Winter in the Bay Writing Contest Winners

A big thanks to everyone who submitted nonfiction essays and short fiction to this year’s Winter in the Bay art exhibit and writing contest, presented by the St. Margaret’s Bay Community Enterprise Centre, the Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts and The Masthead News. More than 50 stories were submitted. All the art in the exhibit and writing pieces submitted will be included in the Winter in the Bay 2022 book.

Nonfiction essays
First place, adult (tie): Jessi Fillmore, Twila Johnson
Third place, adult: Michelle Hollett
Special recognition, child: Katie Howard

Short fiction
First place, adult (tie): Margo Mosher-Swain, Baleigh McWade
Third place: Beth Sherwood
First place, teen: Laurel Davies
First place, child: Bannon Doucette
Second place, child: Sydney Power
Third place, child: Will Black
Honourable mention, child:
Willa Arenburg
Esmond Davis
Sophie Lizotte

Winter in the Bay Art Exhibit and Writing Contest Returns

The Community Enterprise Centre (CEC), the Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts (PCAFA), and The Masthead News are teaming up again this year to bring Winter in the Bay, an art exhibit and writing contest, to our area.

From February 4 to March 4, art by members of PCAFA will be on display at the CEC. The art is there to enjoy, but also to serve as inspiration for community members’ writing pieces. Most of the art on display is for sale. In addition to being available to view in person, art will also be displayed on Facebook. Visit www.facebook.com/SMBCEC for details.

All stories submitted to Winter in the Bay must select one of the pieces of art on display as their inspiration or illustration for their story. Writers may choose to submit a nonfiction essay or a fictional short story on the very broad topic of “Winter in the Bay.” Writers may submit only one story per category, but are welcome to submit in both story categories.

Nonfiction essays (maximum length, 400 words) should be either set in or refer to the St. Margaret’s Bay or Mahone Bay areas, but the story need not take place here. For example, one of last year’s adult winners, Joan Redmond, described escaping the Nova Scotia winter to spend the time sailing, only to be shipwrecked in the Caribbean.

Fictional short stories (maximum length, 2,500 words) should also be set in or refer to St. Margaret’s Bay or Mahone Bay. Again, the location can be simply a jumping-off point for the story. Last year’s stories included fantasy and science fiction, making St. Margaret’s Bay a very different place!

DEADLINE EXTENSION! The deadline for all stories is Friday, March 11 at 11:59 pm. Stories should be sent by email to outreach.smbcec@gmail.com. Local writers, editors and librarians will serve as judges. Writers should submit in one of three age categories: Ages 6-9, Ages 10-12, Ages 13 to adult. Consideration will be given by judges to age differences of writers within categories. All writers, regardless of their age, are welcome to have a friend, teacher or family member review and proofread the story before submission.

All stories must be submitted with the writer’s first and last name, email address and telephone number for contact purposes, and writers should grant permission for Winter in the Bay to publish their story. Writers under the age of 16 must submit their essays and short stories with first and last name, age, and contact information and permission to submit from a parent or guardian. Winter in the Bay organizers cannot accept stories from minors without that information.

Judging will take place later in March, and winners will be notified by email and/or telephone. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in the three age categories. First-place nonfiction essays will be published in The Masthead News, and all the essays and stories submitted, not just winning entries, will be published in a book available to purchase, thanks to support from HRM Deputy Mayor Pam Lovelace and an HRM grant, and publishing support from The Masthead News.

Visit the Winter in the Bay project page for writing resources.

Christmas in the Bay ATV Hayrides

Huge thanks to our wonderful friends with the Safety Minded ATV Association, who spent Sunday, November 28 giving free hayrides to more than 70 families and groups!

Thanks also to The Rustic Crust for donating all those cups of hot chocolate, to volunteers from the Seniors Association of St. Margaret’s Bay for event coordination, and to the SMB Community Enterprise Centre for giving the event a home base.

Even Santa and Suzie Reindeer went on a hayride! See more on the second annual Suzie Reindeer’s Christmas in the Bay Show on Sunday, December 5 at 5:30 pm, here on Facebook!

Share the Harvest 2021

You came, you shared, and together we raised over $2,500 for the St. Margaret’s Bay Food Bank. Thank you!

Special thanks to:

Our event partners, St. Margaret’s Bay Gardening Club, Seniors Association of St. Margaret’s Bay, Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts, Transition Bay St Margarets, Western Halifax Community Learning Network.

Our sponsors, Bay Equipment Rentals & Sales, Redmond’s Home Hardware, The Rustic Crust, NSLive.tv, We Create & Stamp.

Our supporters, Pam Lovelace HRM13, Ben Jessome, Danielle Barkhouse.

Our entertainers, Brian C. and the creators and performers of Troubling Joy: A Bicycle Puppet Circus.

The many donors of product and produce, our wonderful volunteers, and our neighbours, who came out to support the event. You are all amazing!

Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts Celebrates 10th Anniversary Festival

Making a welcome return to the summer line-up of wonderful activities in the Bay, The Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts (PCAFA) is back with three events in July. Two events, Paint Peggy’s Cove and the Studio Tour, are cherished cornerstones of the Festival, which started in 2010. The third event is new, a Members’ Exhibit at the Community Enterprise Centre.

With 100 member artists, PCAFA has reached a milestone of its most members ever, representing all ages, media, styles and area locations.

Here is more information on the three Festival events this year:

Paint Peggy’s Cove, July 10–12 (10 am–5 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–4 pm Monday)

A plein air event with over 40 artists creating new works at Peggy’s Cove. Works are on view and for sale the same day they are created. Visit 124 Peggy’s Cove Road in the village. A children’s art area offers free creative activities.

The Studio Tour, July 16 –18 (10 am–5 pm)

A showcase of the diverse works of over 70 local artists at more than 40 studios, community locations, and galleries. Chart your own free, self-guided tour and meet the artists. The tour is laid out online here: https://halifaxartmap.com/art-map/pcafa.

Stop One this year is the Community Enterprise Centre at 5229 St. Margaret’s Bay Road.

Members’ Art Exhibit, July 8–29 (hours vary, see below)

This show, at the St. Margaret’s Bay Community Enterprise Centre, 5229 St. Margaret’s Bay Road, offers works by 50 participating artists. Weekdays, 9 am–4 pm from July 8 to 29, 10 am–5 pm on July 10, 11, 17 and 18.

Throughout the Studio Tour weekend, visitors may enter their names in a draw for an art gift certificate worth $500.

For more information, visit www.peggyscoveareafestivalofthearts.com.

Image:  Gretchen Amirault, “Rockway Beach,” oil on canvas.

BayRides, Bay Seniors and CEC Provides an Afternoon Art and Jewellery Excursion

BayRides, the Community Enterprise Centre (CEC), and Bay Seniors are partners in a different kind of Friday happy hour in February, designed to lift the spirits of Bay residents who have difficulty getting out of the house and accessing the community.

BayRides is giving free rides to Bay residents who would appreciate an outing and don’t have access to a car. The funding for this comes from a grant from the Covid-19 Emergency Community Support Fund and United Way.

BayRides, Bay Seniors and the CEC are providing an afternoon excursion every Friday in February to bring up to 6 people to the CEC to see the Winter in the Bay art by Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts member artists and check out some of the Bay Seniors jewellery. A CEC receptionist and two Bay Seniors volunteers will host the visitors between 3 and 5.

Covid precautions are in place in the BayRides vehicle and at the CEC. To book a spot, call Lynn at BayRides at 902-820-6600. Please book at least 48 hours in advance.

Winter in the Bay Story Contest: Writing Tips from a Pro

by Neil Everton

Sometimes the empty page or the blank screen can paralyze us. So here’s some advice from that wonderful Newfoundland writer and now Halifax resident Donna Morrissey: “Don’t agonize about or over-think the process of writing. Just get started. Get the story out.”

Tell your story to the page. Trust your intuition. The polishing comes in the re-writing. The poet Robert Graves once said: “There’s no such thing as good writing. Only good re-writing.”

And that’s vital when you only have 350 words to play with.

But before you start writing or rewriting, slow down. Think about the advice of Winnie the Pooh: “Organization is what you do before you do it, so when you do it, it’s not all messed up.”

Stare out of the window. Daydream. Bounce ideas around your brain. What do you want to achieve? What’s your purpose, and what style would suit that purpose?

Give yourself a framework on which to build your story. Make sure there’s a logical flow to the way you reveal information. Everyone talks about a beginning, a middle and an end. Here’s a variation that really helps me: hook, context, unfolding, wrap.

Thinking about a hook helps me focus on snagging the audience’s attention quickly. In our short-attention-span world, if you don’t grab them early, you may not get them at all.

Then comes context. It’s the need-to-know information that prepares us for the rest of the story. Keep it short. Too much of a history lesson can slow down your storytelling.

The unfolding is where the story blossoms. We really get to know the character and the setting, and delve into the character’s motivation and concerns. And this is where you need a dollop of magic sauce.

The magic sauce is conflict. The best stories are explorations of conflict. Not necessarily in the sense of a knock-down-drag-out fight. More likely in the overcoming of everyday obstacles. It’s the overcoming of obstacles that brings a story to life and engages your audience.

The wrap is where you pull all the threads together. 

Now it’s time to write. Remember, the inspiration for your essay comes from a painting or quilt. But you don’t have to write about or describe the particular piece. Let it be the spark for your creativity. The story you want to tell may not perfectly fit with one of the pieces. That’s okay.

Show, don’t tell. Let your audience discover for themselves something about your subject. It could be in a quote, or a memory, or in the way you capture the passion of your character for a person or place. Specifics are always better than generalities for bringing a character or a setting to life.

Write for all the senses. Sometimes we focus on what we can see. Go further than that. What are the smells or the sounds that will paint an unforgettable picture of your character or location?

When you start to polish, strip every sentence down to its barest bones. Every word that is not working hard for you is getting in the way. Imagine you have to pay $1 for every word. Pretty soon you’ll start stripping out words that are not earning their keep.

Fall in love with the delete key. Start with adjectives and adverbs. Follow Mark Twain’s advice: “When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable.”

Verbs are your writing muscle. Strong active verbs push the writing along. Weak, passive constructions slow you down like a tired five year-old in a supermarket. Don’t settle for the first verb that pops into your mind. Find the verb that energizes your writing. Beefing up a verb can be much more effective than reaching for an adverb.

Any writer who has sold 350 million books is worth listening to. So let’s get some advice from the king of horror, Stephen King: “One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”

So keep it simple. If you found yourself floundering in the ocean at Queensland Beach, you wouldn’t yell “Your assistance is required due to my imperilled state.” If the single word ‘help’ is all you need, don’t dress it up.

Find your voice. Listen to how you talk to your family, or your friends. Try to capture that energy and that style in your writing. Be who you are, not who you think you should be.

Study the writers you admire. Read poetry. Good popular music is a great place to refine your writing skills. Good songs convey the maximum meaning with the minimum words. There’s no room for clutter. So if books on grammar don’t turn your crank, put on some music or listen to poetry.

Finally, don’t worry too much about the grammar police. Worry about making us feel something more than about splitting an infinitive.

About the author: Neil Everton started writing for a weekly newspaper at age 18 in an English coal-mining town. That led to a daily newspaper, and then to the BBC where he worked on news and documentaries. As assignment to the Middle East to cover the first Gulf War led to a meeting with CBC producer Halina St James, marriage and relocation to Nova Scotia. Since then he’s worked with Reuters, CBC, CTV and Global. 

Writing Examples with Illustrating Works from the 2021 Winter in the Bay Art Show

Do you have a real-life story you’d like to share? Are you a writer or aspiring writer who wants to try your hand writing fiction? Do you appreciate the chance to enjoy works by local artists?

Welcome to the second annual Winter in the Bay, a community program celebrating creativity—and winter—with an art exhibit followed by a writing contest. The program is a partnership between the St. Margaret’s Bay Community Enterprise Centre, The Peggy’s Cove Area Festival of the Arts, and The Masthead News.

Thanks to the support of Deputy Mayor Pam Lovelace and an HRM grant, and publishing support from The Masthead News, all art displayed and stories submitted to Winter in the Bay 2022 will be published in book, available to purchase in the spring.

Non-Fiction Example

Thank you to Linda Mosher and Mary Lynn Mackay for offering this wonderful example of how writers are asked to use a work from the Winter in the Bay Art and Quilt Exhibit to inspire and/or illustrate their essays and stories. Linda’s story “Feeding a Family in the Depression” and Mary Lynn’s painting “Frozen Lake” were created independently, but together they help to tell a wonderful story of a cold winter adventure nearly a century ago in St. Margaret’s Bay.

Story for sharing only, not submitted to the contest.

Winter in the Bay: Feeding the family during the Great Depression
Linda Mosher

During the Great Depression, my grandfather could not find work. Suddenly, it was an icy winter without money, and barely enough food to feed the family.

One morning, my grandmother went to the cellar for butter, finding that a rat had tunnelled through the block.  She cut that part off, considering herself lucky to salvage the rest.  

My grandfather was desperate to get some fresh meat for his family, and arranged for two friends to go deer-hunting with him.  Delayed by a big snowstorm,they set out early one morning, and were gone so long that my grandmother was worried sick.  They finally returned in late afternoon without a deer, saying they had shot a huge moose. The three men couldn’t carry the moose out, so decided to come home, get warm, eat a hot meal, and then take their wives and my grandmother’s sister back to help with the moose.  My grandmother remembered it as a beautiful night, with a bright, full moon and millions of stars shining in the heavens.  During the day, the snow had hardened, and it glistened in the moonlight. They were all in a good mood as they tied ropes around the moose and pulled it along like a toboggan over the hard snow.  

The next morning, the men got together and cut up the meat. They shared it around with thankful family and neighbours.  

A couple of days later a game warden knocked on their door. He was investigating a complaint they had shot a moose out of season. My grandfather invited the game warden in, and had a nice long chat with him while my grandmother served the warden a hot meal with moose meat.  My grandfather told the warden that his family and neighbours were starving, and they had shot the moose and shared it around the village so everyone could have fresh meat on their table.  

The game warden thanked them for their hospitality, leaving with a smile on his face and a neatly wrapped package of moose meat tucked tightly under his arm.

Fiction Example

This story was inspired by Karen Llewellyn’s “Waiting in the Snow.” When Alanna first saw the painting, she loved the colours and the mood of wintertime in the country. The painting also connected her immediately to many warm memories of her beloved grandparents, with whom she lived when she was younger. Gwyn McLaren, this story’s main character, reminds Alanna quite a lot of her grandmother. 

Alanna thanks Karen for inspiring her story, which she says, “has been so much fun to write, a creative oasis to encourage me to spend more time writing for pleasure.”

Story for sharing only, not submitted to the contest.

Karen Llewellyn Waiting in the Snow WITB 2021

Entertaining Angels 
Alanna Dunne

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2

Even before she saw the signs of digging, Gwyn McLaren thought someone had been in the barn. The hens seemed restless, and Ophelia, the most sensitive of her small flock, was hiding. 

Chiding herself for being fanciful, she switched on the second set of lights, turning the dark, secret corners at the back of the barn into just another part of the weathered structure her grandfather had built a century ago. 

Her Poppy had left school after grade 3, when his father said he didn’t need book learning to work on the family farm. Poppy didn’t agree about the value of book learning. He read for 30 minutes—never longer—every night, after the evening chores and before bed. “I read to better my understanding,” he’d say, “But morning chores come early.” 

He read anything he could, often the Bible, which, he said, “packs a lot of stories in.” He tried to live by its lessons. 

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers,” was Poppy’s favourite Bible quote, “For thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” 

It was true: Poppy and Nanny’s neighbours—even passing strangers—knew the McLarens would never let someone in need be without a hot meal or a warm bed. 

Gwyn watched Ophelia emerge from her hiding place behind a feed bin, feathers anxiously fluffed. Juliet, always the boldest, began to eat the grain Gwyn scattered, and the others, including Ophelia, followed. 

That’s when, thanks to the extra light, Gwyn noticed some old crates pulled out from the wall at the back of the barn, where the original wood plank floor had long rotted away. The part of the barn Gwyn used as a henhouse had a slab floor and other amenities, like heating. But Gwyn’s dwindling income limited repairs at the back to keeping the exterior walls sealed. Living beside the ocean made regular repairs necessary, but the main barn hadn’t housed livestock in decades. 

She walked over to investigate. Behind the concealing crates, the disturbed area of the hard-packed dirt floor covered about four square feet, and went down almost a foot. 

Too tidy for an animal, and it must have taken some time, she thought. 

That night, Gwyn left the light burning in the upstairs hall. It was a sorry waste of electricity, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to shut it off at bedtime. She told herself she was leaving the light on to get safely down the stairs and out to the barn if she heard noise in the night. The dog, Henry, old and mostly deaf, would sleep through anything. 

In the morning, Gwyn felt less worried. The hens, other than the always-skittish Ophelia, seemed happy, and chickens, she felt, were pretty good judges of character. Maybe it was somebody thinking to ask her if she’d lease the barn for something, like growing mushrooms. Sometimes people did come and ask her if they could use part of her remaining eight acres: cut some wood, gather shells and driftwood off her shoreline or even, on one occasion, take her hens after they were too old to be good layers. She let that fellow think she used them for her own stewpot, though she hadn’t eaten meat for years. He didn’t need to know she let the old gals retire and die naturally. 

Anyway, Henry, deaf and arthritic though he might be, was large, with a deep, loud bark. 

Gwyn could also call the Watsons, her closest neighbours, for help. They often told her to call them if she ever needed anything, waving at her when they drove past, dropping by with muffins and offers to clear her snow, reminding her she wasn’t as young as she used to be. 

As though her mirror and her cranky right knee would ever let her forget that. 

The Watsons had moved here from Ottawa five years before upon retirement, buying the house closest to Gwyn’s. 

“We wanted to live amongst real Nova Scotians, join in the authentic maritime lifestyle,” Ruth had said earnestly. Ruth and Larry often said embarrassing things like that. 

But they mean well. 

Sometimes Gwyn had to remind herself two or three times in one conversation the Watsons meant well. 

Not for the first time, Gwyn was glad she lived alone, especially now that she was 80. It was true, coming from a small family and never having married, she didn’t have family to care much about her. But she didn’t have people fussing over her, either. She exchanged Christmas cards and occasional phone calls with two cousins in Ontario and one in Alberta. They dutifully sent her family photos of children and grandchildren she would likely never meet, but after whom she remembered to ask. She kept a list under the phone of who was who in each family to help with that. 

For three days, Gwyn kept an eye on the digging in the barn, but saw no one. Feeling both unthreatened and curious, she decided to just watch and wait. 

On the fourth day, three things happened to make Gwyn take action. 

The first was Ruth Watson stopping by to tell her Larry had spotted someone on the road in front of Gwyn’s house the previous night. The Watsons had bright motion-sensor lights that, to Gwyn’s annoyance, flooded the south side of her property regularly with light when deer and other wildlife passed through. But it wasn’t a deer Larry had seen last night after midnight. It was a person. 

“A strange man,” Ruth said, adjusting her Nova Scotia tartan scarf. “Larry checked our yard and yours, and made sure your doors were locked. He said to tell you he’ll call the police if he sees him again.” 

Gwyn felt irritated. If she had heard someone fumbling at her doorknob in the middle of the night, it would be more alarming than a passing stranger on the road. Also, she had been taking care of herself for a long time, and didn’t need Larry Watson checking her locks at night. 

But they do mean well. 

The second thing was the missing eggs. The hens had already had their winter break from laying, and with the March days getting longer, they were all producing an egg each day, even Ophelia. But for the last couple of days, two of the hens didn’t have an egg when Gwyn went into the barn in the morning. 

It seemed that whoever was digging might also be taking eggs. 

And third, the old blankets Gwyn kept in her truck for Henry to lie on were missing. 

It all made Gwyn wonder if her intruder was staying somewhere on her property. The last week had been mild and sunny every day, but tonight’s forecast was for dropping temperatures, strong north winds, and 20 centimetres of snow. 

Thinking of some of the strangers her grandparents had taken in over the years—the itinerant farm labourer with arthritis who taught Gwyn to play the harmonica, and the young widow with three small children who stayed for several weeks to help during harvest until Poppy found her work with a neighbour—Gwyn wrote a note she hammered to the door of the barn: 

Tonight’s weather forecast Is colder, with snow. Come to the house and tell me what you want with my barn. I’ll give you food and a bed if you mean no harm. —Guinevere (Gwyn) McLaren

Gwyn looked at the note for a minute. Was she being foolish? The Watsons would say so, and her cousins would likely agree. But some instinct told her this stranger meant her no harm. 

Still, an instinct wasn’t certain knowledge. Gwyn went back to the house and got Poppy’s hunting rifle up from the cellar. Cleaning and loading it, she propped it behind Nanny’s old china hutch in the kitchen. 

And then she locked all the doors and waited. 

At nine o’clock that night, the wind began to moan around the house. Snow started falling heavily. 

An hour later, there was a knock at the kitchen door. Gwyn switched on the porch light and looked out. Two people, snow-bedecked and shivering, stood on the steps. The one in front, a tall, dark-haired young man, held up Gwyn’s note. As he shifted, Gwyn caught sight of the person behind him, a woman. She looked young, perhaps 20, and her eyes were large and gentle in her thin face. 

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers. 

Gwyn unlocked the door and stepped back, gesturing them inside. 

“Thank you,” the boy—Gwyn saw he was no older than his companion—said, giving her a funny little half-bow. “I’m Gabe, and this is my girlfriend, Angie.” 

The girl smiled at Gwyn and held out a hand toward Henry, who was only now getting up from his bed beside the woodstove. 

“Take off your outdoor things and put them on those hooks,” said Gwyn pointing, “Then sit down, and I’ll give you something to eat. You’re hungry?” 

“Oh, yes!” said the girl, shedding her coat and unwinding a couple of scarves from around her neck. Their clothes under their outerwear looked grimy. 

“Better wash your hands first,” Gwyn said, and like a pair of obedient children, they went over to the deep kitchen sink and washed their hands well, with Henry fussing around the girl, wagging his tail and whining for attention. 

Once they were sitting at the big old pine table, Gwyn set in front of them bowls of the lentil stew she’d been keeping warm, placing a loaf of brown bread and some butter and honey on the table, along with a pitcher of apple cider.

They ate steadily and quietly without pause. Gwyn refilled Angie’s stew bowl once, and Gabe’s twice, and she let them alone while they ate. Finally, she made a pot of tea and set an apple cake on the table. When the tea was steeped, Gwyn poured them each a mug, getting one for herself. Sitting down, she looked forthrightly from one to the other. 

“And now,” she said, “Why are you digging in my barn?” And stealing my eggs? And where have you been staying?” 

Angie looked up. Her eyes were a beautiful greenish-blue colour. 

“We took a few eggs because we were almost out of food. And we’ve been sleeping in that old shed in your woods. We had a little one-burner cookstove, but we ran out of fuel for it this morning. As for the digging—” Angie looked at Gabe, whose dark eyes met Gwyn’s. 

“You’re related to Allan McLaren?” he asked, unexpectedly. 

“My grandfather,” said Gwyn, surprised. “Gone a long time now.” 

Gabe nodded. “Well, what I’m telling you goes back about a hundred years, to 1921, I think. My great-great grandfather—his name was Mick Abbott—couldn’t get work.” 

“Like a lot of folks,” said Gwyn. 

“Yeah. So he got in with some rum-runners. Just, you know, trying to feed his family. I always knew about that. It was kind of a family legend.” 

Gabe took a swallow of his tea. 

“Anyway, he was my Nan’s grandfather. After she died last month, I was going through some boxes of her stuff. You know old photos, letters, diaries. I like that kind of thing. And I found this really old letter in a sealed envelope. Looked like it had maybe never been opened.” 

Gabe took a bite of his cake. 

“So I opened it,” he continued. “It was a letter, kind of a confession almost. The envelope and paper were yellow and stained in spots, but you could read it. He—Mick—wrote that he and two other guys were running from the law. They were in a boat in a big storm between Shut-In Island and the shoreline. The two guys drowned, but Mick made it to shore in the damaged boat. He found a metal box hidden on board.” 

“He drew a map,” broke in Angie. “It showed this place, back when it was a bigger farm.” 

“I’ve had to sell the land off in parcels,” said Gwyn. “Through the years. Taxes keep going up.”

“The map had your grandfather’s name and showed the farm on McLaren’s Road,” Gabe continued. 

“Shut-In Island was at the top of the map. My family used to vacation in the Bay,” Angie said.

“Anyway, Mick found his way here, and your grandparents took him in, let him stay for a while, no questions asked. He wrote that he helped them finish building a barn. He hid the box under the floor, just before it was laid.” Gabe paused. “And then he kept running until he got to New Brunswick, Edmundston. That’s where we’re from.” 

“We hitchhiked here. Our families think we’re visiting friends.” said Angie. 

Gabe added, “We dug at night.”

“And I guess you didn’t find anything,” said Gwyn, pouring herself more tea. 

Gabe got up and opened the kitchen door, Angie right behind him. They went out into the swirling snow, coming back seconds later with a metal box they must have left on the porch. 

“We found this,” said Gabe, brushing snow off the box and setting it on the table. 

Gabe opened the lid of the box and Gwyn blinked at the dull yellow gleam of the contents. 

“Gold coins,” said Gabe. “Running rum didn’t pay in gold. They must have been into something else. I don’t know what. But…I think maybe he was just too scared to come back for it.” 

“We don’t know exactly what it’s worth yet,” said Angie, “But thousands of dollars, anyway.”

Gwyn stared at the gold for a long moment. “Who does it belong to?”

Gabe smiled. “Maybe to us, because we found it. Or to you, because it was on your property. Angie and I hope you’ll be willing to share, fifty-fifty.” 

Gwyn’s face became stern. “But that wasn’t your plan. You sneaked onto my property, dug secretly in my barn. You were going to keep it all for yourselves.” 

Angie looked down. “Yes, we were.” 

“So,” asked Gwyn, “What changed your minds?” 

“You knew we were here,” said Gabe, “But instead of calling the cops or trying to drive us off, you offered us food and shelter from the storm.” 

“Just like your grandparents did for Mick,” said Angie. 

Gwyn looked at them, just a pair of idealistic children, really. It was unlikely they could find the gold’s rightful owners, and they would be long dead anyway. She thought of her property tax bill. And of the animal rescue groups and food bank she tried to support with what little she could spare. 

“I accept the bargain,” she said. “Now, come upstairs. You need sleep. And you better call your families in the morning.” 

As they climbed the stairs, Gwyn murmured softly, “Some have entertained angels unawares.” 

“Pardon?” asked Gabe from the stair below. 

Gwyn smiled. “Just something my grandfather used to say.” 

Bay Businesses and Artists Creatively Helping Customers Buy Local

Small businesses, artists and artisans are struggling this year, with events and shows being cancelled, and stores having reduced hours and traffic capacity.

One example is the cancelled Red Roof Artists’ show and sale, scheduled for November 28 and 29 at the Community Enterprise Centre. The artists and the venue were unanimous that cancelling was the responsible decision in light of Covid concerns, but missing holiday season sales is a disappointment.

While there’s never been a more important time to shop locally to support businesses and artists, with a responsibility to stay home as much as possible, many of us are shopping more online. When a local business or artist has a website with sales options, we can shop online and still shop local.

When a business or artist we want to support doesn’t have a website, Keith Ayling, Bay Chamber of Commerce president, says we can often still buy from them. Keith says we should call the business or see if they have a Facebook or Instagram account where we can contact them for shopping options. “Many businesses have turned to creative solutions to serve their customers, including curbside pick-up, contact-free meeting and even delivery,” says Keith. “The first and most important step is to reach out to the business and ask.”

The same goes for artists and artisans. The Red Roof Artists, for example, have been sharing their contact information as a scanning code (and as a document, for those without the scanning technology, see link below), so people can still find them. It doesn’t replace the traffic offered by a show, but it helps motivated buyers to connect.

And for that, say the local artists, they are truly grateful.

Red Roof Artists Contact Details

Bay Kids Asked to Make Cards to Add to Bay Seniors Christmas Gift Bags

The Bay Seniors Association is inviting local children and teens to assemble and personalize Christmas cards for local seniors.  The cards will be included with the Christmas gift bags the association is putting together for around 75 local seniors.

Volunteer-created card kits, with a card, envelope and several decorative components, can be picked up from the Community Enterprise Centre (CEC) at 5229 St. Margaret’s Bay Road, currently offering front-door pickup and drop-off Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to noon. Kids are encouraged to assemble and personalize the cards as they wish, adding a holiday greeting. Completed cards should be dropped off at the CEC by December 15.

Rebecca Weickert, president of Bay Seniors, says this is the second time the association has offered this program. “We did it near the start of Covid, and it was a lovely way for families to reach out to seniors. We’ve had many comments from seniors who received one, saying how much it meant to them to get a cheerful card with a caring message from a local child or teen. And the kids had fun opening the kits and using them as a starting point for their own creativity.”

The Christmas in the Bay organizers are also promoting the program, and Weickert says Bay Seniors is delighted to have that help to ensure more families participate. “We will definitely send out all the cards we receive. This is an especially important Christmas for us all to stay in touch and let our neighbours know we’re thinking of them,” she adds.

Michelle MacLean, the Bay Seniors board member who is coordinating the Christmas gift bags, says the association is grateful to the community members who have been donating items to fill the 75 Bay Seniors volunteer-made fabric tote bags being used for the gifts. “We’ve had a wonderful response, with people dropping off puzzle books, socks, pens, eyeglass cleaner, facial tissues, and lots of other goodies. But, says MacLean, “We have room for more,” especially what she calls “the basics,” like boxes (not purse packs) of facial tissue, small bottles of hand sanitizer and puzzle books and pencils.

MacLean says gift bag items can be dropped off at the CEC until December 7.