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Has Tatamagouche found the secret to eternal life?

ON THE MAP, it’s just another dot by the sea.

On the ground, it’s just another unremarkable one-street village.

At its core, it has heart and soul and character and vitality to spare.

Socially and economically, it works.

This ain’t no quaint fishing village either, and there is no fish plant—and there is no mill, no factory and no call centre. There’s no idyllic sandy beach, no provincial or federal park, no famous landmarks or iconic tourist traps—not even a lighthouse, no resorts (former Timmy’s mogul Ron Joyce’s ultra high-end golf destination Fox Harb’r, complete with its own jet-capable airstrip, is just down the road—but really, it’s mainly a self-contained operation.)


But this little place is vibrant and progressive in every way, and those privileged to live there are pretty damn proud of it all and pleased with themselves and generally enjoying an enviable quality of life.

It’s even attracting young couples.

And the population is actually growing!

Tatamagouche, on Nova Scotia’s North Shore, is beating all the odds and bucking all the trends. While the rest of us grind our teeth and bite our nails worrying about the demographic time bomb facing our rural communities all across this region, looming larger than global warming in the public consciousness, folks in Tatamagouche are just getting on with it.

The thoroughly diversified local micro-economy is largely the result of innovative local initiatives. This is no one-horse town living or dying on the strength of a corporate boardroom decision a continent away. There are no polluting industries here—no pulp mills foul the air; no mines have opened ugly scars on the landscape; no salmon farms contaminate the bay. (The coming battle over hydraulic shale fracturing, or fracking, has been postponed until after the next provincial election.)

So what is it? What’s the secret? Can other communities learn from it; emulate it?

Well, maybe you can figure it out.

We have a fairly extensive piece on Tatamagouche, written by Sandra Phinney, starting on page 36. She explores the community, interviews the movers and shakers, and tries to get a handle on just exactly why this place works so very well, when the vast majority of others are in disrepair in so many ways.

To be honest, the answer is not all that readily apparent—although the interesting mix of people who live there suggests that perhaps a few come-from-aways is not a bad thing.

But whatever it is, it would be in the interest of the whole region to analyze it, define it, and determine how to clone it.

~ Linda & Jim Gourlay

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