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

Chapter 74
2000 December 20-31

2000 December 20

Salter Street Films' Revenue Up

Salter Street Films Ltd. has reported a 29 per cent increase in fourth quarter revenue compared the same period last year. For the quarter, revenues increased to $22,000,000 from $17,000,000. The company reported $500,000 in net income, down from the fourth quarter in 1999. For the full fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2000, revenues were $54,000,000, up slightly from the $49,700,000 for 1999. Net income for 2000 was $4,600,000 as compared to $4,200,000 for 1999. Company chairman Michael Donovan said Salter Street made significiant strides during the year, especially in the United States, where four of the company's television series are broadcast.
[The Halifax Daily News, 20 December 2000]

Salter Street Films' conference call with financial analysts, to inform them of the quarterly results and to answer questions, was webcast on www.Q1234.com at 3:00pm EST, 18 December 2000. The webcast was available to anyone who wanted to listen in. This conference call, and previous conference calls discussing quarterly financial results, have been digitally archived and are available online at

Note: You can access these archived conference calls by using your
browser's Copy and Paste feature to copy this URL whole and
then to paste the whole URL into your browser's URL window.
(This link was accessed and found to be valid on 10 June 2011.)

Salter Street Films
Online Audio Archive
FY2000 Q4 Conference Call 18 Dec 2000 Listen [23:20]
FY2000 Q3 Conference Call 13 Sep 2000 Listen [16:05]
FY2000 Q2 Conference Call 15 Jun 2000 Listen [13:20]
AGM 21 Mar 2000 View
FY2000 Q1 Conference Call 16 Mar 2000 Listen [14:36]
FY1999 Q4 Conference Call 16 Dec 1999 Listen [16:25]
FY1999 Q3 Conference Call 16 Sep 1999 Listen [11:30]
FY1999 Q2 Conference Call 17 Jun 1999 Listen [10:11]
FY1999 Q1 Conference Call 18 Mar 1999 Listen [16:33]
FY1998 Q4 Conference Call 18 Dec 1998 Listen [12:30]
  • During the fourth quarter of 2000, Salter Street delivered 48 half-hours of programming, as compared to the 59 half-hours delivered for the same period in 1999. Deliveries in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2000 included:
  • Thirteen episodes (13 half-hours) of Blackfly, a comedic romp through the backwoods of 18th century Canada when the British ruled, the French explored and the beaver was king, for Global;
  • Movie of the Week (4 half-hours) Chasing Cain (co-produced with Bernard Zukerman), a crime drama for CBC TV;
  • Thirteen episodes (13 half-hours) of Made in Canada, a satirical look into the offices of a fictional entertainment company, for CBC TV;
  • Six episodes (6 half-hours) of The Itch, a parody of entertainment news shows, for The Comedy Network;
  • Two episodes (2 half-hours) of the eighth season of This Hour Has 22 Minutes;
  • Movie of the Week (4 half-hours) Blessed Stranger (co-produced with Big Motion Picture), a drama about Swiss Air Flight 111, for CTV; and
  • 3 episodes (6 half-hours) of These Arms of Mine (co-produced with Phil Savath and Susan Duligal), a romantic drama, for CBC TV.
  • As of October 31, 2000, Salter Street's library held 980 half-hours of proprietary programming, as compared to 859 half-hours at the same time last year. Salter Street's catalogue of programming, with third-party acquisitions of 161 half-hours, now totals 1,141 half-hours.

    Subsequent to the end of the quarter, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced that it has approved Salter Street's application for a licence to operate the Independent Film Channel Canada, a new Category One digital television service with guaranteed carriage by cable and satellite service distributors. Salter Street was also awarded 20 Category Two licences to operate new specialty television services which require carriage to be negotiated.

    About Salter Street Films

    Salter Street Films Limited is an integrated entertainment company that develops, produces and distributes original film and television programming as well as Internet products and services. Salter Street's television programs include This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Made in Canada (currently broadcast in the U.S. as The Industry on PBS affiliated stations); The Awful Truth with Michael Moore (for Bravo, The Film and Arts Network in the U.S., and Channel 4 U.K.); and the science fiction series LEXX (broadcast in Canada on Space: The Imagination Station and in the U.S. on the SCI FI Channel).

    Source: Salter Street Films Ltd. press release, 18 December 2000

    Salter Street Films website

    Q1234.com website

    2000 December 20

    Cost of Hard Drive Data Storage
    Falls Below $7.00 per Gigabyte

    1.45 Megabytes for One Cent

    Future Shop, 208 Chain Lake Drive, Halifax, and 39 Micmac Blvd., Dartmouth, in a 24-page colour flyer distributed as an insert in the Halifax Daily News, 20 December 2000, offered for sale Maxtor 80 gigabyte hard drives priced below $7.00 per gigabyte. The store price was stated as $479.99 plus 15% HST, yielding a cost of $6.90 per gigabyte — that is, for one cent you get 1.45 megabytes of excellent storage capacity. These were Ultra ATA 66 drives, 5400 rpm, with a 3-year warranty. This price was in effect December 20th-23rd.
    Historical notes about Cost of Hard Drives

    2000 December 20

    Technology Revolutionizes Travel

    By Brian Flemming
    The Daily News

    ...My ability to travel far, and conveniently, is a far cry from the 1950s when, as a teenager, I was lucky enough to have been able to bounce across Canada and the Atlantic Ocean in propeller-driven planes like the Super Constellation and the DC-6 North Star.

    Flying in today's massive, high-flying 747s or A340s, one can easily forget how important it once was for airlines to provide essential amenities like barf bags. I was reminded of this recently on a flight from Toronto to Winnipeg when a woman sitting next to me was sick before she could reach for her bag. (I think she had the flu, because the flight was not bumpy.)

    One also forgets the noise of the old planes. I took my first transcontinental flight on one of Howard Hughes's then-revolutionary Super Connies. This elegantly-designed plane took me farther and faster than its competitors, but the deafening din from its four engines made conversation impossible aboard the plane. Ear plugs were routinely given to passengers.

    First flight 14 hours long

    North Stars were slower, quieter and more reliable than the Super Connies. My first transatlantic flight, from Montreal to Manchester, took about 14 hours at an altitude far below where today's jets fly. So, the storms that roiled about mid-ocean made most flights an exciting roller-coaster ride. Barf bags again.

    What a delight it was when TCA (Trans-Canada Airlines) introduced the turbo-prop, English-designed Viscounts and Vanguards. These planes were faster, quieter and dramatically more comfortable than their predecessor planes. So comfy were they that, until the early '80s, the government of Canada had a Viscount that was outfitted with sofas, floor lamps, coffee tables and wall-to-wall shag carpets. Those were the days...

    [The Halifax Daily News, 20 December 2000]

    2000 December 20

    Digital Mapping Denied

    Councillors for the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg voted against a request from the District One and Two Fire Commission requesting the Digital Property Files for their districts. The municipality, which purchases the information from the Nova Scotia Geomatics Centre for about $3,500 a year for assessment purposes, does not have the authority to give it to a third party. The fire commission planned to give the information to a company that would have used the King Fire Software to provide digital mapping and database format pinpointing the location of an emergency. Used by several fire departments, the software is recognized as improving response times. "Under the present agreement our hands are tied," said Councillor Martin Bell, who called digital mapping an "excellent tool" for any emergency responder. "However, we can provide this information from a municipally-owned server to authorized users on a need-to-know basis when we upgrade the computer system at this location. Both the fire service committee and the EMO would welcome this upgrade if we decide to promote the investment," he said. However, there are some considerations including the need for strict privacy and the importance of living within the present agreement for the original data obtained from the Nova Scotia Geomatics Centre. "We should consider offering this service to our own emergency services and make the investment if it will save lives or property damage," said Mr. Bell.
    [The Bridgewater Bulletin, 20 December 2000]

    2000 December 20

    Orangedale Station Association's
    Plans for the Future

    Rolling stock display planned

    Inverness County Council has contributed $3500 toward the Orangedale Station Association's current project. The project, titled Looking Down the Track: A Strategic Plan, is described as "an agressive one" by the Association, but they hope with the help of volunteers, community, and various government agencies they can achieve their ultimate goal. Their desire is for the museum to become more self-sufficient and to be a real learning experience for all who visit.

    The museum plans to place on display a locomotive and a box car.  The locomotive has been donated by Georgia Pacific and the boxcar comes from Devco.  To add this rolling stock will cost about $270,000, which includes site preparation, relocation of the equipment and repairs.  The plan is to use the box car as an educational centre and railway display.

    The Orangedale Station continues to play an important role in the Orangedale area since the task of saving the building began in 1988.  They want to attract more visitors to the station museum; there were 2973 visitors in 1998, 2670 in 1999, and 3100 in 2000.

    [The Inverness Oran, 20 December 2000]
  • The Orangedale Station Association [RJSC ID#1736053] was incorporated on 6 November 1986. As of 31 December 2000, it had its registered office at Orangedale Station, Orangedale, Inverness County, Nova Scotia, and the association's directors were:
  • Earl MacDonald, Orangedale, Nova Scotia
  • Kathleen MacDonald, Orangedale, Nova Scotia
  • James St. Clair, Orangedale, Nova Scotia
  • Raymond Johnston, Orangedale, Nova Scotia
  • Martin Boston, River Denys, Nova Scotia
  • Carman Gillis, Boisdale, Nova Scotia
    Source: Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies [RJSC]

  • 2000 December 22

    Who Owns the Abandoned Railway Rights-of-Way?

    by Mary Coffill Deveau
    The Advertiser, Kentville

    This week's question comes from a resident of the Cambridge area [in Kings County, Nova Scotia, about eleven kilometres west of Kentville] who wants to know more about the local recreational trail system.  He said that a snowmobile club in that area owns the rights to the trail along the abandoned Dominion Atlantic Railway (DAR) right-of-way from Cambridge west to Yarmouth [138 miles 222 km from the old Cambridge railway station to the Yarmouth station] and they won't allow all terrain vehicles [ATVs] on the trail.  He says all other sections of trails across Canada are owned by Rails to Trails except this section and that all terrain vehicles are allowed on these other trails.

    First of all, he wants to know why this one area is so different from the rest.  Why is one group given so much power and control over one part of the trail system?

    This is a very complicated issue with no easy answer, but I will do my best to explain it.

    I have talked to numerous people about this entire situation.  Basically when rail lines across Canada were abandoned in the 1990s, Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) donated the right-of-way of the majority of those it owned to the Trans Canada Trail Foundation.  Over the years, the role of this foundation has been to ensure that a recreational trail system is developed in each province.  The Foundation has the rights to the lands but turns them over to provincial or municipal bodies willing to maintain and develop the trails.

    In Nova Scotia, while the provincial government has recognized the need to develop these rail corridors, the province itself is not developing them.  It has developed a "provincial policy for Rails to Trails".

    According to this policy, municipalities and community organizations are encouraged to take the lead role in the development and management of these railway corridors as public recreational trails.  The province supports these initiatives, where possible, through corridor acquisition, trail designation, and planning and development assistance.  The two provincial agencies that assist with these aspects are the Department of Natural Resources and the Sport and Recreation Commission.

    The goal is to eventually have trails established throughout the province with an overall management plan in place to maintain continuity throughout the corridors.  According to a spokesperson with this organization, there are currently about 100 km of trails in Nova Scotia in which the province now owns the rights.  Many are in the process of being developed with much cooperation between provincial, municipal, and local organizational groups.

    In this area, however, the Trans Canada Trail Foundation still retains the ownership of the DAR line along the Annapolis Valley from about Coldbrook westward to Yarmouth.  But discussions are currently under way to have the Foundation pass this line over to the province so it could be maintained under the Rails to Trails policy.


    However, certainly for four months of the year, the Annapolis Valley Lake and Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club has the rights to this section.  The Club entered into an agreement with CP in 1995.  At that time, when the Club heard that the line was being abandoned, they contacted CP in Montreal and worked out an agreement with the final papers being signed in November 1995.  This agreement allowed the Club to use the trail for snowmobiling for four months of each year.  The organization had to meet certain obligations such as covering insurance and insuring that the trail would not be damaged by the motorized vehicles in any way.

    The Club has followed these rules and operates regular patrols during the four months of the year they are responsible for the trails.  Under their agreement, they are liable for any damage done on the trails and, therefore, don't want just anyone using the trail.  It is not just all terrain vehicles prohibited during these four months each year, but unauthorized snowmobilers as well.  The signs posted indicate that only those with valid permits issued by the Snowmobile Association of Nova Scotia (SANS) can use the trails.  A permit shows the Club that this user has supported the trail system and allows the Club control.

    Because the Club owns the rights to this trail four months of the year, anyone else on the trail could be considered to be trespassers.  While from a legal standpoint this probably means everyone, the Club is lenient and allows passive use of the trails for walking and hiking.  All terrain vehicles are not permitted because of the potential damage they could cause.

    What about the other eight?

    But the Club only owns rights four months of the year.  What about the other eight? Recently I spoke to a lawyer based in Ottawa who respresents the Foundation that has the rights for the remainder of the year.  He said that during the other eight months of the year walkers, runners, and bikers are definitely allowed to use the trail.  But, at this time, all terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not permitted unless they obtain special permission from the Foundation.

    He admitted that in the past permission has occasionally been given for some wheeled vehicles to have access to other Foundation trails in the province, but this has only been allowed because the groups are responsible and have proven themselves by not damaging the trail.  Unfortunately, in the Annapolis Valley area there have been numerous incidents of all terrain vehicles accessing the trails and causing a fair amount of damage.  While he says he recognizes that not all drivers would act in this fashion, they have no choice but to restrict all the three- and four-wheeled vehicles in this area.

    The Foundation has had great success and is pleased with the quality of care and respect the snowmobile club has shown the trail.  He says they are well organized and enhance that section of trail.  When asked if he would be open to a similar agreement with an all terrain vehicle organization he agreed that it might be possible.  But he added that the group would have to be well organized, able to police and maintain the trail and provide some type of assurance that there would be minimal damage done to the trail and that they would cover the costs of having it fixed.

    At least half a million

    The group also would have to enter an insurance agreement similar to the snowmobile organization.  At this point, this would entail a substantial security deposit of at least half a million dollars based on the length of the trail and the types of monies available should it become necessary to make repairs.

    As to other sections in the province allowing all terrain vehicles, if there is no formal trail agreement and establishment in place, when necessary the access points to the abandoned railway corridors have been barricaded and signs erected.  Motorized vehicles are not allowed except if used for management purposes.

    A spokesperson with the Department of Natural Resources echoed the Foundation's comments.  He said that there have been occasions when motorized access has been given but that this was done by special arrangement with the department prior to the time of use.  They have also allowed scheduled regulatory enforcement work to take place.  But otherwise, he said, generally speaking, people are not permitted on these sections.

    [The Kentville Advertiser, 22 December 2000]

    On 27 March 1990, the Dominion Atlantic Railway officially abandoned all of its track west of Coldbrook, Kings County.  All of the Yarmouth Subdivision was abandoned.  The Kentville Subdivision between mile 0.0 at Kentville and mile 4.6 at Coldbrook was retained; all of the Kentville Subdivision west of mile 4.6 was abandoned.  The abandoned track was dismantled during the summer of 1990.

  • The Annapolis Valley Lake and Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club [RJSC ID#2337406] was incorporated on 11 May 1994. As of 23 December 2000, it had its registered office at 4 Cornwallis Street, Kentville, Kings County, Nova Scotia, and the club's directors were:
  • Steven Cook, New Ross, Nova Scotia
  • David McDougall, Kentville, Nova Scotia
  • Brian Acker, New Ross, Nova Scotia

  • The Nova Scotia Trails Federation [RJSC ID#1915485] was incorporated on 22 March 1989. As of 23 December 2000, it had its registered office at 5516 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the federation's directors were:
  • Lily Conrad, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Secretary
  • Vera Stone, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • David Newlands, Milford Station, Nova Scotia; President
  • Sean Drohan, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Stan Slack, Lantz, Nova Scotia
  • Renee Latulippe, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; Vice President
  • David Young, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Treasurer

  • The S.A.N.S. (Snowmobilers Association Of Nova Scotia) [RJSC ID#1287515] was incorporated on 30 June 1976. As of 23 December 2000, it had its registered office at 5516 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the association's directors were:
  • Arlene Taylor, Trenton, Nova Scotia; President
  • Reg MacLellan, Springhill, Nova Scotia; Treasurer
  • Ralph MacNeil, Antigonish, Nova Scotia; 1st Vice President
  • Blaise Moran, Port Hood, Nova Scotia; Zone 1 Vice President
  • Paul Conrad, Grand Lake, Nova Scotia; Zone 2 Vice President
  • Randall Cameron, Wolfville, Nova Scotia; Zone 3 Vice President
  • Laurie Cranton, Margaree Valley, Nova Scotia; Past President

    Source: Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies [RJSC]

  • Abandoned Rail Line Corridors
    Standard Licenses

    The Province of Nova Scotia has acquired a number of abandoned rail line corridors throughout the Province. These corridors were acquired in consideration of their potential for future development and management as public recreational trails, and for additional linear public uses where such uses can be demonstrated to be compatible with existing or potential recreational trail use. These are Crown lands under the administration and control of the Minister of Natural Resources.

    When these lands were acquired, the Department of Natural Resources inherited many licences and/or crossing permits which had been issued to persons whose properties adjoined the rail line corridor. Some new licences have been issued more recently by the Department of Natural Resources. Many more crossings and other uses exist without authorization.

    The Province of Nova Scotia has approved a provincial policy for Rails to Trails in Nova Scotia. Consistent with the provincial policy and to assist Nova Scotians whose property adjoins the rail line corridor and to remedy those unauthorized uses, this policy has been adopted to provide an effective administrative framework for the licencing of the abandoned rail line corridor.  As part of its mandate to administer and manage all Crown lands, it is important that the Department of Natural Resources formalize these uses of the abandoned rail line corridors with proper documentation. The issuance of a licence will legitimize and regularize activity, provide an inventory of users and a means of control, and preclude the accrual of prescriptive rights. At the same time, the integrity of the abandoned rail line corridors will be maintained for possible future use...

    Abandoned Rail Line Corridors — Standard Licenses


    Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources

    Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission

    Trans Canada Trail — National

    Trans Canada Trail — Nova Scotia

    Regional Trail Councils in Nova Scotia

    Map of Trails in Nova Scotia

    Trails Nova Scotia

    Nova Scotia Trails Federation

    SANS — Snowmobilers Association Of Nova Scotia
    SANS is comprised of twenty-three member clubs from Yarmouth to Sydney representing approximately 2,400 snowmobiling households...

    2000 December 22

    Kings Transit Ridership Rising

    Annapolis Royal — Kings Transit bus service in Annapolis County has taken off ahead of projections, transit authority chairman Gary Pearl told county councillors this week.

    Mr. Pearl said first-quarter figures ending Nov. 30 showed higher than budgeted ridership and revenue, but also higher costs for mileage, repairs and maintenance, fuel and wages because of the work needed for the initial setup of the service in the fall.  "They seem a little high now, but they'll come in line by the end of the year," he said.

    Average daily ridership has increased from 59 passengers in September to 85 in October and 96 in November.  Kings Transit general manager Andy Paterson said that steady climb is very encouraging in comparison to the previous Kings Transit route expansion, from Kentville to Greenwood.  "It took six months on the Greenwood run to reach 50 riders a day, and 12 months for 100," he said. "We're far ahead of that here."

    Kings Transit Authority extended its service into Annapolis County, Middleton and Bridgetown in September at the request of the three municipal councils. It had previously served only Kings County. The one-year trial period will gauge whether there is enough interest to extend the route permanently.  The Kings County municipal council, and the town councils of Kentville, Berwick and Wolfville — the partners in the transit authority — approved the expansion in August.

    Annapolis County will pay for service in the county and get payments from Bridgetown and Middleton based on the number of kilometres on the route in those communities. The Kings County partners aren't paying extra for the extended service.

    Annapolis County municipal council is already hearing requests to extend the route to Cornwallis Park and even Digby County.

    [The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 22 December 2000]

    2000 December 24

    Furious Debate Rages
    Should Road Salt be Declared a Toxic Chemical?

    Feds delay labelling road salt toxic

    Deciding whether road salt is officially toxic is taking longer than planned.

    The decision was expected last week, but was delayed after Halifax Regional Muncipality and nearly 40 other municipalities urged Environment Canada to avoid the "toxic" label — a description that would force cities to reduce their salting.

    The decision will now be pushed to at least March so Ottawa's scientists can review the many opinions generated after a five-year study released in August found road salt poisonous to organisms such as trout eggs, birds and roadside vegetation.

    More than 100 reactions came from provinces, municipalities and scientists afterwards — far more than for any other chemical Environment Canada has reviewed.

    "Certainly it's been the substance that's elicited the most interest," said Robert Chenier, head of chemical evaluatuations at Environment Canada.  "People are worried," he said.  Chenier said there is an unfounded fear Ottawa would ban road salt if Environment Minister David Anderson decided road salt was "toxic" under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Chenier said a complete ban wouldn't happen.  "It's quite clear that this is Canada, and we need to maintain our roadways in the winter," said Chenier.

    But he said the August assessment found road salt lethal to some small organisms. While humans are not directly affected, he said, a chemical considered toxic under the act means municipalities would eventually have to reduce the salt entering the environment.

    Mandatory measures could include ensuring salt supplies in depots are covered, installing weather-monitering devices in roadbeds, and retrofitting salt trucks so salt is delivered more efficiently.

    One solution proposed is dissolving salt in liquid and applying that to the roads instead.  "If it is a liquid, it doesn't bounce off the road," Chenier said. Most of the 37 municiplities who filed letters urged Anderson to avoid labelling road salt toxic, despite the original study. They say vountary guidelines put out by the Canadian Transportation Association will reduce salt use enough.

    Officials with the Halifax Regional Municipality are scared of the extra costs. A report to council in September said the municipality spent $1,800,000 for road salt last winter. Non-sodium alternatives can cost ten times as much as salt, the report said.  "It is reasonable to suggest that a reduced ability to use road salt would add hundreds of thousands of dollars to (Halifax Regional Municipality's) snow and ice operational costs," said the report.  The municipality has set aside $4,000,000 for all ice and snow control costs next year, including staff training in operating salt trucks.

    The province and other Nova Scotia municipalities also voiced their opposition to a "toxic" label.

    The Municipality of Cumberland County — which collects business taxes from two salt companies in its jurisdiction — passed a resolution in opposition.  "We've had (salt) used on our roads for years and years — forever, almost," said county Warden Keith Hunter. "Losing that would be a great economic impact."

    [The Halifax Daily News, 24 December 2000]

    Salt company opposes toxic designation

    6 October 2000

    Pugwash — Labelling road salt a toxic material could hinder road safety and devastate the salt industry, says Alan Davidson, manager of the Canadian Salt Company operation in Pugwash.  Mr. Davidson was reacting to a recent Environment Canada study saying heavy use of the product contaminates groundwater and harms plants and animals, especially in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes...
    [The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 6 October 2000]
    Canadian Salt Company Ltd., Shae's Island Road, Pugwash

    Salt Mining in Nova Scotia

    In Nova Scotia, salt is produced by underground mining and by solution mining. At Pugwash, Cumberland County, the Canadian Salt Company Limited operates an underground mine where salt is obtained by drilling, blasting and loading in large underground rooms. Not all of the salt is mined, because some is needed to support the roof as large pillars (about 10 m or more in diameter). This type of mining is called room and pillar operation. Huge dump trucks carry the ore to a primary crusher underground. After crushing, it is hoisted to the surface, where the purest salt is stockpiled and used as road salt. The less pure salt is dissolved in water and treated with chemicals to remove the impurities. The salt is then evaporated and these purified salt crystals are crushed and used for table salt, for a multitude of uses in the food industry and for industrial uses requiring a truly pure product.

    At Nappan, Cumberland County, Sifto Canada Inc. produces salt by solution mining. This process is an evaporative recovery process where hot water is pumped down drillholes and the salt brine is removed. This method produces only refined salt. You can learn more about these mines by watching the video Salt of the Earth, available on loan from the Library, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

    Salt in Nova Scotia Information Circular ME 33, 1992
    Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, Minerals and Energy Branch

    Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee
    on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

    Ottawa, 16 June 1999

    Senator Buchanan: ...You talked about salt. For 25 years, salt, and salt and sand mixtures, were most important items for politicians in wintertime. You would be taken to task if you did not put it on the roads, but if some of it got into a well, you would be sued. Are you now saying that if road salt gets into a well, the federal government could be sued?

    Mr. Lerer: No. The chairman told me that he had had representation from the Salt Institute. I made the comment that road salt was now on the priority substances list for a scientific assessment of whether it, and the way it is used in Canada, is toxic under the definition.

    Let us suppose that a scientific assessment found that road salt is toxic. We would then say, "If it is toxic, what are the management options available to us to protect human health and the environment?" The environment would come first. In that process, we would then have to consider the environmental and human benefits of the use of salt. We make these kinds of balancing decisions all the time, but we are nowhere near that stage with road salt. Currently, we are only at the stage of undertaking the scientific assessment.

    Senator Buchanan: Are you not creating the potential for real problems in federal-provincial jurisdictions? Outside Halifax, and all over Nova Scotia, roads are paved with tar. Are you going to look at that and say, "Tar contains toxic chemicals. Therefore, you can no longer use it on highways"? Are you saying the same thing with salt?

    Mr. Lerer: I am hoping that the result of the scientific assessment — and I do not want to prejudge it — will lead to a good dialogue and to good management options for dealing with these issues.

    Senator Buchanan: If that were to occur, the people who work in the Pugwash salt mines would not be very happy; neither would the politicians.

    Mr. Lerer: I expect that would be the case.

    Ms Lloyd: The provinces are active with us on that particular risk assessment, especially the Province of Ontario. It is largely their expertise that we are using to do the assessment.

    One should not assume that if a substance is found to pose a risk to the environment — for example, road salt — that it will be banned tomorrow. It may be enough to simply spur further research and development of alternatives. In the Province of Nova Scotia, there are numerous examples of where road salt is not used near sensitive streams. It may be that, for example, you cannot use it for seven miles on a stretch of road next to a stream.

    Senator Buchanan: That is right. We use sand, and sometimes sand mixed with salt.

    Mr. Lerer: That is true, but that is one of the management measures that could be undertaken — namely, we simply do not use salt on the roads in sensitive areas, but use sand. That is what Nova Scotia has done.

    Senator Buchanan: Yes. We have been doing that for years.

    The Chairman: I am also advised that there was a judgment in the Province of Ontario against a municipality that did not put salt down and that resulted in an accident. There is a legal liability involved there and it is a difficult issue.

    Senator Buchanan: That is why it may be better to have them sue the federal government!

    Mr. Lerer: I was reminded yesterday that Hansard is read avidly by lawyers. I am sure we will have a number of interesting inquiries.

    Senator Spivak: You use the terms "risk assessment" and "risk management" in connection with cost effectiveness. That is how you will proceed. There is a big difference between "risk assessment" and "risk management." Could you submit the definitions that you are using? Am I correct in stating that you will use those terms in looking at cost effectiveness?

    Mr. Lerer: No. I was trying to say that cost effectiveness is not a determinant in risk assessment.

    Senator Spivak: You said "risk management."

    Mr. Lerer: It is a determinant in risk management.

    Ms Lloyd: Cost is not considered at all in the scientific assessment.

    Senator Spivak: That is correct. Risk management then takes place on the basis of the risk assessment. That is a little contradictory. Could you give us the department's definitions of those two terms? That will be critical. The European Union published a lengthy definition in its assessment of rBST.

    Mr. Lerer: We will undertake to do that...


    The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources first met in January 1984 under the name of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Its name and mandate was changed to the present one in January 1991.

    Canada Finds Road Salt an Environmental Toxin

    11 August 2000

    OTTAWA, August 11, 2000 (ENS) — Salt used to de-ice Canadian roads is toxic to the environment according to a federal government study released today. The five year assessment by Environment Canada found that the five million tons of road salts used across the country every winter contaminate ground water, surface water, poison wildlife and harm vegetation.  Streams, small lake ecosystems and groundwater are particularly vulnerable to road salt, which should be added to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act's toxic substances list, Environment Canada said in its report.

    That designation will not mean a ban on road salt but control measures. Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Environment Canada has two years to develop such measures and a further 18 months to implement them.

    Road Salts are sodium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride and ferrocyanide salts. The principal salt used on roads is the table salt used on food. The only irritation for humans from road salt is its adverse effect on taste of contaminated roadside well waters, said the study.

    That is why Environment Canada's advisory panel, comprising scientists, environmentalists, health organizations, industry and other governments, decided to assess road salts' effects on the environment, not humans.

    Road salts enter the environment from storage facilities, through their applications to roads, streets and sidewalks and through the disposal of waste snow.

    Runoff of meltwater from roads and releases from patrol yards where salts are stored have resulted in high concentrations of chloride in surface water, with concentrations greater than 1000 milligrams per litre (mg/L).

    Rainbow trout die after a week's exposure to concentrations of 1000 mg/L, and 10 percent of aquatic species are harmed by prolonged exposure to chloride concentrations greater than 220 mg/L, Environment Canada estimates.

    Sensitive fishes are harmed not only by the salt, but by the ferrocyanide used as an anti-caking agent to keep the salt from clumping together. The assessment found that reducing salt use or reducing the content of ferrocyanides in road salt formulations could reduce the risks to sensitive aquatic vertebrates in areas of high use of road salts.

    High chloride concentrations in groundwater are of concern because the groundwater eventually surfaces at springs and contributes further to surface water contamination.

    Urban areas in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island where rock salt is used heavily during winter suffer most from contaminated ground and surface water.

    The assessment found that high concentrations of chloride in lakes can increase the presence of metals in the waters and prevent the distribution of oxygen and nutrients.

    Laboratory and field data during the assessment found damage to vegetation as far as 50 metres from roadways treated with road salts. Plant species sensitive to salt are disappearing along roadways.

    As plants die, wildlife is affected. The study found road salt has behavioral and toxic impacts on animals and birds. Road salt increases the vulnerability of birds to car strikes and may poison the birds directly.

    Today's report, which is subject to a 60 day public comment period starting Saturday, makes several recommendations on how road salt's effects could be mitigated. Environment Canada recommends that patrol yards implement better storage of salt and abrasives to reduce losses through weathering. Management practices to reduce losses during transfers, and management of stormwater and equipment washwater to minimize releases should be started.

    When handling disposal of snow, measures should be considered to minimize percolation into soil and groundwater and direct release into water, Environment Canada suggests. In cases of release into surface water via storm sewer systems, the salted snow should be diluted before release.

    Environment Canada recommends reduction of chloride salts in areas such as southern Ontario, southern Quebec and the Maritime provinces, where salt use is highest. The selection of alternative products or of appropriate technology or practices to reduce salt use should be considered while ensuring maintenance of roadway safety.

    Producers of road salts should consider reducing the rate of ferrocyanide added as an anti-caking agent, Environment Canada recommends.

    Before any recommendations can be adopted, road salt must officially be declared toxic by the Environment Minister David Anderson. His decision is expected by December, 2000, after results of the 60 day public consultation have been reviewed.


    Scientific Assessment Concludes
    Road Salts Toxic to the Environment

    11 August 2000

    OTTAWA — Environment Canada has released results from a five-year scientific assessment which concludes that road salts are toxic to the environment.

    Scientists found that road salts are entering the environment in very large amounts and posing a risk to plants, animals, birds, fish, lake and stream ecosystems and groundwater. In a typical year, approximately 5 million tonnes of various types of road salts are used in Canada for roadway maintenance, including de-icing, anti-icing and dust suppression. Road salts enter the environment from storage facilities, through their application on roads, and through disposal of waste snow and ice.

    The assessment report has been released for public comment for a 60-day period. Stakeholders and interested Canadians are invited to submit comments on the scientific assessment to Environment Canada. The Government of Canada will make a final decision before the end of the year 2000.

    Under the new Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the federal government has two years to develop control measures for substances that are found to be toxic, and a further 18 months to implement them. If the conclusion that road salts are toxic to the environment is confirmed, Environment Canada will work with stakeholders, including representatives from the provinces and territories, municipalities and roadway maintenance organizations to develop appropriate control measures.

    The government recognizes the benefits of road salts in saving lives during winter months. If Road Salts are confirmed as toxic to the environment, road safety will be fully taken into account when adopting control measures.

    Environment Canada press release, 11 August 2000

    Why is Environment Canada assessing road salts?

    Science Assessment Finds Road Salts Toxic to the Environment

    Reducing Salt Use Through Road Weather Services

    Federal Study Recommends that
    Salt be Classified a Toxic Substance

    Fall 2000

    In 1995, an expert advisory panel composed of environmentalists, scientists, health organizations, industry and various government representatives agreed on a list of 25 substances to be assessed for their toxicity to the environment and human health under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). One of these substances was road salt. Approximately 5 million tonnes of these salts are used across Canada each year, with approximately 375 000 tonnes used in Nova Scotia. The principal constituent of road salt, NaCl or halite, is the same material used for table salt. In August 2000, Environment Canada and Health Canada released the results of a five-year scientific assessment which concluded that road salts are toxic to the environment. The study found that road salts "are entering the environment in very large amounts and posing a risk to plants, animals, birds, fish, lake and stream ecosystems and groundwater." The report acknowledges that road salts are "not dangerous to humans." Despite this conclusion, the report recommends that road salts should be added to the List of Toxic Substances under CEPA. In a press release dated August 11, 2000, Environment Canada noted: "The government recognizes the benefits of road salts in saving lives during the winter months. If road salts are confirmed as toxic to the environment, road safety will be fully taken into account when adopting control measures." Nova Scotia has a long-standing tradition of salt mining, commencing with the Malagash salt mine, the first underground salt mine in Canada, and continuing today with the Canadian Salt Company Ltd. underground mine in Pugwash and the Sifto Canada Inc. brining operation in Nappan. These two mines and processing plants directly employ nearly 300 people and indirectly employ many more (e.g. in transportation and support industries). The Pugwash mine provides much of the rock salt that is used on roads throughout Atlantic Canada. Clearly, the results of this recent federal report could have a significant impact on the markets for road salt and, therefore, on the salt industry in Nova Scotia. Environment Canada has invited comment on the report for a 60 day period, commencing August 12 and ending October 11, 2000. The report and associated comments will then be reviewed and Environment Canada will release its final decision before the end of 2000. Under the CEPA, Environment Canada has two years to develop control measures for substances defined as toxic, and a further 18 months to implement them.

    Minerals Update, Volume 17, No. 4, Fall 2000
    Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
    Minerals and Energy Branch

    Effects of deicing salt on
    lowbush blueberry flowering and yield

    The effects of deicing salt (NaCl) on buds, blossoms and yields of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) were assessed over three years in two commercial fields adjacent to a major Nova Scotia highway. Concentrations of road salt on exposed stems were highest next to the highway, and decreased with distance from the road. Numbers of blossoms, and subsequent fruit yields were low nearest the road, and increased with distance from the highway. Numbers of live blueberry buds and blossoms, and subsequent yields, were inversely related to concentrations of road salt on the stems. Plants under plastic shelters placed near the highway had more live buds and blossoms, as well as higher yields relative to plants exposed to deicing salt.

    Canadian Journal of Plant Science, Volume 79, Number 1, January 1999 January 1999
    Agricultural Institute of Canada
    National Research Council

    The above is an abstract only. The complete text (password required) is available at

    Effects of Road Salt on Lowbush Blueberry
    Fruit Development and Yields


    Effects of road salt (sodium chloride) on buds, blossoms and yields of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) were assessed over three years in two commercial fields adjacent to a major Nova Scotia highway. Concentrations of road salt on exposed stems were highest next to the highway, and decreased toward the backs of the fields. Numbers of live blueberry buds and blossoms, and also subsequent yields, were inversely correlated to concentrations of road salt on the stems. Significant damage occurred up to 60 m from the road bed. Plants under plastic covers placed near the highway were not affected by salt. Blueberry fields close to major highways where large amounts of salt are applied may be adversely affected by salt spray.
    Nova Scotia Blueberry Institute Annual Report 1995-1996

    Highway Salt Policy in Nova Scotia

    10 March 1995

    Our single greatest priority in winter operations is highway safety.  Salt is the most effective and affordable de-icer and in Nova Scotia we use approximately 240,000 tonnes of road salt each winter to keep our highways safe.  But each year, the province spends $350,000 replacing wells that have been ruined by road salt.  To help avoid the inconvenience of interrupted water service, and to protect the environment, the department has stopped using salt in areas where ground surface water supplies may be damaged by road salt.

    Therefore... Salt/sand mixtures are used on gravel roads and certain sections of paved roads near wells or ground water supplies where salt has been discontinued to protect water supplies.  In areas that are especially sensitive, sand alone is used.  And, salt/sand mixtures are less likely to corrode bridges and your vehicle. [Two-column display advertisement, by the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Communications, Honourable Richie Mann, Minister,
    in The Chronicle-Herald, 10 March 1995.]

    125 kilograms per kilometre

    Kings County, Nova Scotia

    Department of Highways Information on Salt Use:
    Presently we are using rock salt (composed of mostly sodium chloride) from Pugwash, Nova Scotia. From 1 April 1996 until 1 February 1997 approximately 4,010 tonnes of rock salt — at a cost of $213,000 — was used on Kings County roads. During these ten months, salt was administered to the roads on 63 days at a maximum application of 125 kg/km...

    Bible Hill Wells to be Checked for Salt

    30 January 2001

    Sampling of ground water will soon take place in the Rosemount Drive, Windale Drive and Sunnybrae Court area of Bible Hill.

    The Department of Transportation and Public Works will hire an environmental consultant to determine if wells on about fifty properties near its Bible Hill base have elevated levels of salt. The wells of two nearby homes have been identified as having elevated levels.

    "This is a precautionary measure," said Ron Russell, Minister of Transportation and Public Works. "We're going to be sampling water supplies to determine if there are elevated levels at nearby homes. If there are, we will then recommend possible remediation measures."

    A tender to hire the environmental consultant will be called on Wednesday, January 31st. An open house to discuss sampling results will be held in early April.

    "If the water contains salt, it won't hurt anyone but it might not taste that great," said Dr Maureen Baikie, assistant provincial medical officer of health. "However, people on physician-prescribed low-sodium diets should contact their doctor and consider using bottled water if their water contains elevated levels of salt. There is no concern about using this water for bathing or brushing your teeth."

    Residents were notified by letter of the sampling.

    Nova Scotia Government press release, 30 January 2001

    [The Halifax Daily News, 31 January 2001]
    [The Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 31 January 2000]

    2000 December 25   2:04:56pm

    Rare Christmas Day Solar Eclipse

    The 1868 solar eclipse and the King of Siam

    by L. Robert Morris
    National Post

    Shortly after noon on Christmas Day, Santa Claus — en route back to the North Pole — is expected to pass exactly 717 kilometres above Baffin Island. There, he will witness a spectacular celestial light show, an annular solar eclipse: The blackened Moon will briefly be surrounded by a fiery ring of sun.

    Observers on the island below, however, will see only a partial eclipse, in which the Moon's disc will cover 72% of the sun's diameter.

    To the southwest of Baffin, on a tiny triangular patch of the Earth's surface — including Vansittart Island — a rare phenomenon will occur. The sun will rise, partially eclipsed, and set three hours later with the Moon's silhouette still visible: a day-long solar eclipse. Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City will share the distinction of experiencing the greatest magnitude eclipse of any major cities in the world. In Ottawa, at exactly 12:41pm, about 61% of the sun's diameter will be obscured. Canadian observers who use proper eye protection to enjoy this rare Christmas present will risk at most a slight case of frostbite.  Some who have chased eclipses into more exotic places, however, have faced much greater dangers.

    The Solar Eclipse of 18 August 1868
    and the Nova Scotia connection

    In the 19th century, King Mongkut of Siam (now Thailand), an amateur astronomer, paid the ultimate price for eclipse-chasing: his life.

    Mongkut, formally Rama IV, was fascinated by the precision of Western scientific measurement. He filled his chambers with clocks, thermometers and barometers and taught himself astronomy, erecting an observatory on his palace grounds.

    In 1868, the palace announced a solar eclipse expedition. On August 18th, the Moon's shadow cone would sweep a 245-kilometre-wide swath across the Earth's surface, intercepting the promontory of Siam south of Bangkok. For nearly seven minutes, observers would see day becoming night, stars and planets popping into view and a ghostly corona embracing the invisible Moon.

    Villagers believed that all eclipses foretold misfortune. They saw them as attempts by the dragon Rahu to swallow the Sun and used clanging bells and fireworks to induce Rahu to disgorge it.

    Mongkut believed he could assuage these fears if he could accurately predict the event. He had calculated the eclipse parameters and was determined to place himself as close to the centre of the Moon's shadow cone as possible. His predictions, he hoped, would turn out to be better than those of French professionals. In his letter of invitation to prospective guests, he told them to come to "longitude 99° 42' east and latitude 11° 39' north," on his kingdom's southeast coast, overlooking the Gulf of Siam.

    Mongkut invited a French astronomical mission to watch the eclipse and issued proclamations so that all in his kingdom would know of his astronomical expertise. The court astrologers, however, were convinced he was wrong. The people, though not doubting the King's accuracy, thought the eclipse foreshadowed some national disaster.

    The King sailed for the site with a small fleet of steamers, accompanied by his eldest son, Chulalongkorn, and a large retinue. Included were the doubting astrologers, numerous foreigners stationed in Bangkok, the French astronomical mission and a herd of 50 elephants, as well as horses and cattle. Nearly a thousand eclipse chasers — and several telescopes — stood on Hua Wan beach at the foot of Mount Khoa Luang, awaiting the great event.

    On eclipse day, a wet monsoon was blowing and the Sun was invisible. The Siamese prime minister communicated his anxiety by playfully suggesting to the ladies-in-waiting that if the sky were overcast at the time of the eclipse, he would blame it on the dark clouds of soot they had been sending up all morning in the course of producing smoked glass to look at the Sun prior to totality.

    The clouds had dissipated somewhat when the Moon's disc had bitten the first chunk from the Sun. When about one-twentieth of the Sun was hidden, the King had a cannon fired to alert his subjects.

    As an American missionary, the Rev. Dan Beach Bradley, wrote in his diary: "We heard the pipes and trumpets sounding in the courtyard of the Royal Pavilion, it being a relic, we suppose, of the old superstitions about Rahu's swallowing the Sun, which their enlightened king did not feel that it would be wise to entirely discount."

    Twenty minutes before the Moon completely covered the solar disc, the sky began to clear. Ten minutes later, a crescent-shaped sliver of Sun burst through a great opening in the clouds. Finally, totality in all its glory was seen under perfect conditions, starting at the exact second predicted by the King.

    Bradley, again: "The gradual withdrawal of the Sun's light, wholly unlike every other gradual diminution of his power, leaving the darkness to come on us without a twilight, with the king of the day reduced to the smallest section of a circle, and then in another instant entirely shut in, as it were a death grasp, was a scene unutterably sublime. There was an indescribable feeling as if something dreadful might come next. The planet Venus shone out brightly sometime before the eclipse became total. Then many stars peeped out from the clouds in different parts of the heavens. A distinct chilliness was reported by many. The Prime Minister shouted — Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! He became quite ecstatic with joy, and was on the alert, taking all the observations he could with his long telescope."

    A brilliant mathematician
    King Mongkut's prediction surpassed those of European scientists

    The eclipse had taken place precisely as the King had predicted, the total phase lasting 6 minutes and 46 seconds. In fact, his calculations were better — by about two seconds — than those of the now exhausted French astronomers, who acknowledged his accuracy. The European scientists conceded that he was a brilliant mathematician and a real astronomer. The court astrologers were dumbfounded.

    But though the King was right, so were his subjects.

    His pavilion for viewing the eclipse was built on low ground in a mosquito-infested spot: Malaria struck widely among those who had attended. Shortly after he reached Bangkok, Mongkut developed chills and fever. He died on his birthday, October 18th, 1868.

    The eclipse that led to his end also made King Mongkut a legend. His 15-year-old son, Chulalongkorn, ascended to the throne and, strangely, did not invite his tutor — vacationing in her homeland — back to Siam. Effectively exiled, Mrs. Anna Leonowens then wrote The English Governess at the Siamese Court, which eventually launched several more books, four movies and a musical, The King and I.

    And in Canada, she founded what is now the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax.

    [The National Post, 23 December 2000]


    There is more detailed information about the 25 Dec 2000 eclipse at

    5000-Year Catalogue of Solar Eclipses, -1999 to +3000
    Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

    King Mongkut of Siam, and the famous Governess

    He correctly calculated the time and place of a total eclipse of the Sun...

    The KMITNB Electronic Library is the World Wide Web homepage for the King Mongkut's Institute of Technology North Bangkok (KMITNB)...

    Science and Technology Schools, King Mongkut's University of Technology

    2000 December 26

    Enormous Increase in Computing Power

    Owing to the rapid rate of computer development, a 1999 home PC (a personal computer priced about $2,000) with an Intel Pentium II chip has as much computing power as a 1985 $30,000,000 Cray X-MP Supercomputer.
    [The National Post, 26 December 2000]


    Chronology of the Development of Personal Computers Ken Polsson
    This brief summary includes many of the essential happenings that shaped the industry

    Computers and Internet history links

    Cray Inc. website

    In 2000, Cray Inc. is the only U.S. vendor offering high-capability supercomputers...

    History of Cray Inc.

    The first Cray-1 system was installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1976 for US$8,800,000. It boasted a world-record speed of 160 million floating-point operations per second (160 megaflops) and an 8 megabyte main memory ... In order to concentrate his efforts on design, company founder Seymour Cray left the CEO position in 1980 and became an independent contractor. As he worked on the follow-on to the Cray-1, another group within the company developed the first multiprocessor supercomputer, the Cray X-MP, which was introduced in 1982. The Cray-2 system appeared in 1985, providing a tenfold increase in performance over the Cray-1.  In 1988, Cray Research introduced the Cray Y-MP, the world's first supercomputer to sustain over 1 gigaflop on many applications. Multiple 333 MFLOPS processors powered the system to a record sustained speed of 2.3 gigaflops...

    Graph of the history of Cray machines as measured by floating-point performance, number of processors, and clock speed

    Cray X-MP supercomputers: First launched in 1982, this system was capable of 500 megaflops...

    Seymour Cray Interview, 9 May 1995
    National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

    From the Fractional Flop to the Megaflop

    In his 1988 book Mind Children, Hans Moravec charted the increase in computer power in our century. It started with early human-operated mechanical calculators in 1900. This combination of man, or usually woman, and machine could do a calculation every dozen seconds or so. Actually, this was not much faster than using a pencil.

    Things did not improve a whole lot until the 1910 analytical engine (not to be confused with Babbage's nineteenth-century dream machines) did a sizzling one calculation per second, or one "flop" (a "floating-point operation" is about the same as a calculation)...

    As long as people were punching keys, speed didn't pick up much, so we have to go to 1939 when the BTL Model 1, using relays, did five flops. It marked a milestone in computer evolution, but it used telephone relays to do its calculations and was limited to the achingly slow speeds possible with gross mechanical action.

    Action was fast becoming the name of the game. The next few years saw the first great punctuated leap in computer evolution. Intense wartime pressure to calculate the ballistic tables for all the new kinds of artillery rounds being fired from all the new guns forced the decision to build a "supercomputer" that would use electronic switches to achieve speeds 1,000 times higher than those of electromechanical relays...

    By 1951, UNIVAC was online. Also made of vacuum tubes like the ENIAC, it was less of a programming nightmare because John von Neumann figured out a better way to configure memory systems (your computer uses the same system). UNIVAC could do more than 12 kiloflops...

    Now electrodigital computing entered the rapid growth era we still enjoy. Four years after UNIVAC appeared, a tenfold leap in calculating speed was made with the respectable 125-kiloflop Whirlwind, the last of the great vacuum tube machines. A switch to smaller, cheaper, and more reliable transistors resulted in IBM's 875-kiloflop 7090 machine in 1959. The growth continued with transistors.

    In 1961, the Atlas did 4 megaflops.

    1964's CDC 6600 was a 25-megaflop machine.

    The CDC 7600 of 1969 could run at a maximum speed of about 60 megaflops (note that the average running speed of a computer is significantly less than its optimum running speed).

    The 1970s saw another critical leap in computing power. The advent of integrated circuits, or silicon chips, allowed the development of the first supercomputers primarily by Seymour Cray. In 1977, the Cray-1 could do an amazing 375 megaflops. The Cray-2 in 1985 could do in the neighborhood of a billion calculations each second, or a gigaflop. Exotic gallium arsenide chips replacing regular silicon in 1990 allowed the Cray to do about 10 gigaflops.

    Currently (1996), the Cray T90 can perform 60 gigaflops and recently, two Intel machines were joined to run more than 250 gigaflops. Today's supercomputers can accomplish in less than a second what ENIAC took a year to do...

    So far, we have looked at the big mainframes that sit in the centers of large rooms, cost a bundle to make, run up huge electrical bills, need lots of high-tech TLC, and are built to crunch numbers for weather forecasting and aerodynamic studies ... How have little computers been doing in terms of getting up to speed?

    In the middle of the swinging '70s, the first PCs (personal computers) could do a couple of hundred thousand flops, only a minuscule fraction of which is used when you are typing. In the more insipid mid-'80s, about the time it became possible to see a full page-width of text on a cheap PC, home computers could do a megaflop or so. The hot 486 of the early 1990s could perform ten megaflops. Today's (1996) Pentiums and PowerPCs can beat 100 megaflops. The power of small computers and the chips that run them has gone up about 1,000-fold since they first came into existence, and more than a hundredfold in the last ten years or so. In this respect, PCs have matched the growth rate of mainframes...

    Starting around 1990, a number of institutions became frustrated with the slow speed of current supercomputers and began to clamor for "ultra" machines that could do the one trillion calculations per second needed to model the aerodynamics of aircraft in extremely realistic detail or chew through weather data for dramatic improvements in forecasts. In the '80s, such a teraflop machine was something not expected until well into the 21st century. Just a few years ago, folks got a bit over-optimistic and figured a teraflop machine would be up and running by 1995. What is happening is that a 1.8-teraflop machine, TFLOP, is being built at Sandia National Laboratories for $46 million. It will be used for simulating exploding nuclear weapons, climates, and advanced materials. It should be online late this year (1996)...


    Ken Olsen describes the Whirlwind computer
    ... Then to top it off they built this whole computer with ten thousand vacuum tubes in long racks. The racks are 22 inches 56 cm wide, 11 feet 3.4 m high. Each rack was a digit...

    Exactly What Is A Megaflop?

    FLOPS (floating-point operations per second)

    What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating-Point Arithmetic

    Floating-point arithmetic is considered an esoteric subject by many people. This is rather surprising because floating-point is used in almost all computer systems. Almost every language has a floating-point datatype; computers from PCs to supercomputers have floating-point accelerators...

    The IEEE single precision floating point standard representation requires a 32 bit word, which may be represented as numbered from 0 to 31, left to right. The first bit is the sign bit, 'S', the next eight bits are the exponent bits, 'E', and the final 23 bits are the fraction 'F'...

    Floating Point Arithmetic

    Some Disasters Attributable To Bad Numerical Computing
    (programming errors affecting floating-point arithmetic calculations)

    2000 December 26

    New Kid on Broadcast Block Seeks Alliances
    Salter Street Films

    In early stages of negotiations with content providers

    Having secured the right to operate The Independent Film Channel, Halifax-based Salter Street Films Inc. will likely develop strategic alliances with both broadcasters and content providers as it prepares for a launch in September 2001.

    "We're absolutely going to have to actively explore building relationships with others," Catherine Tait, president and chief operating officer of Salter Street, said in an interview. "There's obviously a lot we can learn from the incumbent broadcasters, given their years of experience."

    Ms. Tait also said that Salter Street would very likely have to strike deals with the holders of Canadian rights to movies, and suspects there are many "that will be extremely happy to have another window" for having them aired.  "I imagine they would be quite pleased to get the additional revenue from any deal we can work out with them," she said, adding the company is still "very much in the preliminary stages" of negotiations with content providers.

    Michael MacMillan, chief executive of Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., which produces and distributes many of the type of films The Independent Movie Channel would likely show, said it makes sense Salter would approach his company for movies.  "We see many of the digital channels that have been licensed as a potential source of revenue," said Mr. MacMillan. He added serious talks most likely would not happen until Salter Street completes negotiations with the cable companies regarding distribution of the movie channel and the other 20 channels for which it won licences.

    Ms. Tait said Salter Street's jump into the broadcasting arena, having been known primarily as a producer of shows such as LEXX and This Hour has 22 Minutes, "opens an entirely new horizon for us." It also will be good to have another voice in Canadian broadcasting, she said, especially one based outside of central Canada.  The licences granted to Salter Street were among the hundreds that were recently granted to broadcasters by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission.

    The Independent Movie Channel, which beat out four other similar applications to the CRTC, is important to Salter Street's future as a broadcaster, as it is a first tier licence that must be carried by the cable companies. The other licences are for tier two channels, where carriage must be negotiated.

    Ms. Tait noted her first priority will be the launch of the first tier movie channel, but she is hoping to "get as many others launched as possible." She would not make any predictions as to which others might be launched but, as an example, said channels such as World Cinema and World News have potential. World Cinema has "natural synergies" with the first tier movie channel, she said, while World News is in a new category that would fill a niche market.

    Ms. Tait said Salter Street has budgeted between $7,000,000 and $10,000,000 toward the fall launch of the channels. But she said the final amount probably will not be decided until it is more clear which channels beyond the movie channel will go to air first.

    Analysts have noted the importance of The Independent Film Channel and other digital licences to Salter's Street's growth prospects. "Building on the momentum of its surprising win of The Independent Film Channel licence ... Salter is poised for a significant improvement in performance over our extended forecast," says Adam Shine, analyst with CIBC World Markets, in a recent report.  Given that movies are among the most-watched shows on television, he said in an interview, Salter's independent movie channel will help drive other digital channels, depending on how they are packaged.  Mr. Shine recently raised his recommendation on the company's stock to a "buy" from a "hold," as well as raising his 12-month target price to $6.00 from $4.75.

    [The National Post, 26 December 2000]

    Salter Street Films website

    2000 December 29 - 2001 January 3

    Hockey Games Broadcast on Internet to Global Audience

    EastLink Community Television Webcasts Games
    from New Glasgow Stadium, December 29 to January 3

    HALIFAX, NS, Dec. 26 /CNW/ — If you're one of the thousands of fans who won't be able to attend the upcoming Under-17 World Hockey Challenge live at the New Glasgow Stadium, you're about to receive a belated Christmas present.  EastLink, the only fully Maritime-owned communication and entertainment provider, is pleased to announce that it will bring the excitement of the week-long event to audiences throughout its cable systems and beyond.

    EastLink Community Television will broadcast nine of the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge games to be held at the New Glasgow Stadium in Nova Scotia beginning December 29th and running through January 3rd. Wherever possible, the company will air live broadcasts of the games to its Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island audiences on EastLink Community Television. Viewers in four EastLink systems — Sydney, Yarmouth, Windsor and Aylesford — will receive tape delayed broadcasts of the event.

    For audiences outside its cable systems, however, EastLink will air live webcasts of the games on the EastLink Community Television New Media Web site, located at http://newmedia.eastlink.ca/.

    Brett Smith, EastLink's Director of Community Programming, says the company is proud to bring this world-class event to a global audience. "The Under-17 Challenge showcases international hockey at its best," says Smith.  "We're pleased to offer leading-edge webcasting that will enable fans around the world to cheer for their favourite teams in real time." The 2001 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge — which regularly draws scouts from throughout the NHL — features teams from Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, the United States, Quebec, Ontario, and both Western and Atlantic Canada. Since numerous players from past events have made their way onto NHL rosters, viewers will likely be watching some future draft picks in action.

    The broadcast schedule, for both webcasting and live broadcasting on EastLink Community Television, is as follows:
    The EastLink organization is a group of Maritime owned and operated companies providing a range of communication, entertainment and advertising services to business and residential customers across the Maritimes. The company is privately owned and operated with its head office in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    EastLink press release, 26 December 2000

    EastLink's main website

    EastLink's host site for the WebCast

    2000 December 31

    Last Day of the
    Old Millennium

    The Second Millennium ends on December 31, 2000, not 1999 as was erroneously reported by the media last year.
    —Fred Espenak, Planetary Systems Branch
    NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA


    The 3rd millennium will begin with AD 2001...
    U.S. Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications Department

    The New Millennium and the New Century start on January 1st 2001...
    Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England

    Why does the 3rd Millennium and the 21st Century start on 1 Jan 2001?
    Institute for National Measurement Standards
    National Research Council, Canada

    The 3rd Millennium starts January 1st, year 2001, not year 2000 as many people believe...
    timeanddate.com — a guide to time zones, calendars, and more...

    "We have uniformly rejected all letters and declined all discussion upon the question of when the present century ends, as it is one of the most absurd that can engage the public attention, and we are astonished to find it has been the subject of so much dispute, since it appears plain. The present century will not terminate till January 1, 1801, unless it can be made out that 99 are 100... It is a silly, childish discussion, and only exposes the want of brains of those who maintain a contrary opinion to that we have stated."
    The Times, London, 26 December 1799

    Frequently Asked Questions about Calendars

    Blame the madness on Dennis the Short
    An essay about calendars, religion and the ability to count to 1,000...

    Go To:   History of Telegraph and Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

    Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia

    Go To:   History of Electric Power Companies in Nova Scotia

    Go To:   History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia

    Go To:   Nova Scotia History, Chapter One

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