To the sea!

Have you a dream?  Perhaps an imaginary rustic cottage on a cliff overlooking the crashing sea? Or maybe a sudden view of the Ocean on the other side of a mounting ribbon of highway rising high into the blue and billowing ether. It might instead be an endless path across the nation – reminiscent of Highway 64.

U.S. Route 64 (US 64) is an east–west United States highway that runs for 2,326 miles (3,743 km) from Nags Head in eastern North Carolina to just southwest of the Four Corners in northeast Arizona. The western terminus is at U.S. Route 160 in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. The highway’s eastern terminus is at NC 12 and U.S. Route 158 at Whalebone Junction, North Carolina.

In the late summer of 1970 I climbed the creaky wooden stairway from the main floor of Domus Legis on Seymour Street in Halifax to the third floor where there were five rooms – two small lodgings (that of a third-year student whose name I forget and and that of first-year student Jock McLeish who has gone on to make quite a name for himself in Toronto’s financial district), one large lodging (shared by me and my roommate George Horan from Newfoundland and now an accomplished classical landscape artist), a kitchen and a bathroom. Domus Legis has since been torn down. Its transition from what I suspect was once a charming private residence to the law school “frat” house was at times a raucous evolution.  The main floor – complete with fireplace – afforded the more upscale of the two bar room areas (the other being in the basement with stone walls used on occasion late in the evening for target practice with empty beer bottles).

We went back to Halifax in the late summer of 2019. The City had grown remarkably since I left law school in the late spring of 1973 to return to Upper Canada for articles on Sparks Street in Ottawa and the bar admission at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. The last thing I recall having purchased in Halifax from a marine outfitter’s shop was a cast brass Chelsea ship’s bell and barometer which I afterwards carried with me everywhere (though pointedly not on my sailing yacht).

Something else I unwittingly carried with me from Nova Scotia was an irrepressible passion for the sea! For months after returning home to Ontario I struggled to comprehend what it was that made me so unusually and inexplicably anxious. Finally I resolved the conundrum.  It was the sight, sound and smell of the sea which I longed for. Indeed the very way the nearby Atlantic Ocean changed the colour of the sky on a clear, dry day was unsurpassable. Years later I routinely quipped that I would have stayed in Nova Scotia to practice law if my last name had begun with “Mc“! The truth is my insatiable appetite for things Maritime kept me perpetually attached to Nova Scotia even to this day. Nor is it some exotic resort on crystal blue waters I have in mind; rather the turbulent, cold Atlantic Ocean bordering the northeastern shores of our continent.

The authentic Maritime blood in me derived from my late father who was born and raised in New Brunswick.  Initially it was this ancestry which prompted me to apply for admission to Dalhousie Law School in Halifax since my father’s alma mater University of New Brunswick (where he had studied Engineering) did not have a law school of its own.  It was only years later that I discovered Dalhousie Law School is the oldest law school in the British Empire (including England) surpassed in antiquity only by Harvard Law School, the oldest in the world.

My paternal connection was not however limited to New Brunswick.  My father was once the commanding officer of Greenwood Air Force Base in the beautiful Annapolis Valley. He formed alliances with Premier Gerald “Gabby” Reagan (who coincidentally wintered on Longboat Club Road on Longboat Key, FLA where we once stayed ourselves) and Member of Parliament Eric Malcolm (who died in a motor vehicle accident).  Eric and his partner Earl Hubley invited me to join them at their lovely seaside home outside Halifax when I studied at Dalhousie Law School. They formerly owned the Paramount Hotel in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

14 Wing is located at Canadian Forces Base Greenwood. Nestled in the heart of Nova Scotia’s beautiful Annapolis Valley rests 14 Wing Greenwood, the largest air base on the East Coast. Aurora crews conduct sovereignty and surveillance missions over the Atlantic Ocean routinely, while search and rescue capabilities are maintained 365 days of the year.

14 Wing will be Canada’s leader in developing and applying air power for airborne intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and control and transport and rescue in global, joint and combined operations.

The clause in NATO Agreement pertaining to security of the North Atlantic was to have a great effect on RCAF Station Greenwood.

Canada had become increasingly uneasy over communist actions in Europe during 1948. One of the most feared Russian military build-ups was the growing submarine fleet.

My other lingering affections for Nova Scotia are my former girlfriend Heather Gunn (spouse of Joe Weir) and my erstwhile colleagues, Bruce T. MacIntosh, QC (successful local counsel), George K. (“Butch“) McIntosh, QC (recently elevated to the Supreme Court of British Columbia) and Daniel Laprès (practicing in Paris, France and Beijing, China).

Since relocating to Ontario a friend of mine from Ottawa has moved to Nova Scotia. Others have already done so or expressed an interest to do so. This has naturally spirited more than one serious conversation! It would appear that the aging demographics are contributing to a caravan of old fogeys from central to eastern Canada. I have heard anecdotally that there are those from Germany and the United States of America would have likewise already discovered the glamour of Nova Scotia.

I am certainly not unique in my seemingly native commitment to the sea. Upon graduation from law school many of my Maritime cohorts went from the east coast to the west coast of Canada to practice law. I have only ever explained this apparent curiosity by reasoning that young blood wherever located pushes for at least some novelty. My own Maritime adventures after law school were limited to the more temperate Oceanside; namely, Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard,  Hilton Head Island, Daytona Beach Shores, Longboat Key, Bay of Funday and Sardinia. But as in the movie the “Magus” I am completing the circle and being drawn back to Nova Scotia – no doubt an accident of familiarity and accessibility.