Monday, May 26, 2014

Do Nova Scotians still have moral courage ?

I originally wrote this as a 'letter to the editor' to the Halifax Coast Magazine , over the public being offered a chance to name the new city ferry...
"The best test of a truly world-class city is not in the height of its skyscrapers but in the self confidence, cheekiness and swagger of its ordinary citizens: one has only to think of the character of your typical Berliner, Cockney or New Yorker ("Two decades of world-class delusions," Coast feature by Tim Bousquet, July 11 2013).
Now we have been asked to suggest a name for the new harbour ferry and I would like to see it named The Roue. Partly because I think it is a truly catchy name like "the loonie," but also partly to demonstrate that underneath all their bluster, our world-class-obsessed elite are actually far too chicken to swagger.
William J. Roue, who designed the famous Bluenose, also designed many of our harbour's earlier ferries and rode them daily as well, as he lived most of his long life in Dartmouth but worked in Halifax, making ginger ale by day and designing boats by night.
But as francophones and those with an interest in literature will recognize, roue is also a word adopted into English to describe our complicated feelings about someone who is a rakishly attractive, free-wheeling ladies' man. We shouldn't really like him but we have a sort of sneaking admiration for him (or her) all the same.
Imagine when our sophisticated friends come here, on vacation, from the truly big cities of the world and we oh-so-casually suggest that we "take The Roue to Dartmouth." Let them go back home and tell all their friends that the citizens of Halifax have the nerve to call their harbour ferry The Roue!
Would the Nova Scotians of today have enough swagger to carry this off ? Maybe not. But years ago, after watching William J. Roue's first successful design beat the pants off America's best, one humble deckhand boasted - in the best Sam Slick fashion - "the timbers that'll beat her are still growing in the trees!"
Now there's confidence and swagger that's truly world-class."

 —Michael Marshall, Halifax

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