Something About Nova Scotia
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Jan 1969, p. 138-147
Smith, Lt.-Col. The Hon. G.I., Speaker
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Some positive views of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia's degree of economic and industrial development compared with the rest of Canada. How Nova Scotia is viewed by the rest of Canada. The Nova Scotian view. Some of the developments in Nova Scotia, actual and potential, of a positive nature. Passing through the mid-stages of transition of an economy base. Evidence of this transition. A detailed description of Metropolitan Halifax, with facts and figures. New industries. The steel plant at Sydney. The future of Nova Scotia.
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23 Jan 1969
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Full Text
JANUARY 23, 1969
Something About Nova Scotia
AN ADDRESS By Lt.-Col. the Hon. G. I. Smith, M.B.E., E.D., Q.C., PREMIER OF NOVA SCOTIA
CHAIRMAN The President, Edward B. Jolliffe, Q.C.


New Scotland, or Nova Scotia, has reasons to claim seniority among all provinces of Canada. Although it is among the smaller in area and population, it is one of the richest in history, in strategic importance throughout the wars of the past two or three centuries, in the leadership it has provided from its earliest days down to Robert Stanfield, in its priceless contribution of men and women who have done so much to make Canada--and even Toronto--what they are today.

There's a new look in Nova Scotia as of this year of 1969, and part of that new look is the hard-working man in historic Province House, the latest in a long line of distinguished Premiers who have been known for their national service as well as provincial leadership, Lt.-Col. the Honourable George Isaac Smith, M.B.E., E.D., Q.C.

Born in Stewiacke, he was educated at Colchester Academy and Dalhousie Law School and practised law at Truro until 1939. But he also had 18 years of zealous service in the N.P.A.M., following which he served with great distinction in World War II, with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and various headquarter staffs, and (among other things) was mentioned in despatches.

He was first elected to the Legislature in 1949, joined the Cabinet in 1956, and succeeded Mr. Stanfield as Premier exactly 11 years later. We welcome here today the illustrous and gallant Premier of an illustrous and gallant province, Mr. Smith.


Mr. Chairman: I should like to begin by expressing my appreciation of the honour extended to me in asking me to speak to this distinguished gathering of Canadians.

Your club has occupied a place of distinction for a long time. The list of great men who have spoken to your meetings is a very long and impressive one. To be invited to follow in their footsteps is a privilege indeed. I thank you for it and add the hope your members will not regret your generosity.

Many of my old friends from other days and other activities, as well of those of later vintage and more contemporary fields of endeavour, live in Toronto. Some of them I see are here today. To them I offer a special word of greeting and good cheer.

On an occasion like this it is not easy for the speaker to know what subjects might interest his audience. In these days when politics and government activities, at all levels, seem to penetrate into nearly every major activity of our business and personal lives, perhaps a dissertation on the philosophy of government might be in order. Or, here in the heartland of Canada, where the first modern, general discussion of our constitution began in November 1967 it might be appropriate to talk about our country's constitutional questions which are for many so lively a concern just now. Or, perhaps it would be a suitable occasion on which to draw attention to the uneven degree of economic and industrial development between the different regions of Canada.

Well, important and interesting though such subjects are, I finally decided to talk to you about Nova Scotia. I reached this decision not only because it is a subject I like to talk about, but because I thought you might consider it worthwhile to spend a little time listening to some views about Nova Scotia of a more positive nature than some Canadians are inclined to express.

It is a fact, of course, that our degree of economic and industrial development is only about 75 per cent of the Canadian average, and a still smaller percentage of that achieved by your great and growing province--a province which takes the lead in Canada in so many ways. Not the least of these ways is its concern for the national interest of Canada.

It is also true that in putting forward the claims we consider just and reasonable in order to help our citizens attain a standard of living and public services nearer the Canadian average, we must of necessity draw attention to our difficulties and deficiencies. In doing so, we run the risk--we think unavoidably--of encouraging those who think we are a backward province of little opportunity. And some do, you know, even in Toronto.

Some tend to look at us rather as a poor part of the country, to be maintained for the benefit of Canadian geography and national security, and as a market for their products.

Perhaps you will not be surprised if I tell you that we Nova Scotians do not take that view at all. On the contrary, we have a deep rooted pride in our province and in ourselves. We have great pride too in Canada, and in the part Nova Scotia played in helping to create our country.

Perhaps here I might pause to say that we are the only province in which a general election was run on the issue of separating from Canada. It may be of interest to remember the separatists won a clear cut victory--but soon found it was easier to talk about going it alone than it was to take the risk of doing so.

And now let me turn to talk of some of the developments in Nova Scotia, actual and potential, of a positive nature. As I do so I do not forget our problems, our difficulties, nor do I ask you to. But I do ask you to remember as well the good things, to remember there are opportunities for industrial investment, to remember we are worth thinking about as a province with a future.

We are now passing through the mid-stages of transition, from an economy mainly based on our fields, our forests, our mines, and our fisheries to one of industrialization and of transition, from rural to urban life.

In this province, of course, you passed these mid-stages some time ago.

Our annual manufacturing shipments far outweigh the value of our traditional resource industries of fishing, farming, mining and forestry, though these remain very important to us.

As evidence of this transition let me cite the growth of what we call, perhaps a little grandly, Metropolitan Halifax. This is the area immediately adjacent to Halifax Harbour. It now has a population of just over 225,000. In the last sixteen years it has grown about 40%. Though this is modest both in size and rate of growth when measured against some places in Canada, it is nevertheless substantial. It puts Metropolitan Halifax in the same order of size as Windsor, London and Kitchener, and in a somewhat larger class than Victoria and Regina.

The area includes the newly enlarged City of Halifax with a population of 126,000; the City of Dartmouth directly across the harbour with 59,000, and their cluster of suburbs, most of them joining the two cities around the harbour's end, with 40,000.

To those of you who knew Halifax a few years ago, but who have not been there recently, I say you would have real difficulty in recognizing the city today.

New high rise office buildings and apartment blocks are altering its historic face and skyline. Expansion of universities, new museums, new galleries, the success of Neptune Theatre, are changing the cultural scene.

In Metropolitan Halifax we now have one of the largest concentrations of scientists in Canada. These are found in the universities (including the Nova Scotia Technical College), in a branch of the National Research Council, in the Bedford Oceanographic Institute, in the Research Foundation of Nova Scotia and in sophisticated private industry. Our professional schools, particularly in law and medicine, are among the best to be found.

The mood and appearance of Metropolitan Halifax are becoming more cosmopolitan, more contemporary and urban. A large part of the downtown core of the old city is being replaced with a $50,000,000 complex of modern new buildings rising beside the grand old city hall. Called Scotia Square, the new development now under construction will provide new integrated shopping malls, office towers, apartment buildings, a hotel, theatre, and the large trade mart which is already in operation. One of the largest urban developments of this kind in Canada, it is being built by a group of Nova Scotia businessmen. To help envisage the scope of this development let me say that when completed it will have a larger square foot area than Place Ville Marie.

It is an interesting commentary that the Nova Scotian developers had to turn to United States sources for the non-equity financing, though a recent equity issue in Canada was well received. I pose the question, though I do not answer it--"Was this because of a lack of interest in Nova Scotia on the part of major Canadian financial institutions?"

But development is not confined to the Halifax area. It can be found in each region of the province.

Something which we think stands comparison with anything happening in Canada is taking place at the Strait of Canso, which separates Cape Breton Island from the mainland. A side effect of the Causeway built across the Strait in the 1950s, was that it shut out winter ice, creating a huge year-round harbour 10 miles long and a mile wide, with the deepest water of any Atlantic harbour in the Americas. A $200,000,000 industrial buildup is underway on the Strait. This includes a big Swedish-owned pulp plant already in operation, the shipping facilities of Georgia Pacific Corporation, a new thermal power plant, the heavy water plant of Canadian General Electric Limited, and a new Gulf Oil refinery of 60,000 barrels a day initial capacity with capacity for 80,000 barrels being built into some parts of it. There is reason to hope it will produce feedstock which will attract petro-chemical industries to the site. I am told that within a year the biggest ships ever to enter a Canadian port supertankers of over 200,000 tons--will begin sailings to this new superport, and later the 300,000 ton superships which are the largest moving things in the modern world will regularly dock at a new $7,000,000 pier in Canso Strait.

To accommodate additional heavy industries in the same area the government of Nova Scotia is developing an 8,000 acre heavy industrial park on the Strait at Point Tupper.

Of course, our first superport is Halifax. The historic warden of the North Atlantic whose tall sailing ships once dominated a good part of ocean commerce, and which in the great wars sent thousands of troop and merchant ships in the perilous convoys overseas, for the past two years has regularly berthed the fully-loaded 110,000 ton supertanker, Imperial Ottawa, Canada's largest ship to date.

And the great depth of Halifax harbour which has made it the nation's first superport, is expected to be an important factor in the future development of container shipping through Halifax.

The establishment of Halifax as a container port is very important to Nova Scotia and to Canada.

Tightly scheduled to connect with trans-Atlantic container ship sailings, the total system is expected to provide a weekly transAtlantic container freight service into the eastern half of this continent which will be faster and cheaper than the St. Lawrence Seaway and which will operate steadily the year round. It is reasonable to hope this service may well, in due course, extend across the continent to Vancouver.

The service is scheduled to begin in mid 1969 using temporary waterfront facilities until a new $10,000,000 container pier opens next year. An international shipping consortium comprising British, Belgian and Canadian interests will begin operating a year-round trans-Atlantic container ship schedule out of this port in July.

There is every reason to believe this service will be followed by others.

As you may know, the container is the key to the vast new technology of freight transportation. Nova Scotians see the rapid development of Halifax as a major Atlantic container port and important step toward becoming one of the principal North American gateways for world trade. And when the Canadian "landbridge" linking Europe through North America with Japan and other Asian countries is realized, the container port of Halifax should be one of its main routes.

With containerization, our ancient port anticipates not only new shipping but an important buildup of attendant port-oriented business and industry. It will also have the advantage of reliable, regular transport connections and possibly better export freight rates for industries located in Nova Scotia. The growth of primary and secondary industry in Nova Scotia is substantial. More than $80,000,000 worth of manufactured products were made in Nova Scotia last year by the new industries which our crown development corporation, Industrial Estates Limited, has attracted to this province and the expansions of existing plant facilities it has helped finance.

In the 10 years since IEL attracted its first successful new plant to the province, it has helped bring Nova Scotia 60 new manufacturing industries and expansions of existing plants in 34 separate communities, creating direct employment for over 4,600 persons. Canadian economists estimate that this volume of direct employment generates about 5,500 additional jobs in service and other industries, which means about 10,000 new jobs altogether. The annual payroll for the plants assisted by the corporation is now about $18,500,000.

I will not ask you to listen to me enumerate the individual enterprises. But I would like to refer to some of them to indicate the world wide interest in coming to Nova Scotia. There is a textile plant from Italy, automobile assembly plants from Sweden and Japan, a hardboard factory from India, a plastic container plant from Austria, a carpet factory owned by United Kingdom and United States interests, a textile plant from Italy, a textile factory from the Netherlands, a manufacturer of Irish moss products from Denmark and a wide variety of factories from the United States.

Of recent new industries not receiving assistance from Industrial Estates, examples are a $5,000,000 fish plant at Canso run by United Kingdom interests, and a new fish processing plant at Yarmouth now being established by a West German Corporation.

I cannot let the occasion go by without some reference to the steel plant at Sydney. For a long time this has been one of the mainstays of Nova Scotia industrial life. Most of you will be aware that in October 1967 Hawker Siddley (Canada) Limited, then the owners of the controlling interest through Dominion Steel & Coal Company Limited, announced the plant would close because of the heavy losses being suffered.

At that time about 3200 people were employed there. Closing would have been a catastrophe to Cape Breton and scarcely less of a blow to the province.

The provincial government began negotiations with Hawker Siddley designed to keep the plant in operation long enough to work out either a way to ensure continued operation or orderly closing over a period of time. The negotiations were not successful. The government decided there was no alternative but to acquire the whole plant. This was done, by agreement with the owners.

A Crown Corporation called Sydney Steel Corporation was formed and took over the operation as of 1 January 1968. A leading Nova Scotian industrialist, Mr. R. B. Cameron, agreed to become the Chief Executive Officer. By the end of 1968, he was able to report a record annual production and a profit of two and a half million dollars. He was also able to predict with confidence that 1969 would be even better, and to announce his belief that performance would justify a fifty million dollar modernization programme beginning in 1969 and to be completed in 5 years. He emphasized, however, that this programme would only take place if performance justified it.

I want to make it perfectly clear that the two and a half million dollar profit is one arrived at by applying the same accounting practices as are applied to any private enterprise. It is a straightforward operating profit after proper allowance for financing expenses, depreciation, municipal taxes and all other proper deductions.

Its importance to the whole economy of the province is of the first magnitude. Its progress in 1968 has completely changed the economic outlook of Cape Breton.

We are, of course, not out of the woods yet, but certainly the future for Sydney now looks better than it has for some years.

Well, I've told you "Something about Nova Scotia" as I see it. I thank you for listening to me, and hope that in some way I have stirred your interest in us as a place where opportunities exist, as a place with a future.

May I close by saying again we are proud of being Nova Scotians. We are just as proud of being Canadians. We recognize the wide diversities which exist in Canada--diversities of geography, of language and culture, of economic development. But we recognize, too, the immensely strong common interests which tend to bind us together. With good will and understanding among all Canadians, and the desire to make the best of the wonderful things we share together, we are confident the strength of our common interests will help us to accommodate our diversities and will ensure for Canada and Canadians that bright future which lies within our grasp if we will make up our minds to reach it.

Thanks of the meeting were expressed by Mr. R. H. Hilborn.

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Something About Nova Scotia

Some positive views of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia's degree of economic and industrial development compared with the rest of Canada. How Nova Scotia is viewed by the rest of Canada. The Nova Scotian view. Some of the developments in Nova Scotia, actual and potential, of a positive nature. Passing through the mid-stages of transition of an economy base. Evidence of this transition. A detailed description of Metropolitan Halifax, with facts and figures. New industries. The steel plant at Sydney. The future of Nova Scotia.