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From Halifax to The New Yorker, persistence pays off for cartoonist





It all started with a drawing on a napkin and a post to Twitter on Dec. 26, 2011.

Andrew Hamm had been living in New York City for a few months trying to make it as a standup comedian. But it wasn’t going well.

“I wasn’t making a lot of money doing standup — and it’s a really big scene here,” Hamm, who was born and raised in Halifax, said from New York. “So, I just wanted to start doing something that was funny and writing.

“So, I just thought of writing and drawing again and that’s how this whole thing started, as an outlet.”

Since then, Hamm has posted a cartoon to @AHammADay to Twitter and Instagram every day — there are close to 2,600 cartoons posted so far.

His work has since been featured in publications such as The New Yorker and The Guardian, but it didn’t happen overnight.

“I was doing it on my own for about a year,” he said. “And then I just thought to myself, if I’m doing this every day I should try and get something from it.”

He began submitting his work — seven cartoons per week — to different publications. 

Andrew Hamm’s wall full of rejection letters from The New Yorker. He estimates he has 100 of them. (Submitted by Andrew Hamm)

Hamm got his first rejection letter from The New Yorker a week later. He now has a wall full of rejection letters from the publication.

Eventually, some of the rejection letters would come back with words of encouragement. He’d place those letters up higher on the wall.

Shortly after, Hamm started to go to The New Yorker’s office in person to deliver his work.

Five months later, he sold his first cartoon.

It featured squirrels exchanging gifts with one of the squirrels chiding the other squirrel for giving an almond, with the caption: “An almond! I thought we’d agreed — nothing extravagant.”

Hamm said not too many people back in Halifax know about his cartooning.

“Every now and then I get a message from somebody,” he said.

Hamm, who lives in New York with his wife, Angela, and two-year-old son Rodger, owes much of his cartooning success to being diligent and finishing projects he starts.

When he moved to New York, he lived with his friend Nathan MacIntosh — a standup comedian who is also from Halifax — and the two would work on scripts together.

“They weren’t very good, but our mantra — which I think we both still stick to pretty religiously — is just finish,” Hamm said.

“Ninety-nine per cent of things that don’t go anywhere is because people don’t finish making them. At least when you finish doing it, you have a product.”

Andrew Hamm, a cartoonist from Halifax, holds up the 2015 issue of The New Yorker that featured his first cartoon. (Submitted by Andrew Hamm)


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Ottawa unveils funding for poultry and egg farmers hurt by free-trade deals





Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share due to two recent free-trade agreements will soon have access to $691 million in federal cash, Canada’s agriculture minister announced Saturday.

Marie-Claude Bibeau shared details of the long-awaited funds in a virtual news conference.

“Today we position our young farmers for growth and success tomorrow,” she said.

The money follows a previously announced $1.75 billion for the dairy sector linked to free-trade deals with Europe and countries on the Pacific Rim, one that came into effect in 2017 and the other in 2018.

The dairy sector funds were to flow over eight years, and the first $345 million payment was sent out last year.

But on Saturday, Bibeau announced a schedule for the remaining payments that will see the money flow over three years — beginning with $468 million in 2020-21, $469 million in 2021-22 and $468 million in 2022-23.

Bibeau said the most recently announced funds for dairy farmers amount to an average farm of 80 cows receiving a direct payment of $38,000 in the first year.

Payments based on formulas

David Wiens, vice-president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said the money will help farms make investments for the future.

“I think particularly for the younger farmers who have really struggled since these agreements have been ratified, they can actually now see opportunities, how they can continue to make those investments on the farm so that they can continue on,” he said.

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Employee of Ottawa Metro store tests positive for COVID-19





Metro says an employee of its grocery store on Beechwood Avenue in Ottawa has tested positive for COVID-19.

The company says the employee’s positive test result was reported on Nov. 25. The employee had last been at work at the Metro at 50 Beechwood Ave. on Nov. 19.

Earlier this month, Metro reported several cases of COVID-19 at its warehouse on Old Innes Road.

Positive test results were reported on Nov. 2, Nov. 6, Nov. 11, and Nov. 19. The first two employees worked at the produce warehouse at 1184 Old Innes Rd. The other two worked at the distribution centre at the same address.

Metro lists cases of COVID-19 in employees of its stores and warehouses on its website

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Tinseltown: Where 50-year-old ‘tough guys’ become youngsters again





Audy Czigler wears glitter like a Pennsylvania miner wears coal dust. It’s on his face and hands, in his hair and on his clothing. It’s an occupational hazard that he says he just can’t get rid of.

And when he’s sifting through job applications from people wanting to work at his Tinseltown Christmas Emporium on Somerset Street W. in Hintonburg, the glitter is a consideration. For he’s not looking for people who can simply endure it; no, he’s screening for people who revel and carouse in glitter, for those for whom the 10,000th playing of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus is as refreshing as the first, for those who believe that the 12 days of Christmas last 365 days a year. The believers.

Sure, he has heard the voices of skeptical passersby on the sidewalk outside his shop, especially in the summer months when visions of sugarplums have receded from many people’s minds.

“I hear them out there a few times a day,” he says, “wondering how a Christmas store can possibly survive year-round.

“I want to go out and tell them,” he adds, but his voice trails off as a customer approaches and asks about an ornament she saw there recently, of a red cardinal in a white heart. Where is it?

There’s scant room for sidewalk skeptics now, crowded out by the dozens of shoppers who, since October, have regularly lined up outside the store, patiently biding their time (and flocks) as pandemic-induced regulations limit the shop to 18 customers at a time.

Once inside, visitors will be forgiven for not first noticing the glitter, or even the rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside playing on the speakers. For there’s no specific “first thing” you notice. The first thing you notice is EVERYTHING — a floor-to-ceiling cornucopia of festivity, reminiscent perhaps of how the blind man in the Gospel of John may have felt when Jesus rubbed spit and mud in his eyes and gave him sight for the first time.

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