Welcome to the Cape Breton Spectator!

There will be no hesitation to become involved in controversy if the outcome holds promise of constructive achievement for Cape Breton. — Prospectus, The Highlander Press Company Ltd., October 1962

I tried to dig the truth out of hearings, official transcripts and government documents, and to be as accurate as possible. I also sought to give the Weekly a personal flavor to add humor, wit and good writing to the Weekly report…I tried in every issue to provide fact and opinion not available elsewhere in the press.—I.F. Stone, Washington, D.C., July 1963

If you smell something, say something —Jon Stewart

If you’re going to set goals, set ambitious goals.

If you’re launching a weekly online newspaper, cite the founders of the Cape Breton Highlander (full disclosure: the latter included my parents and most of my paternal aunts and uncles), I.F. Stone (publisher of I.F. Stone’s Weekly) and Jon Stewart as your models. You may not always live up to them, but at least readers will understand what it was you were trying to do before you fell flat on your face.

For those of you who don’t know I.F. Stone, I highly recommend this website. For those of you who don’t know the Highlander, I’m afraid that (for now) I can only suggest a visit to the Beaton Institute, where you’ll find the paper, which ran from 1963 to 1976, on microfilm (a situation we’re hoping to change by raising the funds to digitize it; watch this space). If you don’t know Jon Stewart, late of The Daily Show, I presume you’ve wandered onto this page in search of oatcake recipes and I’m surprised you’ve lasted this long…

Cape Breton Island Map with text: What goes on here?

This graphic appeared in the first edition of The Cape Breton Highlander.

Cape Breton has a paper of record in the Post and, despite current labor strife at the Chronicle Herald, a good backup in the LocalXpress, the online publication put out by the Herald‘s striking workers. It has a CBC station that might actually be in line for some additional funding if the higher-ups recognize the importance of regional radio (more disclosure: my sister is the CBC morning show host in Quebec City). But newsrooms of all descriptions are under the gun these days, and the chances that a mainstream reporter anywhere will be given a week to pore over “official transcripts and government documents” in search of a story are slim to are you kidding me?

That’s where I come in. I’ve been doing some writing on goCapeBreton.com whose founders (bless them) let people express pretty much any opinion they’d care to express. I’ve received some good feedback which has emboldened me to think I might be able to make a living at this. My needs are not great—my only extravagances are quality paper and cat antibiotics—so it won’t take too many subscribers to keep this enterprise afloat. Anything I earn beyond the bare necessities will pay freelance writers and photographers: I’m fond of the sound of my own voice, but not that fond. In fact, several writers have already agreed to contribute to The Cape Breton Spectator, so my royal “we” has become an actual we, much to my delight.

Those of you who read The Cape Breton Spectator  will notice I’ve turned off comments. That’s partly because I don’t have the time to moderate discussions and partly because I have a sentimental attachment to old school “letters to the editor.” Write me.

My plan is to post new material every Wednesday. I’m not going to say how much new material because that will depend entirely on how much I am able to generate in any given week—it might be one in-depth piece; it might be a number of shorter pieces—but rest assured there will be, what we in 2016 are pleased to call, “content.” With luck, it will be content you find informative or entertaining or—jackpot—both.

All content in this first issue is free, so you can sample the goods. In future, new content will be behind a paywall for a week and then made available to all and sundry.

I hope you’ll see value in this enterprise; one I like to believe “holds promise of constructive achievement for Cape Breton.”

Mary Campbell