Repeating history

In 2008, Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources (now the Department of Lands and Forestry) set out to create The Path We Share, a natural resources strategy setting long term goals for our province’s forestry sector and its biodiversity, among other things. This document, released in 2011, attempted to strike a long sought balance between...

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Tree drama

My favourite tree is probably the American beech, not because it’s the tallest or longest lived member of Maritime ecology, but because it’s beautiful, and comes with a compelling history. At one time the majority of Maritime trees were American beech, so astoundingly common that before the 20th century hikers of all stripes were overwhelmed...

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Sports and the end of the world

I’ve worked several newsrooms in my time, always at small rural papers and always as the only man on staff. As a consequence I became the de facto sports reporter, expected to assemble an entire section of the paper with photos, scores, interviews with players and coaches, and my insights on the worlds of hockey,...

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An Ode to Empty Skies

I have a long and complicated relationship with the passenger pigeon, an extinct bird which came to my attention one sleepless night six years ago, and which eventually became the subject of my novel The Sky Was Copper Blue. Writing about it, I hoped, would get it out of my head, but of course that...

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An overdue amendment

You do not have the right to a healthy environment… There, I said it. Neither Nova Scotia nor Canada at large has ever formally recognized your right to clean air, clean water, clean soil, or any of the other bodily necessities a “healthy environment” might imply. Sure, there’s a suite of environmental laws protecting groundwater...

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Snow covered shame

Spring can be an informative time, as the veil of winter is pulled back to reveal the indiscretions of a season filling our ditches. Into these reservoirs of outright laziness we discard styrofoam, rubber tires and old boots, occasionally fridges and dishwashers, and atop it all – plastic. This durable substance was very much a...

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Halifax thrashes Calgary

The spirit of competition is a wonderful thing, a magic ingredient which turns speed skating with sticks into a game of hockey, pushing people to lengths they couldn’t otherwise justify and toward milestones we wouldn’t otherwise notice. Except I don’t play hockey, and the last time I sacrificed my shoulders in contact sports was high...

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Sable

The remotest island in all of Canada is a 42 kilometre long sliver of sand gracing our continental shelf, formed 10,000 years ago by the workings of glaciers. We call her Sable. To this day its shores support the largest breeding colony of grey seals on Earth alongside several endemic species like the Ipswich sparrow...

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Reclaiming coastal rock

“Remote islands are Canada’s most endangered ecosystem,” said Ian Jones, a professor of biology with Memorial University who specializes in seabirds and island conservation. An island qualifies as remote if its ecosystem formed more or less in the absence of the continents, lacking mostly or entirely in mammals and catering heavily to birds and marine...

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Movers and Shakers

Insects, more so than any other class of animal, are the movers and shakers of the Maritimes, responsible for more ecological processes even than the large, charismatic mammals who so often inspire our dutiful conservation. Insects, in their untold abundance and diversity, matter more to our landscape even than the mighty moose, or elusive lynx....

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