Dailies: April 16, 2013

This morning was pancake morning. “But Ryder,” you may say, “every morning is pancake morning for you.” Well, I know, but this was a special pancake morning because we put chocolate chips in some of the pancakes because we really wanted to have a good breakfast (chocolate is nutrition for the soul). Yet this morning’s festivities were unfairly cut short when, in the middle of a new batch, we ran out of propane. I had lazily procrastinated on filling up the spare tank, and we were now woefully out of any flammable material whatsoever. Fortunately we had borrowed a car from the friends who had had us over for dinner and I made a quick run up to the Irving station to get more fuel. I was back before the coffee got cold!

St. Stephen-20130416-00222Irving is one of those Maritime staples that is only folklore on the West Coast. My stepfather, who spent a great deal of time in Atlantic Canada in the 1970’s, remembers the cheerful blue-and-red stations as usually having terrific restaurants attached. Irving is one of those true local institutions–founded in New Brunswick in the 1920’s, the company’s headquarters have remained in Saint John, where it also owns and operates the country’s largest refinery. Irving was one of the earliest gasoline retailers to offer unleaded gas in the 1970’s and to produce low sulphur gasoline in the 1990’s, and, intriguingly, is one of only a handful of Canadian energy companies that supports the Kyoto Accord.

I should add at this point that we are not sponsored by Irving.

It is just becoming clear to us that Atlantic Canada is a definitively distinct region, with many of its own products and traditions. Businesses here seem to us to be much more devoted to admirable but modest aspirations that will allow their growth to be sustainable. The idea is almost unthinkable to us that an oil company or a chocolate manufacturer would be content to keep their profits reasonable and remain where they are based so that their economic benefits may fall on the people of their communities. We don’t have all of the facts (and we’re interested in finding out) but it’s certainly a new phenomenon as far as we’re concerned.

The bulk of the rest of the day was spent over at the university, where we are working on a project in collaboration with them to make a video about the student experience there. We interviewed many students and alumni and found out quite a lot of what people like about St. Stephen’s. It was also a lovely day and we got plenty of nice b-roll of the school building (which as we may have mentioned is a heritage property). There are many events associated with the end of the term coming up this week and we’re excited to participate in them.

Tomorrow we’ll be working on getting the darkroom set up and hopefully be able to process some film by the end of the week. Can’t wait to see how it goes!

Yours,

Ryder

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