Encounter at Kwacha House

Every few years I look at a National Film Board film called Encounter at Kwacha House. It's described as "a lively discussion between black and white youths at the interracial club in Halifax, touching on racial discrimination in employment, housing, education and interpersonal relations." I'd describe it as essential viewing, particularly at this moment when… Read More

Playing Bridge

Listen. Do you hear the wails of despair and anger from the thousands of commuters that use Quinpool Road everyday? The bridge over the railway cut is going to be repaired, and the road will be closed for four months. Lots of ideas are wafting around about how the project could have been planned better.… Read More

Meet you on the government wharf

These days there is lots of talk about place: place making in communities, and the importance of places that reflect our values, or places that inform our narrative. For Sheila and me, government wharves are such places, and we seek them out on our rambles around Nova Scotia. In many coastal communities, they are a… Read More

An Extraordinary New Building on Gottingen Street

The other day Matthew Halliday tweeted a picture of an "extraordinary" new building stretching along the Gottingen Street edge of the sprawling Canadian Forces Base. I stopped to take a look for myself, and, although unfinished, the building appears committed to presenting an exceptionally dreary face to the street. It is the new Consolidated Seamanship Training… Read More

Real Fake Wood Grain

Do you have feelings about fake wood grain finishes? For many of us, who came of age in the 60s and 70s, it was synonymous with cheap, artificial, and unattractive, because we were surrounded by wood-grained crap. Sheets of wood grain paneling covered the walls of innumerable rec rooms, and vinyl siding with embossed wood patterns… Read More

A Seaside Cemetery

When we decided to buy our house, 25 years ago, one of the reasons was the harbour view framed by an overgrown cemetery across the road. See a few stones poking through the vegetation? That's the old refinery area of Dartmouth on the other shore. And just over to the left is the container port.… Read More

You Really Rock me

There was a time when most people in Halifax could look at the photo below and know exactly what was happening and where. Today, I'm guessing, not so much. It was taken on a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1958, and that's 11-year-old me in the centre, leaning on a pole with my older… Read More

The Bright of Winter

Let it shine In many winters we have traveled to somewhere warmer, but not this year. So let me show you some things that are brightening up our lives in this cold and dark and northern place we choose to live. Sheila and I went downtown one evening last week because I spoke some magic… Read More

Best face forward

In the 1970s I spent a lot of time wandering in downtown Halifax and the old South End, observing and pondering the choices people had made about the design and construction of their homes and businesses. One peculiarity, that you may well have noticed too, is that many of the oldest masonry homes in Halifax… Read More

Country House Survivor

Does this weather get you thinking about sunnier places and warmer times? I've been remembering a big summer house we visited regularly in the 1990s, that relaxed comfortably in a mature landscape on the Atlantic coast near Chester, Nova Scotia. Our friend Joanne was a friend of the owner's family, and would rent the house… Read More