Stephen Cooke – At Home Here in Nova Scotia

Occupation: Arts Reporter, The Chronicle Herald

Place of Birth: Dartmouth, NS (born on Natal Day, no less)

Currently Resides: Halifax, NS

Where’s your favourite place in Nova Scotia to grab a coffee?

I am a coffeeholic, usually accompanied by a New York Times crossword, and I have the great luck of living in the eye of a perfect caffeine storm with Chebucto Coffee to the west of me, Steve-O-Reno's drive-thru shack to the north, Java Blend to the east and Smith's Bakery to the south. I pretty much rotate between these, although the brew's also pretty good at FRED. One of these days I'm going to have to go on a cafe crawl.

Where’s your favourite place in Nova Scotia to grab a pint?

If I could teleport to the Doryman in Cheticamp for a weekend afternoon fiddle session, I'd be a happy man, but technology hasn't caught up with my dreams yet (they also have the comfiest bar chairs known to man), so I'm perfectly happy to get a local ale or bitter at The Henry House in Halifax. Although my neighbourhood bar (or "local" as my Australian gal terms it) is The Lion's Head Tavern which, as luck would have it, carries the same Granite Brewery draughts as Henry House. Perfect for when I'm feeling Peculiar.

Where’s your favourite place to shop in Nova Scotia?

To be honest, I'm not much of a shopper. A shocking percentage of my wardrobe comes from that exclusive boutique Le Village de Value, but I do love to thumb through racks of records and Halifax has a number of places to do so, including Select Sounds, Taz and Obsolete. I usually get to one of those once a week or so.

Where in Nova Scotia would we stand to see your favourite view?

There's so many great vistas in this province, but I'm going to pick one that I visit semi-regularly because it's a gem that most people don't know about, and it's a great destination for an afternoon drive on my Vespa scooter: Court House Hill in Gore, Hants Co. It doesn't seem that high when you ascend, but at the top there's a marker where the old court house once stood--it burned down and was never rebuilt--and from that spot you can gaze across five different counties, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the Northumberland Strait.

It's especially amazing in the fall, when the colours of the leaves in the Rawdon Hills rival those of the Cape Breton Highlands. Definitely worth a detour.

Name 3 things we’ve gotta do when we visit Nova Scotia:

1. Take a boat over to McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour, amazing mix of history and nature

2. Do at least one scenic drive, either the #3 along the South Shore or an Annapolis Valley mashup of the Gaspereau River and Cape Blomidon

3. See some local music in its natural environment, whether it's alternative bands at Gus's Pub, singer-songwriters at The Carleton, a blues jam at Bearly's or well, a fiddle session at the Doryman in Cheticamp.

What makes Nova Scotia such a special place on earth for you?

When I first started working in my field in 1989, I used to get a lot of industry folks based elsewhere asking me why I didn't move to Toronto or Montreal to ply my trade, but as the years went by I got that question less and less as it became more obvious to them why I would continue to live here. It's hard to imagine a place where I could live in a sizeable city and still have natural surroundings so close at hand. I can hop in my car or get on my scoot and be on a beach or in a fishing village within 20 minutes, or be searching for elusive birds in a forest primeval or hopping over the rocks at Peggy's Cove. The music scene is one of the best in the country, from folk to indie rock to hip hop, and on any given night there can be three shows to choose from in any given genre. There's a lot happening, but the pace of life doesn't beat you down in the process.

Stephen Cooke's Twitter Profile PicWhile you're here check out Stephen's "Best Christmas Present Ever..."

Be sure to follow Stephen Cooke on Twitter like we do @CH_scooke

And catch his column in The Chronicle Herald here

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