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when the Summer 2018



A Natural Solution to Your Coastal Erosion Issues ADVERTORIAL


ummer is here! A season for cottages, patios, and family time spent on the beautiful beaches of the North Shore. Summer can also be a season when we visit our cottage shorelines or favourite beaches only to discover that the winter storms have taken their toll. Debris, damage, and erosion are the most common signs of winter’s wrath. Worrying about all that erosion and the threat of what might happen next year can really put a damper on the joys of summer. You don’t have to look far to see the standard approach that is currently used to reduce coastal erosion. Hard engineered structures seem to be popping up everywhere these days. From bulkheads of wood and steel, to tall walls of giant stacked granite boulders, to low sloping sandstone protection structures, the diversity is endless. Without a doubt there are locations where these armouring structures are necessary and often critical to protect roads, fishing wharves, and industrial or historical buildings.

This kind of coastal armouring tends to produce a sense of permanence and security, however they are not as permanent than they look and they often do not fit with the coastal countryside scenery we cherish. Hard armouring can create a cascade of accelerating erosion in front of and around coastal structures leading to a loss of beaches and neighbouring properties soon requiring protection. They have ecological impacts such as loss of habitat, reduced water quality, and localized changes in the species living in an area. Hard structures also tend to make it more difficult to access the coast for the leisure and resources that we all enjoy. As a coastal property owner you may be asking ‘is there anything I can do to maintain the health and natural beauty of my shoreline? Are there any other options to reduce my coastal erosion besides rock and hard structures?’ The short answer is yes! The long answer is that there is a whole spectrum of naturebased solutions to coastal erosion that are broadly

referred to as Living Shorelines. Living Shorelines mimic and accelerate the natural processes of coastal stabilization by using native plant species and local plant materials (hay, brush, logs etc.) to re-establish vegetation cover on coastal banks, bluffs, and cliffs. Living Shorelines are an important tool for coastal management because they allow us to protect our properties and investments while at the same time maintaining the natural beauty and ecosystem functions of the shoreline. Living Shorelines are resilient to coastal change and can be used increase the resilience and longevity of existing rock protection structures. Living Shoreline projects also inspire participation and knowledge sharing that creates resilient, empowered individuals and communities. Helping Nature Heal has been designing, installing, and maintaining Living Shorelines specially adapted to the Atlantic Canadian environment for 15 years. We take pride in helping our clients find sustainable solutions to their coastal issues. We also offer mentorship services to teach property owners the skills they need to monitor coastal change on their property and become stewards of the coastline. If you are worried about coastal erosion on your property and a natural solution feels right to you, our expert team would love to work with you to design the Living Shoreline best suited to your needs.

ON OUR COVER: Gary and Stella Hollett’s Chance Harbour beach house is a breath of fresh air. Welcome back summer with the story of their joyful home. PHOTO BY STEVE SMITH, VISIONFIRE STUDIOS

Work, sunshine, adventure opportunities to see the world and all it has to offer. Lots of things take you away, but after all that...

we’ll bring you home.

PUBLISHER: Fred Fiander EDITOR: Crystal Murray SALES MANAGER: Dave Wood ART DIRECTOR: Jamie Playfair GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Barbara Raymont PHOTO EDITOR: Steve Smith FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: David Wood, Sales Manager, Halifax 902 422-4990, ext. 1819 Blake Ross, Sales, Pictou County Phone 902 485-8014, ext. 1108 Nicole Fawcett, Sales, Strait Area 902 625-3300, ext. 1509 Lyndia Wellwood, Sales, Truro and Colchester County 902 893-0375 Kristin Hirtle, Sales Tatamagouche/Colchester County 902 956-8099

Northern Nova Scotia’s premier magazine for local lifestyle, information and insights at the heart of our communities. Find us inserted 4 times a year into HubNow, Pictou Advocate and selected Herald publications.

Gina Tagliapietra, Sales, Antigonish County 902 968-1588 FOR EDITORIAL INQUIRES CONTACT: Crystal Murray 902 485-1990 At Home on the North Shore Published four times per year by: Advocate Media Inc., 2882 Gottingen Street Halifax, NS B3K 3E2 Printed by: Advocate Printing & Publishing, 181 Browns Point Rd. Pictou, NS B0K 1H0 902 485-1990


Inside this issue The Inside Story Vol. 3 Edition 3 Summer 2018


42 Hit the Refresh Button with Old Fashioned Shrubs

Lavender, Lilacs and Lupins Cultivating the memory makers

8 Board Work

Healthy at Home

Revealing beauty of barn board design

38 Too Pretty to Eat Edible flowers to add eye candy to your healthy summer menus

16 Beckwith Bash A Gathering of Spirits

Cover Story 20 Easy Breezy Summer Living in Chance Harbour

Summer cocktail recipes with Big Cove Foods

41 From Farm to Table Scotsburn Museum has the tools to take you down memory lane

46 Garden Variety

Departments 13 Off the Wall Get knee deep in bathymetric charts

The lowdown on local landscape trends

48 To Love and Protect How we can help heal our living shorelines

On the Table

14 Thresholds No shrinking violets

15 Field Notes Sara Jewels summer of art

25 deCoste Performing Arts Centre Come Play in Pictou

33 High time for High Tea Experience silver spoon service in Amherst

29 The Library The book about a little film about a little game

50 DIY

34 All Fired Up Pizza oven envy in Afton

Lavender…It’s the bomb!

36 It’s a Marshmallow World The gooey goodness of a homemade treat


20 The North Shore

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A made in Nova Scotia moment

PRONOUNCED FLAVOUR, UNIQUELY NOVA SCOTIAN A creation steeped in tradition, seasoned with our salt air. The ocean defines our culture and our whisky, crafted with that same passion. Caldera is more than a beverage, it’s a spirit... connected to the heart of the North Shore. We’d love for you to explore River John, Nova Scotia. Let us welcome you to our fields, farm and friendship. 65 River John Rd., River John Nova Scotia 1-844-494-4759 Please always drink responsibly.



ave you ever experienced the time travel that a childhood memory can evoke? Memory is triggered by sights, smells, tastes and tactile experience. Those primal sensory elements can directly shape how you act or experience the present. Most attach heart memory with food. But you know, landscape can pack some punch. These three beauties are all familiar. Each one holds a place somewhere in our lives, whether you recognize it or not. Here’s what you need to know about each if you would like to build your own memories.


lavender lilacs & lupin BY RACHAEL MCLEAN

has been grown for its medicinal and herbal prowess. Today lavender remains a powerful presence in this aspect. Although, growing it isn’t for the faint of heart. Lavender is tricky but if you have the knack, it will thrive. An excellent addition to most gardens whether it be as a low hedge, planting along walkways, or as a specimen in a mixed perennial setting. Don’t be fooled, this little one is a woody shrub and today can be found in many different cultivars. It is slow growing, and prefers well drained, neutral to alkaline soil, full sun and patience. Dry the flowers and seeds for fragrance that will last long into the winter months. To explore the many uses of this perrenial make a trip to the lavender farm in Seafoam this summer.

SYRINGA VULGARIS: This medium- to large-sized shrub has been a staple in most urban and rural residential landscapes for decades. The fragrance of the pinnacle shaped flower is often what transports one back to their grandmother’s house. Despite the host of susceptible diseases this shrub may fall prey to, it continues on without much care. Lilacs are best in a boarder planting or “in the back” of a grouping. They tend to get leggy and sucker. Form is not their forte. Today there are dozens and dozens of different cultivars that give a spin on Grammas old purple lilac. Fragrance, intensity, colour and size genetics have all been tinkered with giving you plenty of choice to start your own tradition.

LUPINUS: Nova Scotia’s unofficial flower is most often seen along the roadside in mass groupings that give unparalleled punches of colour. Spikey tall flowers of pink, purple, white with deep green leaves bring memories of summer vacations and looong car rides. Growing them at home can be a cautionary tale. If you have the right conditions this hardy perennial can take off and spread like wild fire. Lupin seeds have been carbon dated back 10,000 years, thriving in an alkaline soil. Clearly, this hardy perennial is here for the long haul. If starting lupins inside, try rubbing them with a little bit of sandpaper to scarify the hard coat that protects it. The seed will not germinate until moisture can penetrate the coat. If sowing directly outside, wait as late as possible in the fall to allow the frost to do the same thing. They do not transplant well and are best from seed. No wonder it’s been able to survive frozen soil for millennia. The power of this tiny seed is incredible. The North Shore

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ah! Summer 2018



bout eight years ago my husband and I purchased a few acres of shorefront in the Braeshore area of Pictou County. Our family affectionately refers to it as “The Land.” It was once the summer retreat for the family who owned the shipyard in our community. In its day it was likely a pretty grand little cottage but when we picked up the property we soon realized that the once idyllic little beach bungalow with its southfacing sun porch and beach stone fireplace was way beyond our ability to restore. To this day I regret tearing it down. The “what if” still wafts in the air like bonfire smoke. Perhaps with the right help we could have managed its restoration. The plan to build our own family retreat is also mingled in that smoky haze. It’s not that we haven’t been dreaming and even investing in this future life at the shore, but as every season passes it pains me as a little more of that property crumbles over the bank and disappears into the Northumberland Strait. In the last couple of years we have taken a few steps to preserve the shoreline to attenuate its vulnerability to increasingly aggressive storm surges. We have made adjustments to the slope; however, we have recently learned that we need more adjustments to the angle. We have dug a pond to help catch run off from adjacent properties, albeit increasing the mosquito population and a new driveway diverts traffic from the old entry that was closer to the shoreline. While frustrated at times for the snail pace of progress, my bond with “The Land” becomes stronger every year. The time has provided an opportunity to learn about how our little ecosystem works or should be working if we are going to live a life close to the water. When we compare our current surveys of the property to those of not so many years ago we know that more than 70 feet of land has tumbled down the bank. We know that as polar ice continues to melt our waters will rise and we know that weather patterns are changing with dramatic affects, but still we want that little slice of heaven on the water. So what do we do? My only answer is to make our shoreline as resilient as it can be against the forces of nature and to accept that our shorelines are living, breathing entities, meant to change and never to be a static picture post card. Just like taking care of our personal health we need to look at the whole system and think holistically and perhaps most importantly know that I am going to have to remain patient and understand that the process will take years before we will really see the return in our investment.

In Rachael McLean’s feature To Love and Protect (page 48) she tells a very similar tale of a property not far from ours whose stalwart owners are investing in the future of their own shoreline and, by doing so, educating and engaging their entire neighbourhood. Our cover story is also a call to the sea but a slightly different story about preservation and patience. Stella and Gary Hollett welcome us to their beach house in Chance Harbour where it took almost 20 years to transform the family cottage into their stunning year round home. It’s summer time and the livin’ is easy…or so the song goes. But for most of us it is time to engage in the labours of love in the great outdoors. When mowing the lawn or planting the first rows of carrots in the garden doesn’t seem like work, especially if it is rewarded with a refreshing cocktail (see page 42) and if a little rain should fall you know we have an amazing recipe for homemade marshmallows (page 36) to toast over a bonfire on your own favourite shore.

The North Shore


Pieces The beauty of decorating with authentic barn board

The North Shore



estled in a barn between the pastures of Onslow Mountain, Steve and Rose Clark are storing pieces of Nova Scotia’s past. The weather-worn grey siding is from a collapsed barn in Tatamagouche. The beat-up barn door is from a dairy farm that operated in the 1920s, and heavy, hand-hewn beams of a barn raised close to 200 years ago. Pinterest is full of tutorials on how to make your own barn board by distressing new pine boards, but the Clarks collect, sort, and sell the real thing. What’s commonly called “barn board” is actually “old-growth lumber.” Century-old trees didn’t get as much sunlight since they grew in thick clusters. Because the trees grew more slowly, their annual rings were tightly spaced and the wood tended to be harder. “You see so much more character in old-growth lumber -- the rings, the grain, the patina,” says Rose. “We’re looking at wood that’s been through a lot -and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.” The Maitland couple has made many connections across the Maritimes, so people often reach out to them if they have old wood they’re looking to offload. “We hear from people who have an old building that’s in disrepair or they can no longer maintain it,” says Rose. “Of course, those are definitely few and far between. Who even owns a barn anymore?” Usually the calls start trickling in after a big storm. High winds will knock down walls or cave in a roof, and an old building just isn’t stable anymore. There are negotiations to purchase the structure, and a demo crew is sent in to tear it down. Chunk by chunk, the entire building makes its way to one of the Clarks’ lumber storage facilities. Once it’s trucked in, Steve can start examining the wood and sorting it into categories.

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past of the

“Grey boards” are the ones from the exterior of a building, weathered grey from decades of sun, wind and rain. “Brown boards” are interior boards or boards that haven’t been weathered grey. Then there are the thicker floorboards and hand-hewn beams -- many of which have distinctive marks made by an “adze” tool used to carve its edges. Some of the barn board -- the more manageable pieces -- is on display in the Clarks’ downtown Truro shop, Phillips and Chestnut Victorian Salvage & Decor. The rest can be viewed by appointment only at their storage barn. Rose and Steve purchased the business (formerly called Onslow Historic Lumber) in 2012 from Rose’s brother, who had been selling barn board long before it was “trendy.” “It was this vision he had. He loves history, and it was in his heart to save ophonethese tangile, architectural pieces of our d history,” says Rose.

mmer win! reand lets beach try gold 2 add th Bob 1-5

Some of their customers purchase pieces to restore their older homes and maintain their historical accuracy. It’s not like you can buy a 1920s window frame or fireplace mantle at the local home improvement store. Other customers, especially those with newer homes, purchase barn board for building sliding doors, farmhouse-style dining tables, or rustic wall art. “We find a lot of our customers are doit-yourselfers, but others don’t want to go the full gamut, so we started offering pieces that have already been planed,” says Steve. You might think planing would scrape away the “goodness” of that old wood, but Steve says it can actually bring out the vintage saw marks and highlights the grain. He also recommends brushing barn board with ToughCoat (a matte-finish water-based polyurethane) to protect the finish and make it easier to clean. Another

Rob MacCormack’s creations reveal the authentic beauty of reclaimed barn board.


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ah! Summer 2018

Listen live at

Country Top 40 with Bob Kingsley Saturdays 1-5 The North Shore

option is brushing it with hemp oil to deepen the colour, make the wood water resistant and protect it from drying out. Those are just a few of the natural home decor products he and Rose sell at Phillips and Chestnut -- like the old-fashioned square-cut nails, made using machinery that’s nearly 200 years old. While Rose and Steve don’t sell furniture or decor made from barn board, they do refer customers to local carpenters who take custom orders. One of them is Bible Hill engineer Rob MacCormack, who never imagined he’d be thought of as a carpenter. His barn board journey started less than two years ago when he moved into a new office.

“I didn’t want to sit at a particle-board desk every day, so I thought ‘I’m going to make my own,’” recalls MacCormack. “I liked the beauty and the character of old wood, and one desk turned into project after project.” While he never planned on making anything to sell, he keeps getting asked to build custom pieces for customers. He’s used barn wood to build coffee tables, dining tables, desks, beds, mantles and even a large bar-top for his gym. He also uses his engineering background to create intricate mosaics -- cutting barn board into dozens of tiny shapes and fitting them together in geometric patterns. Sometimes the barn board has a

1. Ceiling beams 2. Headboard 3. Shelving 4. Wall art 5. Coat rack/Mug rack


20 ways to use barn board in your home

6. Farmhouse-style table 7. Coffee table 8. Kitchen island 9. Basement bar 10. Flooring 11. Mirror trim 12. Picture frames 13. Storage chest/trunk 14. Sliding doors/barn doors 15. Bathroom vanity 16. Porch bench 17. Sliding doors on an entertainment centre

“I like taking something old and making it beautiful again.”

18. Hanging light fixture 19. Accent wall 20. Board-and-batten

touch of original colour, and other times MacCormack mixes natural pigments (Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint) with water to tint the barn boards without obscuring their details. It isn’t always easy, and he says sometimes homeowners are nervous about working with it because of “fear of the unknown.” The wood is thicker, denser, and not usually “even,” like new lumber -- and you need to watch out for errant nails and tacks. Sometimes it takes MacCormack a while to get the wood into a “useable” condition. Some pieces are coated with 200 years’ worth of grime, footprints, and horse manure, and he’ll spend many hours scraping, sanding, and chiselling the wood until he can build with it. But MacCormack doesn’t have immediate plans to make woodworking his full-time gig. He says he’s “just enjoying the creative outlet” and likes the challenge of coming up with new designs. He goes to the Clarks’ storage barn every few weeks to hunt for new treasures. “It’s like a gigantic candy store,” says MacCormack. “There’s so much old lumber with potential that I always come home with more than I planned on buying.” “I like taking something that’s old and discarded and making it beautiful.” Steve and Rose say interest in barn board has certainly increased over the last four or five years thanks to the farmhouse-style decor popularized in HGTV shows like Fixer Upper. But Rose says it’s also a matter of people longing for authenticity. “We see people who aren’t looking for what’s the cheapest or fastest way to outfit their home,” says Rose. “They want something real -- something quality -- and there’s nothing like seeing this wood in person. It’s as real as it gets.”

– Rob McCormack

The North Shore

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BARN BOARD 101: Understand the different types BEAMS:




Beams more than 100 years old are often hand-hewn with rough curved saw marks. They’re popular for building fireplace mantles.

Weathered boards from the outside of a barn -- sometimes with a touch of green. Typically planks are 6"-18" wide. The grey layer is thin and can be lost through excessive sanding.

Similar to grey board but without the weathered finish – often from interior walls.

These 2" thick planks are popular for shelving and tabletops. These can look great planed to showcase the grain.

Headboard and footboard made from reclaimed lumber by Rob MacCormack.

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The North Shore


STEVE SMITH Sarah and David from Big Cove Foods stopped by the studio with their cool products to mix up some drinks. I travelled an hour down the highway to Afton to photograph a pizza oven. So what’s the big deal about a pizza oven? It’s not just big, it’s huge. And the pizza was fantastic. So there were drinks, and there was pizza. Why not some edible flowers from Riverview Herbs? (Yes, I ate some of the flowers featured in the salad, and they were quite delicious). Our cover story features Stella and Gary and their beautiful home in Chance Harbour. They were charming and extremely hospitable, and their home reflected that. So get comfy somewhere in our North Shore sunshine and enjoy our magazine. And maybe a flower or two?


Barn Board


DEBBI HARVIE is regular contributor to Ah! She discovered her passion for writing and continues to foster that love in many creative ways. She had a blast learning about the latest trends in outdoor landscaping from the experts at Urban Roots and Artisan Natural Stone for her features Garden Variety and All Fired Up Over Pizza. “Although I don’t have the greenest of thumbs, I could definitely get behind the idea of a brick oven for pizza in my backyard!”

LORI BYRNE Summertime for me means dinners in the open air, road trips with the family around our great province and lots of bonfires swatting at the bugs. But the best is time on the beaches of the North Shore, so plentiful, all so pretty and within an easy drive. Hollett’s cottage turned full-time residence speaks to the draw of the ocean along our pretty coastline and it was a pleasure to sit down and chat with them about their unique home.


LINDSAY CAMERON WILSON is a bestselling cookbook author and host of Love Food, a cooking show that celebrates food, family and community. Lindsay studied history, journalism and the culinary arts. She lives in Halifax with her family but summer time brings Lindsay
to the North Shore. Lindsay opened up the cottage in River John a few weeks and whipped up a batch of homemade marshmallows to celebrate the first beach fire of the season with her children (you will see son Rex doing his part for quality control). She shares her memories of summertime and her must try recipe for everyone’s favorite sticky treat in It’s a Marshmallow World.

RACHAEL MCLEAN is happiest when she has her hands in the earth and making memories with her two boys and husband. As a landscape architect and community planner understanding the vital connection between environment and the people made her jump at the topics of shore line erosion and lovely lilacs, lupins and lavender.

TRACY STUART believes that the vibrancy and beauty of summer comes with the blossoms. Preparing gorgeous summers meals for family and friends can be done in a snap by adding the color and beauty of edible flowers to any dish. Tracy also holds a Master of Science, Bachelor of Physical Education; she is also a two-time World Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist in rowing.

SARAH BUTLAND Being connected to hidden gems in this community through literature is a dream come true for Sarah Butland. Always aspiring of being paid to read and write, Ah! At Home on the North Shore and our author-filled county has been a blessing in her life. Hearing a lot about Only Game In Town, the movie, Butland added it to her must-watch list and never imagined she’d be able to read of its trials and tribulations and “meet” the script writer, director and producer as well as author Stuart Cresswell. Butland is eager to discover her next local author!

an award-winning journalist and columnist who grew up in Halifax and moved to Truro in 2011 to channel her inner Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Her writing appears across North America in newspapers, magazines and websites like Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. Heather opens up our summer issue with her story Pieces of the Past and points us in the direction of some super sources authentic barn boards to incorporate into your home and cottage design.

TODD LOCKHART I spend a lot of my time at VisionFire Studios in a darkened edit suite. So, when Crystal approached us about filming a couple segments about summertime mixed vinegar drinks, with David and Sarah from Big Cove Foods, I was more than happy to accommodate. Check out our website and social media to see how these innovative and tasty drinks are made.

SARA JEWELL is the author of Field Notes: A City Girl’s Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia. She’s also on a search for art, and as she discovered, the village of Pugwash is teeming with creativity. In this issue’s Field Notes column, Sara explores the opportunities available for anyone to indulge in a “summer of art”.

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Water becomes an extension of our summer playgrounds and connects us in a different way to our environment. So much of what we see is only at the surface but there is a beauty and another landscape in its entirety that lies beneath the ripples of our waters and tells its own story.


hen geologist Edwin MacDonald was a young boy boating in the Northumberland Strait with his Dad and brother he often wondered what was really underneath the bottom of their boat. An unfortunate encounter with a reef and propeller could quickly abbreviate an already short boating season. The basic knowledge that he needed to navigate safely swelled into a growing interest in the mysterious landscape submerged beneath the waters of our shores. Edwin’s connection to a place, his career trajectory and relating hobbies were plotted like the co-ordinates on a map. Interests in cartography, geology, nautical maps, bathymetry, and mechanical technology overlapped like the layers of the bathymetric charts he creates in his workshop in New Glasgow to represent some of our favourite valleys and plateaus in the waters off our coastline. While he doesn’t consider his charts an art, his work is sought out by many boating enthusiast’s homes or with people who have a connection to specific bodies of water.

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Bathymetric charts show the land if the overlaying water was removed in the same way that topographic maps shows elevation and adds another dimension to the way we can view our world. Using a laser cutter, Edwin is able to incorporate precision detail to the landscape and can work within 0.1 of an inch to capture near real time representations of our ever-changing shoreline. He etches major byways into the top layer to give the viewer a great perception of the region isolated for the chart. The coloured layers of baltic birch or popal in varying shades of blue discern the water from the land and each piece is in a custom oak frame. Several of his commissioned pieces also incorporate LED lighting between the layers that illuminate and enhance the experience of looking deep into the water. Edwin’s charts are a reminder of a beautiful and most often overlooked world that is hidden from us beneath the waters that we associate with home.

The North Shore


No shrinking violets here! Summer in Nova Scotia is always bursting with lovely shades of purple. Whether it’s the heady scent of a lilac bush gracing an old property, the lupins blowing in the gentle summer breezes or the buzz of the bees amongst the rows of lavender, purple is the ‘in’ colour. Even Pantone agrees with the flowers of a Nova Scotia summer, since they named Ultra Violet the Colour of the Year for 2018. These soft, flowery shades are easy to introduce into your home. They are lovely against whites and creams, for a light, airy summer feel or even with deeper shades like chocolatey browns or rich navy. Pair them with the warm tones of brass or gold metals for an opulent look. And you can never go wrong by adding some pretty florals into your home. Unfortunately we can’t keep the blooms all year so pop some colour into your décor with a floral painting and keep the flowers close to your heart with a petal locket.

SOURCE GUIDE Lee Jofa fabric Costandi Designs or wherever Lee Jofa fabrics are sold Robert Allen Fabric Costandi Designs or wherever Robert Allen fabrics are sold Benjamin Moore Paint Chase’s Colour Centre or wherever Benjamin Moore is sold Lupin Painting Carolyn Vienneau Petal Locket Marshdale Farms

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n the summer of 2016, Louise Cloutier hung out a new shingle in the village of Pugwash. After 35 years of teaching art to high school students, she made her dream of having her own studio a reality when she opened ArtQuarters in an old house on King Street. “This had always been my intention,” Louise told me at the studio’s official opening. “When I graduated from McGill in 1980 and launched into my teaching career, I knew when I retired, I would like to do something like this.”

It was worth the wait, and not just for Louise. As a wannabe-artist whose brain freezes up the moment a paintbrush is in her hand, I was delighted to devote one night a week for twelve weeks at Louise’s new studio. My “summer of art” saw me create not only with paint but with cloth and string and ripped paper. I came away with several pieces of art I’m proud of – and no brain freeze! Art isn’t new to Pugwash, however. For at least 25 years, the Mixed Palette painting group, comprised of women and men of various ages and skill levels, has met every Thursday morning in the board room of the village hall to paint and chat. “We call it our ‘mental health group’,” says Heather Cunningham, who joined the group in 1994. “We sit and talk as we paint. It’s good therapy.” Heather became a lifelong member after a simple invitation issued in the parking lot of the local Co-op. “Trink Hudson said she was going to painting and told me to come with her. I said, ‘I can’t paint’ and Trink said ‘I can’t either!’ I still can’t paint but I like what I do,” Heather laughs as she sketches the outline of a lighthouse on the canvas lying on the table in front of her. You don’t paint for two decades if you don’t have some talent, and Heather’s paintings, along with those of other current and former members of the group, hang in many homes and cottages in the Pugwash area. Every summer, the Mixed Palette Show and Sale at the village hall gives visitors and locals a chance to admire, and purchase, the group’s paintings. This year the show and sale takes place in August during HarbourFest. Bringing artists together for support and encouragement was the seed that blossomed into the Pugwash Artists 15 -

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Collective ten years ago. New to the village, painter and writer Norene Smiley was looking for opportunities to talk about art and be challenged in her work. “That’s what I was missing in my new rural community,” she says but owning a popular café meant it didn’t take long for Norene to discover the local painters, potters, sculptors, and rug hookers who were working on their own. With a laugh, Norene admits she thought of the group’s first get-togethers as “a lonely artists club”, but as the women got to know each other and share their individual interests and ambitions, they decided to host a show, and the Pugwash Artists Collective was formed. Since 2010, they’ve held themed shows in Tatamagouche, Pugwash and Oxford, and their ninth show, “Peace”, takes place this July during the Gathering of the Clans in Pugwash. Art is very subjective – we like what we like – and North Shore artists offer such varied creations, from painting and sculpture to weaving and collage, we all can have at least one piece of original art in our homes. Putting a spin on the Buy Local movement are these anonymous words of wisdom: “Buy art from living artists. The dead ones don’t need the money.” On the other hand, why buy when you can make? Indulge in your own “summer of art” and get your hands dirty, sticky, or muddy. Louise Cloutier believes anyone can do art, and I vouch for her teaching skills, not only from my own experience but from watching others create original works of art when they least expected to. So if someone stops you in the grocery store parking lot and invites you to their rug hooking/painting/pottery/ collage class, drop your bags and go. The North Shore




gathering of Happy Spirits

Beckwith Bash Celebrates Ten Years of Music and Food

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Above: Willie Stratton and his band,

Isaac Fresia stirring one of the Bash’s trademark Gumbo!

The North Shore


performing Bash 2012.

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PEI chef Roark Mackinnon returning for the 5th year, cooking pizza in Eric’s adobe pizza oven.





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hen Harry and Julia Ledbetter lived in their farmhouse at the end of long dirt road in the tiny hamlet of Beckwith, Cumberland County, they could not have imagined that several decades later, the property they sold to a young family would become the site of an annual summer festival of music and food, dancing and camping. “The Beckwith Bash came from our idea to throw a party for friends and neighbours to show appreciation for their help and support while we were travelling,” explains musician Eric Fresia who, along with his wife, Catherine Bussiere, a film maker and photographer, bought the 15-acre homestead near Port Howe in 1994. “We were burning old garden debris but the fire took off and burnt the lower field – our neighbours helped us put the fire out before the Shinimicas Fire Department arrived,” he chuckles. “After seeing the area so nicely cleaned, I decided to build the main stage there.” In the past ten years, the Beckwith Bash has grown from a small party celebrating the release of the first CD of Fresia and the Offsprings, the band Eric formed with his two youngest children, to a multi-performer, multi-stage, smorgasbord-of-food arts festival. When the band now known as simply Fresia released their second, two-CD album at the 2012 Bash, it included a tribute to the property’s previous owners, a song called “Harry and Julia Auditorium,” and daughter Charlotte’s debut CD.

Fresia and the Offsprings, Bash 2012. PHOTO: HALEY MACPHEE FRESIA

The North Shore


Birdseye view of the Beckwith grounds. The team: Eric Fresia, Catherine Bussiere, Haley MacPhee Fresia, Isaac Fresia,


Charlotte Fresia and Sam Fresia

The bash, however, was never only about Eric’s music; from the start, he wanted to provide a venue and an audience for other up-and-coming musicians. Kim Harris, Catherine MacLellan, Erin Costelo, Willie Stratton, and Wintersleep are among the many musicians who have shared their talents on a warm, sometimes wet, August evening. Over the years, other artists like poets, dancers, and drummers have been invited to perform, and everyone is welcome to join in the spontaneous jam sessions around the late-night bonfire. Over the years, as interest in performing at and attending the Bash has increased, so too has the infrastructure. The sauna that Eric built next to the pond first operated as the canteen but now it gets transformed into a safe and fun play area for children. For the Bash in 2012, he constructed a 30-foot x 40-foot outdoor patio with natural slate paving stones, and a pergola covered in grape vines; this space became the outdoor dining room. Within a few years, he added an adobe wood-fired pizza oven and an outdoor kitchen. “Food has been part of the festival from day one,” says Catherine, who prepares the Bash’s signature dishes of gumbo and baklava. “I don’t think we could have the Bash without gumbo,” she says of the dish inspired by a music tour in Louisiana. “People expect it. And we’ve been throwing pizzas for the past three Bashes; that’s very popular. Another speciality is the cinnamon buns and cowboy coffee we offer the next morning to thank the campers for helping to clean up the property.” Perhaps the most memorable Bash was the “wedding bash” of 2015, when oldest son, Isaac, now 26, married Haley MacPhee the day before the Saturday festival. Even the bride’s family, from Cape Breton, appeared on the main stage playing and singing traditional East Coast songs. “The wedding bash was a great idea but we were exhausted,” Eric says. “We had about five hundred people in attendance. The wedding on the Friday was beautiful,

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The 10th annual Beckwith Bash

Star volunteers; Kizi Spielmann Rose, Isaac Fresia, Haley MacPhee Fresia

the bash the next day was a huge success, but the late-night party in the field was a bit much,” he says with a wry chuckle. Like their music, the Beckwith Bash remains a family enterprise. Even Isaac, the non-musician, contributes; he designed every poster as well as the double-B logo. “Our three kids and their friends have been integral to the Bash since the first year,” Eric says. “We never could have done it without their help. The kids have been there for every event, working as hard as Catherine and me.” This August, Eric, Catherine and their three children, along with family, neighbours, and fans, will celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Beckwith Bash. “I can’t see trying new things,” Eric says of the plans for this summer’s milestone festival. “We will stick with the model of good music, good food, good people. A few of our favourites will be back along with a few new artists, and the kids and I will play, one of the rare times our trio performs these days.” Eric admits this might be the last Bash in Harry and Julia’s back field as he wants to go in other directions, but it won’t be easy to give up a festival that has come to mean so much to so many. “The third weekend of August feels like Christmas,” says Catherine with a laugh. “The Bash is exhausting but there is great energy leading to it, and during it. I love the gathering of happy spirits.”

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The North Shore


The North Shore

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when the


Left: Stella Hollett tends to her plants on the back deck of their now year-round home in Chance Harbour. Gary and Stella entertain neighbours in the spacious living room, perfectly suited to a cozy evening for a few guests or equally as inviting for a large group, as well, which is exactly how they planned it.



sually when we talk about love at first sight, it’s not a little cottage set back on a meandering lane along the shores of Chance Harbour. But it was just that for Stella and Gary Hollett, when they purchased a property in a quiet beach neighborhood in 1998. Like most cottages that never make it to the real estate guide Gary had heard about the property through the grapevine. The couple had made the decision to actively look for a summer home along the north shore where Stella had family and roots and it didn’t take long to find exactly what they were looking for. Gary did a solo tour of the cottage when Stella was working from home in Halifax, making sure he got a foot in the door knowing how quickly little gems like these were snatched up. He tells the story of taking an entire row of film and stopping to have it developed on the way back to the city so he could

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show Stella as soon as he got back to the city. Stella was in love too. They made an offer and the cottage was theirs. Enamored with their new little nest and wanting to soak up the joy of a summer by the sea they did little during their first summer other than to bring some of their own possessions. Knowing they made the right investment they decided to plan for some practical renovations to bring the dwelling up to date and winter ready so they could extend their season and enjoy a few long weekends at the beach when winter set in. Giving up their Halifax lifestyle was never part of the immediate plan but they think that the little cottage had others ideas for them. In 2003, when Gary retired from his career, they decided to do a major renovation, make the move and call Chance Harbour home. They started from the bottom up, lifting the cottage and

pouring a full foundation. They added a sunroom and bumped out the walls along the front and driveway side of the cottage significantly increasing their square footage. The new space meant that Stella could work from the beach property and still be connected to her global consulting business. Updates to the heating system transitioned them from a wood-burning furnace to a heat pump, ETS system and a propane fireplace. The upgraded so they have the option to travel without worry. Fast-forward a dozen years to 2015. That same little beach house that had beaconed them years ago was asking for something more and Stella and Gary were once again ready to respond. Breaking away from the old cottage style they would bring it into a new era. The thought never occurred to them to look for another lot and start fresh, this was where they wanted to be, they felt very grounded here, it was The North Shore


Bright and airy, and yet very functional, the kitchen, with its white cabinets and counters allows for fun pops of colour through the accessories and artwork.

now home. So, they hired designer Kelsey Adams from Costandi Designs and got busy with a design that suited the location and Gary and Stella’s vision for the simple clean lines of a modern home that still related to their environment. The plan was to open up things up and create spaces to breathe in and exhale the sea air. They pressed the reset button, refreshing furniture and welcoming atmosphere that spoke to their love for entertaining but flexible for quieted times allowing them to feel relaxed and peaceful

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when it is just the two of them. Structural elements like the old brick fireplace in the middle of the cottage were moved. It had lots of character but was an obstruction to the open flow in the layout. It now fits seamlessly along a wall as a new propane fireplace. A generous island is a gathering spot and area to prep food while keeping connected with conversation areas in front of the fireplace. The room flow wraps around the staircase to the finished basement with an easy transition to the dining area. Another seating area reaches

beyond this space and a great little space for a morning coffee or stretch out to catch a movie on the flat screen. The Hollett’s stayed on point with their concept throughout the rejuvenation. The colour selection was kept neutral and calm so the meaningful pieces of artwork catch the spotlight. Their collection all has a “funky specialness” to them, whether it is pieces done by friends or local artists like Alan Syliboy, Bill Grant and Dan Munro. Some of the work commemorates their epic adventures. You won’t find

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knick-knacks filling up the shelves; they keep things unencumbered and pared back with a strong minimalist objective. Their lighting choices helps to maintain the style and were carefully was selected so they did not compete with the artwork but enhance their inclusion. The main floor bathroom has a floating vanity in front of a bold, blue tiled wall where each tile was hand laid out by the designer to mimic the nearby playful bubbling waves breaking on the beach. The other key element in the design was to make the outdoors an extension of their inviting interior making the most of the summer weather. An outdoor shower for a quick refresh after beach time and choice seating areas on the back of the house that incorporates privacy but still an ease in its approach for their neighbours. While the main reno is complete and they enjoyed their first full season with the finished project Stella and Gary say that there are plans for a beefed up barbecue area and deck extension that will enhance their view of the water. The Hollett’s emphasize that while they initially fell in love with the little beach cottage they have since developed a similar love for the tight knit community they have become part of. Of course, when they first moved into the community back in 1998, they were the new folks but were welcomed with open arms. They have held many ‘loaves & fishes’ type suppers where more neighbours wander into the backyard and somehow they stretch supper to feed the crowd, no one is turned away and all are welcome. It is

The generous island allows Gary and Stella to chat over coffee or wine with guests while preparing their favourite summer dishes.

A second seating area off the dining room takes in the ocean views, but is still open to the main sitting area and kitchen.

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nothing for a group of kids to run through the yard as they play their games. It’s an open concept philosophy inside and out as there are no fences to stop anyone from ambling by. They believe they spend their summers as carefree kids on the shore. Gary and Stella have not been alone in this phase of transition from cottage to year round home. They have watched the shift from primarily cottage country to full time seaside living in their neighbourhood. The quiet of the winters are off set by the bustle of the summer season and each is enjoyed to the fullest. They have become active members in the community, too, whether it is attending a local church, being part of the Beach Preservation Society and the Chance Harbour Community Center or even going to the Wellness Centre for a workout at the YMCA. While Stella still is working full time with lots of work related travelling, Gary fills his days immersed in Pictou County life. And they both agree that Pictou County is a well-kept secret with its cottage industries and educated, stable work force. It’s been 20 years but the embers are still burning for their little cottage on a quiet meandering lane. The dwelling helps tell the story of their own life transitioning with them, offering them what they needed just at the right times. The North Shore

ABOVE: The sunroom addition, with its fireplace and cozy seating, offers more spots to put your feet up and relax. Again, the pops of colour are introduced through the art and accessories. LEFT and BELOW: Colourful prayer flags add more colour to the back deck, serving as decoration and gentle reminders of positivity and fond memories of past travels.

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Arts, Entertainment, History, Fine Cuisine . . It’s All Here!

Pictou Lodge

Northumberland Fisheries Museum

Photo by Len Cheverie

Photo by Len Cheverie

Whether you are from away or local and looking for a fun-filled “stay-cation” this summer, Pictou has lots to offer. The deCoste Performing Arts Centre offers great shows 3-4 nights a week with very affordable ticket prices. See music, theatre, comedy and pipe band concerts on a regular basis. Several local pubs and restaurants present live music. Experience the Hector Quay, Northumberland Fisheries Museum and the beautiful Pictou waterfront. There are many great restaurants and captivating stores and shops in the downtown core. Markets, cafés, bakeries, art galleries, accommodations, banking, personal services, retail and laundromat services are all available downtown. Also, check out our festivals and events and weekly free concerts on the waterfront. There is so much, so close.

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earing of the devastating loss of government funding a few years ago echoed around the province but didn’t hit home until reading about the making of The Only Game in Town told in the soon to be released The Only Film in Town. While artists and creators in all genres felt the effects of such a political decision the impact effected people like Stuart Cresswell tremendously. Being asked to read and review this book I wasn’t sure what to expect but was immediately enthralled, as a writer, as a resident of Nova Scotia, and as a reader. It tells the story of perseverance, dedication and loss through the history of Cresswell, writer-director and producer for the novel we all should have the honour of reading. Usually films are adapted from books but this a book about a film. The Only Film in Town book contains a lot of familiar names to anyone who lives in Pictou County including the likes of Jake Chisholm, Jesse Hemmings, and Amanda Gillis of the New Glasgow Youth Theatre. The story tells of Cresswell’s life in England and quick decision to move to Canada with his two teenage boys and wife. Cresswell says about the decision to move his boys, “I cannot believe we put them through the move at the stage they were at in their lives. It’s a wonder we didn’t destroy them and it’s a credit to them both that they are building their own lives here and have matured into fantastic young men.” It may seem, at first glance, like he made a selfish decision but not, settled here and running Simple Films / Only Me Productions now for 10 years you can be assured his dedication to our community is far from all about him. Cresswell faced many obstacles, plenty of which are described in his second book (he clarifies

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the story of his first), one of which was the Liberal’s reversal of their support for the film tax credit. Jesse Hemmings, a local high school student cast as the leading role “Cormack,” learning how to put himself aside and focus on becoming someone else, had this to say about working for Cresswell, “He always knew what he was talking about so it made it easy to understand when he gave me instruction or direction. “He was always really fun... there was never a time when I was upset him, and I don’t think there was a time when he was upset with me! He was patient and professional. “Perseverance! When the weather wasn’t great and things kept happening, that almost made it seem like the movie wasn’t supposed to get made, it just made us all want to make it even more.” Casting more than 40 high school students in the area, filming at the Tatamagouche centre, hosting cast parties at a local restaurant, and relying on word-of-mouth as well as many local businesses to help make this movie a reality, Simple Films brought River John, Pictou County, and our province as a whole to life. Spending it’s budget of $250,000 in our province,

Cresswell is a gem we all should meet, at the very least, to thank him, and laugh along with him as he is a very humourous man. “Nigh impossible” was a common phrase throughout this story, and his life in general, which is an old-fashioned word that can mean something difficult to accomplish. Working with people like Cory Bowles and John Dunsworth were two such experiences for Cresswell. Despite all obstacles, the project that was more than four years in the making is now in postproduction thanks to the dedication of the writer-director and producer, and his wife as well as the interest of many who read the script before it was shot. The book was written for the aspiring writer-director and producer as it gives a realistic view of what comes with each aspect. The movie, about a solitaire phenom who happens to be on the Asperger’s scale, not only mirrors the popular card game with sports but also mirrors the life of the author. While Cormack plays a game of solitude he is also surrounded by people rooting for and supporting him. Cresswell is not a solitaire player himself, without his sole determination and focus for his project, which was supported by many peers, this movie and book would have never happened. After reading the book and talking to Cresswell, I can’t wait to complete my own trifecta by watching the movie! I highly recommend this story of perseverance and dedication. The Only Game in Town may have been the only film in town during the political upset and for that it was certainly an important one! For more about the movie please visit and watch for the book launching May 30, 2018!

The North Shore


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afternoon tea





fternoon tea has arrived in Amherst, bringing distinctively British tastes, smells and sounds to a cozy, brick-framed space in an old downtown warehouse. “We are the only tea room using the three-tiered stand with the traditional English afternoon tea,” explains Adrian Bradbury, co-owner and co-culinary creator of Birkinshaw’s tea room and restaurant. “It’s what we want to do and it’s what we think there is a niche for.” His wife and business partner, Eleanor, has wanted to run a tea room since she was seven years old. After immigrating to Canada in 2010 with their four sons, the couple eventually settled in Amherst and made Eleanor’s dream come true. Since opening Birkinshaw’s last December, they have been tempting palates with traditional English and European food with a modern twist.

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“We’ve always cooked,” Adrian says. “My wife is Le Cordon Bleu trained, I’m a trained baker, and circumstances came about that this was the right opportunity at the right time.” Birkinshaw’s is named for his maternal grandfather, Cyril Birkinshaw, a butler who worked for various well-to-do and aristocratic families. “I learned my love of food and the correct way of doing things through my grandfather,” says Adrian, who applies these teachings particularly to their signature offering. Traditional afternoon tea is not a fifteen minute break with a biscuit but a meal in itself (in England, four o’clock tea is actually supper). The tea room offers five different kinds of afternoon tea, which is served in the proper style, with china tea pots, cups and saucers, and a three-tier cake stand ladened with tea sandwiches

and savoury treats, scones, tea bread, and a selection of pastries and sweet treats. The Maritimer afternoon tea is the Bradbury’s nod to their new community and to create it, Adrian and Eleanor take their inspiration from the local area. “The bottom tier may have a lobster roll and maple sausage rolls. On the middle layer, which always has scones and tea bread, we do a blueberry tea bread and maple-glazed scones, and on the top tier, there might be a blueberry cheesecake parfait. We try to incorporate the wonderful products available locally within an English design,” Adrian says. Located at the corner of Havelock and Ratchford Streets in downtown Amherst, Birkinshaw’s is open Monday through Saturday. Served after 2 pm, afternoon tea needs to be booked three days in advance – which provides ample time to work up an appetite. The North Shore


The North Shore

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Katie (left) and Patrick Boyles keep the home fires burning to take pizza night to a whole new level.

Pizza night at the Boyles family home in Afton, Nova Scotia rises to a whole new level BY DEBBI HARVIE PHOTOS BY STEVE SMITH, VISIONFIRE STUDIOS


hen you have a fireplace that spans 12 feet with a built in oven and BBQ it’s an open invitation for good times and great food. While outdoor pizza ovens are becoming a popular addition to many backyards, the Boyles created their own perfect combo for an entertaining space that really delivers! In 2011 Francis Boyles, a contractor living on a much-loved family farm outside of Antigonish, decided it was time to do something about the large barn property. The reno was planned with family and community in mind. The Boyles wanted a grand space for family and friends to gather. “We were sitting around shooting the breeze, my four brothers and I, when we decided we needed a fireplace in the barn,” says Francis Boyle. “One thing led to another and we decided we wanted a pizza oven too.” Francis Arsenault of Artisan Natural Stone in Antigonish has been working in masonry for more than 30 years. He says that the fireplace built in the Boyles barn was likely the grandest one that he had ever built. Once he started making

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pizza ovens for customers he says that the idea has caught on like wild fire. “I was really interested, I did the research and came up with a plan. It’s a huge one, it has a pizza oven, a fire place and a barbecue pit all in one. says Arsenault The structure is a perfect scale for the historic barn. It spans approximately 12 feet in width with a fire place, pizza oven and barbecue so that it can be used in the summer or winter for large family gatherings. It took approximately one month to create and Boyle says it was quite the conversation piece. “We use it for family gatherings, there are always people around it. And it really takes pizza to a while other level. Once you get the oven to the right temperature, it only takes two and a half to three minutes to cook the pizza. One night we made 60 to 70 pizzas in it.” The concept was to bring family together, and that’s exactly what it did. Boyle says they get as much enjoyment watching the family together as they do eating the pizza.

The North Shore

It’s a Marshmallow World



Bonfire deliciousness with son Rex.

ummer days as a kid at Upalong Beach were very Charlie Brown. We (a gaggle of cottage kids) would cruise around – swimming to the raft, camping out at the treehouse, playing cards or dragging driftwood up the beach for a bonfire – all without a parent in sight. This cherished benign neglect meant that on rainy days, after long card sessions, we could settle into one of the cottage kitchens and bake. In the daytime this meant tearing open chocolate cake mixes, pudding from a package, electric-hued Jell-O or brownies. But at night, we shifted into the savoury world of pizza. One of the kitchens always had a Kraft pizza kit – you know the kind: a box with a little can of pizza sauce inside, along with a sachet of spices and another for the dough. We just had to add water, splat the shaggy dough onto a circular cookie sheet and cover it with sauce and spices. In just 20 minutes we had a ‘homemade’ midnight snack. These days I’m the adult, but rainy afternoons in our cottage kitchen still seem playful and childlike. Kraft pizza kits may have been replaced with homemade dough, and cakes are made from scratch. But the ‘it doesn’t really matter how it turns out’ summer feeling still floats in the air. When you’re not rushed, when the rain is coming down, when the beach isn’t waiting for you, it’s the process that’s the fun part. Afternoons like these are perfect for making marshmallows. They require at least four hours of resting time, which means they’ll be ready when the rain stops and the bonfire is ready. These fluffy cubes, cut with an icingsugar coated knife, are far removed from the squishy, saccharine storebought versions. And when they’re toasted… it’s a whole other level of bonfire deliciousness. Marshmallows are open to creative licence. I like to stud them with Celebration cookies. We always have them on hand at the cottage; their layer of chocolate already built into the biscuit makes s’mores a breeze. But they’re even better when broken up and stirred through marshmallows – it’s a ready-made s’more in one sweet, squishy bite. The cookie bits get crunchy and charred in the fire and the chocolate melts over everything. Try experimenting with broken toffee, shards of dark chocolate, or even a big spoonful of nut butter, stirred in at the end. Just play. It’s summer at the beach, after all, and parents are nowhere to be seen.

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Homemade Marshmallows


There are many versions of homemade marshmallow recipes out there, some with egg whites and some without. I like this recipe, made with just gelatine, sugar and corn syrup, more or less, and lots and lots of air. Ingredients 3 sachets of unflavoured gelatine 1 cup of water, divided 1 ½ cups of sugar 1 cup corn syrup (I use white) 1 teaspoon vanilla ¼ teaspoon salt 6 chocolate covered cookies, like Celebration cookies, broken into small pieces vegetable oil for greasing the pan ½ cup icing sugar Instructions Grease an 8 x 11 pan with oil and set aside. Pour ½ cup of the water into the bowl of a mixer and stir in gelatine. Let it sit while you make the sugar syrup.

P.S. Alright, this one does require an adult. Unsupervised heating of a sugar syrup to 240°F may have been okay back in my day, but perhaps not now?

In a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, mix together sugar, corn syrup and remaining ½ cup of water. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then leave mixture to bubble




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away, stirring occasionally, until the temperature on the candy thermometer reaches 240°F. Turn the mixer, with the gelatine mixture still in the bowl, to medium speed. Carefully pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl, with mixer running, making sure not to pour syrup directly over the beaters. Turn the speed to high and leave mixture to whisk away until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. This can take about 15 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Spoon marshmallow into prepared pan and sprinkle broken cookie bits over top, prodding them into the marshmallow with the end of a wooden spoon. Leave the marshmallow to set, at room temperature and uncovered, for at least 4 hours, but overnight is best. When ready to slice, place about ½ cup of icing sugar in a bowl. Coat your knife with icing sugar to keep it from sticking. Slice into cubes and place them in the bowl of icing sugar, tossing to coat. The size and shape of the marshmallows will depend – are you toasting them in a bonfire, floating them in hot chocolate, or eating them straight from the bowl? It’s entirely up to you.

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flowers EDIBLE


MEDALING WITH MY FOOD Tracy is an Olympic medalist and has a Chef’s Diploma from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts.



n Chinese there is a saying, “You eat first with your eyes, then your nose, then your mouth.” A study in the late 1970s showed when we find food more appealing, not only do we enjoy it more, we also absorb more nutrients from it. While studying at the Natural Gourmet, I learned that subsequent studies have validated this finding. The thought of making the food you prepare look and taste amazing is very appealing to me. If you are going to take the time to make meals for your family, it takes only seconds to give them a little “wow factor” and make them beautiful. Using edible flowers in the summer is a fantastic way to make your meals vibrant!

The North Shore

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My kids love eating the Johnny-jump-ups they find throughout our garden. They are also delighted to see nasturtiums and other edible flowers on their plate when we dine at the Train Station Inn. Because of their enjoyment of these edible beauties, and my love of making our meals beautiful, last summer I decided to buy a few edible planters from Nature’s Nook & Kranny so that we could enjoy the flowers of summer not just in the garden but also on our plate! While the whimsical side of me is interested in the beauty of a dish, my scientific brain is always curious about the nutritious benefits of the food we consume. As I rolled my sleeves up to investigate the benefits of edible flowers, I was delighted to discover there are a great number of things that those unassuming little blossoms on common plants can do for you! I learned that violets can be consumed cooked or raw and can apparently help with alleviating pain, curing headaches, and combating esophageal issues like coughs. Nasturtium flowers have been considered an herb and a vegetable and their leaves are rich in vitamin C and also contain a sulfur compound that has antibacterial properties. Borage flowers are a good source of fatty acids and can apparently regulate metabolic and hormonal systems, as well as combat depression. Rose hips (the base of the flower) have been used to combat indigestion, constipation, urinary problems, and even arthritis; the petals of the flower are also rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Teas brewed with rose petals have been known to relieve stress and tension headaches. The list goes on! I called attention to these lovelies since many of us have these in our own backyard, and if you don’t I’m quite certain you’ll be able to find someone in your area who does. So now the fun begins, if you are interested in adding a little pizzazz to your plate, here are a few easy suggestions on how you can add these edible flowers to your summer menu. Time to raid the garden (or your neighbour’s), otherwise most farmers’ markets will carry transplants, you just have to ensure that pesticides were not used. Once you’ve picked your pretty posies it’s time to clean and store. Be sure to shake the flowers to remove any insects or excess dirt. Then gently wash in a large bowl of cold water; drain. Let your flowers air dry on a paper towel lined tray. It’s always best to use immediately or store in an airtight container lined with damp paper towels in the refrigerator for up to one week. After you’ve selected your flowers of the day, it’s time to put them to work creating masterpieces on your plate or in your drinks, if that tickles your fancy. Earlier, I called out some flowers that packed a nutritional punch and have incredible health benefits to boot, so I thought I might give you a few suggestions on how to use them. Rather than giving you five recipes, I thought it’d be fun to put them into a prix fix menu (on page 48) to stimulate your imagination on how you can use flowers in each and every course! Bon Appetit.

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The North Shore


Summer Brunch Cocktail ~ Lemonade Vodka with Violets Salad ~ Summer Salad with Edible Flowers Recipe provided below Main ~ Open-faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches Sprouted grain toast, dill mayo, smoked salmon, garnished with microgreens and violas Dessert ~ Floral Shortbread Cookies or Vanilla Ice Cream with Rose Pedals drizzled with Chocolate

Summer Salad with Edible Flowers Yield: serves 6 Ingredients 5-ounce pack of baby spring greens mix 1/4 small red onion Two to five different varieties of edible flowers of your choice. (I’ve chosen nasturtiums and geranium blossoms) 1/4 cup dressing of your choice (use a light vinaigrette type, nothing thick or creamy that will weigh down your salad; I’ll be using lemon poppy seed vinaigrette). Instructions Place your bounty of baby greens into a bowl. Peel and slice the onion into paper thin rounds. The easiest way to do this is with a mandoline slicer. If you don’t have one, just get them as thin as you can. Separate the rings and add to the greens. Top with your favourite edible flowers to create your masterpiece. By nature, this is a very delicate salad so do not pre-dress, instead, allow each guest to drizzle his or her dressing upon serving.

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collection that is over 30 years in the making, a community with roots that run deep and a passion in sharing both lead Allan Fraser of Scotsburn to open a farm museum in the village of Scotsburn. Allan and Mary Fraser purchased the old Scotsburn Creamery building back in 2016 after all the dairy processing had moved elsewhere. Allan relocated his small engine business into the main level of the building and then started working on what has been his dream for years – a farm museum. The majority of the items that make up the numerous displays have connections within the area, some pieces donated to the cause and others he’s been storing for years. The different pieces range in age from the 1800s to the 1950s and cover a multitude of types – from buggies, hay binders, to saddles and chain saws, even the first road grader that belonged to the Town of Westville has been re-built and put on display. There is a dining room all set up, old cook stoves and the old organ from the church that was in Millsville, rumour has it that it’s been hauled up to the hilltop in a buggy for local picnics! On display are lots of old tools for farm to household chores, harness making, even an old wicker casket, if you can imagine! Even the creamery

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building itself is a piece of history having housed various aspects of the Scotsburn Dairy industry since it was built in 1929. Back in 2012, when Bethel Presbyterian Church celebrated their 150th anniversary, Allan opened up his yard and barn to allow guests who were taking part in the weekend’s activities to view his collection and take a walk down memory lane. That sparked people’s interest and the buzz around the community has grown since then about the opening of the museum. The wait is nearly over. Allan and his wife, Mary Fraser, plus some of his staff and other volunteers have been putting in many extra hours to get things organized and set up for the Grand Opening that will be taking place on June 3rd, with doors opening at 10 am. So, grab your grandfather, and head to the farm museum and take ‘A Walk Through Time.’ Location: 4119 Scotsburn Road (Hwy 256) Admission: $10 person, $25 per family

As you wander through the museum, you’ll be greeted with reminders of the ‘good, old days’ and the machinery with which the work was done. Lots of different types of farming equipment are on display throughout the various areas of the museum.

The North Shore


New Summer Cocktails to “Shrub” You the Right Way BY CRYSTAL MURRAY PHOTOS: STEVE SMITH, VISIONFIRE STUDIOS This summer raise your glass to a whole new sensation and luscious libation. You will likely see Shrub Drinks on the cocktail menu at your favourite watering hole throughout the maritimes this summer. And because everything old is new again, Shrubs are making a comeback. This thirst quenching drink finds its name from the Arabic “shurb,” meaning drink, and “sharbat,” a Hindi word for an aromatic syrup made from fruit or herb and flower extracts that are stirred into water and served over ice. But you don’t have to time travel or stamp your passport. At Home “shrubbed shoulders” with Dave Armstrong and Sarah Deschiffert from Big Cove Foods in Pictou County and came up with three thirst quenching cocktails to try At Home. A passion for making everyday food extraordinary is the mission of Sarah and Dave of Big Cove Foods.

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Mango Punch Spritz

(blueberry, lavender & tonic)

1 oz Mango Lime Leaf Shrub 1/2 oz pineapple juice 1 1/2 oz white rum 1/2 oz lemon juice 1/2 oz Aperol 3 oz sparkling water

2 oz gin 1/2 oz Blueberry Lavender Shrub Tonic Water GARNISH: drop a few blueberries and a twist of lemon rind GLASS: rock glass

GARNISH: pineapple wedge GLASS: highball glass

Juniper Bliss 2 oz tequila repasado 3/4 oz lemon juice 3/4 oz Juniper Apple Shrub 1/2 oz St. Germain egg white Angostura bitter GLASS: coupe

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The North Shore



SOIL, SOUL & SOCIETY August 17 - 26, 2018

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Move over pansies, landscaping is taking a whole new shape Landscaping trends are entering an interesting time. Danielle Brubacher of Urban Roots, notes that landscaping trends don’t typically change each year, but there are some really interesting things on the horizon locally in terms of landscaping. “There are a lot of things we have been talking about for years that are actually starting to be done now, it’s really incredible.”

The North Shore

garden VARIETY



Many people are choosing to move away from the annual flowers, and into edible plants. “People are becoming more environmentally aware, so they are starting to do away with the expensive, disposable, annual flowers and focusing more on flowers that provide a dual purpose,” notes Brubacher. Edible plants are more environmentally friendly, but look gorgeous as well.” In containers, many people are planting rosemary which is draught tolerant, meaning it doesn’t require a lot of watering, and produces beautiful small purple flowers. Planters are also great for cherry tomatoes which have that trailing effect with the vines and provide that pop of colour and serve that dual purpose of being edible as well as esthetically pleasing. And the best part is neither of these plants require an especially green thumb. For landscapes, as opposed to planters, the trend is lending itself toward the High-Bush Blueberry plant as well as other types of fruit trees.

Incredibly popular in the early 2000s because of its availability, stonework became a go-to for many landscapers. The trend fell off slightly, but in the last five years has really started to grow again, according to Brubacher. The trend now, however, is a more natural use of stonework, like boulders for retainer walls and natural stones, creating a more authentic look. With the stonework, comes lowmaintenance plants as well, like succulent plants, including Sedums which are very versatile and don’t require a lot of soil or space, so they can be grown in rocks and produce big, juicy leaves similar in type to a cactus.

Water features Water features have never really been very popular around here, more so in urban centres, however, incorporating water or working around it has become a particularly useful trend on the North Shore. Low maintenance is still a top priority for many when it comes to landscaping, so incorporating water may include collecting rain water to use for watering plants or gardens; or having the landscape function as a means of draining water from a problem area. Ways in which water has been incorporated locally, range from creating a low spot and putting water-rich plants in it to absorb the water, or elegant bird baths or water-collecting features to use for a dual purpose.

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Outdoor living space

Pollenating plants


Gone are the days where you see a huge focus on various beautifully-coloured gardens because, let’s face it, no one has time to maintain that kind of landscape. What people do want, in particular the younger generations, is an outdoor living area, a comfortable place they can enjoy. What does that entail? Sometimes it means patio stones and patio furniture, other times it can mean a space that looks beautiful, but also functions as a safe outdoor space. “When you walk through any store, whether it be Home Hardware or Kent, you see these unique outdoor furniture pieces and lighting fixtures, and sometimes that is what the entire outdoor space centres around,” explains Brubacher. Outdoor chandeliers are a huge landscape feature right now. It’s still landscaping, but it is also an extension of the home. Light fixtures, patio lights, in particular Edison bulbs, are incredibly popular right now because they allow people to enjoy their outdoor space both day and night. Brubacher says, in the same vein, many people try to create a four-season garden or landscape that they can enjoy all year long.

As people are becoming more environmentally conscious, so are their planting choices for landscapes. Brubacher says people are returning to more heritage plants, original versions of plants that allow insects, like the bee, to pollenate. “Over time, growers cultivated plants for so long that they no longer smelled or didn’t create pollen. A fine example would be the Double Petunia, it had so many petals that insects couldn’t get to its centre.” These plants are becoming more simplified, allowing for pollenation. At the same time, people who are landscaping with trees and larger plants are reverting back to native plants and trees like the Acadian Maples instead of European trees and plants.

Reality has set in and people are very aware of the dangers of ticks. It’s gotten to the point where most people fear going outside with their families for fear of getting a tick bite. Landscapers have been consciously taking this into consideration when designing landscapes, and Brubacher says although it is still a new trend, it is something that is heavy on the minds of landscapers. With that in mind, many local landscapes are incorporating a safe outdoor environment for children and pets. What does that include? Well it is still evolving and there are no hard and fast rules, but Brubacher says it can entail cleaning up tree lines, rodent control, better garden and lawn maintenance with no tall grass and no leafy debris, and hard and dry surfaces for a perimeter incorporating things like Pea Gravel. “And as we learn more, these trends will continue to evolve.”

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To l ve and protect How we can help heal our living shorelines BY RACHAEL MCLEAN


ova Scotia’s beaches and coastal properties are second to none. A dynamic landscape that is unrelenting and never forgives is one that we need to understand more holistically. For hundreds of years maritimers have seen their shorelines change and all the while attempt to tame the beast that is erosion. With climate change accelerating the process to dramatic levels, property owners are no longer able to leave these worries to the next generation.

“It’s a high science, low tech approach.” – Rosmarie Lohnes Rosmarie Lohens began her ecological restoration company, Helping Nature Heal, in 2002. She works with the land owner to build understanding on an approach that works with Mother Nature versus against. Not your typical landscape company, her education, experience and ethos have taken a modest startup, into a nationally recognized leader in the field of ecological restoration. Rosmarie and her team lead with science and the primary understanding that relationship and community ownership in the process can benefit both people and planet. The South Shore of Nova Scotia is home base for Rosmarie however, she and her team have a building client base all along the North Shore who believe in her ecological approach to the protection of our wasting shorelines. Sue and James McLaughlin in Caribou River, like so many, were acknowledging and spending money The North Shore

to keep the bank in front of their beloved summer house from slipping away into the ocean, season after season. They had tried it all – timber retaining walls, boulder rock walls, steel panels you name it. They were temporary fixes that caused more damage than anything. By chance Sue attended a community open house hosted by Helping Nature Heal three years ago. “The talk planted a seed,” she said. Rosmarie was hosting neighbours to help educate and spread the word about another project close by. Education being a key pillar and starting point in understanding, that no one can stop Mother Nature. “We can’t stop erosion from happening, but we can understand it better and help slow it down.” says Rosmarie. From that community gathering, Sue and James began to look at their own property in a new light and invited Helping Nature Heal to help them structure a long-term plan of action. Rosmarie explains “Understanding that nature is always looking to return to an angle of repose of 45 degrees, helps frame where you may be headed when looking at a vertical embankment. There are many more factors at play than just the ocean waves at the base. Wind, rain, snow, drainage, clearing of land, loss of vegetation and the list goes on. “Nothing is cookie cutter,” says Rosmarie, “but the same principals apply to shorelines all along our coast.” Typically, intensive planting takes place the first year. Hundreds of bales of hay, perennials and salt tolerant species are planted on the slope and at the top of the bank. The team is trained to repel slopes

strategically, built terraces and pockets to allow material to catch and soil to build. The second year the team comes back to stabilize what has been put in place. Adding more in spots that had lost over the winter. Perennial plants are starting to show and the home owners began noticing the return of pollinators, a sure sign that things are on the right path. In the third year most plants have established to the point that they will produce seed. This is critical. The plants now begin to take over and also build habitat. With the help of birds and small animals seeds continue to spread along the bank.

“Everyone (neighbours) is interested, they all help. It’s a community thing” – Sue McLaughlin Helping Nature Heal have clients in ongoing five- and 10-plus-year relationships to ensure the success of the installation. “Education is key. The more we learn from each other and our neighbours to reiterate the environment the more success we will have. This is a long term project!” Sue and James were losing anywhere from three to 10 feet of land per year. “We needed to act quickly to get the process started.” Looking out over their ocean front property just as another season begins, Sue and James both agree that the return on investment was well worth it because they simply wouldn’t be there if they didn’t take a more holistic approach to maintenance and care of the property.

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Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima) Pinks (Dianthus) Karl Foerster Reed Grass (Calmagrostis acutifolia ‘Karl Foerster’) Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) Powis Castle Artemisia (Artemisia absinthium x Powis Castle) Silver Mound Artemisia (Artemisia schmidtiana ‘Silver Mound’) Blue Festuca Grass, Hosta Stella D’Oro Daylily (Hemerocallis hybrida Stella d’Oro) Sedum Autumn Joy (Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’)

Green Ash (Fraxinus americana) Shademaster Locust (Gelditsia triacanthos) Austrian Pine (Pinus nigra) Junipers (Juniperus species) Honeysuckle (Lonicera species) Bridlewreath Spirea (Spiraea x Vanhouttei) Lilacs (Syringa species) Shrub Rose (Rosa Rugosa)

4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Slow Erosion 1. If at all possible move all activity and structures (cars, buildings etc) as far back from the edge of the bank as possible. 2. Stop mowing right up to the edge of the bank. 3. Identify a community access point to the beach for all to use, stay off your bank. 4. Talk to your neighbours and get more people on board. Maximize your efforts and look at the shoreline collectively. This will only strengthen the shoreline overall.

How to Do a Preliminary Assessment On Your Own Shoreline

DEFINITIONS: ANGLE OF REPOSE : The steepest angle at which a sloping surface formed of a particular loose material is stable.


TOE OF THE SLOPE : Bottom of the bank.


PERENNIALS : Plants that die down in winter and come back every spring.


Shoreline work in Caribou River.

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1. To roughly understand how far back your bank will go before it reaches the angle of repose, stand at the bottom and take a picture from the side. 2. Draw a right angle triangle over the bank with the 45-degree angle being at the toe of the slope. 3. The slope created when you connect the point at the bottom with the point at the top of the triangle is the natural slope that the bank will attempt to achieve. 4. If there is still land left, designate this and as much land behind it as possible as a low/no traffic zone.

Next Steps 1. If able, stake rows of hay bales across the slope to allow for more material to build up in behind them. 2. Save your brush, leaves and organic yard waste. Collect from your neighbours (if they aren’t already using it) and put it over the bank. This well help plants root and cover exposed soil. 3. Stop mowing and let the grass grow up. Start planting meadow perennials and grasses. The roots will help stabilize the soil. 4. If there are trees within the angle of repose, plant large shrubs in front that will grow quickly and help absorb wind easing the possibility of the tree blow over.

The North Shore


Lavender Bath Bombs


There’s nothing like sliding into a hot bath at the end of a long day. And we all know that lavender has the best relaxation properties on the go. Try your hand at making your own bath bomb to enjoy in your next bath.




Baking Soda Cream of Tartar Olive Oil or Coconut Oil Epsom Salt Dried Lavender Lavender Essential Oil Purple Food Colouring Moulds Spray Bottle of water Bowls Spoons

STEP 1. Mix 2 cups baking soda with 1 cup of cream of tartar and 6 tablespoons of epsom salts.

• Wild orange and lemon essential oils combined with yellow food colouring for morning energy if you prefer to bathe in the morning

STEP 2. Add dried lavender and mix. STEP 3. Mix 30 to 40 drops of essential oil, 8 tablespoons of either coconut oil or olive oil with a few drops of purple food colouring.

• Rose essential oils mixed with dried petals and red food colouring to sooth your body

STEP 4. Combine wet and dry ingredients together. It is the right consistency, if when squeezed, it forms into a ball. If you need a little more moisture, add a spray of water, mix and try again until it will form.

• Lemon and eucalyptus essential oils with green food colouring to clear your breathing

• Lime and spearmint essential oils with green food colouring to uplift your mood

STEP 5. Add mixture into moulds, compacting tightly, allow to dry for 24 hours. STEP 6. Remove from moulds and allow to air dry undisturbed for another 24 hours. STEP 7. Run a bath and enjoy!

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The 19th Annual


MONDAY, JULY 2 1:00-3:30pm WORDPLAY, the children’s event at Mabel Murple’s Book Shoppe & Dreamery, 286 Allen Road, River John, NS. Meet the authors: Paulette Bourgeois – Franklin the Turtle Wesley King – A World Below Justin Gregg – Fancy Goat MC – Sheree Fitch Musical entertainment by Rainbow Express. Book sales and signing.

TUESDAY, JULY 3 10:00-11:30am STORY WALK leaves the library to explore the riverside with Gerald Gloade and his book Juji’jk – Mi’kmaw Insects. 7:00-8:30pm CALDERA TALL SHIPS AND TALL TALES – River John author Linda Little reading at the distillery.

2:30pm PICTOU COUNTY WRITERS GROUP at the library – information sharing for new and established writers. 7:00- 8:30pm CALDERA CAMPFIRE – Storytelling at the distillery in the best oral tradition. All storytellers welcome.

SATURDAY, JULY 7 9:00 -10:15am PITCH THE PUBLISHER in the Legion Hall. Pre-registered entrants persuade publishers to accept their manuscripts. Spectators welcome. 11:00am MAIN STAGE LITERARY READINGS at Legion Garden, 2506 River John Station Rd, MC Jayson Baxter 11:10am Morning Stage Interviewer Lana MacEachern Sarah Faber – All is Beauty Now Lorri Neilsen Glenn – Following the River 12:20pm Lunch Break, music by Floyd Rudolph, book sales onsite, author signings, food concessions, raffle tickets, souvenirs. 1:20pm Afternoon Stage Interviewer Kelly Linehan Pauline Dakin – Run, Hide, Repeat Wayne Johnston – First Snow, Last Light 2:30pm All-author panel, audience Q&A, Moderated by Kelly Linehan 3:10pm – closing

WEDNESDAY, JULY 4 10:00-11:30am STORY WALK from the library to the museum, exploring River John’s historic sites with Heritage Society members. Features the River John Reader by the late Janice Murray Gill. 1:00-2:00pm FAMILY STORYTIME at Mabel Murple’s.


Bring your own lawn chairs. Rain venue for outdoor events: River John Fire Hall.


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ah! Summer 2018