As Told by Harold Rowlings
[Editor’s Note: Back in 1977, in a rare act of civil disobedience, Harold Rowlings put his body on the line to stop a pipeline taking sewage from Eastern Shore District High straight into Petpeswick Inlet. The Cooperator interviewed Harold to get the story in his own words. The story begins after the failure of the high school’s septic field.]
Word got out that the brains, the yo yos, had a plan: “We’ll pipe the effluent from the high school treatment plant right into Petpeswick Inlet.”
I said, “Well if that’s what it’s going to be, it’s not going to happen if I’m alive.” So the community erupted, and decided why can’t we have a say in this? Somebody called a meeting, and they held it at the high school, over 200 people there. It was unanimous, they’re not going to pollute Petpeswick Inlet.
A few days later, I saw a backhoe and some machinery starting to pile up over there near the bridge on West Petpeswick. And another day went by, and there was a truckload of 3-inch pipe dumped down there by the bridge by my aunt’s cottage.
I said, “Uh oh, this don’t look good.” So I knew the contractor, and I didn’t say anything to him, but through the night, that night, the tires all got flat on that backhoe, somehow.
Next morning, I go over there, sitting in my truck, and block that pipe off.
A machine come out from Town Tire in Dartmouth, loaded the four flat tires from the backhoe on board, and took off. Wasn’t very long before that thing come back, put the tires back on, and two police officers arrived. “You gotta move your truck, Mr. Rowlings.”
I said, “No way, I’m not getting out of the way.”
They said, “If you don’t move your truck, we’re going to hook on it and tow it away cause the man wants to go to work.”
I got out of my truck and crawled up onto the pipe. And they towed my truck around the butterfly turn. Back they come, and said for me to get off of that pipe.
I refused to get off of the pipe.
So they said, “If you don’t move peacefully, we’re gonna have to remove you with force.”
Well I said, “You better go get some help.” I was 41 years old, I was in pretty good shape, and I was mad as a hatter. They said nothing, they went up and called in the car on the phone.
Wasn’t very long that a range wagon arrived down there with four more Mounties in it. And this time, they muscled on to me on the pipe. They tried to put cuffs on my feet, because I was a pretty good shot with both feet.
I said to myself, “My God where the hell are all the people who were at the meeting, am I gonna have to battle this thing alone?” I thought there’re be all kinds of people there to help me. But the only ones who showed up were my Aunt Pat and Aunt Jean, and old Mrs. Charlie Holgate. And Jackie, my cousin.
This young Mountie there, he muscled onto me, and I kicked him in a place that hurts. Then they all powered on to me, they got handcuffs on my feet and hands, and manhandled me into the police car.
Next Month: A night in Dartmouth jail without his hunting knife, and the judge throws the book.