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
Evening Sunset, Phinney’s Cove, Nova Scotia
Earlier this year, Gaspereau Press, a small press in Kentville, Nova Scotia devoted to exquisite bookmaking, released Linger, Still, Aislinn 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
~ Aislinn Hunter
Blossoming Peach Grove, Wolfville, N.S.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
~ William Butler Yeats
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.
Moose River, Clementsport, N.S.
Pathway Near the Earthworks, Fort Anne, Annapolis Royal, N.S.
Hillside Cannon, Fort Anne, Annapolis Royal, N.S.
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.
Title Page, Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)
“Homeward Bound,” from Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)
Frontispiece Illustration by R. Wilcox for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)
Back Cover Illustration by Reginald Knowles for Helen Creighton, Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia (1933)
Kejimkujik Seaside, near Liverpool, N.S., is wonderfully peaceful along the north Atlantic coast, a perfect place for quiet reflection and a sun-soaked nap upon its massive granite rocks.
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.
Capstick, N.S. (from July 2015 Calendar, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation)
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:
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.
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).”
~ 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 email@example.com.
Walking along a backroad trail in Harbourville, Nova Scotia near the Bay of Fundy shore these small flowers hugging the ground caught my attention. While their more commonly known and larger floral cousins (such as roses, tulips, lilies and the like) may receive more attention, the abundance of these tinier, prosaic blooms poking their vibrant colors through rocky terrain and from under scattered logs provides a perfect backdrop for a hike close to the water on a lazy summer day.
I like vintage signs a great deal, especially classic neon displays that have been well preserved. These shots taken yesterday show The Acadia Theatre in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, which is graced with a magnificent masterpiece of neon and signage art above its entryway. The triangular sign juts out from the building’s facade with “ACADIA” in bright yellow on two sides and white and yellow neon accent lines all around and a bold neon yellow star encircled atop the front.
Built in 1911, this Annapolis Valley theatre has been through several incarnations and now houses a cinema and stage for community theatre (the Al Whittle Theatre), a film society (the FundyFilm Society), a local coffee shop / cafe (Just Us!) and an art gallery (Jack’s Gallery). More info can be obtained at the Acadia’s site here.
Some other posts about signs on O’Canada:
Brian Deignan, “House with View, Nova Scotia”
Because it is so unusual, the work of a highly-skilled photographic artist who intentionally seeks to blur his images stands out to me. Such are the mysterious images produced by Brian Deignan, a Toronto-area fine art photographer originally from Montreal and who also has lived in several parts of the U.S. Unlike typical bokeh photographs — where the subject is in focus against a blurred background — Deignan’s entire subject is out of focus. The resulting impressionistic images resemble paintings and conjure up deeper thoughts that often elude sharply focused photographs. Deignan hints at this with the following observation from his portfolio website: “People, places, things are what I photograph; memory, imagination, wonder are how.” Very nicely stated!
See more of Deignan’s images at his site here.
Brian Deignan, “Crosswalk #28” (High Noon in Mississauga)
Brian Deignan, “Winter Wonderland #10”
Brian Deignan, “School Bus, Route 332 — Nova Scotia”
Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #25”
Brian Deignan, “Sunday Drive #20”
Brian Deignan, “Friday Night — Queen Near Spadina”
(Image Credits: Brian Deignan)
Richard Thomas Davis, “65 Volvo” (2012-13)
I truly love so many styles of art, but photo-like realism in painting is a style that often leaves me speechless by the skill and patience required of the artist to achieve such exceptional detail and still add that extra emotional touch to a scene that painting brings to the table. I recently came upon the work of Richard Thomas Davis, an American born artist who is now a Canadian citizen living in Nova Scotia. Davis’s choice of subject matter is terrific and captures bits and pieces of life in small town Canada. I particularly like that while his images are nicely composed and perfectly rendered many of them incorporate elements of wear and tear and slight decay, each suggesting the passage and ravages of time and the living of life.
“Storm Doors” (2010-11)
“Red Dot” (1995)
“Cold Front” (1974-76)
Similar posts on O’Canada:
Cumberland County Soldiers Memorial, Amherst, N.S.
What a sad and tumultuous past week it’s been for Canada. South of our shared border our hearts go out in sorrow and sympathy to the country and the families of slain Canadian Forces members Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. May they rest in peace.
(I had been saving this image to post on Remembrance Day, but now seems as fitting.)
“Make each step with intention and surrender and you will move forward on your path. Be kind to others. Honor the mystery and wonder that surrounds us at every moment.” ~ Nicola Barsaleau*
(*Nicola Barsaleau is a talented artist I recently met at an art fair who makes exquisite linocut prints, several of which incorporate wonderfully inspiring words of wisdom such as the above and can be seen on her site here.)
Base of Gravestone of Susan Wilcox (1834-1918), “Mother”
The sorrows of motherhood and the difficulty of raising children safely to adulthood more than a century ago were poignantly brought to mind by a grouping of gravestones I happened upon last Fall in the cemetery of the old Pembroke Chapel (originally Methodist and later a United Church) in Pembroke, Nova Scotia.
Situated beside the gravestones for Susan Wilcox (1834-1918) — prominently marked “Mother” — and her husband, Nathan (1827 -1899), are markers for five of their children, each of whom predeceased their parents: Cyrus, who it’s noted “Drowned At Sea”, aged 27 years, 1887; Norman F., aged 2 yrs. 7 mos., 1861; Annie E., aged 13 mos., 1871; Frederick W., aged 1 yr., 1873; and Cora M., aged 1 day, 1877.
My curiosity prompted a search of old genealogical records here, which revealed that Susan and Nathan Wilcox had a total of 11 children (born between 1859 to 1880) — quite a brood! Families were larger then partly because additional helping hands were needed and life was understood to be more precarious. To lose a child is an unbearable thought for any parent and to have five leave this world before either parent sounds utterly tragic. Even though they had six children that survived them and considering that many things about life being very tough may have been taken in stride back then, I imagine that this mother and father must have endured an immense measure of grief.
Thus, this homage to motherhood and Mother’s Day and a reminder to be thankful for family, friends and other loved ones, as well as to treasure each of our precious days (on Mother’s Day and beyond).
Gravestones for Nathan and Susan Wilcox Family, Pembroke, Nova Scotia
Markers of Norman F., Annie E., Frederick W. and Cora M. Wilcox
Markers of Cyrus Wilcox and his mother, Susan Wilcox
Old Pembroke Chapel, Pembroke, Nova Scotia
Similar posts on O’Canada:
Brightly Colored Colorful Dories, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
Atlantic Canada’s many docks in all shapes and sizes connect its people to the sea for work and recreation. There’s also lots of stuff to see while sitting for a spell alongside these bustling docks, a small sense of which can be gleaned in these photos from several relaxing trips to Nova Scotia.
Lobster Crates, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
While thumbing through a large group of vintage Canadian postcards at a local antique shop a half-dozen or so among the thousand-plus cards stood out because each featured a highly stylized moonlight view of their subjects, giving each card a dark and moody feel. Most were from about 1906 to 1908, with one as late as 1919, and all but one were marked as being printed by Valentine & Sons, a noted Scottish postcard publisher of the time with offices in Toronto and Montreal. A little online research revealed that the cards were collotype photographs taken in daylight with a full moon, clouds and lighting effects layered on top, after which the images were hand-tinted.
Similar posts on O’Canada:
Tiller Wheels, Northville Farm Heritage Center, Northville, N.S.
With its fertile plain shielded from the Bay of Fundy by a low-lying but extensive mountain range, the Annapolis Valley has long been the farming center of Nova Scotia. Because of this, there are several places devoted to preserving and sharing that heritage. Although the Ross Farm Museum in New Ross, N.S., probably gets more attention (and about which I’ll post at another time), the Northville Farm Heritage Center in Northville, N.S. (close to Centreville, N.S.), which we came across while on a meandering late Fall drive through the Valley, has a wonderful display of old farm tractors, machinery and other implements situated in an especially scenic area of the Valley. It’s worth making the effort to find!
Trusty Rusty Tractor, Northville Farm Heritage Center, N.S.
Massey Harris Tractor, Northville Farm Heritage Center, N.S.
Some Other Farm-Related Posts on O’Canada: