WENDY ELLIOTT: Tallying the losses of 2013

Wendy Elliott
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Changes to its operations announced recently by Canada Post are predicted to have a big impact. There are those elsewhere loudly bemoaning the loss of door-to-door mail delivery in favour of community mailboxes.

Last month, Canada Post announced five cost-saving changes to its operations in a move that caught most by surprise. The changes include: a gradual phasing out of door-to-door delivery services in urban areas; an increase in the cost of stamps up to 85 cents from 63; a reduction in the number of public post offices in favour of franchise offices like the one at Chisholm’s in Kentville; and other reductions through the usage of new technologies and the lay off of workers.

Some pundits believe the federal government influenced the move. Others contend that the timing was convenient for it to go unnoticed right before the holidays. On Christmas Eve, the Globe and Mail reported on the shockingly significant savings Ontario businesses make when shipping goods to Canadians elsewhere via the U.S.

Like the late Esther Clark Wright, I am only too glad to visit the local post office to pick up our mail. In fact, I never envied Kentville and New Minas their home delivery service.

In her sadly out of print 1957 book Blomidon Rose, Clark Wright included a whole chapter on the post office, which she termed the centre of the town.

“It is the place where you see your friends. If you want to know what is going on in Wolfville, you go to the post office. If you want to see anybody on business, you go to the post office.”

Change and decay

While the loss of door-to-door letter delivery may prompt some gnashing of teeth, there are other losses to tally at the dawn of a new year. We do not know how or why Harley Lawrence died in a bus shelter in Berwick, but many pray his tragic death has made us all more aware of mental health issues.

At 98, Elsie Lane of Kentville was the epitome of volunteerism for eight decades. A familiar face at the desk of Valley Regional Hospital, she believed, “you’ve got to keep going, mentally and physically.”

I always admired Bill Morine of Gaspereau Mountain for his horticultural gifts and the way he rarely let five years of prostate cancer keep him at home. He died too soon at 72, but passed on some of his green thumb talent to one of his grandsons.

Born in Scotland, John Brown was 84 when he passed away in August. A crackerjack chartered accountant, John had a respected career in finance and business. After he and his family moved to Wolfville in 1972, he supported the arts, serving as treasurer of the Theatre Arts Festival International.

I giggle remembering the tale he told about refusing to pay troubador Gordon Lightfoot for a concert he gave here. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, alcohol and drugs plagued Lightfoot and the 16-time Juno winner mumbled through his performance at University Hall. John was not the type to back down; perhaps Lightfoot learned a lesson.

I am glad I knew David Hope-Simpson, 97, who died in July. A gentle Quaker pacifist, he was marked by his wartime experience in the RCAF and the 35 bombing missions he flew over places like Dresden. Living his beliefs, David actively advocated for peace.

Kentville lawyer Walter Newton retired after 44 years and moved to Halifax, passing away suddenly last August. A longtime resident of Port Williams, Walter was paralyzed by polio at 14. He overcame disability and made a practice of aiding others.

Psychiatrist and sailor Brian Garvey of Canning was born in Ireland and kept his glorious accent. He lives in my memory as the dedicated owner of the 75-ft gaff ketch Polaris. The ketch long stood atop the

wharf in Port Williams as she was renovated, later running tours in Halifax harbour.

A man of energy and ideas, I recall him detailing how a modern hovercraft might be employed as a ferry between Parrsboro and Kingsport – much as the old M.V. Kipawo sailed the Minas Basin until WWII.

Sadly cancer took 55-year-old Pam Herbin of Wolfville too soon. Our family got to know Pam close to 30 years ago when she was on staff at the Acadia Child Development Centre. She always showed a lively interest in her preschool charges, even as they grew. Her energy will be missed.




Organizations: Canada Post, Globe and Mail, Valley Regional Hospital John Brown University Hall Acadia Child Development Centre

Geographic location: Kentville, Wolfville, Ontario U.S. Berwick Halifax Port Williams Gaspereau Mountain Scotland Dresden Ireland Parrsboro

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