The itch to write another post has been niggling at me for awhile now so it’s high time I got down to the task. The past month has just flown by, taken up with entertaining friends, visits from family, gardening, selling my Thai imports at the Saturday market, cleaning up after hurricane Arthur, and the occasional side trip to places near home which, as most of you know, is Victoria Beach in Annapolis County, Nova Scotia. Now I must lay aside all these activities (or are they excuses to avoid taking up the task?) and simply start to write again about this picturesque part of my province.
For my friends and family who faithfully read my blog and for which I am extremely grateful, you might wish to skip this one as I attempt to relate how we managed to end up in this tiny little “piece of heaven” as some people are so aptly describing it. Not wanting to bore those who know our story, I tried summing it up in a few sentences which quickly morphed into paragraphs. Realizing that the goal I had set out to accomplish was totally unrealistic as several paragraphs sat in front of me with the distinct possibility of more to come, I have decided to write a series of mini travel logs promoting this area.
However, before exposing you to the beauty and wonders of my part of the world, I think I should give you some background to how we found “this little piece of heaven”. It goes back to the summer of 2002 while visiting an old high school chum in Bridgewater. On my suggestion, we ventured over to the town of Annapolis Royal (AR) to check it out as a possible place for my husband (Hubby) and I to find an affordable home once we wound down our careers in Toronto. I had only passed through AR once before in 1986 on my way around Nova Scotia via Yarmouth so my memory of it was sketchy at best. However, my interest in this area was renewed by my brother who thought that this quaint little town would make a good retirement home for us. Time was running out for me as the constant grind of city living was beginning to wear me down. After looking at houses in numerous small towns in Ontario only to find them well over our house budget, my interest in NS, which is my home province, began to take its hold on me. However, Hubby who is from Montreal wasn’t so enamored of the idea of living in NS let alone a small town.
Fortunately, my friend is a curious soul who loves to poke around small communities so was more than willing to accompany me on my quest of psyching out AR and its environs. We decided to spend the day and night there in one of the many B&B’s which gave us ample time to explore. After getting a feel for AR, we headed out for Digby in search of Point Prim. I had never heard of this place but trusting her to come up with something out of the ordinary, I willingly accompanied her on her search. After finding it with just a little difficulty, we sat there looking across the Digby Gut wondering who on earth lived in those numerous houses clinging to the side of the North Mountain which really seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Little did I know that I was looking at VB and would end up buying one of those houses in the near future.
I returned to Toronto after that trip very excited about all that I had seen, especially the town of AR with its picturesque location on the Annapolis Basin, the beautiful historic homes, the King’s Theatre, and the friendly people. I remember thinking it looked like what Niagara-on-the-Lake must have looked like about 50 years ago. It was a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered! All I had to do now was to convince Hubby that this was the place for us. The housing prices were certainly within our budget as I found out from a local real estate agent.
Funny how life takes such twists and turns. We never did find a suitable house in AR. The following summer of 2003 I returned with Hubby in tow so he could see for himself what I was raving about. We ended up renting a cottage from Joe Casey and his wife, Vera, out in Victoria Beach after running an ad in the local paper for something rustic and cheap with no pool or any of the other add-ons offered by the other cottages. It turned out that Joe was the hook who lured Hubby into the possibility of making VB our future home. I was just as enamored with this larger than life man whom I’ll tell you more about in a future posting, but what really did it for me was waking up on our first morning in the cottage and seeing the sun on the sparking waters of the Bay of Fundy. While eating our first breakfast, a deer leaped gracefully across the lawn in front of our cottage. Bingo! We were both smitten each for our own reasons and so immediately began to look at houses that were up for sale.
Unfortunately, nothing met our expectations at that point so back to Toronto we went. However Hubby, a somewhat impatient man who doesn’t understand the word ‘procrastination’ and God forbid that sometimes a little of it is a good thing, kept urging me to visit my dear Aunt in Halifax and make a detour to AR to keep searching for a house. This was in the middle of January! I looked at houses in practically every little community around AR but the one we settled on was the one I found in VB. We made an offer only to have it rejected by the owner. After a week in NS, I had to get back to work so any future house hunting was left to the following summer and another stay at one of Joe and Vera’s cottages.
That summer of 2004, we had just settled in to our new digs when the owner of the house we had put an offer on came knocking at our door to tell us that we could have his house if we still wanted it. Without hesitation we signed the deal and the house became ours.
The summer of 2005 found us back in VB for two weeks now vacationing in our new home. Since we still had unfinished business in Toronto after closing the deal, we ended up renting out our house that winter to the previous owners as they began their search for a new home. By June of the following summer they had moved out, freeing up our house for us to visit and make ready for some summer renters which gave us some much needed added income to get some to the necessary improvements done to the house and property.
Finally in January of 2006, we made our big move to our new, year round home. It certainly wasn’t the best time of the year to make such a move, however, it did give us a taste of what winters can be like in our area. As I recall, it was a relatively mild winter with just a few snow storms, but we soon realized that the wind would be our biggest challenge as we hunkered down beside our new wood stove and listened to it whirling around us. At times I was wondering if the old house could withstand them. However, we managed to keep ourselves busy with minor inside renovations and major outside water problems due to run off from the mountain behind us. Although they seemed like monstrous problems at first, in retrospect, they seem to be fairly ‘ par for the course’ for living in VB. We were undoubtedly very green ‘city slickers’ back then, but over time have learned the ways of the locals. We discovered that here in VB the spirit of community is always present and for that we are forever thankful.