The Impact of Heritage on Local Economies

Last week was a very busy week here at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast. School activities are wrapping up while tourist season is in full swing. We’ve been attending recitals, concerts, and parties. Thrown into the mix was the Nova Scotia Provincial Heritage Conference, in Sydney, of which I was asked to be a panelist. Our topic? “The Impact of Heritage on Local Economies.”

The Conference ran from June 12th – 15th, but NSCC Graduation was on the 13th and I chose to be on stage to hug my eleven Tourism Management graduates on their big day. After the graduation was over, I hopped in the car and left for Sydney, Cape Breton, which is about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Truro, depending on which road you take. I was booked into the beautiful Colby House B&B, my third stay there.

Colby House B&B, Sydney

I was exhausted after a long day, and the beautiful bed was calling my name. I chatted with Bev for a few minutes, then set to work tweaking the slideshow for my presentation the following morning. There are many things I enjoy about staying at Colby House B&B – it’s a beautiful property for starters, immaculately kept! Bev & Gordon are wonderful hosts, and their attention to detail is superb. The first night I was there, they had a full house, with couples from Germany, Saskatchewan, and Vancouver. We had a great chat during breakfast.

The beautiful bed, calling my name in the MacLellan Room at Colby House B&B.

I could see the home that D’Arcy’s father grew up in from my window. Gordon mentioned the connection to the other guests at breakfast and we had a great chat about D’Arcy’s great-grandfather, a Sea Captain.

The conference was very interesting and I was disappointed I had missed the previous two days – especially dinner at Fortress of Louisbourg, and the Sydney Ghost Walk! The panel I was on included Dan Coffin from Destination Cape Breton, Cheryl Chambers of Chambers  Guest House B&B, and Stan Munroe of Port Morien Rectory B&B. Dan led the session, discussing market research which shows that most people traveling to Nova Scotia are looking for authentic cultural experiences and will visit at least one heritage site while here. We know from experience that there are many people who stay in Bed & Breakfasts for the duration of their entire trip for just that reason. You don’t get a much more authentic Nova Scotian experience than staying in a Nova Scotian home! (B&B’s in Nova Scotia MUST be owner-occupied.)

By preserving our heritage home and welcoming people into it from all around the world during the past ten years, we have had a huge positive impact on our local economy. In addition to the obvious taxes we pay at all three government levels, we are certain to send our guests to locally run restaurants rather than chains, we shop at the local Farmers’ Market during the season, we use and recommend local companies for gas, we recommend gift shops run by locals rather than encouraging guests to shop at the malls. Even when doing our renovations last month, we used companies with a connection to our area, and chose to install the solar panels that were built in Dartmouth, rather than in the US. By having local knowledge, we are able to tell our guests about events going on in our area, hopefully keeping them in our area longer. We have such a long and rich history here in Nova Scotia, and we sometimes forget that the western half of the country is much younger than we are – one of the points which had been made at the breakfast table by the couples from Saskatchewan and Vancouver at Colby House!

That evening, we had dinner and “A Taste of Celtic Colours” at the Sydney Cruise Ship Pavillion. What talented artists performed. We enjoyed guitar performances, Gaelic storytelling, singing & fiddling. It was a toe tapping great time! Back at the B&B, I chatted with Bev & Gordon until much too late! Bev was one of our “regulars” for many years here at Belgravia in her former career, so we always have lots to chat about!

After another delicious breakfast, I said my goodbyes and headed for home via Guysborough. It was a road I hadn’t driven in a long, long time and I wanted to check out the DesBarres Manor Inn and Rare Bird Pub which I have heard so much about. It was a beautiful drive, and I landed at the pub in time for lunch on opening day. They didn’t have their craft beer on tap yet, but I was driving, so wouldn’t have been able to enjoy one anyway. I sat by the window,overlooking beautiful Chedabucto Bay and had a delicious lunch with attentive service. I would love to go back and take D’Arcy sometime.

The Rare Bird Pub

I arrived home mid-afternoon, just in time to get the girls ready for their Highland Dance Recital and welcome favourite guests from the UK, staying with us for the third time. I do love exploring our beautiful province and am grateful for our rich heritage! I am happy that we chose this home to raise our children and build our lives. One of the nicest comments we had when we started this adventure ten years ago was from former owner, Mary Shephard. She had come to visit when we had our initial renovations complete and wrote in our guest book: “I’m so happy that this house is full of life again!”