2009 Year in Review
Parrsboro and Area -
The SPAR Community Health Board, which represents Southampton, Parrsboro, Advocate and regions, distributed more than $9,000 to a variety of projects for 2009, handing out the cheques at a get-together at the Glooscap Restaurant. Groups receiving funding included the Walk Around the World project, the Helping Seniors to a Healthier Lifestyle program, the Apple River to Fraserville Get Fit program, and the Advocate Playground Project.
For more than 150 years a lighthouse had watched over Parrsboro's harbour, and a community effort was now afoot to keep it that way. A group of local citizens met with officials from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and was now considering forming an organization to preserve and protect the landmark building. Meanwhile, a coast guard official denied the building was in jeopardy of being divested.
Parrsboro Minor Hockey wrapped up its annual Harrison's tournament with two thrilling finales that saw the local atom team capture its division with a 7-5 win over their Amherst opponent, and the bantam girls lose an overtime thriller. Held over three weekends due to a storm the previous November, the tournament marked the first time that local teams made it to the finals in every division.
Big plans continued for the restoration of Ottawa House, but the Parrsborough Shore Historical Society was first taking measures to protect the historic property from the powerful Fundy tide. A seawall was constructed on the beach in front of Ottawa House in an effort to prevent further erosion of the property, which, in some places along the bank, had lost as much as three feet of land.
Community safety was the priority as local police embarked on a Motor Vehicle Awareness campaign. The Parrsboro RCMP launched a traffic plan to take a structured approach to educating the general public on the vehicle laws, with the initial phase focusing on four sections of the act: school zone safety, speeding, stop signs and seatbelt usage. Const. Dal Hutchinson and Const. Jon Roswell visited Grade Five students at Parrsboro Regional Elementary School to discuss the campaign.
He didn't quite know what to think about it, but Conrad Byers was named Citizen of the Year by the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade. The honourary dinner took place on Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Parrsboro legion, where the local historian was recognized, celebrated and roasted. It was an honour he accepted with both humour and humility, saying it is always nice to be recognized by one's peers.
There was no sign of the winter blues here on Feb. 7 as a large crowd packed into the band hall for its annual variety show. Twenty-nine performers of all ages took to the stage, with performances coming from the likes of young fiddle students, Parrsboro's own "Patsy Cline" Ardis Downey, the local high school drama club and pint-sized Johnny Cash tribute act Adam Canning.
The crowd may have been small but the message was big during Parrsoro's celebration of Flag Day and Heritage Day at Parrsboro's Royal Canadian Legion on Feb. 15. Local historian Conrad Byers addressed those in attendance, speaking of heritage and of the different interpretations people have about heritage, while Parrsboro Mayor Doug Robinson and Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott offered similar messages.
Despite winning only two games all season long, the pressure never got to Fundy Phantoms goaltender Trevor Boardway, and the Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League in turn recognized him for his courage under fire. The 19-year-old was awarded top goaltender and most sportsmanlike player in the league's annual awards presentations, after his first year playing with the team.
The Town of Parrsboro made the third Monday in February an annual holiday for its staff, and was hoping it would help encourage the provincial government to take a similar step. Parrsboro took a lead on the issue by declaring the "Family Day" civic holiday, and Mayor Doug Robinson agreed to write a letter to Premier Rodney MacDonald to encourage the province to create a province wide statutory February holiday through legislation.
Advocate's nurse practitioner, Cheryl Smith, had a new place to call home with the opening of the Advocate and Area Primary Health Care Centre on March 10. The new $70,000 clinic had been in the works for the past two to three years and, with Cumberland Health Authority officials and local politicians present, along with staff and health authority members, the ribbon was cut and the clinic was open for business.
For more than a century Ross Smith's family has been in the funeral business, and, during the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade's annual general meeting on March 11, Smith's Funeral Home was named Business of the Year. It was Smith's great-grandfather that began the business in the 1800s and, with his children involved, it has been five generations that have kept the business in Parrsboro and made it one of the oldest continuous family-owned funeral businesses in Canada.
Sixty-four years after unsuccessfully trying to rescue three youngsters buried under a landslide on a Greenhill beach, Lyle Yorke was warning all about the danger of beachcombing near the cliffs due to the instability caused by the frost coming out of the ground in late March. Yorke was only 13 when Charles Foster, Lois McCully and Pauline Harvey perished on March 25, 1945.
When you're 18 years old, a full-time student and a part-time worker, there is rarely a lot of spare time to go around. Martina Yorke makes the most out of the extra time she has, however, as an active volunteer in her community. One day might find her coaching young children at the local skating club, while the next might find her spending time with the seniors living at South Cumberland Community Care Centre. For those reasons and more, she was recognized by town council's youth volunteer of the year. The McCully/Perry family was honoured as a volunteer family.
There are potholes, and then there is this. An elderly couple were traveling down the Brook and Branch Road in Port Greville on April 4 when their car fell into a hole in the road, leaving them immobilized until determined passersby helped get them moving again. Nearby resident Glenn Wheaton had noticed a small hole in the road there the previous day, and guessed the heavy rain the night before had eroded the ground underneath the asphalt enough to cause the road to give away under the weight of the car.
Following a cabinet meeting in Springhill on April 8, Cumberland South MLA and Minister of Economic and Rural Development Murray Scott showed various government officials first hand the need to come up with a solution for rising sea levels throughout Cumberland County. Agriculture Minister Mark Parent, along with officials from the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO,) joined Scott to tour the shores along Advocate, River Hebert and the Maccan area.
The expansion project at the Age of Sail Heritage Centre heated up at the Greville Bay Shipbuilding Museum Society's annual general meeting in Port Greville, as Thomas Young of RMA Tourism addressed issues such as attracting and retaining visitors by using an interactive approach. Young, hired as a consultant for the project, said it is now time to develop the potential for the centre to be a huge attraction, and to expand the exhibits, collections, research space for meetings and workshops for the community.
For 16 years it has helped salmon swim upriver to spawn, but a fish way installed at Parrsboro's aboiteau gates was destroyed during recent spring runoff, according to members of a local fishing group. Carl Cameron and Randy Corcoran, members of the Parrsboro Recreational Fishing Association, appeared before Parrsboro Town Council at its April 28 session to seek help in rebuilding the fish way, which Corcoran said was washed out because of a gate bay left open by the town's public works staff.
The Fundy Geological Museum received conformation over the past weekend that the provincial government is kicking in $500,000 towards the museum's "re-branding and renewal" project. Museum staff, along with board chair Karen Dickinson, were present at the museum on Saturday, May 2, when Cumberland South MLA and Minister of Economic Development Murray Scott confirmed the province's commitment to the $1.15 million project.
Faith Anderson and Gloria McPhee were planning a trip to Nairobi, Kenya to spend a month there doing volunteer support work. Although paying for the trip themselves, the longtime friends were calling on community support to help them provide items such as mosquito nets and basic medication to people during their stay in the impoverished nation.
For the second straight year, the Battle of the Atlantic was remembered here with a special outdoor ceremony at the end of the Parrsboro wharf. With last year's sunshine replaced by gusting winds and overcast skies, the turnout was smaller for this year's event. Taking place at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 17, the local ceremony was held two weeks later than the first Sunday in May, when the Battle of the Atlantic is normally observed.
Recession or not, local tourism promoters were preparing for what they expected to be a positive season on this shore. The Town of Parrsboro's tourism committee was working on a number of initiatives to make sure it served as the third point of a triangle for the region, with its other anchor destinations being Cape Chignecto Provincial Park and Cape d'Or in the Advocate area, and the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. Mary McPhee was hired as a community development coordinator, to work on Main Street improvements and the national Communities in Bloom program.
Ken Snowdon was pleasantly surprised during his annual winter stay in Florida when he received a call from Recreation Nova Scotia, informing him that the Town of Parrsboro had selected him as its representative volunteer of the year for 2009. Having been nominated by the Parrsborough Shore Historical Society for his countless hours of work at Ottawa House museum, Snowdown accepted his plaque from deputy mayor David Harrison at the town's monthly session on May 23.
It was just another day at the office for Parrsboro Mayor Doug Robinson, even though doctors diagnosed him with acute leukemia and told him he had only a couple of months to live. The mayor handled the situation in the same, calm, matter-of-fact way that he has handled town affairs as mayor for almost 12 years, saying he felt fortunate that the Lord had given him this time to straighten out his affairs.
Cadets in the 689 Handley Page Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets underwent their annual review on June 13 at the Parrsboro legion with Commander Martin Langford as the reviewing officer. Commanding officer Keith Odlin filled the audience in on a busy year for the squadron, while an emotional tribute was paid to longtime civilian instructor and former commanding officer Doug Robinson, who accepted an honourary salute from the squadron and heartfelt words of appreciation for his years of work with the group.
The Town of Parrsboro delivered another balanced budget, but raised taxes slightly in the process. Town council approved a one cent hike in its residential tax rate to $2.04 per $100 of assessment, while it hiked its commercial tax rate a whopping 16 cents per $100 of assessment, although 15 cents of this increase was to make up for the elimination of the business occupancy tax. Auditor George Jorgensen proclaimed the town to be in "excellent financial position."
Leadership is an open-minded aggressive attitude. That was the message from guest speaker Don Allison to Parrsboro Regional High School's graduating class of 2009, as he addressed the group of 42 graduating students during ceremonies held at the school's gymnasium on June 26. Allison encouraged the graduates to take their next step thinking of numerous examples of how perseverance can lead to great accomplishments.
Almost all the ingredients of Canada Day at Ottawa House museum were there - the cake auction on the deck, the Parrsboro Citizens Band playing in the yard, the air cadets raising the Canada flag, and Conrad Byers in a top hat. The only thing missing was Parrsboro Mayor Doug Robinson, although his absence did not go unnoticed. A fly past from a naval helicopter out of Halifax in tribute to the ailing mayor was a highlight of the event.
Thanks to the generosity of local citizen Paul Morse, the local legion branch purchased an automatic external defibrillation (AED), a machine that can help revive someone in cardiac arrest. The machine, complete with training materials, was received with gratitude by the legion's executive members, including branch president Keith Odlin, a paramedic who said the machine could make the difference between life and death, due to the ambulance not always being nearby.
Parrsboro turned 120 years old, celebrating with a gathering at the town hall property on Wednesday, July 15, with many more activities planned in participation with the Communities in Bloom program. Developments so far saw local garden club members sprucing up the courtyard at South Cumberland Community Care Centre, and in Gavin Park and other areas of Main Street, while the band stand was painted and perennials and shrubs planted all around it, as well as at the library. Hanging baskets and trees were added to Main Street, while a street clean-up and beach sweep helped tidy the town.
The Orangemen captured their fourth straight Don Yorke Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament recreational division championship, and this time it was not close. Combining power hitting and experience with young speed, the team was untouchable in the July 26 final, defeating the Underdawgs 14-2 after five innings due to the mercy rule. In the co-ed division, Sam's Brewsters pulled off the win, defeating the Sunshine Team 6-1 in the final after losing in the final game the previous year.
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park staff, volunteers, local residents and dignitaries celebrated the long-awaited grand opening of the park's Eatonville day-use area, marking the next step in the evolution of one of the crown jewels of Nova Scotia's rugged coastline. Located in the once-thriving settlement of Eatonville Harbour, the new day-use area allows visitors to enjoy some of the park's most stunning geological features and scenery such as the Three Sisters rock formation and the raised beach at Squally Point from the safety of professionally engineered viewing platforms.
Flying was one of the greatest things in the world, according to local air cadet Malcolm Campbell, a 16-year-old member of the 689 Handley Page Air Cadet Squadron in Parrsboro. After five years with the cadets program, Campbell was wrapping up a six-week Glider Pilot Scholarship Program at the Debert Airport, and had ambitions of heading into the air force.
After a lifetime dedicated to collecting and promoting local fossil and mineral discoveries, poor health caused internationally-renowned rockhound Eldon George to place a for sale sign in the window of his Parrsboro Rock and Mineral Shop. As a highlight of this year's Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show, members of the Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Association were on hand during opening ceremonies on Aug. 14 to present George with a plaque for his lifetime achievements.
The youth summer sports programs saw fluctuating numbers during August as families headed for the beaches and swimming pools, recreation director Marc Chagnon explained during the program's wrap-up party on Friday, Aug. 21. Despite the competition from Mother Nature, however, it was an overall good summer for the programs, as registration numbers were up from the previous year.
Cat lovers were excited to see the Lucky Paws Cat Club hosting its fourth annual cat show in Parrsboro on Sept. 12 at the Lions Arena. There were about 80 cats from all over North America attending the show, along with vendors such as the Lucky Paws club, local artist Arlene Collins, Chickadee Cat Club and Royal Canin (cat food company) along with others who had booths set up. It was the 14th show put on by the club, and the fourth in Parrsboro.
Wanting a recreational extreme sport that he and his family enjoy, Jim Salter and his family decided to take it one step further and turn it into a business. Since the second week in July, residents of Parrsboro and visitors alike were able to do a little "paint balling" at Line of Sight Adventures on Western Avenue in Parrsboro. So far, Salter had taken three acres of the 25-acre plot of land where he intends to expand the area for other sports and extreme sports in the future.
The development of tidal energy in the Bay of Fundy surpassed a major hurdle when it received the green light from the provincial Department of Environment. Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau offered his approval for the demonstration project in waters near Parrsboro, subject to a number of conditions, in an announcement on Tuesday, Sept. 15. Conditions for the minister's approval included stipulations that the Fundy Ocean Research Centre (FORCE), a new not-for-profit organization set up to steer the project, is responsible for developing an environmental effects monitoring program and establishing an environmental effects advisory committee.
After 12 years serving as Mayor of Parrsboro, Doug Robinson stepped down as the head of the town due to health reasons. Robinson submitted a letter of resignation during the Sept. 22 town council session. After being diagnosed with acute leukemia during the spring, Robinson decided that it was time to pass over the reigns to deputy mayor David Harrison until a byelection is held.
Planting trees within the community has become tradition for Parrsboro Home Hardware during the last week of September, which marks National Forest Week, with Maple Leaf Day celebrated on the last Wednesday in September. This year's location for the annual tree planting for Parrsboro Home Hardware, in conjunction with Tree Canada, was the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 45. On Sept. 9, preparation for the tree planting was completed at the site, and the trees were planted by Heidi Blenkhorn of Home Hardware and legion branch president Keith Odlin.
Rob Bentley, who took over the reins from Don Short as musical director of the historic Parrsboro Citizens Band, said the band would continue to promote its open door policy to welcome any new members who play or are interested in learning how to play an instrument. To help in this regard, the band now has a "farm team" junior band that meets once weekly, and is made up of those who wish to play with the band but are not yet ready to jump right into it.
Having already scaled academic heights like few others, Jake Yorke reached a different kind of pinnacle when he joined with two friends on the Sept. 26 weekend in the National Three Peaks Challenge, a mountain-endurance challenge in Great Britain with a history of over 40 years. The Parrsboro native, who is studying at Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, participated in the event in support of a cause back home- and one close to his heart - the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
He may not be mayor anymore, but a new tree planted on the town civic grounds further rooted Doug Robinson's legacy in the Town of Parrsboro. The former mayor, who was recently hospitalized, was celebrated during a special ceremony in front of town hall on Saturday, Oct. 17, as his wife Shirley, children and other family members were on hand for the unveiling of the tree, part of the town's Harvest Fest activities.
With the arrival of the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, residents of Advocate were encouraged that money will begin to flow to fix a breach in the seawall surrounding their community before it becomes submerged under water. Gail Shea toured Advocate last Saturday to inspect the breach in the seawall in West Advocate and to listen to the concerns of 60 citizens who gathered at the Advocate Fire Hall.
The town recreation department was moving ahead on a number of priorities arranged in a new strategic plan for recreation. The plan, put together by recreation coordinator Marc Chagnon and the town recreation committee, was formulated with community input through a survey circulated the previous year. Priority areas identified included the development of trails, green spaces, facilities, programming, awareness, leadership development, support of community groups, and increased physical activity levels.
While recognizing the reality of war, it was the pursuit of peace that was the focus of Parrsboro Regional Elementary School's annual Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 6. Although the student population was visibly diminished as a flu bug swept the county, the message of peace was heard loud and clear from the students, as each class read messages of peace and placed them with large paper poppies at the front of the gymnasium.
Spectators from land, sea and air watched in excitement as the largest in-stream tidal device in North America was installed offshore near Black Rock on Thursday, Nov. 12. Tugboats towed the massive turbine, which had sat overnight in a protected cove after being pulled all the way from Port Hawkesbury, to its Black Rock location in the Minas Channel, with the benefit of sunny skies and calm seas. The turbine was submerged quickly, with no apparent problems.
With one seat available on Parrsboro town council, five candidates presented themselves in a candidates' forum hosted by the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade at the Parrsboro Fire Hall on Nov. 19. Candidates Gleneida Canning, Ralph Foster, Troy Melanson, Lloyd Smith and Lisa Ward responded to a series of questions from a large crowd of residents gathered for the event.
Goalies from each playoff game throughout the 11th annual Harrison's Parrsboro Minor Hockey Tournament were awarded the Gordie Strong Top Goalie Award during the two-weekend-long event. The new memorial award honoured the avid hockey player for the local Old Timers hockey team, and Gerry Boutilier made the four presentations in honour of his former teammate, who lost a battle with cancer earlier in the year.
Lois Smith made history on Dec. 5, becoming Parrsboro's first-ever female mayor. The travel agent, retired teacher, and veteran town councillor was elected in a four-way race, receiving 430 votes, defeating former mayor Stanford Blenkhorn, who received 275 votes. Ron Levy finished third in the race with 46 votes, while Joel Smith picked up 13. Lisa Ward won the council seat vacated by Smith, winning a close race over four other candidates.
Santa came early to Fundy Geological Museum, as the facility received $1 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments for a long-awaited renovation project. Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong announced Dec. 15 $450,000 in federal funding for the museum's renovations to the exhibit gallery. Adding to the pot, Truro-Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann announced the province was kicking in another $550,000 for the project.
The formalities were over, and a new mayor and council were in charge at town hall after Lois Smith was sworn in as Parrsboro's new mayor at a special council meeting on Dec. 16. The packed crowd at town hall also witnessed the swearing-in of new councillor Lisa Ward, who was elected to fill the vacancy left behind by Smith when she decided to run for mayor.