In 2002 Michael Bawtree founded and directed the Joseph Howe Initiative, established to celebrate the 200th Birthday Year of ‘the greatest Nova Scotian’ in 2004. Working only for expenses, and bringing together municipal and Provincial resources with major contributions from the corporate sector, he galvanized the entire province and brought Joseph Howe into the consciousness of Nova Scotians of all ages. He created a performance version of Joe Howe’s great libel defence speech of 1835, spearheaded the organization of a Joe Howe speech contest for high school students, and appeared as Howe on TV and radio and on numerous special occasions – including as Parade Marshal for the 2004 Natal Day parade in Dartmouth and Halifax. Michael wrote Joe Howe to the Rescue to introduce Howe to younger readers. Set in Halifax, it tells the story of 12-year-old Jack Dance, who goes to work in Howe's newspaper office, and gets caught up in all kinds of adventures involving smugglers and corrupt politicians. The much-loved book, published by Nimbus Publishing in 2004, won the Lilla Stirling Award for Children's Literature, and is now in its second printing. Recommended by the Nova Scotia Department of Education, it has been read by thousands of elementary and middle schoolchildren all over Nova Scotia.
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