Bear River on my mind

The show, Fables & Fairytales, was a joy to behold and be part of and makes me question if my own community can be as supportive as Bear River NS (pop. 800) seemingly is on the outside.

How's that for an opening sentence?!?

It was a lovely little trip. The perfect thing for a mid-February reprieve. The winter has been a long one. So even the idea of trekking through a bit of a snow storm to eat some place new, see some lovely art, hear some music seemed like a risk worth taking.

Photo Credit: Ryan Taplin

And it was! The pizza at Magoo's (above: blue building over the Bear River) was delicious ... thin crust Greek pizza and Thai coconut soup. The Oakdene Centre housed the show as well as Open Studios of its 8 resident artists. Everything from new artists to those creating for decades. Everyone was welcoming and eager to tell us why Bear River rocks the Free World.  A lot of spirit for such a small place!

Victoria BC's and friend Dale Roberts mixed media piece

Friend from Sooke BC Gillian Gravenor's textile piece
My assemblage, Wily Mr. Fox listening in to all the conversations
We then skidded down the hill to The Rebekah to take in the music of Zac Crouse followed by Acres & Acres. Wonderful! Then we "gave'er" (as proffered by a member of the concert audience on how exactly to get up the hill in Bear River on a snowy night) and managed to find our B&B. In a snowstorm. In the dark. Without an address. Amazing!

So what makes Bear River so special? I've been pondering this since we returned. I think it is a combination of factors.
  • Real estate is plentiful AND cheap. As in... many gorgeous properties under $100k so cashing out elsewhere (read: Ontario, Alberta, BC, US and Europe) is highly doable. 
  • Small population. There isn't much to do which helps the pocketbook and also makes folks get out to anything that IS going on.
  • Most people moving into the area are looking for a more community-minded environment. So people volunteer. Happily! 
  • A core base of artists who have moved in AND remained providing mentorship and continuity for newcomers. 
Maybe all of Nova Scotia fit into this profile, once. Particularly during the 60s & 70s when scores of US draft dodgers ended up here.  Over time however and in my area particularly (the South Shore) property prices have gone through the roof for oceanfront. Though lake front (read: inland) is still relatively affordable. Those who can afford the half-to-million-plus price tag aren't looking for community. More likely wishing for a sanctuary far from the madding crowd and want "the locals" to simply stay away, "thank you very much". It probably goes without saying that most artists couldn't buy here,  now.

What does this mean going forward?
Is a deep meaningful artist community ... connection... possible here?
I don't know.
But I think I'm up for at least trying to recreate what I experienced this weekend.


  1. Hi Jen!
    I saw your piece at the Fairy Tales Show …very cool! I heard the wonderful concert too. It's kind of neat to hear my little corner of the world described through someone else's eyes.
    It was a wonderful weekend too.
    I didn't know the Biscuit Eater had art shows now. I love their food.
    Nice to find your website.

  2. It was a great art show. See link.

    1. Thanks for the link (and the most excellent photos) Lawrence. I'll be sure to link it above!


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