Welcome to [EDIT]ION Volume 69! We're so happy you're here! Your free, monthly digital publication is packed with stories, thoughts and opinions that will inspire you in between issues of the original, award-winning print magazine.
Cover Story: La Belle Cabane by Jennifer Wood
Cover photograph by Cory Belcourt
Also in this issue:
- John Murchie: Sackville Artist Receives 2023 Strathbutler Award
- The Rothesay Yule is back! Tickets on sale now!
- Parkrun Fredericton by Victoria Hitchcock
- The Muralists of San Miguel de Allende: An Edit Media Film by Mark Hemmings
- Column: Colleen Landry's Adventures - Quidi Vidi, Newfoundland and Labrador
La Belle Cabane
by Jennifer Wood
Photographs by Shannon Park &
Finding Freedom in The Forest: Kingston, New Brunswick’s La Belle Cabane Offers an off-Grid Stay and Thermal Spa Experience Like No Other.
Tucked away on 40 acres of secluded forests on the Kingston Peninsula in New Brunswick sits La Belle Cabane, a 100% Indigenous-owned business, certified through the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business that features five off-grid cabins, a thermal spa and gift shop. The spa was created by citizens of the Métis Nation of Ontario Tasha Robitaille and her partner Cory Belcourt. Its premise is to help guests find freedom in the forest with the core aspect of healing.
Two years ago, as Tasha and Cory were grappling with the stresses of their jobs and personal lives, they began dreaming of a more connected life in a new province. In a few short years Robitaille and Belcourt have created a successful, sustainable enterprise that is filling a much-needed gap in the market, and their plan is to build on that success.
“As purpose-driven individuals, our passion for creating authentic healing spaces has led to remarkable growth,” Tasha tells [EDIT]ION. “We started with five off grid cabins, and in May of this year, we saw a 400 percent increase in sales with the launch of our private spa pods and gift shop.”
La Belle Cabane has quickly become a favourite spot to retreat and reconnect for the [EDIT] team and for many others. [EDIT]ION had the chance to meet with Tasha to learn more about her experience as an entrepreneur and a newcomer to the province, and how she and Cory continue to add to the transformative experience they have created.
[EDIT]ION: Can you tell us what brought you to New Brunswick?
TASHA: We had dreamed of moving to New Brunswick in 2019 but we were expecting our second daughter and decided not to make the plunge quite yet. When the pandemic hit our youngest was three months old. Things quickly became a little challenging. I was struggling with postpartum anxiety and a newly diagnosed autoimmune condition, Cory’s industry doubled with work (manufacturing), we had family living with us, our toddler was now home, and we had no idea what to do but we felt disconnected as a unit.
Cory came home one day and said he wanted to quit his job and I said “okay, sounds good” and we decided to leave our jobs and start dreaming of a more connected future. He was working as a Plant Manager for Amvic Systems in Scarborough, ON and I was the Coordinator of the Biidaaban Doula Collective, an Indigenous Doula Collective based out of the Chigamik Community Health Centre in Midland, ON. We began the search in New Brunswick since I knew a friend that had moved the year before and was enjoying it. We also wanted our kids to continue going to school in French and both being from small towns, we wanted to live in a rural area. We decided to sell our house and move to a new province and see if we could find a little more time for each other and our family. We had put away savings for a year to cover our expenses and give our family time to re-connect and heal from a challenging time. Prior to moving we bought one tiny cabin - “la belle cabane” but it represented so much more. Growing up we always camped and I had a cottage - it was a place to re-connect with nature and family and I spent hours playing in my little cabin that I would decorate with beaded crafts. Cory spent his childhood days playing outside, skateboarding, fishing and spending time in nature. When we started dating, we dreamed of a cabin in the woods near a pond with animals. A peaceful, happy and simple place. “La Belle Cabane” isn’t about one cabin. It’s about the intention and the driving force of having your own space, a shelter to allow yourself to be inspired, re-connect with your inner child, take time to reflect on your trauma, what’s most important in your life, spend time with family and find a little freedom in the forest.
[EDIT]ION: When did you decide to build a spa experience to add to the cabins?
TASHA: We moved to the Kingston Peninsula in June 2021 and in August 2021 we were approached about the adjacent 35 acres, and we decided to build our cabin on the mountain in our backyard and add four more to share our inspiration with others - allow others to find their “la belle cabane”. We started building at the end of September 2021 and January 2022 checked out our first guests.
Building the cabins was a creative urge that we shared. They mean something to us and we knew it would impact many people directly or indirectly. During the winter months, while we were hibernating and starting fires for our wonderful guests, another creative urge started growing. After spending years of my life living and traveling in various parts of the world, I was inspired by different healing methods and of course, both being Indigenous, healing is at the core of our history. We knew that our healing sanctuary would expand; we just didn’t quite know how. I started dreaming of a communal space that would include cedar, river rocks, salt and so much more and felt like a thermal experience journey would be a beautiful space for our family and guests. We started the clearing and building infrastructure in June 2022 and launched in May 2023. .
[EDIT]ION: Can you tell us about your experience in hospitality and how you became interested in this line of work?
TASHA: We do not have any direct education in hospitality, our story is a little different. We have diverse backgrounds of education and experience. We resonate with one of messages in the movie Slumdog Millionaire where what you've built or where you are can often come from a combination of life experiences and transferable skills - a positive lesson that has helped us build La Belle Cabane. We followed our creative urge and our hearts and did not focus on the traditional method that we often see in education: “study this” to “become that”.
[EDIT]ION: Can you provide an overview of the thermal spa experience and how it functions?
TASHA: We have two private spa pods The Beaver Pod (Amik/Castor) and the Bigfoot Pod (Sa’be/Sasquatch) - the first of their kind in New Brunswick. Each pod is a self-guided experience, and includes a dry sauna, steam sauna, cold cedar plunge bath, cold shower, hot tub, wood fire, and heated riverstone bed. You can complete the experience with a halotherapy session in our infrared salt room. Essentially the spa flows intentionally through four key aspects…SWEAT - SOAK - STONES – SALT.
For us sweating in the saunas represents purification and healthy living; soaking in the cedar bath represents protection and rejuvenation; laying on the river stone bed represents reflection on your unique life/story; and salt represents balance - harmony with the spirit world.
[EDIT]ION: Your hard work, focus and dedication has translated to success - do you have plans for expansion?
TASHA: Yes! We’d like to replicate our success and build a new communal structure in the forest to host events around storytelling, maternal health, youth training, and more. With sustainability and cultural revitalization in mind, this space would extend to other establishments, addressing a local gap with a dedicated environment for Indigenous events. Aligned with our goal for international tourism, this transformative space would foster ongoing healing and cultural understanding.
[EDIT]ION: How do you like living on the Kingston Peninsula and doing business in New Brunswick?
TASHA: Living in Kingston feels just like home. We are from the Georgian Bay area and grew up in what we would call “the boonies”. We love the connections that can occur in a smaller town and in terms of New Brunswick, the entire province feels like our hometown - full of beautiful nature, filled with culture, French Canadian pride and so much more. There are plenty of opportunities in NB for startups and business owners and we couldn’t be more proud to be one of them.
To book an off-grid cabin, and or a thermal spa experience, visit La Belle Cabane’s website. La Belle Cabane is a 2SLGBTQI+ friendly space and they are Registered through the CGLCC’s Rainbow Registered Accreditation Program.
John Murchie: Sackville Artist Receives 2023 Strathbutler Award
by Jennifer Wood
In the Fall issue of [EDIT] we featured the mission, reach and initiatives of the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation (SHMF). Crucially, its impact on artists and the artist communities of New Brunswick (see [EDIT], Volume 26, p.62). Every two years, the foundation awards the highly coveted Strathbutler award which recognizes excellence in the field of fine craft or visual arts by an artist who has made a substantial contribution to the province. At $25,000, the Strathbutler Award is one of the most generous art prizes offered in the country. This year’s recipient, John Murchie will be presented with the award at the SHMF annual visual arts awards ceremony being held this year at the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville on October 19.
John Murchie explores the interplay between structure and happenstance within the realm of art. He centers his exploration on elemental acts like drawing lines, employing paint, or choosing hues, aiming to unveil disorder within confines and amusement within gravity. From straight lines gone awry to paint layers taking on peculiar shapes, and crossword puzzles transcending into modernist abstractions, Murchie's artistic journey encompasses half a century.
Paul Henderson, director of Sackville’s Struts Gallery says: “More than anything else, John continues to show me a way to be in this world. He is generous, supportive, a fierce advocate for artists’ rights, and precisely dedicated to his craft and intellectual discourse. His prolific career demonstrates that you can be many things; that there is fluidity between art and curatorial work, between solitary studio or scholarly activity and social engagement, mentorship, and advocacy. His impact on the arts communities of New Brunswick, the Atlantic region, and the country is unparalleled and highly deserving of recognition.”
In their nomination statement, Emily Falvey (Director, Owens Art Gallery) and Andrea Mortson (Artist) explain: “Murchie embraced the belief that contemporary art can be critical and influential even while operating on the margins. His approach is both grassroots and inclusive, and his ability to engage and provide ongoing support for artists is routinely described as touchstones for New Brunswick art professionals in their developing careers. Most importantly, he has proven that the ripple effects from a small, rural community can spread nationwide.”
Murchie’s family is originally from St. Stephen and John grew up in New Jersey before emigrating to Halifax to pursue graduate studies. After 18 years working with the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Murchie and his partner, Gemey Kelly, moved to Sackville in 1989. Beyond his extensive and applauded body work, Murchie’s career has included his efforts with artist run centres including ten years serving as coordinator of Struts Gallery in Sackville. At Struts, he helped develop, what is largely perceived, one of the most vibrant arts communities in the country.
Kathryn McCarroll, Executive Director of the SHMF tells [EDIT]ION: “John Murchie joins a celebrated list of artists who are leaders in the New Brunswick art scene. Working largely from Sackville, Murchie created a body of provocative work and mentored generations of artists toward personal and professional excellence. Learning from the work of Murchie, SHMF recognises that there is no straight line to excellence - rather a meandering career of creating and caring.”
On receiving the award Murchie says: “The Strathbutler Award is an unexpected and exciting development. This type of recognition only happens because someone has faith in your work: in my case Emily Falvey and Andrea Mortson who took the time and made the effort to nominate me. In most respects, I take the award as coming to the entire community in which I work and have made a home.”
The Maritime [EDIT] team is bringing you their traditional European Christmas market to the Rothesay Netherwood School campus in the heart of old Rothesay. Hosted both indoors and outdoors, indulge in a cosy marketplace of shopping and soak up the festive spirit; complete with horse trolley rides, live festive music, skating, magic shows and, of course, a visit, treat and family photo with Santa.
The YULE was created to be a key fundraising community event supporting the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation. This year the money raised will go directly to the Transforming Health Care Fund at the University of New Brunswick that is providing education and professional development opportunities to nurses and students. Our donation to the Transforming Health Care Fund will help retain and attract the healthcare leaders our hospital needs today and in the future. Watch highlights from the Rothesay Yule in this exclusive film.
Click here to book now.
by Victoria Hitchcock
The sun rises over the picturesque Wolastoq River in New Brunswick’s capital city of Fredericton. The weather could be frigid. The rain could be falling. The sun could be beating down or the winds could be whipping across the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge. No matter the weather, every Saturday morning you will find a group of runners and walkers warming up adjacent to Picaroon’s Roundhouse. At 9am sharp, this group will embark across the repurposed train bridge on the weekly Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge parkrun.
Parkrun began in London, UK in 2004 and has grown to include events in 22 countries. The premise is simple. Register online and print your barcode. Arrive at a parkrun location to run, walk, or jog 5k. Each program is entirely run by volunteers; there is no time limit and no one ever finishes last. Each event has a “tail walker” who makes sure every participant crosses the finish line. After completing the 5k, a volunteer will hand you a chip which is then scanned by another volunteer. Following the event, results are posted online so you can keep track of your progress from week to week.
In Fredericton, the event crosses the walking bridge and follows the waterfront to the turning point near the Small Craft Aquatic Centre. The reasons people join parkrun are as varied as the participants themselves.
Parkrun Fredericton founder, Greg Parker (pictured below with his family), moved to Fredericton in July 2021 from the south west of France. Having previously lived in the UK and participated in and volunteered at his local parkrun, he looked into joining the local event. When he realised there wasn't one in the whole of New Brunswick, he decided to set it up! Greg and his family moved here to give the whole family the chance to live and work/study in a bilingual province. Greg works for a global business and could work from anywhere in the world but chose Fredericton for its size, arts and culture and access to outdoor recreation.
When Greg realised the closest parkrun was in Truro, NS, he took it upon himself, with help from other running enthusiasts in the area, to set up New Brunswick’s first (and still only) parkrun. Since its inception, the Fredericton parkrun has had participants ranging from ages 10 to 80 and has had 74 different people volunteer a total of 457 times. They have had 370 different participants for a total of 1,680 parkruns (or 8,400 kms)!
“Parkrun is good for the community. It’s free, inclusive (run, walk, wheelchair, stroller, dog, etc.) and it is semi-professional in that people get a time, posted results, and personal best tracking,” says Parker. “There is an older walker who found it hard to do the 5k when he started. He progressed to being able to do a slow 5k and now he has shaved loads of time off his weekly walk!”
Running is an incredibly inclusive sport where the elite runners cheer on the beginners and all abilities are welcome. This is one of the reasons parkruns are gaining in popularity around the globe. Starting a new sport can be daunting and the accepting nature of these events breaks down those barriers and can be an important part in fostering an active lifestyle.
Local parkrunner, Deidre Chown, started running in 2018 and never passes up an opportunity to get out and run with others: “I do park runs for the motivation to get outdoors and move my body. The community it has built is amazing and so supportive and welcoming!” she tells [EDIT]ION.
Whether you are a seasoned runner, a walker, or someone looking to add a little activity to your life, why not check out the Fredericton parkrun. We hope to see you Saturday at 9am, rain or shine! And remember, when your legs get tired, run with your heart.
The Muralists of San Miguel de Allende:
A Film by Mark Hemmings
New Brunswick is a great place to be an artist. To live, work and play. Many artists were born in the Picture Province, and they have based themselves there for long and illustrious careers while travelling the world. Mark Hemmings is one of those artists (see his photograph below of Lepreau Falls). In recent years, artists of all persuasions (painters, photographers, writers and comedians, to name but a few) have been moving there, attracted by its creative stimulus.
Over the past half a century, several of those artists have formed a bond with San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands celebrated for its baroque Spanish architecture and thriving arts scene of Atlantic Canadians.
Exclusively for [EDIT], Matt George investigates with photographers Mark Hemmings and James Wilson. Click here to watch film now.
A film by Mark Hemmings and hosted by Matt George.
Atlantic Canada is a great place to live, work and play and to export products including art. If you would like to learn more about moving to Atlantic Canada, please email: email@example.com
COLLEEN LANDRY'S ADVENTURES:
QUIDI VIDI, NL
Quidi Vidi (pronounced Kiddy Vidi) is a tiny and quaint fishing village just minutes from St. John’s, Newfoundland. It’s dotted with colorful fishing shacks, mossy rock faces, hiking trails and outstanding eateries. It’s so unique you’ll feel like you’ve left the country rather than just the city. Europe Schmeurope.
Quidi Vidi is built around a harbour, known to locals as The Gut—speaking of which, yours will thank you for filling it at the Quidi Vidi Brewery. You can’t miss it—it’s the bright green building at the edge of the village that juts over Quidi Vidi Lake and looks like it might topple right into it. Enjoy a frosty Dayboil, their best-selling IPA or play the field and order a flight of some of their tantalizing brews. Anything pairs well with their out-of-this-world fresh and crispy fish and chips… which will unfortunately ruin you for all future fish and chips. Sorry. Not sorry.
Mallard Cottage Restaurant is another popular haunt. It’s one of the oldest wooden buildings in Newfoundland. The exposed beams, stone fireplace and general warmth make you feel like you walked into your grandparents’ house. The menu, however, is nothing like Grammy ever made. The food is local, creative and exquisite. The restaurant has appeared on Canada’s 100 Best list. Say no more.
Should you not be in a food coma yet, there’s the Quidi Vidi Lake Loop, a 3.9-kilometre hiking trail that hugs the neighbourhood. It has spectacular views and it’s labelled ‘Easy’. Frankly, the only thing that isn’t easy about Quidi Vidi is finding a parking space but hoofing it to the trail, brewery and Mallard Cottage makes the destinations better...and your gut slightly trimmer. A trip to St. John’s, Newfoundland without a day in Quidi Vidi is like kissing a cod without Newfoundland screech. Unthinkable.
Art Director: Lindsay Vautour
Senior Editor: Jennifer Wood
Publishing Director: Pamela Mullinger
Editor: James Mullinger
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