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The Compass - - OPINION -

Write a reg­u­lar col­umn about the At­lantic prov­inces, my bosses said. Write about the is­sues we all have in common. Easy-peasy? No. Any­one who thinks we’re just one ho­moge­nous re­gion doesn’t know us very well — and no one knows that bet­ter than I do.

New­found­land is dif­fer­ent, stuck out in the ocean and with an oc­ca­sional (and un­der­stand­able) chip on its shoul­der. Want to start a fight? Talk about a coast-to-coast Cana­dian event and de­scribe it as in­clud­ing “from Van­cou­ver to Hal­i­fax.”

Nova Sco­tia? Its li­cence plates may say “Canada’s Ocean Play­ground,” but it also has a back­bone that feels like the cold cal­cu­la­tions of a busi­ness­man’s ledger-book.

New Brunswick? I’d ar­gue it’s the hard­est At­lantic prov­ince to know: I lived there for three years and was only start­ing to un­der­stand a lit­tle about the clock­work be­hind its tac­i­turn face.

And don’t get me started on Prince Ed­ward Is­land. It is as unique as the dec­o­ra­tions on a Christ­mas tree, ex­cept ev­ery­one there seems to know each dec­o­ra­tion in­di­vid­u­ally and per­son­ally. (See? Every­body’s united in be­ing angry at me al­ready.)

New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans know me pretty well; I can’t claim to have been born here, but I’ve writ- ten col­umns and editorials in this prov­ince for years. They know I mix de­scrip­tive lan­guage with anal­y­sis; that I like a sharp point.

For ev­ery­one else, con­sider this an in­tro­duc­tion. I grew up in Hal­i­fax, spent those three years in New Brunswick and four in Nova Sco­tia’s An­napo­lis Val­ley. I had a cou­ple of years in Toronto and more than 20 in New­found­land.

I’ve watched the brave and the fool­ish rac­ing cars on the Ken­nebe­ca­sis River ice in New Brunswick, and I know the sim­ple de­light of a spaghetti din­ner in a church base­ment in North River on Cape Bre­ton Is­land.

North River on Cape Bre­ton Is­land, where, when you walk down the road, you’re ob­vi­ously a stranger, and ev­ery­one knows ex­actly which stranger you are.

I can re­mem­ber ex­actly how it used to smell the inside that strange lit­tle space­ship gift shop that stood on stilts in the Rainbow Val­ley amuse­ment park, near Cavendish, be­fore the park closed. I know the cold May wet of shov­el­ling crushed stone onto weep­ing tile in Sus­sex, N.B., and the damp July heat of pack­ing fi­bre­glass in­su­la­tion into at­tics in hope­ful new builds in Can­ning, N.S.

I’ve walked New­found­land bar­rens and Fundy tidal flats, the dyke­lands near Sackville and the lime- stone beaches of the Great North­ern Penin­sula — and you’ll find all of that re­flected in my work.

My col­umn won’t al­ways de­scribe your pre­cise place in the world. But there are things that af­fect us all: trav­el­ling to find work, the split be­tween ur­ban and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, the par­tic­u­lar im­pres­sion of us as a peo­ple that ev­ery­one west of Mon­treal seems to have. (I’ll never for­get be­ing told in Al­berta, “We’ve never had any­one from New­found­land here be­fore, but at least we know you can drink.”)

So, agree with me or don’t agree with me. Tell me when I’m wrong. The email ad­dress is at the bot­tom of the col­umn.

All I ask is that you cut me a lit­tle slack un­til you get a feel for ex­actly what I’m try­ing to say. Rus­sell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic Re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at rus­sell.wanger­sky@tc.tc; his col­umn ap­pears on Tues­days, Thurs­days and Satur­days in TC Me­dia’s daily pa­pers.

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