Mike Parker tells tales in Cale­do­nia

The Queens County Advance - - OPINION -

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.

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