Love is all you need
Amherst News, Amherst, N.S.www.cumberlandnewsnow.com
It starts like a typical rainy day inside the workshop.
At 8:30 a.m. on this Friday morning, employees are rolling in. The shop employees are swapping rain jackets for coveralls, pulled from their lockers.
There’s a hard day of work ahead for Brad Coady in Springhill, but for two of his co-workers the only thing on their minds this weekend is each other. Chris Gooding photo
The girls from the contracts department are making chitchat.
“My doctor says I lost eight pounds and my blood sugar-levels are down,” Sarah says.
“That’s good,” Faye assures.
“Yeah, well, does it look like I lost eight pounds? If I did I’d like to know from where,” she says, arms outstretched as she checks her hips and midriff.
Sherry is nearby, and wants to tell me something.
Sherry’s the type of girl that’s always smiling to begin with, but she is now beaming like a Nova Scotia lighthouse when she confides: “Vance and I are going together.”
I’m taken aback. Vance?
“From woodshop,” Sarah fills me in.
I’m still taken aback. Though, workplace romances happen. In fact, this wouldn’t be the first one at the shop.
“That’s good to hear, Sherry,” I tell her. “Are you happy?”
Her familiar smile is different than usual.
I realize she’s experiencing a level of happiness that falls somewhere between being named prom queen and being Demi Moore in the love scene with Patrick Swayze in Ghost.
She is loved and she is in love.
And, believe this, she is smiling — she is someone special in someone special’s life.
The ebb and flow of Friday continues on for the employees at the Golden Opportunities Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre, a vocational training facility for mentally challenged adults.
But there’s nothing typical about this rainy day at all.
Compassion trumps medicine on home visit
The Telegram, St. John’s, N.L.www.thetelegram.com
The nurse lays the palm of her hand gently against the older woman’s face.
Momentary confusion appears to vanish and the blue eyes — which have seen more than eight decades — brighten again in the morning light filtering from the bedroom window.
Her face is pale and wrinkled, speckled with light brown age spots.
She sits on the side of her bed in a faded nightdress, and smiles back at this outsider in her innermost room.
The house, in an older St. John's area neighbourhood, is quiet except for the odd rumble of traffic outside on a foggy, misty morning.
The top of her dresser appears overflowing with powders, trinkets, brushes, perfume bottles — some tipped and covered in light dust. Some drawers are overstuffed with items of clothing, and can’t close completely. It wasn’t this way in years past — with a strong back and energy she raised three children in this home, found time to clean and tidy and cook while her husband worked.
The nurse’s touch seems to do more to lift the older woman’s spirit than the insulin and medications she administers, or the fresh bandage she places over a nasty ulcer.
The nurse talks joyfully, asking the older lady about family and the weather, while interjecting the embarrassing questions needed to complete her assessment.
"Are you having any trouble moving your bowels?"
The nurse checks the old lady's blood pressure and then eases her back onto her pillow.
The clicking of dishes can be heard downstairs.
The patient’s husband is clumsily making tea. His work continues.
The nurse touches the old lady softly on the arm and smiles. Her work is done.
"See you again soon," the outsider says.
The old lady smiles, and is left listening to the distant but familiar sound of her husband a floor below.
Sitting down, enjoying the parade
The Guardian, Charlottetown, P.E.I.www.theguardian.pe.ca
Herb MacLaine does the final check of his homemade lawn chair before setting the mobile rig in motion for the big parade.
A carpenter by trade, the 59-year-old Meadowbank man crafted the beautiful Adirondack, pine chair to fit securely over top of an electric wheelchair.
Shriner Herb MacLaine last minute adjustments to his playful entry in the Gold Cup Parade in Charlottetown Friday morning. Jim Day photo
MacLaine manages the controls with a Sprite can, leaning back in the chair under a blue and white striped canopy as a couple of Canada flags and a pair of P.E.I. flags flap in the wind and rain.
He dons a red Canada Games jacket, khaki shorts, blue running shoes and a Fez – the tall traditional Shriners purple velvet hat with the scimitar symbol of a crescent, star and sword.
Since joining the Shriners in 1985, MacLaine has relished the camaraderie and the fraternity of the group, though helping the kids is the big thing.
But it’s in parades that they’ve become iconic.
Those hats. Those vehicles. That sense of adults being kids.
Who couldn’t resist straining a neck to see them coming down the street?
But for MacLaine, that doesn’t compare to his joy of actually being on the street.
He’s lining up on this morning with a joyful crew of 30 or so fellow Shriners set to weave along Charlottetown’s Gold Cup Parade route in small cars, mini motorcycles, the Jolly Trolly, Paddy Wagon and the Island Shriner’s Club plane.
He relishes the chance to have children giggle and adults chuckle at his funny parade vehicle that earned him Most Humorous Entry a few years back in Halifax’s Natal Day Parade.
While the crowd reaction is always incredible, MacLaine can’t imagine anyone among the spectators or participants getting more enjoyment from the parade than he does from the perch of his lawn chair.
“We’re probably having more fun than we should be,’’ he gushes.
Stepping out of line
The Aurora, Labrador City, N.L.www.theaurora.ca
A handful of breakfast patrons sit in the greasy spoon.
There may be less than a handful — it’s hard to measure the exact size of a crowd with idioms — but they’re regulars and their plates have long been empty.
Brenda Frampton, owner of a Labrador City greasy spoon, is happiest when the orders are pouring in and familiar faces fill the tables. Ty Dunham photo
Brenda Frampton bought the place three years ago, where familiar faces are welcome and even strangers will be referred to as “Love.”
Every once in awhile, in between flipping bacon and pouring a cup, Frampton sees a suit or skirt enroute to their banking job and she quietly thinks about what could have been.
Then she’s glad she didn’t continue to head that way.
“I did that in…’79. Hated it. It wasn’t for me,” she says amid the clatter of spoons hitting cups, forks scraping plates and voices spilling over tables.
She can take or leave the paperwork. For her, it’s about people.
A realtor walks in, slaps down some change on the counter and hands over his favorite mug before sitting down at a table occupied by older men.
“How about you, you want another tea or coffee or me?” she calls out to a man with a beard, laughing.
“Promises, promises,” he says as he brings his empty cup to the counter.
A crowd mills in through the door and Frampton smiles while calling out the orders of bacon and eggs.
Just glad she didn’t continue to follow the line of suits and skirts.
On water watch
The Digby Courier, Digby, N.S.www.digbycourier.ca
Mike Amero’s oldest daughter is five years old. She doesn’t quite grasp what he does for a living.
She asks every day when he gets home what he did, if he opened any gates.
Mike Amero climbs through the spillway of the Bear River Gulch hydro facility. Jonathan Riley photo
Amero is one of a half dozen Nova Scotia Power employees who operate and maintain the hydro dams in southwestern Nova Scotia.
He’s told his daughter he opens the gates to let water flow to the generators to make electricity.
“Sometimes she turns on a lamp and says, ‘My Daddy made that,’” says Amero.
Today he’s standing atop the Bear River Gulch hydro dam with a long measuring tape on a stand – a piezometer actually.
It also his job to inspect the dams in between the more formal engineer inspections.
He drops the tape into a series of tubes and measures the height of water at various locations inside the dam.
He walks all over the big pile of earth and rock that holds back the flow of the Bear River system.
He walks along a narrow ledge below the spillway, nothing but six feet of concrete between him and a lake of water.
He peers at the concrete intently and then, he hits it, with an open hand, hard, and listens. A hollow sound would indicate the concrete is separating or coming apart.
He hits every spillway in southwest Nova Scotia at least twice a year.
“I take pride in coming out here and checking these dams properly,” he says. “I couldn’t live with myself if something happened and I hadn’t done my job. But I come out here and inspect them like I’ve been trained to and if I see anything that isn’t right, I report it.”
To his bosses, to the engineers and to his little girl.
Years of serving
The Queens County Advance, Liverpool,N.S.www.theadvance.ca
Gaven Whynot is really cooking now.
Those coming through the opening gate for Liverpool’s Hank Snow Tribute move closer to see Whynot and his daughter, Michelle Colp, working their old familiar favorites.
Gavin Whynot has been grilling up sausages for the Hank Snow tribute for 22 of the past 24 years. Nick Moase photo
Father and daughter are heating things up as the tribute kicks off.
And the secret to winning hearts of diehard country and western fans?
“Keep it greasy,” says Michelle, as those nearby laugh with approval.
During Snow’s five decades in the music business, Canada’s legendary export wrote almost 800 songs.
That translates into 80 million records sold, largely to a population that — beyond his flashy stage suits — appreciated his folksy recipe of love, loss and movin’ on.
Gaven isn’t up to millions served, but manning a barbeque grill — along with Michelle — at the tribute over 22 of the events 24 years, he’s handed out an endless workingman’s feast of burgers and dogs.
A bit like Hank Snow.
Reliable through the years, by giving people what they craved.
Grilling isn't Gaven’s day job. Outside the tribute weekend you'll usually find him in his garage just outside of Liverpool at the XTR station on White Point Road.
Like other fans, years ago he just followed his ears and heart and found himself here on the annual music pilgrimage.
His father-in-law was a Hank Snow fan, and his sister-in-law was married to Hank Snow's nephew.
But just as Snow created a world of listeners back in the day, Gaven believes his talents — even playing on a hot grill — is part of something that betters the local community now.
Not only does Gaven buy local, he reasons Hank Snow is still doing his part by creating jobs and bringing people around.
Seeing a steady stream now sharing the same tastes, would likely be something Snow himself could sing about.
Sometimes you can go back to your childhood
The Guardian, Charlottetown, P.E.I.www.theguardian.pe.ca
The dust and debris of a house under major renovation doesn’t prevent Alan Stanley from vividly conjuring up the mouth-watering scents of his mother’s cookies.
In this three bedroom Charlottetown home where Stanley is now tearing down walls and ripping up floors wafts great childhood memories.
Alan Stanley will move with his wife Karen into this house he grew up in once he completes the renovations. Jim Day photo
He was not yet born when his parents Doris and Robert “Bunky” Stanley moved into 166 Belvedere Ave. with Alan’s older brother Bob in 1960.
Alan came along about one year later.
He grew up in this house that was a drop-in place for practically all the kids in the neighbourhood.
His friends would enter the home licking their chops at the pleasant aromas of ginger bread cookies, apple pies, cream puffs and peach upside down cake placed atop the washer and dryer situated in the kitchen.
Mom, Alan recalls fondly, was addicted to baking.
His father, who worked in a bakery when he was younger and later became a shipping clerk, would regularly bake up delicious bread.
“He was the bread maker in more ways than one," says Allan.
Dad died last November. Mom passed away about one year earlier.
Alan is now moving home.
When he was growing up, he thought this house was so big. It is not.
He is actually moving back, in part because the house is smaller than the place he and his wife Karen raised their two children and currently live.
Ultimately, though, Alan is returning to his past – to the days and the years he greatly cherishes.
“I guess I’ve always known I’d end up here,’’ he says, amid memories that are kicked up with the dust.
“This is home. It always will be."
Breathing life into the past
The Packet, Clarenville, N.L.www.thepacket.ca
Steel and Devin Hookey are conspiring here today. Stubbornly colluding to save something from the past, and turn it into bonds for the future.
Hookey walks back into the Green Family Forge, the only traditional blacksmiths shop left in all of Newfoundland.
Jonathan Parsons photo
At only 28 years old, Hookey is a young man in an old trade.
As an apprentice to a local blacksmith, his job is all about cold steel, but the real endearing quality he possesses as he toils away making different handcrafted wares through strength and fire, is his warm heart.
The charismatic young man greets a hundred visitors in a day and patiently describes his practices, manipulating metal and molding minds.
He’s been an apprentice for three years, and while the job may be old-fashioned, Hookey is a perfect fit.
“The best thing about the job, besides making things with your hands, is the people,” says Hookey as he pounds away on a miniature leaf-like key chain, a big-seller for the forge.
The work is bold but also requires a delicate touch. The same way he deals with his visitors.
The ring of his hammer echoes through the old, soot-covered building — a call to visitors to come over.
A young boy searching for a metal dragon that he saw in the shop months ago.
The dragon was sold. Though in this shop — the rare young blacksmith can tell you — things have a habit of rising from the ashes to live again.
Living at a slower pace
The News, New Glasgow, N.S.www.ngnews.ca
She walks backwards down the slippery, narrow ramp, facing her mother as she tries not to fall.
They timed their tour perfectly, ducking into the museum as the day’s soaking made any outdoor activity unbearable and coming out just as the rain subsided with enough time to peek below deck.
Donna Woodall and her daughter Cindy Mackenzie pause from their rainy day activity visiting the Hector Heritage Quay. Amanda Jess photo
“What else do you do on a rainy day?” Cindy Mackenzie asks as she poses for a photo with her mom.
Almost a decade ago, Cindy walked the deck of the Ship Hector, struck by the cramped conditions for 189 Scottish settlers, leaving for a new world.
Donna Woodall waits as her daughter goes below deck into the belly of the ship, exploring the renovations since she had last visited.
“I don’t think that was finished either,” Cindy says pointing towards the captains’ quarters.
She’s not a museum person, but Hector calls her name, stealing two hours of her day many years ago and causing her to return with mother in tow during a visit from British Columbia to see her daughter’s new home – a far cry from Cindy’s last in the bustling city of Toronto.
Cindy had two choices; move back to her home province of B.C. or to her husband’s roots – a choice between mountains and “people on the East Coast.”
Just as the Scots did in 1773, Cindy has come to Pictou County in search of a new way of life.
“A slower pace.”
As she leaves the Hector behind, arm around her mother, it looks like she may have found it.
A juicy reward for hard summer work
The Northern Pen, St. Anthony, N.L.www.northernpen.ca
After nearly three gruelling days of hot summer sun and pesky flies nipping at his arms and neck, Bill Saulter returns home with a hunted prize — 12 gallons of bakeapples.
To many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, the small fruits are almost as beloved as the fish in the ocean.
Bill Saulter of Forteau begins to unload 12 gallons of bakeapples from his ATV.
And just as fishermen have their secret and favoured grounds, so do those who stalk the sweetness of bakeapples.
As part of a longstanding annual tradition, Saulter, a 74-year-old retired fisherman, headed to a rich picking ground near Long Pond, about 20 kilometres inland.
You have to know just where to look on the barrens.
For three days, staying in his cabin for two nights, he picked the berries with his friend, Ren Flynn.
But the 12 gallons are all his own.
He now unloads the four buckets from his ATV in his driveway.
It’s getting late in the year and the bakeapples were getting more scarce. Some are even starting to spoil as the season for them winds to a close.
So Saulter carries them like found gold.
There’s a rich backstory to bakeapples.
Vikings sailed with barrels of them. In Europe they’re called cloudberries, and were used in Nordic countries to fight scurvy.
But all this is barely a footnote to Bill Saulter, who will sell some but keep most of his sweet spoils.
He’s spent days, deep into the hinterland, where the bugs bite deep and the berries grow rich for really one reason.
He just really likes the taste of a good bakeapple.
Glen Whiffen is a reporter/ web editor with The Telegram/TC Media in St. John’s, N.L. He was born in Bonavista and has been working with The Telegram for 24 years.
Jim Day is a feature and investigative reporter for The Guardian, Charlottetown, P.E.I. since 1993. He broke stories on Canadian soldier beating a Somali teenager to death in 1993 and the former nun, Lucille Poulin, for beating children with a wooden paddle in a cult-like group on a farm in P.E.I. He has won several regional and national awards for feature and investigative reporting.
Ty Dunham, a reporter with the Aurora in Labrador City, N.L., has written and photographed for TC • Media for three years. When he’s not holding a cup of coffee or a guitar, he can be found mountain biking and hiking with his wife, daughter, and two dogs on Labrador West’s back trails.
Jonathan Riley reports from his home and birthplace for the Digby Courier, Digby, N.S. He lives and works overlooking the busy harbour just a hop, skip and jump from the firehall where he volunteers. He relaxes on the beach in Smith's Cove and haunts Bear River in search of good coffee, used books, art and live music.
Stephen Roberts has been working with the Northern Pen, St. Anthony, N.L. since September 2012. He covers stories primarily in the Southern Labrador region. Roberts has a Bachelor of Arts in English and currently lives in his hometown of Forteau.
Amanda Jess is a general assignment and arts reporter for The News in New Glasgow, N.S. for the past year. She enjoys coffee and long nights at the office.
Jonathan Parsons is a reporter at The Packet newspaper in Clarenville, N.L. Originally from Bonavista, Parsons provides sports coverage for the area, as well as a variety of other topics on a weekly basis.
Christopher Gooding is an editor for The Citizen-Record in Northern Nova Scotia and digital producer for the www.cumberlandnewsnow.com website.
Nick Moase is the editor of the Queens County Advance, based out of Liverpool, N.S.. Outside of the paper, you'll find him in his workshop building his latest creation or in the kitchen making a mess.