Thursday, 21 September 2017

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Titus Smith

I've been interested in 19th century Nova Scotia naturalist Titus Smith for a while.  I went to the provincial archives a few weeks ago and looked at the microfilmed journals from 1801-2.  The archivist was sure they had been transcribed, but couldn't find a reference.  The handwriting is lovely, but daunting.

Persistent searching led me to four copies of a typewritten document at the library of Natural Resources.  It was made in 1955 by a forester named Lloyd Hawboldt, who was surely an unusual thinker.  His transcript focuses on geography and forestry, evidently leaving out a lot of detail about plants and ecology.

DNR kindly sent me a scan, and Adobe did a plausible job of OCR.

For sheer historical interest, you ought to take a look.  It's about 40 pages, and begins with a letter from Lieutenant Governor Wentworth:

"Your principal object in this survey will be to visit the most unfrequented parts, particularly the banks and the borders of the different rivers, lakes and swamps, and the richest uplands, for the purpose of discovering such spots as are best calculated for producing hemp, and furnishing other Naval Stores. You will make your remarks on the soil, the situation of the-lands, and the species, quality and size of the timber, the quantity of each sort also, and the facility with which it can be removed to market. The thickness and length of mast timber, you will attend to in an especial manner, and in every place which you shall deem calculated for these purposes, you will as near as possible estimate the quantity of acres, the possibility and means of rendering them fit for cultivation either by banks, drains or otherwise."

This was before Lewis and Clark. Here are the basics:


Smith mentions moose, caribou, beaver, old-growth, fire, flood, barrens.  He was truly a born ecologist.  The KML files of tracks and journal entries, which you can view in Google Earth and which I'm still working on, are available for download.  If you are familiar with Google Earth, you can fly the tracks or play the journal entries in sequence.  If you do anything interesting, please let me know.

Smith's original map has been scanned by the archives:

The journals are a trove, and some enterprising PhD candidate could use modern text analysis tools to create a picture of 19th century Nova Scotia.  Here are word clouds from the three tours:



There are a lot of flattering references to Smith as a very early ecologist, including a JSTOR reference. I've transcribed Titus Smith : "the Dutch village philosopher", pioneer naturalist of Nova Scotia, 1768-1850." an address by Harry Piers, of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science in 1936

Smith, of course, was the mentor of artist Maria Morris Miller, whose lovely wildflower portraits grace the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia:

By all accounts, Smith is the Thoreau of Nova Scotia.  Can anyone point me to more sources?

Gus Reed

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

More Reason to Celebrate

Saturday, August 26 we are having a barbecue to thank volunteers who work so tirelessly on your park. Festivities start at 10 AM with kids installing bird, bee and butterfly houses they have made this summer. It promises to be a fun time, with music, food and family activities.

Your volunteers have just been handed the keys to the building shells that have replaced the Big Red Barn, so we'll have shade and shelter.

They were built using insurance money that DNR won after the disastrous arson that destroyed our beloved Red Barn in 2011.

CHPTA fought to have a replica structure built because the Big Red Barn was such an icon in the area.  Preservation of the Red Barn was included in the 1986 agreement that transferred the park from Halifax County to the province. Plans were drawn up, but in the end the province was not willing or able to provide any funding beyond the insurance settlement.

One building shell will be used for maintenance work and storage while the second shell will be used for events and interpretation work. Access to the two building shells allows CHPTA to bring its material and equipment back to the Park where it can be used for our maintenance and public support work. While we lost over $22,000 in material and equipment, much of that has been restored using various funding sources but had to be kept in members homes and garages. Having a place to work from with materials and equipment at hand is a long overdue step in our work in the Park and throughout our over 26 kms of trails.
While the two structures are not a replacement for the Red Barn but are none-the-less welcomed as a means to better carry out our mandate.

You can read the history of the BRB (Big Red Barn) here.

Saturday, 19 August 2017


The Salt Marsh Trail is a birding hotspot according to e-Bird, the source of data submitted by dedicated birdwatchers.

With 150 species seen, it ranks 43rd among the top 100 spots in Nova Scotia.

You can learn about recent sightings (use the sort feature), browse an illustrated checklist and get introduced to crackerjack local experts at the e-Bird website.

Here are the 10 top birders as of August 19:

This should remind us of the incredible resource represented by the Heritage Park.  Where else can you enjoy a pleasant walk with such ecological diversity?  

Please support this treasure from wild Nova Scotia.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Connection Celebration

Another TCT 100% Connection Celebration on Aug 26.

Everyone is Welcome
Starting at 10 am

Today kids we will be installing Bird, Butterfly and Bee Houses along the TCT Trails - Heritage and the Salt Marsh.
Bring your parents so we can get the bird houses a little higher up on the tree.
Bat Houses as well if we can get them done in time.
Young people have been building Bird, Bee and Butterfly Houses for Halifax Trails.
Once these are installed we will have a BBQ and cake.
We are celebrating 100% connection of The Great Trail - The Trans Canada Trail.
We are thanking all our volunteers who made this happen with a BBQ.

The party will start around noon hour at the Heritage Park main parking lot location.
Someone else has to cook 'em cause if I do it we will all be eating burned hotdogs.
So a ...
A party in the park!
Food, drinks, Cake of course! Some speakers, music, and Celebrate the The Great Trails - Trans Canada Trail.
The Public - Volunteers and anyone else that wanders by or reads their emails notices etc.

The Heritage Trail and the Salt Marsh Trail are only two of the five TCT trails we have with the Cole Harbour Parks & Trails Assoc.
400+ Acre Provincial Park and 28 kms of trails at the hub of a much larger trail system.
So that is
10 am August 26 a Saturday
The Heritage Parking Lot of the Cole Harbour Coastal Heritage Provincial Park - Heritage Trail TCT
The event begins at 10 am and will finish when all the hotdogs and the cake are gone. Probably about 3 pm.
44°39'50.1"N 63°28'03.8"W
44.663911, -63.467733
256 Bissett Rd
Cole Harbour, NS