Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story by DANIELLE GRIFFIN
Photos by ALEX PEARSON
Hilary and Christopher Mueller built their home near Petite Rivière, Nova Scotia four years ago and spend most o f their time on their land. They have beautiful gardens, greenhouses and rolling fruit orchards. Their two small children and a lot of free-range chickens have freedom to roam and explore the natural world.
Though humble, the Muellers are full of intrigue and contrast. Their home is off-grid and they have chosen to forgo a lot of modern conveniences. Yet, in the midst of this rural simplicity, they also run a nationally recognized, internet-based seed
Their company, The Incredible Seed Co., is an online seed supplier that offers gardeners and farmers the ability to buy all of their heirloom, open-pollinated seeds from one website. Their green, low-impact office is located on their land and is powered entirely by solar panels. The office is small but boasts high ceilings to house the company’s 430+ seed varieties. Now in their seventh season, Christopher & Hilary have had to hire three more employees to meet the growing demand for their seeds.
Hilary notes that maintaining a low-impact farm, raising children and managing a thriving business can be hectic, but they do find a positive work/life balance. While the business operates year-round, the bulk of their annual revenues happen each year between January and April, as customers from across the country and beyond vie for their favourite seed varieties.
Even during the height of their busy season, Christopher says that running a business that is completely online and off-grid is simpler than most people think. Using MIFI (a wireless router that acts as a mobile WIFI hotspot), they can easily run the business and still - occasionally - take in a little Netflix. With a vision for enabling more people to grow their own food, Christopher and Hilary are passionate about making a large range of high quality seeds accessible for others. This falls in line directly with their passion for food security and living a low-carbon, sustainable life. The Muellers have a pioneering life-style that is simultaneously earth-friendly and modern; yet, they don’t seem to realize how remarkable they really are. For helpful tips on gardening and to access their seed
catalogue, visit Hilary and Christopher at incredibleseeds.ca
Story by TINA HENNIGAR
It was a leap of faith that landed Melissa and Matt Duggan exactly where they needed to be. The high cost of living led them to make the move from Alberta to Lunenburg County. Melissa described walking around Lunenburg with her toddler thinking, ‘there doesn’t seem to be any young families around.’ She worried and even wondered if they could make a life here. “Within six months that opinion changed. We met amazing young families and fell in love with this community.” Melissa found her place by putting herself out there – going to mom and baby groups, and simply talking to other moms at the park.
At first they struggled to find a place to rent, so Melissa contacted someone whose house had been on the market for a while and asked if they’d consider renting it to the young family. They did and eventually the Duggans bought that very same house. “We absolutely love where we live. We love the street. We love our neighbours,” Melissa said of their home. There was only one thing missing in their community, so Melissa and a group of other young parents got together and decided to build it.
“We wanted to create a splash pad in the town, something that wasn’t just for tourists, a place accessible to everyone, a place to bring families together.” Planning and fundraising is well underway, and soon Melissa hopes to see kids splashing away in a safe and fun park overlooking Lunenburg’s iconic harbour. Melissa has recruited others to the community from out West as well, including her mother. “I’m so passionate about where we live and I want to see it grow,” she shared. “It’s part of my personality to take on a number of different roles.” Not only is she an entrepreneur who owns Mighty Oak Essentials, a chemical free way to take care of herself and her family, but she also works with Mighty Wee Websites.
Melissa has decided to enter politics and put herself out there as a candidate in our next municipal election. “I love the idea of working as part of a team to make this entire community better. We have what it takes.”
Story by TINA HENNIGAR
Photo by Béatrice Schuler-Mojon
When asked what brought Nicole and Bernd Krebes to Lunenburg County in 2002 from Germany, Bernd answers with a one word answer: adventure.
For years, the BernArt maze in Maitland that can be seen between exits 11 and 12 on the 103 highway was a vision in Bernd’s head - a dream really. Bernd is a ceramic tile installer, but more than that, he’s an artist.
“The idea wasn’t to create a space for kids, but for a fun, happy place for everyone,” Bernd said. The idea came long ago, 20 years ago, when Bernd was in Europe. “It turned out even better than what I had in my mind. Every once in a while, I’d take the plan out and add to it,” he shared with his signature smile. They’re happy to be here.
The maze is the product of many artists from all around the world who Nicole and Bernd invited to come and contribute. “We were open to all ideas with the exception of politics and violence. They paid to get here, that was it,” Bernd said of the artists. Bernd and Nicole supplied free accommodation and supplies.
People didn’t understand at first what was happening with the maze, but once people walk through it, Bernd and Nicole said people understand. It’s a little hard to describe, it’s out of the ordinary.
There are plans to expand the project into the woods, creating more of a labyrinth than a maze. It will be enclosed so children won’t get lost in the woods. “Since there is a tick problem in the woods, we’re going to adopt guinea hens and hope they help take care of some of them,” Nicole said. When asked what’s missing from Lunenburg County, Bernd is quick to point out that the only thing they are missing is German chocolate. “We get German sausage from the Farmers Market, and now we have really good bread from the bakery. Aside from that there is nothing missing.” Bernd pointed out that Nova Scotia is easily accessible to Europe when they want to go back home. But when they do, they can’t wait to return to Lunenburg County. “We love seeing our family, but this is our home now.”
Story by DANIELLE GRIFFIN
In 2017, moteliers Marc Daoust and Joseph Gogas bought the Lighthouse Motel & Cottages, just outside of Bridgewater and have transformed it into a modern retreat. After an inspiring road trip through Nova Scotia, the pair decided to leave behind the bustle of their corporate jobs in Toronto, in favour of something new.
Within the bourgeoning tourist industry on the South Shore, Marc and Joseph noticed a missing niche in the accommodations market. Thus, the vision for their motel restoration project was born.
Though motels have been notoriously dubbed ‘shabby’ in recent decades, they are now undergoing a renaissance. It’s a creative spin on an old idea: capturing the nostalgia of the drive-up motel, while transforming it into something fresh,
polished, and stylish. While large hotel chains (with their homogenous layouts and decor) were popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, modern travelers are now gravitating toward a more unique, elevated experience.
In speaking about the renovations to the Lighthouse Motel, Marc says that they “sought to embrace the retro revival of the mid-century modern structure while upscaling the interior to have the modern-day comforts of a boutique lodging establishment.”
While there is an overarching theme of tasteful, coastal Canadiana at the Lighthouse Motel, each room and cottage is unique. Marc and Joseph have carefully curated each room to create an inviting, contemporary getaway. As their website highlights, lodging options include 11 drive-up style motel units, a restored boathouse with 3 cottage studios and a large 2 bedroom riverfront cottage that can sleep up to six.
Marc and Joseph have also made methodical improvements to the outdoor space at the motel to showcase the beauty of their riverfront property. Within steps of each room, guests have access to cozy nooks appointed with barbecue grills, picnic tables, a large communal fire pit and Adirondack chairs out on a floating dock. The motel is charmingly located on a four acre property nestled along the LaHave River.
Anyone looking for modern accommodations that incorporate a truly authentic experience should look no further than the Lighthouse Motel & Cottages. It provides the perfect jumping off point for exploring Lunenburg County and some of the province’s most beautiful beaches; although guests might decide to just put their feet up and go nowhere at all.
Story by GRACE FEENEY
Montreal is a foodie’s city, which was one of the reasons I decided to study at McGill, and one of the reasons I’m excited to go back to school in September. I live above an Irish pub on the same street as an international liquor store, and within walking distance of dozens of restaurants. But I chose to come home to Lunenburg in the summer, where I work as a server at Rime Restaurant, a locally focused upscale restaurant and wine bar.
Growing up in Lunenburg County let me take fresh seafood – really fresh seafood – for granted. Mussels, scallops, lobster, and haddock are sold hours after they’re taken out of the water. Being able to participate in the first experience that someone else has of something I’ve never given due gratitude is humbling and empowering, whether it’s shellfish or the views of the harbour it came from.
Both the people I get to serve and the people I get to work with give me insight into how unique life on the South Shore is, especially in the service industry. I meet people from all over the world who can be globetrotters or away from home for the very first time, and they are all excited to be in Lunenburg. I can tell them about the Bluenose, the Boscawen Inn, or brand-new initiatives by local businesses to protect the environment and bring new people to the area. It’s easy to be proud to be from here.
The high season is short but full. The town is generally busy between June and September, so I am able to work during a good portion of the best part of the year before returning to school. This helps me pay for my education and living expenses in Montreal so that I don’t need to work while I study. And I can still enjoy the summer at home because the job is fun and rewarding. I’m also able to return to work briefly while in town over my Christmas break, which is an interesting change from the high-volume summer work that often pays well. For the food and the people, Lunenburg County is not difficult to look forward to coming back to every year. The respect and affection locals have for the town is clear and infectious, which I see in those who return by saying that they visited decades ago and always knew they had to come again. Some of the characteristics they remember are exactly the same, some are similar, and some have been completely transformed. This allows a community sense of comfortable familiarity without becoming boring or predictable, easily adopted by all different kinds of people.
I think these values justify my favourite characterization of the South Shore: where the salt of the air meets the salt of the earth.
Contributed story and photos
It all began in 1984 with a small group of dedicated vendors at the old Lunenburg train station on Dufferin St. Today, our Lunenburg Farmers’ Market is the largest and only year-round Farmers’ Market on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Inspired by the success of the Bridgewater Farmers’ Market at the time, the Lunenburg Board of Trade approached the organizing vendors to try a weekday Farmers’ Market in Lunenburg. Fifteen local vendors accepted the challenge.
On Thursday, July 25, 1984 the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market officially opened, and has run every Thursday morning since then.
In its 35-year history the market has tried different locations moving from the old train station to the Lunenburg Day Care parking lot, and finally calling the Lunenburg Community Centre and Lunenburg Arena its year-round home. The number of vendors has more than tripled in size, but you can still find a couple of the founding vendors at the market every week.
Although there have been many changes and many new faces, the routine and the experience remain the same. Market days start early for our vendors, who have already been working hard to prepare their products. They load them in their vehicles, head to market, greet each other as they set up their spaces for the soon to arrive customers, and grab a coffee.
Customers are greeted by smiling faces, smells of brewed coffee, treats, beautiful local produce, freshly baked breads, cheeses, meats, eggs, fish, flowers, wines, spirits, and more. They chat to the vendors about what is new, what is coming,
what is the best way to prepare or enjoy their product. Many customers load up for the week and then head off to work or grab a seat to enjoy some time with a friend and munch on their favourite treat. It is the experience of shopping and connecting that makes our Farmers’ Market a destination. Our Lunenburg Farmers’ Market prides itself on representing the best that our province has to offer, focusing on Lunenburg and Queens Co. Over 60 vendors bring their products to our market from May – September, with 30 attending year-round.
Our Farmers’ Market has helped launch new businesses, grow new
young farmers, increase access to fresh local food year-round, and become a weekly community tradition for Lunenburg and our surrounding communities. We are also a proud founding member of Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative. The roots of our success go back to those original 15 vendors, their commitment and the community connections that they made. Every Thursday, our vendors and our market as a whole continue to bring our commitment to beautiful, quality, locally grown and produced products, and provide a place for our community to connect. We look forward to welcoming you to our Farmers’ Market next Thursday morning.
For information on our Farmers’ Market, our vendors, and to sign up for our weekly newsletter please visit our website, www.lunenburgfarmersmarketns.ca
Story and photo by DAVID SORCHER
We met with Ronnie Hatt as he was working to complete a summer cottage on Ponhook Lake for a German client. He is getting more and more work from people who are either moving here permanently or looking to own a cottage they can rent out when they aren’t vacationing here themselves. “One of the big things is that the money is here”, he says. “People are coming from away seeking a lifestyle change.”
Ronnie is no stranger to South Shore living. He was born and raised here and his family has deep roots in the area. Still, he moved to Halifax in 1999 to ply his trade there as a carpenter. He married Nicole Knickle-Hatt in 2003 and they remained in Halifax for a few more years, but when their first-born was on the way they, knew it was time to return to Lunenburg County. “We wanted to be closer to the family for the kids and live in a less hectic environment”, he says. They moved to Bridgewater and now have three children, ages 5, 9 and 11. It just seemed a common sense move for a couple planning a family that they live closer to relatives and better recreational opportunities.
“You don’t have to leave early in the morning for the beach or fight the traffic to get there. We are less than a half hour to the ocean or a lake. And if you want to go to the city it’s just an hour and a half away.” We also spoke about the strong sense of community to be found here, citing the recent battle to save the Petite Rivière Elementary School by locals determined to assure good, accessible education for their children. “People stand by their communities around here. They are going to fight every day to save that school.”
Ronnie founded Ronnic Complete Builders when he moved back in 2008 and began re-establishing himself as a tradesman in Lunenburg County. Interestingly enough, much of his work is still being contracted out from people he worked for in Halifax. Now they are building more homes and cottages for people on
the South Shore. “This level of work did not really exist out here a decade ago”,
Ronnie is a Certified Red Seal Journeyman Carpenter, a particular point of pride for him. He points out that there are so many uncertified handymen doing carpentry that you can never be sure of the quality of work you will receive. Carpentry is one of the few trades that don’t require certification, but Ronnie pushes all his employees to go for an apprenticeship. Currently he would like to find at least two more qualified employees to join his crew.
“Right now I am turning down work because I just don’t have enough reliable manpower to fill all the requests.” Ultimately Ronnie would love to see the trades make a strong return to the region. By offering apprenticeships to qualified candidates he may be able to help someone make the same transition to the Lunenburg lifestyle.
Story and photos by DONNA LEON
Mike and Sherry Goede know all about good vibes. They took their surname and a play on words for their latest venture, Goede Vibes Gallery & Gifts, a colourful modern rustic home . décor shop and gallery on Hwy 3 in Chester Basin.
For the Goedes, the move to Lunenburg County 14 years ago was rather spontaneous. But they sensed it would be the right fit for their young family.
Mike was born and raised in Holland, and Sherry grew up in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. The two met while traveling in Nepal. After spending a month together, Mike decided to follow Sherry to Penticton, B.C., where she was working in the import business. After a short stint in the Okanagan Valley, they moved= to Holland and had two children. In 2005, with son Liam and daughter Zoe in tow, they headed to Canada in search of a place to call home. After visiting the Waldorf School in Blockhouse, they decided to make the move to Lunenburg County.
Mike studied photography at the School of Arts in Utrecht. He knew that his new surroundings in Chester Basin would provide inspiration for his photographs. And they did. The tiny villages and rocky harbours along the South Shore have given him ample opportunity to capture the beauty and charm of his new home. He’s fascinated by early morning light, and his photography work has a stillness about it.
Mike sells his photographs at farmers’ markets in Lunenburg and Hubbards. “I love that I can work close to home. I don’t have to go far to find beautiful places to photograph”, he adds. Sherry still imports, and their new shop features a blend of locally and imported handcrafted home décor. It also has a selection of Mike’s Good Natured photography and folk art. Zoë, who’s now 16, also has a talen t for art. She paints watercolours, designs handcrafted cards, and makes jewelry, all of which is sold in the shop and at the Hubbards Market.
Although they’re rooted in Chester Basin, Sherry says they do hope to get back on the road again in a few years. “We still love to travel, and we’ll do that again, likely after Zoë and Liam have left the nest.”
For now, they’re content to stay close to home. With their new shop a stone’s throw from their front door, the walk to work is short, and the coffee’s always hot. Goede Vibes Gallery & Gifts is located at 5370 Hwy 3, Chester Basin (opposite the Petro-Canada).
Story by TINA HENNIGAR
Photos by Béatrice Schuler-Mojon
They’re creating more than award-winning beer, they’re creating community. When Andrew Tanner and George Anderson sat down to talk about the beer business, it was clear, this is about more than beer.
We sat at a high-top, communal table in the Saltbox Brewery in Mahone Bay. It feels like everyone at the table, while strangers, have something in common. The Saltbox’s signature taste and aesthetic has recently expanded into Bridgwater at the King Street Beer Company, and plans are already in place to expand into Lunenburg.
“Some people thought we were crazy but we knew what we were doing,” George said confidently.” Aesthetics are important to their brand and it shows. Their flower arrangements are extraordinary. “Remember what this started out as,” George said of this former garage station.
“Collaboration is a big part of what we do. We bring in other beers. We invite food trucks to sell to our customers and host fundraisers,” Andrew said of working together. “They’re fun ways to work together and enhance the community.”
“People tell us it’s a natural gathering spot, and the way it’s been designed facilitates discussion and engagement,” George said, when asked to put his finger on what makes this place special. “There is a world-wide phenomenon occurring of people rejecting corporate to return to the authentic and the local.” George points to the rise in the craft brewery market as proof of their consumer appeal. “Tourists will ask, ‘Is that made here?’ of our beer, and not only is it made here, but it’s created here, packaged and labeled here. Even the stories are local.”
Quality is paramount. Without a superb product, it would be impossible to build that community. They’ve sought out experts in craft beer-making, recruiting Mike Gripp, a brewmaster from Alberta, who recently moved to Lunenburg County. “Mahone Bay has awesome water for beer!” Mike said enthusiastically. “We want to, as a matter of principal, use all local ingredients, and that can be difficult. We are still having to import ingredients due to supply limitations,” George said. “So, we’ve started to create our own yeast at Acadia University, a product that wasn’t available before. And we can’t get enough hops. We tell people, come here and grow hops. We’ll buy them all,” he laughed.
“The notion that people aren’t willing to take risks here, we’ve not found that to be true,” George said of doing business in Lunenburg County, noting that expanding to Bridgewater was a natural next step. “It’s the fastest growing community in Canada. They’ve invested heavily in improvements. If you can see past some of the negativity, it’s amazing what’s happening.”
Story by TINA HENNIGAR
When you walk into Skysail Brand’s headquarters in Mahone Bay, it’s hard not to get inspired. Perhaps it’s the crisp colour scheme of black and white with punches of vibrant colour, or the thoughtfully curated quotes speckled throughout the space that encompasses the entire second floor of a large Victorian style building above the iconic Suttles and Seawinds store. Perhaps it’s the boldness of the marketing material being created there. Perhaps it’s knowing that, working with this team of designers, the possibilities are endless. For me, it’s the people who make the Skysail Brand and its space so special.
Every time I visit Skysail Brand, I get this feeling – this feeling of audaciousness, suddenly I’m feeling braver; cooler even. Skysail Brand designed the magazine you’re reading and we at NOW Lunenburg County consider them an extension of our team and we lean on their creative genius often.
Meg Craig is the creative director behind Skysail Brand. Originally from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Meg moved to Toronto to work at a marketing agency with top brands such as PlayStation and Virgin Mobile, and she even helped launch the Smart Car brand in Canada. This ‘small town girl’ was a small fish in a big pond with her high school boyfriend, Justin Wiens, who worked for Yamaha. When they married and became pregnant with their first child, the busyness and thrill of the city lost its allure. They now longed to provide the same Nova Scotia childhood they had enjoyed for their children.
“We were like ships passing in the night,” Meg shared from one of the meeting spaces in Skysail Brand. “It took hours to get anywhere. We made a conscious decision that we wanted our kids to be from Nova Scotia.” Justin bought Shore Cycle, a popular powersports dealership just outside of Mahone Bay, perfectly situated off the 103 Highway. Meg could work from anywhere as a freelance contributor with her Toronto employer. But Meg, who never shied away from hard work, grew restless. “I always knew I wanted to do this creative work every day and I wasn’t going to stop because I had children. It’s so important for kids to see their mother doing what she loves.”
Once Meg made the decision to craft her own boutique design house, she looked for resources in the community. “I looked up the Mahone Bay Chamber of Commerce and talked to them about what I could do. I designed baby clothes for a local baby store. I did family and wedding photos. I did whatever I had to do.” When her second child was born, she hired someone to come in to help. “She’d take the baby when I got a call, and just did things to allow me to be a hands-on
mom and entrepreneur.”
“I loved working from home. I didn’t want to work in what looked like an office. When we outgrew that space, we wanted to make sure that this space felt like home,” Meg shared about intentionally making this space feel comfortable for her team of women. “I enjoy working with men, but I understand women. I know that when your child is sick, you might need to work from home. And I need to work with people who understand that about me as an employer.”
Not a lot of grass grows under Meg and Justin’s feet. He’s building a new dealership, and for her part, while she doesn’t want to get to be a big design firm with dozens of employees, Meg continually focuses on growing the customer base with services that include coaching, web design and management, social media training, and even brainstorming.
“It’s just such a pleasure to think we have had an impact on the local economy while helping people be successful,” Meg said of what she and her team does at Skysail Brand. “I absolutely love living here,” Meg said about Lunenburg County. Gone are the days when she and Justin were ships passing in the night, having to spend hours in traffic. Her home, her office, her children’s school are within shouting distance.