Dailies: April 12, 2013
Short one tonight, it’s already late and the fourth workshop (the first in Atlantic Canada) is tomorrow morning! Our morning was pretty good, even though neither of us slept well. Must have been something in the air, the coming storm, I guess. But it was sunny and pleasant when we got up.
We headed off straight away to meet with St. Stephen’s mayor, John Quartermain. He’s an immensely likeable fellow, very municipal in his striped summerweight suit and tie. He welcomed us profusely and sat us down in his office in front of a dish of “green leaves”, a sugar candy made by Ganong’s. He produced two coins from a box behind him and handed them to us. “I wanted to give you these,” he said, “they’re St. Stephen centennial coins from 1971.” John joked that they were almost as good as a wooden nickel, which used to be currency accepted by all the shopkeepers here in town. Even if a bottle of pop cost seven cents, a good kid could usually get it for the wooden nickel. John grew up in St. Stephen, had a long career with the New Brunswick Power Corporation, returned to his hometown and ultimately got involved with politics just a few years ago.
We chatted for a bit and explained the project to him. He was very supportive, adding that they had been trying to add a few new programs and arts events in order to attract more attention to the town. Despite the economic climate of the last couple years, John happily noted that the town’s two biggest employers, both manufacturers, were doing better than ever. He gave us a couple of names of people to speak to, historians with extensive knowledge of the area. We’re hoping to get in touch with them early next week. Before we left, John mentioned that he had one more thing to show us. He picked up a small wooden barrel from a shelf. “This,” he said, “is repayment for the gunpowder we gave Calais.” The story we had heard about the British-backed New Brunswickers giving their American neighbours gunpowder to celebrate Independence Day during the War of 1812 was here, right in our hands!
We’ve also made friends with a very kind student from the university named Charis. She’s invited us over for coffee a couple of times now, and tonight we heard another knock on the door. It was Charis, and she invited us over to a coffee house that they usually have in the community. So after we ate we took a stroll up and had a very enjoyable evening listening to some local musicians and eating tasty cookies.
The best part of this trip might be the food.