also turns out that Witch Hazels were a common tree for use when witching for water, an art that has a long heritage in Nova Scotia. In fact, there are still many people who have the gift, and can find water with nothing but a Y-shaped twig, or a pair of coat hangers. It is very cool to watch… and to try!

So my quest for colour took me to an old rural tradition… and as always, I learned a couple things along the way. Oh yes, and in case you were wondering… the name Witch Hazel, they say, has nothing to do with witching/divining/dowsing for water. According to an article written by David Patriquin published in the Herald, “witch” is apparently derived from the Anglo Saxon “wych”, meaning bending or pliable (referring to the stems). “Hazel” refers to its hazel-like leaves. Actually, the article is an interesting read: http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovascotian/151896-casting-a-colourful-fall-spell-in-our-forests

The Witch Hazel shown at the top is ‘Pallida’. And below, as a bonus shot, is ‘Jelena’. What a great plant!

TGS

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