A Scaled Back PEI Ferry Service

Holiday Island

How exactly did anyone not see the possibility of this happening? 

The much-depended on ferry service connecting Caribou Nova Scotia to Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island is going to be somewhat scaled back for the remainder of the 2016 sailing season. During the busy tourism season, the service is dependent on two ships being completely operation. The MV Confederation is now dealing with extra sailings to keep up with the demand. The MV Holiday Island remains in a Quebec drydock, burdened with problems. Problems which will keep her from returning to the Northumberland Strait this 2016 summer season.

In 2012, I wrote a story about the second M.V. Abegweit, scrapped at Alang India in 2004. Like the Holiday Island, the Abby was a ship that sailed on the other PEI Ferry route from Borden Prince Edward Island to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick. There was only a ten year age difference between the Abby and the Holiday Island.

The Confederation Bridge remains the most vital link to Prince Edward Island. The ferry service remains equally important. When sailing season commences, people expect it to be there. Successive governments have lobbied hard to keep it going. Now, elected officials and citizens as rightfully asking for a backup plan. It is probable that there would be no possible way financially to have three ferries running the remaining service line. Maybe people thought the demand in the summer would not be as high.

I still have fond memories of multiple ferries running both routes when there was only the one way off the Island. One would leave dock, then another would come in. Then another. I cannot count the number of times a ferry would have to hold position while they awaited clearance to dock. Another one had to leave to clear the roadway.

abby 1982

Gone but not forgotten, the MV Abegweit (1982)

One cannot help wonder again why the Holiday Island was kept in favour of the Abegweit? Given the ship’s age, how could no one possibly see this coming? The Holiday Island might have been a ship that could have been more easily sold. Her sister ship MV Vacationland eventually did sell. At last report, Vacationland was being refitted for rock and sand transportation along the St. Lawrence River. The Abegweit was a reliable ship sold and scrapped far too young. It could have aged significantly better than the Holiday Island, and still been in service today.   




Parents Still Consider Themselves Above Non-Parents?

book Cover

I read British Conservative MP, and potential successor to outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron Andrea Leadsom’s comments about having a supposed advantage over her counterpart because she is a Mom. They are completely out-of-touch. Her comments insist that only parents have a real interest in the future of their countries. The comments go on to suggest that being a parent means you have a tangible stake in the country. This is a classic example of a continuing pro-natalist mentality. Politicians want to cater to the family vote. The majority of platforms and policies anyone attempting to get elected revolves around doing things in the interest of “families”. The caveat always is that to them, “families” means households WITH children. It is astounding that the non-parent vote continues to be heavily ignored in democracies across the globe.

Has she thought for a moment about the people who might be trying to have children? Hearing this kind of thing may offend them even more deeply. Those couples may be struggling with medical issues that prevent them from becoming parents. They could be stuck in a long queue waiting for adoption paperwork to clear. They too have a tangible stake in the future of the country.

Let me offer another consideration. Someone who is choosing not to have children may be proving their interest in the future of their country. In the world. How? By not contributing to the problem of overpopulation! It is a very realistic possibility. The global population number is certainly a reason many people have just said no to children.

Having a “Baby-On-Board” sign in a car window does not make that car’s driver more important than a driver with no children. Really need to get on to making signs for myself that say “Non-Parent on Board”, or something like that.

We are all supposed to be equal. Whether we have children or not. Unfortunately, politicians and many of the people who closely support them still do not see it this way.   




Stanfest at Twenty

Stan Rogers

Canada Day long weekend marks many celebrations across the country. In a small Nova Scotia fishing town, another kind of celebration happens. The Stan Rogers Folk Festival, known simply as Stanfest, honours the life and work of a cultural icon.  While born in Ontario, Stan Rogers is most identified with music inspired by the Chedabucto Shore of Nova Scotia and its’ people. Rogers would later go on to compose other brilliants songs about other places and people of the country. Still, his legacy arguably remains anchored in and around the areas where his cultural roots were planted.

Stanfest is celebrated its’ 20th anniversary this weekend. It has become an internationally known gathering to hear many interpretations of Rogers’ music while offering a platform for artists to showcase their own original talents. Folk legend Arlo Guthrie took to the main stage on Saturday the 2nd. If I was able to go even just for one whole day, I would have stayed into the night long enough to hear a rousing rendition of his beloved classic “Alice’s Restaurant”.

Stanfest is providing longevity to the music of Stan Rogers. The number of younger people I’ve seen wearing Stanfest shirts may be obvious proof of this. Rogers’ music is wide-reaching with a clear global impact on the artistic community. It offers a passport into the lives of people and places that inspired Rogers. His music is a kind of informal social studies course that can really provoke thought. It can put you into the mindset of the common person that Stan often wrote about. It can make you reflect on Canada as a whole country. Its’ past, present and potential for the future.




Social Media Saturation?

Social Media

Lots of businesses are telling people to “Like them on Facebook”. We are witnessing an evolution of sorts where many of these same businesses are posting longer social media promotions within their print and web advertising. They want you to Like us on Facebook, Tweet us on Twitter, see some pics on Snapchat and Instagram. Pretty soon with the aggressive expansion of social media platforms that seem to be working, businesses will have to take out full-length pages just listing where they can be found on social media.

Last week I was able to see Snapchat in action. A completely useless time-wasting app which left me with the start of a migraine headache after a five-minute demonstration. Instagram is no better. Both platforms appear to be increasing in popularity. Social media has become saturated with platforms promoting more ways to connect to the global universe. Everyone wants to become the next Facebook and Twitter. Despite an alleged drop in users, Facebook continues to be the model platform for social media success. Sometimes I miss the “simpler” days of MIRC and ICQ. Remember them? They still exist.

Where does it stop? At what point does a person say that they can only do so much with social media? 

With my writing business, I have decided to stick to Twitter. I’ve made no secret on these pages about my increasing disdain for Facebook and its’ privacy abuses. A still relatively new platform called MeWe is attempting to build its’ brand on being the Anti-Facebook, giving users significantly better control over privacy settings.

There was a significant period of time that I spent researching the pros and cons of where I would stop with promotion on social media. My brand does not need to be built on Facebook. I enjoy being part of an audience while connecting with my own audience via Twitter. I accept that in order to keep building an audience one should be on a social media platform that enjoys a wide reach. It guarantees readership even if those numbers start of small. I’ve gradually been building my reach on Twitter for six years. It is still a work in progress.

The best way to build your brand is not always going to be through social media. It is to continue knocking on doors. It is to send electronic and regular mail to catch the attention of those that could provide potential work opportunities. Yes, creative use of social media can be a game-changer. It just should not be the only thing one uses in their branding. Resist the temptation to saturate your audience with multiple social media platforms. Stick to what you think and know will work. 

Do you think that social media has become very saturated? At what point do you stop using so many to promote your branding? Leave your comments, keep the discussion going.

….And Join me on Twitter @WriterDann where I try to be funny, and occasionally send out pitches looking for freelance work.



Fully Completely. A brilliant musical portrait of Canada

The Hip

I remember when The Tragically Hip’s masterpiece was released. Through the music video for “Courage” I was hooked. This was a need to own album. I respected The Hip somewhat to this point but could never really get into the previous records. As “Courage” continued in heavy rotation on Much Music, I became more interested in the band and wondered if the rest of “Fully” would be as good.

It really offers a kind of passport into the Canadian landscape in some ways. “Courage” is dedicated to novelist Hugh MacLennan. I had no idea who he was so I set out reading some of his books. My admiration for Leonard Cohen was beginning around this same time. The appearance of a Leonard Cohen reference in the song “We’ll Go Too” just added some extra punch of Canadian cool to a record that fast was becoming a personal favourite.

This album really offers a passport into a historical viewpoint of Canada as seen from a free-flowing poetic perspective. Gord Downie blasts aggresive European explorations to Canada in “Looking For a Place to Happen”. In “Fifty Mission Cap” Downie mourns the disappearance and eventual finding of hockey Bill Barilko and the lack of a championship win for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. “Wheat Kings” references the David Milgaard wrongful conviction case, a shadowy chapter in the history of Canadian justice.

The Hip have released some gems since this masterpiece was released. I believe nothing has come even remotely close to the greatness of Fully Completely. With the band set to start a farewell tour soon, fans can expect to be treated to renditions of the classics that comprise this album.




Writing Filters

Power of Words

I quit smoking cigarettes for good in 2000. Even with a few smokes a week, it was still smoking. It is still shit and horrid for your health. My consistency was well, never consistent. I switched brands regularly in an effort to celebrate freedom of choice.

The odd time I would smoke something without a filter. Those things were harsh, with harsher air to swallow. What was I thinking?

Writing is a much healthier vice than smoking. There is nothing like the freedom of the page and screen. Knowing you can put something to it and make it lighten the eyes of readers. The initial stuff that you get down should be without a filter. It can be as harsh as you need it. Getting the first few lines down is always going to be difficult even when the words flow might be flowing well. Revising is equally challenging.  Yet, I’ve found it to be among the most enjoyable parts of the process. It is a filtering out of the words to make them more organized. Over the last few weeks, I’ve started to question myself more on how much of that filter I have applied. Maybe there’s too much of a filter. Have any pitches failed because they might have been better as their own raw versions?

Then I find myself spending too much time on over-analyzing.  

That kind of time is better spent just returning to work. Returning to the drawing boards and planning the next pitch, blog post, or whatever needs to happen next. After much contemplating, the step to figuring out the filter adjustments may be easy. All of my notebook pages tend to have arrows, things scribbled out, the filter doing its’ thing. So maybe the scribbles do not need to be there. Maybe any misspelled words can stay for now. The illegible handwriting can stay unreadable and become words that they never intended to be.

Seems like a plan. Time to filter onward…



Where The Hell Did Inspiration Go?


Several times in the last few weeks I have made the classic writer mistake. A real decent idea comes to mind that is so good I figure I will remember it. There is no perceived need to write it down. I can just move on and know the next time to work it will be developed and written out.

Then it happens. I’ve gone to sit down and be productive only to find out that the idea is long gone. There is not even a remote trace of what was let of the inspired thought. My memory bank was empty. Then there is the immediate stress of wondering what the hell happened to this great idea. Maybe it was a good short story, article idea or a potential plot line for a best-selling novel?

There is no real excuse for this. My phone is always on me. There are notebooks everywhere. I should have taken a minute to write it down or dictate it into the voice memo feature of my phone. I’m vowing to never make this mistake again. My own lack of productivity in the week before writing this very post could have seen different results. Having those ideas to write out might have sharpened my discipline for the week and given me a chance to re-focus on work.

So the next time you might have an inspired thought, do whatever you can to preserve it. Write it on a piece of public washroom paper towel if necessary.