Catching up with adventure

It is infrequently that we have such an animated confab as we did late this afternoon with old friends at a local beanery.  Our dining partners, a married couple each younger than us by about two decades, live nearby but hail from Northern Ontario where the Trans-Canada Highway precipitously turns west towards the distant prairies. They have from the moment we met – which at table today we speculated to be about 2012 – characterized what I have since come to observe from acquaintance with others from Northern Ontario the outstanding features of intelligence, devotion, assiduity, skill and spirit. And they as we adore their pets (a cat and 2 dogs).  Our commonality is otherwise impossible to distinguish except as fortuitous for we met entirely by accident on the beach of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina when I asked to pat their French bulldog Max, little then knowing they too were Canadians who likewise resided in the Ottawa Valley. We’ve been munching and conversing together ever since.

What made today’s reunion so vital is that our friends are moving to Nova Scotia.  In particular to Chester, NS which coincidentally is set in my mind from the time I studied law at Dalhousie University in Halifax over 50 years ago. Just to see names on the map like Herring Cove, Hubbards, Mahone Bay and Squid Cove instantly inspires immeasurable memory. And no small degree of envy.  As I was regularly wont to quip upon graduating from law school, I would have stayed in Nova Scotia had my last name begun with “Mc”. Quite apart from the humour however is a sustained admiration for everything Nova Scotian. It is naturally too late in life for us to change our destiny; but I confess to unqualified delight upon learning that our friends have decided to do so.

We listened with inviolate attention to the modest details of their upcoming adventure. Their self-effacement is the only thing moderate about the collective enterprise.  It would broach upon flavourless social conduct to enlarge upon their ambition except to note it has all the hallmarks of flawlessness which we have already become accustomed to see and hear from them both.  It helps too that they are both so obviously smitten with the prospects which await them. And while it may to most Canadians resound of a relatively small accomplishment to move from Ontario to Nova Scotia, I recall having told my British law professor Adrian Bradbrook that I was only going to Toronto for Christmas, to which he exclaimed, “Toronto!  That’s 1,200 miles away!  You could go around England three times in the same distance!”  Though the account is not apocryphal I haven’t any way of assessing or contradicting his judgement on the matter; but it does at least indicate the gay abandon we Canadians have for travel across our vast territory.

17 hr 11 min (1,107.8 mi) via Trans-Canada Hwy/NB-2 E

The length of the English mainland is delineated by the distance between Land’s End and Marshall Meadows Bay in Northumberland. The distance is 556 miles (895 km) by road or 426 miles (686 km) as the crow flies.

It was already evident in 1973 when I graduated from Dalhousie Law School that there were moves afoot to Nova Scotia from both Ontario and the northern cities of the United States of America bordering the North Atlantic Ocean. Indeed more than one of my law school colleagues was the child of an American.  And the preferential point of contact was by no coincidence Chester, NS which had universally been heralded as a place of consummate beauty and attraction. As well a dear friend from Halifax was then in the throes of relocating to Chester, NS as an anticipated retirement venue. She and I regularly mused upon the outlook. Naturally the currency of those promotions were then lost on me as I commenced my own law career on Sparks Street in Ottawa. But as I say, I have today vicariously reunited myself to the engaging allure of Nova Scotia. My reminiscences of Nova Scotia at table this afternoon were no doubt construed as effervescent.  And indded they were! There were innumerable sensations engendered by the brief details we shared of the upcoming adventure with our friends. Parenthetically I should remark that the connection between Boston and Halifax is far more convenient than that between Toronto and Halifax. Historically Dalhousie Law School (which is the oldest law school in the British Empire) is by far more regularly associated with Harvard Law School (the oldest law school in North America) than Osgoode Hall.  And then there were the rum runners but that’s another story.

As we repeatedly mentioned to our friends, we are anxious to know the particulars of each episode of the adventure that follows. It would of course be preposterous to equate the transition from Ontario to Nova Scotia as anything as hazardous or episodic as the discovery of Halifax, NS in 1749; but there is an indisputable element of escapade and thrill to the undertaking.

The Mi’kmaq name for Halifax is Kjipuktuk, pronounced “che-book-took”. The name means “Great Harbour” in the Mi’kmaq language. The first permanent European settlement in the region was on the Halifax Peninsula. The establishment of the Town of Halifax, named after the 2nd Earl of Halifax, in 1749 led to the colonial capital being transferred from Annapolis Royal.

I commented to our friends there is in my opinion nothing that surpasses the magnificence of a clear day on the coast of the North Atlantic Ocean.  Even in the urban environment of Halifax while attending law school, we regularly indulged ourselves to walk to Point Pleasant Park for a cathartic outing and welcome relief from our studies.