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.

17th Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner (Photos)

I joined the Board of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) four years ago. Each year, my favorite event to attend has been the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council’s (NSTHRC) Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner. This year was extra special, as I received National Certification as a Tourism Trainer.

One of the reasons I love this evening so much is because many of the front-line tourism ambassadors in the province are able to attend. This year, 195 individuals were recognized for achieving certification in the following occupations: Food & Beverage Manager, Front Desk Agent, Guest Service Attendant, Heritage Interpreter, Housekeeping Room Attendant, Reservation Sales Agent, Sales Manager, Supervisor, Taxicab Limousine Driver, Tourism Visitor Information Counselor, and Tourism Trainer.

A few fun facts:

  • Nova Scotia has more Nationally Certified Tourism Professionals than any other province in the Canada
  • Nova Scotia has over 1,000 Nationally Certified Taxicab Limousine Driver
  • Nova Scotia is the only province which invests to ensure 100% of their Tourism Visitor Information Counselors in the provincial Visitor Information Centres are nationally certified!
  • Twelve Nova Scotian employers were recognized this year as having over 60% staff with national certifications!

To receive my certification, I was required to have completed a certain number of hours training people to be tourism professionals. These were attained through my Tourism Management Faculty position at the Nova Scotia Community College during the past two years. Then, in late March I had a classroom evaluation. This involved Lisa, manager of the NSTHRC,  actually coming into my classroom and observing me “in action” while I taught a class.  I then wrote a two hour exam, and completed a case study.

The dinner was held this year at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax. Since Halifax is only a one hour drive from the Belgravia, D’Arcy & I hopped in the car after school and made our way there. There was a reception for the first hour, where we mingled with other recipients and tourism professionals, and then we were treated to a wonderful dinner. Yum! The food and service at Casino Nova Scotia were fantastic! The menu was as follows:

Appetizer – Spinach Salad – baby spinach served with mandarin orange segments, topped with toasted almonds and dressed with ponzu vinaigrette.

Entree – Stuffed Chicken with goat cheese and sun-dried tomato and a peach coulis – served with Chef’s Potatoes and Vegetable

Dessert – Peach Cobbler – baked in brown sugar and ginger

Wine – Jost Vineyards Seyval Blanc & Prima Rosa

There was a musical performance to signal the beginning of the evening with photos of Nova Scotia flashing in the background. No matter how many times I watch a presentation like that, I get chills! There were speeches before the dinner by the Glenn Squires, chair of the NSTHRC, and the Hon. Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. Bhreagh MacDonald, Cabot Links Resort (receiving certification as a Tourism Supervisor), spoke of what receiving certification means to her. Garrett Gloade, from the Glooscap Heritage Centre (receiving his certification as a Heritage Interpreter) performed a blessing.

After dinner, the certifications were handed out by Minister Paris, Wendy Swedlove of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, and Glenn Squires. There was much cheering and clapping! I was the last of the individuals to receive my certification, as I was the only person receiving Tourism Trainer recognition this year. Lisa (NSTHRC) gave me a touching introduction. It was a fabulous evening and I was extremely proud to be part of it.

The following are some photos that D’Arcy was able to take for me. There was a professional photographer there as well, so hopefully I will receive some of those at some point too.

With Garrett Gloade, Certified Heritage Interpreter

A little bit embarrassed by all the nice things Lisa was saying about me as I was called up to receive my certification.

Joking with the Minister as the presentation was made.

Hon. Percy Paris, Anne McDonah, Wendy Swedlove, Glenn Squires

Joyce Mingo, receiving Property Recognition on behalf of the Glooscap Heritage Centre.

With my generous MLA, Lenore Zann, who came to support both Garrett & myself. She brought me a certificate of congratulations – thank you Lenore!

With Danny Bartlett, Chair of TIANS

With my biggest supporter!

Dannty Bartlett, Chair of TIANS, Anne McDonah, Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, Darlene Grant Fiander, President of TIANS/NSTHRC

With Lisa Dahr, Manager NSTHRC

Some of the TIANS/NSTHRC team – Lisa Dahr, Kieu Lam, Anne McDonah, Lyndsay Leedham, Darlene Grant Fiander. How lucky the Tourism Industry is to have these women among its champions!!

I cannot thank the TIANS/NSTHRC team enough for their support and encouragement through this process! I look forward to using my certification to encourage and support the amazing people who work the front lines of the Tourism Industry, impressing our visitors and building our beloved Nova Scotia brand.

Routes to your Roots

Did you know that it’s estimated that as many as 25 million people in North America can trace their roots to Nova Scotia? There are so many fantastic links on the new Nova Scotia Tourism Website, but one I have just discovered and have been having fun with is the link to search out your family roots: www.novascotiaroots.com You just type in your family name, and it will show you where your ancestors may have lived.  According to the Department of Tourism, the new website is a combination trip planner and genealogical research tool, designed to allow roots travelers to collect specific facts about their families along with practical travel information such as accommodations, attractions, and dining before they set out. The core of the site is a database containing 50,000 surnames going back 200 years or more, a million birth, death, and marriage records, and information on 27,000 locations.

We have found over the years that many of our guests have been searching their roots during this visit.  I encourage anyone with an interest in genealogy to explore this fun tool!   www.novascotiaroots.com

Video from 2010 TIANS Awards Gala

I recently received the link to this video in my inbox.  It’s a clip of the TIANS Gala when Dick Lemon won the TIANS Award for Tourism Innovator of the Year.  When you watch this video and listen to Dick’s acceptance speech, I think you’ll understand why we felt compelled to nominate him!  (By the way, registration for the 2010 Not-Since-Moses will soon open.  Check back for information on our Bed, Breakfast & Run package!)

TIANS Recognizes Tourism Excellence

Last evening, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) hosted the 2009 Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala Dinner. The event culminated the three-day Tourism Summit – The Evolution of Tourism.

TIANS Chair, Danny Morton, White Point Beach Resort

Nine Crystal Tourism Awards of Excellence were presented to individuals and organizations that have excelled in their particular category. This year’s winners are:

Mr. Mike Broomfield – Alastair and Frances Campbell Award
The Wharf Rat Rally – Ambassador Award
Mr. Scott MacAulay – Tourism Champion Award
Gaspereau Vineyards – Parks Canada Sustainable Tourism Award
Ms. Judy Saunders – Tourism Sector Person of the Year Award
Mr. Dick Lemon – Tourism Innovator Award (We nominated him!!)
Driftwood Park Retreat – Sustainable Tourism Award
Mr. Paul Hanna – Human Resource Leadership Award
Ye Olde Argyler Lodge – Tourism Atlantic Technology Award

Also presented were the 2009 Pineapple Awards – a celebration of our Pride in Service and the individuals who go above and beyond to enrich visitor experiences. Recognition of individuals who exemplify extraordinary service in Nova Scotia’s Tourism Industry is very important as they create the memories that visitors take home.

Throughout the year, visitors to Nova Scotia complete the Pineapple Awards ballots located in hundreds of establishments throughout the province. The winners this year are:

Ms. Courtney Beck – Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia
Belliveau Motors – Church Point, Nova Scotia
Mr. Seamus Ryan – Halifax, Nova Scotia

I especially loved Seamus’ story; he was nominated by his employer, Scanway Catering, after he saved the day at a wedding reception. The bride & groom – being married at a remote location in Cape Breton, far away from Scanway’s operation in Halifax – had decided on make-your-own strawberry shortcake rather than a traditional wedding cake, but when the catering staff opened the bucket of what they thought were the strawberries, they found strawberry preserves instead. Seamus set off to buy strawberries, but all the stores were sold out! Finally, he came upon a u-pick and started offering money to people to buy their strawberries. When he realized he still didn’t have enough, he rolled up his sleeves and started picking berries himself! He made it back to the wedding with less than an hour to spare and the bride & groom were none the wiser! Seamus summed it all up when he said in his acceptance speech, “Nova Scotians know hospitality because we practice it in our own homes.”

Those are the kind of stories I love to hear and his thank you speech was eloquent & gracious.

We were delighted and honored to be asked to sit with Dick Lemon, our friends, Judy & Gerry Roberts and the gang from the Five Islands area. We nominated Dick because we are so impressed with all he has done to revitalize and support that section of the Bay of Fundy. The “Not-Since-Moses” Run is his creation and since registration has doubled each year, they are expecting big things for registration again this year. We enjoyed being there this summer, and D’Arcy said he thinks we should be sure to register this year. I think we might just do that. Congratulations Dick!

Congratulations Dick - we were honoured to be sitting with you!

The evening was inspirational and motivating.

(I’m looking forward to next year already!!)

D’Arcy & Anne, arriving at the Gala

With Jennifer, TIANS Membership Coordinator

TIANS Board Members: Danny Bartlett, Bay Ferries; Anne McDonah, Belgravia Bed & Breakfast; Angela Chisholm, Scott Walking Adventures; Harry Delong, Parks Canada

The Celtic Tenors provided the Entertainment - they were magnificent!

Scott MacAulay wore his kilt as he accepted his award

A day on the Bay of Fundy

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get to take a day trip to Joggins to represent the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia at a presentation given by the Cumberland Wilderness Society as they unveiled their plan for a new Protected Wilderness area around and including the Chignecto Game Sanctuary.  An article about the presentation can be found here:  http://www.amherstdaily.com/index.cfm?sid=303455&sc=58

Because the trip along the Bay of Fundy is an easy and beautiful drive from Truro, we often recommend it to guests who are interested in a day trip.  There are many interesting spots to stop and see and the scenery is spectacular.

Because I had a time line in which to get to the presentation, I drove the Trans Canada Highway to get there.  The day wasn’t too promising as I started out, with thick fog making it hard to see.  I took the old road through the Wentworth Valley rather than the Toll Highway.  The drive is much more scenic and only adds about five minutes to your time.  Not to mention you don’t have to pay the $4.50 toll!  As I passed Ski Wentworth, the fog lifted and the sun started to shine.

I got to Joggins in about an hour-and-a-half.

The Joggins Fossil Center and Fossil Cliffs were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 and the Centre opened on Earth Day that year.  This was my first chance to get there to see the new building and it is beautiful!!  I would highly recommend this attraction to any guests who are visiting Northern Nova Scotia!  I just wish I’d had more time to explore.  Alas, business called…

When the presentation was over, I took the shore road along the Bay of Fundy to go home.  The half-hour it takes to get from Joggins to Advocate is mostly trees, but the wild blueberry fields were glorious!  I wish I’d been able to get a photo that did them justice.  Although the colour of the trees is over now that the leaves have fallen, the blueberry fields are still in their splendor!  As I turned a corner in Advocate, there was a cemetery on a hill which is covered in blueberry bushes and the sun was illuminating them.  I wish I had stopped for a photo.

I did take the 5km side trip to go to Cape d’Or.  It is one of my absolute favourite places in Nova Scotia!  To get there, you travel on a very twisty and hilly dirt road, but the views when you get to the end are spectacular!  The following photos were all taken from the top of the road.  In the summer, from May – October, there is a restaurant that we highly recommend located in the lighthouse!  The food and the service are wonderful and you just can’t beat the view!!

I traveled back to Truro, passing some favorites:  Shaw’s Country Store in Port Greville, Ship’s Company Theater & The Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, Mo’s at Five Islands, The Joy Laking Gallery in Portipique, the antique shop in Great Village, and of course Bass River Chairs in Bass River!  I drove 355 km in total during the day and was home in time to make supper!