Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story by Tina Hennigar
You’d think that moving across the country during a global pandemic would cause any rational 26-year old some anxiety. But not Brooklyn Lane, the new pastor at St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, in Mahone Bay. For her, it is a move that feels led by God.
During a phone interview while traveling to Nova Scotia from Saskatchewan, Brooklyn explained that she has a feeling of calm and a sense of peace about the move. “You know the feeling of meeting someone and feeling like you’ve known them for years?” She asked. “I felt that in the Zoom interview,” she shared. She also expressed her appreciation to me for helping her settle here from another province. “I already feel welcomed and I haven’t even stepped foot in the province yet.”
I blushed. That is precisely the role of NOW Lunenburg County.
While in university Brooklyn learned to love where you live.
“People sometimes say that Saskatchewan is flat and boring, but we have sand dunes and badlands, forests, lakes and the prairies. It’s very diverse. But I am looking forward to exploring new landscapes and soundscapes and more of God’s creation.” Brooklyn loves to hike and the first thing she is planning to do is go to Blue Rocks, something a friend recommended. “I’m looking forward to the little things.” She said she’s even looking forward to our winters.
Brooklyn already feels supported.
“You can’t imagine how that feels, not just for me, but for my family. I love how community-oriented Mahone Bay appears to be,” she said of her new community, which is in line with her own personal philosophy. “I always try to be very inclusive and build a community for all people.” Brooklyn subscribes to the African Philosophy of Ubuntu: ‘I Am Because We Are’. “I am able to be who I am because of the people in my life.”
While Brooklyn always thought she’d live closer to family and friends, she feels blessed to be joining us, and is confident that she’s going to love her new life in Lunenburg County. “They say that people from the prairies make good sailors because we can always see the horizon. Maybe this will be my home away from home.”
Story by Tina Hennigar
The first thing a newcomer might do when arriving in a new community is to get out and meet people. But COVID-19 made that impossible. When Kathleen Moriarty and her husband John Chapman moved to Lunenburg County
from Pender Island, BC, and completed their 14-days of quarantine, they were missing human connections.
“We missed doing things like volunteering. There are just
so many things that we couldn’t do because of social distancing.” That didn’t stop them from getting out to safely explore their new community in Bridgewater.
“We love going out for walks and every time we turn a corner we are continually surprised by what we discover. There is a lot here, a lot more than new people know about,” Kathleen said. It may be a while before she and John can get out and find their community of people but they already like what they see and are planning on getting involved.
Kathleen has been teaching all her life, starting in special education, then she began her career in adult education. Most of her students were immigrants.
She would start her lessons engaging in casual conversation. Kathleen explained that it was common for her students to spend the first few hours of their time together in tears. “It’s hard to learn a new language,” Kathleen explained that some of her students didn’t speak a word of English and that the tears were often due to the cultural difference, not because of the language. “But we’d get through it together.” She sees a lot of newcomers in the area and believes there is a role for her here, a way she can help. “You don’t need to speak the language to help a new Canadian.” Kathleen shared that body language can be an even more useful tool for communication.
John is a retired chemist and spent the last 7-years with their local parks commission and involved with community work. “We love walking Miller Point Peace Park,” Kathleen shared. “There are so many terrific trails here.”
They’ve also been surprised by the variety and quality of food. “The Indian food and East Asian food - we read about Suni and Lamprai and Spice in the last NOW Lunenburg County magazine and that’s one of our favourites! Of course, we also love the fish and chips.”
Story by Tina Hennigar
In rural Nova Scotia, people have space between their neighbours. It’s a place where young drummers and musicians can be encouraged to drum and make music – sounds that are often discouraged in most city homes and skyrises. And, I’m told, the acoustics in old rural houses are really good for learning an instrument.
Morgan Zwicker also credits the Park View Education Centre’s Jazz program for the growth of musical talent in this area. “That program is miles ahead of the rest, I think,” noting that if a band needs a percussionist, there’s one around.
Morgan left Lunenburg County to go to school at McGill in Montreal to take Neuroscience. Ultimately, he chose to follow his passion for music and studied Jazz Performance at Toronto’s Humber College. He was drawn back to Lunenburg County because of its pace of life and general friendliness. Today Morgan runs The Lunenburg County Youth Jazz Society, a non-profit, providing an enriched jazz program for youth. He also is the drummer for the band, Juicebox.
He found a big community of music lovers in Lunenburg County at The Confidence Lodge, a landmark building and recording studio in Riverport where musicians would gather. With The Confidence Lodge up for sale Morgan was trying to find a new safe space for musicians to gather, where social distancing was possible, and where music lovers could once again feel normal.
He found that right on Hirtle’s beach where, with the sand between his toes, he was sitting searching for a solution .
“Not everything has to be complicated,” Morgan said of the beach concert idea. With a generator, lights, equipment, and after a few phone calls to fellow musicians, double-checking with Lands and Forests and the appropriate law enforcement agencies to make sure it was allowed, a concert on the beach was born.
And people showed up.
The beach concert was the first of what is hoped will be many performances. Morgan said he looked out from the stage and saw seniors, children, vacationers, music lovers and curious on-lookers - people who missed live music.
And they didn’t get a single complaint.
“There are a lot of pockets of creativity here, you just have to find the one that appeals to you if you’re looking for a creative outlet.” Morgan says if you look around, music is being played.
To learn more about Morgan and music in Lunenburg County go to www.morganzwicker.com
And to learn about the Lunenburg County Youth Jazz Ensemble, go to www.lcyje.com
Story by Tina Hennigar
Photos by Gaven Burgoyne
Park View Education Centre student, Peter Fisk, can say he has two things in common with United States President, Barack Obama: they are both black men, and they are both community organizers.
Peter, together with his friend and co-worker at The Biscuit Eater, Lauryn Guest, were supporters of the global Black Lives Matter Movement when their activism was required close to home.
Greg Dean and Cyndi Rafuse were visiting a small beach in Chester when they experienced outward racism from a group of youth. Peter and Lauryn wanted to arrange a family-friendly event to show support for the couple while bringing awareness to the movement.
Why a picnic? “Nothing says family-friendly like a picnic,” Peter said of their idea. Hundreds of people showed up to show their support. Peter and Lauryn wanted to make sure other events happened and are committed to seeing that more conversations follow.
Growing up in rural Nova Scotia Peter has seen racism. “Mostly, I’ve experienced microaggressions,” Peter explained that microaggressions are subtle acts of leaving people out, not inviting them or excluding them from things. “They can be subtle, but you can see them. And they are hurtful,” he shared.
Despite that, Peter is hopeful and positive, especially since the picnic that he and Lauryn arranged. “It was just so positive and full of love. I felt truly respected and appreciated,” Peter hopes that this event will inspire real change.
“I hope it turns into a gateway for other people to do more events like this. I hope it helps create a more safe environment where people of colour and other marginalized people can find the supports they need,” Peter said.
Story by Tina Hennigar
Picture this: It’s a special occasion in your life, a birthday or anniversary, and you can’t be with your family and friends to celebrate.
Nancy Rogers, owner and operator of Seaweed Tours in Lunenburg, looked out her window in Garden Lots, just outside Lunenburg, and saw her cheerful tour bus and thought, ‘I can give a gift to the community to help people feel a little less isolated - a little less lonely.’
She put her idea on social media, offering to drive to people’s houses and blast music and do a little socially distant jig.
“If you hear Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog’ blasted from a cute bus from the road, you dance!” Nancy laughed. And dance they did, some even waltzed while others raised their glasses to The Beatles ‘Birthday’ song.
Like most gifts it was free. When asked who covers her costs,
Nancy said, “Well, there is a cost to do this, I suppose, in gas and insurance. I just figured there was a greater cost to not do this. I needed to do this for me and my community.”
Nancy is a retired Canada Post worker –with no plans to slow down, she bought a bus, wrapped it and offers brewery and winery tours, and sightseeing and storytelling tours. COVID, of course, made that difficult for a time, but it didn’t stop her from driving the bus to other people.
She was asked to drive to nursing homes, to long term care facilities, and even to help a little boy celebrate his 9th birthday. She opened the door and called his name and yelled, “We’re going to have a mini-dance party!”
“People have been very kind,” Nancy said they tip her when they have a good time! “It’s not necessary but people are so generous,” Nancy said she gained a lot from this too. As soon as she turned on a song she felt joyful. She can’t pick a favourite song, “I loved them all.”
Story by Greg Thibodeau MD, Site Director South Shore LIC Contributed photos
The word doctor has its roots from the Latin word docere, which means to teach, and it goes without saying that the commitment to medical education is not new to rural Nova Scotia. Resident and medical student education have been ongoing for many years in Lunenburg County.
This fall marks the first year of the new 2020 Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) which is a fitting next step to formalize medical training where
third year Dalhousie Medical students become part of our communities for a 48-week long program. We are excited to have five students join committed physicians across disciplines to learn in multiple medical settings in the communities of Liverpool, Lunenburg and Bridgewater. This new training program could not have been realized without the dedication of over 50 physicians and the assistance of Nova Scotia Health, Doctors Nova Scotia, NOW
Lunenburg County, Health Services Foundation of the South Shore, Queens General Hospital Foundation and the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary.t is an exciting time for the South Shore as we endeavor to elevate the value of medical training as well as the merits of practicing medicine in rural Nova Scotia. Dr. Tim Riding, local SSRH Emergency Room and Family Medicine physician, explains: ‘…teaching allows we physicians to remain engaged at the forefront of medical training and education….it’s also an excellent succession plan!’ As we all know our local clinics, hospitals and emergency room departments are busy places, yet busy physicians in our region value the merits of medical education and give their time to teach the next generation of physicians. ‘There are excellent opportunities for great learning here in rural Nova Scotia…so often many students are amazed at the hands-on experiences they can have!’ shares Dr. Andy Blackadar, Liverpool Family Physician. ‘It is great to see that rural Nova Scotia is being valued as an academic center for excellent medical education…’states Dr. Tarah Millen, Lunenburg Family Doctor.
During these challenging times it is certainly encouraging to see this new education program evoke such collaboration among so many stakeholders. We are hopeful that this program will be the first positive chapter of many yet to come.
Story by Tina Hennigar
Anyone who thinks that a new resident in our province can’t possibly be more ‘Nova Scotian’ than someone who was born and raised here, hasn’t met Laurie Paxton. You can rediscover your provincial pride while she lifts your eyelashes or fixes your eyebrows in her cosmetic tattooing studio in Bridgewater, The Symmetry Studio.
Laurie was working in Fort McMurray, Alberta, when everyone she encountered told her she could pass for an East Coaster.
“When my contract ended out west and the price of oil tanked, I reinvented myself at 51 years old,” Laurie said. She asked herself, ‘what do I want to do when I grow up?’” Laurie got trained in the application of permanent makeup, doing eyebrows, eyeliner, lips and lifting eyelashes and started to think about where she wanted to live and create her business. Not where she had to live, but where she wanted to live. And she remembered all those comments over the years about the east coast. She packed her bags and her trusty dog, Frazy, and went house hunting in communities all around Nova Scotia.
Laurie found the ideal vibe and the perfect house in Bridgewater. She put a few of her vacant bedrooms up on Air B&B and rented them to travellers and nurses working here short-term. She’s very outgoing and meeting people has been no trouble at all. “I meet more people because of my dog,” she laughed. “Everyone loves Frazy.”
“I tell everyone I meet how special this place is. My friends always say, ‘You needed to move here to remind us all of what we have.’” And so, I asked Laurie, ‘what is that?’ What do we have here?
Over the next two hours Laurie shared her view of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. “The people here are so generous,” she tells me. “People drop stuff off for me and I want to pay them. But they insist. They’ll say, ‘Laurie, let us do this for you.’ That doesn’t happen everywhere. And the air, it’s clean here.” She went on. “The pace is nice. Even on my busiest day, people are a little more relaxed here. And they ask you how you are. And they want to know,” she said in amazement.
Laurie acknowledges that
not everything is rosy. “I see things that bother people. I understand it,” she said. “But
I also see it from the other side of the country. It could be busier, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Laurie said of her old life in Alberta and working in the oil patch.
“People in other provinces sometimes call us a “have not province” and that may be so, but people here, they put their head down and get to work.”
I pointed out that she now refers to herself as “us” as in Nova Scotians. “Yes, absolutely I do,” she laughed. “I am a Nova Scotian,” she said. “I’m so proud to be here.”
You can learn more at:
Story by Tina Hennigar
Joey Richard was living in Montreal when a friend living on the South Shore called him and said, ‘Joey, you have to come here.’
He came for a 3-week visit and hasn’t left. That was four years ago. It was a move he doesn’t regret for a second.
Joey was an opera singer formally trained at the Montreal Conservatory of Music. “As an opera singer, you have to speak Italian. And living in Montreal as a student, I worked in a lot of restaurants. I’ve cooked and served all varieties of foods,”.
In deciding to open a restaurant in Bridgewater, Joey had a lot of ideas. But the location was never in question. “King Street! I see so much potential on this street. Everyone who I told I was going to open an Italian restaurant said, ‘great idea, but don’t do it in Bridgewater’. They were wrong,” he said. Joey looked to other businesses around him and said, “People will pay for good food here.”And so, his restaurant, La Casetta, was born. “I started a family business, but I don’t have a family,” he laughed. “So, I decided to create one,” Joey said of his staff of 4, moving from a 200 square foot location to a 1200 square foot location.
The parking that is such a hot topic of conversation doesn’t bother him at all. “I come from Montreal where you park out of the city and have to take the Metro into the city because there is no parking.” Joey shared a story that, during his last visit to Montreal, it took him 6-hours to get where he needed to go.
“I have parking right outside my window. That is impossible elsewhere,” he said enthusiastically – his enthusiasm is contagious by the way.
The food is made from scratch. His most popular dish is Tortellini Gigi, which is beef stuffed pasta with a rose sauce, bacon and mushrooms. And for the vegetarian, the Ravioli Crema di Fungi which is ricotta and spinach stuffed pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce. But Joey’s favourite dish to make is Penne Sergio, pasta with a tomato sauce and spicy sausage. He created and named it in honour of his late brother, Sergio. “We were very close. I wanted to create a pasta dish in honour of him. I love to hear his name every day.”
He is quick to point out that he doesn’t offer everything. “I have no deep fryer. If you want a burger, there are many other places where you can get a good burger. You can even bring it here, but you can’t get one here.” When asked if he has a vegan option, he said he doesn’t. “That means there is space in Bridgewater for someone to open a vegan restaurant,” he laughed. “And if someone wants to come here and open a vegan restaurant, I will help you. I will paint for free,” he said of his commitment to his new hometown.
The response he has had from customers has been fantastic.
“People are in shock and come back again and again. I have people driving in from Bedford just to eat here,” He said.
Of course, COVID-19 brought some challenges. He installed old windows between sections. “People feel safe here,” he said of the precautions he’s put in place.
So, what does the future hold for Joey and his family at La Casetta? “COVID showed us that everything can change so quickly, so I don’t really plan too much.” Joey hopes to offer really good Italian wine soon and local beer. “Without sticking to a plan, I am able to respond quickly to what the people want. And for now, they want more pasta!”
Story by Tina Hennigar
Brandon Dean was working in broadcasting and print media telling other peoples’ stories in Ottawa and Toronto when he decided he wanted to create
a side hustle as a hypnotist. “I wanted
a hobby that was outside the box; that I didn’t just enjoy doing but that also made me some money,” Brandon said. He looked to hypnotists in the industry still working into their 80’s.
“Laughter is great medicine.” he said. And don’t we all need more laughter?
Brandon also wanted to help people. After receiving his Certified Consulting Hypnotist (CCH) accreditation from the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH),
he began working with people to quit smoking. Nova Scotia has among the highest smoking rates in Canada. “If you want to quit smoking, I have a tried and true technique.” Brandon is so confident in what he does that if patients require another session, they’ll receive it at no additional charge.
“COVID has certainly affected people economically, as well as mentally,” Brandon said people have contacted him to help them begin living a healthier life, to quit smoking, to deal with anxiety and to help them resolve past traumas. That is the most rewarding part of his work – helping people.
Brandon and his partner, Dan Falkenham, both originally from Nova Scotia,
feel lucky to be here. They love the architecture in Lunenburg and Mahone Bay, the beauty of the ocean and the trails. Dan enjoys biking on the trails while Brandon is content to just drive around different communities looking at the natural beauty.
There have been a few surprises since arriving in Lunenburg County. “We are both foodies and love eating out. We have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the restaurants we have here, as well as the locally made rum.” Brandon and Dan are big fans of the Bluenose Rum made at Iron Works Distillery in Lunenburg. And they’ve been made to feel welcome in this community, adding that they have met lots of other same-sex couples, and even other hypnotists. One thing they haven’t found yet, however, is a doctor. “There are certainly others who need a doctor more than we do,” Brandon said about some of the seniors they’ve met. “But as we age, it is a concern.”
They feel confident that smaller venues and responsible event gatherings will happen sooner here than elsewhere. “We have friends in other parts of Canada and the States who do nothing but perform, and their businesses have been wiped out. They still have to find a way to pay their bills. We were lucky to end up on the South Shore when we did and how we did because it has made the financial impact of COVID much smaller on us. I know not everybody is lucky.”
To learn more go to: redchairhypnosis.com or if you want to learn about quitting smoking go to: quitsmoking4lifenovascotia.com
Story by Jan Fancy Hull
I’ve owned a few acres on a small lake in Lunenburg County for almost thirty years. For the first fifteen it was a handy get-away from work. I lived in Mahone Bay then, a beautiful destination. But that’s the beauty of living here: a cottage is affordable and only twenty minutes away.
Back then, I had torn a page from a magazine and tacked it inside the privy. The photo was of a lake scene very similar to mine, and the caption said “Someday, all days will be Saturday.”
Oh, yes please.
Today, my log chalet has two indoor toilets, internet via satellite, and a deck bigger than the little hut I began with. I live here now. Every day is Saturday.
Mind you, I work hard, though they say that if you do what you love you never work a day. Two things I love to work at are creating stone sculptures and writing.
The way I do it, stone carving is dirty and noisy. I use angle-grinders with diamond-imbedded blades to cut and shape the stone. This creates dramatic clouds of dust. Fortunately, the trees between me and my one neighbour absorb the noise and the dust. My air compressor makes a racket so I wear hearing protection, but it’s amazing how sound is muffled by a field of alders and Sweet William. With all that dust, I must carve outdoors, so it’s my fine-weather pursuit.
Writing is mostly done indoors, and is especially suited for bad weather - the worse the better for me. I have no excuse not to write; I just have to be patient sometimes, waiting for a storm. I have learned to love this solitude.
Even when you’re at your getaway, there can be one more place to escape to: on the calm water of a quiet lake. I kayaked this lake for years, but since I acquired a ten-foot plastic boat and equipped it with a silent electric motor, I haven’t looked back. Mostly I d rift, often with a thermos of coffee roasted in Lunenburg. I watch fish swim under my boat, enjoy loons diving and calling, hear faraway children swimming, and think. If I have a writerly task like editing to do, it’s not work when I do it on the water.
This life twenty minutes from town
is productive: my first book, Where’s Home? was published in August 2020, and my poems will be published in an anthology this fall. My sculptures have been exhibited in art shows and galleries, and my Heart Loves Mahone Bay sculpture is on permanent display on the Mahone Bay waterfront.
Getting away in Lunenburg County has given me what I needed to get out there.