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This Halifax/Dartmouth branding war will destroy us all

Society is crumbling and it’s somehow Waye Mason’s fault.


Pitching this to CBC for next season.
  • Pitching this to CBC for next season.

A regional municipality divided against itself cannot stand. But that’s exactly what HRM is dealing with as a chorus of Dartmouth citizens raise their voices and take to the Internet in protest against some flags and a couple signs.

Dartmouth—a former city across the harbour that Matt Mays sung about—has always been one of the region’s most closely-knit, and compassionate communities. It may be nicknamed the “Dark Side,” but Dartmouth was always a shining light.

Still, like a prettier, richer and more important big sister, Halifax always gets the glory. Which maybe explains why almost 20 years after amalgamation, some Dartmouth citizens are now straight up calling for widespread civil disobedience over HRM's new logo being plastered on traditionally-Dartmouth signs.

Various extremist cells have recently sprung up on social media that are vigorously connecting the dots on a conspiracy many others do not care about: that HRM's government is trying to erase Dartmouth's identity.

The costly new logo, which was adopted last summer from Revolve, has been popping up more and more—from Burnside signage, to flying above Alderney Landing. It's provoked no shortage of anger and poorly-executed arguments.

Simultaneously, HRM is being accused of dismantling our sister city’s proud heritage through steps such as not labelling “Dartmouth” on every possible Google Maps zoom level.

But the petty arguments over perceived slights thankfully aren't being contained solely within the realm online comments. The war on Dartmouth has also taken up a surprising amount of media attention and political debate.

Halifax South Downtown councillor Waye Mason attempted to explain the new branding rules, which only served to fuel the refinery fires of Halifax hate. No small portion of that criticism is coming from his fellow councillor across the water, Gloria McCluskey.

“Stay over there Waye, and look after your side of the harbour,” McCluskey trash-talked on News95.7’s Sheldon MacLeod Show.

Dartmouth's last mayor has been leading the critical charge against Halifax’s signage efforts. She’s presented a 2,000 signature petition to council, and spoken out in the media about the poor stupid children who will forever be illiterate thanks to Phil Otto.

“That logo’s even confusing to school kids,” she told MacLeod last week, “young kids who are learning to spell.”

McCluskey was one of only two votes last year against approving the new logo’s administrative order (David Hendsbee also voted against, while Reg Rankin wasn’t present). Though two week before that she and the rest of council unanimously approved moving forward with Revolve's branding strategy (a vote Mason was absent for).

A year later, and McCluskey and other proud Dartmouth citizens are infuriated that outsiders would claim their land and change their identity without even having a vote.

“How would you feel if you worked hard to create something and then had the name changed?” McCluskey asks.

“Um...” replied thousands of years of Mi’kmaq culture.

The way we were...
  • The way we were...

Outdated though it was, at least no one argued over HRM's old logo (that we recall). Created in 1997 by Lou Cable, the logo's four “waves” were meant to represent each of the municipal units combined in amalgamation. Maybe a symbolic wave is better than nothing when it comes to representing Dartmouth’s history?

Look, it’s easy to dismiss this beef as unimportant compared to the very real problems this super city is facing. Problems like who's better: north end or south end?

See? We can be such dismissive little scamps on this side of the harbour.

Which is ultimately why—along with sheer practical navigation purposes—Dartmouth will never fully disappear. Fighting against Halifax is a vital part of its underdog identity. If the past couple of weeks are any indication, Dartmouth's proud heritage of hating its smug cousin across the harbour will be with us for many, many years to come.

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