By Jason Kirby and Erica Alini - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 0 Comments
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The commodity boom is rewriting the list of the “haves” and “have-nots” in Canada. Unlike in the U.S., where the highest per capita incomes tend to be found in and around the biggest metropolitan centres, Toronto is nowhere near the top of Canada’s rank of wealthiest urban areas, while Montreal and Vancouver don’t even make the cut. Small and mid-sized cities are clearly winning the day.
The biggest dots on our map are, of course, in Alberta, with tiny Fort McMurray, right next to the Athabasca oil sands, topping the charts. It may not legally be a “city”—the former fur-trading post was granted the title in 1980 only to lose it 15 years later—but it sure shows all the symptoms of a boomtown. A single family home in the community of 61,000—where daylight lasts as little as seven hours in the dead of winter—cost upwards of $750,000 on average in November. That’s even more than in downtown Toronto, where the going price last month was around $740,000.
One needn’t look much further east to find more stories of vertiginous growth, happy realtors and chronic labour shortages. Welcome to Saskatchewan, the only province planning to run a budget surplus this fiscal year. The resource boom that started a decade ago is now prominently on display in Regina and Saskatoon, which boast, respectively, the lowest unemployment and highest population growth rates of any metropolitan area in Canada.
The title of hottest real estate market in 2013 will likely belong to St. John’s, however. RE/MAX sees home prices in the Nfld. capital climbing six per cent next year, faster than anywhere else and bucking the trend in Vancouver and Toronto, where the optimists are now predicting a soft landing rather than a crash. Sure, St. John’s still has a way to go to reach the top of our chart but the city is already neck-and-neck with Calgary and Edmonton in terms of employment growth. If the current trend holds up, who knows, St. John’s could soon leave Toronto in the dust.
MAP: Hover over the dots on the map to view more information about cities and per capita income and to see the tool bar in the upper right-hand corner. You can also zoom-in by double-clicking on the map. To grab and move the map, press SHIFT and click. Click on the “home” symbol to restore the original settings.
BAR CHART: Click on the symbol next to “Per capita income,” below the chart, to rearrange it from the lowest to the highest per capita income. Click again to order it alphabetically.
Use the “Province” tool bar on the right to view select provinces on both the map and the bar chart.
*Calculations: Jason Kirby. Visualization and text: Erica Alini.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
Ezekiel Martin was born in Grates Cove, Nfld., on Oct. 21, 1933, the son of Henry, a Methodist preacher, and Bertha, a homemaker. He was born deaf. Ezekiel, who came to be known as Zekel or Zeke by everyone he knew, moved with his family to Lower Island Cove, about 30 minutes to the south. He returned to Grates Cove, a tiny community of 100, in the mid ’70s. All told, he spent his whole life a couple of hours northwest of St. John’s. His niece, Christine, described Ezekiel as a kind, gentle man with a childlike appreciation of life. “He wasn’t really like a grown-up,” she says. Ezekiel’s nephew, Tony, says he saw his uncle upset just a single time, when someone stole his bike.
Bicycles were, from a very young age, a constant source of joy for Ezekiel. “They were freedom to him,” says a neighbour, Cal Martin, no relation, who knew Ezekiel most of his life. That joy extended from cruising around town to fixing—and modifying—every bike he owned. Cal recalls one instance when his friend blew a tire outside of town. With no pump in sight, the resourceful Newfoundlander decided to tear the tubes out of his tires and fill the empty space with straw. He made it home. Tony always thought that was a tall tale, but Cal insists it’s a true story.
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 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 Tom Henheffer - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 2 Comments
Newfoundlanders are up in arms over St. John’s new hockey team being named after a popular Tim Hortons beverage
It’s the vodka fuelling their jigs, the blended cappuccino expanding their waistlines, the frozen islands sinking their cruise liners—ice caps are ingrained in Newfoundland culture. But many islanders don’t want the iconic iceberg adorning the jerseys of St. John’s new AHL franchise.
“It’s probably a little bit close to the Tim Hortons thing,” says Gerry Taylor, chairman of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador. A recent online poll by the Telegram, St. John’s daily newspaper, found a full two-thirds of residents are unhappy about calling their team the Ice Caps. Many critics simply don’t like the association with the creamy summer beverage, but Taylor also feels that the designation is too St. John’s-centric. “It should be more than a capital city team,” he says.
Team director Danny Williams, the former premier of Newfoundland, says the name was actually chosen to appeal to the entire province. “We make Iceberg Vodka, Iceberg Water, we’re the leading jurisdiction for Arctic research. The ice cap is iconic here.”
By Michael Barclay - Monday, April 19, 2010 at 12:27 PM - 9 Comments
No highs or lows, but plenty of Bieber and Bublé
The Juno Awards telecast is not about handing out hardware. It’s part genuine musical celebration, part industry backslapping, part CTV cross-promotional orgy, part high school pep rally and/or provincial tourism ad, with as many live performances as possible squeezed into a tightly run two-hour slot.
Which means that 90 per cent of the awards are presented at a non-televised dinner the night before: everything from album packaging of the year to artist of the year. By the time the telecast started, many of my favourite albums of 2009 had already won Junos: Bell Orchestre for instrumental album of the year (As Seen Through Windows), Charles Spearin for contemporary jazz album of the year (The Happiness Project), Billy Talent for rock album of the year (III), and K’naan for artist of the year. After decades of grumbling about the Junos, this was the first year I was predisposed to genuinely enjoy them.
And yet they disappointed again—not because they were awful, but because they weren’t. Normally they are a combination of the painful and the ever-so-slightly profound, thanks to the cheap commercialization and the glimpses of comparatively obscure artists getting a shot in prime time. If we’re lucky, someone makes a decent speech. The 2010 Junos, by comparison, were like lithium: no highs, no lows, just even keel.
One wonders what the cranky and notorious nationalist Stompin’ Tom Connors would have thought of the opening sequence, where Halifax hip-hop MC Classified marched down George Street in St. John’s, rapping a track called O Canada, a completely earnest lyrical litany of patriotic platitudes waiting to be spun into a tourism ad.
As if to immediately illustrate the evening’s diversity—or, more likely, to comfort anyone over 40 who was bewildered by Classified—the show quickly shifted inside to Michael Bublé, who kicks it REALLY old school. He soon wins single of the year for Haven’t Met You Yet—which, in his acceptance speech, he claims he wrote for his fiancé. Was he stalking her at the time? Is she a mail-order bride?
The Barenaked Ladies take the stage to a) announce that they have a new album and b) assure everyone that they are not the hosts of the show. In fact, there are no hosts. Which, for the absence of Russell Peters alone, is a great idea.The always-deadpan keyboardist Kevin Hearn promises, with noticeably forced enthusiasm, “It’s going to be a great night!” (Doesn’t he mean a good, good night? Aren’t these guys supposed to be pop-culture savvy?)
Tween-pop sensation Justin Bieber performs with only an acoustic guitarist and four male back-up singers and a guest spot from Drake. Say what you will about the puppy-dog eyes and Donny Osmond teeth, the boy can sing, and that swagger coach of his is earning his paycheque. Too bad Bieber’s singing a song with the chorus “I’m like, baby, baby, baby.” Because he looks like baby!
The “action” moves back outside to George Street, where Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle once again have head-scratching Canadians asking: are these two famous for anything other than being the token Newfoundlanders on CBC radio shows and CTV event television? Fellow cutie Newfie (and CTV personality) Seamus O’Regan shows up to help them all agree that St. John’s is amazing.
Bublé wins the corporate-sponsored fan choice award—do baby boomers actually vote online?—and makes a lame product placement joke in his acceptance speech. By this point in the evening, he’s starting to overstay his welcome, and the next performer proves why. Johnny Reid is a platinum-selling country artist here in Canada, but he just landed an international deal and is planning on making an R&B album. His song Dance With Me is more John McDermott than Johnny Cash, but listening to this guy sing with twice the depth and soul of the cheezeball Bublé, it sounds like he can do anything he wants—as long as he learns some new stage gestures that don’t look like he’s a karaoke king at his local bar, rather than a veteran performer.
Billy Talent are not only the loudest band at this year’s Junos, they’re also the only one performing a song about a Paulo Coehlo novel. They’ve come a long way since their first Juno performance several years back, when Ben Kowalewicz’s shrieking was as much a challenge to old Juno orthodoxy as the first hip-hop performances were. These days, there’s no denying Billy Talent’s melodic strength, and Kowalewicz is sounding more like the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra. But he still lets out a high-pitched screech near the end of Saint Veronika—and you would too, if you were a punk rocker who just lost a category to Michael Bublé.
K’naan, named artist of the year at the earlier ceremony is, as always, the most dapper man in the entire room. He’s there to present Bryan Adams with the honorary humanitarian award; Adams, in an apparently biblical mood of generosity, says, “Thank you, Canaan.” Adams is stranded in Europe because of the Icelandic volcano; by video link, he gives a gracious and humble acceptance speech that puts a nice dent in his often prickly reputation. Speaking of gracious and humble, K’naan soon returns to the stage to pick up songwriter of the year—which is well deserved, not just for Wavin’ Flag, but for the fact that he’s one of the most compelling MCs working in hip-hop today, who can write circles around most of his peers, including Drake.
At the halfway point in the ceremony, this year’s Junos are nowhere near the shitshow they were last year, easily the most embarrassing in recent memory (and there’s a lot of competition there). Where are the terrible jokes, the awkward moments, the uncomfortable presenters, the ridiculously over-the-top performances? Why does everyone actually look happy to be there? Can this actually be the Junos?
For a brief moment, it looks like the Olympics, because skeleton athlete Jon Montgomery is standing on the street in a throng of excited, patriotic Canadians, amiably joking with Kim Stockwood and Damhnait Doyle—and with more charisma than either of them put together. He demonstrates his day job skills as an auctioneer by taking bids on Justin Bieber’s phone number and Jim Cuddy’s hotel room key. “This could go on for a while,” Doyle deadpans. Maybe it should—I hereby nominate Montgomery to host the 2010 Junos.
Great Lake Swimmers are a band I never thought I’d see playing the Junos. Not because they don’t deserve it—Tony Dekker is one of the most haunting Canadian songwriters of the last 10 years—but because I once saw their former keyboardist fall asleep on stage. Stadium rock they’re not (nor should they be). Here, however, they do their best, despite a poor sound mix and the fact that the cameraman is clearly more fixated on violinist and backing singer Miranda Mulholland than anyone else in the band, including Dekker.
Every year that the Junos has been held somewhere outside of Ontario, a provincial premier makes a token appearance. For whatever reason, Danny Williams is featured standing innocuously and unannounced somewhere in the middle of the crowd—as if a camera crew just happened to find him there—and only allowed to throw to a commercial. Heritage Minister James Moore, who always looks uncomfortable in the presence of real-life performers, co-presents the award for best new artist. Thankfully, they pair him with fabulously flamboyant loudmouth Jully Black, who all but ignores his painfully earnest introduction by turning around and whooping it up for the crowd: “N-F-L-D! Make some noise!” Moore looks pleasantly baffled that he’s witnessed what these mysterious creative people call an “off-script” moment. They present the award to Drake, who beats Bieber in the only real horserace of the night. Drake thanks his mom, who “is responsible for not only the artist that I am, but the man that I am.” Aw, shucks.
Metric celebrate their win for group of the year—over tough competition from Billy Talent, The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo—by singing “gimme sympathy after all this is gone.” Looks like they won’t need it: they’re poster children for international indie success, being, according to their intro, the first band in history to have a Top 20 U.S. single from a self-released album. (Later we learn that April Wine was the first Canadian band to go platinum with an independent album—indie rock is nothing new, kids.) What would Stompin’ Tom have to say about that?
It’s now 80 minutes into the show, and Great Big Sea finally show up. They’re introducing their early benefactors Blue Rodeo, who have every right to phone it in at this point of their career—and yet they don’t, performing a delicate and sparse Jim Cuddy ballad that’s easily one of the best songs he’s written in his 25-year career.
The show starts to grind to a halt. April Wine is inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Drake performs his mediocre new single, Over (“What am I doin’? / I’m doin’ me”). He then wins for best rap recording, which comes with a catch: he has to hug every member of Hedley, who present him with the award. Is any Juno worth that? Drake says, “I do this because I believe in all forms of music that come from Canada.” Don’t hold your breath for a Johnny Reid collab.
Milking their post-Olympic glow, CTV trots out Alexandre Bilodeau to present the album of the year award, introducing him as “the king of freestyle.” (All you hip-hop MCs watch your back!) The adorable Bilodeau gets a larger cheer than any single performer or presenter has all night, and also gets the biggest laugh when he announces that the winner is “Michael Bubble!” Buble, having exhausted his thank-you list several times already, thanks Ron Sexsmith, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and his grandma.
The 2010 Junos wrap up with K’naan performing his anthemic Waving Flag with special guests Drake, Nikki Yanofsky, and Justin Bieber—the latter putting special emphasis on the line “when I get older”—appearing only on the final chorus, making it less of an all-inclusive, roof-raising, Tears Are Not Enough-style closer than it could have been. Damhnait Doyle signs off: “With pride, from Newfoundland and Labrador!” One can’t help but think she wakes up every morning saying that.
The camera then lingers on her and Stockwood dancing awkwardly on George Street, in a spotlight surrounded by hundreds of Newfoundlanders not sure what they’re supposed to be looking at by this point. Neither are we.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 11:06 AM - 45 Comments
Liberal Gerry Byrne makes the case.
“When someone actually coaches or conducts criminal behaviour to impose a political agenda on each and every other citizen of Canada, that does seem to me to meet the test of a terrorist organization,” the member from Newfoundland and Labrador said in an interview from Ottawa with radio station VOCM in St. John’s, N.L.
“I am calling on the Government of Canada to actually investigate whether or not this organization, PETA, is acting as a terrorist organization under the test that exists under Canadian law.”
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 1:55 PM - 208 Comments
With 51 precincts reporting specific estimates—restricting the count to media-reported figures and, where available, police counts—it’s possible to account for approximately 21,000 anti-prorogation protestors at yesterday’s rallies. Continue…