Following the American Revolution pro-British refugees gathered in New York. The wealthier classes retreated to England but others boarded vessels for Nova Scotia. The 10,000 intending settlers were disappointed in what they found and most moved on to England or the Province of New Brunswick, to Ontario or even the United States.

Lunenburg was settled a couple of decades earlier but those folk experienced the same extravagant promises as those who came to Shelburne. During Father Le Loutre's War, in mid December 1753, within six months of their arrival at Lunenburg, the new settlers there rebelled against living conditions. "The Hoffman Insurrection" was led by John Hoffman, one of the Captains who had established the settlers in the town. He led a mob which imprisoned Commander Patrick Sutherland’s troops and the Justice of the Peace in a blockhouse. Robert Monckton was sent with troops from Halifax and arrested Hoffman who was imprisoned on Georges Island for two years.

The Shelburne Riots by contrast were a series of racist mob attacks in July 1784 by landless British Loyalist veterans of the American Revolution against Black Loyalists and government officials in the town of Shelburne. The Loyalist land agent there was Benjamin Marston.  He escaped to the military barracks across the harbour and boarded a coastal schooner headed for Halifax shortly before rioters arrived at the barracks reportedly planning to hang him. Black Loyalists, many of whom were army veterans organized as militia companies, were able to defend themselves in Birchtown. However attacks on Blacks traveling along the road between Birchtown and Shelburne for work and supplies continued for a month. None of the rioters who attacked the Black Loyalists or Marston were identified or brought to justice.

When will it end: "A small group of Shelburne students were verbally assaulting as well as cyber harassing students because of the colour of their skin, giving Hitler salutes, a hangman’s rope hung out for all to see and proclaiming that they were in the Klu Klux Klan.  Offensive graffiti with crude swastikas, racial slurs against specific and prominent black families in the Shelburne area and white power were sprayed throughout the town." - The Shelburne Couty Coast Guard, 2011.

La Amistad
which visited Shelburne that summer.  It was launched in 2000 and is based in New Haven, Connecticut. "The Freedom Schooner" transformed a ship of enslavement into a symbol of hope and monument to the pursuit of universal human freedom. The original became known in July 1839 as the place of  revolt by Mende captives, who had been enslaved in Sierra Leone, The African captives took control of the ship in July 1839, killing some of the crew and ordering the survivors to sail the ship to Africa. The Spanish survivors secretly maneuvered the ship north and it was captured off the coast of Long Island by the brig USS Washington.  Known as United States v. The Amistad (1841), the case was finally decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in favor of the Mende, restoring their freedom and noting that slavery had been banned in the United States.

The Mahone Bay region and Old Town Lunenburg had their spiffs with privateers, but there is no real claim to having old time pirates do more than sail past.However, consider Captain Edward "Ned" Low (ca. 1690 – 1724), a notorious English pirate notorious for capturing more than 100 ships, burning most of them to the waterline after confiscating cargo. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described Low as "savage and desperate," and a man of "amazing and grotesque brutality".in June 1722, Low and his crew attacked thirteen New England fishing vessels sheltering at anchor in Port Roseway, Nova Scotia. Although outnumbered, Low hoisted his Jolly Roger flag and declared that no mercy would be given to the fishermen if any of them resisted. The fleet submitted and Low pilfered the vessels. Low chose the largest, an 80-ton schooner which he renamed The Fancy and armed with 10 guns, to become his flagship. He sank the other ships of the fleet, marooned some of the fishermen and forced the more virile to join his crew.  Charles Johnson in his A General History of the Pyrates, noted one rumour that Low was sailing for Brazil and another that Low's ship sank in a storm with the loss of all hands.

Shelburne has a pretty good claim on reenacting  these unsavoury types, although one can hope that they never intended taking Ned as a model.  Everyone seems to want to play pirate and some of the  Port Roseway cast have been seen at Mahone Bay and elsewhere. The fact that they are all wanbee actors is a huge part of their failure to draw massive interest. The Pirates of Halifax are the only ones who seem to have a handle on this kind of reenactment. Four of them banded together in 2008 and can be found at They do claim to have "screen accurate wardrobes and props" but their  their best attribute is the fact that they no how to entertain without over acting.

The Shelburne and Mahone Bay pirates think of their calling as play acting, while visitors and tourist are really looking for interaction. I think this was in 2012 or 2013. That "pirate ship" was their stage.

No huge crowd gathered for the presentation, and Ruth and I drifted off after a few moments watching the scene unfold. That's the saloon in the distance.

By contrast, Loyalist regimental encampments in the same setting:  These reenactors are crowd sensitive and experienced at meeting and greeting the public, and that's entertainment. which is one of things that visitors seek. Want history, each of these soldiers and followers can tell you who they are and what they do, although not everyone is interested in historical accuracy. Food? Honestly it is easy to rally friends and relations to give a good review, but Charlotte Lane is the only restaurant that gives Lunenburg's best eating places a run for the money.  Pricey? Yes, but we have never been thrilled with the overall eating experience anywhere else in town.

Winner of “Server of the Year” from Taste of Nova Scotia – our very own Cora Beck, 2014

Winner of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia’s Best Small Restaurant Award, 2013

Lunenburg and Halifax and Peggy's Cove have a formidable advantage over other wanabee tourist traps because they have pulled out all stops to create interest where it counts, and that starts with the Department of Tourism.

Way back when Ruth and I admitted to being reenactment groupies we were invited to join the fun. There is very little of this outside that group.  Want to do pirates, invite outsiders to become involved.  Too old to join the regiment but not afraid of looking ridiculous.

It is always a good idea to cozy up to business interests when planning a festival. David Brumwell (Scabby Dan) who has been a spokesman for the Pirates of Mahone Bay explained tat their local Chamber had forced them to "walk the plank" which is why they took their show to Lunenburg. According to Sue Bournot, the Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman, membership simply couldn't continue to dump money into the pocket of an organization that "lost money last year." That group had been supported by the Chamber since 2010. Having seen their skits over the intervening years we did not bother to check them out in the new setting. From their online pages it appears to have had an underwhelming reception.

Trouble is, there really was no payback in increased sales for merchants aside from Mr. Brumwell (above left), who owns a Mahone Bay store which sells pirate flags, books, hats, telescopes, eye patches and the like. Some of the other merchants I talked with considered the pirate festival a bad joke. Some of the pirate lads liked to party a bit too much so events scheduled for the second day rarely took place. Ruth's photo from 2010 when we were actively engaged in promoting what seemed a good idea at the time. In retrospect too much playing acting and not enough interactive fun.

Believe me when I say that a very minor part of the visiting pubic comes to any tourist trap to look at paintings. Having made a living that way for several decades, I can state with certainty that selling paintings involves local patrons not visitors. Notice that the travelling public posted a lot more reviews for Lunenburg  than was the case in Shelburne in the same time period.  There, the museum complex, rated a mere 5th place. Charlotte's Lane was the only restaurant thought worthy of  consideration as a top draw. It is not a true urban shopping centre, and outdoor activities are found everywhere.

When one sees a shrinking population, a lot of properties for sale, and sales below assessment, the drums are beating against any imminent recovery. Check the View Point real estate map for confirmation of this trend, which has accelerated since we first visited a decade ago.

Love those low prices on real estate but the economic/political/socialclimate is currently in the cellar.

The use of the Yarmouth Ferry actually decreased this summer, so that projected economic uplift fell flat for areas distant from Halifax, where most of the action was again centred.

Shelburne played itself for last year's motion picture version of The Book Of Negroes, but tax write-offs for productions like this have been kicked overboard by the latest provincial Liberal government, so that possibility is restricted for all outback towns. Note those birds on the roof. These are pigeons. Seagulls prefer food joints.

Doom and gloom pervades this place in spite of an upbeat attitude at the tourist bureau. There is always a bit of silver lining. Collaborative care has been reasonably successful in Lunenburg but then the larger Bridgewater Hospital, with full facilities, is only 12 minutes away from Fishermen's Memorial Hospital.

The really bad news has been the collapse of once important marine industries
 and the failure of promised change.

This recent event was no morale booster. I did mention that Dock Street is not much above sea level? Quote: The Chronicle Herald.

Alan Reid was a happier man before becoming a pub and property owner, a town councilor, and a general supporter of the Cooke Aquaculture project.  He would probably have had a happier life as a pirate.

...and a lot of water in 2013.  Quote: The Chronicle Herald.

The water completely covered Dock Street. I have no idea whether there was damage but there was certainly worry and inconvenience for businesses. Reporter's Quote: The Chronicle Herald.

And then there was this news earlier this year.

Signage does say it all? The Sports Bar is on the second floor. We were there once.

What about concerns about food quality and health hazards?

Good pub grub is just that and once upon a time the Sea Dog Saloon had middle of the road cooks, polite waitresses, a reasonable wait time and prices that reflected the quality of their offering.  All that has changed.

Unfortunately, money is needed to bring events to town, and villages are squeezed on that front. Quote is from Don Mills, who I thought should be based in Ontario. He is Chairman and CEO of Corporate Research Associates, Inc., Halifax, NS. and has interesting but not novel ideas concerning the suffering outback.

I have made corrections and added population stats to a map produced to explain his idea expounded in the Chronicle Herald  that we need to become more urban-oriented around obvious population centres. he map formerly designated Stellarton as the largest urban centre in Pictou County, an obvious mistake. Wolfville is only the centre of that area if you count Acadia University students.  Shelburne and Yarmouth are not leaders of any pack.  That "Historic Population" table recounts Shelburne's problems. It has not had good years in terms of growth in a very long time, that also applies for Yarmouth, their only urban centre.

Halifax pirates actually hire out to add colour to wedding events. In Shelburne this appears to have been a less formal situation. Mills sees our country life style as a the cause of decades of rural unemployment and a trailing gross domestic product. He says there are too few government dollars to adequately service every small community.

Seen a few years ago: This gentleman turned out to be the mayor of Yarmouth, moonlighting as a chauffeur. That movie-set, open-air building does attract wedding! In this case the wedding proved more interesting than the insipid prirate amateur hour.

In another year a wedding party actually was resident with Ruth and I at Cooper's Inn.

Mills counts off the usual evils in our society: "A stagnant and aging population" and our unreasoning attachment to a home stone.  He admits that most unemployed Nova Scotians will look for work but chides them for being "unwilling" to  consider different work, less pay and a hour of travel to get to and from work.

Directly above is the exact Chronicle Herald quote. His team appear to have uncovered the fact that most workers feel it would be reasonable to expect a commute of 60 kilometres. They also found that most interviewees were unwilling to relocate to take a job elsewhere or even within Nova Scotia. That's the usual kant.

On the other hand, Dalhousie University professor and economist Lars Osberg says that should the current recession deepen, Nova Scotia's economy is better positioned to weather a downturn than other parts of Canada. He says that public health and education sectors are insulated by the fact that they are publically funded. The other sectors are vulnerable but he contends "We are much less vulnerable than other urban markets across Canada" simply because much of the province is rural and has thus avoided "the huge spike in housing prices seen in Toronto and Vancouver." Halifax, which has been experiencing a construction boom, and is welcoming a new Irving ship-building era, has not yet experienced a crisis in housing  and rental prices.

View from the Sea Dog outdoor deck.

The urban-centric development strategy is old hat.  That's has always been the traditional approach to passing out cash from Halifax. Mills sees urban as any community with a population of more than 5,000. In my day, that number identified what we used to define as "a town." Anything small was a "village." Using the current definition, Halifax and Sydney leap first to mind, but Bridgewater,  Kentville,  Amherst, Yarmouth, Truro and New Glasgow also qualify. Some of these "urban hubs" definitely need cash infusions. The Mills people refer to these eight communities as future "urban building blocks."

Dr. Osberg  says that we are definitely affected by economic downturns in other parts of Canada and admits that the fact that we are "less vulnerable" to the effects of a  recession does not mean we can escape periodic business cycles.  "What's good for me-me is cutting back on spending.  If all of us do that individually, then there isn't a whole lot of spending out there and there isn't a whole lot of job creation." That's economic liberalism!  The Royal Bank of Canada has noted that household debt is already "among the highest ratios in the developed world."  They think that Canada may be too dependent on low interest rates and consumer borrowing as an engine of economic growth. A bank spokesman says that low interest rates have caused Canadians to pay off mortgage debt, but says that what they saved on interest payments, tended to be lost elsewhere in high housing costs.

What's not to like about a community which features moose on its street signs? My namesake connects connects Water and Dock Streets just above the Sea Dog Saloon.  There is the fact that town council has had to institute an anti-discrimination and racism committee, A faction there  planned to hold a redneck competition as part of Founders' Days weekend in July. Shelburne's committee met following public controversy. That led the town to ditch the redneck name in favour of the Shelburne County Country Event. The  redneck contest proceeded as planned.  The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines a redneck as "an uneducated working-class white in the southern U.S., especially one holding reactionary political views," or just as "anyone holding reactionary [conservative] political views." It describes the term as derogatory. Ed Cayer, a resident of Shelburne wrote to the local paper saying, "It's kind of ironic that weeks after the opening of an incredibly touching facility dealing with Black Loyalists and the heritage of the black community here in Shelburne (Birchtown), all in a positive environment, that we should then make this other connection that is the antithesis of what we're all about."

The last day lily in our garden. Clearly, Shelburne does have reasons for its stay-at-home population.  Many of them do not have the cash or certification to move between their current residence and an urban centre and there is no public transportation system in all of the south western shore. Economists and business admin types need to put on their thinking caps when it comes to issues such as low wages and unfordable housing for working stiffs. Rural routers would prefer better jobs and a higher standard of living and it is not true that they don't want to be uprooted. They simply cannot afford to move,  let alone travel over expensive distances.  The drop in gas prices is not a huge help with the "inexperienced" minimum wage for Nova Scotia set at $10.10. with "experienced workers getting $10.60.

In my view that is a part of the problem when it comes to Shelburne's service industries.  High end restaurants tend to pay a bit more for certified chefs and waiters and waitresses who have been trained.  In my days in that trade, bell hops and dining-room staff were often full-time employees who were trained at Ryerson Institute (now a university). They were better paid than front desk/office personnel.  Many of them travelled south of the border for winter work. Tips were generous because the service and attention to detail was professional.

September 1, 2015: Ask Alberta 52 about The Sea Dog Saloon: "Stopped in for lunch & sat on the patio overlooking the harbour. Two tables had umbrellas & the rest did not. We were told they had "run out" of umbrellas when we asked for one for our table. We intended to order some seafood & our loud, abrasive & unfriendly waitress chastised us for not knowing the restaurant gets their seafood frozen from Sobeys!!! This is not a restaurant I would recommend for the food & certainly not the service. Since it seems the owner apparently reads these reviews I hope he will make improvements to both & not respond with defensiveness as he has to other reviews who aren't happy with some aspect of their experience."

There were three umbrellas in place on the seaward side of the building when Ruth and I were there, August 17. All the missing umbrellas were probably pooped on and apparently proved unwashable! By the way, Mr. Reid was very defensive when Ruth complained. A waitress did tell us that $100 tray of food had recently been lost to another bird incident. Ruth does not swear in private or public!  There were no children present on the deck as his Trip Advisor rebuttal claimed. His "sorry" would have been more believable had he appeared in person. He was within hearing distance and relayed the cost of this unusual experience by way of a waitress, who was uncertain how to treat with two very upset patrons. I actually did catch the perpetrator immediately after he or she dropped three separate bombs. The third was a direct hit, and the guano has not been entirely eradicated from my favourite summer hat. Since pith helmets are filled with tiny openings, the spatter did not stop there.

As I see it there is an expectation that patrons should be protected against as many of the vagarities of nature as possible.  These days umbrellas are not that expensive and we have found that they are easily cleaned if immediate action is taken.  The cost of losing customer good can be extreme. Mr Reid said, "your anger would suggest that you believe this bird was under the control of the Sea Dog, this we can assure you was not the case."  I was not angry but surprised and disappointed. Since my training has been in biology, I would never presume control over any animal, but I can tell you there are possible health issues which may attach to ignoring an obvious hazard such as this.

This would not be a practical reaction, but Mr. Reid might find this on line game helpful  for stress relief when disruptions occur, as they will.  Patron criticisms by way of Trip Advisor suggest this is probable. Google that address for some interesting pro and co comments.

In zoology the teaching of the evolution of species is partly supported by lookink at the means by which animals excrete liquid and solid wastes.  There are all sorts of interesting variations. That character is Steven Seagull.

I read this slim little homily when it was first published.  Some people actually feed pigeons and seagulls.  Having seen them up close and personal... in the field in a manner of speaking!

Dinosaurs and birds were related. Speaking of field research, dinosaur poop was probably never this excessive. Probably looked more like my inserted photo of seagull poop.

When I worked as a biological technician we used to collect hagfish or slime eels (Mxyicola infundibulum) by entrapment in a metal cage resembling a lobster trap.  They are scavengers and bottom dwellers as well as escape artists.  When attacked they release a curtain of slime which has been known to turn aside the appetite of voracious sharks. And they can tie themselves in knots, as shown.  They can be up to two feet in length and are not pleasant to handle.  Seagulls will consume almost anything living or dead if they can swallow it.  Hagfish which escape in surface waters have bloated swim bladders and can't return to the bottom.  I have seen seagulls stomach this wiggly creature and display very little discomfort, excepting slight shudders.

Sorry, Mr. Reid but you do need to be pro-active: This is not the worst part of their diet which  can include road kill and human rubbish. A study publish in Proteome Science in 2010 found that 10% of seagulls that feeds on human rubbish are harbouring highly drug-resistant superbugs, in some instances a variant of Staphylococcus aureus. Scientists identified several strains of enterococcus bacteria in the seagull samples. These bugs often live harmlessly in the human gut but can cause serious infections in vulnerable people, including  hospital patients. The problem is, experts fear these bacteria may transfer genes for antibiotic resistance to other microbes such as Staphylococcus aureus, giving rise to yet more dangerous strains. This is a public health concern no matter what some folks say.

The Sea Dog Saloon manager/owner would like to move on, and we would like to see that happen. Certainly, we will not be visiting Shelburne until that community has undergone positive changes.