Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story and photo by DAVID SORCHER
If you have ever driven by Hebb’s Cross along Highway 103 during mealtimes you have no doubt noticed a full parking lot at The Blarney Stone. The popular dining spot has been in Sean MacLeod’s family since 1986. Sean had worked off and on in the family business as a teenager, but when his father was ready to retire, he saw the opportunity to make a change in his life and really put his business degree to work. So in 2009 he took over operation of the restaurant full-time. Aside from his university years in Halifax Sean has been a lifelong resident of the South Shore.
“The city is fun when you’re younger, but I like the life down here. I like the beaches and slower pace of things and, of course, so many friends and family.”
For Sean it is also a great place to raise a family. He and his wife, Sarah, have two children, Claire, 11, and Owen, 8. “There’s just so many things for the kids to do”, he says, “We always keep summers open for family camping. We especially like Kejimkujik National Park. But even growing up here, there are just so many beaches on the South Shore we have not yet discovered.”
Sean sees a good mix of local regulars at his place as well as the seasonal residents and tourists that arrive every summer. Many seasonal visitors are also repeat customers, as indicated by the many “glad to be back” remarks noted in his guestbook.
Growing up in Lunenburg County, Sean is well aware of the changes the area has seen over the past few decades. “Back in the day the fishery used to be the only reason to come ashore here. Today, of course, tourism drives the market, but now people are seeking out new options and building new businesses that help bring diversity to the local economy.
People might say there are no jobs, but if you look you can find them, or you can create your own.” As someone who witnessed the end of generational fishing families as a child, Sean sees a renaissance taking place in the area led by people who realize that you don’t have to live in the centre of a town or a city to make a successful go of it. “It’s a whole rebirth. Better Internet would help, of course. That is a huge obstacle for people trying to work from home. There may not be a quick fix, but it is being worked on.” Sean couldn’t list a number one reason for living here. “There’s so many little things that are hard to list because being from here you tend to take them for granted. “ But he does note that it is about striking that balance between work and lifestyle, being able to find the work opportunities while still enjoying the wonderful recreation that the area affords.