Bob and Phyllis avoid Purgatory on their trip

Bob and Phyllis avoid Purgatory on their trip by Bob Karolevitz Halifax, Nova Scotia: By the time you read this, the 1999 conference of the International Society of Newspaper Editors (of which I am an associate member) will be history and we'll be home.

We drove more than 5,400 miles � coming and going � to this Canadian Maritime Province for the professional meeting and lots of unrelated fun events.

We heard a defense of the Canadian health system by an ex-patriot American doctor, and a discussion of press ethics by the chief justice of Novia Scotia, Joseph Kennedy, who could make it as a stand-up comedian.

We visited Peggy's Cove near the crash site of Swissair Flight 111 which took 229 lives last September. Two reporters who covered the tragic accident and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who handled the complicated press briefings on that dark and dismal night told us of their involvement in the story which continues to haunt them.

The highlight of our stay in Halifax was attendance at the 20th anniversary of the Nova Scotia International Tattoo. (The word "tattoo" in this context refers to the bugle call signalling all soldiers and sailors to return to their quarters at night).

Some 2,000 military and civilian performers from 10 countries took part in the fast-paced extravaganza which is almost impossible to describe.

You had to see it to believe it!

An emotional high for World War II veterans was reached when massed bands from Germany, Japan and Canada played There'll Always Be an England. Dancers, singers, acrobats, drill teams, scores of bagpipers in kilts and belly laughs provided by the Flying Grandpas were part of the massive show.

We went sailing on Mahone Bay in a spit-and-polished new wooden schooner named the Avon Spirit. We overdosed on mussels and lobsters, got "lost" a few times on busy Halifax streets and attended Mass at the historic St. Mary's Basilica where the choir sang beautifully the works of Mozart and Handel.

A trip around picturesque Cape Breton with its Acadian and Mi 'kmaa Indian heritage ended at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum at Baddeck, one of the finest, most elaborate museums I have ever seen. I always thought Bell just invented the telephone, but his extraordinary range of interests in aeronautics, marine engineering, genetics, medical science and work with the deaf are displayed in this outstanding facility.

Nova Scotians, by and large, are a friendly, out-going people who live on this Canadian peninsula, partly separated from the mainland by the Bay of Fundy where the highest tides in the world have been recorded.

We're glad we made the trip!

*****

A few miscellaneous notes: High school athletes in Freeport, IL are called the Pretzels. Now that's an interesting twist ?

At Sacketts Harbor on Lake Ontario in New York we read about the U.S. victory over five British battleships in the War of 1812. A lone British shot landed near farmers on the shore who promptly reloaded it in a cannon and knocked down the mast of the enemy's flagship.

I have always said our marriage could never survive another wallpapering or a trip to Niagara Falls where we twice have had marital spats over insistence on taking pictures when I couldn't find a place to park. (I think the falls were secretly built there by the Eastman Kodak Company). At any rate, the third time was the charm as we viewed the natural phenomenon from the Canadian side with nary a harsh word.

Editors in the Maritime Provinces refer to Toronto as Purgatory. We made a note to avoid it on the trip home.

© 1999 Robert F. Karolevitz

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