Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How many crafters in Nova Scotia?


In October 2013 I spent a month back in my home Province of Nova Scotia. I wanted to acquaint my husband with the province and the locations where I'd grown up. I also did research for my Caleb Cove Mystery Series which has its fictional location on the South Shore near the LaHave Islands.

The numbers of crafters and craft shops surprised me. Nova Scotians have always been "crafty" from painting to quilts, jewelery to pottery and more recently, micro-distilleries.  Although you can find many shops just by driving the off-highway roads, there are some you don't want to miss.

Today I'm highlighting two craft based businesses. One is older, having been around for 40 years. The other is newer (5 years) and indicates the progressive nature of entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia.

Enjoy an online tour of these outlets and when you make your trip to Nova Scotia be sure to look them up. Be sure to check back next week when I highlight some smaller entrepreneurial Nova Scotia businesses.

Suttles and Seawinds

One of the first was Suttles and Seawinds in Mahone Bay. Here's how they started.

"Forty years ago Vicki Lynn Bardon, a Nova Scotia designer, returned home from New York after studying design and working for American Home magazine. She and her husband Gary helped initiate the international revival of quilt making by founding Suttles & Seawinds to provide employment for rural woman. Initially the products were quilts and related home decor items such as placemats, runners, pillows, etc., but gradually a line of clothing was created using techniques such as piecing, appliqué and quilting. Many articles appeared nationally and in the international press as Suttles & Seawinds quilts and clothing were promoted in art galleries and seen in prestigious stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales, and many fine stores across Canada."

Do you know the meaning of the word Suttles?  You can find out on the Suttles and Seawinds website. 

 A newer outlet we visited was the Ironworks Distillery in Lunenburg.  

 This first micro-brewery in Nova Scotia was founded in 2009 by Pierre Guvermont and Lynne MacKay. Read about their quest for a simplier life and the success they found by the sea in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lunenburg.Here's an excerpt from their website that explains the history of the building now housing their brewery.

"We walked intoThe Blacksmith’s Shop in Lunenburg and immediately knew we’d found our spot. In this workshop at the corner of Montague and Kempt streets, a marine blacksmith by the name of Thomas Walters produced ironworks for shipbuilders all along the South Shore. Sweating in the heat from two coal-fired forges, Walters and his apprentices crafted anchors and chains, fairleads and ferrules, clevises and gaffs, windlasses and fiddleys – anything remotely nautical that could be maneuvered onto an anvil and hammered into shape. The blacksmith’s shop produced hardware for both Bluenose schooners as well as a Hollywood version of HMS Bounty (the one that boasted Brando as chief mutineer). Best of all, it provided an apt and (we hope) memorable name for our new venture."

Nova Scotia Center for Craft and Design

One of the central sources for finding craft outlets in Nova Scotia, this facility is located in the waterfront properties in Halifax Harbour.  Founded in 1991, it promotes crafts and crafters in all areas around Nova Scotia.

Weaving Studio

You can find and order a complete guide to crafts in Nova Scotia at this link. The Guide

This is similar to the loom my grandmother brought from Scotland and used to make wool blankets. I am lucky to still have one of her hand woven covers.

Do you have a favorite craft? Or do you remember your parents or grandparents having an "old fashioned" craft?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Where do you find shops and restaurants with that east coast flavor?

Two great places to explore and shop

Fisherman's Cove, Eastern Passage, NS

Fisherman's Cove -

Located back of Dartmouth, NS in Eastern Passage this is a great place to spend an afternoon. When I was back home in October 2013, I made three visits.

A movie crew was filming a sequel to The Beethoven Movies in the Boondocks Restaurant and we sat and watched, getting a great view of the wonderful dog-actors (and the humans.) (Yes, that dot is the Saint Bernard walking on the mudflats.) 

The site, founded in 1996, hosts gift shops, museums and art galleries as well as several places to enjoy a meal. The boardwalk also wiinds through the marshes is a great place to get your daily exercise. If you prefer, you can buy an ice cream cone and sit in the sun, watching the world go by.

A similar but fictional boardwalk and shops make appearances in the Caleb Cove Mysteries. Sheldon Harris Came Home Dead , the first one, was published in February 2014. The second, Katya Binks Came Home From Away  was released in June 2014. 

 The Halifax Waterfront

Another must see location for shopping, ice cream and great seafood is the Halifax Waterfront. Walk the boardwalk, visit the Mariners Museum and make your way to Pier 21, the intake for so many immigrants in the early 1900's. Check in the research room to see if your ancestors arrived through the Halifax Port. We got a great picture of the Empress of Scotland that brought my husband's father to Canada.

Lower Deck, Middle Deck and Upper Deck Restaurants

The Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk is a public footpath located on the Halifax Harbour waterfront in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Constructed of durable heavy timber, the Halifax boardwalk is open to the public 24 hours a day.

In Katy Binks Came Home From Away, Sam and Kelsey run through here when they get a distress call from Henry the Bar Keep. Later they take an incognito stroll along the Waterfront Boardwalk to catch one of the many tour buses parked in front of Pier 21.

 Have you been to Halifax? Are you from there? What's your favorite place to visit on a sunny, summer day?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Do you like islands, beaches and history?

Crescent Beach, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

Crescent Beach and Georges Island - Almost like Caleb's Cove

Devon turned onto the beach road leading to the island and Caleb’s Cove. Rain sheeted on the windshield, defeating the wipers and distorting her view. Hunched forward, she followed the spit, acutely aware of the white capped waves assaulting the fence between sand and road. Torrents dissected the road and blurred sky, ocean and land into one mass. (Sheldon Harris Came Home Dead)
The third and perhaps most critical inspiration for Caleb's Cove and the island it sits on, is Georges Island and the road access to it, Crescent Beach. Located in Lunenburg County, .the LaHave Islands stagger out from the mainland, forested jewels in the Atlantic Ocean. Although details are altered for the fictional world, Devon drives along this beach road as the hurricane takes over the landscape.

Risser's Beach

Whether you want to swim, search for sea shells, or just spend the day relaxing in the sun, Rissers Beach Provincial Park offers every kind of recreational opportunity available at the seaside.
Some of the features of the park include a kilometre long white sand beach and Interpretation Centre and boardwalk along an inland marsh.


The LaHave Islands

Other information about the scenery and the history of the LaHave Islands and area can be found at Lunenburg Region, Nova Scotia. The area is closely connected to the sea, to the Bluenose which is found on the Canadian Dime and the prohibition era rum running.

The land, the history and the people provide a rich background for the Caleb Cove Mysteries. (Even if the actual community and all
the folks in it are figments of my imagination.) Writing the stories is so much easier with so many potential details available in the real world.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What is a good place to hike on Nova Scotia's South Shore?

Hiking on the south shore of Nova Scotia

Once upon a time travel was the best way and sometimes the only way to research a story site. Writers these days have wonderful information available on the internet. And although visiting an area is still a preferred research method, my thanks goes out to the folks who take the pictures and write the text and make virtual visiting available.

One of the best sites for my setting is the Hiking the LaHave Islands by John Hutton. Viewing the photos, following the map and reading the text pulled me back to the area. I could smell the ocean, feel the breezes and hear the gulls.

Typical house - Note Lunenburg "bump"

This house, which Hutton tells us in a typical home in the area, sports a Lunenburg Bump, the uniquely shaped dormer on its front. This could easily be Uncle Lem's house in my Caleb Cover mystery series.

Bush Island Bridge

In the first book, a hurricane washes out the bridge trapping the characters with a murderer on my fictional island. In book two, the official opening of the new bridge plays a role.

In reality, there are several bridges connecting the La Have Islands. this one is the Bush Island bridge. It is similar to the one washed away in Sheldon Harris Came Home Dead.

For a unique experience try John Hutton's virtual Hike - better still plan your next walking vacation and visit the La Have Islands in person.

 45 Random Observations about Nova Scotia