Welcome to The Belgravia B&B!


Please stop in often to find out what is new at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, in downtown Truro, the Central Nova Scotia Area, and around the Province of Nova Scotia! Please click here to find out all about us or here to read guest comments and reviews.

Photo credit: Portraits by Johanna

Week in Review to July 19

We keep journals in each of our guest rooms so that our guests might leave a note if they choose. We love these notes so much that the first thing we do when we go in to make up a room is check the journal. On Sundays, I’ve decided that I will take the opportunity to post some of our favourites from the week.

“Like staying with best friends! We’d recommend Belgravia to anyone. Yes, the breakfasts are gourmet – delicious!” ~Peter & Martha, Pennsylvania”

“Thank you all for opening your lovely home to all of us! Your home is beautifully restored, bedroom and bath very comfortable. And the breakfast was delicious and delightful. If we get back this way, we’ll be sure to stop here! ~Sam & Judy, New York”

“Thank you for a most wonderful visit in your beautiful home. Your hospitality radiates joy and happiness. Breakfast was very special – so much care and attention made us feel special. Thanks for being such a bright spot in our vacation! ~Mike & Jennifer, North Carolina”

“What a delightful B&B! This room with it’s peppermint stick wallpaper and pink and green quilt & pillows puts me in the mind of a Victorian dollhouse scene – simply charming. The breakfasts are delicious and the presentation, with its attention to every detail, is a graceful elegance without being stuffy or pretentious. The hosts, D’Arcy & Anne, are welcoming and warm, inviting all to share in their home. Thank you for a wonderful two night stay. ~C&D, New Jersey”

“As always, wonderful! The hospitality, the genial hosts, the lovely family, the welcome, and the food – oh! the food! A breakfast to be remembered. Excellent! Ten stars out of five! Looking forward to returning. ~Angus, Ontario”

Give to Live

Over the past thirteen years, we have hosted approximately 10,000 individuals in our home. Of those 10,000 people, a number of them make a special connection with us and become like part of our family. This week we have been delighted to welcome back one of our favourites, Bruce, as he prepares to bicycle the entire Cabot Trail tomorrow (300km with steep elevations) with the Give to Live organization, fundraising for the Cancer Society. As a 10-year Cancer survivor himself (YAY!), Bruce has done a number of rides, all over the world.

Although Bruce has surpassed his personal fundraising goal of $6000, the total event goal of $100,000 is still a few thousand dollars short. Bruce recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

“This morning a couple of donations put us over my commitment to Give to Live for funding $6,000 of the commitment to Dr. Ryan Rhodes’s research into nutrition and exercise and its potential impact the prevention of cancer. I could not be more proud of our donors and everyone who considered it, but had other obligations. Know that every penny goes to this commitment… G2L funds its own admin costs (credit card processing, Web admin expenses, and so on) through corporate commitments and sharing programs with the sponsors it thanks on its website. This is the reason that I am 100% committed to riding with these folks and to everyone who even considers donating. Philanthropy is critical to every human endeavor… thank you for being human… those who would like to, can still donate to my site or to any of my fellow riders who are not over their total… it all goes to the same good cause… thanx again… BRuce”

You can follow Bruce’s blog here: blueknowser.blogspot.ca

One of the teams who are riding, “KMS Crew”, is made up of three of our neighbours/friends (one is our children’s doctor), each riding a 100km leg. They are still $650 short of their fundraising goal.

I do not know of anyone whose life has not been touched by this devastating disease. I encourage you to donate if you are able – whether to Bruce, the KMS Crew, or to any of the teams.

Donate to The Big Ride by clicking here.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce's Blog (see link above). Photo credit:

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce’s Blog (see link above).

Canoeing on the French River (video)

We acquired a second-hand Go-Pro camera from my brother this year, and the kids have been having a lot of fun with it. When we went camping in Tatamagouche last week, we mounted it on the front of our canoe as we explored the tidal French River in Tatamagouche. At around 2:20, you will see footage of our bald eagle, “Joe”. Thank you to our son, Alex, for editing all the footage to make this five minute clip. Swansburgs, this one is for you!

And the wall came tumbling down…

We know this makes a lot of people sad.

During the past two days, D’Arcy and the boys have been tackling a job that we’ve put off since 2009 – our stone wall. On Easter Sunday of 2009, when he turned the corner to go to church, D’Arcy discovered that part of the small section of our stone wall had washed away in heavy rain and part of it had fallen. (Story and photos here.)  At the time, he cleaned it up as best and as safely as he could, saving all the stones – in our garden – with the plan to rebuild.

Belgravia B&B was named such after we had learned that the original name of Broad Street was Belgravia Avenue. Two months after we opened, I ran into a man who had grown up in the house from the 1920’s – 1960’s who informed me that the house had been known as “Stoneycroft” from the time it was built, due to the stone wall. (Wish we had known.)

The wall is part of the house’s history.

It soon became apparent that rebuilding wouldn’t be as simple as we had hoped. The wall, 105 years old at that time (111 now), was not built on a foundation and the mortar has turned to sand over the years.

The long part of the wall has shifted as well, and half of it is leaning sharply towards the sidewalk. Last summer, we had hoped to get the entire wall fixed, so had professionals come and give us quotes.

We’re looking at a price range of $20,000. 

For a wall. A wall that’s beautiful and sentimental but, sadly, not a necessity.

We have four children to put through university.

D’Arcy & the boys spent the past two days taking down the short section of the wall that originally started to fall six years ago. They were able to save the posts, and D’Arcy graded the lawn to the sidewalk. We have planted raspberry bushes in between the posts, with the intention that they will become a hedge that gives back. We have a picture of the house from 1916 and there was originally a hedge behind the wall, so putting this one in is like returning a different piece of history of the property.

As for the long section? D’Arcy is marking provincial exams for the next two weeks, so there won’t be any work done on it until later in the month. He has an idea to try to stabilize it, but if it doesn’t work, that section will have to come down for safety reasons as well – we hate the thought of having someone sit on it, or a child climb on it, and get hurt.

Not an easy decision; one six years in the making…

We understand.

We’re sad too.


Deconstruction begans


What was left of the short section of wall when they started to take it down.


Work in progress…


Raspberry bushes are planted; sod arrives tonight. Happy to have been able to save the pillars at least.

Stoneycroft, 1916. Note the driveway used to come in off Prince Street (the address was 416 Prince Street at that time) and the hedge behind the wall. Thank you Colchester Historical Society for the photo.

Stoneycroft, now Belgravia, 1916. Note the driveway used to come in off Prince Street (the address was 416 Prince Street at that time) and the hedge behind the wall. Thank you Colchester Historical Society for the photo.

A night away

Historically, bookings during the first week of July have always been slow. Earlier this week, we had a night without any reservations, so we closed out our online booking calendar, and packed up the van to spend the night at our property in Tatamagouche, on the Northumberland Strait.

What a wonderful getaway we had, spending time together as a family without distractions. Our property has a bunkhouse and an outhouse, with no power nor running water – unless you count the river! We chatted, played cards, went exploring the riverbed while the tide was out, had a bonfire, made s’mores, stargazed, canoed, swam, set off bottle-rockets, had a washer toss tournament, drove the van up & down the lane (a 14 year-old-boy’s rite-of-passage), skipped rocks, and laughed. We ate well – everything tastes better outside! We had risotto with asparagus, sausage, and cheese cooked on the campstove for supper. (Along with some local wine & beer for the parents.) Breakfast was bacon, fruit, yogurt, and homemade brown-bread toast made over the campfire with homemade jelly.

We have eagles – now named Joe & Josie – who were quite interested in what we were doing and circled around often. When we were canoeing, “Joe” was swooping down close to us and then perched on the treetops, watching the kids swim. I was hoping that he didn’t think Olivia was a fish!

We don’t have any more nights without bookings in the coming weeks, so we won’t get another overnight for awhile. However, we’ll try to get back for a few hours during the day again soon.

Summer fun, hanging out together

Summer fun, hanging out together

Playing cards and laughing together while catching some shade in the tent

Playing cards and laughing together while catching some shade in the tent

Exploring the river while the tide was out.

Exploring the river while the tide was out.



Sibling fun around the campfire at dusk

Sibling fun around the campfire at dusk

Alex's charred marshmallow

Alex’s charred marshmallow

Early morning washer toss tournament

Early morning washer toss tournament

Making toast on the fire

Making toast on the fire

All food tastes better outside!

All food tastes better outside!

Canoeing on the French River

Canoeing the French River

The 2015 McDonah Family canoe photo

The 2015 McDonah Family canoe photo – we’ll soon all be too big to travel together

A happy & relaxed dad, paddling in his handmade canoe

A happy & relaxed dad, paddling in his handmade cedar-strip canoe

Summer is Here!

Ahhh… The first day of summer vacation.

Epic photo of Summer 2015? Perhaps. Canada Day fun in the pool together.

Epic photo of Summer 2015? Perhaps. Canada Day fun in the pool together.

After a stellar year for the four McDonah kids (I’d be bashful to list all of their accolades and awards this year for fear of sounding like I’m boasting, but they worked HARD and it was noticed!) and a challenging year for each of their teacher parents, summer vacation couldn’t come fast enough.

The first day of summer vacation is probably our family’s second favourite day of the year, behind Thanksgiving.

We spent the day together as a family. Two-thirds of our guests were returning guests which was fun. After the day’s cleanup was finished, we did some gardening before all going to a neighbour’s house for a family-style celebration. We arrived home in time to welcome our new guests, and then had a swim to cool off. I rarely get in the pool as I chill easily. After much tormenting and teasing when I sat on a towel to take the family photo and wouldn’t get in with them, (There are guests coming in… It’s too cold… Somebody needs to be dry and dressed…)  I surprised them all by uncharacteristically cannonballing in while still wearing my clothes. They couldn’t believe it and that action probably won’t be something they’ll soon forget- the first lasting memory of summer!

After supper, we had a fire outside, which my parents and Alex’s girlfriend joined us for. We played “Telephone” and “Truth or Dare” and then roasted marshmallows while waiting for the Canada Day fireworks. Some of our guests joined us.

As we settle in to our new routines of later bedtimes and unstructured days, I’m starting to feel myself relax and unwind.

I have made myself a number of promises for the next two months:

  • spend at least one hour outside every day
  • read for fun at least one hour every day, outside if possible (two birds, one stone?)
  • take and post at least one photo on Instagram every day BelgraviaBB
  • get back to blogging regularly
  • start running again – or at least go for daily walks
  • use all of the goodness growing in our garden

I think that’s enough… it is “vacation” after all!

An Unexpected Accolade

This year, the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce brought back their Best of Colchester Awards. We had won as “Best B&B” in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. With the return of the awards came new categories which – at first glance – we didn’t see ourselves fitting into until someone mentioned to me in passing, “I voted for you as ‘Best Home-based Business’ in the Best of Colchester awards.” Best home-based business? Upon reflection, we realized that category couldn’t fit much more perfectly!  In Nova Scotia, a B&B must be owner-occupied; Belgravia B&B is our home.

We were surprised to learn last week that we were finalists along with new local business, Leggo my Leggings, and we attended the ceremony on Thursday night. Since we are not what I first think of as a traditional home-based business, I assumed others would be of the same perception and did not expect that we would win. I was shocked when our names were called. As a result, I had to come up with some remarks on the spot which came from my heart.

I acknowledged the entrepreneurs in the room. When we first started our B&B in 2002 (this season will be Lucky #13!) I did not think of myself as an entrepreneur; I was just a young mom who was looking for an opportunity to spend more time with her children. Starting a “home-based business” was a way for me to fill that need while remaining involved in the Tourism industry in Nova Scotia.

Over the years, I have come to a new understanding of what my definition entrepreneurship is. To me, the word “entrepreneurship” means thinking creatively, recognizing and fulfilling needs, creating new opportunities, and taking risks. Someone with a home-based businesses is an entrepreneur just as much as someone who creates a business which employs 100 people. Entrepreneurship includes intrapreneurs and social entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is a verb as much as it is a noun. I am, it turns out, an entrepreneur.

This change of thinking for me has taken place over a number of years. Back in 2002, that young mom never dreamed she’d  eventually end up teaching Applied Entrepreneurship – encouraging others to follow their dreams and create their own opportunities!

One year ago, the One Nova Scotia Commission released the report, “Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians” which recognizes that it is entrepreneurs who will lead the change to rebuild our economy. How energizing it was for us on Thursday night to be in a crowd filled with entrepreneurs of all types. We are grateful that the Chamber organizes the “Best of” awards each year and were pleased to be recognized with all of the other business owners, leaders, and supporters in the room that night.

Thank you to all those who took the time to vote for us!