CBC veteran and Halifax native shares where to find all things hippie and holistic, like gut-aid coconut kefir, meditation centres and therapeutic salt rooms, in the city she loves
Canadian television viewers already know Cathy Jones is a funny woman. They may not know about her love of salt caves and colonic irrigation.
Born in Newfoundland, Jones has found Halifax a perfect fit since she moved here three decades ago. She first arrived in 1986, in order to film the CBC sketch show CODCO in 1986. Seven years later, she wound up as a principal cast member of the satirical news program This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and she has remained in Halifax ever since.
“I love it here,” Jones says. “I feel like Halifax is like Portland [Oregon] in a way – there’s some groovy aspect to this town, and there’s a different vibe here than when I moved here 30 years ago, when it felt just way rougher.”
If you’re passionate about natural health, Halifax is a pretty cool city to live in. It’s not Vancouver or San Francisco or anything, but an influx of Shambhala Buddhists in the mid-1970s brought a wave of hippie principles to the city. Jones has been a Buddhist since the early ’90s, and embraces yoga, pilates, wholesome foods, and advocates taking really good care of yourself. This writer also happens to know she’s a wonderful person who would give you her arse and never sit down again – a term she used to describe Newfoundlanders when I met her, and one that fits her perfectly.
For the benefit of Billy readers, Jones shared her favourite spots in Halifax to get her (health) kicks. [Editor’s note: Below, Jones speaks in her own words, which reflect her personal beliefs about health and wellness.]
The wonderful thing about living in Halifax is that Nova Scotia has a lot of organic farms, which means the availability and proximity to healthy organic food excellent. Living in the North End of Halifax, within 12 to 15 blocks of me I can get grass-fed meat, sustainably caught fish, and I can always get organic vegetables. Though because of my impulsive side I always eat too much sugar, and there are plenty of places around me where I can get that too.
I go to Local Source Market to get good meat, Organic Earth Market sometimes for supplements and things, and Super Natural Health Products to buy coconut kefir. I’ve been all over Canada and Halifax is the only place I can buy coconut kefir. It’s really good for the colon, which is all a battle between good and bad bacteria, if you can keep your good bacteria on the winning side you can keep your health.
For eating out, The Wild Leek does this chickpea pancake that is so f—ing awesome, served with coconut bacon, and for anyone that is gluten free this is just amazing. But last night I just picked up some grass-fed, all-beef hot dogs, gluten-free toast, and steamed up some kale from my garden. I have a girl that set up and looks after my garden at my place in the country, inland from Mahone Bay, because I’m so lazy and bourgeois.
Toning Inside and Out
There’s a place here Total Kneads. I’ve done a series of six colonics there twice with Kathleen Slaunwhite, and it is amazing. I’ve always had issues with my digestion, and having a colonic tones and increases peristalsis in a bowel … not a lot of people spend a lot of time thinking about peristalsis [bowel function], but I do.
When I was a groovy young hippie hanging out in Jamaica, there were about 30 of us from Newfoundland who were inspired to follow the [Rastafarian] ital vegan diet, and starting studying all of these early health food guys. We just had a passion for it. Even though I’m off the wagon right now and still eating candy canes, I still have that – that’s my roots.
In Halifax there are wonderful massage therapists, osteopaths, and intimate places you can go to exercise, like Rio, where I go. You can take a pilates class there taught by Erica Ferguson that I’ve had all these really fit worldly older women tell me it’s amongst the best classes in the world.
Melissa Schoales teaches at Iyengar Yoga Halifax, and her classes are so good. There’s too much dangerous yoga being taught, that’s careless about muscles and tendons and ligaments, you have to be discerning. You have these teachers who say things like, “I knew yoga was for me when I saw my friend doing it by the pool two years ago,” and that’s just dangerous.
The Salt Room here is kinda awesome. It’s luxurious and the salt is therapeutic and cleansing for sinuses and lungs.
When I want peace I go to my off-the-grid place in the country. There’s no wifi there and no telephone, but I do spend a lot of time huddled up to the wall in the one place in the room where I can get coverage and I do look at my phone quite a bit but it’s very quiet out there and I love it. I’m out by the lake by myself and I know I should be lonely but I’m like, “This is amazing.” I’m just giving thanks the whole time.
That’s the other thing about Halifax, we’re a city with a lot of trees and we shouldn’t mess with it. I love Point Pleasant Park — where else in the world can you go and you’re doing this incredible walk and the ocean is to your right, and within eight minutes of the city you’re at a park right at the ocean walking your dog. It’s so beautiful.
I meditate but I’m easily distracted, always picking up my phone. If you want to meditate you can go to The Shambhala Centre, where every morning there’s somebody there sitting at the front of the room that you can go in and practice meditation. They have a drop in one night of the week where you can go in and learn meditation practices. Nobody cares if you never come back – it’s not a cult or anything like that, you don’t go there once and then they tell you, “Now you’re a Buddhist.”
Some people have asked why I live here, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Halifax is a perfect-sized city, and the people are so industrious, like they never get punched out, they just keep putting on music festivals and being awesome whatever comes at them.
Cathy Jones is performing her one-woman show, Stranger to Hard Work, in cities across Canada in the coming months. See local dates here.