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From the archives

Our Violent National Game

The great hockey debate continues

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

Paul W. Bennett

Paul W. Bennett is an author, education columnist, and regular guest commentator on talk radio. He lives in Halifax.

Articles by
Paul W. Bennett

Commission Concluded

Portapique and the questions still unanswered April 2024
The tiny seaside community of Portapique, Nova Scotia, now bears an infamous name. In April 2020, amid the initial COVID‑19 lockdown, a rage-filled, crazed gunman killed twenty-two people, starting in that village and expanding his scope to surrounding communities over some thirteen hours. The deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history attracted fleeting national media attention, before the cameras moved on to other…

Bump in the Night

The disaster that shook Springhill January | February 2024
On Thursday, October 23, 1958, the No. 2 coal mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia, experienced a tremendous “bump.” At 8:06 p.m., local families were huddled around their new television sets, watching I Love Lucy and Don Messer’s Jubilee. Suddenly, without warning, the ground shook — sending shock waves as far as Ottawa within moments. The mine had caved…

Grey Matter

How do you do, fellow kids? November 2023
The catchphrase “OK boomer” stings if, like me, you happen to be a baby boomer: someone born after the Second World War but before Beatlemania. The pithy meme emerged in a particularly scathing TikTok video, from November 2019, targeting an unidentified older man who had posted a short rant about “infantile” generations that suffered from a “Peter Pan syndrome.” He claimed younger people were “hobbled” by social media and never wanted to grow up and assume adult…

In the Money

To the racetrack they did go September 2023
The storied annals of Canadian thoroughbred racing are full of unforgettable moments. There was Man o’ War and Sir Barton battling each other at the 1920 Kenilworth Gold Cup in Windsor, Ontario. Northern Dancer’s thrilling comeback victory in his last start, the 1964 Queen’s Plate, was another. But perhaps the best-known moment, captured in historic footage and recreated in a Walt Disney Pictures feature…

Good Morning, Nova Scotia

In the booth with Rick Howe April 2023
Offering an open line for callers, talk radio often gets a bad rap in Canada. Many highbrow listeners tuned to CBC Radio One tend to denigrate the commercial format, especially, as a magnet for local cranks and a bully pulpit for right-wing commentary. Yet call-in shows attract thousands of daily listeners — of all stripes — in markets both large and…

Bluenose Premier

A biography of Stephen McNeil December 2022
On April 3, 2020, just over three weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Nova Scotia’s premier, Stephen McNeil, uttered four unforgettable words: “Stay the blazes home!” That public plea, spoken in the company of the chief medical officer, Robert Strang, did more than attract national attention. It also turned the Liberal politician into a Maritime folk…

Marches in Lockstep

An activist’s critique July | August 2022
On March 5, 2020, television broadcasts across the country flashed disturbing images of seniors locked down at Lynn Valley Care Centre, the North Vancouver facility that became an early face of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Here was British Columbia’s first case of community transmission and a warning that the virus would soon rip through nursing homes. The initial Canadian death was also recorded at Lynn…

Virtual Realities

Putting technology to the test September 2020
Smart Technologies, founded in Calgary in 1987, introduced its first interactive whiteboard in the early 1990s. It was a wall-mounted unit that allowed teachers to connect to the internet, run animations, and generate electronic notes for their classes. Smart continued to innovate with advanced touch-sensitive displays throughout the decade and was hailed by many as a harbinger of a new…

In the Citadel’s Shadow

The perils of updating a popular classic January–February 2011
The Citadel has always dominated Halifax, casting quite a shadow over not only the city but also its history. In his classic study of Halifax, written in 1948 to commemorate the city’s 200th anniversary, Thomas Head Raddall saw the imposing fortress as a defining characteristic of the country’s largest Atlantic seaport. Like earlier chroniclers, Raddall presented Halifax as a “warrior city” known for its military and naval establishment and evolving through distinct imperial and Canadian stages of…