I have to take a moment to mourn the death yesterday of Tragically Hip lead singer (and so much more), Gord Downie. His voice and lyrics sang Canada into being for me, usually through the tape deck of my vehicle. Their 1987 EP sang Nackawic, NB, in my high school years: Smalltown Bringdown. Up to Here and Road Apples shaped late nights in Halifax and Waterloo, where I saw them in small university venues. Fully Completely landed in time for summers in Alberta, “driving down a corduroy road” in pick-up trucks At the Hundredth Meridian. Only singles penetrated my life later, like Bobcaygeon, but no less deeply, as I was working in Northern BC and exploring via logging roads on weekends. And then — a decade away in Australia where the Hip is unknown. I remember a trip home in the mid-noughties, visiting a friend in Revelstoke and hearing the Hip blasting from the house next door. Ahhhh, home. I’m with Justin. Thanks, Gord.
In the months leading up to the Mactaquac decision, the editorial pages of the Telegraph Journal is filling up with opinion pieces. Early in May, Keith Helmuth of the Woodstock Sustainable Energy Research group (who was an expert at our citizen jury) spoke out for dam removal, looking towards more efficient, greener energy options for the same investment and a boon for agricultural production. LarryJewett of Lakeway Houseboat Rental on the headpond (who rented us the houseboats we used for floating focus groups in 2013), and Friends of Mactaquac Lake, responded to support the rebuilding of the dam and generating station, for the local amenity it has become. Since then, Peter Cronin of the Atlantic Salmon Federation has responded to both in a two part commentary (1 and 2), supporting dam removal to foster a healthy river and restore fish stocks, among other things. While TJ has a firewall, as a subscriber the commentaries are just as interesting. A recent blog post on the NiCHE website by once-NB now-Maine environmental historian, Mark McLaughlin, uses our Before the Mactaquac Dam storymap to illustrate the need for academics to avoid focusing on stories of environmental decline: dams dramatically change landscapes and ecosystems, but are the exception among infrastructure in creating new amenity. I’m heading next week to the ISSRM meeting in Michigan, where I am co-convening a five-session stream on energy landscapes and transitions, which will examine just such trade-offs.