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Morris Haugg: The new Roger Bacon Bridge?

Morris Haugg
Morris Haugg - Contributed

Community Editorial Panel with Morris Haugg

The purpose of this article is to persuade everyone that the new bridge over the Nappan River at Upper Nappan should be named in honour of the Honourable Roger Stuart Bacon, LL.D.

Through the book I wrote about Roger's life I have become totally convinced that he is an extraordinary individual, who has done extraordinary things and achieved so much in one life-time.

When I was finished, there was one form of criticism for which I was prepared, namely, that I "guilded the lily." In other words, that I overdid the praise.

Well, I have not heard any criticism of that sort. On the contrary, the facts speak for themselves. Roger Bacon, without the breaks of family money or the benefit of higher education, tackled challenge after challenge and always came out on top. Of course, I did not hide my respect and admiration, which only grew as the book developed. Also, I deemed it most appropriate to include the praise and accolades of so many of his colleagues, co-workers, neighbours and friends.

There are many reasons to support the decision that the new bridge should bear Roger's name. After 35 years of selfless public service, there is absolutely nothing named after him in Cumberland County. Undoubtedly, that is the way he would want it.

After many years of persistent work on Roger's part, the Livingston Bridge over Wallace Bay was finally re-built in the late 1970s. There was a movement afoot at the time to name the new bridge after him. He vetoed it. He said he fought for the people of the areas, not for himself.

While there is nothing named after Roger in Cumberland County, one of the new buildings on the Bible Hill Campus of Dalhousie University (the former agricultural college) was recently named the Roger Stuart Bacon Building, instigated by none other than Premier Stephen MacNeil. He and the present government recognized the valuable contribution Roger made over his long tenure as agriculture minister, especially to the important role of education for all forms of farming.

Here are some other, perhaps less pertinent but yet interesting facts to consider: Roger was a youngster when the new road from Amherst to Springhill was built, replacing the old road running past his house. Most of the material to build up the road bed leading up to the new bridge over the Nappan River came from a gravel esker on the Bacon farm. He clearly recalls the road being built, as well as the bridge. The land he farmed abuts the bridge to the east on both sides. Now, with land added by his son, Doug, Bacon farmland surrounds the bridge on all sides. That bridge, which became known as the Rainbow Bridge has been a sort of neighbour to Roger for over 70 years of his life. The way Roger's house is situated, every time he looks out his living room window, he can see the bridge. Every time he leaves his house and drives out of his yard (or is driven these days) he is facing the bridge. It always has been and still is a part of his life.

Rainbow Bridge was ever only a nickname because of the shape of its super structure.

Naming it after Roger Bacon does not replace the name of anyone else.

How does the naming of a public structure, like a bridge, come about? The final decision is made by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. However, and this most important, there has to be public support for such a move. Provincial officials will not make a decision unless they know that the people of the area are in favour.

Secondly, the provincial department expects a resolution from the municipal council, requesting that the new bridge receive Roger Bacon's name.

The three municipal councillors from this part of Cumberland County will welcome any sign of public support for this plan. I know that the two MLAs are supportive. (Incidentally, the bridge connects the two constituencies).

Roger does not know of this proposal or this article. I am afraid to tell him, in case he vetoes or squashes my efforts. His son knows and wholeheartedly approves.

What's next? I am asking that as many people as possible share my hope and communicate their support to their councillors, especially in Districts 1 and 2. Please, and do it now! It is not too early.

It does not matter to the naming wether it is opened this year (we hope) or next year. Hopefully, Roger, halfway to 93 years old now, will live long enough to see it.

One last reason why there should be a Roger Bacon Bridge. He deserves it; as an honour and as a visible sign of gratitude for 35 years of dedicated public service. Any councillor can be written in care of the municipal office. Here are the email addresses of the two councillors nearest the bridge and the deputy warden in District 3: Marlon Chase: mchase@cumberlandcounty.ns.ca; Paul Porter: pporter@cumberlandcounty.ns.ca; Joe VanVulpen: jvanvulpen@cumberlandcounty.ns.ca.

Morris Haugg is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.

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