By The Canadian Press - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Survivors of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St….
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Survivors of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, N.L. have reached a settlement with the Christian Brothers of Ireland worth more than $16.5 million.
The settlement with the Catholic religious order includes cash plus other assets that must still be approved in court.
Lawyer Geoff Budden represents 90 survivors from Newfoundland out of a total of 422 North American claimants.
He says the money will be distributed according to a court-ordered formula.
Budden says the settlement was reached by a committee of creditors that has worked with the Christian Brothers since its companies sought bankruptcy protection in the U.S.
The Christian Brothers operated schools in the U.S. and the orphanage in St. John’s where several former staff were convicted of sex crimes.
The orphanage was shut down in 1990 but several lawsuits are ongoing, including against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s.
Budden says news of the settlement is the biggest development in a 13-year legal battle.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 8:35 PM - 0 Comments
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Federal Conservative candidate Peter Penashue accused his Liberal challenger of…
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Federal Conservative candidate Peter Penashue accused his Liberal challenger of inappropriately spending public money during a debate in the byelection for the riding of Labrador.
Penashue alleged during the debate in Happy Valley-Goose Bay that he recently found out that Yvonne Jones was double dipping and her salary had to be garnisheed as a result.
Jones said Penashue’s allegation was a lie, adding that her salary was never garnisheed, and she challenged him to prove his accusation.
A spokesman for Penashue, who did not specify the nature of the alleged double dipping during the debate, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The May 13 byelection was called after Penashue resigned over 28 illegal election contributions.
NDP candidate Harry Borlase is also running.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 5:09 PM - 0 Comments
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Speaker of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature apologized Tuesday…
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Speaker of the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature apologized Tuesday for concluding that an NDP politician was in contempt for being a member of a Facebook group where someone else posted an allegedly threatening comment against Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
Ross Wiseman said he was sorry after ejecting Gerry Rogers from the legislature last week.
“Since making this ruling, I have become aware of considerably more information regarding the complexities and the nuances of this new, evolving social media and its use,” Wiseman said.
“My finding of contempt in this situation was erroneous. I offer my own apology to the member for St. John’s Centre.”
By Edward Riche - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Neither surf nor turf, seal challenges expectations of taste, but feeds a culture
My family has been involved in sealing for more than five generations. Few of us were actual “swilers,” hunters risking the ice floes to harvest animals. We are instead devoted eaters of seal, phocid gourmets. In the Riches’ love affair with seal cookery my great-grandmother, whom I never met, stands out for her passion. A formidable woman with a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill, she was the go-to midwife in the east end of “Sin Jahns” at the turn of the last century. Uncles told how, when the sealing vessels returned to St. John’s she would dispatch a grandchild to purchase the first, dearest flippers brought ashore. She would sample the flesh the moment it came in the door, blood running down her chin. Great Grandmother was, after a hard winter, likely suffering from a vitamin or mineral deficiency that compelled her to such behaviour.
My wife is from Nova Scotia; some of her ancestors are Palatinate Germans, and she is not a fan. My theory is that one cannot, later in life, make seals’ distinctly fishy taste jibe with its intense—the red of the flesh veers to black—meatiness. The common murre, the migratory sea bird known here as turr, is another delicacy that challenges this expectation of taste. With a diet consisting primarily of capelin, their flesh takes on a piscine attribute. To the tongue, turr is neither fish nor fowl, seal neither surf nor turf, but rather both at once.
When I was a boy, the meat was purchased from sealers off the large vessels at the harbour apron. That seal [was] “seasoned” during the return to port, the blubber coming to possess a funky rancidity. These days the boats involved in the much smaller hunt possess such sophisticated refrigeration that the raw meat has a delicate scent. While the smell of seal cooking is distinctive, it doesn’t linger in the house like it used to. The white-coats, the dew-eyed “baby seals” that attracted so much misplaced pity, and drew the outraged likes of Brigitte Bardot to our shores, are no longer taken. The meat now comes from the older, less camera-ready Raggedy Jacks. I buy mine at one of two local seafood shops or at Belbin’s, a grocery in the east end. It’s sold on Styrofoam trays wrapped in cellophane.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
“I attained and pushed for managed to get $85 million for the road, on the Trans-Labrador Highway. I will tell you this. If I was not there, that road, that money would not be spent there. The money would be spent somewhere else,” Penashue said. “I will tell you a secret. I did not sign the approvals in Newfoundland until I had my $85 million for the road in Labrador, and I held their project for six months,” Penashue told a cheering crowd.
Alas, his campaign manager and the Conservative party weren’t willing to explain which project he held for ransom.
Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderale is unimpressed.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale says if Peter Penashue had been a member of her cabinet, he would be ejected for comments this week in which he boasted about holding up a project in Newfoundland to help his own constituents in Labrador … Dunderdale said Penashue was supposed to have represented all of Newfoundland and Labrador, and not just his own riding. “You’re not just a minister for a certain region of the province. You’re a minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, and you have to represent all of our interests fairly,” she said.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 1:05 PM - 0 Comments
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Transportation Safety Board says communication and teamwork failed when…
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The Transportation Safety Board says communication and teamwork failed when a supply vessel hit a drill rig off Newfoundland.
There were no injuries or pollution when the supply ship Maersk Detector hit one of eight steel columns on the GSF Grand Banks on Nov. 24, 2011.
The board says vessel workers continued loading cargo from the rig despite a high risk of collision because of poor communication between the ship’s bridge officers, and between the vessel and the rig.
“The investigation found that the relevant weather information was not provided proactively to the bridge officers, so they were unaware that the weather limits for the operation had been reached,” the report concludes.
Updates about heavy seas that could potentially swell over nine metres weren’t relayed to them, it says.
The board says bridge officers didn’t work as a team, and didn’t thoroughly use electronic data to keep a safe distance from the rig.
“The master gave priority to his visual assessment of distance and position over the dynamic positioning (DP) system’s alarms and warnings, which were indicating that the vessel was not maintaining its position well.”
The report says the ship operator and Husky Oil Ltd. (TSX:HSE), operator of the White Rose oilfield, have made changes to lower the risk of a similar strike.
They include resource management training for all bridge officers on the Maersk Detector, and stop-work triggers to respond to emergencies and warnings.
Husky has ensured all vessels operating on its behalf have access to continuous weather updates including sea heights, says the report. The company also put in place yearly assessments for dynamic positioning competence and training requirements for vessel staff to be completed by a third party.
Transport Canada has recommended changes to the Marine Personnel Regulations that oversee how bridge staff are trained.
The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which regulates the oil sector, has requested an update of the Marine Operations Manual along with emergency response plans for the GSF Grand Banks.
A spokeswoman for Husky Oil declined an interview request, saying the report speaks for itself. Officials with Maersk did not respond to a request for comment.
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:50 PM - 0 Comments
Supreme Court to hear case of Newfoundland man convicted of drowning his twin daughters
If you follow the crime news, you’re probably familiar with so-called “Mr. Big” operations, in which undercover cops lure a suspect into a phony criminal organization, then get the unwitting naïf to confess to past crimes by demanding he establish his bad-guy bona fides.
The RCMP have become uncommonly fond of these charades despite complaints they amount to entrapment. Now their legality is about to be put to the test: the Supreme Court announced today it will hear the case of Nelson Lloyd Hart, a Newfoundland man who confessed during a Mr. Big sting to drowning his twin three-year-old daughters, Karen and Krista.
The winding and tragic Hart saga was told in magnificent detail by my colleague Nick Köhler back in 2006, and highlights the problems with this method. Hart had a Grade 5 education, a gambling problem and was on social assistance at the time his girls died in Gander Lake. He told police at the time he’d had an epileptic seizure that day—that he didn’t know how the girls ended up in the water.
By The Canadian Press - Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 6:45 AM - 0 Comments
HAWKES BAY, N.L. – RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador say they have recovered the…
HAWKES BAY, N.L. – RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador say they have recovered the body of a wildlife officer who plunged through ice while on patrol on the Northern Peninsula on Thursday.
Police say the man’s body was found by a police dive team shortly before 5 p.m. Friday.
The body was taken to a medical facility in Port Saunders, although police say no autopsy is planned.
Police say three officers were riding snowmobiles on ice south of Hawke’s Bay when the accident happened.
Two of the officers managed to crawl to safety, but were unable to locate the third officer.
Justice Minister Darin King offered his condolences to the family, saying he was deeply saddened to hear of the death.
“He was one of our longest serving officers with the fish and wildlife division on the Northern Peninsula,” he said. “He will be dearly missed.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 2:38 PM - 0 Comments
Continuing with our survey of provincial policies, a response from the government of Newfoundland.
In 2011, the government released Charting Our Course: Climate Change Action Plan 2011 setting out the government’s strategy for reducing GHG emissions and enhancing resilience to unavoidable climate impacts. The Plan contains 75 economy-wide commitments. In the Plan, government reiterated its commitment on a provincial basis to the regional targets adopted by the Forum of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in 2001, namely, reducing provincial GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, by 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and by 75-85% below 2001 levels by 2050.
In view of the share of GHG emissions coming from the large industrial sector (51% in 2010), government stated in its 2011 Climate Change Action Plan that it would require the large industrial sector to contribute to GHG reduction efforts going forward. The sector encompasses electricity generation, mining, oil refining, offshore oil and large-scale manufacturing. In Plan, government committed to develop, and publicly release in 2012, a detailed approach to reducing GHG emissions in the sector. Government recognized the importance of ensuring any approach was both environmentally progressive and economically prudent.
Government has established good working relations with the companies in the large industrial sector, leading three rounds of bilateral consultations, engaging companies in technical work to assess GHG abatement opportunities and competitiveness considerations, and maintaining an ad hoc dialogue with companies on key issues as they arise. Government has discussed three main approaches to reducing GHG emissions with the industrial companies: regulation with market based alternative compliance (conceptually similar to Alberta and Saskatchewan), emissions trading (Western Climate Initiative), and carbon taxes. In early 2013, government will finalize which of these three approaches it will pursue. This timeline is a few weeks behind the public commitment to release its approach in 2012, however the issue is quite complex and government wished to ensure that a comprehensive assessment was completed.
By Brian Bethune - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:14 AM - 0 Comments
When the Second World War ended, the future of Newfoundland was not only an…
When the Second World War ended, the future of Newfoundland was not only an issue for its people, it was also a matter of considerable significance for the victorious English-speaking nations at the heart of what would be called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Newfoundland, in the British phrase, had had a very good war, taking a front-row place in the crucial Battle of the Atlantic, hosting large numbers of Allied (particularly American) servicemen and economically emerging out of the Great Depression that had seen it lose its self-rule in 1933 and become again a colony governed directly from London.
Now, a broke Britain wanted out of what it saw as a burden. Canada wanted—in its lukewarm, Mackenzie King way—to complete its 80-year-old Atlantic-to-Pacific dream and, more determinedly, to prevent outright American control of Newfoundland. And the U.S. was amenable, as long as American air bases there—as important in the nascent Cold War as they were against the Nazis—were untroubled. As far as the larger nations were concerned, then, a deal practically made itself. Trouble is, as Malone—an actor and political activist best known for the Codco TV series—points out, not only did no one really ask the Newfoundlanders what they wanted, no one wanted to take the democratic gamble of giving them a fair chance to decide. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 2, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
NDP MP Ryan Cleary collided with a moose while driving in Newfoundland last weekend.
I had only a single thought just before striking a moose on the western edge of Terra Nova National Park Sunday evening — if it goes through the windshield, I’m dead. I didn’t see the moose until it was immediately in front of me, meters away.
It was as if my brain took a snapshot of the second before impact: I took in with absolute clarity how the moose didn’t have antlers; how the animal was almost as dark as the highway itself; and how it had a huge belly. “Moose must be eating well these days,” I thought.
By Mika Rekai - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 10:12 AM - 0 Comments
The mayor of Clarke’s Beach, Nfld., is on the Rock and in a hard place
Toronto’s city council is polarized. Montreal’s is engulfed in corruption allegations. But neither metropolis can call itself the most dysfunctional municipal government in Canada. Not compared to the tiny town of Clarke’s Beach, Nfld., population 1,300.
Located on Conception Bay, about an hour west of St. John’s, the seaside village is described by residents and tourists alike as tranquil and scenic. The town’s official website promotes Clarke’s Beach as a favourite destination for artists and retirees. This serene picture, however, belies a rancorous feud within the municipal government that has put the community’s popular mayor, Betty Moore, on a collision course with the majority of the town’s councillors. With wild accusations flying from both sides—that the mayor is a dictator, or that councillors are staging a coup—the council recently took the extraordinary step of stripping Clarke’s Beach residents of the power to directly pick their own mayor in future elections.
Since being elected as the town’s ﬁrst female mayor in 2005, and then re-elected in 2009, Moore’s relations with most of her six long-time councillors have grown increasingly strained. She says she ran for office because she felt the direction of the town had stagnated. “We didn’t seem to have much activity, we didn’t seem to have much progress,” she says. On the other hand, Deputy Mayor Kevin Hussey accuses the mayor of running roughshod over council’s wishes. “Betty Moore is operating a dictatorship,” he says. “She doesn’t take direction.” Things came to a head in August when Hussey called an emergency meeting to approve a large land purchase on a civic holiday. The councillors voted to buy a stretch of waterfront property for $40,000. Mayor Moore, who was at a scheduled community event at the time, says she was not told of the meeting and that the deal was hastily done. Hussey, meanwhile, says the mayor was told of the meeting and chose not to come. Whatever the case, at a public meeting several days later Hussey brought forward a motion to scrap the town’s two-ballot system, under which residents are given the chance to vote directly for the position of mayor. Instead, they voted to go back to a system used prior to 2005, which gives councillors the power to choose the mayor from their own ranks. According to Robert Keenan, an official with Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, an umbrella organization representing cities and towns, communities that use this type of electoral system have traditionally given the role of mayor to the councillor who garners the most votes. But, perhaps ominously for Moore, Clarke’s Beach councillor Roland Andrews says that rule is “not cast in stone.”
A municipal election is scheduled for next year. The ongoing rift between the mayor and her councillors has sparked an outcry from Clarke’s Beach citizens, most of whom describe their council as “totally dysfunctional.” Whereas most small towns on Conception Bay generally attract just a couple of citizens to town council meetings, residents of Clarke’s Beach have been showing up to meetings by the dozens and have peppered the local newspaper with angry letters. “I am of the opinion that the town council of Clarke’s Beach couldn’t organize a Sunday school picnic,” says long-time resident and RV-park owner Ernie Mugford. The mayor, he says, “is just being buffaloed.” Adds Wallace Reid, a retired businessman, “three or four people have got together and they want to run the whole show.” For his part, Hussey says comments posted on the newspaper’s website criticizing the council’s move were written by the mayor’s “plants.”
Moore remains guarded in her choice of words regarding her battle with her fellow councillors. “I’ve felt for a long time that [council] doesn’t want me to be the leader and be mayor, but I’m just getting that from council, not the community,” she says. Even so, she’s in the process of rounding up supporters to run as new candidates next year. And that, she believes, could finally give her the edge over her political foes.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM - 0 Comments
Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms never misses an opportunity to promote his province’s proud…
Newfoundland Liberal MP Scott Simms never misses an opportunity to promote his province’s proud puffin heritage. When he found out a Liberal staffer likes to collect all things puffin, he got the staffer a T-shirt that says “Angry Puffin” from the Auk Island Winery in Twillingate. The winery produces his favourite wine: The Funky Puffin.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 5, 2012 at 4:27 PM - 0 Comments
Gerry Ritz faced another 18 questions in the House this morning. And that was before a case of E.coli in Newfoundland was linked to XL Foods.
At our new infographics blog, Amanda Shendruk puts this recall in perspective.
By Mark Richardson - Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 1:56 PM - 0 Comments
Victoria, British Columbia – Day 57
Trans-Canada distance: 7,370 km
Trans-Canada adjusted distance (including …
Victoria, British Columbia – Day 57
Trans-Canada distance: 7,370 km
Trans-Canada adjusted distance (including ferries): 7,605 km
Actual distance driven: 15,245 km
NOW: (Victoria) Tristan and I drove the final hour right through to the very end of the highway this morning – or is that the very beginning?
The sign says “Mile 0” and as journalist Walter Stewart wrote in 1965, “the Trans-Canada Highway (is) the world’s only national roadway that has two beginnings and no end. You start from Mile 0 on Water Street in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland, drive 7,714 kilometres, and finish up in Beacon Hill in downtown Victoria, where the sign reads – guess what? – Mile 0. Neither city wanted to be at the tail of the procession, so we made a road with two heads and no foot. Very Canadian, very sensible.”
That was close to 50 years ago and much has changed since. The road no longer starts in Newfoundland in downtown St. John’s – as I discovered on the first day of this journey, it starts at the dump – and the distance is now more than a hundred kilometres less, including the salt-water distance covered by the ferries that connect Newfoundland and Vancouver Island to the mainland.
While the eastern end of the highway is purely practical, because Newfoundlanders generally consider it to be the road across their province rather than the road across Canada, the B.C. terminus is still graceful and beautiful, once it’s finished pressing through Victoria’s congested downtown. The Trans-Canada ends at Beacon Hill Park and today there was a young deer grazing under the trees near the sign. It seemed a world away from the moose I was warned about constantly back East.
It’s also no longer a challenge to drive; anyone with a licence and a vehicle can do it. Rush along and it can be covered in a week, though those are long days filled with driving and not much fun. But slow it down and everything changes – the highway becomes a necklace across the country, linking the Canadian provinces and their people to each other in a tangible, physical, highly visible way. There’s still a romance to be found on the road if you want to look for it: it’s right there beneath your feet, under your tires, waiting to show you Canada.
THEN: (Victoria) The Malahat Highway, which goes over the mountain just north of Victoria, was completed in 1912.
Thomas Wilby and Jack Haney drove it to arrive at the provincial capital on Oct. 18 that year, 53 days after leaving Halifax, and I’m sure the end could not come too soon for the pair. They’d grown to despise each other. For an account of the journey, take a look at my story in Maclean’s magazine here.
They went straight to the provincial capital building beside the harbour to deliver various pieces of mail to the mayor that dignitaries had given them along the way, and then to the coast to pour their remaining bottle of Atlantic water into the Pacific. That night, as in Vancouver, they were feted as heroes – or at least Wilby was. Dinner was at the Pacific Club and Albert Todd – of the Todd Medal – spoke, then the deputy minister of public works, and then Wilby.
In his book A Motor Tour Through Canada, Wilby says that “It was after the car had been stripped of the appurtenances of travel – after the speeches of the banquet at the Pacific Club – that I strolled out under the stars to the Douglas obelisk in the Parliament Grounds… Sir James Douglas, who had pre-visioned the day when vehicles would make the crossing of the Canadas to the Pacific! Linking east with west – a trail from Hope to the Kootenay across the Rockies, meeting at Edmonton a similar road built westward from the Atlantic – a great highway should cross the continent by which emigrants from the maritime provinces might have easy access to British Columbia. As in the days of Sir James Douglas, so now Canada needs the Transcontinental Highway for the unification of her peoples.”
It was not that simple, though. Wilby and Haney left separately to return east on separate trains and never spoke to each other again. Indeed, Haney rarely spoke of the adventure at all. And it would take another 50 years before the Trans-Canada Highway would be declared open, and another decade after that before it could really be considered finished.
And it’s still not finished, though it is complete. It will never be truly finished, because it’s improved, widened, straightened, smoothed over with every year that passes. In another hundred years, who knows what the Trans-Canada will look like, or what route it will take? But it will be there, linking the provinces, lending its iconic route to the country, never to be taken away.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: (Victoria) Louise Rouseau lives at Mile 0 House, right opposite the famous sign in Beacon Hill Park. Her cousin owns the building and she visited in 1961 on her honeymoon, the year before the TCH was opened officially. Is there anything different about living right at the end of the Trans-Canada Highway?
“Oh yes,” she says, “there most definitely is. You see a lot of stuff here – some sad, some good. One guy drove off the end of the road, down the cliff. He was trying to kill himself. It didn’t work though and he walked back up on the steps.
“People come to see the Terry Fox statue. Many tour buses stop here, but I don’t know if they know that it’s the end of the Trans-Canada. I tell them if they ask. Sometimes, when I’m out with my grand-daughter, we get swarmed by a tour bus. We get our photo taken – a lot.”
SOMETHING FROM TRISTAN, 12: (Victoria) Today will be my last and final day of blogging and I am happy about it because I will no longer have to stay up late writing it. Now I can stay up late watching TV.
We had tea at The Empress hotel today and everything in there was so fancy. I was so afraid to do something wrong, but I got through it without doing anything wrong, I think.
So as I said earlier this is my last day of blogging, so I would like to wish all of the people who read my blog a farewell. Goodbye to all.
By Mark Richardson - Friday, June 8, 2012 at 8:48 AM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada distance: 921 km
Actual distance driven: 1,224 km
THEN:… Lloyd Adams is “on
Trans-Canada distance: 921 km
Actual distance driven: 1,224 km
THEN: Lloyd Adams is “on the light side of 77,” and when I meet him, he and Audrey are celebrating their 48th wedding anniversary. But before they married, Lloyd spent years in the bush, surveying the future Trans-Canada Highway across Newfoundland.
“I got the job straight from school and stayed for 13, 14 years,” he says. “I learned everything on the job. Started as an engineer’s assistant, holding the tape, then worked my way up to using the instruments and plotting the road. We took it for granted back then and it was just a job, dealing with the blackflies, drinking water out of a boghole.”
He pauses, and then he says: “We didn’t realize it at the time, but we really were pioneers.”
There was no complete road across Newfoundland when he began in the mid-’50s. From Clarenville to Gambo, cars had to be carried by train, on the rail-car ferry. Lloyd would trek into the bush with a team of half-a-dozen surveyors for weeks at a time, hauling their own supplies and building their own camps. When they’d surveyed five kilometres of potential road, they’d pull up the camp and move it the five km to the start of the next leg, and begin again.
At least they had their own cook, and he didn’t have to do the heavy work – the clearing of the survey lines was done by another team of six men, equipped only with axes.
“It was tough land to work on,” he remembers. “You’d get to a pond and the construction crew would have to drain it and fill it all in, or to a rock and have to blow through it. These days, you don’t even notice when you’re speeding past.”
He pauses again, and then: “Now we have a four-lane highway and it only takes 45 minutes to get to Wal-Mart. I guess that’s progress.”
NOW: There are two words that describe today: Moose, and monsoon. Not enough of one and too much of the other.
You want to know what I think of moose, and the province’s attempts to prevent cars colliding into them? Watch this video.
And as for the rain, the drive from Grand Falls was just a slog along a soaking wet, spray-filled road. Any scenery worth seeing was hidden behind a wall of water, or of cloud, until I got to the west coast. The Trans-Canada Highway here is a slippery road, too: more often than not, there were two channels of rain water where the asphalt has been depressed into shallow tracks by years of vehicles driving the same point in the lane.
Where there was standing water, which was frequent, the wide and sporty tires of the Camaro slid from side to side, jerking the car. Wider tires mean there’s less weight concentrated on the same area of rubber than regular tires, which does not make for a relaxing drive. I don’t really want to be calling the CAA for a tow truck out of the ditch in my first week on the road – give me moose any day.
SOMETHING INTERESTING… How do you market the unmarketable? Somebody at Gale’s Septic Pumping north of Port aux Basques found a way.
With a captive audience driving past all day long, these 1,000-gallon septic tanks are lined up beside the road to greet drivers.
And no, I didn’t check if they were empty.
By Mark Richardson - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 10:35 PM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada distance: 441 km
Actual distance driven: 712 km
THEN:… When Premier Joey Smallwood
Trans-Canada distance: 441 km
Actual distance driven: 712 km
THEN: When Premier Joey Smallwood drove west from St. John’s in 1965 to greet Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who was driving east from Port aux Basques, they met just outside town here at the halfway point of the fully paved Trans-Canada Highway. In doing so, the TCH was declared complete across Newfoundland. “We finished this drive in ’65,” declared the signs and posters. “Thanks to Mr. Pearson.”
As I recounted in yesterday’s blog, Pearson agreed to pay 90 per cent of the cost of the road’s construction in order to get it finished while he was in office, and the province set to with vigor while Smallwood knew the funds were available. In appreciation, a monument was erected at the halfway point – a rock pillar roughly 25 metres high – and it was named “Pearson’s Peak” to commemorate the federal generosity.
But there’s nothing there now. Nobody here is quite sure what became of it. Long-time residents recall that it fell into disrepair after the two back-slapping Liberals left office; it became unsafe, with pieces of rock sometimes falling from it near the cars that were parked by amorous couples. There was nothing else to do there, after all – no picnic area or green space, just a circle of asphalt surrounded by bush with a pillar in the middle, about 100 metres up from the road.
The province chose the cheaper option of dismantling it instead of repairing it; again, nobody is quite sure when, though it was probably 15 or 20 years ago. The entrance to the paved drive was dug up to prevent cars from going in, and aside from some rubble and firewood sticks, there’s nothing whatsoever to mark the spot.
What happened to the bronze sign on the peak? Apparently, it was found at a landfill site, but where it went then, no one can – or will – say.
NOW: There are signs all along the highway in Newfoundland warning of moose on the road. I can’t recall seeing a single one, despite driving through both national parks and covering more than 2,000 km on the island, both east and west.
Michelle Higgins also doesn’t recall seeing a moose recently, though she surely did early last month when she was driving in the evening from her home at Norris Arm to work at Gander. I dropped in to see her this morning, so let her tell the story:
“I remember looking at the clock and I seen 7:28 on the clock. The police officer said after, that must have been the time that I hit the moose. The next thing I know, I was pulling into work’s driveway. I remember getting out of the car, and I remember my co-worker coming up and putting her arm around me, and asked me if I was OK, and I kind of looked at her and asked her, ‘well, why wouldn’t I be?’ And she said, ‘Michelle, you’re bleeding.’ She said, ‘look at your car – were you in an accident?’ And I said ‘no, I wasn’t in an accident,’ and she said, ‘did you hit a moose?’ And I said, ‘no, I never even seen a moose, let alone hit one.’ And she said, ‘look at your car,’ and when I turned around and looked at my car, I couldn’t believe it.”
The windshield was smashed in and the roof peeled back “like a sardine tin.” Higgins is now famous as the woman who drove more than 30 kilometres along the TCH in an open, wrecked car, with no recollection whatsoever of hitting the moose that police found dead on the road.
She’s lost count of the journalists who’ve found her on the phone in Norris Arm; she’s not in the directory, though there are plenty of Higgins who all know each other. New York, Chicago, London – they’ve all been calling. “My cousin is in South Africa, and she saw it in the paper there,” she says. They’re all intrigued that she would have kept driving, and by all accounts of the few people who noticed her, driving quite responsibly.
She’s off work now from her job as a behavioral therapist because two of the bones in her neck are broken and she must wear a brace to help them heal. As well, she cannot lie flat without becoming nauseous, and she’s booked for a third MRI in a couple of weeks to check her progress. It hasn’t stopped her from being driven on the Trans-Canada, though.
“The first time I drove out there, I had knots and butterflies in my stomach, thinking that it would all come back to me, but I didn’t remember a thing,” she says. “Maybe it’s good that I don’t remember. I’ve seen maybe 10 moose in 10 years, on the road, and then I went to St. John’s the other day with my son and on the way back, we saw three moose. I wasn’t worried.”
SOMETHING INTERESTING… It’s been raining all day. ALL DAY! I haven’t seen the sun in more than a week. And it’s cold: 7 degrees at most. So much for driving a convertible.
There’s no point griping about this to Newfoundlanders though. “Aye, it’s some terrible ting, but dat’s de way she is,” said my host this morning. They’re calling it “Juneuary.” Apparently, last June it rained 23 days of the month. People here are hoping this summer will be better and are quick to say that April and May were warm and pleasant months. And the weather is good right now in Labrador, apparently.
All of which makes this sign near Gander’s international airport all the more appropriate. And if it pointed to Goose Bay instead of Cuba, that would be fine too.
By Mark Richardson - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 10:57 PM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada distance: 301 kilometres
Actual distance driven: 413 kilometres
THEN:… Every Newfoundlander knows where
Trans-Canada distance: 301 kilometres
Actual distance driven: 413 kilometres
THEN: Every Newfoundlander knows where Gambo is, because every Newfoundlander knows that this is where Joey Smallwood was born – the man who became the first Newfoundland premier when he signed his province into Confederation in 1949, and the man who mastered the art of wringing dollars out of Ottawa.
The Trans-Canada Highway was no exception. In 1962, when the TCH was declared officially open by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, 600 km of its 980-km stretch across The Rock was still unpaved; when the circus wanted to come to town in 1963, it ended up cancelling because highway bridges wouldn’t support the weight of the elephants, which would have had to be walked separately from their trucks over the road’s numerous river crossings.
The agreement first proposed in 1949 between Ottawa and the provinces called for each province to share the cost of construction 50/50 with the federal government, though Ottawa would pay the cost of road-building through national parks. Smallwood delayed construction while he spent his provincial money on other things, like schools and hospitals. In 1964, he argued that hardscrabble Newfoundland just couldn’t afford to complete the highway, and eventually Lester Pearson’s new Liberal government caved and agreed to foot 90 per cent of the bill. That’ll do nicely, said Smallwood, and promptly coined a provincial slogan: “We’ll finish the drive in ’65.” Which they did, Nov. 27, 1965, when the last strip of asphalt was laid and two convoys of cars, one from St. John’s with Smallwood among them, and one from Port Aux Basques that included Pearson, met halfway across the province in Grand Falls.
I’m headed to Grand Falls tomorrow. I’ll go look at Pearson’s Peak – the monument erected to thank the Prime Minister for cutting the big cheque.
NOW: I noticed the bicycles propped against the window of the Tim Horton’s when I walked inside. They looked heavy, loaded with luggage. Another bicycle was propped against the other door and it looked even heavier. The cyclists were inside, greeting each other as they met for the first time, cycling in opposite directions across the country.
Daman Milsom and Kibby Evans, both recently graduated biology students, are cycling home to Victoria. They flew in to St. John’s last week and left Cape Spear four days ago, pedaling into the west wind.
Harry Jones and Will Samson-Doel, both university students with a summer to themselves, left home in Toronto on May 1 and expect to reach St. John’s by Friday. Then they’ll fly with their bikes to Vancouver and cycle home from there.
All are in their early 20s and none of them have done any serious cycling before these journeys. Damam and Kibby had never ridden farther than 60 km in a day, and Harry and Will were even more neglect: “I only used a bicycle to commute,” said Will, “and I’ve never commuted more than 15 minutes. You don’t need to be super-athletic to do this. You just need the time, and the bike.”
The Toronto cyclists had seen only one other pair of cyclists before today, in Nova Scotia, and they’d not stopped to chat while they pedaled in different directions. Are they having fun? “Yes, in most ways, this is what we expected,” said Harry. Once you’re into the rhythm and your legs have adjusted, it’s a great way to travel.” His friend Will agreed: “I’ve never been east of Quebec City. I didn’t expect to see such differences between the provinces.”
The greenhorn Westerners were pleased to hear this, since they’ve cycled only a little more than 200 km so far and the weather’s been terrible. “I’ve been surprised by the weather,” said Kibby. “I thought uphills would be bad, but the downhills – you go so fast and the wind’s so cold. At least uphill you get warmer with the pedaling.
All four are doing their cross-Canada rides to raise money and awareness for causes close to their hearts. Harry and Will say they’ve raised $13,000 so far for the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society; you can read their blog here at willandharrybikecanada.blogspot.ca. Damam and Kibby say they’ve raised $16,000 toward a $50,000 goal for Trekking4Transplants, which also hopes to persuade 10,000 people to become organ donors. You can read about them on their website here at trekking4transplants.ca.
I wished them well, got in the Camaro and turned up the heat as I drove west. I didn’t want my coffee getting cold.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT… Here at former Premier Joey Smallwood’s home town, the man seems honoured with the same level of reverence that North Koreans offer their late Dear Leaders.
The scenic lookout beside the TCH above town, with its dramatic view over Freshwater Bay, is named after Smallwood, but there’s little evidence that he would come to ponder the vista. However, a massive black-and-white photograph of his head looks out from here now that he’s been dead these last 20 years.
Newfoundlanders may hold Smallwood dear in their thoughts, but in their words, they’re far more practical. Us Mainlanders call the site “Joey’s Lookout,” but it’s known across the island as “The Big Giant Head.”
By Mark Richardson - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 1:36 AM - 0 Comments
Trans-Canada Highway distance: 90 km
THEN:… It’s not been so far to drive today,
Trans-Canada Highway distance: 90 km
THEN: It’s not been so far to drive today, but back in 1962 this was the end of the paved road west from St. John’s. The highway turned to corrugated gravel before Whitbourne and separated the casual tourists from the determined travellers.
Author Edward McCourt described his 1963 drive along it in his book The Road Across Canada as “an endless succession of iron-surfaced washboard, gaping pot-holes, and naked rock – a shoulder-twisting, neck-snapping, dust-shrouded horror.” And by all other accounts, he was being kind.
It was not until 1965, when McCourt’s book was published, that the road was properly paved across the province, at great expense. And canny premier Joey Smallwood made sure the great expense came from the pockets of the federal government, not the provincial coffers. More about this tomorrow.
NOW: I began my drive with the Camaro’s wheels in the Atlantic Ocean, dipping into the water on a wharf at Petty Harbour, just south of Cape Spear, the most easterly point in Canada. Like all the pioneering drivers, it’s important to drive out of one ocean in order to drive eventually into the other one at the opposite side of the country. I did a trial run with some friends yesterday, but then it was late in the afternoon and today it was noon: low tide.
The reluctant tide meant I had to drive a lot farther down the boat ramp, with the rear driving wheels venturing down onto the wet concrete that had been submerged just a couple of hours earlier. It was very slippery. The CBC sent a cameraman to record the event for posterity, and he slid his shoes around on the concrete. “If this is too slippery for those tires, this video could go viral,” he warned, probably rather hopefully. Last year, a YouTube video of a million-dollar Ferrari Enzo crashing into the sea during the Targa Newfoundland was viewed millions of times. You can see it here if you have a cruel sense of humour – and irony.
But all went well and the wide tires gripped and the car made it back onto the road. You can see the CBC clip here. I gathered some salty Atlantic water in a bottle that I’ll pour into the salty Pacific when I reach the opposite coast, and then drove into St. John’s with the top down for a last look at the Mile One Centre before heading out to the dump and the real start of the Trans-Canada Highway.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT… The towns have colourful names in Newfoundland. Here’s local businessman Kevin Nolan, the owner of the nearby Dildo Dory Grill, describing the communities of Trinity Bay: ”You turn just before you get to Come-By-Chance, you go past Spreadeagle, and then you get to Dildo. After you leave Dildo, you enter Shag Rock, and then it’s Heart’s Delight and then Heart’s Desire and Heart’s Content. And then you enter Conception Bay. That’s just before Cupids.”
He took a photo of me with a statue of the town’s mascot, Captain Dildo, named for the town which is supposedly named after a place in Spain – nobody’s really sure. The statue is cemented into the ground, to stop it suffering the same fate as the road signs whenever college students come to visit.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 5:50 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Peggy Nash was very nearly pleading. ”Will someone in the government,” she asked, “please outline right now what constitutes suitable employment?”
In Ms. Nash’s moment of need it was Ted Menzies, minister of state for finance, who stood. ”Mr. Speaker, I actually have some examples here of what constitutes suitable employment,” he reported.
At last, clarity seemed at hand. ”A mining company in Newfoundland is looking to hire 1,500 people in St. John’s, Newfoundland, through the temporary foreign worker program,” Mr. Menzies explained. “There are 32,500 people looking for work right now. That is why we are trying to make EI more effective to help these mining companies get people to employ.”
What precisely was the minister of state suggesting here? That if you are presently looking for work you might soon be expected to strap on a helmet lamp and make for St. John’s? And are there really only 32,500 people in this country presently looking for work?
There were chuckles of incredulity from the opposition side. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 6:29 AM - 0 Comments
Ex-Colleague Coyne has an excellent column on the emerging political split between the resource-extracting parts of the country and the sentimental nationalists who think every drop of bitumen and chip of timber sent abroad makes baby Jesus cry. I noticed one snippet, though, which goes to show how even the most trend-aware and detail-oriented columnist (that’s what he is!) can be held prisoner by persistent images of the past: Continue…
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
The archetypal “have not” province is bringing in foreign workers to help fill jobs
There may be no more surefire sign of an economic boom in Canada than a shortage of staff at the local Tim Hortons. It happened in northern Alberta when Fort McMurray exploded with oil sands-related activity. And now it’s happening in Deer Lake, in western Newfoundland. “We’re in the midst of a period of poor availability,” says local Tim Hortons’ owner Oral Clarke. He plans to bring in foreign workers from the Philippines to ﬁll out his staff.
For a town of 5,000 that sits at a highway interchange near the entrance to Gros Morne National Park—never mind in a province with the highest unemployment rate in the country at 13.1 per cent—this may seem like a strange conundrum. But it’s indicative of a growing problem on the Rock. After decades of being Canada’s archetypal “have not” province, Newfoundland and Labrador is experiencing an unprecedented economic boom. And the record expansion brings an unfamiliar problem: an acute shortage of labour. “For years we’ve had people leaving the province because of too few jobs,” says Richard Alexander, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council. “All of a sudden there’s been a switch and we’re entering an area where we have excess jobs and too few people to ﬁll those jobs.”
More than $43 billion is pouring into major development projects across the province. Among the most prominent are the $8.3-billion Hebron offshore oil platform, the $3-billion Long Harbour nickel processing plant, and the $6.2-billion Muskrat Falls Lower Churchill hydroelectric project. The government surplus—once a rare ﬁgure on provincial balance sheets—climbed far beyond expectations to $755 million last year, thanks mostly to oil revenues, says Memorial University economist Wade Locke. In a report titled “ Outlook 2020,” the province estimated that 77,000 job vacancies will open up over the next eight years (with more projects announced since the report, that estimate is widely perceived to be conservative).
By Ken MacQueen - Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 5:58 AM - 0 Comments
The prosperity and good jobs lifting the province’s fortunes have also attracted more criminals
One would love to have been a ﬂy on the wall in November 2009, when 21-year-old Bradley Kavanagh landed at Vancouver airport after a cross-country ﬂight from St. John’s, Nﬂd. He’d left the island province with $195,000 cash in vacuum-sealed bags in his checked-in luggage. When he landed in B.C., the airline said the luggage was lost, which just had to ruin his day. The money, quietly seized by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) before it left St. John’s, was part of a major drug and money laundering ring operating in Newfoundland, but largely run by criminals from Victoria.
The boom in offshore oil and construction is drawing Newfoundlanders and come-from-aways to the provincial capital, but the prosperity is also a magnet for criminals. “When you have economic growth you attract legitimate business and you also attract illegal business,” says RNC Chief Robert Johnston. “Supply and demand.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 9, 2011 at 11:10 AM - 4 Comments
From Google and Apple to Newfoundland and a ballooning moose population–bad blood runs deep
Environmentalists Vs. Keystone XL Pipeline
Environmentalists and anti-oil sands groups managed to delay U.S. government approval of a $7-billion, 2,736-km pipeline that would carry oil from Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. Though pipelines are normally nothing to get excited about, TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline was singled out by those unhappy with U.S. energy policy and Canada’s development of the oil sands, a carbon-intensive source of crude. Protesters ranged from Hollywood celebrities like Robert Redford and left-leaning luminaries like Naomi Klein to concerned ranchers and residents along the pipeline’s proposed route.
Google Vs. Apple
The battle for control of the ballooning smartphone market got personal as Google’s open-source operating system, Android, overtook Apple’s iOS, which runs the iPhone. Steve Jobs, Apple’s late CEO, told his official biographer the search-engine giant didn’t play fair and accused Google of “grand theft” of the iPhone concept (among more colourful language). Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who once sat on Apple’s board, responded by saying “the Android effort started before the iPhone effort.”