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Well, we all enjoyed our stay in Halifax. I'm glad that I managed to finally see what the city has to offer, although I'll have to go back some time to finish off the things that I need to do.

Leaving the town, though, just to remind me that I'm still in Canada, I encountered another "marching woman". As I've been saying, this is a phenomenon that I've only ever encountered in Canada and one day I'll take a film of one to show you exactly what I mean.

In the gathering doom and gloom I drove over what is described as "the Historic Shubenacadie Canal" which sounded as if it might be interesting. Had it been lighter, I would have gone over for a nosey and to take a photo or two.

This is in fact the third time that I've driven along this road. The second time it was in a snowstorm, the third time (this evening) it was in darkness, but the first time I had them both - the dark AND the snowstorm. I don't seem to have much luck around here.

I soon pick up the motorway ... "I bet that it was heavy" - ed ... and I followed along the side of it on the old road for quite a way - to Halifax airport and beyond. One of the things that I was doing was to kee a check of the mileage. In Europe, many people criticise Ryanair - the Irish budget airline - and criticise it for all kinds of reasons, some of which might be valid and many of which are not, although many of these negative campaigners, mostly financed covertly by some of the larger airlines although the campaigners themselves don't realise this, will use any stick to beat a dog.

One of the biggest criticisms of Ryanair is said to be the distance between their airports and the towns which they purport to serve. And yet here in Halifax, I fuelled up Casey at 11 kilometres exactly from Halifax City Centre, and I've driven a further 36.4 kilometres - and so that's 47.4 kilometres just to the sign for the turning to the airport, never mind to the airport itself, which is a good few kilometres further on. However, I haven't noticed any Air Canada critics carping about the distance.

And how far is Washington Dulles from the centre of Washington? I seem to recall back in 2005 that it took me ages to go from the airport to the city.

Then again, I don't suppose that I should be saying all of that to the anti-Ryanair campaigners. No sense in spoiling a good rant by introducing facts into it.

A few kilometres after the airport I cross over the motorway again and here is a huge Irving petrol station with an enormous sign that must be, ohh, 50 metres off the ground I suppose, so that people on the motorway can see it clearly in the distance.

I'm certain that it was here that I filled up the car when I was having fuel issues in 2001 and of course I didn't photograph it because it was in the middle of a raging snowstorm and it was pitch-black outside. I made a mental note to photograph it when I drove by in 2003 but we were having another raging snowstorm and in any case I wasn't feeling so good.

Accordingly, I was going to photograph it this evening and with my decent camera I would have had quite a good shot too, and so I can't think what must have been in my head, apart from the usual sawdust of course, when I drove straight past without stopping.

full moon truro nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

It's 18:25 right now and the light has gone completely. And you've no idea just how quickly it went either. But never mind, there was this most astonishing almost-full moon this evening and that called for a photograph.

But I'm going to have to do something about sorting out a tripod for the next time that I travel on journeys such as this. There's far too much camera shake to produce a decent long-distance image in these conditions.

We have a moment of hilarity a few kilometres further on. I'm approaching the motorway and the Lady Who Lives In The SatNav wants me to turn onto it. She's busy counting down the metres. The road that I am on passes over the motorway on a bridge and she proudly announces "turn right to join the Highway" and bangs her little gong.

But wait a minute - there is no slip road. It seems that she would like me to drive through the armco barrier and down a 50-foot embankment to join the Motorway. How about that? And I bet that there are some people who would try that as well. I've heard all kinds of stories about all kinds of problems caused by people concentrating on their SatNavs and not on the road.

Nothing much happened after this (as if that hectic five minutes weren't exciting enough) until I reach the outskirts of Truro. Just on the edge of the Municipal area is a small town called Millbrook, and underneath the nameplate is a sign "native Mi'kmaq community".

Now I have reservations about these kinds of Native American communities. On my voyages elsewhere in North America I've encountered all different kinds of thing. Abject poverty and squalor in the world's richest country is one thing that sticks in my mind whenever I've visited a Native American community.

However I'm not certain about the purpose of these kinds of places in today's society. Back 100 and 150 years ago where there were no laws to govern unwritten property rights, and a pile of unscrupulous European Americans wanting to take advantage of the situation, so some kind of protection was necessary. Today though, modern legislation can afford quite adequate protection.

Take the Channel Islands for example. When the Governors of Jersey and Guernsey saw that the housing stock was being snapped up by wealthy tax exiles from the UK, they simply passed laws stating that any house not currently owned by a non-native Channel Islander could never be sold to a non-native Channel Islander, and that was that. You can drive around the Channel Islands for as long as you like and you won't see a single sign saying "native Anglo-Norman community".

The cynic who lives inside me tells me that the only reason for such a sign is to tell tourists where they will be able to wander around a First-Nation pseudo-settlement and watch fast-food vendors and petrol station attendants having a day off work to dress in feathers and moccasins in exchange for hard cash and buy genuine and authentic ethnic hand-woven carpets and the like, with a little label on the back saying "Made in China".

It all sounds completely hypocritical to me, but there again, I worked in the tourist industry for many years and having seen all of this from the inside, I'm pretty cynical about all of this, as you might possibly have noticed.

A couple of days later when I told my neice that I had stopped for the night in Truro she replied
"you should have said. There's this really good motel where we always stay when we are going back and to to Halifax. It's called Berry's Motel"

berry's motel truro nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

And as it happened, I found it without any help from anyone. I can certainly agree with the sentiments too. It's one of the few motels that I have encountered where the prices have been on display outside, as you can see, (I don't know why they have all stopped doing this) and I certainly had value for my money.

In the morning when I awoke I was confronted with about a foot of frost on the roof, on the car, on the grass, well absolutely everywhere. It must have been a really clear sky last night and a really low temperature.

I spent the first hour or so doing some work on the computer and as the sun slowly rose the frost began to melt. It was not long before it was like a rainstorm cascading off the roof. We had a really beautiful clear blue sky, a really bright and gorgeous day and that put me in a really good mood.

I've been to Truro before back in 2003 and I meant to have a good wander around. But back then we were in the middle of a snowstorm and I was quite ill and so I never stopped. That was something of a disappointment, for Truro played a significant role in the history of Nova Scotia and so I reckoned that today I'd take an hour out and go for a look around.

car parking truro nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

I found a parking space in the town centre, or what passes for the town centre here, and drew quite a crowd, as usual, when I reversed into the space.

Most North Americans (I used to simply say "Septics" but you can see that I'm starting to bracket Canadians in with this now) don't "do" reversing, as I have mentioned on many previous occasions. You can tell this by the size of the parking spaces - they simply pull in and drive out. Anyone of my age from Europe could park a double-decker bus in a space like that and still leave room for a Mini.

tourist information office truro nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

First port of call is the tourist office, as I need some information and that seems to be a likely place to make the necessary enquiries.

Before we go in, let me tell you something about the town. It was an important stop on the Halifax - Truro - Pictou mailcoach route and outside the tourist information office is what looks like a mail coach. Close inspection however will reveal that it is in fact a mock-up ... "is that a spelling mistake?" - ed ... and not a real one.

Why I'm at the Information Office is that I need some information about a certain building, but what in the wide, wide world are things coming to when me, a tourist from over 4,000 miles away, knows more about the town than the person manning ... "PERSONning" - ed ... the Information Centre?

Yes, the person behind the counter doesn't know of the building that I am looking for, and so has a search on the internet. And do you know what - in what is probably a first - she cannot spell D-E-M-O-L-I-T-I-O-N. I mean, it's the national pastime here in North American, from what I've seen just recently.

While she's doing that, I have a wander around the place, and notice a guide to the town. There on the front cover, in glorious sepia print, is a picture of the very building. And no surprise either, as it was easily the most significant building in the town. After a minute or two of scratching her head, the light goes on.
"Oohhh yes. Now I think I know it. But it looks nothing like this today"

That was puzzling - but anyway, she gave me directions to where it might be, and off I trot.

Along the High Street I come to a Music Store, and there in the window I make an exciting discovery. As you know, back at home I have solar panels and wind turbines that provide my electricity - there's no mains power. As a result, I'm constantly on the lookout for things, powered by other means, that will improve my lifestyle. I also play bass guitar as you might know, and I miss not being able to give a mighty roar every now and again. An acoustic bass is no real substitute.

But here in the window, I see an advertisement from the Roland company announcing that they now do 9-volt battery-powered combo amps and speakers. Further enquiry reveals that they do in fact do a bass guitar model. I'll be looking into that next time I'm here. It's been ages since I've had the Gibson EB3 out.

And a few years later I bit the bullet and bought one. It's been my constant companion ever since.

I also notice a sign for "Lumberjacks". Does this mean that they also have "Lumberjills"? Or is there a politically-correct generic term to cover both sexes? If you know the answer to this, then and I'll let everyone else know. I'm a bit like King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail -
"This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere".
I was much more comfortable in the days when people didn't go hunting for offence.

federal building truro nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

One thing that ought to be mentioned about Truro is that the town was an important centre in the growth of British Nova Scotia.

That's quite cearly evident when you look around you at some of the earlier buildings, such as the Federal Building just here. There are plenty more buildings like this too and they serve to underline the status of the town back in those days.

In moderntimes though, its importance has been eclipsed by the rise of Halifax, which is now undoubtedly the major city of the Province.

first united church truro nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Another building in the town that has an air of classic importance is the building of the First United Church.

There has been a congregation here in the town since 1760, with the arrival of Protestant settlers from New England following the Proclamation of 1758 inviting settlers to come to replace the displaced Acadians. However they didn't move to the current site until some time in the middle of the 19th Century.

The current building that you see here dates from about 1916. History doesn't record what became of any previous building, but regular readers of the rubbish that I write would probably like to join me in making an educated guess.

Provincial Normal College Nova Scotia Teachers College truro canada october octobre 2010

Now this is the building that I came to see. It's the former Provincial Normal College, or the Nova Scotia Teachers' College which trained all of the teachers for the province in the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th Century, .

And no wonder that I couldn't find it, and for two reasons too.
Firstly it's hidden away from the road by a huge modern concrete bunker that is a modern library that has been built on what used to be the lawn right in front of it.
Secondly and more significantly, all the photos and paintings that you see of this building show it with its proud and magnificent spire which, judging by its greenish hue, was made of copper unless I am very much mistaken - "what was the price of scrap metal back then?" ...ed.

Until comparatively modern times, almost every settlement in Nova Scotia had its own one-roomed schoolhouse. There would be a schoolma'am dispatched to these settlements by the Provincial Government. She would settle into the settlement, often lodging with a local family, and maybe even marrying one of the local fishermen or farmers. Anyway, she would become part of the rural way of life.

Almost everyone in rural Nova Scotia would be grateful to the local schoolma'am because it would be thanks to her that they had received a genuine and traditional education in their own settlement without having to be shipped out to a major town and boarded in an alien environment miles away from home.

The rural settlements would be grateful too. In modern times, many kids who are bussed away from their home villages never return home. All you see in a modern rural environment such as rural France where I used to live are the elderly and the retired. The life-blood of the community - the young and healthy - has all disappeared. It was thanks to the village schoolma'am in Nova Scotia that the young stayed in the rural communities.

Provincial Normal College Nova Scotia Teachers College canada october octobre 2010

The significance of this magnificent building is that it was the Provincial Normal College Building, the teacher-training college of Nova Scotia, founded with the aim of ""the training or the qualifying of Teachers for the better and more efficient discharge of the duties of their important office". And from 1855 up until quite recently , it was here that all of these Nova Scotia schoolma'ams learnt their calling.

For most people of "a certain age" in the Province, it's the most important and significant building in the province and the one that has had the most influence on them.

Mind you, you wouldn't think so by looking at it. I reckon that the idea of hiding it behind the concrete bunker and removing its huge spire is to hide the building from view because the local authority is ashamed of it and the state that it is in. And so it should be too, because its condition is nothing short of disgraceful. It is simply crumbling away, all boarded up and abandoned, Nova Scotia's answer to the disgraceful affair of the Edmundston Lancaster . Yes, and while you are at it, have a read of this (10 tips to demolish a heritage building)

To give you some idea of what can be described as "a clueless Local Authority", stuck on the wall of this building is some kind of weather-beaten and faded typed note saying that
"the town of Truro is seeking an adaptive re-use of this building" Yes, this particular Local Authority has clearly no idea and is looking for hints from the local population. Well, here's one, and from a passer-by who actually managed to track down the building - how about demolishing the public library and the new police station at the side, and installing them in here?

So having had a really good rant - and there's nothing like a good rant to get the circulation going, I went off for a stroll around the town. At the Chrysler garage I noticed that a a new Casey is $15995 - we'll have six of those - and you can buy a little town runabout for $7000.

Mind you, no wonder that the cost of living in Labrador is so expensive. It's folly to spend any time around there unless you have a big 4x4 pickup, and a new Dodge Ram will cost you almost $50000. never mind the cost of a small towm car and the difference in fuel consumption at the price that fuel is up there.

Ohh yes - you might recall the phenomenon of Marching Women that I've been encountering all around the Atlantic coast. There's another one just here and never mind 13 to the dozen, she's going at about 20 to the dozen just now.

heritage museum truro nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

I was told that there's some kind of Heritage Museum in Truro (why it isn't in the historic College Building I do not know) and this seems to be it.

In front of it is one of these grotesque statues that seem to be littering the town (I've seen piles of them) commemorating people who did this and did that and there's probably one of someone who did the other as well. I bet that there's also one somewhere to the guy who organised the abandonment of the provincial college building.

They are all sponsored by different local commercial and social organisations, and I don't understand this at all. These statues are not only grotesque but they are a total waste of money. Why do all of this and let the most significant building in the town fall into ruin? Now why didn't they spend the money on saving that?

These North Americans (notice that I've moved on from saying Americans as I'm not just talking about the USA now) are totally off their heads.

So having stirred up a hornets' nest of controversy, it's time to leave town.

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