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MINDFUL TRAVEL: An open apology to Weymouth

For years, Sandra Phinney thought Weymouth was as boring as a bottle of flat ginger ale. After a recent trip, she's singing the praises of the Digby County village. Story and photos by Sandra Phinney

Weymouth, I owe you an apology. 

For years I’ve felt sorry for you — as if you were a poor kissin’ cousin who just missed the train. In fact, I also thought you were rather ho-hum. Boring as a bottle of flat ginger ale.

For longer than I can remember, it seems that your only claim to fame was that amazing drinking water that always gushed from a pipe in front of the old Jones Bottling Plant on the north end of the main drag. It’s still gushing out and must be the sweetest, cleanest water on earth. So at least you had that going for you.

Then, last summer, I got to know you a bit.

I now eat humble pie — and sing your praises.  

For starters, you have that lovely old Goodwin Hotel. My husband, Barrie MacGregor, and I had the pleasure of spending a night there last summer. It felt as if we were back in the '70s when life was simpler and so was food. 

You see, I’ve grown weary of hotel menus that make me feel stupid when I can’t pronounce the entrée, nor understand what the selection means. 

But when I read finnan haddie in cream with mashed potatoes on the menu, I thought to myself, "This, I can understand." Ditto for coconut cream pie. As I hadn’t had either since God was young, it didn’t take long for me to order. And, yes, both were delicious. Barrie had pan-fried haddock, and was suitably impressed. 

4. Pat ComeauPat Comeau and her late husband, Arnold, bought the Goodwin Hotel 46 years ago.

After dinner, we had coffee on the front veranda and gawked at the cars going by. Traffic in downtown Weymouth was moderate at about a dozen vehicles in an hour.

The Goodwin Hotel is owned by Patricia (Pat) Comeau. She and her husband, Arnold, bought the 10-room hotel 46 years ago. After Arnold passed away, Pat decided to carry on. She runs it with the help of two sons and part-time staff. She’s also a rug hooker. Every chair in the dining room features her handiwork; several of her tapestries grace the walls.

The hotel has been around upwards of 125 years. A complimentary letter from a guest dated 1897 is posted on the dining room wall. Although the hotel has occasionally been remodelled or refurbished, it felt as if we were walking into a time warp.  

Speaking of time warps

Before having dinner, we ventured up the Weymouth Falls Road where some homes have been abandoned. It’s as if people walked out the front door one day and simply never returned.  

I felt a sense of sadness here, and wondered: “If these old homes could talk, what would their stories be?”

Likely most of the stories are buried with their owners at the Mount Beulah Baptist Church Cemetery, on the same road. 

5. One of the abandoned homes on the Weymouth Falls RoadOne of the abandoned homes on the Weymouth Falls Road.

The cemetery is a lovely place, tucked away in a clearing in the woods at the end of a tree-canopied road. Easy to see why it’s named Peaceful Valley. There was evidence of a recent burial as the earth looked newly turned and the flower arrangements were still fresh. Somehow, it was comforting to see a small smiley-face balloon atop the mound of earth. 

Another thing I love about you, Weymouth, is how you manage to pull off those palate-pleasing historic teas at St. Thomas Church. These teas have pulled me back more than once. They used to be $7 per person. Now it’s a goodwill offering. I suspect (and hope) that the volunteer organizations responsible for them each week are making more money this way. 

For sure the teas are worth more than seven bucks, we’ve always been served a never-ending selection of sandwiches and sweets — and the calories to go with them. You can also get a “take home” plate for a donation. The one I recently brought home to Barrie could have fed a family of four.

Although the teas are held every Thursday afternoon from July to September, it’s worth visiting St. Thomas Church any day of the week. Why? The church vestry houses a mini museum, which has a lot of curios including a small tree that is decorated with tea cups. But what I especially enjoy is seeing a replica of The Electric City, created by a local scout troop a few years ago. The troop used 10,000 match sticks to complete the project.

Back to Weymouth

Here’s something else I love about you — Guy’s Frenchys! I visit Frenchys all over this end of the province but yours is the best. I always come away with an armful of loot. Designer clothes, a tablecloth and some interesting books were part of my last haul. Although it’s technically located in St. Bernard, it’s so close to Weymouth that it’s known as the Weymouth Frenchys. 

See how things are racking up in your favour, Weymouth? And there’s more!

Last summer, I saw a nondescript sign on the road just past the place with that amazing spring water. It said "Folk Art for Sale." What a treasure trove! 

8. A small selection of the work that folk artistSome of the work of folk artist Hika Wagner. You can find her work at the Saturday farmers market in Belliveau Cove as well as at her home.

Hika Wagner lives there with her parents. The young folk artist has boxes and boxes of various sized driftwood pieces on which she’s painted birds, chickens, cats and wild animals. They are precious. They are also cheap. I don’t believe she is charging enough for what she’s doing. You can also find her at the Saturday farmers market in Belliveau Cove.

Back to Weymouth. If you love canoeing and kayaking, consider hooking up with Hantford Lewis in Weymouth Mills, just three kilometres up the road from the hotel. Hantford operates Hinterland Adventures & Gear, and takes people out on day trips on Saint Mary’s Bay, wilderness excursions into the Tobeatic, and full moon paddles on the Sissiboo River. I’ve been on more than one excursion with Hantford, and can vouch that it’s always memorable.  

Of course, there’s the cultural interpretive centre at Sissiboo Landing. It’s a great place to learn about the history of Weymouth, and to view first-hand some of the crafts and art made by the locals. I’d love to meet the two carvers who sculpt birds and animals with power saws, and have added this to my list for the next time I visit, which I’ll plan for a Friday in order to take in Music on the Sissiboo (free on Friday nights throughout the summer!) 

OK, Weymouth. I think I can stop feeling sheepish about not giving you your due. And I have this to say about eating humble pie — it’s not nearly as tasty as the coconut cream pie at the Goodwin Hotel.


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