Award Winners

Apr 19 2022

We’re the Problem

(Saltscapes Magazine, Oct/Nov 2020; International Regional Magazine Awards, Silver award winner, Nature & Environmental category)

When wildlife brushes up against human activity, it usually ends poorly for the animal. This dedicated duo of wildlife rehabilitators works to rewrite that ending (part 1 of a 2-part series)

The phone call from Canaport LNG came in at 10AM on September 14, 2013. Flocks of birds had flown into a gas flare the night before, the caller said. Can you help?

Barry Rothfuss, Executive Director of Atlantic Wildlife Institute (AWI), a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Cookville, NB, hung up the phone and kicked into high gear, initiating protocols he’d developed over decades of emergency response. By 2PM, he and a team of well-trained responders had arrived at the Saint John, NB facility overlooking the Bay of Fundy.

The scene was horrific. Thousands of dead and dying songbirds covered an area the size of two football fields. Some were flopping about unable to fly; others still tumbled from the sky. A feeding frenzy of gulls plucked up the helpless fallen. Traumatized workers were unsure what to do.

“In an event like this, your mind focuses on the task at hand,” recalls Barry. “You don’t have time to reflect on emotions, or the animals suffering. Your job is to remediate and respond as best you can.”

Apr 01 2017

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters

(Saltscapes Magazine, Apr/May 2017; Atlantic Journalism Awards Magazine Article silver finalist)

New Brunswick’s Grindstone Island is a storied place with a history etched in stone

Grindstone Island. Named for the sandstone once quarried from its cliffs and reefs, this tiny Bay of Fundy island marks the spot where the salty waters of Shepody Bay flow past the hook of Mary’s Point into Chignecto Bay.

Its lighthouse sits atop a bluff overlooking ‘Five Fathom Hole’, once a deep anchorage for ships even at low tide. The stones along its shore bear fossils from tropical times, the names of those who lived here, and others who wished to leave their mark.

May 15 2016

Conserving Endangered Wild Salmon

(Saltscapes Magazine, Jul/Aug 2016; Atlantic Journalism Awards Silver finalist for Enterprise Reporting)

Volunteer efforts undermined by government apathy (Part 2 of 2)

The 129-kilometre-long Nepisiguit River flows north and east from Nepisiguit Lakes to New Brunswick’s Bay of Chaleur. Today, it’s a healthy river with more than 90 salmon pools, abundant gravel for spawning, and rapids that oxygenize the water.

It wasn’t always like this.

Back in the 70s, when the Nepisiguit was dead due to acid runoff and toxic waste escaping a nearby mining operation, Bob Baker of Bathurst walked every foot of the shoreline to the impressive Nepisiguit Falls and power dam marking the terminus of the salmon’s 28-kilometre journey upriver from the bay. He noted the pools and gravel beds that salmon might frequent.

Mar 01 2016

Can we save our Salmon?

(Saltscapes Magazine, Mar/Apr 2016; Silver Atlantic Journalism Award  for Enterprise Reporting)

We’re losing a desperate race against time and long odds and government indifference (Part 1 of 2)

Spring sunshine warms my face as my kayak drifts down the Miramichi River. I pass riffles and salmon pools, downed trees, submerged rocks, and gravelly shallows. Occasionally I hear a splash, or encounter fishermen, braced thigh deep in the water, angling for ‘blacks’ or ‘kelts’ – salmon that, after spawning last fall, have overwintered in the river.

Meandering through this forested river valley, its shoreline peppered with fishing camps and signs posting private pools, it is hard to believe that a healthy salmon population cannot thrive here unaided, but without the dedicated actions of thousands of human caregivers, Atlantic salmon populations would have crashed decades ago due to human interference, negligence and exploitation.

Jul 06 2011

Tongue & Cheek

(2012 Bronze, International Regional Magazine Awards; 2011 Honorable Mention Professional Writers’ Association of Canada Features Writing category)

Each time I travel to Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, I visit the Broom Point Fishing Exhibit, a family cabin and fish store restored to the way the buildings were in the 1960s when the Mudge family lived there each year, April to August. What was once a family’s home and business is now a historical site, designed to preserve the memory of Newfoundlanders who made their living from the sea.

Over the years, I’ve come to know some of the interpreters who, with the beauty of lilt and brogue and language, are the spirit of the place. They are the reason I return, time after time, to Broom Point.

On my last visit, I met Louise Decker. As the cool Gulf of St. Lawrence winds rattled the windows in the cozy fishing cabin, and softwood snapped in the stove, the tiny, 4’ 11” Louise related her story.

Aug 16 2007

A Tour of a Lifetime

(Saltscapes Magazine, Jul/Aug 2007; Atlantic Journalism Awards Silver in Atlantic Magazine Best Profile)

Silhouetted against windows overlooking La Dune de Bouctouche, “The Woodchuck” hunches over his workbench. Close at hand are his tools – chisels and mallets made by his brother – and over his shoulder, a charcoal likeness of Jesus. Above the bench, one of his first relief carvings. Reminders of grace and how far he has come.