West Hants rings in New Year with po­lar bear dip, levee


2019 is here, and West Hants res­i­dents wel­comed it with open arms, hugs, and screams.

The scream­ing was mainly from the frigid wa­ters as brave souls waded into a mostly frozen Lake Pisiq­uid.

Claire Nau­gler, 12, par­tic­i­pated in her first po­lar bear dip. She said the first time she went in it wasn’t that bad — but when she went in for a sec­ond time, it wasn’t as nice.

“I went in for a sec­ond time, be­cause, I don’t know I just felt like it,” Claire said with a laugh. “I’ll def­i­nitely do it next year.”

Erin Nau­gler joined her daugh­ter in the lake for her third dip.

“We went in for the sec­ond time, mostly be­cause our friend wanted to as well, some moral sup­port,” Erin said. “I’ve only missed one year of this so far.”

Erin said she keeps com­ing back be­cause it’s about push­ing per­sonal bound­aries.

“It’s some­thing that’s out­side of what’s com­fort­able and nor­mal,” Erin said.

Kathy John­ston-Isenor, one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the dip, said the event started with a “crazy group of friends” four years ago.

“We were just sort of dar­ing each other to jump in on New Year’s Day,” John­ston-Isenor said. “It’s con­tin­ued to grow since then, in­clud­ing a lot of friends and com­mu­nity mem­bers.”

Funds were also be­ing col­lected for a new ini­tia­tive ex­pected to be­gin later in 2019.

“It’s al­ways the an­tic­i­pa­tion of get­ting in the wa­ter that’s the worst part. Once you’re in, it’s a rush,” she said.

“You get wrapped up in tow­els, head home for a warm shower and then can’t wait for next year,” she con­tin­ued.

“It’s a cel­e­bra­tion of your year that was and an ex­cit­ing way to look ahead to the next,” she said. “Life is about tak­ing risks and en­joy­ing ev­ery mo­ment, and in those scary mo­ments is some­times when you learn the most about your­self.”

Levee tra­di­tion car­ries on in Hantsport

Mean­while in Hantsport, Toni Heat­ley, a mem­ber of the Hantsport and Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, helped or­ga­nize the an­nual levee.

It’s the first levee the Hantsport and Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety has hosted at the McDade Her­itage Cen­tre.

They’ll be al­ter­nat­ing the role of host each year, ro­tat­ing with the Hantsport Pub­lic Li­brary and HMCC.

“The her­itage so­ci­ety is happy to fol­low in the Cana­dian tra­di­tion of New Year’s lev­ees, wel­com­ing in the New Year and to make our wishes for the very best for 2019,” she said.

“For the Her­itage so­ci­ety, we want to con­tinue to in­crease our mem­ber­ship and con­tinue to let peo­ple know of the re­sources we have here,” she said. “It’s ex­tra­or­di­nary what’s in this build­ing and what’s been hid­den for decades, now avail­able for pub­lic view.”

Sir Gra­ham Day of­fered the first toast of the levee, to Queen El­iz­a­beth II, pro­vid­ing some of the his­tory be­hind the levee’s ori­gins.


Com­mu­nity mem­bers braved the frigid wa­ters of Lake Pisiq­uid to wel­come in 2019.


Hantsport res­i­dents of­fered cheers to 2019 dur­ing the an­nual levee.


Since once wasn’t enough, Kathy John­ston-Isenor, left, heads back into the wa­ter with West Hants Coun. Tanya Leopold, who also went in the wa­ter mul­ti­ple times.


Kathy John­ston-Isenor, left, or­ga­nizer of the po­lar bear dip, headed into Lake Pisiq­uid with one of the par­tic­i­pants.


From left, Janet Sin­gle­ton, Erin Nau­gler and Claire Nau­gler, 12, hopped into Lake Pisiq­uid to usher in 2019.

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