Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Whirlwind Tours

I signed up for emails from Entrée Destinations because they promised “stories” from all parts of Canada — including Nova Scotia — and I was curious to see how they’d portray us. (Okay, full disclosure: I wanted to see how trite and clichéd their portrayal would be which is not really fair because this is tourism marketing and trite and clichéd are its hallmarks.)

At the time I signed up I didn’t actually know what Entrée Destinations was, although I’ve since done my homework and discovered it’s a Vancouver-based provider of “bespoke,” high-end Canadian and Alaskan travel “experiences.”

Whether you would like your own Grand Prix at a private race track in BC or a dinner party for your friends on a glacier in the Rockies, you only need one contact.

And I am clearly their target audience.

But it turns out that when they say “story” they mean “expensive travel itinerary” and the first one for Nova Scotia arrived this week. It’s an eight-day adventure, starting at $4,250 per person, that is described this way:

Nova Scotia is home to snug seaside villages, coastal trails leading to dramatic panoramas, and charming lodges and inns, where travelers are welcomed as family and hosted to feasts of freshly caught seafood. During this eight-day itinerary, guests will explore the Cabot Trail, one of the most scenic coastlines in the world; participate in smudge ceremonies and drumming circles with local Mi’kmaq hosts; gaze at the galaxies in a dark sky preserve; and sip Tidal Bay wines in one of Canada’s biggest wine growing regions.

There’s a video version on YouTube narrated by someone who seems to be struggling to pronounce “Nova Scotia” correctly:


But what really struck me is how incredibly grueling the itinerary is. It starts out reasonably enough, on Day One you fly into Halifax, pick up your “full-sized rental vehicle” (unless, I guess, you specifically request a Shriner car), kick around the waterfront, have dinner then “get a good night’s rest in preparation for the week’s adventures.”

Day Two, you drive to Baddeck and stay at the Inverary Inn, where there are “plenty of activity options” to fill up what will basically be an afternoon:

…kayaking, jet-skiing, lounging in the hot tub, and golfing at the nearby course. In the evening, consider joining a lively lobster supper with a Baddeck family.

I presume this refers to a particular Baddeck family in the business of providing lobster suppers, although I like the idea of tourists knocking on random doors hoping to score a big scoff of lobster.

Day Three is when things really kick into high gear. You:

…drive a circle route along the famed Cabot Trail, a 298-kilometre (186-mile) highway weaving through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Along the way, stop at secluded beaches, marvel at historic lighthouses, and hike the scenic Skyline Trail, where dramatic cliffs give way to panoramic ocean views. Then, drive to Chéticamp, a cozy fishing community marked by a strong French Acadian culture. Here, visit a local artisan and learn the traditional art of rug hooking, then continue browsing the myriad of local shops and museums. In the evening, enjoy dinner at your leisure. Accommodations are at Inverary Resort in a One-Bedroom Suite.

Drive 298 km, swim, hike, visit museums AND learn how to hook rugs? This is a vacation?

 The Moslah Shrine Car-Vettes in the 2021 Arlington Independence Day Parade in Arlington, Texas (United States).

Shriners on parade in Austin, Texas, 2021. The more I think of it, the more I think it might be fun to tour the province in a Shriner car. (Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

And the pace doesn’t let up on Day Four, which starts in Eskasoni with “tutorials on drumming, smudging and traditional medicine,” after which you:

…continue your journey to mystical Oak Island, a tree-covered area that has intrigued treasure hunters for centuries. Here, you’ll take a guided sea tour around the island, learning about its turbulent shipwreck history.

So, it takes about an hour to drive from Baddeck to Eskasoni, the Goat Island facilities open at 9:00 AM during the season and tours there take approximately two hours. Let’s say you leave Baddeck at 8:00 AM, make it to Goat Island for 9:00 AM, then spend two hours on a tour. It’s now 11:00 AM and you have a five-hour, 426km drive to Oak Island. Assuming you don’t have lunch or run into roadwork or stop to look at anything, you arrive at 4:00 PM.

Entrée doesn’t give any details on the Oak Island Tours, but looking at the website for one tour provider, it seems the last two of the day are at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM and they take 1.5 hours. (It’s also possible to book a private tour, but let’s assume Entrée just booked you into a regular one). Say you make the 5:00 PM tour and you’re done at 6:30 PM. You then have to:

…drive the final stretch to Lunenburg – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and spend the rest of the evening relaxing in your suite or treating yourself to a seafood feast at a bustling waterfront fish shack.

That’s another half hour of driving and I’m thinking, given it is now 7:30 PM and god knows when you last ate, you are going to opt for food.

Day Five, you tour Lunenburg then drive 193km to the Trout Point Lodge, a “luxurious eco-resort situated in the UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere” where:

You’ll be welcomed with an exquisite feast of Atlantic Acadian cuisine that incorporates local seafood, organic ingredients, wild woodland delicacies and produce from the resort’s gardens. Accommodations are at Trout Point Lodge in a Fireplace Junior Suite.

I would hold out for a Fireplace Senior Suite, personally.

Map of Nova Scotia

“The Route” from Entrée Destinations site.

Day Six you hang at the lodge — you can forest bathe, kayak, canoe or fly-fish and then:

In the evening, take advantage of the lodge’s distinction as the world’s first starlight hotel to stargaze under some of the darkest skies in North America.

I assume you could have also done this during your first night at the lodge, but who knows, maybe they don’t let you look up until night two.

Day Seven, after another night in the Fireplace Junior, you’re off to Halifax, driving along the Bay of Fundy:

Consider dining on lobster for lunch, then visit Nova Scotia’s oldest farm winery for a tasting flight of Tidal Bay wines, which can only be grown in this province. Once you’ve arrived in Halifax, spend the rest of the day on a Segway or walking excursion downtown, or cruise the harbour in an iconic tall ship. Accommodations are at Muir Halifax in a Deluxe King Waterview.

Spend the rest of the day on a Segway, there is no better way to make friends and influence people in a new place than by terrorizing them on their own sidewalks.

On Day 8 you breakfast at the Muir then head for the airport:

It’s time to say farewell to Nova Scotia, but now that you’re part of the family, you’re welcome to return anytime.

I wish them luck with this “family” concept, but I have my doubts. My family tried charging people $4,250 to become a member for eight days and found there was very little take-up.

But we didn’t offer Segways.


Girl Bosses

The inclusion of more women at the top of oppressive power structures shouldn’t be confused with women’s liberation. We need a radical, socialist feminism, not a repackaged version of Sheryl Sandberg’s corporate-friendly “lean-in” brand. — Amelia Horgan, Jacobin, 7.19.2020

THIS! I yelled as I read that sentence. THIS!

Meaning, THIS is the concept I was swimming toward last week as I was writing about the final episode of Annette Verschuren’s Bet On Me podcast. (And yes, having complained loudly throughout all 13 episodes, here I am bringing it up again. I think I’ve figured it out: I don’t like her podcast, but listening to it has forced me to try and articulate why I don’t like it and that’s been helpful and, I have to admit it, sometimes downright fun.)

That sentence, which comes from Amelia Horgan’s review of Women vs Capitalism: Why We Can’t Have It All in a Free Market Economy, by Vicky Pryce, is what I was trying to say about Verschuren’s brand of feminism — and Verschuren has a brand of feminism even though I don’t think she actually said the word during the course of roughly nine hours of jaw-flapping. What I was trying to say about Verschuren’s brand of feminism is that it’s terrible.

Margaret Thatcher

Original girl boss?

It’s a girl boss/corporate/neoliberal sort of feminism that holds that the world would be a better place if there were just more women in positions of power. (Mind you, whether its proponents mean a better place for people in general — and women in particular — or a better place for the kind of women who climb the corporate ladder is not always clear. I sometimes felt Verschuren’s concern began and ended with getting more women into C-suite positions.)

Horgan’s dissection of Pryce’s book is enjoyable, but I think my favorite quote in the piece may be from the philosopher Lorna Finlayson, who summarizes the failure of this flavor of feminism succinctly:

The recent period, in which the representation of women has increased in many fields — including in Parliament — has also been dominated by the politics of austerity and neoliberalism. And in Britain at least, the proposition that female political leaders will look out for their sisters has now faced two rather spectacular counter-examples in Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May.

Or as Horgan herself puts it:

Individual “economic empowerment” under capitalism is not a feminist goal. Winning better representation in the managerial echelons of a system based on the extraction of profit through domination, violence, and misery is not a victory for women.

[N]ot everyone can have the kind of professional-managerial job to which Pryce wants women to have fairer access. Capitalism obliges the great mass of people to work in order to live, under conditions they have not chosen, and over which they have very limited control. The addition of more women managers cannot overturn this fundamental reality.

Women of different classes have divergent as well as overlapping interests. Both might want to avoid sexual harassment at work and have access to decent maternity leave, but what if one employs the other? Or what if one of Pryce’s economically empowered highfliers works in a sector that depends on access to a reserve army of cheap female labor?

Verschuren’s mission seems to be to replace the Old Boys’ network with an Old Girls’ network and how that is supposed to make anything better for the rest of us is beyond me.


Editor’s Note: This week, Spectator contributor Don Clarke boldly goes where I have yet to go and offers some thoughts on the “Truckers’ Convoy.”


There are a lot of people talking about the Truckers’ Convoy. I try to avoid the subject, as I’m sure many of you do, but it’s hard. Like much of the controversy south of our border, it is violently independent and decidedly un-Canadian. It is eerily like the January 6th rallies.

Now there’s a bold statement. Why on Earth would I say such a thing? Is it not Canadian to protest or drive a truck? Of course it is.

But former President Donald Trump, at his last rally, said these truckers were “doing more to defend American freedom than our own leaders by far.”


Freedom Convoy protesters, Ottawa

Freedom Convoy protestors in Ottawa, 12 February 2022. (Photo by Maksim Sokolov (Maxergon), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

And these Canadian protestors are carrying Trump flags – and Nazi flags and militia insignias. They’re defacing public monuments. In America, it was the hallowed halls of Congress, here it was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As the son of a patriotic military man, with several uncles and two brothers who have served in the military (one a veteran of Afghanistan), I find this to be incredibly offensive.

And think about how the protestors are defining themselves: they liken their protest to many throughout history, including the struggle of Black Americans to get voting rights, appeal racist practices and be seen as equals. I think there is a great difference between a large group of people who demand to be seen as fully human and a much smaller group of people fighting a few rules with which they have some issue.

But even if you think the goals of these two groups can be compared (like the Fox commentator who invoked Martin Luther King, Jr in describing them), what about their tactics?

Consider an event like the Million Man March of 1995. A large group of people gathered and peacefully occupied the National Mall in Washington, DC. Then they went home. That was a protest. It was an organized effort. It had an end date. They went home. And not because they gave up but because once the nation was willing to consider change, it was time to work within the system to make that change.

When is the Trucker protest supposed to end? According to some people involved, only when their demands are met. That sounds more like a siege. As Professor Errol Mendes, who teaches constitutional and international law at the University of Ottawa, told the CBC:

If you look at what’s happened not just in Ottawa but at the Ambassador Bridge and Coutts, Alta. and in B.C., essentially we have a national emergency. You have this small group basically asking the government to do whatever they want. That’s the national security problem.

Trucks in Ottawa Freedom Convoy, February 2022

Freedom Convoy, Ottawa, Canada, 12 February 2022 (Photo by Maksim Sokolov (Maxergon), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

It seems as though some of America’s problems are being exported here. That is not really surprising given the power of modern media to communicate ideas globally in real-time.

The Constitution of Canada calls for “Peace, Order & Good Government” which this small group of protestors is largely denying average Canadians. Some residents of Ottawa are suffering from various forms of mental anguish due to the near-constant sounding of horns by these massive vehicles. It is fair to ask how long we are going to listen.

I am not suggesting that people cannot protest in Canada, nor that we, as Canadians, should ignore protestors.. But make no mistake, these Truckers have been heard: Alberta and Saskatchewan have lifted their vaccine passport systems and Ontario and Manitoba say they  will do so on March 1.

Since the goal of any protest is to not be ignored and to create change, I believe they can call this a success. They can begin to work with officials towards change, knowing that they have made this an issue that must be dealt with.

It is, I think, time to go home.


Donald Clarke

A “military brat,” Don Clarke finally put down roots in Dominion, Cape Breton. A graduate of CBU (Communication) and NSCC (Business Administration), he has been active in the local theatrical community for years, having performed and directed at the Boardmore Playhouse and Two Hoots Productions. He has worked in film and television, directed a Canadian Short Film and published poetry in Caper’s Aweigh, and The Caper Times, where he also served as editor.