Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story and photo by MARGARET HOEGG
Lynda Flinn did what most New Zealanders do after high school graduation – set out to travel overseas. What made her adventure different is that it never really ended. At age twenty, Lynda headed off to explore Asia and Europe and met a woman named Susie from Chester, Nova Scotia on her first flight to Singapore. The new friends travelled together through Malaysia, and even after going their separate ways, would meet up frequently for short trips around Europe.
On a visit to New Zealand to see family, Lynda planned a side trip to Nova Scotia to visit Susie. Not only did she visit in October, a gorgeous season on Canada’s East Coast, she also met Steve, the man who would become her husband. Soon after, she returned to Chester, but this time in February. “I witnessed some things I’d never seen before,” she said, “ like seagulls standing on the frozen ocean and big expanses of what I thought were farming fields but were actually sea ice.” Lynda then bounced between Europe, Nova Scotia, and Auckland, where she did her culinary training inspired by her time in Rome where she worked as a companion and discovered a love of cooking. Soon after, Steve followed her to New Zealand to propose and she moved permanently to Canada. That was thirty years ago. Lynda worked in restaurants and, after having her first child, started a catering business. It quickly outgrew her kitchen, so she bought a space in Chester with a larger kitchen and a little cafe on the side. The cafe quickly took off and The Kiwi Cafe opened its doors to the community in June 2004. Now in their 16th season, Lynda tells me, they’re busier than ever: “We’re thriving. Every single year we’ve increased in volume.”
The colourful cafe serves fresh, healthy Nova Scotia classics alongside her own family recipes and has become a community hub attracting locals and travellers alike, something Lynda really appreciates. She says, “People are genuinely caring about other people - super kind and generous, and welcoming. And people want you to be happy here. And everybody here loves sharing everything, showing them unique places. We’re like the tourist bureau sometimes.”
Lynda is proud to create employment opportunities for locals as well as newcomers and travellers. As a Red Seal chef, she accommodates apprenticeship programs and recently applied to a government pilot program that designates specific employment opportunities for landed immigrants.
With the airport only an hour away, and Europe just a direct flight across the Atlantic, Lynda is easily able to make her annual pilgrimage to Italy every March, to rekindle her romance with food. On a recent trip, she studied pizza making, which motivated her to open a Roman style pizzeria in Chester this summer.
Even with years of international travel under her belt, Chester remains her perfect home. After a long day in the cafe, she can pack a picnic and sail out to the islands with her family to relax and swim. It’s a low-stress lifestyle she wouldn’t trade for anything.“There’s no traffic jams, there’s no big queues, there’s no horrible commutes, it’s very clean, there’s no pollution. When you go to the post office, if anything it just takes you too long just chatting to everybody. Which is nice. It’s a community. I just like the ease of living here.”