Select your Location:


2019 Word on the Street Halifax Schedule

WoTS Halifax Festival Line-Up Updates as of September 1st.

Historic Nova Scotia

10:00 AM - 10:50 AM

Ronald Caplan – A Stone for Andrew Dunphy

Award-winning interviewer Ronald Caplan has finally written his own book— a personal account of his search for song and obituary poetry and the tools for community survival in northern Cape Breton. Caplan shares his journey through northern Cape Breton as he learned about the in-home singing tradition and the community’s extraordinary devotion to the poet Andrew Dunphy—a person who might in other places have been an outcast. Dunphy roamed northern Cape Breton, sharing the news, nursing the sick, often caring for small children. He was loved everywhere. And he wrote magnificent poems that, with great respect, his neighbours turned into popular song.  One hundred years later, with obvious affection,. Told in the words of those who knew Andrew Dunphy, including singer Helen Curtis, esteemed fiddler Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald, historian and storyteller Bob Fitzgerald. and Dunphy’s close friend George Rambeau—in A Stone for Andrew Dunphy Caplan tells of the robust life that flourished in the Aspy Bay region as the 20th century dawned.

Editor of several collections, Caplan is the author of A Stone for Andrew Dunphy—Narrative Obituary Verse and Song in Northern Cape Breton.  Caplan created Cape Breton’s Magazine in 1972 and, since then, has devoted himself to photographing and interviewing people in all parts of the island. The magazine ran from 1972 until 1999 and is now available at In 1986, Caplan started publishing Breton Books, a company devoted to new and classic books mostly by Cape Breton writers and on Cape Breton subjects.For his contribution to Cape Breton culture, he has received several awards, including Nova Scotia’s Cultural Life Award and the Order of Canada.

John Grant – The Mystery Ships of Nova Scotia in the First World War

THEY SAILED INTO HARM’S WAY dressed as ordinary fishermen, seeking to be attacked by German submarines. This armed team faced danger, frayed nerves, and boredom. Because their mission was secret, they could not explain their service to Canada in the First World War. In this brisk, readable and respectful history, John N. Grant tells the long-buried story of Canada’s Mystery Fleet. He names men who tried to lure U-boats into range, and then sailed into anonymity—until now. Many historic photographs.

John N. Grant, a native of Guysborough, NS, is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University, the University of New Brunswick, Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto. He taught in the public school system, was a Research Associate of the Atlantic Institute of Education, a professor at the Nova Scotia Teachers College, and retired from St. Francis Xavier University. He is a member of the Board of Historic Sherbrooke Village, the Little White Schoolhouse Museum, the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society, the Nova Scotia Teachers College Foundation, and was a member and later Chair of the Board of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. He has published articles and books on African-Nova Scotian history, the history of academic costume in Nova Scotian universities, the history of education, and local history. He has been interested in the Mystery Fleet since he was first told the story by the then elderly Captain Byron Scott in Sherbrooke, NS, fifty years ago.

Harry Bruce – Lifeline: the Story of the Atlantic Ferries and Coastal Boats


Ron Caplan present’s Harry Bruce’s:

LIFELINE: THE STORY OF THE ATLANTIC FERRIES AND COASTAL BOATS is a fascinating, awe-inspiring, occasionally hilarious, and always vital history of the ferries that serve the Atlantic provinces, and of the coastal boats that keep rural Newfoundland and Labrador alive. It also details the amazing story of the Prince Edward Island ferries and their predecessors—the iceboats men hauled over and through the challenging icepacks of the Northumberland Strait. Here, too, are the stories of the protracted development of the Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to Bar Harbor, Maine, ferries, and the run from Digby, Nova Scotia, to Saint John, New Brunswick. Award-winning author Harry Bruce recounts tales of ordinary, determined citizens, heroic captains and crews, ships wrecked against ice floes and rocks and the ocean’s fury, political machinations, and the tragic outcome of a Nazi torpedo’s attack on the Caribou in 1942 on the Cape Breton–Newfoundland run. Harry Bruce’s telling is gripping, his research impeccable, and the people who come alive in these pages will drive home the complexity of keeping the water portions of the Trans-Canada Highway intact and our island provinces within confederation.

Illustrated with a gallery of historic photographs and pictures from the Marine Atlantic fleet today, LIFELINE is a must-read for Atlantic Canadians, and their friends.

Harry Bruce, a Torontonian by birth and Nova Scotian by ancestry and choice, worked for Ontario newspapers and magazines from 1955-to 1971 before moving to Nova Scotia. In addition to freelance journalism and writing books, he writes and edits, under contract, for the federal government and private industry. Harry graduated from Mount Allison University with a B.A. in Honours English and has given occasional readings and lectures. In 1997, he received the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award nineteen years after winning the award in its inaugural year.