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7 | EDITOR’S MESSAGE Good journalism is fair, not balanced
16 | FINDING THEIR ROAD The people behind Bedford’s first brewery have faced one unexpected twist after another 19 | THE NOVA SCOTIA CRAFT BEER GUIDE Whether you’re new to craft beer or consider yourself an expert, there are plenty of new brews to try during Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week (or any time)
8 | CONTRIBUTORS Meet the writers and photographers who work on Halifax Magazine 9 | CITYSCAPE Maestro Philip Glass returns to the Scotia Festival of Music; Doug Belding makes art accessible with social media and savvy marketing 13 | ENTERTAINMENT Comedian Kevin Hart, farewell to Maestro Gueller, a Coronation Street legend, and more 30 | OPINION: THE HUMAN TOUCH Simulated patients get a unique perspective on the health-care system
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14 | FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE With Black Cop, multidisciplinary artist Cory Bowles announces himself as a talented filmmaker
28 | OUT OF THE DARKNESS In 1998, a violent stranger was terrorizing Halifax—police recall how they caught him
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26 | FIXING AN OLD INJUSTICE Nova Scotia families have fought for generations to secure the legal deeds to their family homes
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Fair and unbalanced journalism I’m writing a story about math. First I interview a mathematician. She tells me 2 + 2 = 4. She points to her research, her firsthand experience, and expert consensus. But balance is important for journalism, right? I also interview a rogue citizen-mathematician. He mocks her conventional view. He argues she’s just parroting the establishment line. His countertheory is 2 + 2 = banana. His research doesn’t make much sense. Reputable experts say he’s wrong. But he’s passionate, quick to shout down anyone who doesn’t accept his rogue math. Those naysayers are either uninformed naïfs or ivory-tower elitists. His social-media posts draw lots of support from other banana believers, who are quick to browbeat his doubters. So, I include both views in the story. I write 500 words about how 2 + 2 = 4, and 500 words about how it actually doesn’t. I don’t worry about who is right. I stay majestically neutral. Established expert and angry outsider get equal play. That’s balance, right? It might be balance but it’s not fair. Giving facts and fiction equal exposure is actually terrible journalism. If one side of a story has facts and hard science in their corner and the other side has naught but feelings and bombast, it’s unfair to give them equal play. Truth must take precedence. Some journalists fall into the balance trap because it’s deceptively safe. You don’t need to consider who is right. Just give everyone an equal say, and no one can accuse you of bias. But that doesn’t help readers know the truth.
I’m thinking about these issues the day after getting into a long, and frankly stupid, Twitter debate. In 2014, Richard Woodbury wrote a Halifax Magazine article (halifaxmag.com/cover/thebattle-for-your-teeth/) about why we fluoridate water. There’s a huge stack of solid peerreviewed science detailing the public-health benefits. Local experts are near unanimous in their support for fluoridation. Richard interviewed them and shared their views. He discussed the dissenting view but focused his story on facts rather than feelings. Last month, an anti-fluoridation activist from Toronto saw the story and it outraged him. Rallying his followers (who resorted to name calling in about 30 seconds), he tweeted at me for hours. He couldn’t or wouldn’t understand why the vague feelings and questionable science of the anti-fluoride movement didn’t get equal play. He demanded another story to trumpet his views. He saw a conspiracy. He suggested I wouldn’t let Richard write an anti-fluoride story because I was beholden to pro-fluoride advertisers. (I have no idea how advertisers feel about fluoride. It’s not my job to know. Advertisers don’t make our editorial choices.) He railed at length about how the story omitted his opinions. He was right. He and his ilk didn’t get to share their view. We talked to the people who had objective science on their side. The story wasn’t balanced. Instead, it was fair, accurate, and truthful. And we’re not publishing a follow-up because no matter how much you yell, 2 + 2 ≠ banana.
PHOTO: TAMMY FANCY
BY TREVOR J. ADAMS
firstname.lastname@example.org Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
•••••••• Journalist Richard Woodbury returns to Halifax Magazine this month with “Out of the darkness” on page 28. Some 20 years ago, a violent young man terrorized Halifax. His brutality and craftiness shocked police. In this story, the police who worked the case talk with Richard, about how they eventually caught William Chandler Shrubsall. We’re also pleased to have writer Priya Sam back this month. In “Fixing an old injustice” on page 26 she looks at the long fight North Preston families have faced to get legal title to land they’ve lived on and maintained for generations.
make the green decision, go bottle-less BEFORE
ENVIROMENTALLY FRIENDLY ECONOMICAL
www.alpinewater.ca MAY 2018 halifaxmag.com | 7
CONTRIBUTORS RICHARD WOODBURY “Out of the darkness” Richard is a writer and editor from Halifax whose work has been published by CBC, Reuters, and the Chronicle Herald. richardwoodbury.ca
KIM HART MACNEILL Cover story Kim is a freelance journalist and editor of East Coast Living. Read her beer column on HalifaxMag.com. @kimhartmacneill ALLIE JEHLE Cityscape Allie contributes to Halifax Magazine. She’s a fan of powerful single-sentence paragraphs and the Oxfordcomma. Send tips: email@example.com or tweet @alliejehle. PRIYA SAM “Fixing an old injustice” Priya is the news anchor for CTV Morning Live and CTV’s News at Noon. She graduated from the University of King’s College Master of Journalism program in 2014. BRUCE MURRAY Photos for cover, cover story Bruce has been creating food and lifestyle photography for more than 20 years. visionfire.ca
TAMMY FANCY Photo for Editor’s Message Tammy has shot for East Coast Living, Bedford Magazine, Profiles for Success, and Our Children magazines, plus two cookbooks. fancyfreefoto.com KATIE INGRAM “From a different angle” Katie frequently writes for Halifax Magazine and is the author of Breaking Disaster: Newspaper Stories of the Halifax Explosion.
SAM GILLETT Cityscape Sam is an undergraduate journalism student at the University of King’s College.
8 | halifaxmag.com MAY 2018
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR MEMORIES OF THE HALIFAX PUBLIC GARDENS The chance to go to Halifax, Nova Scotia, presented itself to my husband and me in July 2015 ... I encountered at the corner of South Park and Sackville streets the beautiful black iron gates that open to the Halifax Public Gardens. The weather was exceptional that week, and the dogwoods (Cornus florida, Cornus kousa) were outstanding and abundant. I walked by mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius), katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonica), and Ginkgo biloboas. As I meandered through the park, I felt the history and pride of this garden. Master horticulturalist Richard Power created this Victorian garden concept by merging two city gardens. Power introduced fountains, statues, the gates, winding public paths, seating areas, and garden beds. More elements were brought in over time, such as the bandstand, stone bridges, balusters, concrete urns, ponds, and waterfowl. Griffin pond bears the name of a publicly hanged man who was wrongfully convicted of murder: Frederick Griffin. The majestic fountain that commemorates Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee was in full splendour surrounded by a canopy of old maples, with hawthorns and golden chain trees. The sound of water was relaxing, pleasantly adding to
my contemplation of the extent of the shrubs and trees, such as the European linden (Tilia europaea), which seemed to outline the park. As I walked along the pathways I reviewed dahlia beds, rose beds, perennial beds with poppies in full bloom, tropical beds, and themed beds. I loved the neo-classical statues of Ceres, the goddess of fertility, and Flora, the goddess of flowers, each surrounded with annuals. The serpentine beds were filled with annuals and succulents in beautiful arrangements. Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) were poised along many paths taking you along to more ponds and fountains. There is a model of the Titanic floating in a quiet pond, and the Soldier’s Memorial Fountain surrounded by a group of Weeping European birch (Fagus sylvatica ‘pendula’) seems to be paying tribute to the past. At Horticultural Hall I stopped in for coffee and to speak to a representative of the Friends of the Halifax Public Gardens, whose fundraising efforts continue to care for this beautiful garden. My afternoon at the Halifax Public Gardens was so overwhelming that I returned later in the week for another walkabout. I hope to return here many times in the future. Diane Marchese, Guelph Wellington Master Gardener
THIS IS ALSO A FRENCH PROVINCE Reading Ryan Van Horne’s article (“That other official language,” March 2018) questioning Halifax Regional Council’s decision to hire a francophone communications officer and to have PSAs translated, I could not help but think of the generations of Acadians in this province who were victims of wilful acculturation and assimilation. From the 1820s to the 1970s, every effort was made by educational authorities to eliminate the French language from public schools in the Acadian communities of Nova Scotia. As the attorney general stated in 1879, it was generally considered “unwise to encourage instruction in French, because it was desirable that the people [the Acadians] should adopt universally not only English customs but the English language.” This attitude on the part of the Englishspeaking majority was still prevalent in Nova Scotia well past the middle of the twentieth century. Many Acadians of a certain age can recall being insulted or refused service in a store or a restaurant if they were talking French among themselves. Thanks to the Official Languages Act (1969) and the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms (1982), the francophone minority in Nova Scotia can now receive primary and secondary school instruction in French. Needless to say, these laws cannot repair the damage done to past generations. According to Department of Education statistics, there are 15,475 children in Nova Scotia enrolled in immersion classes and 5,862 children enrolled in the Acadian school board, otherwise known as the CSAP. Many parents want their children to learn French either because it is part of their heritage or because it is a living language and a useful tool in the workplace. By necessity and by force, the Acadians of Nova Scotia are bilingual. But all francophones in HRM are not as comfortable in English as most Acadians. French has been spoken in Nova Scotia since the early 1600s. Surely in a dynamic, progressive city we can have concrete measures that show openness and respect with regard to residents and tourists who speak the “other official language” of this country. Sally Ross, author of Les écoles acadiennes en Nouvelle-Écosse 1758–2000 and co-author of The Acadians of Nova Scotia.
Maestro Philip Glass returns to the Scotia Festival of Music BY ALLIE JEHLE
Composer and pianist Philip Glass is the headliner for this year’s Scotia Festival of Music.” Critics call his music “minimalist” but he describes it as “music with repetitive structures.” This is his second time at the festival, after a 1999 sell-out performance. Before that, he played in 1971 and 1972 with his ensemble (seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer) at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. “Nobody knew who I was in the ’70s,” says Glass, explaining the small crowd. They know him now. Since then, he’s composed many operas, symphonies, and arrangements. He’s written music for Academy Award-winning motion pictures. His bio describes him as the first composer to win “a wide, multigenerational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film, and in popular music–simultaneously.” Glass says audiences can expect smaller pieces this time. He’ll perform on the piano, accompanied by California violinist Tim Fain, on June 3 and 5 at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. On June 4 and 6 respectively, Canadian composer Peter Togni and Sri Lankan composer Dinuk Wijeratne will join Glass for an intimate chat about his craft. Nova Scotia is familiar territory for Glass. He vacations with his family and other musicians in Cape Breton every year. “I’ve been going up...since the ’70s,” he says. “We do rehearsals up there. I like the people who live in the area and I like the looks of the area.”
Glass says he’s most excited to meet the other musicians at Scotia Festival. “There’s so many different levels of experience,” he says, commenting on his experience in Winnipeg at a recent show. “There are many good players.” Chris Wilcox, managing artistic director of Scotia Festival for 40+ years, believes it offers something special for performers. “There’s something magic about Scotia Festival,” he says. “Pierre Boulez, the famous composer and conductor of the New York Philharmonic, said that Scotia Festival
is a living thing. An organism like a tree, it’s alive; it’s not just an event, it’s a living thing. I like that.” Getting big names like Glass and Boulez helps with future recruitment. “Pierre Boulez was here with his ensemble from Paris and now I can invite any guest artist I like … they’re curious to know what attracted Boulez to Scotia Festival,” Wilcox explains. “He doesn’t go to the Blossom Festival in Cleveland, he doesn’t go to Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony, but he did come here.”
firstname.lastname@example.org Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
MAY 2018 halifaxmag.com | 9
Doug Belding doesn’t wait for people to discover his work STORY AND PHOTO BY SAM GILLETT
Artists usually let their work speak for them but for local artist Doug Belding, a strong social-media presence and innovative business model have proven a successful combination. Even with a few years studying at NSCAD, an animation diploma from New Brunswick Community College, and international branding and marketing experience, Belding found selling original art tough in Halifax. “How many people in Halifax are buying $1,000 pieces of art?” he says. “Unless it’s really cheap, it’s a niche market. There’s a lot of psychology and thought that has to go into marketing it.” He paints on location at grand openings and fund raisers, hosts his own live show on Facebook (Doug Actually), and has developed a client base for commissions. “Really, where I find my value comes in as an artist is that I help you get a story that’s important to you on canvas,” he says. He approaches live painting similarly to his commissioned work: partnering with clients. That’s a business model that requires him to network a lot. He’s hired a professional to look after his online presence and brand.
10 | halifaxmag.com MAY 2018
“The idea is to pull back the curtain to what it’s like to be a painter,” he explains. “But doing it in a fun, engaging way so people will think ‘Oh, I need this done, who does that?’” Adriana Afford, owns Argyle Fine Art in Halifax and has shown Belding’s art before. “When you have stuff online, it shows people that art isn’t scary,” she says. “It’s less about chatting and more about showing people things. It kind of breaks down barriers. A lot of people think art is not allowed to be enjoyed by them.” Painting live allows Belding to connect with potential clients, and increases the odds of selling the work. A painting done live “will most likely sell,” says Afford. “People were part of the process, and they saw it from a beginning stage to an end stage.” Vanessa Lentz, an East Coast art curator, also works on the artist-audience connection. She works with the art auction website Artbomb, which showcases a different artist’s work each day. Launched in Toronto in 2011, Artbomb expanded coast to coast and into Asia. Lentz has auctioned several of Belding’s works. “Often people are nervous about buying things online,” Lentz says. “I often find that I
need to open that dialogue and create that one-on-one personal relationship.” She says forging a connection with clients is a must for artists. “They have to understand that they need to connect with people online in a way that has authenticity to it,” said Lentz. “It stands to the principles of operating a good social-media campaign. If [only] every artist could be like Doug. He presents himself in such a professional way.” One way Belding does this is through nods to East Coast culture. His recent Fishermen series features 12 sketches of fishermen in varying states of undress. Some hold lobsters while others are casting off docks with only a baseball cap on. “The idea is that it initially goes on t-shirts, but could also become a calendar, greeting cards, whatever speaks to people. What’s more East Coast than that? It’s trying to be relevant but also top of mind,” he laughs. “And it’s fun. I find it fun anyway.”
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ENTERTAINMENT The hottest things to see and do in Halifax this month
Kevin Hart As an accomplished comedian, actor, and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, Kevin Hart has no shortage of fans. And when he does a stand-up tour, they come out in droves. His Irresponsible Tour just keeps growing, with dozens of new dates added recently, including an unexpected stop at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre. ticketatlantic.com
PHOTO: SEBRINA WAREHAM
Cecilia Concert Series The season concludes with a concert by the Cheng² Duo, a sibling team featuring pianist Silvie Cheng and cellist Bryan Cheng. This show is the jumping-off point for their world tour showcasing music from their new album of Spanish music. They’ll also perform a recently commissioned work with a special Maritimes connection. See them at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts. ceciliaconcerts.ca
MAY 8 TO 12
Symphony Nova Scotia Maestro Bernhard Gueller wraps up a decade at the helm of Symphony Nova Scotia with “Gueller’s Grand Finale,” two concerts featuring some of his favourite music. On March 8 and 9, pianist Marc-André Hamelin joins the orchestra to perform Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Symphony No. 1. The season concludes on March 11 and 12 with Beethoven’s Ninth, featuring Hamelin, the Symphony Nova Scotia chorus, soprano Leslie Ann Bradley, mezzo-soprano Anita Krause, tenor Michael Barrett, and baritone Gregory Dahl. symphonynovascotia.ca
MAY 18 TO 20
The Ken Barlow Effect
Blue Nose Marathon
It’s impossible to think of the long-running and much-loved English series Coronation Street without thinking of William Roache. He’s played ladies’ man, frustrated intellectual, and beleaguered patriarch Ken Barlow since the show’s inception 57 years ago. He shares behind-the-scenes secrets at this Spatz Theatre Q&A session. strollpro.ca
Wondering why everyone in your neighbourhood seems to be running lately? This month sees the return of the Blue Nose Marathon. The Boston qualifier follows a 42-kilometre route beginning at Citadel Hill and going across the Macdonald Bridge to Dartmouth and back, then winding through the downtown, the South End, Point Pleasant Park, and back to Citadel Hill. Events include a 5K and youth run on May 19, followed by the full marathon, half marathon, and 10K race on May 20. bluenosemarathon.com
Dartmouth Community Concert Association Combining raw talent, hard work, and infectious charm, the a capella quartet Cadence is one of Canada’s top vocal ensembles, performing a lively mix of bebop classics, jazz standards, and contemporary favourites. The Dartmouth Community Concert Association hosts them at Woodlawn United Church. dartmouthcommunityconcert.ca
firstname.lastname@example.org Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine MAY 2018 halifaxmag.com | 13
| FEATURE |
WITH BLACK COP, MULTIDISCIPLINARY ARTIST CORY BOWLES ANNOUNCES HIMSELF AS A TALENTED FILMMAKER
PHOTO: KATIE INGRAM
POSTER IMAGE: SUBMITTED
AM INGR E I T A BY K
After years in front of a camera and live audiences, Cory Bowles has found a home behind the scenes. “I love creating things that [actors] can make better,” he says. “I love getting lost in the performance, but I love being outside of it more.” Bowles, 44, is a multidisciplinary artist. He acted in such productions as Trailer Park Boys and narrated the children’s television show Poko. He’s worked as a dancer and choreographer, preformed with hip-hop group, Hip Club Grove, has taught at Dalhousie and Bishop’s University, and directed a few short films and television episodes. Black Cop is his first foray into feature-film direction. A satire on race relations, Black Cop is the story of the title character who, after being profiled while off duty, starts profiling white residents in the same manner. Shot completely on location in Halifax over 12 days and released in 2017, Black Cop was originally a short film. The full-length version has drawn praise on the festival circuit, including Best Atlantic Feature and Best Atlantic Director at the 2017 FIN: The Atlantic International Film Festival and Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival. Samuel Goldwyn Films picked it up for on-demand and digital release starting May 1. After making the original short, Bowles moved onto other projects, but found “this one kept coming back.” “It’s not so much that you’re the person to tell the story, it’s just that you’re drawn to certain things,” says Bowles, whose writing often focuses on social and power structures and characters in law enforcement. “As a community, [people of colour] aren’t listened to much, so sometimes the best way to be heard is for me to use my platform and knock it from a different angle.” To tell this story, Bowles incorporated a variety of different camera techniques and views, such as the officer’s body camera and storytelling techniques like dance, traditional storytelling, black folklore and vaudeville. This desire to tell stories in different ways rather than preforming dates back to Bowles’s early days. “When I was a dancer I knew I had
14 | halifaxmag.com MAY 2018
different eye for things,” he says. “I love the storytelling aspect and training aspect of it and before I knew it I knew I was moving more into choreography.” While he wanted to direct the film himself, Bowles says Black Cop was an undertaking for many reasons, including having to prove his directing abilities. “In the world of directing film and television, it’s often not as trustworthy as it might seem,” he says. “As any other art form, you really have to prove yourself.” But those who wanted the film to succeed saw its potential. “The people who are really happy about this movie, all wanted it to do what it’s doing,” he says. “I can feel that; I can feel that we wanted it to do well.” Those backers include Aaron Horton, Black Cop’s producer. It was “such a ride,” he said in an email. “Cory and I clicked creatively and plan on collaborating on future projects.” The duo will now produce films under the Fine Devils Films banner. Others, who didn’t work on Black Cop, but know Bowles, knew he was up to such a task. “Cory’s one of those jacks of all trades. He’s brilliant in whatever he picks up,” says Sara Coffin, co-artistic director of Mocean Dance in Halifax. She’s worked with Bowles on a
variety of dance projects, including ones he’s choreographed for her company. “He’s really good at directing people in finding their authenticity and humanity and has the ability to ask the audience to empathize with the performer,” she adds. Despite his background as an actor, Bowles doesn’t want to put himself on screen and only appears in Black Cop in small voice-over role. Instead, he wants his characters to speak for the issues he feels needs addressing. “When I’m writing something, my opinion doesn’t matter, but my perspective does and my questions do,” he says. “My questions are being explored by someone else. I think it’s a bit selfish to have myself in it when there’s many great people out there to work with.” Along with the critical recognition, audience response to Black Cop has been positive. “There was a lot of dialogue and conversation everyday we screened,” says Bowles. “I heard a lot of sad stories; people relating to it as a person of colour in that situation, but also people who were struggling to understand it” These connections and reactions, including when FIN had to open a third theatre due to public demand, gave Bowles a sense he was on the right path. “It might sound ridiculous to
people, but it was the first time I felt, not even validated that’s not the word, but I always want to do right by the community I’m representing,” he says. “That’s the essence of storytelling.” Even though Black Cop is still touring festivals and being screened, Bowles “always has something on deck” and is currently working on other projects. These include some choreography and dance as well as teaching, but also a few films. Some of the films will be produced outside of the country or province, while others are a bit closer to home. He won’t share details, but says the closer-tohome production needed to be done in Nova Scotia. “The one I’m currently writing, that’s location-specific, so it has to be shot here,” he says. “I wouldn’t shoot it anywhere else.” And while he may not be seen in front of a camera or on stage as often as he used to, Bowles finds every experience helps better his craft. “I learn a lot more as a director than I would as an actor; I’m learning about everything and from everyone [on set],” he says. “As much as they are asking me things, I’m asking them things. They’re all my teachers.” email@example.com Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
PROUD SUPPORTERS OF
NOVA SCOTIA CRAFT BEER WEEK
You focus on the beer, we’ll focus on the law. We’re here to help you grow your business. Margaret, Richard and Geoff will help you make strategic decisions today, that will support the success of your craft brewery in the future. Whether it be navigating regulations, determining business structure, or implementing best practices in employment and privacy matters, our experience and knowledge allow us to provide practical solutions specific to your business’ needs, so you can keep an eye on the brew. Margaret MacInnis
MAY 2018 halifaxmag.com | 15 COX & PALMER
| COVER STORY |
FINDING THEIR ROAD Off Track founders Jon Saunders, Allan MacKay, and Matt Scott.
16 | halifaxmag.com MAY 2018
THE PEOPLE BEHIND BEDFORD’S FIRST BREWERY HAVE FACED ONE UNEXPECTED TWIST AFTER ANOTHER BY KIM HART MACNEILL PHOTOS BY BRUCE MURRAY/VISIONFIRE STUDIOS
Bedford’s first craft brewery, Off Track Brewing, was supposed to open on December 22, but when the date arrived, things weren’t looking good. “The day of the opening we found out we were basically pouring 30% foam,” says co-owner and head brewer Allan MacKay. “It was really frustrating. We’d planned to open at 3 p.m. and I think it was 1:45 p.m., I asked if we should put up a Facebook post saying we’re not opening. We were freaking out.” It wasn’t the first trouble the team of MacKay, Jon Saunders, and Matt Scott faced opening their brewery. The drip tray was on back-order, so they used buckets to dump the excess. They’d been so busy prepping the beer and taproom that they didn’t install a sound system. “Our music was a tiny Bose speaker on the counter next to the cash register so people come up to order and you’d have to turn the music down and say, ‘Sorry what was that?’ And then turn it back up again. That didn’t work.” The idea for the brewery took root in 2016. Saunders and Scott were home from Saskatchewan and Manitoba for Christmas. They were university friends, and MacKay is married to Scott’s sister. “We were sitting around trying Allan’s beer and I said I’d be happy to pay for this,” says Saunders. “Then we just kept the conversation going on into the night.” The next day they drove around Bedford, pondering where a hypothetical brewery could go.
MAY 2018 halifaxmag.com | 17
| COVER STORY |
Soon Scott and Saunders were back in the Prairies, but distance didn’t dull their interest. Hours-long Skype conversations planning the brewery ensued, with numerous interruptions to talk about Seinfeld, baseball, or just about anything but the brewery. “We went through a number of names, but they were all taken,” says Saunders. “Then one night when we were talking about Indiana Jones again and someone said, ‘We’re getting off track again!’ and we all just stopped for a second. That’s not a bad name.” MacKay found the location in an unassuming strip mall tenanted by industrial suppliers and a CrossFit gym. They took possession in August. It looked a lot different then. Part of a wall was missing, wires dangled from the ceiling, and the space housed surplus hotel furniture packed floor to ceiling. “Absolute shit hole,” says MacKay, showing pictures on his phone of what looks like a bomb site. The team thought they had more time to prepare, the brewing tanks were arriving in
January, but then a Twitter rumour spread about a new brewery opening in Bedford. “If someone else was starting a brewery in Bedford and they got a jump on us then we’re not Bedford’s first brewery,” says MacKay. They continued work with new urgency. Months of ripping out and replacing electrical, painting “every square inch,” and 17-hour brew days finally came to a head in December. They tweaked the tap system to reduce the beer-wasting foam and opened as scheduled. Soon there was a line out the door and 15 growlers lined up on the bar waiting to be filled. “We were really overwhelmed with the response,” says Saunders. “It wasn’t just our friends and family that showed up, it was the community at large.” By January 2, Off Track had to close for a couple weeks to brew and refill. All three say they love the brewery, but it’s not work for the faint of heart. Saunders and Scott moved back to Bedford in the fall to prepare for the opening. Neither draws pay for
their 80-hour weeks. MacKay works a full-time job and puts in his pro-bono hours at the brewery afterward. Business is steady. On Good Friday the first customers were sitting in their cars in the parking lot waiting for the door to open at noon. Norm Legault and his girlfriend came from Dartmouth for a flight. The couple seeks out new breweries. “You never know what you’re going to find, and I like talking to the people who brew the beer and hearing their stories.” His favourite of the day was the Damn Skippy peanut butter stout: “It’s not super heavy, and you can really taste the peanut butter.” The brewery is moving from its half-barrel pilot system to a new five-barrel system. To put that in perspective, a half barrel is about a keg of beer, and the trio has been pulling back-toback brew days to keep up supply. “It was a hard lesson for us to learn to not go off the best-case scenario, always plan for the worst and hope for the best,” says Scott.
OFF TRACK FACTS Hours: Friday to Saturday from noon until 10 p.m., Sunday until 6 p.m. Taps: 9 (6 house, 3 guest) Core beers: Good Grief Charlie (brown ale) Alias (pale ale) Not About You (ESB) Damn Skippy (peanut butter stout) Crash Course (IPA) Samplers, flights, growlers
“WE WERE SITTING AROUND TRYING ALLAN’S BEER AND I SAID I’D BE HAPPY TO PAY FOR THIS. THEN WE JUST KEPT THE CONVERSATION GOING.” —JON SAUNDERS
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Food: Free popcorn, potato chips for sale, and delivery from Rocky Lake Pizza across the street Dogs: Welcome Kids: Not welcome due to licensing laws Coordinates: 275 Rocky Lake Dr., Bedford 902-835-9292 facebook.com/offtrackbrewing
Emily Tipton sounds excited when she talks about Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week (NSCBW). The co-owner/co-brewer of Boxing Rock Brewing is also the president of the Craft Beer Association of Nova Scotia. “I see the industry growing on all fronts,” she says. “We’re growing in terms of becoming better brewers, brewing more experimental style of beer, and winning more awards, but we’re also becoming more accessible to more Nova Scotians as well.” By more accessible she does mean both how easy it is for Nova Scotians to find beer brewed here at home, and beer that will appeal to people who are used to bigbrand varieties. “The industry is starting to recognize that we can make very technically accurate and amazing beers that are also very accessible styles for people who may be just making their first forays into craft beer and may not be doing it because they are seeking out a particular style or flavour, but they just want to buy Nova Scotian beer,” she says. Here at Halifax Magazine, “more beer” is a phrase we can get behind. Grab your favourite local brew and read on to learn about new breweries you may have missed, new beers from favourite breweries, and returning seasonals.
nova scoti e a th
OUR OPINIONATED PRIMER ON NEW BREWS TO TRY DURING NOVA SCOTIA CRAFT BEER WEEK (OR ANY TIME) BY KIM HART MACNEILL For a full schedule of Craft Beer Week events, surf to halifaxmag.com/beer/nova-scotia-craft-beer-week-2018
New brews on tap NEW BREWERIES MEAN LOTS OF NEW BEERS. HERE ARE FOUR TO TRY NOW.
State Capitals for $500 (APA) Off Track Brewing |4.8%| Bedford, N.S. Co-owner and brewer Allan MacKay says this single-keg experimental beer smelled so good on brew day that he immediately decided to make a full batch. It’s brightly hopped with fruity German Mandarina Bavaria and Australian Vic’s Secret, known for its passion fruit, pine, and pineapple flavours.
Disco Inferno (red IPA)
Ol’ Biddy’s Brewhouse Lower Sackville, N.S. This hazy red beer looks heavy, but it’s surprisingly light-bodied, balancing malt and hop flavours, ending with a citrusy finish. Homebrewer turned nano-brewery owner Keith Forbes is well known in home-brewing circles and started brewing commercially in November. The brewery isn’t open to the public, but find Ol’ Biddy’s on tap at Freeman’s Little New York in Halifax and Lower Sackville.
Tanner & Co. Brewing Chester Basin, N.S. French saison yeast lends this brew lemon and pepper characteristics. Made with a blend of wheat, pilsner, and Vienna, this hazy amber beer is light enough to quaff a few so be cautious. You’ll find a hint of bitter Noble hops, but with the right balance to let the yeast steal the show. Find it and others from Tanner & Co. at the NSCBW five-course beerpairing dinner at Rime Restaurant + Wine Bar in Lunenburg on May 3.
Gemini (double IPA)
Backstage Brewing Company Stellarton, N.S. Stellarton’s only brewery opened last November. You won’t see a lot of it in the city, but it’s worth the drive to visit the 12-tap, 60-seat taproom to pick up a growler. This beer is definitely one to take home if you’re driving. Owner and brewer A.J. Leadbetter says this one is “big, dank, and citrusy” but drinks like a much less boozy beer. MAY 2018 halifaxmag.com | 19
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NOTHING BEATS THE FEELING OF TRYING A NEW BEER FROM ONE OF YOUR FAVOURITE BREWERIES. HERE ARE FOUR TO SEEK DURING NSCBW.
Made Here By Us (amber table beer)
Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia Twenty-five brewers from the Craft Beer Association of Nova Scotia gathered at Tatamagouche Brewing Company in February to create the second annual community beer. Inside this can you’ll find Horton Ridge Malts that gives it an amber colour, Crystal hops from Tatamagouche’s Malagash hop farm, and yeast cultivated from a pin cherry tree on Big Spruce Brewing’s farm that lends the beer a spicy character.
Change of seasons AS SPRING TURNS RELUCTANTLY TO SUMMER, OUR FAVOURITE SEASONAL BEERS RETURN TO TAPS AND SHELVES READY FOR GRILLING AND CHILLING. HERE ARE THREE WE’RE WELCOMING BACK WITH OPEN ARMS. Common |5.0%| (California Common lager)
Propeller Brewing Co. Halifax
Tidehouse Brewing Company Halifax
Last summer, head brewer Cameron Crerar told Halifax Magazine about his experiments brewing California steam beer-inspired brew. After exhaustive testing by customers in the Propeller taproom, Crerar settled on a recipe. This easy drinking beer will be at the NSLC in 355ml can six-packs in time for summer. Key to this style’s flavour is using lager yeast (fermented cold at 7 to 13°C) at ale temperature (fermented warm at 20 to 22°C) to create a fuller flavour.
Co-owner and brewer Peter Lionais is rebrewing his hoppy weisse because it just wasn’t hoppy enough for him the first time around. This time you’ll find oodles of Mandarina Bavaria, a fruity German hop, and plenty of Ahtanum hops on the bittering side, known for being earthy, floral, and citrusy, plus that tell-tale weisse flavour.
PHOTO: TREVOR J. ADAMS
Your new favourite beer
Hell Bay Brewing Co. Liverpool, N.S. This is one of my favourite summer beers. Light and crisp, with a moderate hop profile that lends it a hint of lemon. It’s easily crushable and a great way to encorage non-craft beer drinkers to jump onboard. Watch for it’s return around NSCBW and enjoy it all summer.
Nova Scotian ale |ABV unknown| Boxing Rock Brewing and Trider’s Brewing Shelburne/Amherst, N.S. This beer features the same pin cherry tree yeast, and is modeled on a cream ale. Pale yellow, hoppier, and cold fermented to take some of the edge off the yeast funk. Drinking these two together is a great way to understand how yeast influences beer’s flavour.
You Can Call Miel (saison) |7.5%| Lunn’s Mill Beer Co. Lawrencetown, N.S. An extra dry saison featuring local honey from Sophie’s Bees. The honey is added near the end of fermentation to dry out the beer, and adds light aroma without extra sweetness to compete with the saison funk. There are only a few kegs around for Craft Beer Week, so get it while you can.
Unnamed (wild ale)
2 Crows Brewing Halifax As always head brewer Jeremy Taylor has a beer to make us think. This one features a wild yeast cultivated from a British Columbian brewery’s beer, which was previously cultivated from the brewer’s backyard. Expect a light crushable beer with funky wild flavours. This is a 1,000-litre run, at the tap room and in cans, and unlikely to outlast NSCBW.
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saltbox brewing company At Salt Box Brewing Company, we celebrate the development of the skills and artistry required to create fresh, full-flavoured beer for consumption by the local community. Our motto: “think social, and drink local”.
363 Main Street, Mahone Bay, NS 902-624-0653 saltboxbrewingcompany.ca
Wayfarers’ Ale Society Wayfarers’, a tribute to a medieval English custom where travellers (Wayfarers) would knock on the door of local churches and receive a horn of ale and piece of bread to refresh them along their way. One customer noted, “I absolutely recommend a visit to Wayfarers’. Excellent brewery tour, excellent beer and a great overall story. A standout brewery amongst all the craft brewers.”
1116 Kars Street, Port Williams, NS B0P 1T0 902-542-7462 wayfarersale.ca
Nine Locks Brewing Co. Nestled in Dartmouth, Nine Locks Brewery brews in small batches – taking their time, and only using the highest quality malt and hops possible to ensure they craft the finest beers possible. Offering a wide range of beers for tasting, it’s the perfect place to discover your next favourite brew.
219 Waverley Road, Dartmouth, NS 902-434-4471 ninelocksbrewing.ca
Propeller Brewing Co. Propeller Brewing Company has been a proud North End neighbour since our founding in 1997. Stop by for a pint or flight in our Tasting Room at our Gottingen Street Brewery, with special cask releases every Friday. Full cold beer stores on Gottingen, and on Windmill Road in Dartmouth.
2015 Gottingen Street, Halifax NS drinkpropeller.ca @PropellerBeer
Rockbottom Brew Pub Best brewpub in Atlantic Canada, according to the Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards. Hand crafted beer and hand crafted food come together for the perfect experience. Constantly changing seasonal beers and nightly specials, live entertainment and a weekly Firkin make for the perfect craft beer experience.
5686 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS [Under Your Father’s Moustache] 902-423-2938 rockbottombrewpub.ca
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NOVA SCOTIAN FAMILIES HAVE FOUGHT FOR GENERATIONS TO SECURE THE LEGAL DEEDS TO THEIR FAMILY HOMES
PHOTOS: CTV ATLANTIC
| FEATURE |
Wanque and Vicki Simmons
FIXING AN OLD INJUSTICE BY PRIYA SAM Vicki Simmons tends to the rhubarb patches and flower gardens that her mother planted at her home in North Preston, Nova Scotia. The property reminds her of her parents. They cultivated the land and built the home she grew up in and now owns. Yet, it didn’t truly belong to the Simmons family until recently, even though they’ve lived there for decades. Their family is one of dozens of black Nova Scotian families who were stuck in limbo after filing a land-title claim application. “I feel more security now than I ever have,” says Vicki. Her comment comes nearly 20 years after Vicki’s parents, Clemmie and Adeline Simmons, first filed an application to obtain title to the land on which they built their home and raised their family. Wanque Simmons, Vicki’s daughter, remembers her grandparents struggling to get the land-title document so they could leave a legacy for their children. “They said if anything happened to them, they wanted the house to be a family house and something for their kids to be in,” remembers Wanque. While Wanque is happy her mother now has title, she says it shouldn’t have taken so long to get it. She remembers calling the Department of Natural Resources to follow up on her grandfather’s application when he was still alive. “They had said something about my grandfather being way down on the list,” says Wanque. “They said he was the nineteenth person and it would be a couple of years before they even get to him.” But time ran out. Clemmie Simmons filed the original land title application in 1999. He died before the bureaucrats processed his application. His widow tried to pick up where he left off, but she too was unsuccessful.
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Wanque and Vicki were finally able to get title with the help of lawyer Matthew Moir. Moir had been working on land title files for years at Weldon McInnis, a law firm based in Dartmouth. Moir also ran into roadblocks when working on the files in the early 2000s. “There was a person designated at that time to be in charge of the files,” recalls Moir. “He told me, yes, technically that’s my designation, I’m the one responsible to do this, but I’m not doing them because there’s no money to do this.” Recently, the provincial government allocated more money to process these land title claims but the Land Titles Clarification Act itself isn’t new. It came into existence in 1963. There was a need for the act because in the 1800s, land was given to both black and white Loyalists by the Nova Scotian colonial government, but black settlers didn’t get title to their land. This meant that their families were unable to pass their properties on to their descendants. In some cases, it also meant that residents couldn’t access government funding programs for things like wheelchair ramps and other specialized health-and-safety renovations. While some land title claims have been processed over the years, it was lawyer Angela Simmonds who reinvigorated interest in the Land Titles Clarification Act while she was still a law student. She was working at the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society in 2014 when she found out about the backlog of applications. “I just started researching about the application process,” says Simmonds. “I soon realized that it was a much larger problem and that it really wasn’t a property issue, it was a human rights issue.” Simmonds went on to write a paper about the challenges of getting title and the history of the residents living in some of the African Nova
Scotian communities. Her work caught the attention of the United Nations. “The reality is, it’s racism,” says Simmonds. “It’s about discrimination, it’s about inequalities that have been in our presence and that we’ve had to work through for decades.” The UN agreed with her position and findings and produced a report about the treatment of the African Nova Scotian community. “Part of the report said that African Nova Scotians need to be recognized as a distinct people,” explains Simmonds. “We know that slavery existed here and there needs to be an apology.” While the provincial government has received this report, it hasn’t apologized. However, around the same time the report was released, the province promised more funding to process historic land title claims in five African Nova Scotian communities: North Preston, East Preston, Cherry Brook, Lincolnville, and Sunnyville. “African Nova Scotians have suffered, more than anyone else in Nova Scotia, great indignities and injustices with respect to land,” said Tony Ince, minister of African Nova Scotian affairs, when announcing $2.7 million in funding to help residents in those five communities get their land-title certificates. During that same announcement in September 2017, Ince said this was only the beginning. He promised that a total of 13 communities would receive government assistance to help residents obtain title to properties that have been in their families for decades, and in some cases, centuries. But the process for getting the program up and running is slow going, which is a major complaint of the communities that were promised help.
Lawyer Angela Simmonds
African Nova Scotia Affairs minister Tony Ince
“The one thing I would like to be frank and honest about is that there’s still a bit of ambivalence,” says Ince in reference to how some community members are reacting. “But I can assure them that for the first time, they’ve got a government with multiple departments working on this.” That may sound like a good thing, but one of the big concerns from members of the impacted communities has been that the process of applying for title is too complicated. There are more concerns about having additional departments becoming involved, which could make the process even more confusing without
Lawyer Matthew Moir
addressing the unique situations in which many of these families find themselves. One common issue is that there are several homes on one plot of land, but only one person can be granted title. “It’s not uncommon for a family to be on a property and to have two or three homes around them and for it to still be their immediate family,” explains Simmonds. This has led to some family disputes over who should hold the title. In those circumstances, cases can get stuck in limbo. But there is hope that the people hired using this new funding will be able to find ways to address some of these unique problems.
Wanque and Vicki Simmons are hopeful, too. While their situation had a happy ending, they’re not taking their result for granted because they know it hasn’t been the same for others. This will be the first summer where the North Preston house is officially theirs and they plan to celebrate with a big family barbecue. “I feel like a new person,” says Vicki. “I finally have something that I can call my own…this is something that’s long overdue for my family.”
firstname.lastname@example.org Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
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| FEATURE |
Out of the darkness IN 1998, A VIOLENT STRANGER WAS TERRORIZING HALIFAX— POLICE RECALL HOW THEY CAUGHT HIM
Editor’s Note: This story contains strong language that will offend some readers.
BY RICHARD WOODBURY In late June 1998, they arrested a man for a series of violent assaults against four women, in which three of the attacks included a sexual component. The case they had against the man was strong, but there was a problem. He said his name was Ian Thor Greene and claimed to be 19 but police didn’t believe him. He had other aliases, including Ian O’Leary, Joe Thunder, and Daniel Greene. Fingerprint checks didn’t turn anything up. In late July, police issued an international plea for help identifying the man. CBC’s The National was amongst the media outlets that picked up the story, its broadcast airing in parts of upstate New York. That night, the primary investigator on the Ian Thor Greene case, Const. Tom Martin, was at home. Around midnight, he received a call from the dispatch centre telling him to call Det. Frank Coney from New York state. Martin phoned Coney and introduced himself. “I didn’t even finish the statement and all I got back from Coney was, ‘You got that fucking guy? You got that fucking guy?” I said, “Yeah, he’s in a cell.’ ‘Are you fucking sure you’ve got that fucking guy?’ I said, ‘Yeah, he’s in a cell.’ ‘Don’t turn your back on that fucker.’” Coney said the suspect’s real name was William Chandler Shrubsall. He was a 27-yearold American fugitive with a long rap sheet that included manslaughter, stalking, harassment, assault, and sexual-abuse convictions. Further investigation in the U.S. later found dozens of other allegations in which charges were never laid, says Martin. Shrubsall was originally from Niagara Falls. On the night before his high-school graduation in 1988, where he was to be the valedictorian, the 17-year-old beat his mother to death with a baseball bat at their home. He went to jail for 16 months. There were other incidents and charges in the coming years, but the most significant one stemmed from an August 1995 incident at a house party where the then 24-year-old Shrubsall sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl. As the trial neared an end, Shrubsall left a 28 | halifaxmag.com MAY 2018
suicide note on May 14, 1996, that said he was going to jump off Niagara Falls. The court found him guilty in absentia. On May 16, Shrubsall checked into the Metro Turning Point shelter on Barrington Street. Martin isn’t sure how Shrubsall managed to get here that quickly, but suspects a family member helped him. During his time in Halifax, the stocky Shrubsall worked as a telemarketer, played on a baseball team, scammed several churches out of money, and tried to enroll in Grade 12, claiming to be 17. He was actually 25. Shrubsall didn’t turn up on the Halifax police’s radar until June 1997, when he tried to hire a prostitute. Going under the name of Ian Thor Greene, he pleaded guilty and was fined $100 in August. It’s not clear why his fake identity didn’t raise any red flags then. By June 1998, Shrubsall was living at the Sigma Chi fraternity on South Street and working at Wendy’s on Quinpool Road. In the early hours of June 22, 1998, police were called to the frat house. Hours earlier, Shrubsall had met a woman at the Dome, they danced together and then walked back to his place. Once there, she tried to call a cab using the phone in Shrubsall’s room. That’s when he began to beat, choke, and sexually assault her. The thumps and screams coming from the room prompted Shrubsall’s roommates to intervene and he fled. Police began investigating. Martin was one of the officers who searched Shrubsall’s room that day, alongside constables Jim Perrin and Penny Hart. There wasn’t much in the way of mementoes. “He didn’t want anything from his past with him,” says Martin. They suspected they weren’t facing a firsttime attacker. “It was very high risk,” says Martin. “People usually don’t mess in their own backyards and this is where this individual lived.” As they searched the room, police discovered a wallet and a purse that belonged to two different women. Tamara Donnison owned the wallet. On Feb. 12, 1998, the 24-year-old was working her shift at the Great Northern Knitters Factory Outlet on Upper Water Street when someone
beat her with a baseball bat and robbed her. She was in a coma for several days. Doctors had to reconstruct her fractured skull. Against the odds, she survived. “It was very brazen because there are police that are constantly there, there’s lots of bus traffic, there’s sidewalk traffic and it’s right underneath a courthouse,” says Rob Fetterly, one of the Crown attorneys who prosecuted the Shrubsall cases. The purse they found in Shrubsall’s room belonged to a 19-year-old woman that someone sexually assaulted and robbed in a Tower Road driveway on May 4, 1998. The woman had been at the New Palace Cabaret and walked home by herself. She had a feeling she was being followed and put her keys in her hand to protect herself. Shrubsall ambushed her and beat her so badly her contact lenses had to be surgically removed. To find Shrubsall, Hart and Perrin spoke with people that knew him. At an apartment building in South End Halifax, the officers knocked on a door. Perrin says his “senses were tingling” because it took a long time for the Shrubsall acquaintance to answer. After a quick conversation, the officers left. When they got outside, a man started speaking with them. “[He] asked us if we were looking for somebody there and we said we were,” Perrin recalls. “And he said, ‘Well, I think he jumped off the balcony while you were inside.’” In the distance, they could see Shrubsall running away. The officers then chased him on foot through alleys and backyards and over fences before they caught him. When they interrogated him, he wasn’t co-operative. A story he often used in Halifax is that he was from the Yukon and both his parents were dead: his father having died in a car crash, his mother in a house fire. During the interrogation, Shrubsall had one moment where he slipped but police didn’t catch it. When asked if he wanted something to eat, Shrubsall said he wanted a sub and soda. “It really pissed me off in later years to think that I missed that, something so obvious,” Martin says. “Soda is American.” The job of prosecuting Shrubsall fell on the shoulders of Paul Carver, a Crown attorney who was 31 when he first took the case, just four years older than Shrubsall. By chance, he just happened to be working bail court when Shrubsall was first arraigned. He stayed on the file. Courts tried the three cases separately. A fourth case involving sexual assault went to a preliminary inquiry, but the Crown didn’t feel it had a strong chance of conviction, so it withdrew the charges. On the witness stand, there were some odd moments with Shrubsall. “He had spent a great deal of his life being told how smart he was and
when he testified, it struck me that he believed or perceived he could say just about anything and he should be believed,” says Carver. He points to the Donnison case. When Shrubsall was asked why he had her wallet, he said he’d found it in a park and planned to contact her to return it, even though he said he had a bad feeling when he found it. “If you had a bad feeling, why would you take it home?” says Carver. Besides the three main trials, Shrubsall also pleaded guilty to violating the Immigration Act by working illegally in Canada. There was another trial for harassing an ex-girlfriend. While testifying at this trial, Shrubsall talked about plans to go to the Curry Village for dinner with her. “It was a very good restaurant by the way, I highly recommend it,” is what Shrubsall told the judge at one point, says Carver. In Halifax, there were likely more incidents involving Shrubsall where he wasn’t charged. “I’ve talked to women that he did just as bad [things], if not worse, to the South Street attack, the same sort of thing, street attacks, got the full story and they said ‘Tom, I’m not interested in doing any more with this,’” says Martin. The courts found Shrubsall guilty. To ensure he never stepped foot outside of prison again, the Crown made a dangerous-offender application, which was granted in December 2001. A Parole Board of Canada document notes a 2001 psychiatric assessment found Shrubsall has “a mixed personality disorder with anti-social, narcissistic traits, and paraphilia,” while another assessment from 2002 called him a psychopath. That same year, Shrubsall legally changed his name to Ethan Simon Templar MacLeod. Simon Templar is the name of the fictional book, film, and TV character known as The Saint. Since 2012, Shrubsall has applied for parole four times, and all applications were denied. Even if he is released from prison, a seven-year sentence awaits him in the U.S. for sexually assaulting a minor. Carver says the average length of time a dangerous offender spends incarcerated is around 23 years. “He’s getting closer and closer and closer,” he says. “He’s still a young man.” says Carver. He still has an address book from the case filled with the contact information for people who were involved, but he hopes not to have to use it. “I may have to potentially call some of these people and say, ‘He got out,’” says Carver. While the police and Crown got their jobs done, Martin says the “superstars” of those cases are the victims. “To watch those three women, it was almost breathtaking to know what each of them had been through and to watch how they maintained their composure and testified in the manner they did,” says Martin. “I really, truly never saw anything like it in my years.” email@example.com Halifax Magazine @HalifaxEditor @HalifaxMagazine
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HUMAN TOUCH SIMULATED PATIENTS GET A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON THE HEALTH-CARE SYSTEM BY RYAN VAN HORNE
There are more than 600 simulated patients at Dalhousie’s Centre for Collaborative Clinical Learning and Research (CCCLR), helping to educate the next generation of health-care professionals. I’m one of them. I’m an amateur actor and first took the gig because I was interested in acting more after being in a play at Theatre Arts Guild. For many actors in Halifax, the program provides a steady if modest source of income. This helps support a vibrant arts community, which took a hit after the province modified the film tax credit and knocked the industry off balance. I’ve been a simulated patient for two years. It’s a fair wage and I love getting paid to act but that’s not why I still do it. The greater benefit for me, which I never expected, was how much I have learned about illnesses, health-care, professional communication, and how to provide feedback. The health-care students who attend the skills development sessions and then do exams become better doctors, physiotherapists, social workers, and pharmacists. This happens because they’ve practised on people who are trained to provide a lifelike experience for them in a low-stakes learning environment. Tanya Dutton is the managing director of the CCCLR. She chats with simulated patients about the work. “The call to make health care better is a very powerful call and some simulated patients have experienced that … a bit of a calling to serve these students,” she says.
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Simulated patients also play an important role in providing standardized test subjects for licensing exams. “From a safety and licensure perspective, that is a profound responsibility,” Dutton explains. “When you consider the public concerns about having a safe practitioner, that’s a significant contribution to society.” The CCCLR has grown considerably since its modest beginning. It began in a small room in Fenwick Tower in the 1990s and moved to the Thompson Building on Barrington Street, where it was called the Learning Resource Centre. In the summer of 2016, it moved into the new Collaborative Health Education Building at the corner of Summer Street and University Avenue took a new name. In this setting, more faculties can take advantage of the service it provides and realizing the benefits that can be achieved through collaboration. For example, teaching interdisciplinary communication could save money in the future. When health-care practitioners learn what other professions can do, it helps avoid duplication. “This leads to efficiencies in health care because having more than one person do something is not sustainable,” Dutton says. “There are not enough healthcare dollars and providers.” After a recent simulation in which medical students had to examine simulated stroke patients, somebody commented on how astonished they were that the CCCLR was able to find 27 stroke patients willing to participate, Dutton says. Then, they saw
one of them hop off the bed table and realized they were all just actors. “This kind of magic that happens when you have talented simulated patients and excellent training from the educators,” Dutton said. In addition to providing a live human to practice on, this setting provides simulated patients a chance to give feedback to the students, who will eventually become health-care practitioners. This is also an important learning tool for the students because the power differential that exists once they are licensed doesn’t exist here. “In this setting, it’s a safe environment for people to make mistakes and we know that people will make mistakes and that’s where you’ll learn,” Dutton says. “Being able to correct them and learn them here certainly serves society.” After practising, students do an OSCE, which stands for objective structured clinical examination. While the risks are lower in a standardized exam, the students are still anxious about going in with a simulated patient. “There’s something about coming and talking to a complete stranger that gets your adrenaline going,” she says. “It gives them confidence to do it in the real world.”
RYAN VAN HORNE Ryan is a Halifax journalist, playwright, and documentary film director. His work appears in magazines and newspapers from coast to coast and at ryanvanhorne.com.
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