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Small town of Pictou is Missy-eyed over swimmer’s praise

U.S. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin has called Pictou, Nova Scotia, her favourite spot on earth.

ROBERT PRATTA/REUTERS

There's a little Missy-mania happening in the picturesque Town of Pictou on Nova Scotia's north shore.

But some of Pictou's 3,500 residents are in for a disappointment.

Missy Franklin, the American teenage swimming phenom who won four Olympic gold medals and a bronze at the London Olympics, has strong Nova Scotia roots – and no Bluenoser is beaming more about this than Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes.

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That's because Ms. Franklin has done what Pictou's most famous resident, Defence Minister Peter MacKay, has been unable to do – put the town on the map.

In interview after interview during her Olympic run, Ms. Franklin declared the shores of Pictou County to be her favourite spot in the world, leading to speculation that she would head there after the Games.

Ms. Franklin, 17, lives in Colorado, but her parents are originally from Canada – mom D.A. is from Halifax and dad Dick is from Ontario but went to university in Halifax. Her aunt, Cathy Campbell, has a Pictou County cottage, which is Ms. Franklin's link to the area. Coincidentally – and further enhancing Nova Scotia's stature at the London Games – it turns out that Ms. Campbell is the doctor of the bronze-medal-winning Canadian women's soccer team.

But Ms. Franklin's visit to Pictou is not to be – at least according to Mr. Hawes.

"It doesn't appear that she is coming to town because she has to get ready for high school," the mayor told The Globe and Mail Thursday. "She's not coming to town after the Olympics."

Mr. Hawes knows this through yet another Nova Scotia Olympic connection – his cousin, Ken Reid, who was born and raised in Pictou and is in London as the host of Sportsnet's Connected, which broadcasts two hours of Olympic coverage every night.

The mayor e-mailed Mr. Reid an invitation to Ms. Franklin to come to town. Mr. Reid, who interviewed Ms. Franklin earlier this week, read it to her on air.

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"Thank you for stating that our town is your favourite place in the whole world," Mr. Hawes wrote. "That statement alone is worth its weight in GOLD to us." He went on to note that "Pictou County as a whole is cheering for you and your teammates."

He said he would like to personally congratulate her "if you so wish when you come to town after the Olympics." But being a polite Nova Scotian, he added: "If you just wish to remain anonymous while alongside us we will understand."

Ms. Franklin said that when she comes to town she would love to "meet the mayor." Unfortunately, Ms. Franklin told Mr. Reid that she has to return home to Colorado to get ready for school.

Mr. Reid, meanwhile, says he "just loves the fact" that Ms. Franklin brought "joy to a little place."

"That's the part about the Olympics, it puts everybody on the map in some way or another," Mr. Reid said in an interview from London. " … It was just great that she gave our little town and our little area great reason to watch and to enjoy … to list your favourite place in the world as Pictou and you're 17, you have a certain amount of perspective for being able to relax on the beach or go clamdigging. It was really cool."

As for Mr. Hawes, he believes if Ms. Franklin doesn't visit this year, she'll come next year. And with the municipal elections in October, he hopes he'll still be in office to show her around.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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