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Meeting Summaries – 2011-2012

Fall 2011

Note: meetings are normally held on the first Monday of the month.

October 3, 2011

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. John Calder
Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
Title:”Coal Age Galapagos”

  For 19th century researchers, the Joggins Fossil Cliffs offered a stunning variety of fossil discoveries, which led to a new understanding of geological and evolutionary principles, appearing in none other than Darwin’s Origin of Species. This lecture will complement Dr. Calder’s new book, Coal Age Galápagos, to be published this fall.

November 7, 2011

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. Heike Lotze
Department of Biology, Dalhousie University
Title:”Food, Furs & Feathers: History of Human-induced Changes in Coastal Ecosystems”

  Throughout history, people have used marine resources for food, fuel, furs, feathers and other purposes, but when did they actually start having a marked impact on the abundance of marine animal populations and the structure of coastal ecosystems? I will present documented historical changes in the outer Bay of Fundy and then compare those to changes in other regions around the world to derive a general history of human-induced changes in marine ecosystems.

November 29, 2011 (lecture was repeated February 20, 2012)

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Cameron Ells, P. Eng., Chair
Shubenacadie Canal Commission
Title:”There and Back Again: Along the Shubenacadie Canal in 1861″

  November 29th, 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the first full round trip of the steamer Avery between Halifax Harbour and the Bay of Fundy – along the Dartmouth lakes, and the rivers of East Hants and Colchester County. During the construction of the Shubenacadie Canal, there were social, financial, technological, and other challenges that were met with a mixture of what was then traditional, innovative, and adapted responses. In the end, the canal system worked, but it was not sustainable. The lessons learned are instructive for major infrastructure decision making today. The canal is an increasingly popular recreational route, with new investments being made in the trails, waterways, and historic infrastructure. Join us for this special talk, and catch a sea-to-sea glimpse across pre-Confederation Nova Scotia!

December 5, 2011

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. Martin Willison, Adjunct Professor
School for Resource & Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University
Title:”From Picnic Parks to Systematic Protection of Biodiversity: A Review of the Development of Protected Areas in Nova Scotia”

  Biodiversity is life’s essence. Protected areas are the core elements of any biodiversity conservation strategy because habitat diversity must be maintained. As with all jurisdictions in Canada, Nova Scotia’s protected areas began to be created in a somewhat arbitrary manner, selected mostly for recreation and economic benefits. In more recent times, conservation science has come to the fore, most notably in the wilderness areas program which began in 1992 and has progressed in fits and starts since then. Even more recently, a gap-filling approach has been taken. Nova Scotia’s protected areas system planning process is based on fundamental concepts such as: enduring features, representivity, habitat, species at risk, and diverse approaches based on socio-economic considerations. These diverse approaches have included: parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, buffer zones, partnerships, and compromises. The history of the development of Nova Scotia’s protected areas will be reviewed, and possible future paths towards comprehensive protection of the province’s biodiversity will be discussed.

WInter 2012

Note: meetings are normally held on the first Monday of the month.

January 9, 2012

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. Charlie Embree,
Tree Fruit Physiologist, Agriculture and Agri-Food’s Atlantic Food and Horticultural Research Centre, Kentville, N. S.
Title:”100 Years of Research in the Orchard”

  From the time the Acadians planted the first seedling apple trees in the 1600s until the end of the 1800s, progress in the development of the apple industry was slow. Production began to increase in the late 1800s, as more and more farmers planted apple trees and tested new varieties. This was led by Charles Prescott in the 1840s, who introduced the Gravenstein apple, among other cultivars. By the late 1800s, successful sales of apples in the United Kingdom also stimulated planting. This led to a peak of export production in 1933. The Nova Scotia Marketing Board at the time had 220 cultivars registered. Since then the Nova Scotia apple industry has experienced considerable challenges and production has increased and decreased during the last three decades to the current average of about three million bushels a year. From 1911 to 2011, the federal research facility, the Atlantic Food and Horticultural Research Centre in Kentville has diligently studied and solved problems for the local industry as well as for leading apple-producing areas around the world. This presentation will summarize earlier history and briefly outline some of the key research accomplishments that led to this progress.

February 6, 2012

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. Grant Wach
Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University
Title:”Burning Rocks: The History of the Petroleum Industry in Canada & the Maritimes”

  From Abram Gesner’s early discovery of kerosene that marked the beginning of the end of the whaling industry, to Encana’s new high-tech Deep Panuke gas development off the shores of Nova Scotia; both Canada and the Maritimes have led the world in oil and gas exploration. The first oil well in Petrolia led to the Canadian drill rig, a simple, sturdy structure of wood that could be dismantled and set-up in two days and was in use from the U.S. to Indonesia. Imperial Oil developed oil refining in London, Ontario. The latest advances in mapping the ocean floor using sonar technologies began in New Brunswick. This lecture will trace the development of oil and gas exploration in Canada and the people that have led us along the way.

February 20, 2012 (This was a repeat of the November 29, 2011 lecture)

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Cameron Ells, P. Eng., Chair
Shubenacadie Canal Commission
Title:”There and Back Again: Along the Shubenacadie Canal in 1861″

  November 29th, 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the first full round trip of the steamer Avery between Halifax Harbour and the Bay of Fundy – along the Dartmouth lakes, and the rivers of East Hants and Colchester County. During the construction of the Shubenacadie Canal, there were social, financial, technological, and other challenges that were met with a mixture of what was then traditional, innovative, and adapted responses. In the end, the canal system worked, but it was not sustainable. The lessons learned are instructive for major infrastructure decision making today. The canal is an increasingly popular recreational route, with new investments being made in the trails, waterways, and historic infrastructure. J oin us for this special talk, and catch a sea-to-sea glimpse across pre-Confederation Nova Scotia!

March 2012 
The March 2012 lecture was cancelled due to unavailability of the speaker. It is expected that this lecture will be rescheduled for the 2012-2013 season.

April 2, 2012

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. Jacob Hanley
Department of Geology, Saint Mary’s University
Title:”A Noble Legacy: The History, Geology, and Future of Gold Mining and Exploration in Nova Scotia”

  In anticipation of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s 2012-2013 exhibit, Gold: A Nova Scotia Treasure, this lecture will explore the ways in which this precious metal has captured the imagination of prospectors and scientists throughout the province’s history.

May 7, 2012

Time: 7:30pm
Speaker: Dr. Bernard Lightman
Professor of Humanities, Editor of the journal Isis, and Director of the Institute for Science and Technology Studies, York University
Title:”Communicating Knowledge to New Audiences: Victorian Popularizers of Science “

   The origins of modern “popular science” are to be found in the early nineteenth century. In fact, “popular science” did not exist before 1800. This paper will discuss the conditions that made “popular science” possible for the first time in Britain in the nineteenth century. Two of the most important factors were the communications revolution, leading to an explosion of books on science for the general audience, and the creation of a series of new science museums and exhibitions. The combination of these two factors resulted in what is referred to by historians as the age of the “cult of science.” During the second half of the nineteenth century science was everywhere in Victorian culture and society. I will also discuss the most important popularizers of science in this period, many of whom were not professional scientists.