Cover Story: Heather MacLean Reid on The Evangeline
Also in this issue:
- Give the gift of [EDIT] this holiday season!
- David Goss on Santa Claus
- Nine Yards Studio on the new Charlottetown Library An Exclusive Film by Tyler Warren Ellis
- Every Community Needs a Jenny by Sarah Butland
- Book of the Year: Running Down a Dream by Candy Palmater
- James Mullinger live at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, New Brunswick
A PIECE OF PARADISE IN THE ANNAPOLIS VALLEY
BY HEATHER MACLEAN REID
The Evangeline is a newly refurbished hotel property tucked away in the heart of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. They had their grand re-opening in July this year and have been welcoming (and delighting) visitors from around the world ever since. Located an hour from Halifax and just minutes from Wolfville in picturesque Grand Pre, the Evangeline is a five-acre property that offers a true escape in an iconic valley setting. With a collection of carefully curated accommodation options and exceptional fare and wine at Longfellow Restaurant, it’s the perfect location for exploring the globally renowned vineyards and art galleries of the surrounding area. Bikes are also available for guests to explore the incredible trails of the region.
The Evangeline and Longfellow Restaurant are open year-round and offer a truly immersive winter experience — outdoor hot tub, infrared sauna, or heated indoor pool. Guests can walk down the hill for dinner at Longfellow, get an in-room massage, have a relaxing deep sleep, and delicious brunch. The Evangeline Inn boasts 18 divine rooms that celebrate minimalist design through the use of a neutral monochromatic palette, clean lines, and natural textiles to create warm and inviting spaces. Ceramics from Halifax-based Joel Brodovsky-Adams, bathing amenities from renowned Malin+Goetz, and King-sized cloud beds from Canadian furniture maker Sundays are just some of the highlights. In another part of the property, Borden House — the childhood home of former prime minister Sir Robert Borden — has been beautifully restored with all the charm of an 1850’s era home. It features five rentable rooms, a sweeping veranda, a library, and a tea room. Artifacts from the Borden family’s time in the home still remain, including the children’s school notebooks and timeless wooden antique furniture. These have been thoughtfully paired with vintage mid-century pieces, such as authentic original 1960’s Eames side chairs.
Guests can enjoy dining at Longfellow restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and features a cozy bar and expansive local and international wine list. Local culinary star, Head Chef Ray Bear, has created an approachable yet refined menu that showcases seasonal valley fare, with an emphasis on creating as much as possible from scratch in-house. He has also made a point to connect to the area’s rich cultural history with his unique take on traditional Acadian dishes such as lobster homard, salt cod cakes, and fish chowder.
“I’ve always wanted to cook in the Valley. It’s really the hot spot for food and wine in Nova Scotia. I am very excited to be part of this culinary scene,” comments Chef Ray Bear.
The Evangeline (formerly The Evangeline Inn and Motel) was purchased in 2021 by Avram Spatz. Spatz spent weekends at the property as a child, and has fond memories of eating the famous pies in the on-site café. After purchasing it, Spatz spent his time connecting with the community of Grand Pré and researching the roots and historical context of the five-acre property which has served as a local institution for over 70 years. Spatz’s restoration is impeccably stunning, detail oriented but also respectful, honoring its Acadian history.
“The story of Evangeline is so integral to Grand Pré and its history, that keeping the name Evangeline for the property, and naming the restaurant Longfellow (the poet who wrote Evangeline) felt like a perfect way to honor the property’s legacy. Throughout the renovation of the whole property, the guiding principle has been preserving the spirit of the old while carefully integrating the new,” explains Spatz. “In the restaurant, that meant preserving the 70-year old checkerboard floor and the famous pies. In the rooms, restoring Borden House and keeping it true to that era and style was a nice balance with the design-focused, modern set of spaces we created.”
[EDIT] magazine contributing editor Heather MacLean Reid stayed at The Evangeline Inn last month for a girls' getaway to celebrate a dear friend's milestone birthday. The group was excited to toast the birthday girl while also participating in Devour! The Food Film Fest, an annual week-long festival in the charming town of Wolfville, NS, nestled in Nova Scotia wine country. This festival, the largest food film festival in the world, combines cinematic excellence with delicious gastronomic programming (wine tastings included!) in the winemaking and farming valley adjacent to the Bay of Fundy.
"The Evangeline was the perfect place for this special weekend," says MacLean Reid. "Located minutes from downtown Wolfville, surrounded by stunning wineries and lovely scenery, the accommodations at the Inn and the food at Longfellow surpassed our expectations. The rooms were recently renovated, and you could tell a lot of care went into keeping the design and feel of the rooms both modern and comfortable. They were clean, contemporary, and exceedingly cozy, and it was nice to see products from local artisans incorporated into the space – from the toiletries to décor and art pieces."
Some of the group also toured Borden House on the Evangeline property, built in 1858 and the childhood home of Sir Robert Borden, former Prime Minister of Canada. "There are books in the library of Borden House that you just can't believe, along with historical artifacts hanging on the walls," says MacLean Reid. "Anyone who is a bibliophile or history buff needs to stay at Borden House; it's teeming with stories and original pieces from the Borden-era house. And the front porch is a nice gathering spot – it's fun to think about all of the people who also shared time together on that same porch over the home's long history."
MacLean Reid notes one of the standouts of her stay with the guest experience the Inn provided. "One of the staff went out of her way to build a fire for us so we could all sit outside and gab and laugh and have fun. Everyone we encountered was so accommodating, and made us feel like ensuring that we had an enjoyable weekend away was a priority."
The birthday party had reservations at the Longfellow Restaurant just below the Inn. "The atmosphere at the Longfellow is diner-friendly with high-end offerings in a stylish setting; the servers were smiley and attentive, and the food was fantastic. The menu thoughtfully presents local ingredients, and when you find yourself in this yummy slice of Nova Scotia, having food that matches in taste the warmth, uniqueness and beauty of the area is really special."
To top it all off, she says another treat was a short walk up a gentle hill to a wooden patio behind The Evangeline. "The owners have built a secluded look-off patio, complete with Adirondack chairs, so guests can see the spectacular colours and feel the sunset on their faces. With a glass of local wine in hand, surrounded by friends, what could be better?" A weekend break at The Evangeline sounds like the perfect gift for your loved one this holiday season!
Click here to browse the stay packages available now and exclusively for [EDIT]ION readers use the Promo Code WINTER15 for 15% off 2+ night stays.
11668 Nova Scotia Trunk 1, Grand Pré, Nova Scotia, B0P 1M0
How Santa Came to New Brunswick
by David Goss
It has been almost two centuries since New Brunswick children first heard of Santa Claus and of his magical visits at Christmas, though originally it was in the guise of St. Nicholas that the story was told. A handwritten copy of what is said to be the most famous poem in the English language, A Visit from St. Nicholas, is held in the New Brunswick Museum, donated by the O’Dell family of Fredericton. The connection is that Jonathan O’Dell was poet Clement Moore’s godfather. There is some disagreement over its authenticity… Is it in the poet’s hand? Or was it copied by someone and sent to the O’Dells? What is clear, however, is that it was enjoyed in Fredericton soon after it was written in 1822 and that it is the first recorded instance of Santa’s history in the province. Just a few years later, on December 25, 1830, the poem appeared in the New Brunswick Courier under the title of “Christmas Times.” It would be another 60 years before children would see an image of the old gent. And another 60 years would pass before the standardized Santa would be established.
Although an illustrated edition of A Visit from St Nicholas was published in 1848 and may well have circulated in New Brunswick, no copies have shown up in the past 40 years. It is known, however, that in 1872, Fredericton merchant Charles A. Sampson advertised that “all goods purchased at Sampson’s Confectionary Establishment will be delivered to the residence of the purchaser by a veritable Santa Claus himself on Christmas Eve.” And Sampson did just that, “tooting his well-worn buffalo horn” so that boys and girls could catch a glimpse of him as he negotiated city streets with his “splendid span of reindeer or horses attached to a cab,” as the New Brunswick Reporter recorded after his initial tour.
In order to “alleviate any lingering fears that Santa might prove frightening,” in 1874, Sampson had J. P. Tuck’s photography studio produce a photo, which he had engraved in New York so it could appear in the local paper prior to his Christmas run. Though it bears only transient resemblance to our current Santa image, it is nonetheless important as the first depiction of Santa that children of the province saw.
Sampson did not repeat his delivery after 1874, and it was to be 12 years before another image of Santa would appear in the province. This was again in Fredericton, and it was Lemont’s Furnishing Warerooms that advertised in the Fredericton Capital through December of 1882 that “Santa Claus is coming! Lemont’s is his depot.” While many advertisers alluded to Santa, no other had an image of him. It was almost certainly a copy of a woodcut from the 1848 American edition of A Visit from St. Nicholas, only the first of many Santa images to be copied by local engravers from American sources.
It was also in Fredericton, in the Capital, that the second provincial image of Santa appeared during December of 1887 under the caption, “The Children’s Friend.” That same year, children in Saint John saw a live Santa for the first time. On the Saturday night before Christmas, Manchester Robertson & Allison’s department store had Santa appear in the show window on King Street. A huge crowd showed up, and in the press ladies fainted. The crowd lingered long after Santa disappeared, and the police eventually had to be called to disperse them. The following week, Santa appeared twice daily in the store so children could visit, a tradition that continued until the store closed in 1973. This is considered the first department-store appearance of Santa in all of Canada (even predating James Edgar of Brockton, Massachusetts, who is usually identified as the first department-store Santa).
The second period of greatest variety and development of Santa images followed the first live appearances and continued until the 1930s. A great diversity of artistic licence was taken. Some Santas were downright scary, like the wizened Santa holding his finger aside his nose that appeared in the Moncton Times on December 24, 1889. Others were obviously appropriated from the work of American political cartoonist Thomas Nast, whose images of Santa appeared in Harper’s Illustrated Weekly between 1863 and 1886. These were certainly the first to give Santa the standardized jolly, rotund, wide-belted and white-bearded appearance he currently has. One obvious example was of Santa at the piano, which appeared in a C. Flood and Sons advertisement in the Saint John Globe of December 19, 1892.
It was in the 1890s that Santa first promoted local and national products and services. Among the more humorous was that of Saint John’s Boston Dental Parlors, which year by year had various depictions of Santa smiling as he sat in or emerged from the dentist’s chair where, it was advertised, he’d been successfully and painlessly treated. During this period, Santa was often pictured enjoying a cigar, which would of course be highly unacceptable today. The same could be said of pictorials that had Santa enjoying a locally produced beer. And anyone with an ounce of awareness would certainly take exception to Santa’s promotion of Bissell carpet sweepers, which he claimed every woman would love. Then there were the half- and full-page ads in which Santa pointed out the joys of car ownership as autos began replacing horses in the 1910s and 1920s.
A live Santa was most often seen at post-Christmas Sunday School gatherings. In most instances, a chorus of some well-known Christmas hymn would signal Santa to come into the meeting hall. He would usually be accompanied by a couple of sturdy men to protect him from being mobbed by the kiddies. Typically, he would go to the front of the room and select gifts from the branches of a well-decorated and candle-lit tree, and the children would come up one at a time to receive them. In one incident at the Fairville Methodist Church in 1887, Santa’s costume caught fire, and he had to be rolled in the snowbank outside the hall to extinguish the flames. This Santa was identified as W. O. Roxboro of South Bay, since news accounts usually named the impersonator up to the 1920s.
It was in 1909 that Walter Golding, the imaginative theatre operator of Saint John’s Carleton Street Nickel Theatre, reversed this process. At weekday matinees, he filled the theatre with children who had learned that Santa — whom few still saw as living and breathing — would come out of a chimney on the stage of the theatre and distribute candy. Golding’s innovation caught the eye of the New York owners of the Nickel and in 1912 inspired them to build the Imperial on King Square South, where Walter was appointed manager. He continued this program into the late 1920s.
During the second decade of the 20th century, coloured images of Santa began to appear, as this was the height of the postcard era. There was no agreement about the colour of Santa’s suit: it could be green, blue, brown or red. The latter eventually won out in the early 1930s when the Coca Cola Company began to use artist Haddon Sundblom’s depictions of Santa in promoting their products.
For many years, it was stated that the first Santa Claus parade staged in Saint John — indeed in Atlantic Canada — was the Manchester Robertson & Allison parade of November 1950. New information came to light only this year when researcher Brian Ballard discovered a headline, “Santa Claus Led Parade,” in the Saint John Standard of December 27, 1918. The parade was a prelude to a night of entertainment for 600 sailors at the Seaman’s Institute on Prince William Street: “Santa Claus, equipped with twin whiskers and a baton… headed the parade of seamen… 100 strong… with music furnished by a piper and two tin can drummers… which toured the principal streets… (and) created quite a bit of interest along the route of march” on the uptown streets.
Creating excitement in all ages is something Santa has been doing for a long time, and this is likely to be the case this season and for many to come, in New Brunswick and everywhere else.
David Goss is the author of more than 20 books, including the bestselling Only in New Brunswick, It Happened in New Brunswick, West Side Stories and New Brunswick Ghosts. A native of Saint John, Goss has shared the city’s folklore and history via his Walks n’ Talks programs for four decades.
Christmas in Atlantic Canada: Stories True and False, Past and Present by David Goss is published by Nimbus and available at your local bookstore or by visiting Nimbus Publishing here.
Prince Edward Island Architects Nine Yards Studio on the New Charlottetown Library
Be sure to watch this brand new Edit Media-produced film on Silva Stojak and Shallyn Murray, the owners of the award-winning Prince Edward Island architecture and design firm, Nine Yards Studio. Silva is originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, honing her craft through many years of experience. Shallyn was born and raised on Prince Edward Island, but traveled around the world before coming to share her gifts at home. Together they founded Nine Yards Studio in Charlottetown. They have won the RAIC Emerging Architectural Practice Award, the Designing Canada Award for best residential project and the RAIC Urban Design Award. Their growing portfolio of projects spans residential, commercial and public builds that are awe-inspiring, most notably the architectural marvel that is new Charlottetown Library that this feature focuses on. Beyond architecture, the pair have hired a collective of creatives from craftsmen and photographers to graphic designers and musicians.
Tatiana Varlamov and Natasha Gorbacheva immigrated to Canada, from Israel and Russia respectively. “The library was a vital resource for me when I came to Canada,” says Varlamov. “My first English classes were held there. My husband, Sergey, and I first immigrated to Toronto before moving here.” Gorbacheva and her husband, Daniil, moved to Charlottetown when he was accepted into the electronics-engineering program at Holland College. She too benefited from her first English classes at the library and was a frequent visitor. In 2019, she attended an architecture and engineering event where she met with Murray and Stojak, who were thrilled to welcome her into the Nine Yards fold. Six months after she started with them, she pitched the idea of her friend Tatiana Varlamov joining the firm, and the pair have been working there ever since.
Every Community Needs a Jenny
by Sarah Butland
Moving to a rural community, to a house sight unseen and away from family and friends, can be terrifying even though it is clearly the right move. All signs pointed to Nova Scotia for Jenny (Dean) Eldridge and her family and while they tried to ignore them, it became clear that Pictou County was what the family of four (their eldest stayed rooted in Ontario) needed.
With a job opportunity that paved the way to move east from Ontario, Jenny began to research opportunities for herself and her autistic son. Autism Nova Scotia was the biggest of the blinking signs that welcomed the family. Activities such as swimming, camps, and a nearby office filled with people eager to help, along with an inviting nearby school that made accommodations for the new family which helped them settle easily and thrive quickly, Autism Nova Scotia arranged a warm welcome to Jenny and her son’s to which she will forever be grateful.
A small Nova Scotia town does not seem to compare to a city in Ontario for resources when you are looking at it from the outside. When desperate for change, however, the opportunities are endless or seem to be for Jenny and her family. She understands that yes, Ontario did have resources designed for residents on the Autism spectrum, though due to high population and high costs, the wait lists were long and the price tag even higher. Some even asked for a deposit to be put on a waiting list that wasn’t even guaranteed to be needed when the time was available. That was not the case on the north shore as, once finished isolating after the move, the roads were paved to a better future.
With a two to five year wait list for programs such as musical therapy, swimming camps and sensory sensitive options in Ontario, Jenny was impressed of all the opportunities provided to her and subsidized through Autism Nova Scotia. It wasn’t long after the move that her son was participating and advancing in a variety of programs, which quickly improved the quality of life for the entire family.
Her son in good hands, Jenny wondered what opportunity there would be for her. Leaving behind a theatre company in Ontario, Milton Youth Theatre Productions, then transiting to running her own company Cabar-Eh Youth Theatre, saying farewell to family and a life she knew well, Jenny was not sure what to expect of New Glasgow beyond what her real estate agent told her of the new home. At least she knew she would be taking her family and Youth Theatre with her.
With the shut down due to provincial mandates, life in Ontario became very difficult financially. With no stages to perform on while studios still requiring rent payments, while in a community of friends, family and friends, the feasibility of continuing this way was diminishing. With her drama teaching contract coming to an end, and her husband at the time being offered a placement somewhere out east to expand a company, a new beginning was taking place with the “it’s now or never situation, let’s go take that leap.”
Jenny went on to explain that everything was lining up and, despite never being to Nova Scotia, the signs were all pointing to the North Shore. Musical Therapy through Autism Nova Scotia was a major factor in their move. Immediately getting involved through volunteering, while Jenny left her blood relatives she began forming a family within the community right away. The support was there for her, and she was ready to find the avenues that allowed her to blossom.
While going through some drastic changes, even the show she is working on now was rejected three times before making progress. She was also mentored by well-known children’s book author, Robert Munsch, who gave her confidence to keep writing children’s books despite receiving rejection letters saying it’s just not the right time. One of her children’s books was written to help her daughter get through the challenging time of losing a close family member which, in my humble opinion, always has an audience. Her perseverance and courage simply ensures she will not always take no for an answer.
“I am a big kid and my attention span is small, so I can sit and pump out twenty poems in one night,” Jenny says of herself and ability to understand children and what they will respond to. She hopes to start pitching a few of her stories after moving them off an old hard drive tucked away in her attic because simply, “kids like books.”
This freshness, and her passion for people and words, connected her to the Pictou County Writer’s group where she formed a relationship with a fellow script writer, soon trading projects for feedback and friendship. Colleen Hawley, of Pictou County, had this to say about her new Come From Away (CFA) friend:
"I met Jenny through our writer’s group, and we clicked right away. After the first wicked joke she told me I knew this was going to be great. She’s viciously funny, talented, and generous with her knowledge. When she mentioned trying stand-up comedy I jumped at it. After writing several plays, a lot of them monologues, I figured I knew how to write a “bit”. Her classes showed me the light."
Say what you will about Social Media, it helps makes a provincial move in 2021 a lot easier. “Everything just started falling into place," Jenny says. "I met people online before I moved here that had similar interests; either in theatre or in writing. I was discussing stuff with them and it was very welcoming. It has just been phenomenal; everyone has just been so welcoming and so loving and so helpful as well to help us adjust.”
Jenny finds life in New Glasgow a lot easier for her eldest son, highlighting the acceptance of the local school and natural resources through trails, camps and local beaches. “We couldn’t not take that leap,” and it appears the community was just as grateful she thought that way. Selling out a two week long summer camp for children in eight hours for youth to perform some scenes from Shrek the Musical, filling up classes to teach adults improve and filling two hundred and fifty seats for her first comedy show featuring local talents.
With a lot of television and film opportunities in the area, Jenny hasn’t had any idle time. When not performing on stage or training up-and-coming stars or closet comedians to follow her lead, she’s been travelling to auditions, writing her scripts and honing her craft. Being able to book jobs right out of quarantine solidified her resolve of leaping before she looked, at least too hard.
“This is where the scene is, this is where it is,” Jenny declares confidently.
Jenny’s love for drama started when she was struggling with her transition into high school. Starting fresh, with her friends from elementary living in the zone of another school, she was struggling to find her way. A soccer star on the field, her focus was on kicks, goals and travelling to tournaments until an injury side lined her. As a creative, she was encouraged to take creative arts or music as an elective for an outlet and she was hooked. “In drama I found that it didn’t matter where you were in the pecking order of high school, if you were a jock, or whatever. In drama class you were all the same and you had to show your vulnerability…. Even if you weren’t friends outside of class, you were friends in class and that was where I was able to find my voice and my people.”
Pursuing drama and musical theatre, singing in show choirs, trying out for the Argo’s Cheerleader squad and not making it, she had a backup plan of being in a Mirvish production and take the Canadian Broadway path. When she had her daughter, Jenny took a step back for a few years to dedicate herself to her family but then, five years later, was offered a drama teacher position at a camp. They needed someone with experience putting together a musical production and she was in, for two weeks. Not confident she’d love it, Jenny hesitated on committing but after the two weeks was hooked and she continued through the summer.
Being brought back into theatre in a different way, as director, taught Jenny a different angle of theatre. “Being an actor is great, but it was so much more fulfilling to guide them through,” she says about teaching the love of acting.
Starting a production company came next with creating comedic short films, three to six minutes of sketch comedy. “It was an elaborated set-up punchline,” as Jenny describes it. Entering them in festivals, including a gallery in London, England, they began bringing home awards and lots of lots of personal pride.
Jenny does it all. From painting sets, to designing costumes, to mentoring shy kids into stage stars, she loves to be involved and learning, wearing the hats and learning the skills of ten to stay within budget. Her focus now is to create the love of theatre with the next generation and its clear, from her sold out camps and demand for more, she is succeeding once again. She clearly understands the need to create “that open outlet to be vulnerable and be themselves and express themselves in ways that are not necessarily sporty.”
Theatre for kids teaches all the same things found in sports including empathy, being part of a team, finding your voice, cooperation, meeting deadlines while on or behind a stage instead of a field. Colleen sums up Jenny nicely, “She’s given an outlet for people to be creative, have fun, and bring laughter and joy to other people. I think she’s the best thing to happen to Pictou County since the pizza sauce.”
All this to say, if your community loves to laugh, and especially if they don’t, you should meet Jenny. She’ll teach you the importance of taking risks, standing up and how to embrace your love of funny.
Book of the Year: Running Down a Dream by Candy Palmater
Last Christmas Day, the world lost one of Canada's greatest ever talents. The irrepressible Candy Palmater once described herself as “a gay native recovered lawyer turned feminist comic, who was raised by bikers in the wilds of northern New Brunswick.” But even that unique title doesn't do justice to the intelligence and brilliantly unique legacy of this incredibly versatile performer, artist, thinker, comedian, broadcaster and creator of the hit TV series The Candy Show and host of the daily CBC interview series The Candy Palmater Show. She was and will always be remembered as one of this country’s greatest talents and her memoir, Running Down a Dream, that she completed shortly before she passed is every bit as touching, intelligent, hilarious, and brilliant as she was.
In a far reaching conversation with [EDIT]'s James Mullinger for the [EDIT] podcast, Candy said of her comedy: "I want it to send a clear message. I want it to funny. I want it to push boundaries. But I don't want to hurt anybody. And I want people to leave feeling better than (how) they came in." And that's precisely how she lived to the end.
Her wife and manager Denise Tompkins’ foreword in the book is so profoundly moving and beautifully written that it will bring tears to your eyes, but also an appreciation for a universe that gifted us Candy Palmater.
And for all of those reasons, it is [EDIT]ION's Book of the Year. It is a memoir that everyone should read, so click here now to order it for your loved one this holiday season. Candy will do with this book what she did for so many on a daily basis - uplift, inspire, entertain and make you think. We miss you Candy.
James Mullinger Live at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, New Brunswick
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