A road less travelled

The following article, and exchange with Tony Seed of Shunpiking Magazine, was published on Novanewsnet, the online site of the University of King’s College School of Journalism, Thursday, 12 February 1998.

By Andrew MacDonald – Linda Pannozzo, Editor

“Just because they’re free doesn’t mean they’re cheap. Independent magazines like The Coast and Shunpiking offer Haligonians a creative brand of journalism. What does it take to start up an independent publication? What do they offer that mainstream media doesn’t? Is there a future for independent, alternative magazines in Halifax?” 

More on this story:

• Considering the alternatives

• The Coast

• An alternate road

• Obstacles to success

• Web sites related to this topic:

• Further Dispatches from the Coast

• The Next Alternative

Considering the alternatives

A lot of the most popular magazines on newsstands today started out as small, independent publications. Back in 1967, Jann Wenner started Rolling Stone magazine with $7,500 in donations from his family and friends. One of the reasons he started the publication was so he could meet his rock n’roll heroes Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Another was that no other paper in San Francisco would publish his work.

Not every independent publisher starts off like Wenner, nor do they achieve his success. Most have stories of first issues, growing pains, and often failures. Kyle Shaw, the editor and one of the founders of Halifax’s popular weekly magazine, The Coast, talks about several obstacles that independent publishers and editors must overcome such as production costs and finding advertisers.

“We immediately realized the business wasn’t just about writing and designing a cool magazine,” he admits. “There were a lot of business issues we had to deal with before we could put an issue out.”

Tony Seed, the editor and publisher of Nova Scotia’s discovery magazine, Shunpiking, boasts of starting his magazine with $14.87 in the bank. He and Shaw hold different views of the term “independent media.” Seed says Shunpiking has a responsibility to its readers to provide high quality journalism that isn’t compromised by the interests or influence of corporate advertisers. Seed realizes that this independence from corporate ties limits the amount of advertising revenue at his disposal, but after two successful years of publishing he is confident about his publication’s mission.

Shunpiking shows that there is a future in developing an independent media on a self-reliant basis,” he says.

Alternative magazines normally focus on particular subjects such as music, a community or group of people. The Coast for example focuses on urban culture and reports on culture and entertainment events happening around Metro Halifax. Shunpiking is a discovery magazine that deals with Nova Scotia’s rural and cultural traditions.

“People of the Dawn,” Mi’kmaq Maliseet First Nations Supplement, 2010.

Independent publications are often more creative or stylish in both editorial content and layout than daily newspapers. The Coast has regular features like “Media Rare,” a satire heavy column that writer Bruce Wark uses to criticize the media. Shunpiking utilizes four-colour printing which allows them to publish impressive four colour covers and centre spreads. These are characteristics readers aren’t likely to find in conventional daily papers.

Because of the freedom independent magazine publishers have in terms of content, design and subject matter, it is difficult to find two magazines that follow the exact same format. Most publishers and editors consider it a challenge to create the most innovative and original publications that their limited resources will allow. The one thing that most independent pioneers have in common is the difficulty of starting up and surviving in a risky industry.

The Coast

Christine Oreskovich’s office seems more like a college dorm than the headquarters of a magazine publisher. Her walls, bulletin boards and filing cabinets are coated with stickers and posters advertising different movies and bands. Papers, maybe news releases or memos, rest on her desk like a term paper in progress. A constant stream of staff-members walk, run and saché by her door as she jockeys her attention between her phone and computer monitor.

“We’ve come a long way since our first issue,” she says. “We have an office now, that isn’t the size of this room.”

Oreskovich joins editor Kyle Shaw at the top of The Coast’s masthead.

Shaw started the magazine with Oreskovich and four others in June of 1993. The group wanted to produce an arts and entertainment magazine to fill the void left when the Daily News cancelled its weekly Seven Days supplement.

“We were all journalists and we worked well together,” Shaw remembers. “It seemed like the perfect job for us.”

It was excruciating work at first though. Countless all-nighters, no pay and no guarantees was the way of life. It didn’t take long for the financial burdens of starting a publication to catch up with the group. Shaw and Oreskovich knew the magazine would need a major capital injection from a bank loan or investor to improve.

“Our original bi-weekly format didn’t allow us to keep up with what was going on,” says Shaw. “We needed an investor so we could switch to a weekly.”

Last year, Catherine Salisbury, the publisher of a Montreal independent magazine called The Mirror, purchased a majority share of The Coast. This allowed Shaw and Oreskovich to hire a staff (and pay them), rent a downtown office and turn their magazine into a weekly.

“We’ve grown a lot in terms of organization,” says Oreskovich. “We have different departments that needed to learn to work together.”

Shaw says the magazine is still settling into its weekly format. They’ve lost a few columns such as “Tunnel Vision” which monitored television programming and introduced new features like restaurant reviews and a classified ads section.

“We’d like to grow more as a weekly and eventually fill 40 pages a week,” says Shaw.

The Coast’s mission statement says the magazine’s goal is to report on Halifax’s cultural, artistic and political life in a way that is provocative, entertaining and truthful.

Oreskovich believes it is important to have a magazine like The Coast that will take risks by criticizing or reporting on controversial issues. For example, the magazine questioned Nova Scotia’s censorship board when it tried to keep the movie “Bastard Out of Carolina” out of the province last year.

“It’s not always an easy decision,” she admits. “But neither of our (Halifax’s) daily newspapers ever tackle issues like that.”

An alternate road

Charlemont, Massachusetts – Ye Olde “ShunPike”. Located on the Historic Mohawk Trail commemorating the efforts of those who rebelled against the first toll roads. The Mohawk Trail follows the Deerfield River through the hills of western Massachusetts. It was created by the Mohawk Indians First Nations | Courtesy Shunpiking Magazine, RI

Tony Seed sits at his cluttered desk looking vacantly at his computer screen. He’s trying to lay out a page for the next edition of his magazine, Shunpiking. He says there is too much white left on the page. Someone suggests that he fill the space with advertisements. This person is obviously new. Seed reclines slightly in his chair and lights a cigarette. “What do we need ads for?” he asks in a voice that indicates that no answer will satisfy the question.

A shunpike is an alternate road that takes a traveler around the main thoroughfare. Seed uses this definition as a metaphor to describe the nature and purpose of his magazine. To Seed, the mainstream represents mediocre and homogeneous journalism where publications cover the same stories and issues in similar ways. With Shunpiking, Seed tries to cover stories that are under-represented in other publications. For example, Shunpiking was the first publication to investigate the Jim Cambell’s Barren controversy.

In an editorial he wrote, “The interests and well-being of people and the environment are incidental to this media.”

Seed sees independent media as more than just small weekly publications that offer alternate approaches to news coverage. He believes it should be free from interference from corporate interests. He says that it’s difficult for publishers and editors who depend heavily on advertising revenues to have complete editorial control over their content. When he started his magazine two years ago, Seed says he made a commitment to anyone who picked up the magazine.

“We have a responsibility to our readers to provide intelligent, high quality writing that is free from external influences,” he says.

This, he believes is another characteristic which separates Shunpiking from the rest. In the one year anniversary issue, Seed criticized the increase in monopolization of the media and the “gutting” of reputable organizations like the CBC.

“Without aiming high, we would not be able to overcome such obstacles as the feeling that the task is too big, the region is too broad, that it can never be accomplished,” he wrote.

Seed depends a lot on volunteer writers. He’s not worried about the well running dry though. He believes that quality attracts quality. So, as long as he maintains a sophisticated and enlightened magazine, people will happily continue to contribute writing, photography, artwork and time to the magazine. It makes sense that many of the publication’s best stories come from those who read it. The only external force guiding the publication therefore, is the readership, he says.

“Our first two years of publishing have been very successful,” he explains. “This is because our readers are happy. It is their support that keeps us going.”

For Tony Seed’s response (add link, see below)

Obstacles to success

If money is the root of all evil then it’s no wonder independent publishers have such a hard time.

If a publication’s budget is tight it limits the number of staff it can support as well as the resources it can afford. Advanced multi-media technology is integral to any publication, it is also expensive. Add in the costs of maintaining an office, business expenses like long distance phone calls and internet access and it’s easy to understand why many would-be publishers are daunted by the challenge. And the magazine hasn’t even hit the presses yet.

Money troubles aren’t the only problems that keep independent editors and publishers tossing and turning at night.

Christine Oreskovich, publisher of The Coast, says one challenge for magazines can be finding something to write about.

“All media stems from culture,” she explains. “If a city doesn’t have much going on in terms of music or art then it can be difficult for a magazine on culture to find new stories every week.”

She believes the Halifax environment accommodates conventional media very well, but that some changes need to occur for The Coast to be widely accepted.

“We want a mother in Spryfield to feel The Coast has something to offer her,” she says.

The magazine handles this problem by diversifying its subject matter. Along with covering current affair and news issues, The Coast offers movie listings, restaurant and music reviews, satire and even a sex-advice column called “Savage Love.”

Shunpiking publisher Tony Seed doesn’t agree that the audience or region can be considered an obstacle.

“The main reason for a publication’s failure,” he says, “is its editorial policy being rejected by the reader.”

This is why Seed concentrates his efforts on providing intelligent, well-written stories for his readers.

“Some publishers are just trying to make money off of readers,” he says. “We could do that if we wanted to, but we just decided to serve our readers instead.”

Coast editor Kyle Shaw warns future publishers not to be afraid of these obstacles. He says it goes without saying that the first few issues will be rough and that the first few years will be rougher still.

“If it’s what you know you want to do you have to just do it,” he says as he looks back at his magazine’s humble beginnings. “If we had a dollar in start up capital from everyone who said we couldn’t do it, we wouldn’t have had any money problems to begin with.”

* * *

Tony Seed replies

Date: Sun, 15 Feb 1998 10:28:53 -0400

To: fernythicket@sympatico.ca

From: Tony Seed <shunpike@istar.ca>

Subject: Re: A Road Less Travelled.1

Re: A Road Less Travelled

http://www.ukings.ns.ca/nnn/nnn.html

Dear Andrew and Linda,

Thank you kindly for the positive profile – the thought and work behind it – on independent media in today’s NovaNewsNet, and the prominence and appreciation given to Shunpiking discovery magazine by writer Andrew MacDonald and editor Linda Pannozzo. Your web site is attractive, well-organized and should be popularized. This made us reflect on the issue and prepare a reply.

Your feature is a recognition that mass-targeted, general interest publishing can set and meet higher standards than the so-called “established powers” in this field.

The continued existence, growth and success of Shunpiking – though modest in its beginnings and not around as long as the Irvings, Blacks, Camerons and Dennises – proves that there is room and a need for mass publications organized principally to serve the readers’ interests. A medium that treats readers as conscious, active people rather than simply as a market to sell to.

It is also heartwarming to see such a feature come from journalism students in a city whose commercial media, print, TV and radio, collectively, has published a grand total of one story about Shunpiking in our over two years of existence. And that was one brief news report in the Herald when our magazine was awarded the 1997 Nova Scotia Environment Award “for outstanding contribution to the enhancement and preservation of Nova Scotia’s environment.” Nevertheless, we are gratified that more and more people within the media are starting to seriously read and follow Shunpiking.

Mark Daye (left) and Tony Seed (right) receive 1997 Nova Scotia Environment Award for outstanding contribution to the enhancement and preservation of Nova Scotia’s environment from Environment Minister Wayne Adams (centre). “As a magazine it does not present a plan or a program of action, but a journalism… that could be called ‘civic journalism’ or ‘publishing with a difference.’ That difference encourages an analysis of and participation in our whole environment.”

Andrew’s “poetic license” and my objection

However, with all respect to the integrity of the writer, the editor and your article, the following section is fiction.

“Tony Seed sits at his cluttered desk looking vacantly at his computer screen. He’s trying to lay out a page for the next edition of his magazine, Shunpiking. He says there is too much white left on the page. Someone suggests that he fill the space with advertisements. This person is obviously new. Seed reclines slightly in his chair and lights a cigarette. ‘What do we need ads for?’ he asks in a voice that indicates that no answer will suffice.”

Unfortunately, it’s not good fiction!

When I do work at the computer, I don’t stare “vacantly.”

I look very intelligent!

And I move. Graphics/design/layout is action/reaction. As the designer of Shunpiking, I do wish we had far more white space – not “too much white left on the page.” People have aesthetic standards and we bear this in mind in our design. And hence this entire literary metaphor simply doesn’t make any sense! With more advertising, we would have more white space. In fact, many times, I have made design sacrifices and presented what we call a “tight” and hopefully very clean layout in order to accommodate more copy, i.e., content, for our readers. This entire scenario does not ring true. In the last few days, this desk has not been cluttered!

But the negative effect of Andrew’s poetic license is the inference that Shunpiking, and myself, are not interested in advertising. In that respect, this is not only untrue but also damaging to our publication. The flip side is the suggestion that we will not survive without corporate advertising. These suggestions are not something we particularly agree with or particularly like, but we decided to respond because it is part of the present-day reality.

We DO Want Advertisements

Shunpiking is being published for a very definite aim. This aim is the cornerstone of our editorial policy. At the same time, it is very costly to publish such a magazine. There are therefore two issues at hand: our aim, and the cost to fulfill this aim. We seek support for our aim, but not by depending on those who would pressure us to change our aim for the luxury of remaining in the black.

The distinction which many journalists have trouble wrapping their heads around is that, with Shunpiking, the commercial and marketing concerns of the advertisers is subordinate to our editorial policy and the interests of the readers.

Shunpiking is not just one of those run-of-the-mill “niche” or “alternative” magazines. It has been often said that we should be pragmatic – that is, expedient – and mould reality according to the requirements of success. Success is measured in terms of profits. We are against expediency and pragmatism, and we do not measure our success by the profits reaped. We would be quite happy, and consider it a great success, if we were able to address ourselves to the concerns of the people even if, in the economic sense, we did not make fabulous profits.

The motivation for writing for Shunpiking comes not from money, but from the ideal of progress and enlightenment, from the desire to communicate with our fellow Nova Scotians. Of course, it is impossible to defend this ideal without money. The aim of our Subscription 2000 Campaign is to develop an editorial budget from our readership so that all our contributors are renumerated. But to raise money as an aim in-itself is counter productive. It would be working in the old way.

How do we deal with this reality?

Advertising: “quality attracts quality”

Shunpiking was the 1996 recipient of the Ambassador Award of Excellence (Outdoor Recreation and Tourism) from the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia.

I did point out to Andrew that while our publication and our editorial is not tailored to the advertising dollar, we just had the highest ad month ever. We have been working to increase advertising, despite resistance from the provincial government and the corporate advertising agencies; e.g., Shunpiking has received more provincial awards than advertisements from the Nova Scotia government, i.e., two in two years.

Shunpiking has also involved much detailed attention to develop classy, well designed advertising. Advertising is a form of information and communication. As Andrew writes correctly in another context, “quality attracts quality.” The slogan we put forward in our first rate card was, in fact, “quality sells.” We have an art director, advertising. This is also in sharp distinction with conventional media where, as is well known, the sales staff design the ad and the art departments have been reduced to punching keyboards.

Shunpiking also clearly distinguishes editorial from advertising, in contrast to most print media where one cannot tell where editorial stops and the advertising begins. We do this out of respect to the reader; as a result we have become more and more credible and worthy of trust. But the progressive advertiser also will benefit too. In fact, their ads will be noticed and read far more times and have a longer shelf life than with the advertorial approach so common today. That’s why we have such a high percentage of repeat advertisers.

We are saying that this constitutes a practical and viable alternative to a mass media market awash in commercialism and press conference official journalism.

What is happening with Saturday Night magazine and Absolut whiskey is only a reflection of increasing pressure by corporate North America – as recently documented in the Columbia Journalism Review – dictating editorial content, themes and approaches in magazines that corporations, such as Chrysler, are placing their advertising in.

The advertising policy of Shunpiking magazine

Our advertising policy is also principled and pro-active. We do not sell off the rate card or make deals under the table. We have developed special sections and rate structures to make advertising accessible to the small business, the professional and the artisan. We do not write articles on advertisers nor develop articles to get advertising. Regular contributors such as Dr. Scott Cunningham and Dave Lawley, first class writers and naturalists who are also involved in ecotourism, do not mention or plug their business name, even in the author’s credit line. Our Rate Card openly states as follows:

Copy & Contracts – The Small Print

• All advertising is subject to the Publisher’s approval. The word “Advertisement” will be placed above copy that resembles editorial matter.

• New Media Publications does not accept racialist, sexist or homophobic or militaristic advertising or advertising for the following products: tobacco and its related products, hand guns, sexual devices, personal ads, items that could be considered weapons, products made from endangered animals, nefarious land, and get-rich schemes.

Shunpiking – a collective work

I did not “boast” that “I” started Shunpiking with $14.87 in the bank. It is a fact. Shunpiking accounts for itself openly. What we say is what we do – there is nothing hidden under the table.

Nor do I consider it “my magazine”, despite pressure by others to do so.

Mike Vavra (left) takes Carlos Fernández De Cossío, Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba to Canada (centre), on a virtual tour of the “Discovering Nova Scotia’s Natural History” website, during his meeting with the editorial board of Shunpiking magazine, 30 October 1999.

Shunpiking has always been, from our founding meeting in October, 1995, a collective work. More than 40 people are now involved at one level or another. In my view, they are some of the best minds and creative talent in Nova Scotia. Some eight journalism students from Kings have contributed to Shunpiking in just the past year. There is a lot of talk these days that it’s now time to get around to “diversifying” newsrooms. Some half of us with Shunpiking are women and six of us are of Black, Indigenous and Acadian origin. We come from all walks of life.

Overall, a few of us have a prior professional background in the media, however modest: Alan Lynch was an award-winning editorial columnist and publisher; Peter Zimmer, a CBC broadcaster and arts and science reporter; Mary Anne Ducharme, editor of Partici-Paper in Inverness County; David Redwood, a Kings’ journalism graduate; and myself, a former Toronto Globe and Mail features writer, National Newspaper Award nominee, black listed for my views, and past professional member of the Society of Graphic Designers, among other things. Mark Daye was a co-founder of The Rap, a Black newspaper in the 1980s. Mike Vavra has a professional background in digital pre-press production and marketing. In terms of awards, which we never sought, none of us can compete with Bob Semple, who won some 52 national and international awards including two Nikon world underwater photography awards, before retiring from competition over ten years ago. Bob frankly did not like the effect on his outlook towards his fellow contestants, his peers, an outlook generalized in our motto, “friendship first, competition second”. We followed his example and, after our second year, with one exception, did not enter award competitions.

I see my role as one who has been entrusted by the founders, contributors and readers to ensure that Shunpiking is published and develops along the path we have set out.

Speaking frankly, Nova Scotians have created a magazine for themselves, a magazine which addresses their concerns, their environment – natural, social, cultural, economic and political.

Why publications flounder or fail

Andrew was asking about the obstacles we have faced. Without underestimating the difficult task of establishing a new media in Canada, my point was that there are no big shots who bankroll or write for our magazine. Lack of capital is not the main problem or obstacle to starting a new publication, as the greatest asset is human. Human beings are, with nature, the source of wealth in society. Thus, our problem was how to solve the problem of policy and organization of us humans, so that we could also solve other problems, such as “no money.”

Andrew does see this, when he correctly quotes myself in pointing out that the main problem for the failure of this or that publication has been its editorial policy – not lack of capital or advertising. It is a gravely mistaken view that a magazine can stabilize itself and flourish just on the basis of advertisers. How many publications which took this route, but failed to depend on people and reflect their concerns, have failed in the past? Many! Others would too if they went in this direction. It is our editorial policy that is our strength. It is this policy which will serve people’s concerns.

To suggest that an “alternative” publication is having trouble because of the so-called “low cultural level” of Nova Scotians – or has a problem of finding enough topics to write about – also won’t do.

Can we say that people are merely a passive and inert force? No, we cannot.

We reject being aloof and detached from people’s real problems, indeed from life itself.

The written word has great relevance; life has used and continues to use the written word as an important tool in its development. For us, the written word, the content, is the most important thing. This is also what we encourage from our writers and contributors. That is why we welcome all positive and healthy contributions from our readers and help them with editing, suggestions and so forth. One of our contributors could not read or write. That did not stop him from having some wisdom and insight into social life and nature. I transcribed his story. In any given month, we could publish one third more pages than we can afford to. We ask for honesty and courage from our writers too. A writer may be afraid to write something for another magazine, but no such atmosphere exists here. What we try to demand from our writers is that they do account for their views, that they explain why they say what they say, that their generalizations are verifiable by fact.

“Rural culture and traditions”

Mark Daye enthusiastically toasting the magazine’s fifth year, in a joint cultural program held with Two Planks and A Passion Theatre of Canning at the Economy Shoe Shop in Halifax on November 3, 1999. The fall social had as its theme, Culture, Theatre and Social Consciousness.

Further, there is a description of Shunpiking’s editorial policy as directed towards “rural culture and traditions.” Shunpiking is Nova Scotia’s own discovery, geographic and general interest magazine. Shunpiking is culture and we have a cultured approach. We are directed to the people of Nova Scotia and the Maritimes. We are proud of our region. But we are not parochial. In matters of design, layout and production, and literary quality – within our limitations – our goals and standards are world class.

Let us look at Nova Scotia objectively and dynamically, not in terms of demographic “niches.”

A sizeable population whose origin is the countryside does inhabit the Metro Halifax-Dartmouth area. We view this dynamically. John Doherty of the Bedford News Rack, whose family established Atlantic News and pioneered the independent news dealer in Metro Halifax, once pointed out to me that,

“You’ve done something that nobody else has in publishing (in Metro). Every publication that has come out since I have been in business – whatever their ‘niche’ – has gone after the same niche, the same strata – downtown Metro.

“You saw that the majority of Nova Scotians are either in the rural/urban areas, recently emigrated to the city or are second generation. You’ve gone from the city to the province, and from the province to the city.”

Senator Don Oliver and Tony Seed discuss Shunpiking Magazine’s Black History Supplement at the 2005 Dalhousie conference ”Multiple Lenses: Voices from the diaspora located in Canada.”

Seventeen thousand of Shunpiking’s 25,000 press run is distributed within Metro through 400+ outlets. We have built a network of another 400+ outlets outside Metro throughout all regions of Nova Scotia, as well as in Moncton, Saint John  and Fredericton, New Brunswick; Charlottetown, PEI; St. John’s, NL; Maine; and Toronto and Ottawa in Ontario. We distribute from Brier Island and Yarmouth to Bay St. Lawrence in northern Cape Breton, from Bear River to Bridgewater. The number of outlets is second only to the Chronicle Herald. What is astonishing is that – in the year 1998 – we are the sole magazine to address the province.

In my view, there is a sort of media censorship operating within Nova Scotia. Areas such as the Eastern Shore do not have a single publication of their own. Along the South Shore and the Valley, small community papers, many of them owned by chains, extend from the ocean and town inland, like a feudal seigneury. But they do not cover or reflect their area, region or the province. With the exception of the Inverness Oran, none bring any provincial perspective to local issues, in my view. It is also well nigh impossible to find these publications available in Metro or in any area other than their own.

That leaves the province itself to the Herald, the CBC, which is being gutted, and the suppertime crime and fluff TV shows. The Daily News has no influence outside Metro, though they are trying to buy it through sponsorship of such festivals as the Clam Harbour Sculpture and Sand Castle Contest. Only a few individual TV programs, such as CBC’s Land and Sea or MITV’s The Leading Edge, have any sort of regional mandate.

People are localized, marginalized and divided from one another by the monopoly media.

They are also fed half-truths. One example of this is the coverage of the Cobequid toll highway, part of the Trans-Canada Highway, as if it was a matter of improving highway safety. Not one story explained that public highways and infrastructure are being privatized across Canada. A half-truth is a complete lie. People are dissatisfied with the breadth and quality of this media and its half-truths. They not only want quality information, they also want to hear first hand what people think and are doing in other communities. They also want to know where you stand.

I suppose for somebody from Toronto or New York this may be a very large “rural” area, but I remember that a central tenet of cosmopolitan culture, especially American, is that anything outside of the metropolitan centre is a cultural desert and wasteland.

What is mainstream?

A shunpike is, after all, not an alternate road. It’s a main road that people built some 200 years ago to bypass the toll booths on the turnpike in both the USA and Canada.

Half the fun of publishing Shunpiking is explaining what it means, what we mean, what we stand for. And the irony of history is that publications such as Shunpiking are mainstream, while those such as the Herald and the Daily News offer an alternate view of reality!

One of our readers wrote to us recently as follows:

“When people are offered an alternative to a road littered with nothing but advertising flyers and junk mail, they will take that road. On that same road, Shunpiking has sought and discovered what is new and of interest to its readers.”

That’s where I want to be,

Tony Seed

P.S. I also live in Spryfield.

Slightly edited for this publication. Photographs have been added. 


For your information

Postscript by Tony Seed: Some highlights of 13 years of Shunpiking

“Shunpike shun.pike n (1862): a side road used to avoid the toll on or the speed and traffic of a superhighway – shun.pik.er n– shun.pik.ing n” – Encyclopaedia Britannica

“We call Shunpiking a discovery magazine. Shunpiking is about discovery of our community – our natural, social and cultural environment – and about opening new windows on the mysteries and wonders of the universe.

“If that also involves writing about political and social relations (and it will), so be it. We’d also like to take the space and time to discover and share beauty we find around us, both natural and made.”
(From Volume One, Number Two, February/March, 1996)

This is the vision we embraced in our collective life and work which formed the basis of our unity twenty-five years ago. On December 3, 1995 we launched the first edition of Shunpiking with zero capital and private backers. It was produced and distributed by volunteers throughout Nova Scotia. The publication boldly declared itself to be “Nova Scotia’s Discovery Magazine” and was founded following two months of preparatory work.

The founding of Shunpiking signalled the birth of a most important subjective force for change. Based on the theory of new journalism and the ideals of the movement for enlightenment, Shunpiking differentiated itself from all old trends characteristic of the genre of free publications right from the day of its birth. It had an international significance. It was part of a universal movement for the creation of spaces to allow exchange of initiatives, strategies and projects “in a world ruled by neo-liberal globalization, which threatens our cultures, as it implies a homogenization of approaches and concepts.” (Third International Congress on Culture and Development, on the relationship of art, heritage, identity and the economy, Havana, Cuba, June 9-12., 2003.)

Shunpiking thrived, becoming a magazine which belonged to the people like no other. Our last edition was published in 2009. All in all, we published fifty editions, several dossiers, six laminated natural history posters, numerous projects with and for fraternal organizations, and distributed over one million copies of the magazine in thirteen years.

On August 6, 2003 Shunpiking magazine launched a separate online edition, which may be read here. Radha, the webmaster, was previously employed by Reuters in international transfer of corporate and financial data. Shunpiking.org is still maintained today as a resource by Radha, however, the print editions have not been digitized – as yet.

Within its first year, Shunpiking was nominated for an Atlantic Journalism Association Award for Outstanding Achievement and was the recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Tourism Association of Nova Scotia  (pictured, above), at the time the only media to have ever received that award.

In July-August 1996 Shunpiking published a centrefold titled “The Whales of the Maritimes” by the late David Lawley illustrated by Paul Burke. It was later hailed as the third best infographic of whale identification in the world. Described by John Soosar as one of the foremost interpreters of Nova Scotia’s natural environment, David taught a course on whale identification for Cape Breton University and lectured in schools. His lectures in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park were so popular that even staff who had heard them before would go back to enjoy them again. The centrefold was offprinted on 50 lb paper as a poster and then trimmed and laminated, which was quickly snapped up.  It is believed that this was itself a technical innovation. This initiated what became a series of wonderfully informative four colour info posters on natural history, such as “Life Cycle of the Atlantic Lobster” by Bob Semple, “Rare Arctic Flora of Nova Scotia” by the late Mary Primrose and Peta Muddie , “Owls of the Maritimes,” by Randy Lauff et al, “Fall Colours of Nova Scotia” by Stephen Patterson and so on.

In 1996 Shunpiking published the Outdoor Resources Directory in association with Michael Ernst of Mahone Bay and vigorously backed by Ted Scrutton of the Nova Scotia Dept. of Sports and Recreation, of which 50,000 copies were distributed free. Our aim was to promote outdoor recreational participation, activity and travel within the province and discovery and protection of our natural environment. An effort to publish a second edition in 2003 was not successful but on the other hand Shunpking Online developed a popular Winter Resources Directory.

As part of its systematic and broad work to defend the rights of all, Shunpiking initiated a First Nations supplement in October 1996 edited by May Anne Ducharme with Peter Christmas which became People of the Dawn, published annually, and a timeline “Ten Millenia of Maritimes History”. In June 2001, Sister Dorothy Moore of Eskasoni, one of only three Mi’kmaq to receive the Order of Canada, wrote

“I continue to be deeply impressed with Shunpiking as I peruse the contents of the latest copy of your magazine and the supplement and articles relating to the Mi’kmaq people. As an educator, there is no doubt in my mind that this issue should be regarded as an important and necessary tool for all educational institutions in the province of Nova Scotia. The articles provide for the reader not only positive knowledge but more importantly, the reader is moved to a deeper appreciation and respect for the first people of Atlantic Canada.

“Once again, may I extend congratulations all the staff at shunpiking for this edition. Thank you as well, for your ongoing interest in the promotion of the Mi’kmaq peoples’ history and their present initiatives. You cause us to walk taller and prouder.

“May the year 2001 continue to be a time of enlightenment, prosperity and wonderful opportunities for you.”

This initiative gave rise successively to People’s Odyssey, our annual Black History supplement edited by Isaac Saney, Tony Seed and Mark Daye, which was launched in March 1997.

In 1998, the pioneering Black History timeline was reproduced by The Institute of Race Relations in London, England. In a letter to Shunpiking, A. Sivanandan, editor of the Institute’s prestigious journal, Race & Class, wrote that republishing the supplement “400 Years of Nova Scotian History” was an effort to redress the international lack of knowledge about our history. “We are thoroughly ashamed that we – and I dare say, lots of our readers – know so little about Nova Scotian Black history.” According to our webmaster, that timeline, available online as a pdf, has been downloaded an average of 6,000 times a year especially during Black History Month, that is, over 150,000 times in all by his conservative estimate. Poet laureate George Elliott Clark wrote,

“[the supplement] is perhaps the very best published in Canada and one of the best in North America. It is profound, comprehensive, truthful and uplifting. Shunpiking has done a wonderful job in promoting race relations by helping everyone to understand just how intertwined all cultures are in Nova Scotia and in Canada. Furthermore, it is not a pursuit of news, but of history, that makes Shunpiking’s cultural interventions so necessary and refreshing.”

In 2007, Shunpiking teamed up with the National Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) to publish a national Black History Month tabloid for its members across Canada, and The Monsoon Journal, an English-language monthly tabloid published for Toronto’s Tamil community, for whom we produced a special 12-page Black History Supplement. Selected works from some of the supplements may be read online here.

Africville, black and white photograph by Bob Brooks, ca 1965

People’s Odyssey was followed by Mac-talla, edited by Tony Seed, Lewis MacKinnon and co-ordinator Caroline Cameron and published in association with the Nova Scotia Gaelic Council. Although published in English, some editions contained as much as 15 per cent in the Gaelic language itself, not only inspiring confidence amongst language speakers and learners of what was stigmatized as an “underground language” but also introduced Nova Scotians to the orthology oƒ the language. Together with renowned Maliseet educator Andrea Bear Nicholas, Chair in Native Studies at St. Thomas University, Shunpiking alone openly condemned an official policy followed by the government at all levels of linguicide.  The existence of many languages and language speakers is a component part of the wealth of human civilization. It elaborated the need for the recognition of the fundamental democratic right of national minorities and Indigenous Peoples for their native language as part of defending the rights of all. In May-June 2002, we published “No Great Mischief If They Fall: The Gaelic Timeline” by Dr Michael Kennedy and Tony Seed:

“Mac-talla is bringing forward a comprehensive, thematic history of the Gaels of Nova Scotia. Two previously separate histories are presented together in a coherent manner for the first time and, for the first time in mass print form, that of Gaelic Scotland and of Ireland, and of the Gaelic experience in Nova Scotia, Canada. The pressures upon the Gaels in the ‘old country’ were extreme and violent, those in ‘New Scotland’ more subtle and assimilative. This historical account reveals a powerful and continuous resistance of the Gaelic people, open and silent, to maintain themselves and uphold their rights.

“Canadian history has been taught or propagated based on the ruling mythology of ‘two founding nation’ (or ‘English-speaking’ and ‘French-speaking’). This perspective – the basis of histories presented to us in school and the mass media – blurs the identity of the Gaelic-speaking people, as well as such other peoples as the First Nations, Acadians, Afro Nova Scotians and so forth, and outrightly negates a distinct history, language and culture.

“In Nova Scotia those of Gaelic origin are virtually a secret people who live underground, since so little is factually and commonly known about the Gaels in spite of the transparent use of contorted Scottish symbology. To understand this history and their culture, it is necessary to know the history of Nova Scotia. Conversely, one cannot know the history of Nova Scotia without understanding the history of the Gaelic and Celtic peoples.”

The British had prohibited the Gaels from speaking their native tongue and imposed English on them, as they have also done in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. We rejected the narrow and insular ethnocentric approach promoted under the neo-colonial banner of “multiculturalism,” “diversity,” and “heritage languages” as if a living language, regardless of the number of its speakers, belonged to the distant past. Language loss was a problem faced throughout Canada and by the world‘s people. One language in the world disappears every week. The number and status of speakers of Gaelic, Acadian French, Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous languages were and are under severe pressure. In October 2001, the Gaelic Council asked Tony Seed to represent it for the very first time at the annual Royal Gaelic Mod held in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. In parallel, Shunpiking was invited to the official launch of History Scotland magazine in Edinburgh. During the course of this visit, discussions were carried with BBC Gaelic in Stornoway to promote the language and culture of the three countries of Scotland, Ireland and Canada in an organized manner; he was thereupon invited by principal Norman Gillies to meet with Irish and Scottish ministers at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands) – set in a stunning location in Sleat on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides – which he reached on a Sunday after a long hitch-hike, public transit being closed on the Presbyterian weekends. (The college provides degrees taught entirely through the medium of instruction of Gaelic, the only degrees of their type in Scotland, as well as language classes, and has hosted many Cape Breton musicians and creators over the years.)  Although his initiative to extend the Scottish-Irish “Celtic Initiative” by organizing an annual publication published simultaneously using digital technology in the three Celtic countries was for naught, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and other institutions continuously participated in Mac-talla. Some 400-500 copies of each edition went to Scotland either by post or by hand. Interestingly, the ongoing historical amnesia is such that online Gaelic resources of the Nova Scotia Archives and the Beaton Institute fail to mention Mac-talla at all.

We also published special supplements in association with the Nova Scotia Cuba Association and Ecology Action Centre. “Last Call for Public Lands” (May 2000) exposed the degradation of the environment through industrial clearcutting by a handful of American, Swedish and Canadian multinationals and proposed solutions. Shunpiking designed, edited and helped publish Nurturing Nature; The Dartmouth School Ground Naturalization Project Resource Guide, an attractively produced 32-page resource manual – a joint project of the Evergreen Foundation of Canada and the Association of Science Teachers of Nova Scotia.

For ten years  Shunpiking designed, edited and published the annual poster and program for the popular Justin Coward Memorial Basketball Tournament held in the Dartmouth area which at its height comprised 72 junior teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Maine with games played before as many as 1,000 people. The mottos of this initiative spearheaded by Curtis Coward and friends were “Carry the Ball, Carry the Book” and “Friendship First.” Proceeds of some $20,000 annually were used to expand nine local school libraries with works relevant to Black youth. We designed t-shirts for junior sports teams, annual programs for the recreational department of Halifax Housing, and CD covers to assist the buskers.

Responding to the draconian assault on the Palestinian people by Israel as part of the “war on terror” in the wake of 9/11,  Shunpiking published the acclaimed book-length Dossier on Palestine (15,000 copies) in October 2002. Although published in Halifax, the Dossier became a document that belongs to the people, a weapon of enlightenment against the disinformation of the monopoly media on the Middle East. Its echo continues to resonate abroad with all those interested in a just solution, in truthful information. We rented a van, loaded it with 5,000 copies and distributed across Quebec and Ontario. This spread across Canada to Vancouver Island and into the United States, Mexico, Cuba, England, Sri Lanka, South Africa and other countries. On February 14, 2004 our delegation was given the honour by the Arab Union of Cuba (UAC) to introduce the work to the Cuban public at its regular Saturday public gathering. It was warmly received and stimulated a wide-ranging discussion. The Republic of Cuba is universally known as a consistent defender of Palestine and the rights of the Arab countries. The main theme of the delegation’s presentation was that the Dossier on Palestine had been published by Shunpiking magazine as an act of Canadian internationalism, in the spirit of Norman Bethune.

Beginning in 2003, Shunpiking co-sponsored a 13-week series of Halifax Political Forums from January to May on the theme “Peace & Nations in the 21st Century: Understanding the Causes of War.” One hundred and three people attended the inaugural forum “Why Iraq?” by Prof Isaac Saney, filling the lecture room to overflowing. “This series was aimed at meeting the widespread demand for analysis of the contemporary situation, combating the massive disinformation about the nature and causes of war, providing clarity, and a venue for discussion.” It was organized by the People’s Front (Halifax) which became the No Harbour for War group and was co-sponsored by Dal Peace, Fernwood Books,, Canada Palestine Association and The Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group. Over 500 people participated in the series. This was followed by numerous symposiums and teach-ins such as the Halifax Forum on Language Rights organized by Shunpiking on May 18, 2003 (Victoria Day weekend) – “Non Official” Languages; a Tradition, a Right, a Future – featuring representatives of the Mi’kmaq, Acadian, Gaelic and Irish communities meeting together for the first time, as well as on the topic of Palestine through to 2009. Our aim was to bring Haligonians together to develop ongoing discussion on matters of concern to Canadians based on informed presentations so as to assist people in making decisions as to what to do.

That same year, Shunpiking began a weekly news and commentary show on North America’s largest co-op radio station, CFRO Radio in Vancouver, hosted by the late Charles Boylan. We were represented mainly by Gary Zatzman. Charlies hosted the program “Discussion” for 20 years, and co-hosted a morning program called “Wake Up With Coop.” His shows provided space for political and social activists to share information and present their views on issues of importance to the society so as to smash the silence on these important matters. Along with contributing to our magazine, Charles represented Shunpiking on visits to Venezuela and Kenya, bearing copies of People’s Odyssey.  The magazine assisted six other independent journalists who travelled to Palestine and Haiti on fact-finding missions with press credentials and advice.

In July, 2004 Shunpiking spearheaded the organizing and hosting of the four-day International Symposium on Media and Disinformation held at Dalhousie University June 30-July 4, attended by delegates from North America, Europe and Asia. The symposium was endorsed by over 150 leading writers, journalists and activists from around the world, including the prominent scholar Noam Chomsky.

Chief Reg Maloney opens the Halifax International Symposium on the Media and Disinformation, June 30, 2004, held at Dalhousie University.

Dr Ismail Zayid, president of the Canada Palestine Association (left) addresses the forum on Islam, with Dr Mohammed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress (second left) and Dr Jaspal Singh of Boston (far right).

On April 19, 2005 Shunpiking was invited to address as expert witness the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications on the concentration of the media in Canada. Tony Seed’s intervention and his tit-for-tat exchanges with the honourable senators may be read here (rush transcript).

In November, 2006 Tony Seed and Shunpiking / Dossier on Palestine received the annual Journalist of Year Award for Media Excellence from the Canadian Islamic Congress. The ceremony was held in the West Block of the Parliament Buildings. Invited guests included community activists and Muslin delegates, politicians, senior government officials, ambassadors of 26 Muslim countries as well as professional and business leaders from across Canada. Invited to present on the topic on the topic of “Muslims and the Media”, he said:

“Our work is difficult, but not impossible because together we stand for a just cause. It is a just cause for many reasons. But perhaps the most important reason is that it is a historic cause, a cause intimately tied up with the future of not only the people of Muslim faith worldwide, who number in their billions, but with the fate of humankind itself. The fact that all of us stand together in these difficult times, united in our desire to see a favourable outcome to the disasters which are being created for our peoples and our homelands, is the most important ingredient. No matter what our differences in terms of beliefs or ways of life, our unity must be treasured and strengthened and it will prevail.” (See here.)

Shunpiking was acclaimed in the printing and graphic trades. Around this time, the late Paul Fitzgibbons, president of the Nova Scotia Printing Industries Association and of Web Atlantic, informed the annual meeting that “New Media  Services is the only enterprise in Atlantic Canada which understands the technological potential of four colour web offset printing and is exploiting it. And, I would add, they always pay their bills on time, which made my wife very happy.” (Kate Fitzgibbons was the company business manager!) Web Atlantic, which was originally organized to print the Atlantic edition of The Globe and Mail via satellite, had built a niche using the downtime to print independent newsprint tabloids with their smaller press runs. What was exceptional about this opinion was that Paul for years inculcated his production staff in the mantra that all tabloids were equal to the extent he swore he never read any of them. For our part, we actively collaborated with sister media such as Frances MacEachen’s Am Bràighe (the higher ground, 1993-2003, based in Mabou), Ronald Caplan’s Cape Breton’s Magazine (1972-1999, based in Wreck Cove), Dirk Van Lon’s Rural Delivery; Inverness Oran and Mary Anne Ducharme’s Partici-paper (both based in Inverness); Scott Milsom of New Maritimes (1988 to 1996) followed by Coastal Community News; Hardial Bains, the premier advocate of new journalism and the movement for enlightenment, and The New Magazine (Toronto); Sandra L. Smith and the editorial and production staff of TML Daily; Dru Oja Jay and The Dominion; The Micmac News (1965-1991), Mic’kmaq Maliseet Nations News and Mikmaq.net; Hilary Lindsay and Halifax Media Co-op; CFRO and CKDU Radio (Pierre Loiselle, Asaf Rashid; book publishers and cultural groups such as Errol Sharpe’s Fernwood, Nimbus (Helen Matheson, Dan Soucoup), South Shore Festival of Writers, Nova Scotia Writers Federation, Nova Scotia Photographers Guild, Envision film production of Halifax (Chuck Lapp); Ulli Diemer and Sources Directory For The News Media; and Two Planks and A Passion Theatre of Canning. With the takeover of Web Atlantic by Transcontinental of Montreal, which immediately jacked up printing prices by 10 per cent, and the further monopolization of the means of production in Atlantic Canada, the magazine took the initiative to form a buyer’s co-op of independent publications which would, among other things, present a united front in an effort to lower the rate of increase in printing costs. Unfortunately, an ongoing initiative to launch an online ordering service to promote and market books published by contributing writers to Shunpiking in collaboration with Don Harper’s Saint Mary’s University Bookstore also never got off the ground.

Shunpiking, represented by graphic designer, book editor and master speller Nancy Roberts together with Tony Seed, was the two-time champion of the annual Word on the Street Spelling Bee!

On this independent road, Shunpiking faced two enemies who operated in a perfidious manner. The first was the state. On December 23, 1999, the offices of New Media Services Inc. (publisher of Shunpiking) were broken into and vandalized, with electronic archives of the preceding six editions and other equipment worth $60,000  stolen. The thieves made off with our entire means of production – Macintosh workstations, scanners, laser printers, CD-ROM, magneto optical and other external hard drives – even modems and the fax machine. The home of editor/publisher Tony Seed was broken into and/or vandalized on nine occasions with zero response from Halifax Police. Canadian Revenue Agency carried out six audits of New Media Services Inc. in three years, to the extent that some honest investigators even joked with us about it and purchased subscriptions.

In addition, on February 7, 2001 the home of Susan Riordan, the widow of Capt. Terry Riordon, a Canadian Forces veteran who died in April 1999 of Gulf War Syndrome – the existence of which was being officially denied by the Department of National Defence and the Pentagon – was broken into in Yarmouth County. Ms Riordon, Atlantic director of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, fought Ottawa for adequate financial and medical support for her husband for years. Hundreds of these veterans lived on welfare and were being denied proper psychological support and home care. She was a defiant critic of the Canadian Forces’ use of depleted uranium in weaponry, which was first used in that war. And the only thing missing, according to Mrs Riordon, was a copy of a report that showed her husband’s body contained high levels of depleted uranium. Her computer was also tampered with.  In the summer of 2002 the home of independent researcher Myles Kehoe in Margaree Forks, Cape Breton was broken into. Rare navy charts showing the sites of WWII dumpsites of chemical munitions on the seabed that Miles had only just acquired were stolen.

Each of these events was presented as unique and exceptional. Some of this information we only learned in 2004. “These facts raise the question as to whether such break-ins are isolated criminal events,” we wrote, “or a pattern of covert and criminal political activity by agencies of the state to disrupt and paralyze independent journalism, research and citizen activism.”

In parallel, we had to face a cordon sanitaire erected by the monopoly media, state funded cultural agencies and a strata of the intelligentsia involving gossip, innuendo and slander in a ceaseless attempt to isolate, marginalize and starve Shunpiking. For example, in thirteen years, the grand total of advertising by Nova Scotia Tourism which was controlled by Corporate Communications was $500, and that in the Outdoor Resource Directory in 1996. How ironic to see in the midst of the pandemic and the closure of the U.S. border Nova Scotia marketing tourism – within the province. In 2003 the Chapters book chain (now Indigo Books and Music), owned by the Zionist Heather Reisman, refused to carry Dossier on Palestine. In 2008, Cynthia Martin, then associated with Fernwood Books, nominated Shunpiking for a Human Rights award for its publication of People’s Odyssey. It was rejected because, as she was told, the editor and publisher is “white.” A 2000 nomination for a media award of the crown corporation Canadian Race Relations Foundation was also summarily rejected out of hand and instead given to some fly-by-night ethnic radio station promoting “diversity.” Through this we can see how all important matters are marginalized and passions are incited to divide the people and divert them into doing whatever is harmful to them. This method become the hallmark of political life in this country, characterized by wrecking on every front.

We were undaunted. After the 1999 break-in, we declared, “We are confident that, like Phoenix, we shall rise from the dust more vibrant, relevant and better organized and better tooled than before” (“Pikers Plunder Shunpiking,“ press release, December 24, 1999).

Each attack resolved us to go deeper amongst the people.

In 2009, due to the expansion of Walker’s Electric, our landlord, we were sadly forced to give up our office at 6211 North Street. Peter Zimmer put it well: “Halifax has lost another community space.” We used to say in our masthead that “our doors were always open and the coffee was mostly always on.” An average of some 50 people a week from all corners of the province would visit. Unable to find similar affordable premises, we made the decision to stop publishing.

Charles Spurr, Tony Seed and Gary Zatzman at an Open House, 6211 North Street

This work was the collective achievement of well over 700 Nova Scotians and others who gave freely and generously their time, their labour, their knowledge and their insights to this magazine, be writing, photography, design, editing, distribution or in other ways.

The magazine actively collaborated with numerous environmental, cultural, social, sport and labour organizations such as the Justin Coward Memorial Basketball Tournament and Africville Lakers; the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History (Brenda Boutilier, Keith Jensen); Ecology Action Centre (Mark Butler); Nova Scotia Public Interest Group; Tourisme Îles de la Madeleine; Nova Scotia Field Naturalists; Nova Scotia Plantwatch project (St. Mary’s University); Native Studies of St. Thomas University (Andrea Bear Nicholas); Transitional Year Program at Dalhousie (Patricia Doyke Bedwell, Dr Isaac Saney); Aboriginal Affairs (John Soosar); Office of Gaelic Affairs (Lewis MacKinnon); Canada Palestine Association (Dr Ismail Zayid), Fishermen’s Rights Association (Ron Wolkins, Bill McKeiggan); CUPW (Darryl Tingley, Wayne Mundle, Dennis Lemelin) and the Atlantic region of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (Dave Shaw); and the production staff of Web Atlantic, Acadie Presse and Halcraft – amongst many others –  who made invaluable contributions to develop such a unique publication. Not a few unique small businesses continuously helped sustain the magazine such as Scott Cunningham and Gayle Wilson’s Coastal Adventures in Tangier, Marrie Berkelaar’s Double Whale Textiles in Lunenburg, sign painter Jack MacKee, craftsman Bob Campbell, Economy Shoe Shop (David Henry), a mongst others.

David Lawley

In a eulogy to colleague and friend Dave Lawley, I said:

“Our work together as a collective, setting our own agenda, in the face of all the doomsayers and naysayers, reflects what is possible in this world. It creates life, enthusiasm, gets one thinking and gives us a sense of direction and vision.

“His daughter Kharissama recently wrote to me, ‘I always knew David was great – but he always said that he was just a nobody – as he listened to a bird in the forest and would tell me what kind it was, it’s life cycle, and all about it’s habitat just by it’s song.’

“‘We are a collective of such nobodies,’ I wrote back.

“Our cycle of life is a world of little and unassuming nobodies, and out of such insignificant nobodies, out of the likes of us, emerging as the creators and masters of our own sovereign destiny, will come a contribution to society and its progress that will not die. You will know it just by its song.‘

Shunpiking will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a program to be announced; due to the pandemic it may or may not be December, 2020. Everyone is warmly welcome. To receive the notice, please e-mail myself at <tonyjseed@gmail.com >.

I am delighted that many of those involved with the magazine are still active in the media or related endeavours and making progressive contributions to society. Interestingly, Linda Pannozzo, the editor of the King’s article (see above), decided to intern with Shunpiking. She is now with Tim Bosquet’s vibrant Halifax Examiner, as is Suzanne Rent, another King’s journalism graduate and intern with Shunpiking.

As for myself, I moved to Ontario in 2011 at the request of my family to assist our elderly parents. I continue my journalistic connection with Nova Scotia by contributions to Robert Devet’s excellent The Nova Scotia Advocate.

And Two Planks and a Passion Theatre is still thriving at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in the Annapolis Valley.

We mourn all those dear friends and colleagues who have departed from us too soon: Tom Burger, Peter and Mitzi Bowman, Charles Boylan, Don Grady, Paul Fitzgibbons, Ritchie Oakley, Mary Primrose, Veerasingan Dhuruvasangary (Inventor) and Keptin Saqamow Reginald Maloney. They are our heroes.

In January, 2019 Mike Varva, wood splitter, fly fisher, boat builder, dad and sailor kindly sent me this photograph, saying “I immediately thought of you”:

Tapadh leibh

Thank you

Tony Seed, July 8, 2020

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