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The same topics that West Virginians think about also occupy Canadians

FALL COLORS and a lack of jobs are familiar topics in West Virginia. It was surprising to hear the same topics come up during a vacation in the Canadian Maritimes.

Tour guides often said the height of "leafing season" (that's Canadian for "leaf peeping") would come about two weeks after our visit. Even more frequently, guides, clerks and others lamented the loss of young people to Toronto or Ottawa or Boston or Calgary or even Vancouver for work.

A story in the Cape Breton Post said Halifax "is headed full-steam for a future as an old folks home" as university graduates, new immigrants and young families "are hightailing it out of town."

According to Nova Scotia's economic strategy organization, the province has grown more slowly than any other Canadian province during the last 20 years.

A front-page article in the Nova Scotia Business Journal profiled coffee shop owners Aaron Brown and Maria Gallardo, who are closing their business and moving because they're fed up with the burden of local, provincial and federal government red tape.

Of course, not all of the economic news was negative.

The business newspaper also told about Tara Berthier, a Nova Scotia native who, after six years in Toronto, is moving back to open a speakers bureau. In addition, the paper had an uplifting story about union members who repainted the Peggy's Cove Lighthouse.

And there was a column about the need to take the "No" out of Nova Scotia and develop energy resources. It was accompanied by a photo of a boat towing a tidal turbine for deployment in the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world.

The Canadian Maritimes are struggling with many of the issues that occupy us.

The Times West Virginian is busy covering the demolition of the Fairmont Theatre.

The theater hosted a remarkable array of events during the years, from cooking classes sponsored by Monongahela Power (in hopes you would buy electric appliances) to live performances and, of course, hundreds of movies.

With a date sitting next to you on a Saturday evening and a good movie on the screen and a couple of boxes of popcorn at hand, the Fairmont Theatre was a little bit of paradise.

In 1970 Joni Mitchell sang, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot with a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot."

In Fairmont it'll be a state office building.

I just learned of the Aug. 20 death of Mike Hudnall.

A Kanawha County native, Mike made a splash in Charleston when he was CEO of Capital State Bank at Southridge Centre. He also had a big impact in Fairmont, where he served as president and CEO of One Valley Bank in Marion County. Later he took the helm at Freedom Bancshares of Belington.

Mike was a straight shooter with a big, generous heart. He was a force for good. He will be missed.

Reach George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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