Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
BY TINA HENNIGAR
Eric and Margaret Polkowski packed up all they owned in their camper and reluctantly left Fort McMurray, Alberta, bound for Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. They knew they were in for a lifestyle change. What they hadn’t anticipated was the friendliness of the people, the abundant local food, community breakfasts, and the proximity to fishing and hunting they’d find here.
Eric and Margaret were doing meaningful work as engineers when the aftermath of the Fort McMurray forest fires forced them to buy a camper as temporary housing. That’s when they decided it was time for a change. It was difficult to leave, but it turned out to be the right decision for the young couple who are working on Margaret’s family farm.
“It was not an easy decision to leave. We really loved it! We especially loved the people. But we wanted to leave the office. I really didn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life,” Margaret said. They penned a farewell email to their co-workers, titled: Radical Departure, and then set out on an adventure where Margaret would move back to her hometown and Eric would make it his. “Our co-workers were super supportive.
‘Good for you guys! Living the dream!’” Margaret said from their peaceful rented home surrounded by sprawling fields, lined with trees and a clothes line.
The desire to live rurally is what brought them here. It’s the sense of community that they hadn’t anticipated. Their eyes light up as they talk about their new life and the experiences they’ve had in just the short time since moving here. “I’d been here before, to visit. I just don’t remember it being this pretty,” Eric said of his new community.
“We pick up bacon from the local butcher. We get fresh eggs down the road. Our neighbours give us the garlic that they grow in their garden.” Margaret said with a smile. “And the community breakfasts,” Eric chimed in. “They’re amazing!” The two have become regulars at the Parkdale Maplewood Community Breakfast, insisting it’s the best breakfast they’ve ever eaten.
Eric noted that he believes there is a fair bit of opportunity here. “But it’s a lot of work too. We’ve always been active, but even so, this new line of work [farming] is physically challenging.” The young, newly married couple remarked on how close everything is compared to what they’re used to. “Here you can get from your office to your home in the country in around 20 minutes.” Margaret remarked how that might be a big selling feature for young people tired of the long commute. And since they like to fish, they’ve been exploring the many good fishing holes close by. In Alberta they were known to drive hours to find a good hole.
“We were really satisfied with our work, in Alberta.” The couple insisted looking at each other with a sense of pride for taking this leap and moving to Lunenburg County. “But we don’t miss it.” They gazed out at the horizon and smiled. “Not at all.”