Five Things Literary: Advocate Harbour

Open Book Ontario recently asked me to contribute to their interview series. I really wanted to write Five Things Literary about Advocate Harbour, but the site is Open Book Ontario (i.e., not Nova Scotia), so I’ll be writing about my office and desk, instead. However, little Advocate Harbour has some big literary credentials which I still wanted to share. So here are five seven things literary about Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia.

Edit: I don't live in Advocate, or the blue house, anymore. 'Tis life. But these facts are still pretty cool and too awesome to delete ;)

1) Advocate Harbour was named by Samuel de Champlain after Marc Lescarbot, Canada's first author (and lawyer) (well, of European descent).

2) Playwright (and actor) Sam Shepard lived out the draft in Advocate in a house called Hilltop Farm (now near Cape Chignecto Park). Rumour has it that Bob Dylan once helicoptered into Advocate for a weekend to hang out with Shepard. Actress Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables!) now owns the house. She said when she bought it, she found sexy photos of Shepard’s then wife O-Lan Jones.

3) Megan Follows once lived in my house in Advocate. She painted my dining room. She said she spent most of the winter freezing beside the then tiny woodstove with her two very young children. The house is now owned by writer Darryl Whetter. His latest book, Origins, includes poems about Joggins, Nova Scotia, which is 40 minutes from Advocate and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is at Joggins that vertebrates first mated on land.

4) Charles Darwin wrote about Joggins in On the Origin of Species:

In other cases we have the plainest evidence in great fossilised trees, still standing upright as they grew, of many long intervals of time and changes of level during the process of deposition, which would never even have been suspected, had not the trees chanced to have been preserved: thus, Messrs. Lyell and Dawson found carboniferous beds 1400 feet thick in Nova Scotia, with ancient root-bearing strata, one above the other, at no less than sixty-eight different levels. Hence, when the same species occur at the bottom, middle, and top of a formation, the probability is that they have not lived on the same spot during the whole period of deposition, but have disappeared and reappeared, perhaps many times, during the same geological period. So that if such species were to undergo a considerable amount of modification during any one geological period, a section would not probably include all the fine intermediate gradations which must on my theory have existed between them, but abrupt, though perhaps very slight, changes of form.

—Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859

5) Ami McKay mentions Advocate in her novel, The Birth House (The Birth House is set in Scot’s Bay, right across the Bay of Fundy from Advocate):

[My mother] never thought I’d get married, at least not until some old broken-toothed widower came over in a skiff from Advocate or Parrsboro, looking to take some new blood back to his village.

6) Bonus fact! Poet Elizabeth Bishop lived in Great Village, Nova Scotia, about 45 minutes east of Advocate. Her poem, “The Moose,” describes the Bay of Fundy tides (where Advocate is situated) and the road through Great Village, Parrsboro, and other villages near Advocate:

…One stop at Bass River.
Then the Economies 
Lower, Middle, Upper;
Five Islands, Five Houses,
where a woman shakes a tablecloth
out after supper…

7) Another bonus fact! (Because we’re getting a bit away from Advocate, but) writer Harry Thurston lives in Tidnish, Nova Scotia (about an hour or so from Advocate) and writes often about the Bay of Fundy and the salt marshes (Place Between the Tides).

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