John Ferguson is the chief administrative officer of the Municipal County of Annapolis, along the Fundy shore of Nova Scotia. Until recently he had been my successor as the chief administrative officer of the Town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, where he had chosen to take on professional municipal life as an appointed official, and so leave behind life as an elected official as a municipal councillor of the City of Saint John.
John and I first met in none of these communities, but in Halifax, while attending, in 2011, one of the national conferences for municipal officials of both types. There is an historical connection between Annapolis, where I have been and much liked, and St. Stephen. St. Stephen is very near Île-Ste-Croix, about halfway between St. Stephen and Saint Andrews, in the St. Croix River that flows between New Brunswick and Maine.
The island was the 1604 landfall and wintering ground for Samuel de Champlain, who was the cartographer for the expedition of Pierre Dugua under the authority of Henri IV of France. The winter was excruciatingly wretched and deaths were many, so in the spring of 1605, the settlement was moved to the southern shore of the Bay of Fundy, on the north bank of the Annapolis River, to serve as the capital of Acadia, and given the name Port-Royal. This is the site of today’s community of Annapolis Royal, in which are located the municipal offices of the Municipal County of which John is chief administrative officer.
John was instrumental at St. Stephen in ensuring that the Charlotte County Civic Centre became a physical reality, but in Annapolis he reads my book and introduces it to his councillors, validating the fact that chief administrative officers have an appreciation not only of zoning, water, sewers, and taxation, but also of the finer things in our communities, namely, arts and culture.
John writes this of my book:
I purchased Caravaggio’s Dagger from author Hendrik Slegtenhorst approximately one month ago.
I purchased the book because I was aware of the author’s literary skills, but I was even further surprised by Hendrik’s intelligence of not only speaking to the ‘head’ but to the “heart”. I was able to extract lessons that I could compare to my personal and professional life – and to reflect on matters I was unaware or had no experience. Each poem is personally thought provoking. The author’s ability to not only capture deep meaning and feeling is incredible. The author is, in my opinion, a great “thinker” and I appreciate Hendrik sharing poems that reflect an outward message while revealing his personal thoughts – joy and pain. The key ingredients that shape all of us. This book has given me a greater appreciation for poetry. I encourage everyone to purchase a copy and prepare to expand your thoughts.