Anthony Nicholson now has lawyer’s robes hanging in his downtown Dartmouth office, but growing up in Halifax County, he wore coveralls while working at his family’s businesses. Nicholson jokes that his father was a serial entrepreneur who operated several ventures out of their home. Everyone in the household of five was expected to pitch in whenever needed.
One of the family ventures was a sewer inspection company. Nicholson says, in the 80s, the idea of sending a camera into underground pipes to search for potential problems was relatively new. His father had to jerry-rig his own equipment out of old video cameras affixed to innertubes.
“I remember crawling into manhole covers and getting right down there into the sewer pipes with the gear, while my dad recorded the footage onto VHS tapes inside his truck.”
When larger, more efficient companies took over the industry in the Maritimes, the family put their energy into a metal shop in Burnside. For Nicholson, this required long hours of back-breaking labour after school and on weekends.
“As a skinny guy, I knew I was never going to make it in the sheet metal business.”
Nicholson envisioned a future for himself that required more brain than brawn, so he obtained a history degree from Saint Mary’s University. He was working his first office job in Toronto when his father fell ill due to cancer. Anthony returned home to run the shop, while taking post-graduate courses.
“I would go to school in greasy coveralls, park the truck, go to class, then go back to work.”
Eventually, Nicholson’s father recovered and returned to the business. Unsure of his next move at that time, Nicholson says he stumbled upon becoming a lawyer.
“My friend was going to law school. On a whim, I did the LSAT and did surprisingly well. I applied and got in. I didn’t even know a lawyer before I when to law school.”
Nicholson graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 2004. Soon after, he met the love of his life and bought a home in downtown Dartmouth. A few years later, he opened a law firm with a colleague in the building where Humble Pie is now. In 2014, Nicholson moved a few blocks up on Ochterloney Street to join the team at Weldon McInnis Barristers and Solicitors.
“I appreciate how Weldon McInnis is deeply rooted in downtown Dartmouth. They’re good people here, and they let me keep a beer fridge in my office.”
Nicholson’s approach to law is more relaxed than many others. He says he takes complicated legal matters seriously, so the rest of us don’t have to. He specializes in law related to real estate, business, and property. Nicholson says the warmth and spirit of downtown Dartmouth is the ideal setting for his practice.
“The quality of life is better here for work. If you need anything, you can get it in Dartmouth and if you want to go to Halifax, there is a boat and a bridge to get you there.”
Nicholson says if someone asks him for assistance and there is something he can do, he won’t say no. In 2019, he was invited to join the board of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and is now chair. Nicholson says he’s pleased to see the changes the Commission has made in the community, particularly the art installations. He’d like to see more public attractions - and he’s willing to roll up his sleeves to make them happen.
“My dream is an outdoor community skating rink. I would volunteer to scrape the ice. I hate mornings, but I’d get up early to tend to that ice!”