Saturday, February 6, 2021
The Cut and the Arm, 1978 is based of an aerial view from the City of Halifax Archives and shows west end Halifax from the Armdale railway cut and the Northwest Arm to the roundhouse in Rockingham, circa 1978. Because of family breakdown I spent the first year of my life living next to the ocean in my Sang Mêlés Acadien homeland, Tus'ket Wedge in Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia. Returning to Halifax the family lived in a dilapidated Victorian, cold-water flat off Windsor Street. In 1966 we moved to the west end into a new world of new things - streets, houses, schools, parks, shopping malls, all new and clean with smooth unbroken pavement for as far as the eye could see. Nothing can touch the perfection of this place on a quiet Sunday in high summer when all was so still the chirping of grasshoppers drifted over the hot paved parking lots and I was drawn to the historic train line behind Simpson-Sears to wait for trains. In contrast to everything around me the rail line was old, covered in oil and the margins overgrown with grass. The engineers knew this was a playground for children like me, particularly Chebucto Road Bridge so they sounded their horns from a great distance in the railway cut to warn us. Hearing the high pitched glassy sounding chime tooting and bending in the fluctuating winds we stepped away from the tracks and waited in the long grass for the train to pass, usually a modest double hitch Dayliner on the way to Yarmouth, or a long passenger train bound for Montréal. Before I could understand what sacred meant I knew this place was somehow sacred and eternal and that I was just a passing shadow over the pristine grey pavement on a quiet summer day.