Tagged: Sydney NS

Go ahead. Park here. We dare you.

The CBRM Works Department has made improvements at 322 George St….


… but prudent motorists would do well to remember this antique internet chestnut:


H/T: Tara Camus and Framework Cycle and Fitness

Under new management — corrected


This afternoon, in a move sure to flabbergast longtime French fry fans in Sydney, a worker at Fuzzy’s Fries offered a patron a plastic packet of ketchup.

FuzzKetch-closeCivilization, as we know it, may be in peril.

Former owner Don “Fuzzy” Bacich, who founded the landmark chip wagon at The Esplanade and Townsend St. 40 years ago,* offered a selection of salt, pepper, and vinegar, but had no truck with ketchup.

He knew his proud creations owed their universal acclaim to the golden simplicity of their potatoey goodness. A little salt? Certainly. Some vinegar? Sure. But to slather his chips with the garish, tomato-based condiment was to to debase them.

So vehemently did Bacich hove to this creed, legend had him berating customers who dared even inquire as to the availability of the red stuff. Fairly or unfairly, this habit won Bacich a sobriquet based on the fictional owner of a Manhattan soup shop regularly featured on a longrunning New York-based sitcom.

But time marches on, and another bastion of quality and tradition falters.

* [CORRECTION] Contrarian reader Weldon Boone writes to say Bacich acquired the chip stand from a Montrealer named John Landmeyer, who founded the operation in 1959. At the time, Boone worked with the late Jack Colombus at CHER, which aired Fuzzy’s Fries commercials. [Thanks to Contrarian reader John MacNeil for supplying Mr. Landmeyer’s last name.]

A wiener dog at Fuzzy’s

Hold the ketchup, if you please.

Wiener Dog At Fuzzies 550

Too good.

How to make a new town love you

Old Crow Sydney Use-550

When the Rollings Stones played the Halifax Commons in September, 2006, Mick Jagger impressed the crowd by using the term “Haligonian,” and even pronouncing “Newfoundland” correctly. Forty years into his career, the rock superstar still had the professionalism to get every local concert detail exactly right.

I have never seen an effort to sprinkle a touring show with meaningful local references to match what Old Crow Medicine Show frontman Ketch Secor displayed last night at the Nashville-based, alt-bluegrass band’s Membertou show in Sydney.

“It’s intimidating to play the violin in a city that has a 60-foot-high statue of one,” Secor told the crowd. “You see the cop on the corner and you wonder, ‘Does he play the fiddle?’ You get talking with the crossing guard and ask, ‘Do you play the fiddle?’ What about the guy painting lines down the middle of the street, does he play?”

Big Fiddle 2225

“Then you start to wonder, “Do I play the fiddle… well enough?”

(He does. Secor’s pyrotechnic style is a cross between Ashley MacIsaac and the Leahy Family Band.)

Early in the show, Secor described an obviously fictitious drive he claimed to have taken through rural Cape Breton, throwing in half a dozen local place names.

“You got hillbillies up here?” he asked. “Where do they live? Victoria County? Well here’s a song for all the hillbillies out in Victoria County.”

In introducing the George Jones song, “Tennessee Whiskey,” Secor illustrated the Texas crooner’s universal appeal by noting that Scooter Jim, a fixture of downtown Sydney’s streetscape, had been humming a Jones tune earlier that afternoon.

Advance work can’t give you these little telling details. You can only get them by taking the trouble to walk around the city and chat up everyone you meet.

Toward the end of the show, the band played a song with the same verse structure as “We are an Island,” and before you knew it, they had inserted the chorus — words all correct, air slightly askew — into their own song.

We are an island, a rock in the stream
We are a people, as proud as there’s been
In soft summer breeze or in wild winter wind
Home of our hearts, Cape Breton

The crowd, naturally, went berserk, as the refrain repised half a dozen times.

As in Halifax, a series of encore tunes ended with a letter-perfect a capella rendition of “Barrett’s Privateers.”

Attention young musicians: Want to make an impression on the road? Take a few notes from Old Crow’s fakebook.

The YHZ-YQY rip-off — rebuttal

Air Canada did not respond to Contrarian’s invitation to explain its price gouging on the Halifax-Sydney run, where it often costs more to get off in Halifax than to fly on to Toronto or St. John’s (original complaint here).

However, an Air Canada employee has argued forcefully that Sydney Airport (now called J. A. Douglas McCurdy Airport) “has extremely high fees and rents even for a Canadian Airport.”

I challenged my correspondent for specifics, and he responded:

I called the YQY airport and asked how much it cost to land an airplane. There does not seem to be anything published. [An employee] said it was $6.97 per 1,000 kgs. up to 20,000 kgs. and $8.80 per 1,000 after 20,000 kgs. Abbotsford, BC,  charges $2.82 per 1,000 kgs.*

Air Canada’s fees are governed by a contract, but I bet anything it cost three times what it would to land in YQY over any comparable airport.

A Dash 8 weights in the range of 15000 kgs, so if this logic follows it would add $100 per flight. [Not sure about my correspondent’s math. I make it about $900 more to land in Sydney than Abbotsford, or roughly $23 per round trip ticket at full capacity of 39 passengers. – PD]  The parking fees and terminal fees are also rumoured to be much higher. We also pay for the right to park equipment such as loaders, air-starters, and the like on the tarmac.

Airport rent has been discussed to death in other venues so I will not repeat what has been said, but it costs a fortune to keep offices in YQY.

If I buy a ticket from YQY, the Airport Improvement fee (AIF) is $28.75. From YHZ to YQY it’s $23.00.

Everything in YQY is more expensive than it is elsewhere at least on the surface. I toften hear scuttlebutt where staff says YQY is the
most expensive airport in Canada. Suffice to say that YQY is paying through the nose for year-round service. I know that when you fly the planes are full, but in the winter months the planes are just about vacant.

* My correspondent acknowledged the Sydney-Abbotsford comparison is not apples-to-apples, because Abbotsford adds on a per-seat charge, which Sydney does not. The writer was not authorized to speak for Air Canada, so I have not used his name.

I’d love to hear The Sydney Airport Authority’s rationale for its high prices, but none of this explains or excuses Air Canada’s screwy practice of charge less for a two- or three-leg flight to St. John’s or Toronto, and more for the first leg only.

Contrarian advises everyone flying between Halifax and Sydney to see if you can save money buy purchasing a longer flight but only using the YQY-YHZ portion.

Less is more: the YHZ-YQY ripoff

Contrarian needed to make a reservation yesterday from Toronto to Sydney. The fact I had to get all the way to Sydney meant I couldn’t use Porter Airlines’ magnificent service from Toronto Island Airport.

Porter is the upstart airline known for its curious, retro habit of treating passengers as welcome guests. Leaving from the Island Airport avoids the time and money wasted getting to and from unspeakable Pearson.

So I made a quick check to see if Air Canada could accommodate me from Toronto Island. To my astonishment, I found the following:

$219.36 is an almost unheard of low fare. As I snapped it up, my flight-savvy friend wondered,  “What would it cost to buy the Halifax-Sydney leg by itself?” The answer will come as no surprise to Sydney travellers:

The poor sod taking the 50-minute flight from Halifax to Sydney in the most efficient aircraft Air Canada flies will pay $339.24 — more than half again as much as Contrarian paid to fly all the way from Toronto to Sydney, on an itinerary that included the same YHZ-YQY flight. The guy flying from Halifax pays $1.11 per kilometer; I paid 14 cents per kilometer.

I’m not quick to pull the regulation trigger, but the way Air Canada abuses its monopoly on the lucrative Halifax-Sydney run to gouge Cape Breton residents, business people, and tourists is crystal clear to everyone but the Competition Bureau and Transport Canada.

New Waterford

New Waterford

Contrarian friend and New Waterford video artist Ashley McKenzie, now serving temporary exile in Halifax, has put some of her wonderful still photos on line. McKenzie previously recorded the demolition of Sydney’s Vogue Theatre in this clever video.