Friday, May 02, 2008

Blog Jam from Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

I'm making good progress, I'm in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, not too far from Sydney, from where I'll take the ferry to Newfoundland late tomorrow night.

Weather has been kind, just a slight drizzle later on in the afternoon.

Thoughts from the road:

Why on earth are there so many trucks? Are we out of our minds? One truck and driver transports so little compared to a freight train which could cart so much more with far, far less environmental impact (fuel, road wear and tear, danger, etc.) I thought then of the resultant unemployed truck drivers. Perhaps they could be employed in rail maintenance, or as station agents, who knows. But the trucks need to be removed, this is so clear to me. At times in the last few days for a few miles of highway it was just me and twenty or so trucks. I counted. One gets bored on the road ;^)

Is it just me or is there far less variety in shops these days? You think there's variety but if you look closely all the drinks and fruit juices and water are Coca-Cola and the snacks are Frito-Lay or Cadbury Schweppes Powell. They sell the illusion of choice. And the stuff is rubbish, no taste to any of it. And so few places on the road carry fruit or vegetables.

Heard in a restaurant in Nova Scotia today:
"No, we don't carry bottle water anymore." YAY and AMEN. But then again, Nova Scotia is the world leader in recycling.

Like Newfoundland being more Irish than Ireland, Nova Scotia ("New Scotland")is more Scottish than Scotland.

Pipers and kilts prevail here and can be seen sometimes, at a distance, patrolling the beaches as they practise their notes. Nova Scotia's own gorgeous tartan is everywhere, the pride in the homeland is palpable.

I've had my fill of clams and Digby scallops in the last few days and I hear there are boatloads of lobsters ready for the eating and the price is cheaper than last year.

Nova Scotia has had its share of tragedies, too, mainly related to the coal mines. There have been many appalling disasters over the years.

I leave you tonight with what I believe is the most powerful mining song ever: Working Man.
Written and performed by Rita MacNeil (in honour of her father, I think) accompanied by the Men of the Deep, the famous Nova Scotia coal-miner choir.

I dare you to have a dry eye at the end of it.


  1. That was a beautiful song. We dare not have such nostalgic music about our miners here and would dismiss it as a sentimental rag. In the Netherlands, sentiment is for the lower classes, who are considered more gullible for those sort of things. Sentimentalism is not a great virtue, neither is nationalism, although being proud of your province is somewhat okay, but not too much of that. You must never let these kind of emotions rule your heart as they lead to war and civil unrest. (See Germany)

    Happy to hear that your trip is going well and that you are nearing your destination. I think about you a lot and about your safety. I know you will be fine, because you are WWW!!!

  2. There was always strong affection for British miners back in the days when there were still masses of working coal mines (before Mrs Thatcher closed most of them and threw all the miners on the dole). There's still a tremendous sense of community in the old mining districts even though many people have moved on to other jobs and lifestyles.

  3. No offense, wisewebwoman, but if you think "Working Man" is the best coal mining song ever written, I'd venture to say that you haven't heard many in your time... I can name you 100 better coal mining songs, and I'm not exaggerating... Have a safe trip!

  4. Irene:
    I'm glad that these terribly dangerous, hazardous jobs can be recalled in song and pride in one's province can't be a bad thing surely? We are a peace-loving nation here. And none of us can forget where we came from.
    I will never forget the film "How green was my valley" which did a wonderful service to the coalminers and their work.
    Ah anonymouses:
    Where would we be without you and your presumptions? Of course I've heard many coal-mining songs and rather than hint at your encyclopaedic knowledge of them all, maybe you could share one or ten with the rest of us?
    I did have a safe trip, thank you.

  5. My grandfather was a Lancashire miner. He was crippled by a roof fall when he was in his thirties. He also had those odd blue scars on his back that you got from knocking semi naked against the coal seams. Lots of miners died from emphysemia, from the coal dust. Lancashire miners had their own hospital in Blackpool. I'm not sure where I stand on Mrs Thatcher's treatment of them. But I was immensely impressed by the miners loyalty to each other, no matter how badly lead they were - and they were badly lead.

  6. OF:
    It was a horrible way to earn a living in the days without safety measures or sanctions. Your grandfather's life over in his thirties without any form of compensation either, I would venture.


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