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

Chapter 38
1998 July

1998 July

Canada's Oldest Steam Fire Engine
135th Anniversary

This year marks the 135th anniversary of Canada's oldest steam-powered fire engine, the Amoskeag, and its 25th year on display at the Firefighters' Museum in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The coal-fired Amoskeag, manufactured in New Hampshire by one of the best-known names in fire equipment, had the ability to pump 400-500 gallons 1800-2200 litres of water per minute. Today, 135 years later, the average pumper in Nova Scotia delivers about 850 gallons 3800 litres per minute. After retiring from the Saint John, New Brunswick, fire department in the 1920s, the Amoskeag was briefly used by the city works department, and then became part of Mr. Albert Perry's private collection. In 1973, The Firefighters' Museum of Nova Scotia bought the Amoskeag and brought it to Yarmouth. The single-cylinder fire engine is still decorated in its original colours of red and black paint, with polished brass and copper surfaces. The machine was pulled by a team of horses.
[Excerpted from the July-August 1998 issue of MuseumNews, published by the Nova Scotia Department of Educatuion and Culture.]

OnLine Book: A History of the Growth of the Steam Engine by Robert H. Thurston, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1878

Chapter VI, The Steam-Engine of Today (1878)
(Download this file, and do a search on "amoskeag" or on "steam fire engine")

Possible sources of additional information
about Amoskeag Fire Engines

Amoskeag Reserve Engine Company, New Hampshire Chapter SPAAMFAA, P.O. Box 307, Lebanon, New Hampshire   03766
[ SPAAMFAA refers to the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America]

The Hall of Flame firefighting museum

Steam Engine Library A wonderful online reference library for those interested in steam engines and the men who developed them in the early days. Eighteen books now online, and more in the works.

1998 July

Nova Scotia Power Inc.
Exports Electrical Energy
to Maine, Maryland, and Quebec

In July 1998, the National Energy Board approved Nova Scotia Power's license to export electrical energy to purchasers outside Nova Scotia. "This license and the open transmission system in New Brunswick now allow us to sell energy beyond Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and into the United States. Recently we have provided power directly to Maine, Maryland and Quebec." This is a major change from the former arrangement.

Before this, it was always legally forbidden for any electric utility in Nova Scotia to sell electrical energy to anyone outside the province, except for sales made at the provincial boundary. For example, if someone in Maine wanted to buy electricity from Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia was required to sell that energy to New Brunswick Power at the border between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. NB Power could then carry this energy over its transmission lines to the Maine border, and sell it. There would never be any direct arrangement between a seller (or buyer) in Nova Scotia, and a buyer (or seller) in Maine — or in any other state or province.

Source: NS Power website
NSPI interim report for the six months ended June 30, 1998

ICS Comment:
This is just a guess, but I strongly suspect that the electricity sold to Maryland had a lot to do with the severe heat wave experienced during the latter half of June, and continuing into July, over the entire southern states region, and the mid-west, eastern, and New England regions of the USA On several occasions in late June and early July, CNN carried news reports about soaring electricity costs as electric utilities throughout those regions struggled to meet the heavy demand caused by sustained air-conditioning loads on top of all other electric power usage. CNN reported on the cost of a "unit" of electrical energy. (There was no explanation of just what this mysterious "unit" was, but the context made it obvious to informed observers that this was a megawatt-hour.)

For decades, electric companies have been operating a system in which electric generating capacity is bought and sold on a day-by-day, and often on an hour-by-hour basis. Companies which happen to have a generation surplus can offer to sell, and any company requiring an additional supply can choose to buy. The price is determined by a negotiation based on the selling company's cost of generation at the plant having the capacity being offered for sale, and the buying company's highest incremental generation cost at the moment, with transmission losses being taken into account.

According to CNN, the usual going rate for a "unit" (one megawatt-hour) is in the range of $30 to $40 (in US dollars), but during the June-July 1998 heat wave, electricity prices went much higher. There were some hours on some days when the cost of one "unit" of electric energy went as high as $3500 to $4000, and on June 26 there was one report of the cost of a megawatt-hour in the Chicago area as high as $4900. This is about 140 times the usual rate, and illustrates the desperate need for any electric generating capacity that could be found, cost being (apparently) no object. All kinds of old, high-cost plants were being fired up. Also, there was an opportunity for far-distant generating plants — which normally would be shut out by the large losses associated with long-distance transmission — to sell electricity no matter how far away the buyer was from the source. My guess is, it was this situation that made it possible for Nova Scotia Power to sell to Maryland. The transmission losses associated with carrying power from Cape Breton to Maryland normally would make any such sale not feasible.

The matter of transmission losses is complicated. Electrical energy, sold by one company to another far away, can be carried in two ways — by displacement (which often reduces the overall loss), or by increasing transmission line loading (which substantially increases loss). In a long-haul case, such as Cape Breton to Maryland, the power generated in Cape Breton does not actually travel all the way to Maryland. What happens is — one of the seller's generating plants increases its power production by the agreed amount, say 20 megawatts, and at the same time one of the buyer's generating plants reduces its power production by the agreed amount less the calculated transmission loss, say 17 megawatts. The calculation of the appropriate loss allowance is done by a central dispatch computer for the system loading existing at that hour. The details of what happens, line by line, along the way — which lines experienced an increased loading, and which experienced a decreased loading — often are very complex, and are known only to a very few people. An adequate discussion of transmission losses for these inter-utility power sales would take many pages.

1998 July

Television Channels Available
by Direct-to-Home (DTH) Satellite Transmission

In the summer of 1998, two companies, licensed by the CRTC, were delivering to homes and motels and taverns and others in Nova Scotia (and elsewhere in Canada), television signals delivered directly to the customer's receiving dish from a satellite "parked" in the Clarke orbit above the Earth's equator. At this time, the satellite transmitters were powerful enough to require a receiving dish only about 60cm in diamter. The two companies were Star Choice's DTH service went into operation nationally on 28 April 1997.

ExpressVu's DTH service went into operation nationally on 10 September 1997.

ExpressVu's website:
Using a 60 cm dish and a set-top receiver, ExpressVu subscribers receive more than 100 channels of Canadian and U.S. networks and specialty channels, sports and out-of-market programming. In the fall of 1998, when ExpressVu moves to its high powered DBS satellite, it will offer the equivalent of 200 channels, on a smaller 45 cm (18 inch) dish, which will be more than any other cable or satellite service in Canada. Express is owned by BCE Inc. of Montreal. [BCE Inc. is the large company that owns Bell Canada Enterprises, the largest telephone company in Canada.]

In late June 1998, each company claimed about 85,000 - 87,000 paying subscribers across Canada.

List of television channels available to homes in Nova Scotia in July 1998, from Star Choice digital satellite television.  Also other details, such as Star Choice's channel "packages."  [There is a myth that one of the main advantages of DTH satellite television delivery (as opposed to cable) is that DTH subscribers can choose just the channels they want (while cable companies force subscribers to take packages).  In fact, DTH companies also force subscribers to take packages.]

I cannot provide a list of the channels available from ExpressVu, because ExpressVu's website does not provide a list of the channels it carries. On 27 July 1998, I looked through their website for best part of an hour, and found no list of channels carried by ExpressVu.  So I called their toll-free phone number, 1-888-759-3474, and asked where I could find this list online.  I was told that they do not have a channel list online.

They took my mailing address and said they would send me a list by surface mail.  Not even e-mail!  They have more than a dozen programming packages, and they told me I could assemble a complete channel list only by looking at all of these separate packages, one at a time, and writing down the channels included in each package.  If I want to find whether they have a particular channel (for example, ATV, which Star Choice does not have) they say the only way to find out if ExpressVu carries it is to look at each individual programming package — or wait a week for the surface mail to arrive.

Incredible!  But true.

That channel list, mailed by ExpressVu, arrived on 12 August.
See link below.

List of television channels available to homes in Nova Scotia in early August 1998, from ExpressVu digital satellite television. Also other details, such as ExpressVu's channel "packages." [There is a myth that one of the main advantages of DTH satellite television delivery (as opposed to cable) is that DTH subscribers can choose just the channels they want (while cable companies force subscribers to take packages). In fact, DTH companies also force subscribers to take packages.]

Canada's Two DTH Companies
Pass 100,000-Customer Mark

29 July 1998

Canada's two direct-to-home satellite television companies both claim to have now signed up more than 100,000 subscribers each. They say this proves DTH television is a viable alternative to cable TV. Cable TV delivers the signal to most customers by coaxial cable, with a small fraction of customers receiving the service via so-called 'wireless cable' (short-range low-power wireless transmissions). The two DTH companies are Star Choice Communications Inc. and ExpressVu Inc. Both sell DTH television service to subscribers in Nova Scotia, as well as across Canada. ExpressVu is 100% owned by BCE Inc. of Montreal. Star Choice is 54% owned by Shaw Communications Inc. http://www.shaw.ca/ of Calgary, Canada's second-largest cable company. Star Choice chairman Brian Neill said his company has overtaken ExpressVu as the leading Canadian DTH company since it dropped the price of its set-top box and dish to $300 from $500 earlier this summer. Star Choice reached the 50,000 subscriber mark on 22 January 1998.
Six days ago, on 24 July, a sales agent of a local retailer offered to sell me a Star Choice set-top box and dish for $999, installed, plus 15% sales tax.

Michael Neuman, president of ExpressVu, said DTH is growing much faster than cable and will pick up speed following the launch, scheduled for 16 September 1998, of a $400,000,000 high-powered satellite by Telesat Canada. ExpressVu and Telesat both are owned by BCE Inc.
Source: Telesat Canada website

The new satellite will be named Nimiq, an Inuit word for any object or force that unites things or binds them together.
Source: Telesat Canada press release

ExpressVu has reserved 17 of the 32 transponders aboard the new satellite, which will double its service to more than 150 channels, allowing it to offer new features, including pay-per-view movies and local TV stations. A transponder receives a signal sent up from Earth, boosts the signal power, and retransmits it back to Earth. It is this retransmitted signal that is received by the customer's dish. Each transponder can carry 7 to 12 digital television channels. Star Choice is expected to announce next week that it will take over the remaining 15 transponders, which had been reserved by a subsidiary of WIC Western International Limited that has since been discontinued. Shaw Communications Inc. of Calgary, Canada's second-biggest cable operator, owns 54% of Star Choice, a move that was approved by the CRTC on 22 December 1997. Shaw recently acquired 52% of WIC. Shaw reported assets of $2,400,000,000 as of 31 August 1997, and can assist in the financing of these expensive DTH facilities.

In the early 1980's, the typical North American backyard dish owner required a receiving dish 3.7 m 10 feet in diameter to receive acceptable television signals. Those dish antennas were used to receive signals in the 4 GHz band, from satellites with transponder amplifiers in the range of 5 watts. Today, DBS antennas [dishes] are as small as 40 cm 15 inches in diameter because they're receiving signals from DBS satellites with 250 watt transponders (when phase combined), at frequencies 3 times that of the early DTH systems. The ability to use small, easy to install antennas [dishes], with mass-produced low cost receivers has grown the market for DTH service by a factor of ten in just a few short years.
The Evolving Role of Satellites in Providing Current and Future Broadband Services by Bradley J. Poulos, 18 June 1997

Both ExpressVu and Star Choice now send their signals to Earth from older, medium-powered Telesat satellites that retransmit a lower-power signal that requires the subscriber to install bigger dishes, 60cm in diameter, compared to the 45cm dish that can operate with the higher-powered signal from the new satellite. Transponder capacity on the new satellite is much more expensive than on the existing medium-powered satellites. Each high-powered transponder has an up-front cost of $4,800,000 plus $150,000 a month rent, compared with no advance payment and $117,000 a month rent on a medium-powered satellite, Mr. Neuman said.

Also on 29 July, Star Choice announced the availability of the 421 B satellite system, which is equipped with a Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 output port. Star Choice is one of the first companies in the world, and the only DTH company in Canada to offer consumers Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 capability. This technology separates sound into six discrete channels providing subscribers with the most advanced surround sound available.

[Excerpted from The Globe and Mail, 30 July 1998,
Star Choice media releases dated 29 July 1998 and earlier,
and other sources.]

1998 July 1

New Payroll Deductions Formulas
for Computer Programs

The federal government has issued new Payroll Deductions Formulas for Computer Programs which take effect on this day. As a result of the federal budget of 24 February 1998, new tax deductions calculations are required for all provinces, territories, and for outside Canada or in Canada beyond the limits of any province effective 1 July 1998. These deduction formulas are used to calculate federal and provincial income tax deductions from employee's pay cheques. The formulas are posted on the Internet at http://www.rc.gc.ca/~paulb/t4127/english/t4127ed.htm and can be downloaded by anyone.

1998 July 1

Cellular Digital Packet Data
Available in Cape Breton

MT&T Mobility's first CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) customer was the RCMP, which signed up for a trial run in Cape Breton to begin on this day. [MT&T Mobility bill stuffer, June 1998]

1998 July 1

Connectivity Statistics

For every 1,000 residents in China, there are 55 phone lines, compared to 626 in the United States, 182 in Russia or 451 in South Korea.
[Source: "China and Net Are Odd Bedfellows" New York Times (CyberTimes), 1 July 1998]

The comparable figure for Nova Scotia is about 758 phone lines per 1,000 population.
This was calculated by estimating the number of telephone customers in Nova Scotia at 720,000 and the population at 950,000. On 31 December 1996, MT&T reported it had 716,521 single party (private-line) customers, and 5,186 multi party (party-line) customers, so the figure 720,000 telephone lines in July 1998 seems reasonable. The population estimate is based on demographic statistics published by the Nova Scotia Department of Finance, and available at http://www.gov.ns.ca/fina/stats.div/publish/facts/1997/fax301.htm

1998 July 1

Changes in Rules Governing
Maintenance and Repair of
Single-line Inside Telephone Wire

On 9 April 1998, Maritime Tel & Tel Limited (MT&T) filed an application with the CRTC for approval of tariff revisions relating to the maintenance and repair of single-line inside wire. On 12 May 1998, the Commission approved the proposed tariff revisions, to become effective on 1 July 1998. The Commission directed MT&T to provide a billing insert, within three months of the date of this Order [12 May 1998], to inform subscribers of single-line inside wire tariff provisions and company practices. The insert is to clarify subscribers' responsibility for inside wire and their competitive options for installation and maintenance. The revised arrangement for the diagnosis of inside wire trouble and the provision of a working jack or demarcation device with jack, at no charge in the case of inside wire trouble, is to be explained.
[Source: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/TELECOM/ORDER/1998/O98457_0.TXT ]

That billing insert was sent with MT&T's July 1998 bills. It contained this: As of July 1, 1998, if you have single-line residence or business telephone service, you are responsible for the installation and repair of telephone wiring inside your residence or business... A detailed wiring guide is available at any of the authorized MT&T distributors listed in the front of your MT&T white pages, or you can download the guide from our website www.mtt.ca.
Whoever wrote that billing insert appears to be someone who has little familiarity with the Internet, and knows naught about the difficulty a viewer has in trying to find a certain special webpage which is located deep within a big website, especially a complex website like MT&T's, designed by someone who knows the site well and forgets that others may have problems decoding the oblique links and uninformative graphics.

If you want a demonstration of these problems, find someone who has used a browser but is relatively new at it, and ask that person to find MT&T's wiring guide given only the information provided by MT&T, that it is located at www.mtt.ca. If that person goes to www.mtt.ca expecting to find there a link labelled Wiring Guide, he/she will be disappointed. If that person is familiar with search engines, and happens to see the tiny "search/site map" link off in a corner, he/she may decide to try the search feature. I tried it. I did a search using "wiring guide" and got 15 hits. None of these led to the document described by the billing insert as a wiring guide. On 11 August 1998, I sent a comment to MT&T's Digital Soapbox, http://www.mtt.ca/AtHome/LetsTalk/index.html

After a lot of wandering around in the dark, I found it more or less by accident. To assist those who don't want to spend a lot of time wandering into blind alleys (each supplied with lots of slow-downloading graphics), that wiring guide is at http://www.mtt.ca/AtHome/Services/InsideWire/index.html

1998 July 1

VIA Rail Conductors Eliminated

At midnight last night, VIA Rail eliminated the 241 conductors who used to run their passenger trains across Canada, including the six-days-a-week Ocean between Halifax and Montreal. "Their job was swallowed up by technology," said VIA spokesman Malcolm Andrews, who added that the role played by conductors will be taken over partly by the engineers in the locomotive cab and partly by specially trained service staff in the passenger coaches. VIA will save about $17,500,000 a year by making this change. The Crown-owned passenger railway has signed a three-year contract with its 267 locomotive engineers, giving them a 2% increase in each year with a premium for additional duties, and improvements in their benefits and pension plans. That deal is retroactive to 1 January 1998. Locomotive engineers with VIA currently earn between $80,000 and $100,000 a year, slightly more than the conductors. VIA Rail locomotives have two qualified engineers in the cab, who rotate their duties — one will do the driving while the other makes written records of dispatchers' orders as the train encounters the usual special requirements of railway operations, from track maintenance crews to other trains. For more than a century, the passenger train conductor has been the person in charge of the train — telling the engineer when to start from the station, checking on train orders for such special circumstances as "meets" (using a siding to pass a train travelling in the opposing direction), checking equipment condition including wheel bearings, dragging brake links, air brakes, and monitoring car temperatures and associated heating and air conditioning equipment. If a passenger train ran late for any reason, it was the conductor who negotiated with the dispatcher to make suitable arrangements for passengers ticketed to transfer to connecting transportation. The conductor also collected tickets and dealt with unruly passengers. But, with modern electronic information technology, the engineer is able to handle most of these jobs from the locomotive cab. Mr. Andrews said the railway now uses special sensors to detect many equipment malfunctions — for example, trackside detectors installed at intervals check every passing train for overheating wheel bearings, and then use a digitized voice over railway radio channels to report to the train crew. The train crew, located at various places along the train, from the locomotive to the last car, can easily communicate with each other at any time.
[Excerpted from The Globe and Mail, 1 July 1998]

1998 July 2

Cat Ferry Carries Many Passengers

Today, officials with Bay Ferries, owner and operator of The Cat, the high-speed ferry between Bar Harbor, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, said that preliminary figures indicate ferry traffic on this route has more than doubled in the first month of The Cat's service. Annette Higgins, a spokesperson for Bay Ferries, said initial reports show The Cat carried more than 19,000 passengers in June, compared to 9,900 on the MV Bluenose, which operated on this route until last year. The high-speed ferry was making one round trip a day for the first two weeks in June, then on 15 June started making two round trips each day. It carried 6,000 vehicles last month, compared to 2,700 on the Bluenose.

Meanwhile, The Catalonia, identical twin to The Cat, which will operate in Italy, recently broke a transatlantic passenger ferry record. The old record time was 3 days, 7 hours, and 54 minutes. Bay Ferries general manager Don Cormier confirmed a new record was set during the June crossing, but the new record time has not been made public as yet. "We understand The Catalonia was successful in its attempt to win the Hales Trophy," Mr. Cormier told The Chronicle-Herald in an interview. The Hales Trophy was established in 1935 to encourage innovations in passenger transport. The Catalonia's crossing from New York to Tarifa, Spain, covered 5,000 kilometres. Two months ago, The Cat made a 15,000 kilometre trip from Tasmania, across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and north-eastward up the Atlantic coastline to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, but, Mr. Cormier said, Pacific Ocean records are unattainable because of refuelling requirements. "It's also very expensive to undertake these attempts." [The fuel consumption of a ship varies with the square of the speed. Over a given distance, twice the speed consumes four times the fuel, and there are other expenses associated with sustained high-speed operation.]

Both ferries are 91 metres in length, carry 900 passengers, and can travel at 90 kilometres per hour loaded. They were designed and built in Tasmania by InCat Australia, the same company which supplied the high-speed catamaran for the James Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies.

[Excerpted from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 3 July 1998]
International Conference on High Speed Passenger Craft, The Royal Institution of Naval Architects, 1993

1998 July 6

The Long Distance Price War Intensifies

Sprint Canada Reduces Long Distance Telephone Rates

Long distance business in Canada
now worth eight billion dollars a year
($900,000 an hour, 24/7)

Sprint Canada Incorporated, which ten days ago became Canada's largest alternative [non-Stentor] long-distance company, today announced a flat-rate monthly payment option for long-distance telephone calls to anywhere in Canada. This is a flat (not timed) long-distance rate, which allows people to talk without being conscious of a meter running somewhere deep within the phone company's system, clicking up a charge that will appear on the next bill.

Residential customers — in Nova Scotia and most anywhere else in Canada — will be able to call long distance evenings and weekends, as often as they want, and then to talk as long as they like, to anywhere in Canada, for one low monthly flat rate. This is the second major price change in less than six months in the $8,000,000,000 a year long distance business, which has three major companies competing nationally and, in Nova Scotia, about a dozen smaller players.

Sprint Canada, which prides itself on being a market leader, intends to shake up the industry once again. Rival Bell Canada tried to upstage Sprint today by releasing details of major discounts on overseas long distance rates for 28 countries.

Sprint's new rate, for residential customers only, offers unlimited, countrywide long distance calling evenings and weekends for a flat fee of $20 a month (plus applicable taxes, which in Nova Scotia is the 15% harmonized sales tax). "We're taking the worry out of the cost of long distance," Philip Bates, Sprint's president, told a news conference today. "Customers can talk as long and as often as they want. No more cutting short your important phone calls." Bates hopes the simplicity of the new plan will attract customers in much the same way Sprint's "The Most" discount plan — 15¢ a minute for anywhere in Canada at any time — has won new clients since February 1997. The new $20 flat rate plan applies Monday to Friday evenings from 6pm to 8am, and weekends from 6pm Friday to 8am Monday. But there's some fine print. The rate for weekday daytime calling jumps to 22¢ a minute, up from 15¢. Calls to the United States cost 22¢ a minute at any time on any day.

Sprint Canada's new plan includes free short calls of ten seconds or less (which is useful when you dial into an answering machine — if you hang up quickly it won't show up on your next telephone bill), and by-the-second billing after the first minute on all calls, features that Sprint has offered in previous long distance rates. Bell and AT&T Canada LDS still time all calls by rounding up to the next highest whole minute (a call lasting 5 minutes 3 seconds will be billed as 6 minutes) — a detail of their billing system that somehow they never quite get around to telling their customers about.

Sprint's new discount plan fills a hole in its lineup by targeting consumers who make most of their long-distance calls in the evenings or on weekends. Previously, Sprint Canada offered one of the cheapest long distance rates through one of the simplest long distance schemes around. That plan, named The Most By The Minute, was introduced two years ago, and gives both business and residential customers 15¢ a minute calling anywhere in Canada, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

But that rate was undercut on 27 September 1997, when AT&T Canada Long Distance Services Company (AT&T Canada LDS) (formerly Unitel Communications Inc.) introduced a cheaper 10¢ rate for weekend calls, effective from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday. AT&T Canada LDS experienced a 47% growth in weekend minutes following this introduction of 10 Cent Weekends. Since the renaming of the company in the fall of 1996 [it used to be Unitel], AT&T Canada's new residential long distance strategy has been responsible for a 57% growth in the number of residential customers, and residential revenues have increased 21% (Q4 1997 over Q4 1996). Also impressive in the intensely competitive long distance business, AT&T Canada LDS says its customers are showing strong loyalty to AT&T Canada's residential service, with churn rates down 32% in the same period.

Keeping the "churn rate" low is vitally important to any long distance company. Churn rate measures the proportion of customers who switch from and to a company. When a customer decides to go elsewhere, money must be spent to find a replacement customer. This expenditure is not productive, since all it accomplishes is staying the same. Lowering the churn rate reduces these unproductive expenditures. For an excellent discussion of churn rates, see http://www.edventure.com/release1/1197.html The Fridge Door.
"Churn — alarmingly high customer loss — bedevils telecom companies, cable TV service operators and online services... The average churn rate for online services and ISPs today is believed to be around 45 percent per year."]

On 28 January 1998, AT&T Canada LDS, based in Halifax, extended the 10¢ rate to weeknights, 7pm to 7am, after it learned Bell had planned to make a similar offer the next day.

AT&T Canada LDS was then second largest company in the long distance business, with Bell being the largest. Bell's plan, named "FirstRate", effective on 29 January 1998, offers 10¢ a minute flat rate calling anywhere in Canada and 20¢ a minute flat rate calling to the U.S., any weeknight 6pm to 8am and all weekend from 6pm Friday to 8am Monday.

On 1 June 1998, Fonorola offered 9¢ a minute flat rate, weekends and weekday evenings. As of that date, Fonorola had just 25 more days to live. On 26 June, Fonorola was taken over by Sprint Canada. On 6 July, Philip Bates, president and chief operating officer of Sprint Canada, dodged questions about whether Sprint Canada will maintain Fonorola's cheaper 9¢ a minute rate all day Saturday and Sunday. "We will offer Fonorola's customers rates that are as good or cheaper, but we're still analyzing their calling patterns."

The effect of those competing prices was to stall Sprint Canada's high rate of growth of revenue. With the option of lower prices for calls when they were most likely to be home, beginning last winter, significant numbers of Sprint Canada residential customers decided to switch to either Bell or AT&T Canada LDS.

Sprint Canada currently provides long distance voice and data and Internet services to more than 1,300,000 residential and business customers, and is making plans to offer local telephone service beginning in 1999.

Sprint Canada Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CallNet Enterprises Inc., is Canada's largest alternative long-distance telecommunications company, offering voice, data and online services nationwide.

CallNet Enterprises Inc. is a rapidly growing publicly owned Canadian company. CallNet owns 100% of Sprint Canada Inc., and an 11% interest in Microcell Telecommunications Inc.

CallNet bought Fonorola ten days ago, paying $1,780,000,000 to obtain full ownership of all Fonorola shares, and then combined Fonorola's operations with Sprint Canada.

This purchase moved Sprint from third largest long distance phone company in Canada, to second largest, pushing AT&T Canada Long Distance Services from second largest to third largest. Relative sizes of these companies is measured by comparing long distance revenues.

The largest long distance phone "company" is a closely-associated group known as Stentor, made up of Bell Canada and associated regional telephone companies, including Maritime Telegraph & Telephone (MT&T) in Nova Scotia. Until 1992, the Stentor group had a monopoly on all long-distance telephone services within Canada.

[Excerpted from The Globe and Mail, 7 July 1998
the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 7 July 1998, and
the Halifax Daily News, 7 July 1998,
a Sprint Canada flyer distributed in The Globe and Mail on 15 July 1998, and
Sprint and Bell and AT&T Canada LDS media releases and websites.]

CallNet Enterprises Inc.

Sprint Canada Inc.

AT&T Canada Long Distance Services

The Stentor Alliance

Bell Canada Inc.

Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Inc.
The Sprint flyer, distributed 15 July, had a cutoff postcard to be filled out and mailed to Sprint (postage paid by Sprint) for use by customers who wanted to sign up for this $20 a month flat rate service. The postcard had an interesting feature: Three check-off boxes for customers to indicate their language preferance:
"I would like to receive all future verbal and written communications in (check one)
    [ ]English   [ ]French   [ ]Chinese."

ICS comment, written 8 July 1998:
No doubt this flat rate innovation is, in large part, attributable to the pressure of competition between the above-named long distance telephone companies, but, it also seems to me to be a response to the enormous threat of a rapidly developing new technology — free Internet long distance telephone service, which is fast becoming a viable option for many people. Over the last couple of months, there have been media reports of several companies getting into the business of selling, at very low flat-rate prices, long distance telephone service which bypasses all the conventional long distance telephone companies, and all long distance charges, by converting the analog voice audio signal to digital form, then sending it in packets over the Internet, reassembling the packets at the destination, converting back to analog, and delivering the voice signal to the destination telephone — in both directions.

For at least two years, some people have been using the Internet for long distance telephone calls, mainly as an experimental curiosity. The process has been notorious for poor audio quality, and unpredictable delays at random points during the conversation, due to congestion on Internet transmission paths. Recently, the technology has improved to the point where audio quality is acceptable, and the inherent random delays have been reduced to a level that many people find tolerable in light of the lack of long distance charges.

Until recently, Internet long distance telephone calls were available only to people who already had a computer fitted with suitable hardware and software, with an Internet connection — these conditions had to be met at both ends of the conversation, and, in addition, the people at both ends had to have compatible software, and had to make advance arrangements for both to be on-line at the same time. Now, there are companies making and selling telephones with the necessary technology built into the phone — you no longer need a computer or even an Internet connection, the regular telephone connection serves the purpose by routing the originating call to a local number supplied with the telephone, at which the transition to the Internet is made. All that is taken care of by the company, at both ends. You buy one of these special telephones, and you can talk to anyone else who has one, anywhere, free of long distance charges, and without making an appointment in advance.

This poses an enormous and imminent threat to all the long distance telephone companies.
This 1990s threat to the conventional telephone companies is reminiscent of the threat, posed in the late 1800s, to the mainstream telecommunications companies of the day — the wealthy and powerful telegraph companies, such as Western Union — by a new and unimpressive technology then struggling to survive, invented by an obscure Scottish teacher of deaf children. In 1878 Western Union had an opportunity to buy that patent for a measly $100,000, but, failing to recognize the threat, refused. In the 1990s, Western Union is a faint shadow of what it once was, because its senior management could not see the shape of the future.

Postscript, written 15 July 1998:
In today's The Globe and Mail, this sentence appears on page B21: "We can bypass the telephone company." It was attributed to Paul Lum, general manager of Vancouver-based Internet Gateway Corporation, an Internet service provider.
Reference: Internet Gateway Corporation

Mr. Lum was not discussing long distance service; he was talking about the local link between the customer (the end-user) and the Internet, a link which now almost always is supplied by the local telephone company through a copper twisted-pair line. [My connection to the Internet today is through a copper twisted-pair telephone circuit. I wonder what it will be ten years from now. Even five years...]

The Globe article was mainly about WaveRider Communications Incorporated of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, which has developed a wireless telecommunications device as a solution to the Last Mile Problem — the communications link between the telephone company's local exchange and the customer's home or office.
Reference: WaveRider Communications Incorporated

WaveRider makes a high-speed modem that allows users to access the Internet without wires. WaveRider's device, known as the NCL135, uses radio waves to provide a communications link that operates at speed of about a megabit per second. The NCL135 is suited for bigger organizations which otherwise often would use a T1 line leased from the telephone company for about $2,000 to $3,000 (Canadian) a month.

WaveRider is now developing a modem device designed to provide wireless Internet access to individual homes and small businesses in the North American market. This Last Mile Solution can be hooked directly to the parallel port in personal computers.
Reference: Last Mile Solution

Being wireless (radio) it needs no metallic connection — no wires — between the computer and the local telephone company's system. The customer's computer can be up to seven kilometres from the ISP's wireless base station — in other words, the ISP's base station covers a circular area about 7 km in radius. It is expected to be available by the end of 1998, to be leased to customers through Internet service providers for around $25 (Canadian) per month. (All of these prices are before sales tax.) Its top transmission speed is 135 kilobits per second, more than twice as fast as the 57.6 kilobits per second speed of the top-of-the-line modems now available for use with personal computers. That rental rate of around $25 a month compares well with the cost of a second telephone line into a home whose residents want two separate lines, one for Internet access for hours at a time, and the other for regular telephone service. [For comparison, my home telephone line now costs exactly $25.00 per month (plus 15% HST).]

So the telephone companies now are threatened on two fronts, long distance and local service. In the local telephone service market [technically known as the Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs)] the threat has been hovering on the distant horizon for years, in the form of cable television companies which have been talking about using their coaxial cable distribution systems to get into the business of supplying local telephone service in competition with the established telephone companies such as MT&T.

This has always been a sort of some-day-we-will-get-around-to-it-but-not-right-now discussion. Now, and suddenly, there is an entirely new threat, from this wireless modem, which does not have to wait for the cable TV companies to spend the large amounts of money required to convert their one-way coaxial systems to the two-way operation necessary for them to be able to offer local telephone service. Later in 1999, any ISP (Internet service provider) can decide to make this service available in Halifax, or Bridgewater, or Sydney, or Antigonish, or Wolfville, without any massive rebuilding of pole-mounted cable TV lines, and any customer who wants to can lease one of these wireless modems. It will be that easy, and that inexpensive (compared to the alternatives), to "bypass the telephone company" for local service — at least for Internet access. But when Internet access is obtained, can digital telephone service be far behind?

Sometimes I wonder if today's local telephone companies feel like the streetcar companies of the early 1920s, watching the inexorable rise of competition from automobiles. In 1920, Nova Scotia had electric railway (streetcar) lines providing frequent, low-cost passenger transportation in Halifax, Sydney - Glace Bay, Yarmouth, and Trenton - New Glasgow - Stellarton - Westville. By 1950, all had disappeared forever.

11 August 1998:
The rise of the Internet has brought into vogue a more efficient method for transmitting phone calls... Using so-called "packet technology," voice and data is translated into a digital format and then broken into smaller pieces, which take the most efficient routes to the receiving end, where the information is reassembled. This method can be used across traditional copper wires, fiber-optic lines and via satellite... The more efficient Internet-based technique is getting the attention of Bell Atlantic and other major phone companies...
Excerpted from "Bell Atlantic strike is flash point for wrenching technological change" in The San Francisco Chronicle, 10 August 1998.

1998 July 8

Modification of Bravo Channel License

In its Decision 98-213, dated this day, the CRTC approved a request by CHUM Limited to suspend for Bravo cable television channel, the conditions of licence on sex-role portrayal and the depiction of violence in television programming as long as the licensee of the specialty service Bravo remains a member in good standing of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. This change applies across Canada, including Bravo transmissions within Nova Scotia.

1998 July 9

The Globe Goes to Colour

Today, The Globe and Mail used colour on its front page for the first time, in the copies printed in Nova Scotia, and all across Canada.

In my copy, the colour registration was excellent
on all pages where multiple colours were used.

1998 July 10

Halifax Regional Water Commission
Tackles Year 2000 Computer Problem

Sealed proposals plainly marked on the envelope Proposal for Y2K Project Management will be received by Carl D. Yates, General Manager of the Halifax Regional Water Commission, until 12:00 noon, Friday, 10 July 1998, at 6380 Lady Hammond Road, Halifax. All proposals will be evaluated, and the successful bidder will be selected no later than 24 July 1998.

The Halifax Regional Water Commission (HRWC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). The HRWC is a regulated public utility under the Public Utilities Act and is regulated by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. The HRWC is responsible for potable water and fire protection (hydrants, etc.) within the urban core of HRM; it also operates six small systems outside the urban core. HRWC has 175 full time employees working within five departments, finance and customer service, engineering, plant operations, operations, and human resources. HRWC has three regional operation offices; the West Region comprising the former City of Halifax, Lakeside, and Timberlea is served from the office at 6380 Lady Hammond Road, Halifax; the Central Region comprising the Bedford - Sackville and Windsor Junction area operates from a depot at 506 Sackville Drive, Lower Sackville; and the East Region comprising the former City of Dartmouth and certain areas of the former Municipality of Halifax County served by the former Dartmouth Water Utility, operates from facilities at 11A Acadia Street, Dartmouth. A new operations facility for the East Region is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion in November 1998. The office at Lady Hammond Road also serves as the administrative headquarters for HRWC. In addition, HRWC operates the J. Douglas Kline Water Supply Plant at Pockwock Lake, and the East Region treatment facilities located at Lake Lamont, and Lake Major. A new water treatment plant at Lake Major is scheduled for completion in December 1998.

The Halifax Regional Water Commission has formed a Y2K Project Team which is chaired by the General Manager, and has been working on various aspects of Y2K compliance throughout the organization. The HRM and HRWC retained Terasys Incorporated of Napierville, Illinois, to conduct a high level strategic assessment. Terasys prepared an assessment for each of HRM and HRWC. The HRWC's strategic assessment is dated 19 April 1998. Using the strategic assessment as a foundation, HRWC intends to establish a Y2K Project Management Office to be operated out of the HRWC headquarters on Lady Hammond Road, and is now seeking proposals for the management of the Y2K Project Management Office, including an individual who will take direct responsibility as Y2K Manager. The existing Y2K Project Team has been working on various aspects of Y2K compliance throughout the organization. Recently, HRWC contracted the service of a COBOL programmer to assist in certain aspects of its Y2K conversion project.

[Excerpted from an 11cm × 11cm display advertisement in the Halifax Daily News, 24 June 1998, and other sources.]

1998 July 10

Cobequid Pass Transponder Subsidy Ends

Effective 10 July 1998, the subsidy to purchase the E-pass transponder for passenger cars using Cobequid Pass came to an end. Until 5:00pm, 10 July, the E-pass could still be purchased at the subsidized rate of $15.00 [plus 15% sales tax]. After that, the E-pass could be purchased for the regular price [not stated in the ad]. The E-pass is an electronic device that automatically debits toll fares from a user's prepaid account. For motorists with E-passes, the tolls are discounted for both commercial and passenger vehicles. The ad included the names of two companies: Atlantic Highways Management Corporation, and Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation.
[Excerpted from a display advertisement in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 2 July 1998]

1998 July 10

Some Real Tough Issues
Y2K in Community Services Department
Nova Scotia Government

The Legislature's Standing Committee on Community Services
10 July 1998

Ron L'Esperance, the Deputy Minister of Community Services:
We have a well-developed Y2K team in the department.  I have an excellent outside consultant who we have in and have had in for a number of months now, but if, for example, we are going to continue to run the old mainframe, whether it runs precisely the FB program or whether it runs a new program, if we are going to continue to use that mainframe technology, we are, again, days away from a decision around the Y2K compliance issue and the kind of if-then-decisions re where we go with the particular problem.

...There are also pockets in the province where there are real economic challenges, real employment challenges, and the technology has shown — I am not going to put much finer a point on that, other than to say that we have some real tough issues that we are grappling with in relation to technology and the Y2K problem, and so forth.

[Source: Standing Committee on Community Services, 10 July 1998]

540 days remaining before 1 January 2000.

1998 July 11

ATV & ASN Off Air Three Hours

A major thunderstorm hit Metro Halifax on July 11. The storm began at dawn and lasted most of the day, bringing heavy rains with intense lightning and thunder. Some city streets and homes were flooded. Eleven homes were struck by lightning. Local radio stations were knocked off the air at times. Television stations ATV and ASN were off the air for about three hours after catch basins on the broadcaster's bottom floor overflowed, forcing the staff to shut down the station's emergency generator. Flooding was in every room, including the station's power room. 87 millimetres of rain had fallen in the 24 hours before 10:30pm of that day.
On The Air in Halifax
"the place to get the most information on the happenings with the radio and television stations from Metro Halifax and other areas of the Maritimes..."

Page of Links to Websites of Halifax Radio and Television Stations
    http://members.xoom.com/coast/index3.htm CHNS, CHFX, CJCH, Q104, SUN FM, KIXX, CKDU, CBC Radio One, CBC Television, ATV and CTV

1998 July 11

Site Work Begins at
Point Tupper Natural Gas Liquids
Fractionation Plant

Sable Offshore Energy Incorporated (SOE) contractors started site work this week for the natural gas liquids fractionation plant on the Statia Terminals Canada Inc. property at Point Tupper. J&T van Zutphen of Port Hood will employ about forty people over the next four months, on the clearing, earthworks, and site preparation for the plant, for propane and butane storage, and loading facilities for trucks and railcars. The plant is expected to cost about $50,000,000, not including pipelines. Foundation work is expected to begin in late August, with steel and pipe erection beginning in September. Plant equipment will probably begin arriving on site in October. Mechanical completion of the fractionation plant is expected in May 1999, followed by plant commissioning tests and start of regular operations in November 1999.

The Point Tupper Fractionation Plant is planned to process an average of about 20,000 barrels 3,200,000 litres a day of natural gas liquids, which will arrive at the plant through a pipeline from the Goldboro Gas Processing Facility in Guysborough County. The plant is expected to produce about 10,500 barrels 1,670,000 litres a day of condensate (light oil), about 6,250 barrels 990,000 litres a day of propane, and about 3,250 barrels 540,000 litres a day of butane. Propane, butane, and condensate will be sold in international markets and to Nova Scotian bulk distributors.

[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News, 11 July 1998]

1998 July 12

Y2K Makes it to the Top of the Front Page

First time in Nova Scotia

On this day, the Year 2000 computer problem made it to the top of the front page of The Sunday Daily News, the first time it had reached this prominent position in any Nova Scotia newspaper. At the top of the front page, readers saw:

QEII loss up again
Keating blames Y2K, labor deals for jump in deficit

The story, on page 4, included this: "Contributing to the hospital's financial troubles, Keating said, is $20,000,000 budgeted to fix the Year 2000 computer problem..." Charles Keating is the chairman of the board of directors of the QEII hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia's largest hospital.
[The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 12 July 1998]

While this was the first for a newspaper edited in Nova Scotia, The Globe and Mail's National Edition, including the 25,000 or so copies printed in Nova Scotia, had placed the Year 2000 computer problem at the top of its front page as early as 4 February 1998, when the headline at the top of page A1 read:
Year 2000 Crackdown Urged
Ignoring computer problem should mean
no loans or insurance, business group says

1998 July 12

Y2K Bug Not An Oversight

The Sunday Daily News
Letter to the Editor
To the editor:

In the article titled Millennium Misgivings (The Sunday Daily News, July 5), we read that the notorious Year 2000 computer software problem "originated because of an oversight by some computer programmers in the '50s."

Not true. It was not an oversight.

My dictionary defines "oversight" as a failure to notice, or inadvertence.

There was nothing inadvertent about that 1960s decision. There was no failure to notice what was being done. At the time, we all knew very well that two-digit years could not be used forever.

Back in the 1960s, and continuing well into the 1970s, data-storage space in computers was very limited. Every byte counted.

This is easy to forget in 1998, when hard drive data-storage space costs about six cents per megabyte, and we all speak casually of hundreds of megabytes, and even tens of gigabytes, of space. In the 1960s, every software designer had to spend a substantial proportion of his or her time in a continuing effort to minimize the use of memory. Individual bytes were carefully considered at every step of production of all software.

In the 1960s, as computers began to be used for everyday commercial purposes, the earliest business applications were for routine clerical operations such as payroll and accounts receivable, which are inherently date-intensive applications. In the 1960s, there was a choice to be made about the format of date data - should years be stored as two digits or four? In the 1960s, nobody spent much time agonizing over that decision. The choice was easy. Go for two-digit years. Saving those two bytes — two multiplied by the thousands of date entries in even a modest data file — was crucial.

Even using 1998 hindsight, it was the right decision at that time, in those circumstances. This remained true well into the 1970s, and a strong argument could be made for saving those two bytes even into the early 1980s. From personal experience, as recently as 1983, I chose to use the two-digit year format for a new, stand-alone suite of 44 software modules to operate a high-school class-scheduling system. I knew at the time this format could not be used beyond 1999, but the system had to run on a computer with just 32 kilobytes of RAM (yes, 32 kilobytes) and no hard drive, and there were no bytes to waste on four-digit years.

In the 1960s, when those decisions were being made, it was widely recognized the two-digit year would have a relatively short-term usefulness. We all knew that, come the 1990s, something would have to be done about it.

But, in the 1960s, 1999 was far away, and the cost and scarcity of storage space was an immediate problem. We all went for the short form. That was not an oversight, it was simply unavoidable. And nobody dreamed the software being written then would still be in use 30 years later.

If anyone wants to use "oversight" in this context, it can far more accurately be applied to the people in charge of computer departments who are only now, in the summer of 1998, belatedly realizing something really has to be done.

As early as 1993, serious warnings were published, written by competent people, with detailed descriptions of the problem and what needed to be done. Those warnings have been repeated frequently for years. Yet, in the summer of 1998, decisionmakers are still dithering.

I have a letter, dated Jan. 29, 1998, on the letterhead of the Nova Scotia Technology and Science Secretariat, the department responsible for managing the provincial government's response to the Y2K problem, which, referring to the Y2K problem in the government's computer systems, states: "At the same time, we'll need to measure our efforts in terms of our ability to secure the financial resources we will need."

I read that sentence as meaning the decision-makers are still reluctant to allocate the funds needed to do what needs to be done. They are still putting it off until tomorrow — or, more likely, until after the next cabinet shuffle when it will be someone else's problem.

It is instructive to read, in Hansard, May 27, 1998, (page 350) the government's explanation of what it is doing about Y2K.

This statement contains just 254 words.

It is a textbook example of bafflegab.

The problem isn't from a decades-old oversight by computer programmers. The problem is from recent choices made by department managers, CEOs, and cabinet ministers who refuse to accept that money must be allocated now.

Ivan Smith
Via the Internet

[The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 12 July 1998]

1998 July 13

Remote Message Toll Saver Rate
Takes Effect

CRTC Telecom Order 98-591, issued 16 June 1998, approved MT&T's application, filed through Bell Canada, for tariff revisions to General Tariff Item 2025, Integrated Voice Messaging Service (IVMS), to enhance both the switch-based feature and mailbox components of Call Answer by adding Remote Message Indicator or Toll Saver which enables a customer to avoid toll charges or payphone charges if there are no new messages in the mailbox when calling home. This revised tariff went into effect on 13 July 1998.
[Source: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/TELECOM/ORDER/1998/O98591_0.TXT]

1998 July 15

Lunenburg Queens
Regional Development Agency Website

The Lunenburg Queens Regional Development Agency has launched a website at http://www.lqrda.ns.ca/ which is designed to be an introduction to the region for community groups, small businesses, and foreign investors. The site includes information about the South Shore of Nova Scotia, and about the LQRDA's history, staff, and current projects. Future plans for the site include translation into other languages, beginning with German.
[Excerpted from The Bridgewater Bulletin, 15 July 1998]

1998 July 16

CKEN Applies for Power Reduction

Annapolis Valley Radio Limited, Kentville, has made application (199801304) to the CRTC to amend the broadcasting licence of radio station CKEN Kentville, by decreasing the night-time transmitter power from 1,000 to 750 watts. The licensee also proposes a change in the mode of operation from a directional to a non-directional antenna system to improve coverage towards the north. The CRTC notes that the proposed changes will result in a modest change in the locations of the existing authorized contours. The application is available for public examination during normal office hours, at:

Annapolis Valley Radio Ltd.
29 Oakdene Avenue
Kentville, Nova Scotia   B4N 1H5

The deadline for interventions is 20 August 1998.
[Source: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/BCASTING/NOTICE/1998/P9868_0.TXT]

Annapolis Valley Radio Limited website

1998 July 17

Live From St. Petersburg

Beginning at noon St. Petersburg time — at 5:00am Atlantic Daylight Time — I watched the funeral service for Czar Nicholas II of Russia, with his wife, three daughters, and four family servants, live from the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. CNN (channel 28 on my local analog coaxial cable system) carried the service continuously (no commercial breaks) from 5:00am to 6:35am. CBS (channel 4 locally) carried it from 5:00am to 5:55am, with several lengthy commercial breaks. The two channels carried the same video feed, with associated audio, from the Cathedral, but had separate audio commentaries. Television viewers had a far better view of the proceedings than anyone in the Cathedral. Portable video cameras were on the scene, feeding directly into the international television circuits. The portable cameras, which had no trailing cables, had remarkable access, especially during the process of lowering the nine coffins, one at a time, with ropes, into the crypt, when our view was closer and clearer than I would have thought possible, such as when they nearly dropped the second coffin. As part of the coverage, there was an interview, taped the previous day, with an elderly person who had clear personal recollections of the Czar's reign — making the point, in a most striking way, that the transition from the semi-feudal days of Russia's last Czar to modern world-wide instantaneous television news delivery happened within one lifetime.

1998 July 20

Largest Container Ship
Ever to Call at a North American Port

One of the largest container ships in the world, Regina Maersk, 81,488 gross registered tonnes, entered Halifax Harbour this day, making its first stop in North America. It is the largest container ship ever to stop at any North American port. Halifax is the only port on the east coast of North America capable of docking this ship when it is fully loaded. With a depth of 18 metres 60 feet at low tide, Halifax has one of the world's deepest harbours, and has no ice in winter. The Port of Halifax is the first inbound port and the last outbound port on the North American continent, enabling the shortest ocean voyage for ships operating on the North Atlantic. Regina Maersk was on its way to Newark, New Jersey, and had to drop off some of its load in Halifax to lighten the ship enough so it could safely enter Newark's port, which has less water depth than is available at Halifax. Regina Maersk's North American schedule on this introductory voyage was Longer than the Eiffel Tower's height, Regina Maersk was built in 1996 and represents the first of a series of 15 of the world's largest containerships built at the A.P. Moller Group's shipyard — Odense Steel Shipyard in Denmark. Fully laden, Regina Maersk has a draft of 14.5 metres 47.5 feet and requires safe navigation water depths of 16 metres 52 feet (fully loaded), as compared with previous generation vessels at 14 metres 47 feet.

Regina Maersk can carry 6,000 TEU (Twenty foot Equivalent Unit) containers, compared to the 4,000 TEU capacity of the largest previous ship design. The 6,000 TEU capacity can be composed of a variety of containers — 20 foot, 40 foot and 45 foot — dry freight as well as up to 700 forty-foot reefer (refrigerated) containers. The containers are stacked 17 across, which requires ports on the regular schedule to have cranes with a longer reach than is needed for Panamax vessels. Halifax does not now have cranes with a long enough reach to retrieve containers from the far side of the ship — for this visit the containers scheduled to be unloaded at Halifax were positioned at the time of loading to be within reach of the existing cranes.

Regina Maersk, the first of an order of fifteen nearly-identical ships, is driven at 25 knots by a massive twelve-cylinder diesel engine developing 74,600 horsepower 55 megawatts at 94 revolutions per minute. For manoeuvring in port a bow thruster of 30 tons transverse thrust and two stern thrusters each with 15 tons transverse thrust are fitted. A full crew has only 15 people on board. The main engine as well as thrusters are controlled from the bridge and bridge wings. Eight thousand sensors connected to the ship's integrated computer system ensure optimum operation of the vessel and the automatic warning system is immediately activated in case of problems in the engine room or the cargo holds. Tommy Thomsen, president of Maersk Incorporated, said Regina Maersk "shares in the emergence of the Port of Halifax as a major load centre on the North American east coast." Regina Maersk is 318 metres 1043 feet long and 43 metres 140 feet wide, too large to fit into the Panama Canal — thus it is classed as a "post-Panamax" ship. A "Panamax" vessel is the largest that can fit the width and length of the locks along the Panama Canal. Halifax is competing with five U.S. ports — Boston; Quonset Point, Rhode Island; New York-New Jersey; Philadelphia; and Norfolk, Virginia — for the contract to build a terminal to handle these huge ships on North America's east coast. The winner of that contract will be decided within weeks. Halifax has the advantage of a deep-water, ice-free port that won't have to be dredged to obtain sufficient water to float these ships, which have a draught of 14.5 metres 48 feet when fully loaded. "The superships of the future are here and they are reshaping the container trade. World container trade is forecast to grow about 8% annually for the next 3 years and larger ships will carry an increasing share of the global container trade", said Tommy Thomsen, President, Maersk Inc., Madison, New Jersey. "We also hope the significance of this event will help to demonstrate the necessity to upgrade certain ports in the United States and Canada to be able to accommodate the new generation of containerships and to emphasize the scarcity of such facilities today. We're operating with a sense of urgency — just like our customers — in today's fast changing, competitive business environment."

Maersk Inc. is a division of A. P. Moeller, one of the world's largest shipping firms. In January 1997, the order for these very large post-Panamax container ships was increased by three to bring the total order to fifteen vessels, of which four were in service in January 1997 and employed in the Europe - Far East trade. The tenth in the series was launched on 6 June 1998. The vessels are being delivered from the Odense Steel Shipyard A/S at three-month intervals and the total order will be completed in 1999.

[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News, 21 & 27 July 1998, The Chronicle-Herald and The Globe and Mail of 21 July 1998, and Maersk News]

1998 July 24

Stamp Honours Designer
of the Legendary Schooner Bluenose

On this day, Canada Post issued a single 40mm × 26mm stamp to commemorate the life and achievements of William Roué, designer of the legendary schooner Bluenose. The stamp design superimposes a head-and-shoulders image of Roué over a recreation of the 1929 Bluenose stamp. The denomination of the Bluenose stamp has been changed from the original 50¢ to 45¢. Roué's image is produced by lithography while the original 1929 elements Canada postage stamp 1998, schooner Bluenose and William Roue were printed by steel engraving. The designer, Louis C. Hebert of Montreal, says "we can see that Roué is looking into the distance — away from the Bluenose — like a visionary". William Roué designed Bluenose, the most renowned schooner in Canadian history. The schooner was launched in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, on 26 March 1921, over 75 years ago. Canada's most famous sailing vessel was built to compete for the International Fisherman's Trophy, won previously by the United States Schooner Esperanto. To meet the challenge they called on the talents of Roué, a self-taught naval architect, who conceived and realized a remarkable design. The determination paid off; Canada won the schooner race of 1921 and the Bluenose never once relinquished the cup throughout a keenly contended career, spanning over two decades. In his lifetime, Roué created more than 100 designs of commercial vessels, including two fleets of freighters for Newfoundland and the Arctic and a number of ferries. Canada's most celebrated schooner was named for the people of Nova Scotia, "Bluenosers," a name some believe was first given to the crewmen of schooners that carried blue-skinned Nova Scotia potatoes to Boston in the late eighteenth century.

The First Day Cover carried a Halifax NS cancellation mark. The centre of the cancellation features an image of the Bluenose surrounded by water. The envelope's cachet features a detail from the famous Bluenose photograph by W.R. MacAskill, "Starboard Lookout". Stamps and First Day Covers will be available at participating postal outlets, or by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre. From Canada and the USA call toll-free: 1-800-565-4362 and from other countries call: (902) 863-6550.

9,000,000 stamps were printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company. They will be on sale from 24 July 1998 to 23 July 1999, in panes of 25 stamps. The stamps are denominated at 45¢, thus a pane of 25, purchased in Nova Scotia, will cost $12.94, including the 15% sales tax.

[Source: http://www.canadapost.ca/CPC2/corpc/newsrel/roue.html
in Canada Post's website.]

1998 July 24

Deadline for Expressions of Interest,
Clearing of M&NP Right of Way

Expressions of Interest are due by 4:30pm on 24 July 1998, at the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Company's office in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline (M&NP) "is looking for single parties or consortia to provide forest clearing services for its main line pipeline project." The 565 kilometre underground natural gas pipeline will run from Goldboro, Nova Scotia, to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and is scheduled to be in operation by 1 November 1999. The required forest clearing services will include: Contractors will be required to follow M&NP's Clearing Contract Specifications, Environmental Protection Plan, Safety Program, and meet all Landowner commitments. M&NP will negotiate all required access to the pipeline easement for the clearing work.

Work is anticipated to begin in September 1998 and must be completed by 15 March 1999 with 35% of the work completed by 12 December 1998. M&NP expects clearing rates in the range of 8 hectares per day. Forest clearing services will be awarded in a manner consistent with the pipeline being constructed in two spreads: [Excerpted from a display advertisement headed "Request for Expression of Interest" in the Halifax Daily News, 11 July 1998]

1998 July 30

New President and CEO at RailTex

RailTex Owns and Operates the
Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway

RailTex Incorporated, of San Antonio, Texas, today announced that Ronald A. Rittenmeyer will join the Company as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective August 24 1998. Mr. Rittenmeyer will also become a member of the Board of Directors, said RailTex Chairman Bruce Flohr. "Ron has considerable experience in managing diverse transportation operations and in working in a decentralized management environment, which is important to us due to our network of short line railroads and our railroad investments in Brazil," Flohr said. Flohr will continue as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He will turn over his operating responsibilities as CEO of RailTex upon Rittenmeyer joining the Company, fulfilling Flohr's previously stated goal to reduce his day-to-day duties by the time he turns 60 in August 1999. The hiring of Rittenmeyer at this time ensures that Flohr will be available full-time over the next year to assist in Rittenmeyer's introduction to RailTex's employees, customers and shareholders. Rittenmeyer has had previous management experience in railway operations, having been CEO of Burlington Northern, Inc. (a railroad transportation company with revenues of $5 billion a year) until it merged into the Santa Fe Railroad. With more than 3,900 miles 6,300 kilometres of track, RailTex is North America's leading short line railroad holding company. RailTex subsidiaries are comprised of 29 lines concentrated in five regions: New England and Eastern Canada [including the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway between Truro and Sydney in Nova Scotia], Great Lakes, Lower Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Southeastern US. RailTex also owns a minority stake in two Brazilian railroads and has a management contract with a railroad in Kazakstan. RailTex stock is publicly traded and listed on NASDAQ under the symbol RTEX.
[Excerpted from the Halifax Daily News, 31 July 1998,
and the RailTex website http://www.railtex.com/.]

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Latest update:   2011 May 24