Noted ac­tivist, hu­man­i­tar­ian Haase dies

The Victoria Standard - - Obituaries - AN­DREW RANKIN

The fol­low­ing piece orig­i­nally ran in The Chron­i­cle Her­ald on Fri­day, August 25. Our thanks to An­drew Rankin and the Chor­ni­cle Her­ald for per­mis­sion to re­print it here.

El­iz­a­beth May was in­tend­ing to ar­rive in Nova Sco­tia on Thurs­day and hop­ing to bid a fi­nal good­bye to one of her he­roes, a man who has per­haps done more than any­one to pre­serve this province's nat­u­ral beauty.

The leader of the Green Party of Canada would not get that op­por­tu­nity. But she took com­fort know­ing Rudy Haase spent his re­main­ing days at his Ch­ester sanc­tu­ary, a 80-hectare piece of prop­erty he, years be­fore, en­sured would be pro­tected and pre­served that way for­ever.

"He was a real hero of con­ser­va­tion world­wide, but Rudy also per­son­ally touched the lives of thou­sands of peo­ple," said May.

"He was a Nova Sco­tian through and through. He was very com­mit­ted to Canada, very com­mit­ted to Nova Sco­tia. As much as he was a world cit­i­zen, he put down his roots in Ch­ester. He was so at­tached to that land."

The life­long con­ser­va­tion­ist, ac­tivist and hu­man­i­tar­ian died on Tues­day at the age of 95. He leaves be­hind an un­par­al­leled legacy of con­ser­va­tion in Nova Sco­tia. Thou­sands of acres of pris­tine wilder­ness right across the province, from the Bras d'or Lakes, along East­ern Shore coastal is­lands, beaches and be­yond, can be at­trib­uted to him. He spent years pur­chas­ing th­ese prop­er­ties and do­nat­ing each of them to the Nova Sco­tia Na­ture Trust and other or­ga­ni­za­tions. He was be­stowed with the Or­der of Nova Sco­tia for his ef­forts.

Haase was al­ready an ac­com­plished con­ser­va­tion­ist when he came from Bel­mont, Mass., to Nova Sco­tia in 1967. He played a piv­otal role in en­sur­ing the last dry trop­i­cal for­est in Costa Rica was pre­served, saved a swath of plane trees along Boston's Charles River from clear cut­ting, and Mcglath­ery Is­land in Maine was res­cued from clear cut­ting and be­came a na­ture pre­serve.

Haase and May crossed paths in 1978 when she was a mem­ber of Cape Bre­ton Land Own­ers Against the Spray. He and his pre­de­ceased wife Mickie be­came like sec­ond par­ents to her.

"They were a force of good in the world that few peo­ple can claim to be," said May.

"He was not some­one who would ever get dis­cour­aged. I've known other note­wor­thy en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists. Far­ley Mowat got very dis­cour­aged about the state of the world. David Suzuki got dis­cour­aged. Look­ing at the sci­ence it's hard not to get dis­cour­aged. Rudy was some­one who main­tained a very op­ti­mistic and hope­ful out­look.

"The mes­sage was al­ways per­sis­tence. Rudy ex­em­pli­fied what I like to call habits of ef­fec­tive. cit­i­zen­ship. He loved writ­ing letters to the editor and he took it se­ri­ously. He was a pro­lific let­ter writer be­cause he un­der­stood that writ­ing letters to news­pa­pers not only ex­pressed a view, it helped ed­u­cate other peo­ple.

"The fight to pro­tect some of the places he loved took years; his fight to stop ura­nium min­ing in Nova Sco­tia, to get it leg­is­lated. He kept at it and kept at it. Decades later he got it leg­is­lated.

"He and Mickie took a keen in­ter­est in chil­dren. To­gether they would launch the Ch­ester Day School and Li­brary, an in­sti­tu­tion that wel­comed any­one. He would also help fund lessons for young as­pir­ing mu­si­cians." Haase never lost his youth­ful, care­free side. "We al­ways had a friendly com­pe­ti­tion over who would be the first to go swim­ming at Goat Lake. Every winter he would go on a flex­i­ble flyer sled and go down hurtling at great speeds, just like a six-yearold kid, lov­ing every minute of sled­ding well into his 80s." He was much more than an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, said Syd Du­maresq, chair­man of the Friends of Na­ture As­so­ci­a­tion, which Haase launched.

Rudy, a naval ar­chi­tect by ed­u­ca­tion, pur­chased and op­er­ated the Bark­house Boat­yard in East Ch­ester. Du­maresq said he em­ployed lo­cal crafts­men with the aim of help­ing to pre­serve the wooden boat­build­ing in­dus­try.

"Sail­ing was one of Rudy's first loves. This made the boat­yard, a few steps from his home at Goat Lake Farm, a great fit."

Days be­fore he died, Du­maresq took Rudy for a sail just off the coast of his Ch­ester home.

"It meant a lot to him, it meant every­thing to him. He wrote me a let­ter to thank me."

In 2007, Nova Sco­tia film­maker Neal Liv­ingston re­leased a doc­u­men­tary de­tail­ing Haase's tex­tured life. Dur­ing its filming the pair be­came close friends. When prop­erty near Liv­ingston's Cape Bre­ton home was about to be clear cut, Haase stepped in and split the cost of the land with Liv­ingston.

"Nova Sco­tia needs about a hun­dred Rudys, but they aren't there," said Liv­ingston. "Peo­ple who can af­ford to be phi­lan­thropists in Nova Sco­tia are not phil­an­thropic to the kind of is­sues that Rudy was.

"We owe a great debt to him."

Rudy Haase, of Ch­ester, died August 22 at age 95.

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