Fifty years ago this month, dignitaries and politicians gathered at Abercrombie Point in northern Nova Scotia, for the official luncheon and opening of the new pulp mill that had just gone into operation in Pictou County.
Since then, the mill has provided valuable jobs and found support from governments of all levels and all stripes. Twelve premiers and five foreign corporate owners later, the mill remains a fixture across the harbour from Pictou.
Its fascinating story is one that has been waiting to be pieced together and told. That is what Nova Scotian journalist and award-winning author, Joan Baxter, has done in her new book The Mill: Fifty Years of Pulp and Protest, published this month by Pottersfield Press.
The Museum of Industry in Stellarton will be hosting the North Shore launch for the book today, November 21 at 7 p.m. There will be a book reading and signing, and some special guests will join the author for the launch, including award-winning Pictou County author Linda Little and internationally acclaimed and award-winning folk artist and songwriter Dave Gunning. Refreshments will be provided. All are welcome, but please note the venue capacity is 100 persons. The museum is located on 147 North Foord Street, Stellarton, NS, Exit 24 off Trans Canada Hwy (104).
In her book, Baxter meticulously documents the history of the Pictou County mill using archival material, government records, consultant and media reports, and poignant interviews with people whose lives have been touched by the mill and the pulp industry.
The book takes readers to the Pictou Landing First Nation to learn how both provincial and federal governments betrayed the Mi’kmaq and turned Boat Harbour – so precious that they called it “the other room” (A’se’K) – into a toxic wasteland. It gives voice to people whose well-being, health, homes, water, air, businesses have been affected by the mill’s effluent and emissions, to people whose livelihoods have depended on the mill, and to others with direct experience of the influence of the pulp industry on forestry policies and forests in the province.
The Mill tells a Nova Scotian story with global relevance and appeal.
Joan Baxter is a Nova Scotian journalist, science writer, anthropologist and an award-winning author. She has written seven books, authored many media and research reports on international development and foreign investment, worked for international forestry and agroforestry research centres, and reported for the BBC World Service and contributed to many other media, including the CBC, Le Monde Diplomatique, BBC Focus on Africa Magazine, Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The Chronicle Herald, The Coast.