The Future of Parks Canada

These days, I must confess, I am a somewhat UNHAPPY Annapolitan. Why? Well, it has a lot to do with the systematic dismantling of one of the best things the federal government does… yes, Parks Canada. Canadians are proud of the national parks and national historic sites. But in the past six months, Stephen Harper and company have torn the parks service apart.

So here we are in little Annapolis Royal, in rural Nova Scotia, trying to build tourism in the area… trying to build our shoulder seasons – spring and fall. And in the latest budget cuts from the feds, what have they chosen to cut? The National Parks. In the Annapolis Royal area, a small community, two of our major attractions are National Historic Sites – Fort Anne and Port Royal.

Both these fabulous sites will now have a shorter operating season – shorter than other attractions in the area and shorter than most of the accommodations. Yes, the national parks  and sites will be among the last things to open each season and the first things to close. How’s that for leadership in tourism?

If that isn’t bad enough, these sites (and many others) will be open 7 days a week only in the peak season of July and August. Outside of the peak season, they will be open only 5 days a week. Last time I checked, tourism was a 7 day a week business. But now travellers now will have to check with the national parks and sites to see what days of the week they are actually open. Oh yes, one more thing… just to make it more complicated, there will be no consistency in the closures – each site will decide which two days of the week they are closed. So travellers now have to actually check with EACH SITE they plan to visit to see if they will actually be open that day.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more bizarre, guess what? I understand Keji is among the parks that will be reducing their open days in the spring and fall. Now how do you close two days a week when you are in the camping business? Not easily…

Annapolis Royal and area. Tourism is a key industry. Two National Historic Sites within 7 miles. A National Historic Park only 40 minutes away. And all of them in a state of chaos. How does this help anyone else in the tourism industry? How many other attractions and businesses will now fail because of this insanity?

Is Nova Scotia Tourism concerned? They should be!

Is the Canadian Tourism Commission concerned? They should be!

Am I concerned? Hell yeah. The future of my Town in at stake here… and that makes me a very UNhappy Annapolitan.

Thanks Stephen Harper… we owe you one! We won’t forget!


Bursting with Pride

Today, I am bursting with pride! But before I tell you why, I feel I must explain my absence from this blog…

It has been a while since I have blogged as the Happy Annapolitan. During the past year, my internet and blogging efforts have centred around Project 365, a photo-a-day challenge, and around the Historic Gardens, my place of employment and my “home away from home”. In short, my other blogs have flourished, and this one has been tacit. So, there you have it… a brief explanation and my apologies.

I thought today would be the ideal day to post something on this blog. Why, you ask? Well… because I am a particularly Happy Annapolitan today! As I said, I am bursting with pride!

My wee little town, Annapolis Royal, has just received another award. This Old House, an American publication, has selected 61 communities across the United States and Canada as their “Best Old-House Neighbourhoods 2012“, and Annapolis Royal was one of only 10 Canadian communities to receive the honour.

This award comes on the heels of many others in recent history for the Town of Annapolis Royal. We are a “Communities in Bloom” Winner at every level of competition, winners of the Prince of Wales Prize for Heritage Stewardship, the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Spirit Award, and numerous other awards for our heritage, our gardens, our green practices and our people.

The one that I am the most proud of, I must confess, is being chosen as The World’s Most Liveable Small Town in 2004. This award was based on all we do, and if you haven’t yet done so, you should read the submission paper. It provides a really good overview of all those areas in which Annapolis Royal excels, areas that folks from all over the world feel are big strengths for the Town.

Our latest award by This Old House is a wonderful reflection on our community.  The author’s words provide a very positive, and very accurate, picture of our Town. The comments left thus far by the readers are heartfelt, demonstrating a great love for their community. Facebook and Twitter have been abuzz today as news of the award spread throughout the community and beyond, giving everyone an opportunity to voice their love and pride for Annapolis Royal.

And this… the people part… this is what it all comes down to in the end. Without the people in and around Annapolis Royal, there would be no awards. There would be old buildings, but without prize-winning stewardship. There would be plants, but no award-winning gardens. There would be a theatre, but no performances. There would be streets, but no festivals. There would be a river, but no waterfront activity.

The people from the area work, play and volunteer to make this community what it is. EVERYONE plays a role in making their community a success, and EVERYONE should be very proud of a job well done.

So… as a born-and-raised Annapolitan I am bursting with pride today, and pretty much every day, thankful for everything about my home town and thankful to all those who step up to bat every day to make good things happen!

Sigh… life is pretty good.

Of generous artists and community fundraisers…

I was called a couple days ago to see if I would be willing to photograph some works of art that will be auctioned this week in support of the Annapolis Royal Pool & Skate Park. Sure, I said… it’s always fun to have a look at what has been created by our local talent.

I was totally blown away by the selection and quality of “mat art” that had been created for this event. Works have been painted by the area’s wonderful artists, who continually donate their talents in support of worthy community projects. And some mats were family projects, in support of these great family facilities in Annapolis Royal.

"Waiting for Paris" by Wayne Boucher (Photo: Boucher)

So to back up for a moment, the artwork in question has all been painted on Floor Cloths/Mats. Floorcloths, known as “oly clothes” in England, are hand painted canvas rugs – best described as art for your floor. They are made of 100% cotton canvas (primed, painted and sealed) and suitable for use anywhere in your home. Many people choose to hang their mats on a wall instead.

And the event in question is called “John Dunsworth – An Evening of Stories“, at King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal – Saturday, February 26 at 7:00pm. The evening is in support of the local swimming pool, and the development of a Skate Park. You can also read more in this great Annapolis Spectator article.

Here is a sampling of the mats available for purchase. To see the whole selection, visit the Facebook Photo Album or the Flickr Photo Album.


By Angela Chartier

By Deb Kuzak

By the Tompkins Family

The mats will be on display at King’s Theatre all week, and in many cases will be sold by Silent Auction, meaning you can bid on them all week as well. Several pieces will be auctioned live at the Saturday evening show, along with some other cool prize packages. Reserve/advance bids are being accepted on the mats – please call Sally at (902) 532-7066.

And be sure to book your ticket for “John Dunsworth – An Evening of Stories” by contacting King’s Theatre.

Congratulations in advance to all the volunteers and artists involved in organizing this event. It promises to be a winner!

National Anthems, and other traditional music…

I feel a rant coming on… well, it actually started in my last post when I wrote about censorship and “political correctness” in music. Today’s topic is related, but then quite different.

As is the custom, I watched the Superbowl last night. And as is the custom, the Superbowl organizers chose to have a music “superstar” sing the National Anthem. In fact, Christine Aguilera sang both the Star Spangled Banner AND America the Beautiful… and she slaughtered them both! (Edit/Addition: I stand corrected… she did not sing America the Beautiful after all, it was Lea Michele and not too bad a job on it. Thanks to an early reader who pointed this out to me!).

Sure, she messed up the words to Star Spangled Banner – a bad faux pas, but she’s human. That’s not my gripe.

My issue is that her ‘rendtitions’ of these two traditional pieces of music, known and loved by all Americans, resembled very little the actual music as it was intended to be sung.  The composers actually put all that musical notation on the page for a reason – this is their music and we have no right to change it to “make it our own”.

We encourage our citizens to be patriotic and “join in the singing of our national anthem” and then it is sung in a way that nobody could possibly sing along. Good grief!

It seems the “superstars” aren’t interested in “leading” an enthusiastic audience in the singing of the anthem – they want to put on a show… it’s all about them! I’d rather see a choir, or a group of school children, hired to do this service – it would be infinitely nicer and more respectful than what these so-called superstars manage each year. And if it must be a superstar (and why must it?) then they should be handed the music and the lyrics and told to sing it the way it was written.

There is a time and place for experimenting with artistic expression… but this ain’t it.

Money for Nothing… censorship Canadian style!

I don’t usually get on my political soapbox… or anyone else’s for that matter. But every now and then something really hits me the wrong way in a big way, and I feel compelled to say something about it.

My country, Canada… respected worldwide as a democratic, peaceful, multicultural land. We respect diversity, we respect freedom of expression… or do we? For anyone who happened to be in outer space for the past two weeks and missed the news, our “strong & free” country has banned a piece of music from the airwaves because it contains the word “faggot”.

Now I’ve heard much worse language in music on the radio, and I’ve heard language on television that is quite vile and entirely unnecessary. And there are lots of shows on television that stereotype various walks of life, but they continue to receive airtime. However, one single word, which incidentally has a variety of definitions, most of which are harmless, has caused the banning of Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” in Canada.

Now in the same tune, they indicate that “Chicks are free” so I suppose I should be insulted by that (being a ‘chick’ and all), but I’m not… it’s just a song. It’s a piece of music. They’re words that, like poetry and artwork,  will often mean different things to different people. If you don’t like it, turn it off.

A colleague of mine, Editor of the local paper, wrote a terrific editorial on this subject which I encourage you to read. He hit the nail on the head as far as I am concerned!

And while I’m on the subject… are we going to re-write every piece of literature, every history book, every Christmas carol just to ensure that they are so absolutely ‘vanilla’ that nobody could possibly take exception to any words therein? I mean, heaven forbid that we could sing hymns and carols in their original words anymore – can’t sing “Sons of earth” because apparently “chicks” like me find that insulting. Do we re-write the classics because they had language that we now consider inappropriate (albeit for good reason)? Do we hire a master artist to “fix” all the great pieces of artwork that have scenes someone might find offensive?  Practically every old book or movie portrays women as the subservient sex – should we ban them all now? Where does this stop?

We can’t erase the past, nor should we – it helps us understand the present and prepare for the future. History is an incredible teacher – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Yes, it’s only about a song today… but what’s next?

All for now…


Make Me an Instrument of Peace…

The video says it all… beautiful music, and words to live by!

Thanks to all the Canadian Armed Forces whose role in peacekeeping has always been well-respected worldwide!

Josh in Afghanistan...

And be safe, Josh!


On one single day of each year, and for only a few moments of the day, we pause to remember… to remember the wars of which I have only heard stories, and the soldiers I never knew. Remembering the sacrifice each made for their country, and for those in other countries. And truly, these sacrifices allow me to enjoy the freedoms I have today. Thank you to each and every one of them! We owe them so much more than a few moments of time each year, don’t we?

Terry Kelly, great singer and songwriter, created a masterpiece after experiencing Nov 11, at 11am, in a store in Nova Scotia and the reactions of those in the store at the time. Have a look/listen and think about it…

Another gem I found on Youtube… a version of that great John McCrae poem that we all know and love… this is a really well done version , very moving. I think it’s the music that really makes it… thus says the musician in me!

So today I’m thinking of all the things that SHOULD be on my mind on Nov 11… and being VERY proud of my nephew who left Nova Scotia today bound for

Be safe Josh! And thank you!

A Happy and Proud Annapolitan