On January 2, along with 594 other Nova Scotians, I received the results of a test for Covid-19.
They were disheartening, and alarming, but at the same time, the message was encourasging, that this is something you can cope with. Not entirely bad, in other words. Apparently I’d been hit with that highly contagious Covid variant, dubbed worldwide as the Omicron virus; and if my symptoms didn’t worsen, self-isolating should put me back in the world of the living.
It wasn’t that easy. A senior and widowed just before Covid first shut everything down, I’d already struggled through two years of partial self-isolation and shutdowns. Tough as they were, like most Nova Scotians, I adapted to the new sets of social rules, seeing as few people as possible, wearing a mask, limiting my shopping, constantly sanitizing my hands.
Before Covid-19 clamped down on social events and gatherings, musical jams were big up and down the Valley. Most nights before Covid, in community halls, schoolhouses, clubrooms and Legions, you found seniors enjoying country music – and you were welcome to join in if you sang, played an instrument, or just liked to sit back and take it in.
Covid-19 firmly shut those jams down for a while, but the good news is that they’re back and the welcome mat is out. The focus again is on country music and as it was before Covid, everyone is welcome.
The format for the jams is simple: Wear a mask, show proof of vaccination, put your name on the list and wait your turn to perform. Most jams have sound systems, an MC who keeps everything in order and a few players that provide back up music.
Joining the Army in Kentville in 1916, Carl W. Coleman served in France with the Canadian Expeditionary Force until 1919. He was wounded twice, slight wounds that were minor compared to the mysterious malady that almost destroyed him. This is his story, how the Spanish Flu struck the Canadian trenches and was rampant in Nova Scotia when he returned home.
A thigh wound from shrapnel at Vimy didn’t stop him. Later, when he transferred to a Lord Strathcona cavalry unit, being thrown from his horse when a bomb exploded nearby didn’t slow him down either.
What finally put Carl W. Coleman, a Kings County solider of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, into a field hospital was a mysterious ailment sweeping through the trenches, laying low otherwise healthy soldiers. “I was told they almost lost me,” Coleman said years later when he talked about his experiences in WW1. “There was nothing they could do for me. They put me in a tent along with other sick soldiers and just waited to see if I was going to make it.”
Like many men born near the rugged Bay of Fundy in the 19th century, Josh Hazel (1875-1957) went to work while still a boy; he farmed, fished and by necessity was a jack-of-all-trades. “He grew up in tough times and probably was a hard person to get along with; but he was a good man who had many interests,” Lewis Hazel says of his father. “In his early days he was a carpenter; he made wagons, played the fiddle and organ and was a good singer. He didn’t have much schooling but was well educated from reading a lot.”
Born in the Arlington area of the North Mountain, Josh Hazel operated a farm and weir. Hazel owned about 500 acres of timberland at Black Hole, a tiny community immediately east of Baxter’s Harbour on the Bay of Fundy.
Farming the few acres of cleared land on his holdings, tending weir on the Bay and logging pulpwood on his timberland should have kept Hazel busy year around; but for 40 years Josh also ran a mail route in North Mountain communities near Canning. Then there was his other interest, an avocation that became a life-long passion. When he was a young man, the treasure-hunting bug bit Hazel; he spent decades searching the Fundy shore, becoming a legend of sorts in the folklore of the area.