Herald Magazine Issue 6 Volume 2 September 14, 2013 Making a new life in Canada New Brunswick’s A study in sturgeon general citizenship One family pursues a better future here A scientist, a fish and caviar is involved New Canadians have to know their stuff PITCHING NEWCOMERS What it takes to convince immigrants to stay BY JOHN DEMONT Herald Magazine 04 Contents September 2013 CONTENTS THE CHRONICLE HERALD EDITORIAL EDITOR, HERALD MAGAZINE Deborah Wiles DIRECTOR, NEWSROOM Frank De Palma ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, NEWSROOM Paul O’Connell CONTENT EDITORS Bill Johnston, Randy Jones, Bob Burgess, Tim Arsenault, Tom McCoag, Ed MacLellan DESIGN AND MULTIMEDIA DIRECTOR DESIGN, MULTIMEDIA Jayson Taylor PHOTO EDITOR Darren Pittman ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR Mike Harvey GRAPHIC DESIGNER Matt Dempsey 08 In pursuit of a better life Unsure about their future in Israel, one family settles in Halifax 15 No risk, no gain A lesson gleaned from safe playgrounds 16 Breaching the bastion Four decades ago, some doors were closed to young lawyer Noella Fisher 18 26 DIRECTOR, IT Paul Williams DIRECTOR, PRODUCTION Michael Murtha DIRECTOR, DIGITAL Sheryl Grant DIRECTOR, CUSTOM MEDIA Jeff Nearing DIRECTOR, HUMAN RESOURCES Theresa Williams DIRECTOR, FINANCE/CONTROLLER Jocelyn Green Herald Magazine is published eight times a year by The Chronicle Herald, 2717 Joseph Howe Dr., Halifax, N.S. 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Sturgeon resurgent Cover Story: Potential abounds on a Halifax cricket pitch 34 To know it is to love it Immigrants must pass an extensive test on Canada to become citizens 38 Welcome to the country, sort of Help is limited for immigrants who want to settle in rural areas 40 Pictures at an exhibition A photographic roundup of the 60th annual country fair at Crapaud, P.E.I. 42 Have a sip Bartender Jeff Van Horne shakes up a new drink for fall 47 Rural reality P.E.I.’s Georgetown Conference takes aim at reversing a disturbing trend 50 Random Thoughts Susan Kent of This Hour Has 22 Minutes shares her brand of humour Cover Photographer Adrien Veczan captured this shot of bowler Daksh Talwar delivering a ball during a Nova Scotia Cricket Association match in Halifax in late July. Herald Magazine 18 The Sturgeon General September 2013 ROMANIAN-BORN SCIENTIST CORNEL CEAPA IS PAINSTAKINGLY BUILDING A LEGACY, ONE STURGEON EGG AT A TIME. THERE IS A READY MARKET FOR CAVIAR AND OTHER PRODUCTS FROM ACADIAN STURGEON AND CAVIAR INC., HIS FAMILY-OWNED OPERATION ON THE SHORES OF THE ST. JOHN RIVER, AND IF HE HAS HIS WAY, ONE DAY ALL THE STURGEON IN THE ONCE-DEPLETED BALTIC SEA WILL HAVE COME FROM HIS FARM. By Reid Southwick Photography by Viktor Pivovarov Caviar from Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. is the star in this appetizer served at Toronto’s Oyster Boy restaurant. Photo by CHARLA JONES 20 The Sturgeon General Herald Magazine September 2013 t an oyster restaurant in downtown Toronto, waiters serve up a delicacy Cornel Ceapa’s dream is to run an aquaculture caught and harvested by an immigrant farm and fishery that are equally sustainable, family in a small, unsuspecting avoiding the overfishing that collapsed sturgeon Maritime community. Oyster Boy has offered sturgeon stocks around the world. caviar on its menu for the past five or so years, a testament to the $80 appetizer’s depth of flavour, its prestige. And its longevity there and in restaurants from St. John’s, N.L., to Vancouver is proof of the Ceapa family’s triumph over the odds — financial walls, regulatory hurdles, the doubters, the discouragers — to get their Maritime fare onto dinner plates. “I love caviar, but you couldn’t get it anywhere because it’s not sustainably grown and fished around the world,” says Adam Colquhoun, the restaurant’s owner. Then he stumbled onto the Ceapas’ website. After a trip to see their fishery and processing plant in New Brunswick, he was hooked. “When I got back to Toronto, I said to my chef, we’ve got to do this.” The caviar, which Colquhoun serves with buckwheat blini, hard-cooked egg, creme fraiche and minced shallot, traces back to the banks of the St. John River and a southern New Brunswick swath of land reachable only by water and dirt road. From here, the home of the Ceapas’ sturgeon fishery and processing plant at Carters Point, the family is attempting to salvage the commercial viability of a fish deemed threatened or endangered around the globe. Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar Inc. is the brainchild of Cornel Ceapa, a Romanian scientist who was driven to these shores by circumstance and his passion for sturgeon, a fish that has swum through the St. John River for millions of years. Running the business with wife Dorina and son Michael since 2005, he is not as financially comfortable as he would like Cornel Ceapa and Gary Ouellette pull a sturgeon that measures 2 1/2 metres into their boat on the St. John River. to be, but that is not his only ambition, far from it. Ceapa is out to create a legacy. His dream is to run an aquaculture farm and fishery that are equally sustainable, avoiding the overfishing that collapsed sturgeon stocks around the world. And if he has his way, one day all the sturgeon in the once-depleted Baltic Sea will have come from his farm. The journey to that end is a long, tiresome slog that keeps him on the road to pitch his products to potential customers or in his boat hauling up the day’s catch. (Nowadays, he tends to stay out of the hatchery, where technicians spawn and grow fish, because, “at some point, you have to learn to delegate.”) “We live a crazy life. But I love it,” he says. “I’m an adrenalin junky.” Work rarely stops, usually stretching from the early morning to the evening, says Dorina Ceapa, Cornel’s high school sweetheart who 22 The Sturgeon General “They are cool. They are different. It’s their biology, and the taste.” — Cornel Ceapa makes caviar during the fishing season and helps run the business the rest of the time — marketing, sales, networking, you name it. “I’m chasing the dream,” she says. A former technician at a Romanian natural science museum, Dorina Ceapa earned a business degree at the University of New Brunswick to chase that dream, to realize that legacy. Friends sometimes ask her, “Can’t you have a rest, can’t you have a vacation?” and she replies, “I consider that I took vacation until I came here in Canada. So let’s just do the work and do the dream.” Cornel Ceapa, born under Communist rule, is a scientist with a PhD in sturgeon biology. He is a conservationist. A researcher. A fisherman. A businessman. A roving salesman. And an unadulterated sturgeon geek who can spend hours talking about sturgeon migration, sturgeon anatomy (including male sturgeon gonads he sells in Italy for cosmetics), sturgeon fishing, sturgeon recipes, sturgeon everything. “They are cool. They are different. It’s their biology, and the taste,” Ceapa says, explaining what it is about sturgeon that wakes him up in the morning. “I mean, caviar is really, really — and I don’t exaggerate this — the best gourmet food you can eat. And it’s healthy.” At 6:30 a.m. every morning during the sturgeon fishing season, which runs roughly in May, July and August, Ceapa and Bill Ford, a commercial fisherman, run a roughly five-metre boat. The boat launch offers breathtaking views of rolling green hills and a mighty body of water, just 30 kilometres upstream from the river’s mouth at the Bay of Fundy. The fishermen haul in eight nets, some within view of Ceapa’s property, others around the bend, to inspect the daily catch. They release about half the fish that get tangled in their nets, “which can be crazy for a fisherman,” Ceapa acknowledges, but they want to squeeze the most value from a precious fishery. Females without any eggs and males not fully grown are tagged and released because they are worth more when the Ceapa clan can glean caviar and more lucrative meat from their bodies. The nets — Ceapa owns six, with the remaining two belonging to Ford — can yield 150 sturgeon in 10 or 15 days, the fish usually 1.8 to 2.5 metres long, although their efforts are limited by an annual quota of 350 sturgeon. Once the daily haul is ashore, five crews in the processing plant get to work cleaning them, removing unfertilized eggs The Sturgeon General 23 Photos from left: A sturgeon is removed from the net during a day of fishing on the St. John River in early July. Cornel Ceapa is attempting to thrust caviar back into consumer diets by appealing to their inner romantic. Ceapa (left) and Gary Ouellette toss a sturgeon back into the water. Day-old Atlantic sturgeon swim in tanks at the hatchery. It can take 10 years to grow sturgeon from egg to adult. for caviar, skinning and slicing the meat, vacuum sealing it and, finally, flash-freezing it. The industrial blast freezer can chill sturgeon meat in about two hours. Very little is wasted. Loins are made into steaks; shavings are packaged for burgers. Cartilage and bone marrow are made ready for soup, while male gonads, which can weigh four or five kilograms each, are frozen and shipped for cosmetics. Then there is the paté, the smoked sturgeon, the fins, all prepared in the processing and packaging plant, a sea of stainless steel. Reaching inside the walk-in fridge, Ceapa can hold up any one of his products and recite the best recipes to make them sing on your taste buds. He is constantly talking to chefs; he is friends with more than 1,500 on Facebook. Ceapa just as easily lists what he calls misconceptions about caviar; that it is a “salty, dirty thing for rich people,” that if fishmongers and chefs put it on their menus, nobody would buy it. He knows what he is up against. But if Ceapa listened to his critics, he wouldn’t have started in the first place, and he certainly wouldn’t be selling 1,000-gram tins of premium caviar for $2,200. Undaunted, he is attempting to thrust caviar back into consumer diets by appealing to their inner romantic. “Life is beautiful; you have things to celebrate in life,” he says through a thick, eastern European accent. “If you have someone that you really love or someone that you really want to show your appreciation to, you go into a restaurant and you order caviar and champagne.” When Ceapa selected his PhD subject in 1995, he wanted to do something special, something he could leave behind, a legacy. His professor and academic peers discouraged him from studying sturgeon, calling it suicide. Stocks had been depleted and it was difficult to access the fish. But he did it anyway, publishing his paper in 2001 with the horrifying conclusion that it was too late to rescue populations in the Danube River, where sturgeon had once been abundant. The fish was nearing extinction. Two years later, Ceapa moved his family to Saint John, where there was an opening for a research technician at the University of New Brunswick, one of a few post-secondary institutions in Canada studying sturgeon at the time. Four years later, after struggling to find other companies in the province to build a sturgeon aquaculture business with, he and his family started their own. It has not been easy, but he had been expecting that from the beginning. Two New Brunswick sturgeon farms had failed before he started leasing land on the banks of the St. John River. It can take 10 years to grow sturgeon from egg to adult, and finding a lender willing to wait that long for a return is impossible, especially for an immigrant family who had no credit history. They got started by convincing a North Carolina customer to pay Herald Magazine 24 The Sturgeon General September 2013 (Photos clockwise from top) Gary Ouellette, left, and Cornel Ceapa release a male sturgeon into a hatchery tank. Dorina Ceapa opens a fridge that is stocked with caviar. Jordan Raynes skins sturgeon at the processing plant. 50 per cent up front for baby sturgeon spawned from wild fish. Little by little, they developed the business, selling live baby sturgeon to researchers restocking the Baltic Sea, to aquaculture companies, many of them Asian, and to American researchers. Four years ago, they started renting space at an aquaculture farm in Minto, N.B., which means the first eggs they sent over will be adults by 2019. They have been waiting to build their own farm to shrink the amount of time investors have to wait until they get their return. Meantime, they sell caviar, meat and byproducts from wild sturgeon across the country, whetting consumer appetites before their aquaculture fish is mature. “I pay my technicians more than I pay myself,” he says, sitting in a kitchen that sits overtop his office, snacking on paté and smoked sturgeon. “I live a good life. I’m happy. But we invest, and we believe that you need to sacrifice in order to get to where you want to go.” He travels from his Saint John home to work on a landscape many visit on summer vacations, an isolated waterfront sanctuary tucked inside the woods. No longer a university professor, a profession that “gets boring after a while” because of the repetitive lectures and reading material, he is motivated by an ever-changing business where “there is always something new, always something special.” “Having this processing plant that is (government) inspected, having the hatchery, having the exports, having the sales, having the marketing is like having a full-scale business, but we’re just three people. “I love it. I wouldn’t do anything else.” I [email protected] @theredsouth Reid Southwick grew up in Halifax, worked in New Brwunswick and recently moved to Calgary.
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