Year in Review - Parrsboro Area

Staff ~ The Amherst Citizen
Published on December 30, 2010


After another year of ups and downs for Parrsboro, new mayor Lois Smith sat down for a year-end interview with the Citizen, speaking on topics ranging from sewer rates to tidal power, the economic recession, the new council, Main Street businesses, the proposed new nursing home, and the transition at town hall following the retirement of CAO Ashley Brown, and the resignation and death of former mayor Doug Robinson.

Parrsboro friends Faith Anderson and Gloria McPhee spent five weeks in Kenya, volunteering for the Fadhili Helpers, an international organization set up to work with orphanages and non-governmental organizations to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable rural development. The pair immersed themselves in Kenyan culture and everyday life, volunteering at medical clinics, orphanages, and putting to good use the money collected from various fundraising activities that took place at home prior to their departure.

The Advocate Volunteer Fire Department opened its new Apple River substation after years of planning, cutting red tape and fundraising. The new substation houses one of the department’s pumper/tanker trucks, enabling a quicker response to emergencies in areas such as New Salem and Apple River, which is located about 18 km from the department’s station in East Advocate, about a 25-minute drive by fire truck.

Even though he passed away in October of 2009, Doug Robinson’s continued influence from a 13-year tenure as mayor of Parrsboro was recognized during a special presentation to his wife Shirley and their family on Jan. 22 at the Cumberland Regional Economic Deveopment Association (CREDA) office in Amherst. Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter, Springhilll Mayor Allen Dill, Oxford Mayor Lloyd Jenkins, Parrsboro Mayor Lois Smith and Amherst deputy mayor Terry Rhindress presented Mrs. Robinson with a lighthouse carved by Nova Scotia Crystal.



The Canadian government announced its support of tidal energy exploration in Parrsboro, committing $850,000 towards an interpretive and research centre dedicated to the fledgling in-stream power. Scott Armstrong, Member of Parliament for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, announced money is being made available through the federal government’s Communities Adjustments Fund. When completed, the 3,500-square-foot centre will cost more than $1 million and house an operations and visitors centre for research into tidal energy featuring labs, interpretive exhibits, a community room and tidal energy related components aimed towards educational tours.

Vietnamese orphan Hoang Son Pham returned home with a new lease on life thanks to the removal of much of a large facial tumour at a Boston hospital while he spent the last two years living with a family in Halifax. The costly procedures were made possible thanks to donations that poured in from across Canada, including the generous support of Parrsboro car dealer and blueberry farmer Art Sargent. During his time in Nova Scotia, the youth paid several trips to Parrsboro to visit Sargent, who said he was taken with his story after first reading about it in a newspaper in the summer of 2007.

Teaching Parrsboro Regional Elementary School students how the RCMP effectively use police dogs was how Cpl. Rick Mosher and his partner Stinger spent the morning of Feb. 15. Mosher and Stinger gave students in Grades Primary through Grade 6 a crash course in how police dogs are used within the RCMP along with credentials necessary for the dogs making them an asset to the force.

Domestic violence is a problem that not only affects families but also affects communities, and 100 members of the community attended a Silent Witness ceremony in recognition of Bernice Gertrude (Falkenham) Mills at the Fundy Geological Museum. Her husband shot Mills to death in her home before he turned the gun on himself on Oct. 17, 1997. During the ceremony, Mills’s daughter, Donna Chandler, her aunt, Dora Fuller and Nova Scotia attorney general and minister of justice Ross Landry unveiled a red silhouette in honour of Mills.



Mild temperatures and rain saw the cancellation of several outdoor events planned for later in the week during the local winter festival activities, such as a coasting party at the Don Yorke Memorial Ball Field, a snowman competition at Ship’s Company Theatre, and wagon rides around town. Inclement weather also caused the cancellation of a planned bus trip to Ski Wentworth, but earlier events such as a snowshoeing venture to Wards Falls and ball hockey at the tennis court were well received.

While most Canadians were glued to their TV sets watching the gold medal hockey game between Canada and the U.S.A., Const. Dennis Munroe was in an airplane, heading home after his own Olympic experience. The Advocate resident officer was one of the few RCMP officers selected for the security detail during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C. As a sports fan, he said he was pretty excited to find out in January that he had been selected.

For 25 years, local youth have benefited from the air cadets program, and the organization was making careful preparations to celebrate the milestone. Although the 25th anniversary of the organization’s charter was to be marked on April 1, a celebratory dinner was being planned at the legion for April 17.

Joan Jones, who owns and operates Sweet Brier Boutique on Main Street in Parrsboro, was honoured with the Business of the Year Award by the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade at its annual meeting on March 17. Jones, who planned to celebrate her 30th year in business sometime during the summer, said it was “quite an honour” to be recognized, and that she would like to see more businesses open up on Main Street to fill some of the vacancies and create more of a buzz.



Six years after moving to Parrsboro, Karine McGregor was recognized by the town and honoured by the province for her dedicated volunteerism. The busy retiree was to travel to Halifax on April 12 to receive the provincial Volunteer of the Year award, in recognition of her efforts in such areas as Parrsboro’s Communities in Bloom project, the Catholic Women’s League, Relay for Life, Ship’s Company Theatre and Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum.

For years it’s been one of the town’s quieter, scenic and rural areas to live, but Phinney Lane has been a private road. Resident Matthew Brewer wants to change all that. Brewer, who owns several acres of property in the area, said he is prepared to subdivide the properties into residential building lots if the town is prepared to take over the road and provide services such as maintenance and snow removal. He presented his idea to town council, which was awaiting a visit from engineers to explore the amount of work the road might need.

Local high school students received a glimpse of some of their career options on April 12, as the Parrsboro Drug Awareness Committee hosted its biannual career conference at Parrsboro Regional High School. Students from Grades 7 to 12 took in various presentations from a wide variety of professionals, and seemed to receive the information positively.

Recognizing the value of the Age of Sail Heritage Centre to the local tourism industry, Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong affirmed the federal government’s commitment to tourism at an April 18 meeting in Port Greville. The MP was guest speaker at the Greville Bay Shipbuilding Museum Society’s annual general meeting, where he took the time to compliment the society for its dedicated service to the community and its mandate since 1992.



You can never be too prepared for an emergency, but staff members at South Cumberland Community Care Centre were trying their best on April 26 during a “mock disaster” training exercise. The objective of the event was to prepare for situations in which the facility’s patients and long-term care residents would have to be evacuated, and to test out updates to the centre’s emergency plan. High school student volunteers stood in for patients during the exercise.

Life is not a fairy tale, but Kimberley MacMillan and four of her friends were hoping their Relay for Life participation would help make for a few more happy endings. The youths formed their own team, “Everyone Deserves a Happily Ever After,” and were well under way in raising funds for the annual Canadian Cancer Society event to be held in Parrsboro for the third time on June 11-12.

Only two years after opening its doors in Parrsboro, Bare Bones Bistro has been recognized for its tourist appeal. The Main Street dining establishment was honoured with the Food and Beverage Award at the Central Nova Tourist Association’s annual general meeting and awards banquet on May 6 in Truro, with owners Glenn and Sue Wheaton on hand to accept.

Ship's Company Theatre will continue to be a showcase for new and emerging artists from across Atlantic Canada thanks to funding from the federal government. The $7,715 in funding is being provided through the Canada Arts Presentation Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage. It will go to support the theatre's summer concert series that's entering its 11th year. The summer concert series runs from July through September and includes seven concerts held each Monday evening at the theatre featuring a diverse range of professional and emerging artists.

With each storm that hits the community, residents of Advocate Harbour cringe at what could happen if there's another storm surge like the one in December 2008. That's why residents here are breathing a sigh of relief that an engineering study is going to be completed to determine the best way to fix the seawall for good. The $146,000 study was announced in Advocate on May 21.



The Town of Parrsboro set its tax rates for the 2010-2011 fiscal year at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on May 22, with residential taxes staying the same and the commercial tax rate making a bump. Council approved an operating budget of $1.9 million and kept residential taxes at $2.04 per $100 of assessed property while the commercial rate rose to $4.17 from $3.93.  The increase in commercial taxes, Mayor Lois Smith explained, is due to the provincial agenda to phase out occupancy taxes.

The Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth (P.A.R.T.Y.) program was presented to students in Grades 8-12 here on June 2, as public health and primary health employees visited the school. Focusing on prevention of all trauma-related deaths and injuries, the three-hour interactive program emphasized motor vehicle accidents, and the effects of poor decisions.

Numbers were down for this year’s Relay for Life, but spirits seemed higher than ever. The annual fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society took place at the Lions Arena on the night of June 11-12, with teams walking with survivors and caregivers, all united for the cause. With 2010 being an Olympic year, participants carried artificial torches throughout the relay, after team captains gathered to “light” a symbolic cauldron on the stage prior to the kick-off survivor’s walk.

Planners of the Classics By the Bay annual classical music festival in Parrsboro were hoping to broaden the audience of an already popular event. Returning for the second festival were some of last year’s well-received performers, such as organist Sarah Svendsen and violinist Timi Levy, while a multimedia presentation, Hooked on Classics, featuring Eleanor Hall and Jean Trider was added with hopes of appealing to younger generations.



The first night of the rest of their lives started at Parrsboro Regional High School on Monday night as the graduating students accepted their diplomas from principal Pam Hoar. The evening began with the principal congratulating the students on their achievements and wishing them all the best for their futures before introduction to the guest speaker of the evening. Mayor Lois Smith, a retired PRHS teacher, was guest speaker for the event, remarking that she recognized many parents in the audience as her former students.

Over 200 guests visited the Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum on Canada Day for birthday cake and to learn a little about the museum’s history from local historian Conrad Byers. A cake auction later in the afternoon brought in just over $700 for the museum’s future maintenance and upgrades.

Peter Spicer loves working in his woodlot, but proposed changes to the industry in Nova Scotia had him concerned for the future. Spicer, who  owns and operates Seven Gulches Forest Products, says some of the recommendations contained in the recently completed Nova Scotia Natural Resources Strategy (Phase II) will make it difficult for smaller operators like him to succeed.

A large crowd was on hand to witness Alyson Pickard being crowned the 2010 Old Home Week Queen on Friday, July 16 at the Lions Arena. The other three participants in the competition – Danielle McCulley, Taylor Rector and Samantha Shaw – were named princesses. Alyson Pickard was also voted Miss Congeniality by her peers.

Ball players converged in Parrsboro on the weekend of July 23-25 for the annual Don Yorke Memorial Slo-Pitch Tournament, and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of what has become a major charity contributor and one of the largest social gatherings of the year. As part of opening ceremonies, the Gordie Strong Memorial Award for longevity in sports was presented to veteran player James Allen, while also unveiled was a wooden bench handcrafted by long-time volunteer Ron Smith with help from Lorna and Brittany Yorke in memory of the late Randy Yorke.



It was turkey, potatoes, turnip, carrots, onions, molasses, brown sugar, homemade bread and apple crisp drizzled with cream on the menu at the Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum on July 31 during 250th anniversary celebrations of the New England Planters. In addition to a series of workshops and the supper, there was also a Planter church service at the Baptist Church in Parrsboro with a music concert pus skit that evening.

It has been 10 years since Parrsboro’s community radio station first hit the airwaves, and the time was perhaps fitting for the major equipment upgrade it was set to receive. Station volunteers were looking forward to having a brand new soundboard installed in the fall, as well as new telephone equipment and renovations to its studio space. The new equipment was made possible through a provincial government grant.

Fish can now easily pass through the gates of Parrsboro’s aboiteau, thanks to the diligent efforts of a few volunteers and a co-operative community. Randy Corcoran was grateful to the many volunteers, as well as the Town of Parrsboro and the provincial Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for assisting with the reconstruction of the fish passage, which had allowed fish like salmon to pass through the aboiteau gates and proceed upriver to spawning grounds.

The Nova Scotia Gem and Mineral Show opened for its 45th anniversary show on Friday, Aug. 20, when organizers took time to give some credit to those who don’t always receive it. Hand-carved walking sticks were presented to retiring Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott, as well as long-time Department of Natural Resources employees who have helped make the event a success since its inception as the Rockhound Round-up in 1965.



A proposed 22-bed long-term care facility in the western portion of Cumberland South was canceled, when Keith Menzies, executive director of the Department of Health’s Continuing Care branch, said bids received on the request for proposals were higher than the maximum costing available for the project. The province never announced where the facility would be built, but it was believed to be going somewhere near the Parrsboro area.

After researching numerous aspects of the history of Diligent River and the surrounding area for more than five years, Gale (Allen) Boland found a variety of information including the history of five churches, the schools in Diligent River, Wharton, Cannonville and Yorke Settlement, several general stores, a community hall, sawmills, shipbuilding, the building of dykes, roads and wharves, as well as transportation, communication and postal service. She named the project Diligent River Roots.

Air cadets who attended summer camps this year seemed to agree that it was a great experience. The only disagreement between the cadets seemed to be on which camp was the best. Among the participants was graduating cadet WO1 Malcolm Campbell, who earned his power pilot’s wings after a seven-week camp in Gander, N.L., one year after receiving his glider wings in Debert. Campbell was hoping the pilot’s license would help in his pursuit of a career in the armed forces.

Scarecrows lined the streets of Advocate Harbour and area as it witnessed its first-ever scarecrow festival, a community effort that received an overwhelming response when first pitched by seasonal resident Sharon Corbin. She had been expecting about 15 scarecrows entered, hoped for 30, and was stunned when a total of 76 scarecrows were entered from Fraserville and Apple River.



Parrsboro’s youth town council identified outdoor recreation as a priority with its purchase of two new basketball nets for the skateboard park at the former Scott property. Council president Sarah Colpitts said they were trying to clean up the site and “make it into something a little bit more,” and that they were planning to undertake other projects in the town during the year ahead.

A spoof of Parrsboro’s community radio station was one of the featured pieces in this year’s heritage dinner to benefit Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum, held at the Parrsboro legion on Oct. 16. The 10-minute skit, “What’s Your Line?”, by Bernice Byers poked fun at some of the community’s members, including local radio personalities Frank Hartman and Ross Robinson, as well as dentist Dr. Howard Goldstein, funeral director Ross Smith and Byers herself.

Fall festivals have come and gone in various forms over the years in Parrsboro, but the town tried it again, this time focusing on the kids. The town hosted a “Kids’ Fall Fair” on Saturday, Oct. 30, beginning with a costume parade for children, from Ken’s Grocery to the bandstand, after which the entries were judged in various categories. Throughout October, the fair also hosted a scarecrow contest, inviting anyone to be creative and make their own scarecrow.

Fundy Geological Museum reopened its doors to the public on Oct. 13 following a $1 million renovation that took months to build and years to plan. The museum’s existing space was given a complete overhaul, with the addition of numerous new exhibits and the reworking of already popular features. New exhibits included the Bay of Fundy Time Machine, which gives visitors a first-hand view of the geological history of the Parrsboro area.

With the Parrsboro Lions Club reaching membership numbers high in the 20s, King Lion Frank Hartman said the group wants to expand even further by introducing the Leo Club to Parrsboro youth. The King Lion said it saddens him to see youth in Parrsboro with nothing to do, therefore feels the new club will give youth in the area another choice of activity within their community.



If Parrsboro is to improve the experience of its visitors, then it must focus on the main Street area, according to Taylor Redmond. The local art gallery owner presented her Target Downtown proposal to town council, which would see the creation of story stations along Main Street explaining pieces of Parrsboro’s history. Mayor Lois Smith and council spoke favourably about the proposal, but said they could not consider hiring a facilitator for such a program until next year’s budget.

An arson investigation was launched by RCMP into a weekend fire that gutted a local landmark, the former Berry’s Restaurant and Pub. The Willow Street building, which has been vacant since the restaurant closed several years ago. Was severely damaged by fire on the morning of Nov. 6. The call came in at 1:33 a.m., and the Parrsboro Fire Department and local RCMP responded within minutes. An investigation by the Nova Scotia Fire Marshal’s office determined that it was deliberately set.

A large-scale search and rescue mission was launched after 87-year-old hunter Harris Hill went missing in the West Bay area on Nov. 10. Ground search and rescue teams from all over the Maritimes joined with RCMP and other personnel in the effort, which also included helicopters and dog teams, but the Parrsboro man was not found. The main search was suspended on Nov. 14, although the police search continued.

About 60 Advocate-area residents attended the Advocate Seawall Project community information session on Nov. 21 at the Fundy Tides Recreation Centre, where they learned of a proposed $2 million project that would see a stronger, improved seawall built around the community. The only thing standing between the design and construction of the wall was federal funding, which Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong committed to seek.



As the St. John’s Anglican Church in Diligent River comes back to life, a plan is under way in the community to honour one of its pioneers. A group led by Mary Colpitts and Lorraine (Salter) Maskill was working towards having an inukshuk in memory of Simon Gibbons placed on or near the church property, in honour of Canada’s “first Eskimo priest” who built the Diligent River church and several others.

Everything old was becoming new again at the Parrsboro Band Hall, as the historic King Street building began to take on more of its original 1860s appearance with a paint job in its original colours of ivory tusk and sienna. Much of the building’s interior had also been painted, along with several other cosmetic improvements, and more was being planned for 2011, according to building committee chairman Patricia Burke, who said her vision was to see the building become wheelchair-accessible.

The adult day care service at South Cumberland Community Care Centre celebrated its 25th anniversary on Dec. 9 with a gathering of clients, volunteers and staff from past and present, as well as representatives from the Cumberland Health Authority. Some who have been working or volunteering at the day care since its beginning in 1985 were on hand for the event, including two of its first volunteers, Brenda Welton and Dianne Smith.

Nova Scotia Power and its technology partner, OpenHydro, successfully completed recovery of OpenHydro’s demonstration turbine from the Minas Passage. Consistent with images obtained in the summer, it appeared that all of the blades were missing from the centre of the unit. Although too early to be certain, OpenHydro CEO James Ives said it appears the damage was the result of the tidal regime being much stronger than anticipated, but a detailed analysis would guide the next design.


Year in Review

Published on 30 December 2010

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New substation

Published on 30 December 2010

Members of the Advocate Volunteer Fire Department celebrated the opening of their new substation in Apple River Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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Silent Witness

Published on 30 December 2010

(From left) Donna Chandler, Justice Minister Ross Landry and Dora Fuller help give voice to the Silent Witness program. Dave Mathieson - The Citizen

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Boutique awarded

Published on 30 December 2010

Sweet Brier Boutique owner Joan Jones accepted the Business of the Year award from the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade on March 17.

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McGregor honoured

Published on 30 December 2010

Karine McGregor was honoured as the provincial Volunteer of the Year on April 12 after being nominated by the Town of Parrsboro. Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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Seawall concerns

Published on 30 December 2010

George Reid, chair of the Advocate Marsh Body, points down the seawall along the beach in West Advocate to Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott, Don Fletcher of the Advocate District Development Association and Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong after a $146,000 study was announced on May 21. Darrell Cole - The Citizen

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Relay for Life held

Published on 30 December 2010

Numbers were down for this year's Relay for Life, but spirits seemed higher than ever at the annual cancer society fundraiser at the Lions Arena on June 11-12. Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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Woodlot owner concerned about proposed changes

Published on 30 December 2010

Spencer's Island woodlot owner Peter Spicer expressed concerns about proposed changes to provincial forestry regulations. Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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Fish passage

Published on 30 December 2010

Randy Corcoran, with Ian Tracy and Mitch Clark, shows off the recently restructured fish passage at thr aboiteau gates, which will once again allow fish like slmon and gaspereau easily pass through. Corcoran was one of several volunteers to work on the project, with support from the town and the province. Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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Fish funding announced

Published on 30 December 2010

Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong (right) and Canaqua Seafoods Ltd. owner Paul Merlin feed the fish at the Advocate fish farm, which received a $1.2 million federal funding boost in September to improve its efficiency and productivity. Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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Museum reopened

Published on 30 December 2010

Fundy Geological Museum curator Ken Adams is hoping to better complement attractions like the Joggins Fossil Centre with the newly revamped Fundy Geological Museum, which reopened after a $1 million renovation project on Oct. 16. Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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Missing man 3

Published on 30 December 2010

More than 100 trained rescuers from all over the Maritimes scoured the woods near Parrsboro for missing 87-year-old hunter Harris Hill in November to no avail. The large-scale rescue efforts were suspended on Nov. 14, and Hill remains missing. Dave Mathieson - The Citizen

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Inukshuk planned

Published on 30 December 2010

Lorraine Maskill (left) and Mary Colpitts stand in the general area of where they would like to see an honourary inukshuk placed in memory of Simon Gibbons, who built St. John’s Anglican Church in Diligent River among many other achievements. Andrew Wagstaff - The Citizen

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