Mike Parker tells tales in Caledonia
Agood crowd of people gathered at the Masonic Hall in Caledonia the other night to listen to Mike Parker tell stories, and afterwards munch on egg sandwiches and a variety of baked sweets.
The occasion was the annual meeting of the North Queens Board of Trade, one of the most active of the many community groups in the Northern District. Peter van Dyk, West Caledonia, was elected president at the meeting, and Blair Douglas, Hibernia, the vice president. Elected secretary was Mary Keirstead, Maitland Bridge, and Don Kimball, South Brookfield, won the post of treasurer.
The elections were not exactly hard fought - even though Councillor Doug Adams ran the election and called for nominations from the floor, last year’s executive was re-elected to a man (and one woman) - but the slate of officers was deemed to be exceptionally competent.
The Board is involved in a number of projects, one of the biggest being the establishment of an innovation centre in the North Queens area. It has undertaken a feasibility study into the establishment of such a centre and will hold a series of meetings to see if the project can go ahead.
An innovation centre would be a gathering place with high speed internet access where workshops could be held, courses taught and rural businesses nurtured. It would provide a place where people could work on projects and seek help with projects.
When the business meeting was concluded, Mike Parker was brought to the front of the room and allowed to get on with his stories. People in Caledonia are familiar with Mike. He has spoken in the area several times and writes books that on occasion feature local people and places. He is the author of Guides of the North Woods, a subject about which he knows a lot. His father was Mal Parker, a wellknown guide from the Bear River area, and Mike told about listening to his father tell stories about guides and sports in this part of Nova Scotia. Mal Parker ran a dry goods store in Bear River and Mike remembers listening to groups of men tell the same hunting and fishing stories over and over, all of them worthy of the retelling.
Mike grew up in Bear River, graduated from Digby Regional High School and then graduated from Acadia University. He worked in Halifax for a number of years at the Atlantic Provinces Resource Centre for the Visually Handicapped, and then got into writing because the death of his father at an early age made him think that all of these stories would disappear if he didn’t write them down.
He started visiting the old guides and recording their stories back in 1986, and his first book, Guides of the North Woods, was born. A couple of years later he produced Woodchips and Beans, a book about early lumbering in Nova Scotia, which of course has a section on Queens County. Just a few days ago, his latest book, his fourteenth, was published. It is called Ghost Islands of Nova Scotia, and I will get to that in a minute.
He told the crowd a number of stories of guiding, of which some, he admitted, had to be tall tales. A few of the stories had those listening in stitches, and Mike said there were some audiences to which he didn’t even dare tell the stories.
With all of the books of local history he has written, Mike has become known as Mr. Nova Scotia Storyteller. His writing and speaking have become a business. Also, he is affiliated with the Gorsebrook Research Institute, which is a part of Saint Mary’s University, as a research associate.
His latest book is all about the many islands off the coast of Nova Scotia which used to be inhabited but which now are not, hence the title, Ghost Islands. Nova ucts in Nova Scotia, (which we do not), the label on farmed salmon would read, “this fish contains PCB’S, which are known to be cancer causing and antibiotics which are a risk for humans.”
At the site www.farmedanddangerous.org I learned that farmed salmon contains 5 times the PCB’S of wild salmon. I learned that the antibiotics used to treat salmon are the same as those used to control human illness. That means that by eating salmon humans build up a resistance to those antibiotics and they will be ineffective Scotia, he points out, has proportionately more islands than any other part of the Atlantic, and at one time, before there were roads and highways, a lot of people lived on the islands.
Since the early 1900s, a process of moving to the mainland has taken place and many islands now show very little evidence that people once lived there. Mike starts the books with two islands familiar to everyone, Mcnab’s Island and Georges Island, both in Halifax harbour. The Mi’kmaq inhabited Mcnab’s first, then the French drew up plans for a fortified village on the island, and then the English took control.
Mike tells stories about many of our islands, illustrating their histories with old photographs that he has dug up from various places. There is a whole chapter on Little Hope Island, off Port Mouton, which used to be inhabited but which now has eroded to a spit of land. A lighthouse was placed on the island in 1866. Little Hope Island represented a serious hazard for vessels which strayed too close in a storm, and Mike has photographs of the island and its major lighthouse in 1906, 1931, 1942 and the present.
The book was published by Pottersfield Press, Lawrencetown Beach. when needed to control human disease. These things I have mentioned and more led the originators of this site to conclude “eating farmed salmon may pose health risks that detract from positive effects of fish consumption.”
I am very disappointed that our NDP government has chosen to force taxpayers to subsidize this industry that has very little to recommend it and a lot of reasons to help it leave.