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2017 Year in Review: July, August and September in Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby Counties

['Onboard the tall ship Europa. Sailing from Lunenburg to Shelburne, N.S. Tri-County Vanguard/Shelburne Coast Guard reporter Amy Woolvett.']
Onboard the tall ship Europa. Sailing from Lunenburg to Shelburne, N.S. Tri-County Vanguard/Shelburne Coast Guard reporter Amy Woolvett.

A look back and events, issues and people that made the news in 2017.

JULY 2017

Part of former Domtex site in Yarmouth was being readied for demolition

A section of the former Dominion Textile building on Yarmouth’s waterfront was being stripped from the inside out in preparation for its demolition. A spokesman for the Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission said the section likely wouldn’t come down until later in the summer. The commission had put out a tender for demolition, saying it would cost less to tear it down than it would to try to repair and retrofit it. The $3-million tender – to be shared equally among the three Yarmouth-area municipal units – had gone to Dexter Construction. Fixing up the structure likely would have cost $6 or $7 million or so, said Greg Shay, the industrial commission’s acting general manager.

 

Changes were announced for Cat ferry schedule due to engine issue

The Cat ferry was running under a modified schedule because of engine trouble. In late June, a problem had occurred with the starboard outer main engine – one of The Cat’s four engines – and the ship had had to slow its normal operating speed from 33-35 knots to 28-30 knots, making its Yarmouth-Portland crossing an hour longer at six-and-a-half hours. Because the engine could not be repaired during the season, Bay Ferries had announced that The Cat would make five round trips per week until Labour Day, as opposed to the originally-planned six round trips per week in July and seven round trips per week in August. The company also said there would be “modest modifications” to The Cat’s sailing schedule in September and October.

Questions were raised over condition of Shelburne County wharves

There were differing views on the state of Shelburne County wharves. The Ingomar wharf was an example, concern having been raised about whether lobster fishermen would be able to load their traps there once the season began. An official with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, however, said an inspection of the wharf had found it to be “a lot better than what we originally thought.” Still, Shelly Hipson, the Ingomar wharf supervisor, said the area’s wharves in general had been neglected for too long, particularly given the importance of the fishing sector to local communities. Fishermen, she said, were tying up to “wharves that are crumbling.”

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with some children while greeting the public during his visit to Islands Park on July 21
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with some children while greeting the public during his visit to Islands Park on July 21

 

 

 

 

Prime minister visited Shelburne

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to southwestern Nova Scotia. After landing in Yarmouth, the PM travelled to Shelburne County, visiting the Out and About Day Camp at Islands Park. Accompanied by his wife Sophie and children Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien, the prime minister cooked smores over an open campfire, answered questions and gave plenty of high-fives.

Before departing, Trudeau thanked the day camp counsellors, recalling his own days as a counsellor, calling it “one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. It taught me about responsibility, service and leadership.

Who knows? Maybe one of your counsellors will be prime minister one day.”

 

 

Tri-county sites among those chosen for pre-primary program

Six sites within the Tri-County Regional School Board had been selected for phase one of the rollout of the province’s pre-primary program for four-year-olds. The TCRSB locations were Hillcrest Academy in Shelburne County, Weymouth Consolidated in Digby County and Carleton, Port Maitland, Drumlin and Central schools in Yarmouth County. Central School already had an early-learning program that was being transitioned into the pre-primary program. Education Minister Zach Churchill acknowledged that the province was working under an ambitious timeframe in rolling out the first phase, which was slated to take place in September.

U.S. golfer with ties to Clare made his mark at British Open

Austin Connelly, an American golfer with family ties to Clare – where he used to visit and play golf during the summer – created some excitement with his performance at the British Open in Southport, England. The 20-year-old shot a 66 in the third round and was tied with American Brooks Koepka with 18 holes to play in one of the golfing world’s four major championships. Connelly eventually finished the tournament 10 strokes behind the winner, fellow Texan Jordan Spieth, a good friend of Connelly’s. Claude Comeau, a board member at the Clare Golf and Country Club, said Connelly’s performance generated quite a buzz at the club.

 

Shelburne bid good riddance to the Farley Mowat in 2017.
Shelburne bid good riddance to the Farley Mowat in 2017.

 

 

 

‘Very big day’ for Shelburne as Farley Mowat removed

There was an early-morning celebration at the Shelburne Marine Terminal on July 26 as the Town of Shelburne bid farewell to the MV Farley Mowat. People began arriving at the wharf before 7 a.m., the anticipated departure time for the abandoned, derelict vessel.

A pirate and piper were among those on hand, along with Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall and South Shore-St. Margaret’s MP Bernadette Jordan.

“This is a very big day for the Town of Shelburne,” the mayor said. “It’s been almost three years we’ve had this albatross around our necks so finally the day has come.” Atlantic Towing had been contracted by the Canadian Coast Guard to remove the vessel, which had been deemed a pollution risk.

 

Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall (centre) walks down the wharf at the Shelburne Marine Terminal for the Town’s 7 a.m. Farewell to Farley party.
Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall (centre) walks down the wharf at the Shelburne Marine Terminal for the Town’s 7 a.m. Farewell to Farley party.
People enjoy the music at the Town of Shelburne’s Farewell to Farley party at the Shelburne Marine Terminal on July 26.
People enjoy the music at the Town of Shelburne’s Farewell to Farley party at the Shelburne Marine Terminal on July 26.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weymouth artist was pleasantly surprised by response to Canada 150 rocks

A Digby County woman’s effort to mark Canada 150 by painting Canadian flags on rocks had caught on more than he had expected, not just locally but across the country, with at least one response coming from overseas. “It’s so cool to see this really taking off the way it has,” said Angela O’Neill Whiteley, a professional artist in Weymouth. “I never expected this for a second.” After creating the Facebook group My Canada ROCKS! to follow where the rocks ended up, she heard from people across Canada. One response even came from a Canadian living in Italy. Said Whiteley, “Who knew that rocks would do it, you know?”

 

Staff helps out after duck adopts their nursery

Staff at Yarmouth’s Atlantic Superstore gave a helping hand when a duck adopted the garden centre as a nursery for her family. “She had jumped in among the flowers and made her nest,” said manager Nancy Juliano. “We looked and we couldn’t count for sure but knew there were between 10 and 12 eggs.”

The duck’s “nursery” was on a display table of plants for sale, but the staff arranged the greenery to provide her with a little more privacy and put up barrier tape.

When it was time for the ducks to leave staff set bags of soil around the bottom of the table to soften the landing. One by one the ducklings jumped off the table. The staff then escorted nine ducklings and the mom to brook across Starrs Road, stopping traffic along the way. “There were people beeping their horns and waving. It was pretty cool,” said Juliano.

 

Arts centre stakeholders meet again

A second stakeholders session was held in Yarmouth where members of the local arts community were again invited by the town to give input on the design of a new arts and culture facility. Architect Brian MacKay Lyons, hired by the town, said it was important to give people the chance to be involved in a participatory design process. The town of Yarmouth said it was moving forward with the planning process for an arts and culture facility in the downtown. The Collins Street parking lot has been identified as a preferred location. The issue of displaced parking was discussed, given that Collins Street is a busy parking lot. One thing being proposed was underground parking. “We haven’t heard a better scheme yet, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one,” said MacKay Lyons.

 

5 other things that happened in Juy

1. Singers, actors, dancers and others were being invited to showcase their talent as part of a program billed as Summer Sounds in Frost Park in Yarmouth.

2. The Black Loyalist Heritage Society held Canada 150 Journey Back to Birchtown event July 15 and 16.

3. The Municipality of Barrington was looking to commission artists for a public art project. As a part of the Paint the Town Red Canada 150 celebrations, the municipality wanted to feature 10 unique fiberglass lobster structures measuring six-and-a-half feet tall.

4. The unsolved 2016 Weymouth homicide case of Lynda Anne Comeau was added to the Rewards for Major Unsolved Crimes Program.

5. The recent closure of the thyroid clinic in Digby baffled former patients

 

AUGUST 2017

Cell service disruption had wide reach: telephones, computers and more

A cell network outage that lasted several hours took many Atlantic Canadians by surprise and its reach went beyond just cellphones or any one service provider. Landline phone service was hit-or-miss. Some areas and businesses experienced computer disruptions. Flights at airports were delayed or cancelled. Banks were affected. The list went on. The official word from Bell was that the outage had been caused by third-party construction work in which two major fibre links were cut. Telus said a cut cable was the culprit. The outage had some people wondering about 911 service. Indeed, so many of them called the emergency number to test the service that police had to remind people not to call 911 unless it was an emergency.

 

A section of Main Street was blocked off on Thursday, (Aug. 3) due to concerns about the structural stability of a century-old building.
A section of Main Street was blocked off on Thursday, (Aug. 3) due to concerns about the structural stability of a century-old building.

 

 

 

Concern over stability of building prompted closure of section of downtown Yarmouth

A block of Main Street in Yarmouth’s downtown district was closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrians over concern about the stability of a building that was more than a century old. As the barricades went up, the town said it didn’t know if the building might collapse, but it wasn’t taking any chances until it knew the extent of the problem.

At the time, Mayor Pam Mood said the town didn’t know how much risk, if any, the building posed, but she said they were being proactive until an inspection of the structure was carried out. Businesses in the affected area were told they had to stay closed until the street was deemed okay to reopen.

Said Mayor Mood, “Safety first.”

The street was re-opened days later after an engineer, hired by the building's owner. assessed the building can gave the all clear.

 

 

Police were probing suspicious fires in abandoned, rural buildings

Three early-August structure fires – two in the Clements area, another in Deep Brook – were being investigated by police. Cpl. Derek McAlpine of the RCMP explained why, saying, “The buildings were all abandoned and in rural areas. There is no natural reason a fire would start there.” The first two fires were reported in the early-morning hours of Aug. 7, the first in Clementsvale, the second in Deep Brook. The third blaze was reported three days later, on Aug. 10, at 1:50 a.m., on Fraser Road, just three kilometres from the site of the first fire of Aug. 7.

 

Loyalist reenactors march past the tall ship Europa during the welcoming ceremonies for the vessels at the Shelburne Marine Terminal on Aug. 14.
Loyalist reenactors march past the tall ship Europa during the welcoming ceremonies for the vessels at the Shelburne Marine Terminal on Aug. 14.

 

Loyalist re-enactors have a discussion while watching Fair Jeanne steam into Shelburne Harbour on a slicker.
Loyalist re-enactors have a discussion while watching Fair Jeanne steam into Shelburne Harbour on a slicker.

 

Shelburne and Digby welcomed tall ships, ‘red carpet’ treatment appreciated

Tall ships visited Shelburne and Digby and they were a hit in both areas. Darren Shupe, manager of community and economic development with the Town of Shelburne, said the many months that went into planning the event had paid off. He said he was proud of his team.

In Digby, it was a similar assessment. Said event spokesperson Saskia Geerts, “I’m happy to see so many people have come out to celebrate this occasion with us.”

Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland, her fellow organizer, said, “The weather co-operated, which was really the biggest worry we had.” Those aboard the vessels were impressed too.

During the Shelburne visit, for example, Andy Burnett-Herkes, a passenger on the ship Europa, said, “They really have rolled out the red carpet for us.”

 

 

 

 

 

Small earthquake was felt by some, described as ‘long rumbling noise’

There was a small earthquake off southwestern Nova Scotia on the morning of Friday, Aug. 25. The quake reportedly had a magnitude of 2.9 and occurred 41 kilometres northwest of Yarmouth. Some Clare residents said they heard rumbling and noticed their power flickering. “I knew I heard something odd,” said Charelle Thibault in Saulnierville. “I was studying and I heard this long rumbling noise. I actually looked out my window and said to myself ‘What the hell was that?’” Allison Bent, a seismologist with Natural Resources Earthquakes Canada, said she doubted this quake would have caused power to flicker, but she said the quake was big enough that people might have felt it. (Other recent earthquakes in the region had been reported July 1, 2015 (3.6 magnitude), June 9, 2016 (3.2) and Dec. 13, 2016 (3.0))

Roseway emergency department closures ‘not acceptable,’ mayor said

Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall said the rising number of emergency department closures at Roseway Hospital was alarming and “not acceptable.” Since July, there had been around 94 hours of closures for the Roseway Hospital ER due to physician unavailability. After a reduction in closures earlier in the year, they had gone back up during the summer because of staffing difficulties due to vacations. Fraser Mooney, spokesman for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said they had done a number of things in the past two years that had “significantly reduced the number of closures at Roseway Hospital,” but he acknowledged that the summer months remained a challenge. Mayor Mattatall was encouraging residents to contact the Department of Health and Wellness every time there was a closure. “We need to start pressuring the government and its opposition,” she said.

 

Yarmouth residents Derek Lesser and Sandy Dennis carry a petition containing more than 13,350 signatures into an Aug. 31 meeting with Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. The grassroots group Western Nova Scotia Cancer Support Network is pushing for cancer radiation services to be available at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital to serve western Nova Scotia.
Yarmouth residents Derek Lesser and Sandy Dennis carry a petition containing more than 13,350 signatures into an Aug. 31 meeting with Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. The grassroots group Western Nova Scotia Cancer Support Network is pushing for cancer radiation services to be available at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital to serve western Nova Scotia.

 

 

 

 

Request for radiation services at Yarmouth hospital was to be reviewed

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey said a review would be conducted to see if cancer radiation services could, or should, be located at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital.

Even if the review determined that such services should be available in Yarmouth, however, the minister said it would still be years away, given cost considerations, staffing requirements and other factors.

The minister made the remarks during a visit to Yarmouth, where he met with representatives of the group that had been lobbying for Yarmouth to be a site for cancer radiation services, as well as members of the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation.

Yarmouth MLA Zach Churchill, who helped facilitate the meeting, also was present. Delorey was shown a petition with 13,356 signatures supporting the cause.

 

 

 

Police were investigating blaze that gutted Yarmouth eatery

Fire gutted a Yarmouth restaurant and it didn’t take long for authorities to determine the blaze had been intentionally set. Firefighters were called to Chuck’s Diner on the Hardscratch Road at about 5:20 a.m. on Aug. 29 and found the fire fully involved when they arrived. The RCMP and the Nova Scotia Fire Marshal’s Office collected evidence at the scene that pointed to an intentional cause. (On Sept. 1, RCMP said two people had been arrested and charges were pending. Police also released a photo of a white, five-gallon jug found at the fire scene, saying it had been determined the container had been used to transport gasoline. They were asking anyone who had noticed someone filling this type of container prior to Aug. 29 to contact them.)

4 other things that happene in August:

1. Hundreds of letters were exchanged for nearly 67 years, and finally two pen pals were able to meet. Irene Hagar from East Ragged Island, Shelburne County, now 78 years old, met her pen pal Eileen Theissen of Saskatchewan.

2. A monument marking a significant period in Acadian history was formally unveiled during a recent ceremony at the Musée des Acadiens des Pubnicos. This was the 14th monument to be unveiled as part of an initiative of the Société Nationale de l’Acadie (SNA).

3. Lots of whale sightings on Brier Island were adding up to a busy season for whale-watching tour operators and spectacular shows for patrons.

4. The Town of Shelburne was working on a new project to put Shelburne on the map, literally. A website entitled www.whatwasthere.com ties historical photos to Google Maps, allowing people to tour familiar streets to see how they appeared in the past.

 

SEPTEMBER 2017

Fishermen were raising concerns about alleged illegal lobster activity

Lobster fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia were expressing concern over what they believed was commercial fishing taking place in the Aboriginal food fishery. On a couple of evenings in early September, fishermen gathered at the Lobster Rock Wharf in Yarmouth to draw attention to the matter. The RCMP kept an eye on the gatherings but there was no trouble. While fishermen acknowledged the court-upheld Aboriginal right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes, they believed sales of catches also were happening. Disagreement over what was, or wasn’t, taking place had spilled onto social media. Then, a week or so after the first of the gatherings in Yarmouth, fishermen began demonstrations at the DFO office in Digby, saying they wanted the department to step up enforcement to address illegal fishing.

 

['Some of the lobsters found discarded in the woods around the Weymouth area.']
['Some of the lobsters found discarded in the woods around the Weymouth area.']

 

 

 

Lobsters were found in Weymouth woods, DFO was investigating

What looked to be thousands of lobster carcasses were found freshly dumped in various areas in and around Weymouth. Fishermen – who were staging a demonstration at the Digby DFO office over a call for increased enforcement of illegal fishing – confirmed many of the discarded lobsters were below legal harvesting size while others were female.

David Whorley, DFO area manager for southwestern Nova Scotia, said the discovery was concerning. “We’ve been made aware and are following up with these incidents,” he said. “It’s distressing, to be frank, and we are taking this very seriously.”

 

 

 

Yarmouth held its first-ever Pride Parade on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Yarmouth held its first-ever Pride Parade on Saturday, Sept. 16.

 

 

 

Yarmouth’s first Pride Parade was deemed great success, participation ‘unreal’

Yarmouth’s Main Street was dotted with lots of colour and messages of kindness, love and acceptance as the area held its first Pride Parade. By all accounts, the parade and the festivities that followed in Coronation Park were a success.

“Oh my God, it’s awesome,” said Megan Hatfield, one of the parade’s co-organizers (along with Cas LeBlanc and Joey Benoit). “A lot of people were lining the streets ... the participation has been unreal.” Participants included individuals, groups and businesses.

It was a festive atmosphere as the parade participants made their way along the route. Many businesses also displayed pride flags to coincide with the event. There “definitely” would be another parade in 2018, Hatfield said.

 

 

Bring old ridings back, commission on effective representation for Acadians and African Nova Scotians was told

Five years after the decision of the then-NDP government to proceed with some controversial changes to provincial electoral boundaries – notably the elimination of minority ridings – a commission was holding public hearings on effective representation for Acadians and African Nova Scotians. And the message commission members heard – whether their public sessions were in Saulnierville, Tusket or Shelburne – was that people wanted their old ridings back. Marie-Claude Rioux, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia’s Acadian federation (FANE), which had challenged the boundary changes in court, said people were frustrated over having to say the same thing over and over, but commission member Kenneth Gaudet urged people not to get discouraged and to continue to participate in the process.

 

Two grand prizes were awarded in big Chase the Ace events

September saw two major Chase the Ace prizes awarded in southwestern Nova Scotia, one worth over $635,000, the other totalling more than $595,000. First it was Madonna Comeau Quilty, who picked the ace of spades Sept. 20 in the Meteghan Fire Department Chase the Ace, winning $595,390.80. Three days later, Blair Churchill was the big winner in the River Hills Golf and Country Club Chase the Ace, taking home $635,362.75. In the week prior to the Meteghan event where the grand prize was won, tickets worth $145,793 were sold. In the week leading up to the River Hills event where the big prize was won there, ticket sales totalled $293,471.

 

Island residents were upset about their health-care situation

It was a frustrated group of residents who attended a public meeting in Freeport regarding the Digby County community’s vacant nurse practitioner position. They cited what they saw as a lack of communication from the health authority and wondered why it was taking so long to post notices for the position. Freeport’s nurse practitioner had been transferred to Digby. A health authority official noted that a normal period before posting openings – due to unspecified union procedures – was four weeks. She acknowledged the authority had taken too long in this particular case. Meanwhile, some in the audience also wondered about the future of the Islands Health Centre, although they were told the health authority was committed to keeping the facility open.

DFO was promising more lobster enforcement

In the wake of demonstrations by fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia who said they wanted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to do more to address lobster poaching and commercial sales of lobsters out of season, a DFO official said there would be more enforcement and inspections. Fishermen had raised questions about the Aboriginal fishery, although they said their argument was not with the legitimate food, social and ceremonial fishery. Morley Knight, DFO assistant deputy minister, spoke on the issue during a lobster forum in Yarmouth, saying, “Just like the majority of people in the commercial side of the industry are abiding by the law, the majority of First Nations people are also abiding by the law. So we all have to be very cautious and very sensitive about that.”

Major offshore wind energy project was said to be on backburner

St. John’s-based Beothuk Energy’s proposed $4-billion offshore wind energy development off southern Nova Scotia was on the backburner, according to a spokesman for one of the project partners. The proposal would have seen a 200-kilometre undersea transmission line connect the 1,000-megawatt energy project to the Boston area. Wind turbines on gravity bases were to sit in water no deeper than 30 metres. But now, halfway through the projected schedule to get the first phase of the project up and running, a top official with Copenhagen Offshore Partners said it was “not the highest priority.” When the project had been announced, the fishing industry was looking for more details regarding its potential impact.

 

Meranda Tinkham and Tom Robicheau got married at a Yarmouth Tim Hortons on Sept. 16.
Meranda Tinkham and Tom Robicheau got married at a Yarmouth Tim Hortons on Sept. 16.

 

Single-single no more

 

What started out as a single-single at a Tim Hortons in Yarmouth on Sept. 16 didn’t finish that way. Local residents Meranda Tinkham and Tom Robicheau got married at the Tim Hortons location near Water Street.

It was here that they had their first date and Meranda works here as a baker. The couple also spends a lot of evenings hanging out with the coffee crowd here. The couple deliberately planned for a low-key, casual wedding. It was still business as usual at the Tim Hortons as the wedding took place. As the couple exchanged vows, people still lined up to purchase their coffees, lattes and honey crullers.

One customer, not knowing a wedding was going to be happening, asked some of the people who were waiting for the ceremony to begin: “Is this where the line is?” Ummm, no, not unless you’re planning on getting married, too.

 

 

 

New policy for Nova Scotia schools was meant to help improve attendance

As September was winding down, a new attendance policy for Nova Scotia schools was slated to take effect Oct. 1. A quarter of students in the province were missing 16 days or more of school in a year, said Zach Churchill, Nova Scotia’s minister of education and early childhood development. The new policy, he said, was “intended to help improve student attendance through a balance of supports, incentives and consequences, without adding to the workload of teachers.” The policy was based on advice from the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions.

 

READ OUR FULL 2017 YEAR OF REVIIEWS:

JANUARY, FEBRUARY AND MARCH

APRIL, MAY AND JUNE

JULY, AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER. NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER

 

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