History of Nova Scotia
with special attention given to
Communications and Transportation

Chapter 32
1998 January

1998 January 1

Local Telephone Monopoly Ends

On this day, the century-old monopoly in local telephone service ended throughout Canada.  This included the end of MT&T's monopoly in Nova Scotia.

For about one hundred years telephone service was a monopoly, meaning that each telephone company was assigned a legally-defined territory for its operations, and everyone in that area had to obtain telephone service from that phone company, or do without.  In Nova Scotia, many telephone companies operated telephone services over the years, and after about 1890 each of these companies had a legal monopoly in a specific territory.  This monopoly covered all telephone services, including local and long-distance, and extending to the supply of the telephone instruments, with their connecting cords.

The monopoly in long-distance service ended several years ago, but local phone service was still a monopoly.  But, on 1 January 1998, the monopoly in local service was legally ended.

That is, after today, it was legal for any company to offer local telephone service to any potential customer anywhere in Canada.  In practice, MT&T was still the only company offering local phone service in Nova Scotia; several companies were making plans to offer competing local services, but getting the equipment set up, and solving all the complex technical and legal problems involved, meant that the actual introduction of competing local services was delayed for more than a year.

[The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 1 April 1999, and other sources.]

History of Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

1998 January 1

Quality of Service Indicators
for Telephone Companies

Including MT&T

Quarterly Reports Required

How can you get an objective measure of the quality of the service supplied by a telephone company?

The CRTC has decided it, and the public, need good, solid, reliable information about the quality of service supplied by the various telephone companies.  It has developed a method (they call it a monitoring model) called the Quality of Service reporting requirements which can be used to obtain such information.  The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) monitors the quality of service of all telephone companies under its jurisdiction, including Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company.

On 24 July 1997, the CRTC released Decision 97-16 on Quality of Service reporting requirements in the telephone industry.  Maritime Telegraph & Telephone, and all other telephone companies with more than 25,000 subscribers are required, beginning on 1 January 1998, to submit quarterly reports — to be filed within 45 days of the end of each quarter — of monthly performance against objectives set for a number of Quality of Service Indicators (QSIs) in four areas of customer contact: [Sources: http://www.bell.ca/bell/eng/library/nr/97/sb97e69.htm
and the on-line CRTC Telecommunications Archive
at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ENG/English.htm
(under the heading Archival: Telecommunications Decisions, notices and orders from January 1984).]

Three Examples of Telephone Service Quality Indicators
to be Reported to the CRTC

One example of a reporting item is
Indicator 2.5: Access To Repair Bureau: The interim service quality standard set by the CRTC is that at least 80% of calls to a repair bureau should be answered in 20 seconds or less.

Another example of a reporting item is
Indicator 3.1: Dial Tone Delay: The interim service quality standard set by the CRTC is that at least 98.5% of attempted calls during the busy hour should receive a dial tone in three seconds or less.

One more example of a reporting item is
Indicator 4.1: Directory Accuracy: The interim service quality standard set by the CRTC is that at least 93.8% of customer listings in the white pages of company directories should be published without errors or omissions.

Additional details

1998 January 1

Auracom POPs

The Points of Presence operated by Internet service provider Interhop / Auracom on this day, in Nova Scotia, were: Points of presence marked (V) are virtual lines to another point of presence.  Auracom also operated five POPs in PEI, at Alberton, Charlottetown, Montague, Souris, and Summerside; and three POPs in NB, at Moncton, St. Anthony (V), and Saint John.
[Source: The Auracom website at http://www.atcon.com/ns.html.  (The "atcon" comes from ancient history — way back in 1995 — when this site was set up by Atlantic Connect; later Atlantic Connect was taken over by Auracom.)]

1998 January 1

Rate Increase for Local Telephone Service

On this day, there was an increase of $2.00 per month in the rate charged for local telephone service, for all residential customers in Nova Scotia.  This was the third in a series of local telephone rate increases that recently went into effect in Nova Scotia.  Previously, there had been a $2.00 increase on 1 May 1997, and a $2.00 increase on 1 May 1996.  On each bill, customers were charged the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) of 15% on the total cost of local service.

In 1996, the CRTC approved and MT&T announced a series of three local rate increases to be spread over two years.  These increases were intended to bring local telephone rates up to match the cost of providing this service on a province-wide basis.  For many years, local telephone service had been "cross-subsidized" by long distance service.  That is, there had been a policy of undercharging for local telephone service to obtain as many customer connections as possible, and the revenue lost by this undercharging was recovered by overcharging for long distance.  Stated another way, long distance users were subsidizing local customers.  This worked reasonably well while all telephone services were supplied by a monopoly company, but when competition was permitted in long distance service the cross-subsidy put MT&T, the former monopoly telephone company, at a serious disadvantage in the long distance market.  If MT&T had to charge extra for its long distance service, to cover losses in local services, other long distance phone companies would find it much easier to lure away MT&T's long distance customers.  That was the reason the CRTC decided that the rate charged for local telephone service would have to be adjusted to cover the cost of providing this local service.

Historical Notes about Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company

1998 January 1

Deregulation of Cable TV Systems

Under the new Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, which came into force on 1 January 1998, basic rates will cease to be regulated when two conditions are met:
    (i) there is evidence that 30% or more of the households in an operator's licensed service area have access to the basic service of another broadcasting distribution undertaking; and
    (ii) there is a loss of 5% or more of its subscribers to competitive broadcasting distribution undertakings.

The CRTC has advised in a public notice that the first of these conditions was satisfied in all licensed cable areas on 31 August 1997.

Shaw Communications Inc. Annual Information Form, 18 January 2000, at

1998 January 2

Enlargement of Local Free Calling Areas

"Starting on January 2nd and continuing through 1998" MT&T "will be making your free calling areas even larger.  Your neighbour down the road will never be long distance again.  With this wider coverage, every call to your neighbouring telephone exchanges will be a local call; long distance charges will no longer apply.  The only requirement will be that the exchange must border directly on your exchange." For example, for telephones in the 644 exchange, "calls to and from the 624, 685, and 689 exchanges will now be local ones."
[Excerpted from a bill stuffer sent out by MT&T with its January 1998 bills.]


1998 January 8

Power Failure Report Handed In

A report into how Nova Scotia Power handled a power outage that left thousands of Nova Scotians in chilly darkness in November 1997 is in the hands of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.  George Smith just completed a 45-page draft report with about a dozen recommendations and gave a copy Monday to the Utility and Review Board.  It will be made public after the board approves it.  "They'll just take a look at it at their leisure and then call me in and we'll discuss it and they'll probably make a few suggestions or modifications to it," said Smith, director of technical analysis for the board.

Premier Russell MacLellan asked the board to investigate after a Nov. 28 snowstorm knocked down power lines and poles in Cape Breton, Antigonish, Truro, Tatamagouche, and Pictou and Guysborough counties.  About 100,000 people were without power, some for a few days.  Critics wondered whether company cutbacks delayed repairs.  As part of his investigation, Smith toured power lines in Pictou County and in industrial Cape Breton, tramping through woods over two days in an attempt to recreate conditions.  "You sort of put your imagination to work and imagine what it's like in the middle of the night, when it's black, looking at a line and it's going through the forest and they don't know where it's gone down," said Smith.  He visited the call centre that took thousands of calls that weekend and NSP's distribution control centre in Ragged Lake.  He talked to NSP and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, providing him with employment levels, statistical data on all the outages, which lines were out, for how long and the number of customers affected.  "I asked all kinds of questions and they (NSP) provided me with all kinds of information," he said.

[The Halifax Daily News, 8 January 1998]

UARB Power Failure Report

[ICS comment, written 22 June 1998]

It's an interesting contrast.

When Ontario Hydro released its report Ice Storm '98: A Report On The Electricity Supply Impacts Of The January, 1998 Ice Storm In Eastern Ontario in May 1998, a copy was posted immediately on the Internet, thus being available to anyone who wanted it.

The Executive Summary was posted at  http://www.hydro.on.ca/OHNewSit.nsf/public/NewsIceStormExSum  and, within that page, there was a one-click link to the complete report.  Full and immediate and free public access was provided.

This Executive Summary is still available online in July 2014, more than sixteen years after it was published.  In the intervening years since its original publication, the original website has disappeared – in fact, Ontario Hydro itself has disappeared.  Nonetheless, the complete Executive Summary is still available online in July 2014, because the website where the Executive Summary was originally published was built under an enlightened website design policy that made it possible for the Summary document to be archived in the Wayback Machine.  This demonstrates a truly remarkable understanding – by a large government bureaucracy, early in the history of the Internet – of the need to keep public information available even after the passage of many years.  As of 2014, this understanding has not penetrated the Nova Scotia bureaucracy to any noticeable extent, because in Nova Scotia our elected representatives have yet to grasp even the most basic facts about how the Internet works.  They don't know, and don't want to know.  They don't get it, and don't care.  Frankly, they don't give a damn.
      ICS, 13 July 2014

And a media release was issued on 22 May 1998, saying the report had been completed and was available on the Internet, with the Internet address at which it could be found.  (It was through that media release that I heard about the report and where it was available.)

Ontario Hydro also prepared a report on the Management Response to the Recommendations and made it publicly available by posting it online.

These two documents – the Media Release issued on 22 May 1998 and the Management Response to the Recommendations – also are still available online in July 2014, conveniently and reliably accessible through one-click links (see above).

Compare that to the treatment given to the comparable report on the Nova Scotia power failures in November 1997.  This report was available to the public – sort of.  It was available to the public if you knew where to go to get it and had the time to fetch it.  I got my copy by driving to Halifax and going, in person, to the office of the Utilities and Review Board.  The UARB staff gave me a copy quickly and without any hassle.

But if you wanted a copy (1) you had to know that it was available at the UARB office, and (2) you had to know where that office is located, and (3) you had to want it enough to go to that office and get a copy.

In stark contrast to the treatment of the Ontario report, the Nova Scotia government has never published online any part of the Nova Scotia report – no Executive Summary, no Table of Contents, nothing.  As for a public Management Response, that is a concept that never clouded the horizon of anyone in the Nova Scotia government.  The Nova Scotia report has never been made available online by any agency, board, commission or department of the Nova Scotia government.

It was much easier for me, in rural Nova Scotia, to obtain a complete copy of the Ontario Hydro report, than it was for me to obtain a copy of the Nova Scotia report.

Our government's attitude was pretty much like this — We will hide the copies of this report at some obscure location that most people have never heard of.  If you can find this place, we will let you have a copy.  But it is entirely up to you to find it.  You will get no help of any kind from any government source.  We hide it, then you find it (if you can).

There was never any attempt to tell the public how to get a copy.  And there was no acceptance, or even awareness, of the demand, in 1998, to make information like this easily and widely available.  The one and only place in all Nova Scotia where that report was available was that one office on Lower Water Street in Halifax.  No public library anywhere in the province was given a copy.

This is a failure by Premier MacLellan's government.  The Nova Scotia power failure report was prepared by the UARB, an agency of the provincial government, in response to a direct request from the Premier.  If the UARB did not see the need — as it did not — in 1998, to use the Internet to make government information easily and widely available to the public, it was and is up to our provincial government to get with it.

But, while provincial cabinet members are only too happy to gather on the platform when announcements are made about spending government money to buy computers and Internet connections for communities all over the land, they have not the slightest notion that they should also be looking at providing content on the Net.

Consider the recent [29 May 1998] announcement of $62,100,000 for Nova Scotia's schools, universities and communities, "which will put thousands of new computers and technological links at the fingertips of students, teachers, businesses and community members across Nova Scotia."  The announcement was made at Dalhousie University in Halifax by Premier Russell MacLellan and John Manley, federal Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.  They were joined by Senator Al Graham, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister responsible for Nova Scotia; Manning MacDonald, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism; and Robbie Harrison, Minister of Education and Culture; as well as education, business and community representatives.  "This is the single largest injection of technology in Nova Scotia's history," said Premier MacLellan.  "Communities from Neils Harbour to Yarmouth will benefit from increased access to information technology.  This project will help business in every part of the province to compete in new markets, lead to a highly trained workforce and create opportunities for all Nova Scotians."

All that is laudable.  But computers, by themselves, are merely expensive toys.  There has to be useful content available somewhere for those computers to find and bring to the viewer.  Part of that useful content should be government reports, placed on the Internet by the government for easy access by the public.  Ontario Hydro understands this simple but vital point.  The Nova Scotia government ministers who participated in the announcement of the $62,100,000 have no grasp of this.  If they do, there has been no whisper of a hint of it.

How about it, Russell MacLellan, Manning MacDonald, and Robbie Harrison?  (These three are those named in the press release about the $62,100,000.)  As far as can be determined, none of them has ever spent so much as one hour looking at the Internet with a browser.  None of them has a personal website.  None of them has a personal e-mail address (that is, an e-mail address of their own, aside from that which came attached to their current office and is in effect only while they hold their current offices).  They are happy to participate in the spending of $62,100,000 to buy computers, but they won't lift a finger to make government reports available as Internet content.

What access has been provided by the government, for people in "communities from Neils Harbour to Yarmouth," to the Power Failure Report?  The people who experienced the power failures are far from Halifax.  As far as the government is concerned, that is of no consequence.  What has the government done to make that report readily available to people in Neil's Harbour, and Yarmouth, and those other mostly-rural places where those multi-day power failures occurred?

It is a most interesting contrast between those two announcements, of 22 May (Ontario) and 29 May (Nova Scotia), just seven days apart on the calendar but decades apart in the comprehension of a government's responsibility in using modern electronic information technology to make public information genuinely available to the public.  To a large extent, the government of Nova Scotia still accepts the 1930s view of public access to government information.

[ICS followup comment, written 16 October 2010]

The following now appears in the UARB's website:

Power Outage Report
The NSUARB directed its staff to carry out an independent review of power outages suffered by a large number of customers as a result a severe winter storm in November 1997.  The Board published its findings in a report dated February 9, 1998.  The Board issued a number of directives concerning such matters as staffing levels, inspections and maintenance practices, distribution system reliability and power outage logistics.

The frame capture (below) shows how this appears in the UARB website today.  This is the only mention in the UARB's website of the Power Outage Report on the severe winter storm of 27-28 November 1997.  The report itself is not now, and never has been made available online by the UARB.

Compare this weak performance, by the UARB in keeping earlier information available online, with the much better performance by Ontario Hydro in keeping its information available online.  Even today, late in 2010, the Nova Scotia government just doesn't get it!

UARB "Electricity" webpage, 16 Oct 2010
This is the only place (here circled in red) in the UARB website where there
is any mention  of its  Power  Outage  Report, requested by  Premier MacLellan
shortly after the storm, 27-28 November 1997, and published on 9 February 1998,
on the power outages suffered by a large number of customers as a result a severe
winter storm  in November 1997.   The UARB does not  provide a link, but the
1998 Report is available online – not from the UARB but posted by a citizen.
A Google or Bing search for UARB Power Failure Report will find it.

1998 January 8

FOX.NSTN.NS.CA Disappears
as an E-mail Address

On 8 December 1997, the following notice appeared in the iSTAR website http://izine.istar.ca/netstat.htm: "The name NSTN.NS.CA will be removed in one month.  If you are using NSTN.NS.CA for mail or news, you must change it to NSTN.CA as soon as possible.  In one month, any mail sent to FOX.NSTN.NS.CA will bounce."

1998 January 8

Construction Begins on
Sable Offshore Venture

HALIFAX — After more than three years of talking, the consortium behind the $3,000,000,000 project to produce natural gas off the coast of Nova Scotia has started building.  Local politicians and officials with the Sable Offshore Energy Project formally began the construction phase this day by turning the sod for an access road to the proposed natural-gas-processing operation in rural Nova Scotia, about 300 kilometres northeast of Halifax.  At a symbolic ceremony today SOEP Management Committee chairman Ken Miller, Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury MLA Ray White and Guysborough Warden Lloyd Hines turned the first sod in developing the access road right-of-way to the site of the proposed onshore natural gas processing facility.  The SOEP consortium used the event to announce that the project, which has been the subject of controversies and regulatory reviews since it was proposed in late 1994, will proceed on a construction schedule that would see natural gas brought ashore by late 1999.  Earlier this week, the cutting and welding of the first steel for the main offshore platform began.  The consortium is led by Mobil Oil Canada Ltd. of Calgary, which owns 50.8% of SOEP.  The other four owners are Shell Canada Ltd., 31.3%; Imperial Oil, 9.0%; Nova Scotia Resources Ltd., 8.4%; and Mosbacher Operating Ltd., 0.5%.  SOEP http://www.soep.com/ plans to deliver an average of 480,000 million British thermal units per day of market quality gas from onshore processing facilities near Goldboro, Nova Scotia, to markets in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England.  The gas fields also will yield about 20,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids which will be processed at a proposed liquids handling plant near Point Tupper, Cape Breton.  SOEP will be built concurrently with the $1,000,000,000 Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline, which will carry the gas from Goldboro, Guysborough County, through New Brunswick, Maine, and New Hampshire, to Massachusetts.
[The Globe and Mail, 9 January 1998, and other sources.]

480,000 million British thermal units (BTU) = 506 terajoules (TJ)

1998 January 8, Thursday

The Ocean Passenger Train Cancelled
Due To Ice Storm

Beginning on this day, VIA Rail cancelled all passenger trains originating or terminating in Montreal, including all trains west from Halifax and east from Toronto, because of debris on the tracks such as fallen trees and live power lines, and track signal failures and loss of trackside radio links with the Montreal dispatchers' office due to power failures and downed communications lines.  Many track switches were frozen deep in hard ice, which in places was up to the railheads.  Also, there were many highway crossing warning signals that were not operating due to local power failures.  This was a result of the extensive ice storm that swept over eastern Ontario, southern Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on 6-10 January 1998.

The westbound Ocean which departed Halifax on Wednesday, January 7th, was halted at Aston Junction, Quebec, by downed wires and trees — passengers were taken by bus to Montreal and days later the train remained where it stopped.  The following westbound Ocean, which departed Halifax on Thursday, January 8th, was terminated in Moncton, New Brunswick.  Departures from Halifax scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, were cancelled.

The eastbound Ocean, VIA's train to Halifax, scheduled to depart Montreal on Thursday, January 8th, "remained in the bowels of Montreal's Central Station and became a 'bed and breakfast' operation." The Ocean was cancelled for departures from Montreal on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with Monday the 12th being the first departure of the reinstated schedule.

The Ocean resumed operation with the westbound and eastbound departures on Monday, 12 January, but part of the regular route was still out of operation.  The regular route eastbound was to depart the Montreal Station, then immediately cross the St. Lawrence River on the Victoria Bridge, and go east along the south shore of the St. Lawrence.  But, on Monday 12 January, the rail lines along the south shore were still shut down because of the ice storm.  The reinstated eastbound Ocean departed Montreal Station and travelled eastward along the north shore of the St. Lawrence via Garneau, Quebec, crossing to the south shore on the Quebec Bridge.  The westbound Ocean followed the same route, crossing the St. Lawrence on the Quebec Bridge.  This temporary route was congested with heavy freight and container traffic.  VIA warned all Ocean passengers to expect delays, in both directions, of two to three hours.  This temporary route, across the Quebec Bridge, continued in use for the Ocean for all trips up to and including the departures on Sunday, 18 January.  The departures on Monday, 19 January, reverted to the regular route across the Victoria Bridge.  As of 17 January, all passenger train service remained cancelled until further notice between Montreal and Quebec City, and between Montreal and Ottawa.

At this time, the Ocean's regular schedule was as follows:

The Ocean Passenger Train
Halifax - Montreal
Published schedule, January 1998

read down
Station Eastbound
read up
14:00 Dp Halifax Ar 15:30
15:38   Truro   14:00
Moncton Dp
21:11   Bathurst   08:17
22:50   Campbellton   06:45
Matapedia Dp
01:11   Rimouski   01:48
02:51   Riviere-du-Loup   00:34
Levis Dp
07:58   Saint-Lambert   19:15
08:25 Ar Montreal Dp 19:00

Ar means Arrival time, Dp means Departure time.
There were six scheduled trips a week: Ocean departed (from Halifax and from Montreal) once each day except Tuesdays; and arrived (at Halifax and at Montreal) once each day except Wednesdays.
The Globe and Mail, 9 January 1998,
CBC TV news, 12 January 1998,
VIA Rail Eastern Services schedule for Winter '97-'98,
The Chronicle-Herald, 12 & 17 January 1998,
Issue v37 n2 dated February 1998,of Branchline, the monthly newsletter of the Bytown Railway Society, Ottawa,
and other sources.

1998 January 8-9-10, Thursday-Friday-Saturday

Ice Storm Whips Annapolis Valley

An icy shroud covered most of the Valley for three days as freezing rain, sleet, and ice pellets moved in.  Few parts of Kings County were spared the onslaught, as each community at one time or another was without electric power for several hours, leaving homes without heat and light, and forcing businesses and government offices to close.  This was the same ice storm that had hit eastern Ontario, southern Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and New Brunswick earlier in the week.  On this Friday and Saturday, about 3,000,000 people in Quebec were without electric power.  Two weeks later, during the weekend of 17-18 January, there were still about 500,000 people without electric power in Quebec, and 60,000 in eastern Ontario.  The storm was less intense by the time it reached Nova Scotia, but it still was able to deliver a wallop.

The County Fair Mall remained closed on Friday as the power flicked off and on repeatedly throughout New Minas.  In Kentville, electric power was off for most of Friday, closing municipal offices, courtrooms, and most businesses.  All of Kentville's traffic lights were blacked out, forcing town police, including Chief Brian MacLean, onto the streets to direct traffic.  Kentville Electric Commission (KEC) crews were kept busy for most of Friday and Saturday repairing storm-related damage to town distribution lines.  KEC reported that its employees were working "straight out".  Some homes in Kentville were without electricity for 29 hours.

Nova Scotia Power (NSPI) crews also were very busy.  Just east of Kentville, where a NSPI double-circuit 69 kilovolt line crosses Highway 101 at the New Minas exit on two high steel towers, the "sky wire" broke under the weight of the ice, closing Hwy 101 for some time while the downed wire was removed from the travelling surface.  The highway was closed again for a couple of hours on the afternoon of 16 January, as crews replaced the "sky wire" or "shield wire", which is a grounded wire located above the live wires to serve as a lightning shield.

In Wolfville, power went off on Thursday night, and some customers were without electricity for up to 14 hours.  Local fire departments throughout Kings County were kept busy with reports of downed power lines and high-voltage arcs caused by tree limbs falling on live lines.  Speaking with The Advertiser just after 5pm on Friday, Stephanie Ryan of NSPI said that Kings County had been "one of the hardest, if not the hardest hit" areas in all Nova Scotia.  At one point during the storm, Ryan said "over 20,000 customers were without power." Due to the duration and severity of the storm, she said, "situations occurred where we isolated a problem, cleared the line, and restored power, only to lose it a short time later somewhere else along the same line."  One NSPI lineman told The Advertiser on Friday morning, "we're having trouble keeping ahead of it."  He noted that between Cambridge and Berwick, the power was off "five separate times" overnight on Thursday into Friday.  On Saturday, after returning from a trip to the Annapolis Valley, Ryan told The Daily News "It's incredible how the trees are weighted down with ice."  More than 8,000 Nova Scotians were without electric power on Saturday, a substantial reduction from the 20,000 Valley homes that lost power on Thursday night and Friday.  Ryan said NSPI had more than 100 linemen working 16-hour shifts, as well as extra call-centre staff.  The hardest-hit areas were the counties of Kings, Cumberland, and Pictou, with scattered outages around Truro and metro Halifax.  About 250 customers in central and northern Cape Breton experienced power failures on Friday and Saturday, some for more than 24 hours.

By Saturday morning, many local organizations had emergency shelters set up for those still without heat.  These included Valley Search and Rescue at the Kings County Municipal Airport; the Canning, Berwick, and New Minas fire halls; the Salvation Army on Nichols Avenue in Kentville; and the Red Cross, which was set up in the Students' Union Building at Acadia University.  Over 40 people were registered by the Red Cross at the Acadia shelter on Saturday, and officials were prepared to keep it open as long as needed.  Valley Communications in Kentville logged 101 fire department calls in 36 hours, 65 of them dealing with electrical sparking or fires due to downed live wires.

Excerpted from:—
The Kentville Advertiser, 13 January 1998,
Halifax Sunday Daily News 11 January 1998, and
The Halifax Chronicle-Herald 12 & 13 January 1998.

1998 January 12, Monday

Some People Still Freezing in the Dark

Nova Scotia Power says there are still small groups of customers without electricity in the Annapolis Valley in the wake of last week's ice storm.  A spokesman says there are also scattered outages remaining in the Amherst - Parrsboro area.  In total, a hundred customers are without service.
[CBC radio, Information Morning news item, 12 January 1998]

1998 January 16

First Meeting of Electric Utility Co-Op

Municipal Electric Utilities of Nova Scotia Co-operative Ltd.

Lunenburg County's three municipally-owned electric utilities and three others from Antigonish, Berwick, and Canso have joined together to form Nova Scotia's first ever inter-municipal co-operative.  The new Municipal Electric Utilities of Nova Scotia Co-operative Limited held its first organizational meeting in the Town of Lunenburg January 16, 1998.  Representatives from the three utilities named above as well as Lunenburg, Riverport, and Mahone Bay attended.  The group elected its executive officers.  They include Antigonish Mayor Ron MacDonald, chairman; Lunenburg Mayor Laurence Mawhinney, vice-chairman; and Valerie Romkey of Riverport Electric as secretary-treasurer.

Member municipalities see the new organization as a way to share expertise and resources, while also gaining a stronger voice with which to raise concerns.  Current initiatives being explored include joint purchasing, emergency response measures, a look at future energy requirements, and the promotion of economic benefits derived from what they term "the cost-effective distribution of electricity via municipal electric utilities." Mayor MacDonald said, "The formation of the co-operative should prove beneficial to member utilities in addressing changes which may occur in the manner in which electric services are delivered.  During this past year and one half it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet and discuss common concerns."

[The Progress Enterprise, Lunenburg, 4 February 1998]
Historical Notes about Municipal Electric Utilities of Nova Scotia Co-operative Ltd.

ICS (webmaster) — At this time, there were seven small independent electric utilities in Nova Scotia.  "Independent" means independent of Nova Scotia Power Incorporated (NSPI), the big provincial utility.  All seven of the independents were municipally-owned and all were decades older than NSPI.  Each of these electric utilities operated an electric distribution system within its own government-defined monopoly territory, and anyone located within one of these territories was required to buy their electric power from the local utility.

In alphabetical order, these independent utilities were:
      Town of Antigonish
      Berwick Electric Commission
      Town of Canso
      Kentville Electric Commission
      Town of Lunenburg
      Town of Mahone Bay
      Riverport Electric Light Commissioners

Six of the seven were members of this new co-operative.  The seventh was Kentville Electric (KEC), owned by the Town of Kentville, which had decided, by a majority vote of the Town Council on 9 July 1997, to sell KEC to NSPI.  KEC had been involved in the preliminary discussions which led to the formation of the Municipal Electric Utilities of Nova Scotia Co-operative, but the decision to sell KEC kept it from becoming a member.  As of late February 1998, the sale of KEC was in the final stages — a series of public hearings by the Utilities and Review Board, which, under the laws of the province, had to give its approval to the sale.

1998 January 17

Electropolis Celebrates Opening

Electropolis Motion Picture Studios' "Opening Extravaganza" took place 17 January 1998, 9pm-1am.  "Dress up or come as you are! The region's hottest live music.  Four great studio themes.  Great food! Fantastic prizes! You could win a trip to Hollywood!" Tickets were priced at Adults $30, Couples $50, Students 19 and over $15.  The studios were located on Lower Water Street in Halifax, in the building which formerly housed the Water Street Generating Station, which in the 1950s was Nova Scotia Light & Power Company's largest electric generating plant.  Electropolis has four sound stages in the building:
      Studio One, 1100 square metres 12,000 square feet,
      Studio Two, 280 m² 3,000 square feet,
      Studio Three, 240 m² 2,600 square feet,
      Studio Four, 210 m² 2,300 square feet.
[Full-page advertisement in the Halifax Daily News, 15 January 1998, and
article in The Chronicle-Herald, 15 January 1998]

1998 January 17

MacDonald Bridge Rebuilding Job

The first four panels of the new deck for the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge fit snugly and are ready for painting.  The pieces were assembled at the Walter & SCI/Cherubini fabrication shop in Burnside, where the media got a look yesterday at a section of the new deck, including bike lane and walkway.  "The purpose for fit-up is that when they get it out into the field to install it, everything fits together," said Jon Eppell of O'Halloran Campbell Consultants.  Three of the 4.9 metre by 11.3 metre panels were taken down to have their undersides painted yesterday afternoon.  The fourth stays, so three more can be fitted.  The process will continue until all 128 panels are installed.

The $45,200,000 project, adding a third traffic lane, bicycle lane and sidewalk, is on track for completion by fall 1999, said project manager Terry Mayo.  Night-time bridge closures will start at the end of March or early April, he said.  That's when the existing panels of the deck will be cut out and new ones installed.  The shutdowns, from 7:00pm to 5:30am Sunday to Thursday, don't leave much time to spare, Mr. Mayo said.  The schedule allows for a buffer of 30 minutes.  But he doesn't anticipate any problems with timing.  If crews aren't finished on any given night, a larger steel plate will be placed on the bridge.  The panels are made from orthotropic steel, which is a lot lighter than concrete.  And the epoxy wearing surface on top is lighter than asphalt, which means less dead weight on the bridge, making the third lane possible.

[Excerpted from the Halifax Mail-Star, 20 January 1998]

1998 January 19

Country Harbour Government Wharf
Sold to Private Company

On this day, Transport Canada transferred the ownership of the Government Wharf at Country Harbour, Guysborough County, to Mersey Seafoods Limited of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, for $200,000.  The sale is unconditional with Mersey Seafood becoming the sole owner of the property.  The property includes a reinforced concrete wharf 51m long and 11m wide.  Depth alongside the outer berth is 6.7 metres.  Mersey Seafoods Ltd. owns and operates Bickerton Industries Limited in nearby Port Bickerton and has been the primary user of the wharf in last several years.  The main activity at the wharf has been the importation of processed fish for packaging at their local plant.  Other activity at the wharf consists of periodic use by patrolling Federal Government vessels.  Country Harbour Government Wharf was constructed in 1972 to support the local pulpwood and fish processing plants.  World market conditions resulted in the discontinuation of pulp shipments from the wharf.
[Department of Transport press release dated 23 January 1998]

In August 2000, the Registry of Joint Stock Companies database was moved to

1998 January 20

Offensive Road Name to be Changed

Capt. John Gorham Boulevard will soon be history

Department of Transportation apologetic

Capt. John Gorham Boulevard will soon be history.  The Department of Transportation admitted yesterday that in naming the new road, it unwittingly honoured a bounty-hunter who helped historic efforts to exterminate Nova Scotia Micmacs during the 1700s.  The department has asked Northwest community council to submit a second name for the boulevard, which connects Bedford and Sackville.  It officially opened in November 1997.  Department officials admitted yesterday they took council's request for Gorham's name at face value; he was "relatively unknown to most of us," said area manager Paul O'Brien.  "The council didn't tell us about the negative aspects of the man when they made the recommendation," said O'Brien.  "It's unfortunate that we didn't do the research but everything we do isn't perfect; we're willing to admit that."
[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News, 20 January 1998]

More about Capt. John Gorham Boulevard

1998 January 20

Internet Access Expands

On this day, Ottawa announced it will spend about one million dollars to help more Nova Scotians in rural and remote communities obtain access to the Internet.  Industry Canada, a department of the federal government, will provide the money, and a committee from the Technology and Science Secretariat, a department of the provincial government, has helped choose the sites for the 54 additional Community Access sites that will be set up.  Nova Scotia already has 55 Community Access sites.  These 54 new sites bring the total number of Community Access Program sites in the province to 109.  This money was part of the almost $15,000,000 recently announced by Industry Canada for more than 1,000 new Community Access Program sites in some 830 rural and remote communities across the country.  It's the third year the federal department has sponsored the competition.  The communities were selected on the basis of proposals submitted to Industry Canada in late autumn 1997.  Proposals were evaluated first by the 15-member Nova Scotia Community Access Committee and then by the National Community Access Selection Committee.  Industry Canada awarded contracts of up to $30,000 to successful proposals.  The goal of the Community Access Program http://cap.unb.ca/english.html is to link up to 5,000 rural and remote communities to the Information Highway by the 2000-2001 fiscal year.

The 54 new Community Access Program sites
in Nova Scotia were:

Annapolis County
Annapolis Royal
Cornwallis Park
Country Harbour
Digby County
East Bay/Big Pond
Havre Boucher
Hazel Hill
Isaac's Harbour
Margaree Forks
New Harbour
New Ross
North Preston
North Queens
North Shore
Pictou County
Pictou Landing
Pleasant Bay
Point Edward
Shipyard (Sydney)
Southend Sydney
St. Ann's
St. Joseph
St. Joseph du Moine
Sydney Mines
Terence Bay
Upper Big Tracadie
Wildcat Reserve

[Excerpted from
the Halifax Daily News, 21 January 1998;
NS government press release #98012005;
Industry Canada press release dated 6 January 1998; and other sources.]

Also see:
Nova Scotia Community Access Sites


Nova Scotia Community Access Committee Contacts

The 55 previous
Community Access Program sites
in Nova Scotia were:

Community Site Location
Community URL
Annapolis County
Lawrencetown Revolving Door, Community Learning Centre
Milford Community Centre
website URL not available
Antigonish County
Havre Boucher
Antigonish High School
website URL not available
Cape Breton County
Donkin Junior High School
Eskasoni Training and Education Centre
Glace Bay Cape Breton YMCA Enterprise
Main-A-Dieu Main-A-Dieu Elementary School
website URL not available
New Waterford Mount Carmel School
website URL not available
North Sydney Business Centre and Library
website URL not available
Sydney Cape Breton Regional Library
Whitney Pier Whitney Pier Community Resource Centre
Colchester County
Bass River West Colchester Junior High School
website URL not available
Truro Colchester - East Hants Regional Library
Cumberland County
Amherst Cumberland Economic Resource Centre
Northport Northport Elementary School
Parrsboro Parrsboro Library & High School
Wallace Wallace Elementary School
Digby County
Bear River Oakdene Community Centre
Comte de Digby Ecole Secondaire de Claire
website URL not available
Digby Isiah W. Wilson Memorial Library
Digby Neck Digby Neck Consolidated School
Weymouth Weymouth Consolidated School
Guysborough County
Canso Canso Town Office
Mulgrave Mulgrave Branch Library
Sherbrooke Sherbrooke Branch Library
Halifax County
Beaverbank RCMP Detachment, Skyline Villa, Millwood High School
website URL not available
Eastern Passage Talhasse Community Centre, Fisherman's Cove
Middle Musquodoboit Musquodoboit Valley High School
Sheet Harbour Duncan MacMillan High School
Hants County
Windsor Windsor High School Library
Inverness County
Cheticamp Tourist Information Centre
Inverness Inverness Junior-Senior High School
Judique-Creignish High School
Mabou Mabou Consolidated School
website URL not available
Port Hood Port Hood Library and Resource Centre
website URL not available
Kings County
Annapolis Valley Work Centre & Coldbrook Elementary
Wolfville Horton District High School
Lunenburg County
Chester Forest Heights High School, Chester Area Middle School
Pictou County
Lyon's Brook West Pictou Regional High School
website URL not available
New Glasgow New Glasgow Junior High School
River John River John Library
Richmond County
Isle Madame
Isle Madame District High School
East Richmond
L'Ardoise School
Port Hawkesbury Strait Area Education & Recreation Centre
St. Peter's St. Peter's District High School
Shelburne County
Barrington Passage Barrington Municipal High School
Lockeport Lockeport Regional High School
Shelburne Mackay Library, Shelburne Regional High School
Victoria County
Bras d'Or T.L. Sullivan Jr. High School
Dingwall Ingonish Fire Hall
Iona Rankin Memorial Consolidated School
website URL not available
Yarmouth County
Hebron Maple Grove Education Centre
Lower Argyle Argyle Consolidated School
Yarmouth Ten Branch Libraries and Headquarters
Yarmouth Western Counties Regional Library

Source: Community Access Committee, Nova Scotia Technology and Science Secretariat
Note: The above community website URLs were valid in 1997.

1998 January 22

Sheet Harbour Wharf Sold to Private Company

On this day, Transport Canada transferred the ownership of the port facilities at Sheet Harbour to E.R.W. Holdings Ltd., of Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia for $12,001.  The sale was completed through a public tender process and is unconditional with E.R.W. Holdings Ltd. becoming the sole owner of the property.  Following a public meeting held in Sheet Harbour on 13 March 1997 which failed to generate any expressions of interest in acquiring the facility, Transport Canada moved to divest it through a public tendering process in the fall of 1997.  E.R.W. Holdings Ltd. subsequently submitted the highest bid and was awarded the tender.

Sheet Harbour is one of more than 200 Regional and Local ports, which range from large facilities that support significant local and regional commercial activity to very small facilities with little or no commercial traffic.  The wharf, 55 m long by 11 m wide, was originally built in 1955 and has not experienced commercial traffic since 1988.  The primary users of the wharf in recent years are local recreational boaters and inshore fishing vessels of less than 9 metres.  Depth alongside the outer berth is 4.6 metres.  Under the National Marine Policy, announced in December 1995, Regional and Local port sites will be transferred to other interests over a six-year period.  In some cases, ports will be transferred as operating ports; in other cases, Crown land and facilities will be transferred to interested parties for other uses.

[Department of Transport press release dated 10 February 1998]

In August 2000, the Registry of Joint Stock Companies database was moved to

1998 January 23, Friday

First Imax Theatre Opens

At noon on this day, the first Imax movie theatre in the Atlantic Provinces opened its doors for its first show.  It was one of the new twelve-screen complex in Bayers Lake Business Park, on the west side of Halifax, built by Empire Theatres, a subsidiary of Stellarton-based Sobey's.

Empire Theatres Limited was at this time the largest independent movie theatre company in Canada, with 101 screens in the Atlantic Provinces.  At this time, there were more than 150 Imax screens in operation around the world.  The Halifax Imax was the 16th in Canada and the first east of Montreal.

Imax (from "Maximum Image") is a Canadian technology, with roots going back to Expo '67 in Montreal.  The Halifax Imax theatre has a 15,000 watt 20 horsepower digital sound system.

The projection print is on 70 mm film, twice the width of the standard 35 mm movie film.  The Imax frame, on the film, has ten times the area of the standard movie frame, which yields much better resolution and picture clarity.

Everyday geometry tells us that doubling the width of a rectangle will increase the area only by four times (when the shape, or 'aspect ratio', remains the same) so — how does twice the width produce a frame area ten times as large? On standard movie film, the frame is placed with its width parallel to the film width (that is, the frame's longest linear dimension has to fit the film's 35 mm width).  On Imax film, the frame is turned 90 degrees, so that its width is parallel to the film's length (that is, the frame's shortest linear dimension has to fit the film's 70 mm width).

The viewing screen surface is 18 × 22 metres, about five storeys high and six storeys wide.  The Halifax Imax theatre, limited to 271 seats "so there isn't a bad seat in the house", opened with two films made specially for Imax — The Living Sea, "a voyage to an underwater world accompanied by music by Sting and narration by Meryl Streep", and The Dream is Alive, "in which an Imax camera accompanied 14 astronauts on a space mission".  Screenings begin every day at noon.  The Living Sea begins at 12:00, 2:00, 6:00, 8:00, and 10:00; The Dream is Alive at 1:00, 3:00, 7:00, and 9:00.  Films will change every four months; in all there are about 170 large-format films available in the Imax inventory.
Ticket Prices

Adult (18+) $8.75 $13.00
Senior (65+) $7.50 $12.00
Youth (14-17) $7.00 $11.00
Children (4-13) $6.00 $10.00

[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News, 20 Jan. and 12 Feb. 1998, and
the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 22 January 1998.]

On 14 February, it was reported that the Imax theatre was "pulling in sell-out crowds". 

1998 January 26

Power Failures in Metro Halifax,
Newspaper Delayed

The Daily News was among thousands of Nova Scotia individuals and businesses which were left in the dark last night for as much as 3½ hours.  High winds caused power lines to "slap together," said Nova Scotia Power Inc. spokeswoman Margaret Cassidy.  "This causes lines to arc." This is commonly called a "short-circuit", and usually results in that circuit being disconnected automatically.  Cassidy said these arcs cause the bright blue flashes that were seen in many metro neighbourhoods.  The first power outages occurred at about 7pm, and affected about 4,000 homes and businesses in Burnside Industrial Park, areas around Barrington and Duffus streets, Upper Lawrencetown and Cole Harbour, as well as Armdale and Bayers Lake Industrial Park.  Downed power lines complicated repair efforts in Burnside Industrial Park.  A portion of the park, including The Daily News, was without power until 11:30pm, delaying the press run by several hours.  Outages were also scattered throughout the province, Cassidy said, noting several areas in Annapolis Valley were hit hard by the storm.  In Lower Onslow, restoration efforts were further complicated by flooding.  "It's going to be a very long night for crews," Cassidy said early in the evening.  All available line crews were out, and extra Nova Scotia Power staff were brought in to handle the customer inquiries.  Police were kept extremely busy when power fluctuations triggered intrusion alarms, a police spokesman said.  "Every time there's a power short we get 15 to 20 alarms.  We have to treat all of them as legitimate." All details on police calls were unavailable last night because a power outage at the information centre shut down computers and left the case manager without access to reports.
[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News, 26 January 1998]

1998 January 27

Kentville Electric Commission:
UARB Schedules Additional Hearings

In a letter dated this day, the Utilities and Review Board gave official notice that additional hearings had been scheduled in the matter of the proposed sale of the Kentville Electric Commission to Nova Scotia Power Inc.  The hearing was to reconvene on Wednesday, 25 February 1998 at 10:00am "and continue on the 26th and 27th if so required." The hearing location was changed to the Town Council Chambers, 354 Main Street, Kentville.
Historical notes about the Kentville Electric Commission

1998 January 28

PSINet Buys Out iSTAR Internet Inc.

Offer to Purchase For Cash all of the outstanding common shares of iSTAR Internet Inc. by PSINet Inc., at 75¢ per common share.

Highlights of the Offer:
Offer expires 12:01am Vancouver time on January 28, 1998.

[Excerpted from a three-column display advertisement in The Globe and Mail, 22 Jan. 1998]
[In January 1998 iSTAR Inc. was a major supplier of Internet connection services in Nova Scotia.]

2 February 1998
iSTAR internet inc. today reported that on Wednesday, 28 January 1998, PSINet took up and paid for approximately 21,700,000 shares of iSTAR stock under the take-over bid announced on 24 December 1997.  The terms of the bid provide that PSINet pay 75¢ (Canadian) cash for all of the issued and outstanding common shares of iSTAR.  The shares taken up through January 28th represent approximately 69% of the outstanding shares, and PSINet has extended the expiry of the offer until 12:01am (Vancouver time) on 10 February 1998.  iSTAR internet incorporated's shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol WWW.

PSINet and iSTAR have also entered into a management contract which enables PSINet Limited, the wholly-owned subsidiary of PSINet, to operate iSTAR's day-to-day, ordinary course of business prior to the expiry of the offer.  As part of the management agreement, PSINet Limited is required to provide funding to iSTAR in order to permit it to pay its normal course liabilities and indebtedness incurred during the period in which PSINet Limited is the manager and to fund any payments of existing liabilities or enter into arrangements as may be necessary so as to ensure that iSTAR's business is carried on, in all material respects, in the normal course in accordance with prudent practices.
[Source: Press release dated 2 February 1998]

PSINet has acquired iSTAR.  "With a network designed specifically for Internet traffic, PSINet has led the Internet revolution since 1989.  PSINet now joins with iSTAR, Canada's leading Internet provider, to offer solutions that truly reflect the needs of Canadians doing business at home and wordlwide...  PSINet and PSINet logo are trademarks of PSINet Incorporated, used under license to PSINet Limited.  iSTAR and iSTAR logo are trademarks of iSTAR Internet Incorporated, used under license to PSINet Limited."
[Excerpted from a full-page advertisement in The Globe and Mail, 4 February 1998]

9 February 1998
PSINet Inc. announced today that further to its taking up the 21,695,345 common shares of iSTAR Internet Inc. at 75¢ per share, which were validly deposited under the Offer made on 6 January 1998 to purchase all of the outstanding common shares of iSTAR, PSINet Inc. took up all of the 1,074,089 additional common shares delivered pursuant to notices of guaranteed delivery received on or before 28 January 1998 under the Offer.  Finally, PSINet Inc. took up an additional 230,483 common shares, pursuant to the Offer, as extended.  With the acquisition of all of the above noted shares, PSINet Inc. owns approximately 72.8% of the outstanding common shares of iSTAR.
[Source: Press release dated 9 February 1998]

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