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Walling: Welcome Canada, to Liverpool, Nova Scotia

Alex J. Walling
1/24/2014 3:22:07 PM
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Liverpool - ever hear of it?

Most of you have known it as the home of The Beatles.

The one I'm talking about is the home of country and western singer Hank Snow (Hank, who died in 1989 would have been 100 this year).

I'm talking about the other Liverpool - the one in Canada - Atlantic Canada - on the south coast of Nova Scotia 90 minutes south of Halifax.

It's nice, cute and quaint - almost a flashback in time look-type of town.

Population of about 2,000, bolstered by the adjoining communities of Milton and Brooklyn.

So you the idea that this is small town Canada, even very small town.

Needless to say, Liverpool doesn't make national headlines. But it has in recent years and it wasn't for good reasons.

Over a year ago the big White Point resort's main lodge went up in flames, putting a tourist hub out of work. And then the industry that gave this area its birth - the Bowater paper mill - closed and put hundreds of others out of work after 83 years.

Yes, it's been tough times.

But a decision was made almost four years ago to build a recreation centre and arena - to the tune of $21 million - and it's this centre that is the star of Liverpool today.

And this tiny town is hosting a big national sporting event as the Canadian Junior National Curling championships are being held here.

Of course, TSN - which is accustomed to broadcasting in small towns as shown by the Kraft Celebration Tour - is here. They made it to a neighboring town of Bridgewater for one delightful Sunday afternoon on last summer's tour.

But Bridgewater at 20,000 people is a metropolis compared to Liverpool.

This is by far the biggest event ever held in Liverpool going back to 1759, and it all comes back to the new arena which, like so many places in Canada, is the centre of a town.

Before this event, one has to go back 50 to 60 years in the days of the H&D Baseball League when Moe Drabowsky came to town to get big provincial coverage.

Remember Moe?

He was an American baseball player who came to this region to play semi-pro ball.

Moe Drabowsky pitched in Liverpool on his way up to a decent major league career. He pitched in the majors for many teams, but is remembered for his days with Baltimore. He still holds a major league record of striking out 11 batters in a relief appearance in the 1966 World Series and his six consecutive strikeouts of the Dodgers - tying him with a mark set in 1909. Moe's Orioles beat the Dodgers winning four straight.

No NHL hockey players or CFLers have ever come from Liverpool.

There are some provincial highlights, but not national ones over the decades.

The local legion held the National Cribbage tournament in 2013, but that doesn't count as it really was confined to legions across the county and crib is not a spectator sport.

We as Canadians talk a lot about our love for hockey and arenas across Canada and this building has given this area that has suffered so many hard knocks over the year a great showcase.

The reason this national curling event is here - and the reason the TSN mobile trucks are in town - is Queens Place. There is no other reason.

The curling will be underway with the women's finals on Saturday and the men's final on Sunday afternoon.

If you thought the Kraft Celebration Tour was big in nearby Bridgewater five months ago, you have to see this event.

It's nothing for the NHL and CFL centres to get national coverage. It's a much bigger deal for when a very small community gets, even for just a few hours, the national spotlight for a sporting event.

Queens Place, in its second year, still looks like new.

There was a little resistance as the hockey rink changed to a curling venue, but most of that dissipated when folks realized what an economic boom this national curling event was to this area.

Signs of "Welcome to our House" are all over the place, along with "Liverpool Rocks."

The folks in this area have battled back from many debilitating blows over the last few years and have staged a great national curling event. This weekend will showcase the building and the town on national television on TSN.

It's a good story - maybe even a great one.

This is my 25th year affiliated with TSN - 12 of them on television reporting from every nook and cranny in Atlantic Canada.

And six years ago I moved to the Liverpool area. In my 25 years of covering stories in Atlantic Canada, this is my first shout out from here and I'm glad – and proud - to do so.

For TSN.ca, I'm Alex J. Walling.

Alex J. can be reached via email at: ajw@eastlink.ca




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