Posts Tagged 'Nova Scotia'

Bluenose Landscapes: Christmas Tree Farm edition


Apple orchards, blueberry fields, Christmas tree farms. The agricultural activities that a region is successful at very often become one of the iconic landscape images of that place. I could probably name a crop and you would be able to give me a state or province associated with it: Potatoes, corn, wheat? And yet, though these iconic agricultural landscapes may appear timeless, their continued existence is dependent on market forces. Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley is known for its apple orchards, but in the early 20th century, it had actually lost many of its orchards by the 1930s, cut down because they were no longer profitable. Historians have pointed out the irony that the tourism industry was making money off of Annapolis Valley orchards at a time when apple farmers were not.


Keatings Tree Farm 2006

I mention all this because I came across an article on the CBC today about market pressures currently facing our Christmas tree growers. The industry, according to the report, employees 4,000 people and generates $30 million a year.  In my opinion, the Christmas tree industry is an attractive aspect of our agricultural landscape (in short: I love the landscape of a Nova Scotia Christmas tree farm) and serves an additional leisure/tourism function. Nevertheless, it is just as vulnerable to market forces as any other agricultural activity, in this case, vulnerable to the move towards massive bulk purchases of trees by big box stores.

The loss of orchards usually does not mean the loss of productive agriculture, or at least of arable land (unless they get sold off for housing). The loss of Christmas tree farms would be a little different; they are usually located on land unsuitable for food-growing. Maybe they would be left to return to forest were they to become economically unfeasible.

Grey Jay at Christmas Tree Farm

Grey Jay at Christmas Tree Farm, 2006




“Competition Fierce in Christmas Tree Market” CBC News Online. Dec 21, 2012 9:22 AM AT

Conrad, Margaret. “Apple Blossom Time in the Annapolis Valley 1880-1957” Acadiensis Vol. 9, No. 2 SPRING/PRINTEMPS 1980), pp. 14-39.


In the News: Art and Architecture edition

I’ve been neglectful, but my google alerts have also been rather bereft lately – news of tourism business partnerships between Nova Scotia and Stirling, Scotland, while fascinating, are generally only  tangentially related to landscape, and I try to stay on topic (although, as an aside: the description of the visit to Scotland is incredibly evocative of every single tourism trade mission to Scotland of the past 80 years).

In a bit of self-promotion, my thesis was listed on the NiCHE (Network in Canadian History & Environment) website, probably thanks to my excellent thesis adviser. Neat!

Here’s an interesting article about Peter Gough, a landscape artist whose artistic imagination is captured by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. A snippet:

Having roots in both is the best of two worlds, he says. While they are culturally and geographically close, the prevailing elements of their landscapes are quite different: Nova Scotia, practically surrounded by the sea, feels almost like an island to Gough, while, to him, the dominant feature of New Brunswick is its extensive, storied river systems.

I liked Gough’s emphasis on the full sensory experience of being in the landscape – I think the landscape should be more than what we see, even if the medium we will ultimately use (e.g. painting) is a visual medium.

The Chronicle Herald published an article on the architect Brian McKay-Lyons, his annual architectural project/retreat called Ghost, and this year’s project to reassemble a historic octagonal barn from Annapolis County on his own property on the South Shore. I find McKay-Lyons’ work interesting for his attempt to bring modern yet place-specific architecture to his projects, and I respect his commitment to live in Nova Scotia even when it may not always be professionally advantageous.

However, so far as our cultural/historic landscape goes, I’m not really sure how much value this gesture holds. Taking a building away from its original place turns it into more of an artifact than an object in the landscape – however the cumulation of all these preserved built “artifacts” can still be useful in picturing historic and/or vernacular architecture. While I cringe at the assumption that “saving” an old building by moving it is by definition virtuous and right – and the collecting impulse that accompanies it – I do like the idea that re-using old buildings if worthwhile if only for the purpose of reducing waste. What do you think? Are any of you as conflicted as I am?

Blogging on Nova Scotia’s landscape – from Guelph, Ontario

Well, I’m moved in and mostly unpacked at my apartment in Guelph.

I’ll be blogging about Nova Scotia from Ontario for the next two or three years at least. I hoped when I started this blog that it would serve as a way for me to stay connected to Nova Scotia while I bide my time doing this latest degree (which I am taking with hopes of being able to return to Nova Scotia as soon as possible with good career prospects). I hope this blog will help alleviate the homesickness and keep me tuned in to Nova Scotia’s landscape and environmental issues while I am 1,900 km away.

And of course, I am writing this post from Guelph because I finally finished, defended, and formally submitted my MA history thesis! It’s called The Road to Yesterday: Nova Scotia’s Tourism Landscape and the Automobile Age, 1920-1940. You can take a look at it in the Killam Library at Dalhousie University some time after October.