what’s going on at the Bell Museum?

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The other day I received an anonymous email that had been forwarded to a number of people.

It began: We are a group of concerned citizens – residents and business owners in Baddeck and area. We want to make everyone aware of what is happening at the Bell Museum in Baddeck and how it is going to effect not just Baddeck but all of Cape Breton and future tourism here.

Why is it anonymous? “We are sending this email anonymously to protect any Parks Canada employees that may be associated with any of us. All Parks Canada employees were given a gag order not to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.”

Yikes! What the hell is up with that?

The email went on to say that despite a new exhibit featuring the Silver Dart replica, which is responsible for an upswing in tourism numbers in the area, the Museum hours have been reduced and the Museum will be closed earlier in the season.

Not only that, but: “Closed that is, unless you are lucky enough to be on a cruise ship coming into Sydney and take a tour bus to Baddeck. For those people it has been privately pre-arranged that the museum will be unofficially “open”. But for tax paying Canadians and others who arrive in Baddeck wanting to see the new display in this federally operated National Historic Site, the doors will be locked – unless they happen to arrive at the same time as a tour bus. It is discrimination and it does not make much sense! Parks Canada says they can’t afford to keep the Bell Museum open, but how much revenue will they be missing out on by being closed during what is often the busiest season in Cape Breton with tours coming to see the leaves, and Celtic Colours attracting people from around the world. And how much revenue are local businesses going to lose because of this pointless decision?”

Again, what the hell is up with that?

And then there is this:

“Maybe the CEO of Parks Canada, Alan Latourelle could answer these questions. Apparently he is arriving in Cape Breton on Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013. Not much has been said publically about this trip. Staff at Louisbourg will tell you that he is going to be in Cape Breton and that he will be visiting Baddeck and the Bell Museum on Saturday, August 24, 2013, but staff at the Bell Museum say they have only been told that there will be VIP guests coming on Saturday. Is Parks Canada trying to keep his visit a secret? Are they worried that maybe business owners in Baddeck and area might be wanting to talk to Mr. Latourelle and get some answers as to why the Bell Museum and Baddeck is being targeted unfairly like this?

If Mr Ebert and Parks Canada are so happy that the Silver Dart display is bringing in more tourists and renewing an interest in Alexander Graham Bell, why aren’t they allowing the apparently financially struggling Bell Museum and the Baddeck and area economy to benefit from the higher tourism numbers by being open as long as possible into the shoulder season?”

If this pisses you off, you can do something about it. Here’s some contact info:

Or, drop by the Bell Museum on Saturday, August 24th and chat with Alan Latourelle yourself!

Edit: This issue in the news: Reporter Ardelle Reynolds of CBC Information Morning interviews Cathy Lamey, of the Baddeck and Area Business and Tourism Association. Listen here. Or read about it in the Cape Breton Post here.


Posted in Jobs, Towns + communities | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Q+A with David Williams & Faith Dodd


one of our carrots


Faith with sweet potatoes


rhubarb ground-cherry custard


Faith with our watermelon


me eating a giant squash


frittata with salsa

Name: David Williams and Faith Dodd

Age: 36 and 37

Hometown: Dave – born in Newfoundland and grew up in Clarenville, now calls Sydney (Westmount) home. Faith – born in Baddeck and grew up all over the place and now calls Sydney (Westmount) home.

Why did you do the month-long challenge last year to eat only CB foods?

There were a couple of reasons why we took the challenge:

First, our friend Alicia Lake does a month-long local food challenge as part of her promotional work for the Baddeck Farmer’s Market. She challenged us to try it and after some thought we agreed to help her out. Alicia does her challenge in September so we decided to do it a month later, in October, to up the ante. She also let us write about our experiences on her blog. [Click here to see the posts just by David and Faith.]

Second, we thought that it would be an interesting personal experiment. We have a big and varied garden and what we don’t grow we try to source from local producers. However, one always uses non-local ingredients, sometimes because it’s easier and sometimes because there is no other choice (you can’t grow Avocados – my favorite – in Cape Breton). Ultimately, we were curious to see if we could go 100% local.

What was hardest about it?

We can’t really narrow down on one hardest part but I’ll list a couple challenges.

The first challenge was the lack of a few key ingredients, namely grains and oils. A hundred years ago Cape Breton supplied plenty of its own grains and rendered oils but today you can’t find anything (some may think butter is produced here, and it is, but it is mixed with other milk products from off-island). I have a sweet tooth so going without desserts and baked goods was tough. However, there’s always maple syrup!

Quick food was tough – a sandwich for lunch when on the go was a no-go. We went for a hike one day and were woefully unprepared with our tasty but less-than-filling carrots. Sometimes you just need a granola bar.

The second challenge was coming up with creative new ways to prepare foods. Sometimes, we took a familiar recipe and modified it for only local ingredients and sometimes we just made everything up. It was hard work but it was a lot of fun as we both enjoy time in the kitchen. There were successes and there were a few epic fails but we never ate food that wasn’t nourishing, fresh, and 100% Cape Breton.

What was easiest?

Walking out to the garden each morning to pick what I needed for the day’s meals. Also, finding meat was pretty easy (except chicken).

What would be a good first step for someone who’d like to eat local but has no idea where to start or feels overwhelmed by the idea?

First thing to do is start a little garden. It doesn’t have to be big, just some lettuce and a few peas or some tomato plants in a pot. Dig up some of that front lawn! It is very satisfying to grow your own food and even doing it on a small scale gives a great appreciation for the care and work required to provide something we usually take for granted.

Finally, seek out a farmer’s market, they’ve sprouted up all over the place. You’ll find plenty of local food and people interested in helping you out on your local food adventures.

This Q+A with David and Faith is part of an ongoing series of interviews I do with people associated with Cape Breton in some way – mostly young people, but not necessarily. The complete list of interviews is here.

More local food information can be found here (the Local Food page) or in these Q+As: Bryan Picard, chef and George Smith and Cora-Lee Eisses-Smith, chef and dinner host.

Posted in Active living, Food + agriculture, Markets, Newcomers, Q+A | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

the end of summer song

I mentioned yesterday that I love the end of summer. This is one of my favorite songs to listen to while I’m driving to or from the beach, with the windows down. It reminds me of when I first heard it, when I was 19 and working for a potter, in a pottery store in an old schoolhouse. It reminds me of freedom and of independence. It reminds me of the joy of travelling without a time limit.

I’m a ship, I’m a ship, I’m a ship
Out on the sea
None of my loves
Floating wild come back to me
So I write you a letter, I’ll write you a letter
With this here pen
Don’t make me wait, don’t make me wait
Cos I’m your friend

I’m in love with the garden
That is down the street
And the earth is a warm thing under my feet
And the earth is a warm thing under my feet

Oh long streams of light
Lift me, from this dirty town
Cuz I’m losing stain, soak me yeah with rain, rain, rain, rain

I’m a ship, I’m a ship, I’m a ship
Out on the sea
And all these clouds flying by so fast
Well they confuse me
And the long leaves in the tall trees
Pale in the sunshine
And I was twistin’ and turnin’
In the cool sheets past bed time

Plant me in the garden
Don’t you let me roam
Cuz love is a feeling like a warm dark stone
Plant me in the garden
Don’t you let me roam
Cuz love is a feeling like a warm dark stone
Love is a feeling like a warm dark stone
Love is a feeling like a warm dark stone
Plant me in the garden
Don’t you let me roam
Cuz love is a feeling like a warm dark stone
Love is a feeling like a warm dark stone
Love is a feeling like a warm dark stone

Posted in Outdoors | Leave a comment

I’m engaged! With my community, that is…

I also have a post up today over at the blog “Civic Engagement from Local to Global,” which is part of a research study being done by Cape Breton University professor Tanya Brann-Barrett.

I wrote about my tips for “making a relationship with your community meaningful and long-lasting”.

Check it out! And if you’re keen, I encourage you to submit your own piece to the researchers. They would love it.

Posted in Education, Guest posts, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Florence Beach / end of summer

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I have come to realize that I am a beach girl, through and through.

Last year I did a project where I went to ten different beaches on Cape Breton. Doing that intentionally and making time each week or so to be on a beach helped me to see just how much I love beach time. I always felt inadequate because I wasn’t a skier, or I wasn’t into sailing, or whatever. I wasn’t one of “those people” who have a “thing,” an outdoor sport that they’re crazy about and live for. However, I’ve come to see that my “thing”, when it comes to the outdoors, is swimming, and walking along the sand. It’s less racy and glamourous but it makes me incredibly happy.

(Here’s a couple more posts from this past summer about how much I love to swim: the Bras d’Or Lakes, and Chimney Corner.)

When I moved to North Sydney last year, I didn’t know the local spots. I asked friends and was told a couple of places. And Florence Beach is turning out to be my favorite. It’s not too far of a drive from my house, maybe 15 minutes. On the way home, Lick-a-Treat is a quick stop if I want ice cream. It’s ocean water, which I prefer to the lakes (bigger waves). It’s sandy, with very few rocks. It’s clear – not much if any seaweed. It’s long – probably a kilometer or two. It’s not very busy – even though there are usually a few clusters of other people there when I go, there is lots of room. It doesn’t get deep right away, but neither is it too shallow. There is no undertow that I’m aware of.

This past weekend I was able to go to the beach twice. Heaven! I bring a book and alternate between swimming, and lying on a towel reading (or snoozing!). This time of year is definitely one of my favourite ‘seasons’, even though it’s not a full season – the summer is winding down and the air is such a perfect blend of coolness and warmth. Change is coming… work will be through soon and school will start up again. I love that feeling of looking forward to a fun change, and still having a week or two left to soak up the last bits of summer.

Posted in Day to Day Life, For Fun, Outdoors | Tagged , | 3 Comments

this day



20130816-082305.jpg There is no particular reason why I was in a funk this morning… just regular adulthood duties harshing my buzz. I don’t want to clean the bathroom, or do the dishes, or whatever… I just want to do my own thing, man!

I was outside putting the laundry on the line just now. I was thinking about all that I “have” to do. I was thinking about how little money I have right now. I was getting frustrated and down. “It’s so depressing to think about money!” I thought.

“So, don’t.” Said another voice in my head. (What, you mean you don’t have voices in your head?)

“Think instead about all that you do have. This clothespin. This shirt. This sunlight, this breeze, this sound of crows in the trees.”

This health, this good partner who just went to work, this home, this coffee, this water.

Today: I’m going to try and get my shit done in the house this morning and then get outside this afternoon, perhaps go swimming. That’s my goal.

This weekend: tomorrow is the Bras d’Or Stewardship Society’s summer meeting in Baddeck. I’ve got to go back up to Baddeck for that. Then pick up a deep freeze from a friend who is selling hers (in preparation to move out west, boo to that! — but, I’ll take the deep freeze). Then work on Sunday.

Hope you have a good weekend!


Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , | 1 Comment

My first short story published!

GreyAreacover Coming out in October of this year, local speculative fiction publisher Third Person Press is releasing an anthology of ghost stories. It’s called Grey Area, and it features stories by thirteen Cape Breton writers, including myself!

I’m proud to say that this is my first short story published in an anthology. My story is called “Night Swimmer,” and it’s about a young woman who wakes up in a cemetery, in between life and death, who finds herself guided to the other side by a fellow spirit. She looks back to the life she was living before her death and gets to see her lover one more time before she must cross into the unknown.

The press has launched a fun Indiegogo campaign to raise some money to help the book go a little further, and you can help support it (and get some fun perks like copies of the book and/or ebook, bookmarks, Grey Area-themed jewelry, cover art and other special ghostly artwork, a chance to interview one of the writers for your own blog, a detailed critique of your own writing, even dinner out with the editors of the press!) by clicking here.

In the next few months here on my blog, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my short story, as well as the journey from being just a kid who likes to write, to getting a short story published.

Oh and, here is the Q+A with the editors of Third Person Press from last year on this blog, when they published the anthology Unearthed.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments