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:

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).

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!

Recognition of Excellence 2014

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

On Wednesday of this week, tourism professionals from around the province gathered to celebrate at the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council’s (NSTHRC) 19th Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner at Casino Nova Scotia. As I’ve blogged before, this event is my favourite of the year. This is the event where front line staff from tourism businesses around the province get dressed up, mingle with industry leaders, and are recognized for their experience and dedication to tourism in Nova Scotia.

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

Some of my favourite Tourism People - Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance of Bay Ferries, Belgravia B&B, Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, Ruth Mailloux, Suncatcher B&B, Ann & Larry MacCormack, Tulips & Thistle B&B and president of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

Some of my favourite Tourism People – Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance and Administration of Bay Ferries; D’Arcy & Anne McDonah from Belgravia B&B; Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency; Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B; Ann & Larry MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B and also President of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

The Casino is a lovely setting for this dinner, and it was fun to get caught up with friends at the opening reception, overlooking Halifax Harbour. We enjoyed an opening performance by John and Samantha Gracie before dining on a beautiful meal. The menu included a salad of baby leaf lettuce, flat leaf parsley, shaved carrot, garlic & shaved parmesan cheese, drizzled with a lime-corriander vinaigrette. This was followed by an entree of roasted chicken breast on soft polenta with green olive & sherry tapenade and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, we enjoyed triple chocolate mousse with fresh fruit.

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

The evening was especially special for me as I formally received my certificate as a Certified Hotel General Manager. This credential is recognized across the country, and it was announced last week that it will also be recognized by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. At the dinner, Wendy Swedlove, President of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) announced that soon, they will have a partnership signed which will mean this credential will be recognized internationally.

Wendy Swedlove, CTHRC

Wendy Swedlove, President of the CTHRC

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

There are currently only ten of us who have earned this credential in Canada, with five of us being from Nova Scotia. My other colleagues who received this credential on Wednesday were Jamie Bolduc from the Radisson Suite Hotel in Halifax, Phyllis Stephenson from the Best Western PLUS Chocolate Lake Hotel, Wes Surrett from Pictou Lodge Beach Resort, and Bernice Theriault from Drumlin Hills. Congratulations to each of you – I’m proud to be in such company!

I would like to thank Emerit, the CTHRC, and most of all the NSTHRC for your continued support and encouragement of all tourism professionals, but especially for the support you have shown to me.

My biggest supporter

My biggest supporter


With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

The Truro B&B girls - Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

The Truro B&B girls – Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

 Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Best B&B in Colchester for the fourth time!

I’ve had so much to say in the past week, but it’s been so busy here, I haven’t had a moment to write it down. I’ll try not to be too long winded. Maybe I’ll just send out the biggest piece of news for now:

WE WON BEST BED & BREAKFAST IN COLCHESTER for the fourth year in a row last night! Yippee!

Really? It never gets old. We are so grateful for the support we have from our new guests, returning guests, friends, family, and colleagues. We honestly feel so fortunate that we have so many great quality B&B’s in Colchester County and we all work so well together. When you are surrounded by great quality, it sets the bar high. Since this week has been Tourism Week in Canada, I put in a plug when we accepted our award and reminded the 250+ people in attendance that “Tourism is everybody’s business.” We support local businesses as much as possible and we send our guests to local businesses. Our guests visit  local attractions and restaurants, but also fill up with gas at our gas stations, buy medications at our pharmacies, and pack their coolers at our grocery stores. Each and every interaction they have at these businesses forms their opinion of what Nova Scotians are really like.

We were thrilled to receive this award for the 4th year in a row and would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for us. It means so much!! You can see the complete list of winners by clicking on this sentence.

All of the other news will have to wait until tomorrow – we have to get breakfast organized for a full house…

Proof! Thank you to all who voted!! We think it's beautiful!

Proof! Thank you to all who voted!! We think it’s beautiful!


The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

Oh, the stories!

What do you get when you fill a church hall with a group of B&B owners? Stories! Lots & lots of stories!

Yesterday, D’Arcy & I attended the annual general meeting of the  Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association. Each year, the meeting is held in a different part of the province, and this year, we gathered in beautiful Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Because we’re both teaching in Pictou this year, we did not make it to Lunenburg yesterday for the B&B tours and social time, which is one of my favourite activities. Instead, we got up early in the morning and drove to the South Shore.

It was a beautiful autumn day. We took the newspaper with us and did the crossword as we drove. It takes less than two hours to drive from Truro to Lunenburg and it was a smooth drive.

When we arrived at the AGM, we had lots of time to get caught up with other B&B owners from around the province.  It was great! As a rule, B&B operators love to visit, chat, and laugh- you can just imagine the volume when we all get together… The meeting ran smoothly and I enjoyed the opening presentation by Pat Sullivan, Chair of the new Nova Scotia Tourism Agency. I am looking forward to new ideas for tourism unfolding with his leadership. I appreciated the fact that he was realistic, down-to-earth, and approachable.

Pat Sullivan of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency addresses members of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association in Lunenburg.

The food, provided by John & Tatiana, caterers in Lunenburg was homemade and so full of flavour. John even serenaded us over lunch with his version of “The Water is Wide”, promoting an upcoming concert on December 15th to aid the Lunenburg & Mahone Bay food banks.

He cooks AND he sings! Just wonderful!

Our meeting was led by out-going NSBBA president (and friend) Gerry Mailloux. He received two standing ovations in recognition for all the work he has done for the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association over the years. He & his wife, Ruth, have been running  B&B’s and mentoring perspective innkeepers in the province since 1986. Gerry has been struggling with some health issues this year, so there were some moist eyes in the room as he read his President’s report.

We laughed and carried on as people told funny (and not-as funny) stories about guests and experiences they’d had during the season. It was generally reported that numbers were up and more tourists were on the move again this summer. We swapped recipes and ideas and rejoiced in the announcement of “Baby No-Name (girl) Falkenham”, born to our TIANS Liason, Jennifer, just the day before. We made promises to one another to get together soon.

Before we left Lunenburg to head back to Truro, we stopped to see the newly re-built and re-launched Bluenose II.

The newly re-built Bluenose II with Lunenburg Academy in the background.

It was a wonderful day.

Surf’s Up in Nova Scotia!

Last  March, when our son Evan went on a school exchange to Brazil, one of his favourite, most memorable activities, was the surfing lessons he took. Proclaimed “a natural”, he was anxious to continue surfing in Nova Scotia. We warned him that surfing in Nova Scotia would probably be much different than surfing in Brazil, but he was keen to try.

His 14th birthday coincided with back-to-school for D’Arcy and me, so we promised him that we would treat both him & his brother, Alex, to surfing lessons before the end of the season. Last weekend, with Hurricane Leslie approaching up the Atlantic Seaboard, the waves had been churned up and conditions would have been too wild for our beginners.

This weekend, Saturday dawned bright and beautiful and calm. I made a call to Nico at the East Coast Surf School to see if there might be a possibility of lessons for the boys at the last minute. We had a full-house on Friday, so arranged the lessons for 2 p.m. which would give us enough time to get the rooms changed over. We called my parents and they were happy to come over to welcome guests until we returned. D’Arcy, who is very comfortable in the water, growing up sailing and being a certified scuba diver, was slightly disappointed I hadn’t booked him into lessons as well!

The weather was beautiful and the tide was coming in.As it turns out, the water on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia is warmer now than it is in the summer – we’re spoiled by spending most of our summer water time in the warm waters of the Northumberland Straight on Nova Scotia’s northern coast. The boys were provided with wet suits and Sam took them out for their lessons while we played with the girls on the beach. Sam also declared that the boys were both “naturals” but Evan was frustrated that it was not as easy to surf in Nova Scotia than it was in Brazil – the waves were more powerful…

They had a great afternoon, trying to master the art of “hanging ten”. The best part was that when their lesson was over, they had the use of the boards & wetsuits for the rest of the afternoon. D’Arcy even tried to surf a couple of times while Evan was taking a breather…  I can see that we’ll definitely be trying this again next year!

It’s only a 1 hour and 22 minute drive from Truro to Lawrencetown Beach where there is year-round surfing – an easy day trip from the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast.

Heading into the water at Lawrencetown Beach

The girls kept themselves occupied while their brothers were at their lessons by playing in the surf.


So much fun to watch – even more fun to do (from what I’ve been told)!


Alex is trying to get up…

Wipe out!

Sam shows Evan and Alex how it’s done…

The girls have fun burying Dad in the sand.

‘Return to the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

Open for Business!

This year marks our 10th season welcoming guests to the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast. Over the years, we’ve done an upgrade or two each year; things like new steps, building a back deck & pergola, refinishing the hardwood floors, etc. This year, however, it was time to do some major work.

We closed our B&B for ten days this month while our roof was being shingled. Our roof is quite large, and Gordon & Chris worked from 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. in various weather conditions to get it finished for us in just nine days! We highly recommend Apple B Construction! These two men were pleasant and accommodating. They understood that we had a tight schedule and did every thing they could to work with us, with our insulation installers, and with our solar panel installers, to make sure everything went smoothly!

In those nine days, while the work was being completed outside,  we worked away inside the house to get things ready for the season. We were spring cleaning like crazy! We cleaned all guest rooms from top to bottom, replaced cracked windows, took advantage of the scaffolding and cleaned the upstairs windows inside & out. We cleaned curtains, carpets, and furniture, painted trim, re-organized the kitchen & dining room, and donated a lot of things we never use to the Canadian Diabetes Association. We got gardening done, painted the fence and outside of the house, and got rid of a lot of junk from the basement that had accumulated. We installed new blinds and iPod docking stations in each of our guest rooms. What a whirlwind!

We’d like to thank Jason Giddens and his team at  MJM Energy, who, in three days blew 800 cubic feet of insulation into our upstairs walls and installed foam insulation into our basement walls and headers.

Thank you to Mark MacCormack and his partner Adam, of Advanced Heating  Solutions, who installed our solar hot water panels. The first day they were set up, we had a leak in a joint. We called Mark, and he drove from Springhill to Truro late in the evening (on the Victoria Day holiday) to come and fix it for us! That’s service!

We’d like to thank Kevin and Lauren at Efficiency Nova Scotia for speeding through our solar panel pre-approval so that we can apply for a rebate now that they are installed.

Thank you to Matthew of  Sustainable Housing who spent over four hours here before the work started. He worked around our guests to perform an energy audit, again, so we will qualify for rebates under the newly rolled-out energy rebate program.

Thank you to Keith, of G&G Computers for actually hanging up the telephone and coming over to set up our new wireless internet booster when only certain computers could hook-in. We now have excellent wireless internet, no matter where you are on our property. (In the past, our thick plaster walls, while great for keeping noise out, was also interfering with our wireless signal – all fixed!)

Thank you to Lori, and to my parents Dave & Deanna, for helping with things like laundry, painting, cleaning, gardening, organizing, and keeping the kids occupied while we got finished. It was definitely a team effort!

We especially would like to thank our guests for their patience while we were closed. We hated to turn people away – especially our regulars – but we feel that our guests deserve a quality experience while staying with us, and you wouldn’t have had that during the period the work was being done! (We didn’t even wash the floors for a week because of all the people tracking in and out…)

Now that all the work is completed, we are again open for business and look forward to welcoming you to the refreshed Belgravia Bed & Breakfast!

“Belgravia Even Better the Second Time”

We’re always happy to receive positive reviews on various social media sites, especially sites like Trip Advisor. More and more, travelers are using the internet as a tool to find out how others’ experiences were at a property before they book. We were delighted to receive notification of a new review this morning:

“We had an opportunity to visit Anne & D’arcy and their lovely family for a second time, two years after our first enchanting visit in 2010. It only gets better at this beautiful accommodation. We were greeted like old friends, got to enjoy a different view from another of their pretty suites, and as mentioned by several others, enjoyed their amazing breakfast and company in a stunning dining room. East coast hospitality at its finest! The Belgravia will definitely be our accommodation of choice when we’re next in Nova Scotia.”

Thank you Raina! We do feel like old friends now and look forward to seeing you again the next time you’re in Nova Scotia! Hopefully it will be warm enough to sit on the deck instead of in front of the fireplace! 🙂

Have a Heart

We, at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, have been partners with the Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Foundation since 2005. Each year, during the month of February (Heart Month), canvassers go door-to-door in neighbourhoods across the province, collecting donations.  When they are finished, volunteers drop their kits off to our property for pick up. This year, however, we are taking things a step further…

For every stay at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast during the rest of the month of February, we will be accepting donations (cash or cheque) for the Nova Scotia Heart & Stroke Foundation. Not only will you receive a charitable donation receipt which can be used for income tax purposes, but we will take the amount of your donation off the price of your room!

For example, a:

These prices include our tasty, heart-smart, full breakfast!

Both D’Arcy & I have family members & friends whose lives have been affected by heart disease or stroke, so we are thrilled to be able to offer this special for the month of February – heart month. We’re hoping to be successful enough that this will become an annual event for us!

Please call toll-free 1-866-877-9900, or locally (902) 893-7100, to make your reservation. This offer ends on March 1st, 2012.

Have a heart! ❤

Belgravia in the News!

The following article, written by Colleen Cosgrove, was featured in today’s Chronicle Herald Newspaper:

The last decade has not been kind to Nova Scotia bed and breakfasts.

A 19 per cent decline in overnight stays plagued the industry from 2005 to 2009, but numbers have been on a slow decline since 2000.

Nearly 100,000 visitors used a bed and breakfast in 2000 but by 2010, the number dropped to 59,000.

But on a snowy mid-winter day in December, when paying visitors are scarce and the summer tourism season is months away, Nova Scotia bed and breakfast owners are confident there are better days ahead.

Travellers are increasingly on the hunt for an authentic travel experience and a stay at a turn of the century farmhouse or a grand seaside estate can offer just that, said Anne McDonah cctowner of Belgravia Bed and Breakfast. “That’s why people are coming to Canada and to Nova Scotia,” McDonah said from her home in Truro this week.

“By being in a house and not a hotel, guests are getting the inside scoop on places to go and things to see and do in the community. It offers a chance to live like a local and a (bed and breakfast) offer that authentic experience.”

McDonah, who is on the board of the Nova Scotia Bed and Breakfast Association and teaches tourism management at Nova Scotia Community College, said bed and breakfast owners are promoting the authentic travel experience and offering “value-adds” to their operations to combat the downward trend.

Guests at Belgravia, for example, enjoy local produce delivered weekly to the house while guests at the neighbouring Suncatcher Bed and Breakfast can take a stained glass workshop or enjoy a genuine lobster feast complete with a how-to-eat lesson.

Neighbourhood overflow means Belgravia is booked over the holidays, but McDonah is using the slower season to revamp the company website and think up seasonal travel packages to entice guests year round.

There are about 1,100 overnight options in Nova Scotia. Between 400 and 425 of these are bed and breakfasts. The numbers ebb and flow regularly.

Location plays a big role in visitor traffic and the long-term viability of a bed and breakfast, said association president and Suncatcher owner Gerry Mailloux.

“Major cities and towns are more likely to reap the benefits,” said Mailloux, a veteran bed and breakfast owner who has worked in the industry since 1986.

“They seem to draw more business travellers than they used to and I think people are starting to realize the value of a (bed and breakfast).”

The growing popularity among business travellers has spurred many owners to offer amenities like free WiFi and printer and fax access.

The downward-trending numbers didn’t discourage Barbara Dean from opening her first bed and breakfast, Gowan Brae Bed and Breakfast, in Middle Musquodobit in August.

Retired and living in a sprawling 1830s-era home, Dean said her operation is merely a fun hobby and she expects many owners have the same approach.

“We have few overhead costs, just extra food and a bit of extra hot water here and there,” Dean said. “We all live in our bed and breakfast so I imagine it’s a hobby for most of us.”

In its first four months, Gowan Brae welcomed guests from as far away as Switzerland, Holland and western Canada and as nearby as the Annapolis Valley. How these guests decide on spending the night in Middle Musquodobit is something the association is working hard to understand, Mailloux said.

“We advertise here, there and everywhere but part of the problem is tracking where your guests come from and how they ended up with you,” he said. “We only have so many advertising dollars to go around ….. but at the end of the day as long as there are people still coming to stay, that’s what counts.”