Summer Evening On the Shore

Evening Sunset, Phinney’s Cove, Nova Scotia

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

                                                       ~ Rabindranath Tagore

 

In Praise of Aislinn Hunter’s “Linger, Still”

Earlier this year, Gaspereau Press, a small press in Kentville, Nova Scotia devoted to exquisite bookmaking, released Linger, StillAislinn Hunter’s most recent poetry collection.  (Aside from the wonderful writing, I think it’s great that a brilliant writer from Vancouver is published by one of the country’s highest caliber presses, all the way on the opposite coast.)

Hunter has penned many riveting pieces in this volume, which I highly recommend. Here’s one of her standouts for me:

Esk, Part V.

The starry heads of the woodruff

are saying No to the wind,

 

though they might also be nodding along

to the song of their own great ideas.

 

Still, today it feels like

the clock of the world,

 

its ticking heart,

is less fired-up than usual.

 

The talk last night was of violence,

and the right to be offended.

 

Tonight I’ll aim for lightness

and fail —

 

forget the names

of the field flowers,

 

say the wrong things at dinner,

ghost past the dusky mirror.

 

I’ll try to talk about the girl I met

at a workshop in London,

 

the one whose brother

mounted neon signs

 

on the outside walls

of cemeteries —

 

YOU ARE STILL ALIVE one said,

in a pulsing red fluorescence.

 

YOU ARE STILL

ALIVE.

           ~ Aislinn Hunter

Halifax’s Manhole Covers

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While recently running an errand in Halifax I snapped these manhole covers as examples of subtle industrial design.  I didn’t notice as much variety among them as I’ve seen in other cities but that’s probably because I collected these so quickly.  Still, there are a few distinctive examples to see, including one that’s a square cover formed by two triangles.

Similar posts on O’Canada:

⊗ Creativity Afoot:  Toronto’s Varied Manhole Covers

⊕ Manhole Covers of Quebec City

Denny Lunn’s Buoyant Folk Art

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During a recent visit to the Low Tide Gallery in Bridgetown, N.S., I encountered the colorfully vibrant work of Denny Lunn.  He is a self-taught artist who first took up painting in his mid-70s and whose style is best described as being within the folk art tradition.

Lunn lives in the Annapolis Valley area and, like many folk artists, his subject matter reflects his community, which for him are the coastal and agricultural landscapes of Nova Scotia.  These are scenes that I suspect many Canadians are familiar with — depictions of the maritime shore, lobster and fishing boats, winter skating and hockey, and cows in pastures that joyfully capture the province’s landscape in bright colors.  For Lunn just about any available surface suffices as a canvas for his art, including fishing buoys, shovels, hand saws, paddles, milk buckets, baking tins, rocks, driftwood or any other utilitarian or natural object readily at hand, with every nook and cranny becoming filled with glorious detail.

Some of the imagery takes artistic license and doesn’t fit with the actual landscape but nevertheless conveys a consistent imaginative sensibility.   Thus, in some of Lunn’s paintings snow-covered mountain peaks hover in the background while boats sail along in summer waters.

Low Tide Gallery proprietor Steve Skafte, who is a writer, fine art photographer and genuinely nice fellow with terrific insights and is passionate about the authenticity of Lunn’s art, deserves great credit for helping bring more attention to Lunn.  Skafte created the above documentary video and this coming Sunday, July 30, his gallery will kick off a showcase of Lunn’s work.  It will be well worth visiting if you are nearby.  When Canadians think of folk artists, fellow Nova Scotian Maud Lewis frequently comes to mind (the Nova Scotia Gallery of Art has an exhibit of her work) and she was certainly one of the country’s more prominent such artists.  I believe Lunn deserves to be in her company.

More about Lunn’s work and the gallery is available on the Low Tide Gallery Facebook page.

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Steven Skafte displaying some of Denny Lunn’s works.

 

 

Happy Canada Day 150!

Quiet Morning Along the Rocky Shore, Kejimkujik Seaside, N.S.

Happy Canada Day!  

As many know, throughout 2017 Canada has been marking its 150th anniversary as a confederation.   Of course, the history of the country is much richer and extends more than twice as far into the past. More notably, in recent years Canada has truly shined as a stellar example on the world stage.  Like any country, it has its issues but it generally gets a lot of things right and that resilient effort, its vibrant culture and its wonderful people deserve immense appreciation.

Best wishes on this day and in this year and for 150 more! 

Community and the Restoration of 174-Year Old St. Croix Cove Church

Personal confession:  I fit most comfortably in the “spiritual but not religious” persuasion, and especially value the sense of human connectedness and community that touches all of us, which spiritual and religious traditions tend to foster.  With that in mind, I thought this post would be fitting for a Sunday.

About a year ago I posted some photos I snapped one late-Spring afternoon of a well-weathered but cozy church picturesquely situated on the Bay of Fundy in the rural community of St. Croix Cove, N.S.   As a modest amateur photographer I was happy to see the photos used a few months later to promote a chapel choir concert by Acadia University.  Now these images have been put to an even more appropriate use to assist with a just-launched GoFundMe campaign to restore this almost 175-year old structure.

Darla Mitchell, who grew up in the St. Croix Cove area and is one of the organizers of the restoration effort, notes on the GoFundMe site:

“Many people have come to love this little church and the surrounding communities. Countless photographers have admired its simple sturdy lines, people share memories of first communions and every Christmas multiple generations return to fill the church to sing carols, hear the Christmas story and continue the traditions of our grandparents and great grandparents. Most importantly, gathering in fellowship with each other. “
I love how this project and this enduring church represent so much about the best aspects of community connections.  Other interesting historical and architectural details about this lovely church and the restoration campaign can be found on the GoFundMe site here.

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The historic St. Croix Cove Church

 

Artist to Appreciate: Mary Garoutte

Mary Garoutte, “Sundown, Lincoln Street” (2015)

What strikes me most about Mary Garoutte’s urban landscape paintings is the way she highlights the play of light at the beginning and the end of days.  These quiet periods that brim with potential, while also evoking a mixed sense of meditative loneliness and reflection, seem to be as much the subject matter of her work as are the historic houses and store fronts of Halifax, where she is based.  Garoutte cites the Group of Seven artists and Wayne Thiebaud as among key influences on her art, which are evident in her choice of colors and the strong textural brush strokes on her canvases.  Her wonderful art also brings to mind for me the feelings of solitude conveyed by Edward Hopper in his own paintings of dwelling places during the quiet hours.

More of Garoutte’s work can be seen on her artist website here and is also available through Argyle Fine Art.

Mary Garoutte, “Yellow Door (Falkland Street)” (2013) 

Mary Garoutte, “100 Montague Street” (2015)

  

Mary Garoutte, “Dwellings (Light in the Window)” (2015)

Mary Garoutte, “Glass House” (2016)

Mary Garoutte, “Single Dweller” (2016)

Mary Garoutte, “Late Night Visit” (2016)

Mary Garoutte, “Red Bicycle, Young Street” (2014)

Mary Garoutte, “Sunset on Agricola Street” (2013) 

Similar posts on O’Canada:

—  Artist to Appreciate: Katharine Burns

—  Stewart Jones’s Vivid Cityscapes

—  Artist to Appreciate: Christopher Pratt

Patience . . . But Ready For Spring

Can Spring just come on and get here already?

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Daisies Along a Rocky Path, Near Black Rock, N.S.

“The progress of the intellect is to the clearer vision of causes, which neglects surface differences.  To the poet, the philosopher, the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all [persons] divine.”

                                                                    ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Vintage Picture Map Geography of Canada

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I recently came across a copy of an old school book, “Picture Map Geography of Canada and Alaska” by Vernon Quinn, that includes charming woodcut picture maps by Bruno da Osimo, a then noted Italian illustrator, for each of the Canadian provinces (other than Nunavut, which was then part of the Northwest Territories).  Originally published in 1944 and updated in 1954, it has a light but well-written chapter devoted to individual provinces.  Each map features animals, plants, activities and industries peculiar to the province depicted.  In addition to the maps (scanned in above and below), the book is adorned throughout with other delightful illustrations by da Osima (some of which I’ll compile in a future post).

alberta british-columbia manitoba-saskatchewan newfoundland nova-scotia-new-brunswick-pei ontario-2 quebec yukon

 

Similar Posts on O’Canada Blog:

1933 Quebec Tourist Road Map

Old Maps and Their Hidden Stories

Songs & Ballads From Nova Scotia

Artist to Appreciate: Steven Rhude

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Steven Rhude, “On the Edge”

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Nova Scotia artist Steven Rhude is most often characterized as a realist painter, akin to Alex Colville and Christopher Pratt (both also from the Maritimes).  However, Rhude’s representational style is decidedly more nuanced.  A close examination of his works reveals an underlying splatter technique that is almost pointillist (and adds wonderful texture) as well as distinct aspects of whimsy and irony, all of which might be more appropriately regarded as a kind of magical realism.  His paintings prominently feature icons of the Atlantic provinces — dories, lighthouses, fishing sheds and buoys, among others — as signifiers of place, identity, memory and loss amidst ongoing changes affecting that region of the country, particularly since the early 1990s ban on cod fishing altered a centuries-old economic equilibrium for coastal communities where living has never been especially easy.

In discussing his early artistic training, Rhude has noted that while studying at the Ontario College of Art & Design one of his instructors urged him to first equip himself with a notepad and hiking boots and get out of the studio so as to write and interview people and thereby find authentic stories and experiences upon which to ground his art.   Reading Rhude’s humane and thoughtful ruminations about art and society on the blog associated with his professional website is a great pleasure and it’s obvious from his splendid writing that he took his instructor’s advice very much to heart.  Because of his skillful artistry, Rhude’s paintings of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and other places are visually enjoyable and can be appreciated for that alone.  Even more special is that his beautiful images also convey important social commentary and add another layer of appreciation for his wonderful paintings.

You can see more of Steven Rhude’s excellent work and read some of his insightful writings on his website and blog and the related links to the galleries that represent his art.  Rhude’s book “A Place Called Away: Living and Painting in Nova Scotia” also showcases many of his paintings.

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Steven Rhude, “Towards Sibley’s Cove”

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Steven Rhude, “After the Storm”

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Steven Rhude, “Judy Takes Her Lighthouse For A Walk”

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Steven Rhude, “Expulsion,  The Final Cut”

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Steven Rhude, “Equilibrium # 3”

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Steven Rhude, “Finding Brigus Light”

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Steven Rhude, “Up On the Roof”

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Steven Rhude, “The Home Coming”

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Steven Rhude, “Lunenburg Shed in Guggenheim”

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(Image Credits: Steven Rhude)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

David Pirrie: Mapping Western Terrains and Our Sense of Place

Artist to Appreciate:  Katharine Burns

Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Pratt

Angela Carlsen’s Retro Americana Art

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Angela Carlsen, “Boulevard Drive In”

If you take creative photography, neon signs and other roadside kitsch and mix them together with a retro-pop art sensibility, for me that’s a winning formula and is the approach taken by Nova Scotia-based artist, Angela Carlsen with her artwork.   Much of her recent mixed media art focuses on bygone Americana as a result of her road trips over the last few years through the American West.   Vanishing roadside relics, such as those depicted in this sampling, comprise a significant part of both the Canadian and America car cultures, and her work serves as a fitting artistic bridge between them.

You can see more of her retro art at Carlsen’s artist site here.  She’s also represented by Argyle Fine Art in Halifax.

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Angela Carlsen, “Copper Manor Motel”

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Angela Carlsen, “Fresh Donuts”

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Angela Carlsen, “Supai Motel”

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Angela Carlsen, “Four Winds Motel”

Related posts on O’Canada:

Artist to Appreciate: Katharine Burns

Artist Appreciation: Andrew Horne

Vintage Quebec: Helen’s Motel

— Acadia Theatre’s Classic Neon Splendor!

Broke-Down Farm Equipment

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Abandoned barns, decrepit factories and broken down equipment fascinate me.  I ponder the stories behind these once highly functional things that now rest in a decaying state. As testament to the utility of the wheel, the circular form is often present in such man-made landscapes.  There’s also the mystery, mundane though it may be, about why particular discarded objects come to be abandoned in a given place and usually piled together randomly with other well-worn debris.  The unkempt farm field, the ramshackle shed off to the side of a property or the makeshift junkyard along an overgrown  path all withhold such stories.

These photos of old farm equipment are from just such a place alongside a back-country road I happened upon early one morning near Granville Ferry, N.S.

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Related Posts:

— Andrea Kastner and Rejected Things

— Scenic Northville Farm Heritage Center, Annapolis Valley, N.S.

— Old Farm Tractor Along Charlevoix / St. Lawrence Shore

Artist to Appreciate: Katharine Burns

k-burns-perfect-dayKatharine Burns, “Perfect Day”

Capturing in a painting the emotion of the coastal landscape is a tricky thing and something that Halifax-based artist, Katharine Burns, has managed to do perfectly. Inspired by the serenity of Nova Scotia’s beautiful shores (one of my favorite places!), she skillfully renders the movement of ocean waves, with varying shades of light dancing across the water’s constantly shifting surface beneath vast expanses of cloud-covered skies.  This past August, Burns had her first (of what I’m sure will many other) well-deserved solo show, this one entitled “Sea Level” and held at Argyle Fine Art in Halifax, which showcased many of her seascapes.

On her artist site she notes: “Preparing for my first solo show was one of the hardest things I’ve done.  For six months I went through periods of serious self doubt and frustration along with some moments of sudden realization and inspiration.  It was a bit of a rollercoaster for me emotionally but I learned a lot and grew as an artist.”  You have to root for that sort of spirit and candor!

In addition to Burns’ evocative seaside paintings, her other work is also terrific.  I especially like the painterly style of her series of bicycle paintings, a few of which are below.  More of her art can be seen on Burns’ artist site here.

[As an side, much like the Ian Tan Gallery on Canada’s West Coast, Argyle Fine Art on the East Coast has a stellar roster of emerging and established Canadian artists and both are among my favorite independent art galleries.  As I’ve done with some Ian Tan Gallery artists, this is the first of several posts I’ll be doing on a few artists represented by Argyle whose work deserves greater attention.]

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Katharine Burns, “Diffused Light”

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Katharine Burns, “Glisten”

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Katharine Burns, “Lawrencetown”

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Katharine Burns, “Road Racer”

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Katharine Burns, “Linus”

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Katharine Burns, “Bicycle Series 2”

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Katharine Burns, “Marginal Road”

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Related Posts on O’Canada Blog:

Lyssa Kayra’s Inspired Tree Ring Art

Intricate Pebble Paintings by Kristina Boardman

David Pirrie:  Mapping Western Terrains and Our Sense of Place

Andrea Kastner and Rejected Things

Artist to Appreciate: Richard Ahnert

The Ancient Prayers of Compline

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I’m definitely an amateur photographer at best.  So I was pleased to be asked recently to allow a photo I’d taken of a simple, well-worn pew inside an old church on the Nova Scotia shore to be used for a poster for an upcoming concert  by Acadia University’s distinguished Manning Chapel Choir.  Of course, I was more than happy to do so (and the request  made my day)!

The sunset concert of Compline, or night prayers, will be sung, appropriately, in a former old church in the small town of Harbourville on the Bay of Fundy about a week before Canada’s Thanksgiving Day.  The concert poster is above and the original blog post and series of photos that prompted the request is here.  More about the concert and the Manning Chapel Choir can be found here.

Green With Envy

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Headstones, Old Burying Ground, Halifax

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Given its immense size, Canada is blessed with vast forests, sprawling farms and sweeping fields all of green.  Adding to previous posts featuring red- and blue-themed photo galleries, this collection showcases many shades of green that I’ve encountered through my photos from coast to coast across Canada.

Joy of the Blues

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Small Fishing Boat, Near Port Rexton, Newfoundland

I love playing around with themes.  In an earlier post, I grouped together a bunch of my photos from across Canada that featured a strong element of red.  Today, I thought I’d do a similar thing with some photos that incorporate blues (of the uplifting kind).

The Atlantic Advocate – Part 1: Vintage Trade and Tourism Ads

Newfoundland Trademarks

The Atlantic Advocate was a general interest magazine published monthly from 1956 through 1992 with a focus on life, culture and business in the four Atlantic provinces — New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  While browsing through a stack of issues from the late ’50s and early ’60s, one of the things that stood out to me was the enthusiastic boosterism of many ads promoting economic development and tourism in those places.  The fact that ads of this nature are so prominent in a general interest publication is partly a testament to the economic challenges long faced by the Maritimes and an appreciation by their relatively small populations of the significant impact of industry and natural resources development on daily life in their regions.

 

Canadian Cities in 1950s Watercolors

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For Canada Day weekend, this post features images that span the geography of this vast country.  Around 1953, in a grand display of national pride, the Montreal-based alcohol and beverage giant Seagram Company commissioned over a dozen Canadian artists (including several among the famed Group of Seven) to create a series of  watercolors of major Canadian cities. The paintings were subsequently the focus of a world tour organized by Seagram to showcase Canada and its urban landscapes.

While recently rummaging through an antique shop I came across a small booklet, dating to 1953, in which these paintings were reproduced and for which this post shows a sampling of the now somewhat faded images.  While many of the provincial capitals are depicted, I find the inclusion of several less prominent cities (including Fort William, Hamilton, Sarnia, Shawinigan Falls and Trois Rivieres) to be fascinating.

St. John's

Calgary

Shawinigan Falls

Charlottetown

Halifax

Montreal

Regina

Quebec City

Saint John

Hamilton

Vancouver

Toronto

Winnipeg

Windsor

Experience Wonder

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Blossoming Peach Grove, Wolfville, N.S.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

                                                          ~ William Butler Yeats

 

Old Baptist Church, St. Croix Cove, N.S.

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Not far from the Bay of Fundy shore of the northern Annapolis Valley sits this very old and humble Baptist church.  The colored glass windows are adorned simply with a subtle yellow-hued cross motif and a few complementary colors in the other panes.  Every weathered detail of its cedar-shingle exterior and its intimate understated interior testifies to its long history and the many lives and life-stories that have been shared within.

Annapolis Royal Through Its Signs

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Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, is a charming community whose vibrancy is hinted at by the variety of colorful shop signs and other markers found along the town’s main street.  This sampling — I know I missed a few (my apologies) — suggests as much.

Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia

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Front Cover Illustration by Reginald Knowles for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Helen Creighton, a  then-budding musicologist, set about criss-crossing Nova Scotia to collect songs peculiar to the province.  In 1933 she published 150 of these songs in Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia, the first of her many song collections.

I had the good fortune recently to come across a lovely first edition of this book and have enjoyed thumbing through it, while marvelling at the laborious effort reflected in its pages.  Here may be found songs of the sea, of love and its missing, of battle, of children’s play, as well as connections to the English, Scottish, French, Acadian and Mikmaq influences on this rich local music.  The book’s front and back covers are graced with an exquisite woodcut by the noted illustrator, Reginald Knowles, and depict scenes suggestive of the songs within.

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Title Page, Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

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Homeward Bound

“Homeward Bound,” from Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

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Devil's Island Scene

Frontispiece Illustration by R. Wilcox for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

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Back Cover Illustration by Reginald Knowles for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)

Toward Day’s End at Digby Harbor

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Like P.E.I.’s fame for its mussels harvest, Digby, N.S. is widely acclaimed as a source for some of the East Coast’s best scallops.  The Harbor in Digby is a bustling place as the local fishing fleet accounts for its daily labors.   These photos are from around dusk as things were winding down a bit.

 

Come On In!: Doors of Annapolis Royal

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Annapolis Royal occupies a special place in both the far western part of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and the province’s history.  Situated on the sweeping Annapolis River, the site was originally called Habitation at Port-Royal by French settlers around 1605 and was the capital of French Acadia.  In 1710, the settlement became the first capital of Nova Scotia during British rule. The charm of this small town is typified by its wide variety of doors and entryways, many of which hint at the town’s early history and its seaside heritage.  Here’s a sampling from a recent stroll on a brisk fall day.

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Interconnectedness: Of Capstick, Breast Cancer Awareness and Calamity Jane

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Capstick, N.S. (from July 2015 Calendar, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation)

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Occasionally, we all encounter people, situations and things that help to remind us what a small, interconnected world we live in.  Yesterday, I had one of those moments when I received this very nice email about part of the property shown in this blog’s header photo of a weathered, wood-shingled barn situated on the Atlantic, which I took several years ago in Capstick, Nova Scotia, a remote and gorgeously beautiful area of Cape Breton:

“Hello Brett,

I must say, very impressed that you would travel all the way up to Capstick, Nova Scotia to take wonderful pictures of that area. Ironically, the lead picture on your O’Canada website is of our family property. Every now and again I do a Google search of images on Capstick to see what pops up and your website did appear.

The picture of the grey home in your Blog called ‘Gentle Waves Near Capstick, Nova Scotia’ is actually my Uncle Peter’s home. Unfortunately, arsonists burned down that home about 3 years ago and my cousin had to go after them in court.

Each year the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation launches a calendar to raise money called ‘Shop 4 Charity Calendar Sweepstakes’. This year the calendar highlighted a picture representing each Province and Territory in Canada.

As I sat in my home office, the 2015 calendar was up on my cork board and when I flipped to the month of July the Province of Nova Scotia was represented by a picture.

See attached picture.[Note: This is the calendar image above and is of his family’s property.  Click on it for higher resolution]

I grew up going to Capstick every summer in the 1970’s and visiting Uncle Peter and Aunt Irene Kanary in that grey home. Our home (the original home from 1914) was just above Uncle Peter’s home closer to the road but it was burned down about 10 years ago.

Our family settled in Capstick back in 1840 from Ireland during the Potato Famine. The community was basically two families, the Capsticks and the Kanary’s. Not sure why they got their name on the community. Must have been there first.

Thought you might find this little tidbit interesting about your own website.

Dave Kanary
Calgary, Alberta
Canada

What great history and connection to place.  Nice to see that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (and its photographer) also appreciate this scenery.  I asked Dave’s permission to post his email here, to which he agreed and added by way of a P.S.:

“PS: You may find this interesting as well, take a look at the history on Google for Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary). According to my relatives she is a Kanary (or Canary if you will) from our clan. Some of my own relatives spell their name with a ‘C’ as evidenced by the tombstones in the Capstick graveyard located in Bay St. Lawrence, Cape Breton (about 10 mins away from Capstick).”

Wonderful stuff!

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving Monday

Monday is Canada’s Thanksgiving Day . . .

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“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank you,” that would suffice.”

                                                                       ~Meister Eckhart

Artist to Appreciate: David Taylor

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~ Sunburst Wood Carving, by David Taylor ~

Driving along the rural back roads of the Nova Scotia shore in Kings County, I stumbled upon a classic cedar-shingled house and yard in Black Rock adorned with brightly colored wood carvings that made for an irresistible stop.   As I snapped a few photos, the property’s owner, David Taylor, amiably introduced himself and explained that the menagerie of  carved-wood creatures and other whimsical sculptures spread in every direction across the land are his creations.   He’s even affixed a pea-green sea monster carving about 100 yards (or 90 meters) offshore that sits atop the water’s surface at high tide.

Taylor is a true folk artist in the best sense of that term.  One small carving led to another and eventually Taylor found himself having devoted many years to lovingly making wood objects from locally sourced driftwood and other materials for his own enjoyment and that of others.  In addition to his many sculptures, Taylor spends time making distinctive rustic bird houses, each graced with the weathered, long-bearded face of a coastal fisherman and which he regularly sells.  His work is sufficiently appreciated that the nearby town of Canning recently festooned utility poles along its main business district with about two dozen of Taylor’s birdhouses in a wonderful public art display with local businesses adopting particular birdhouses.

Taylor regularly undertakes commissioned work and has more than a few birdhouses and other reasonably priced carvings available.  Although he doesn’t have a website, Taylor can be reached at  francesanddavidtaylor@gmail.com.

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