Daily Archives: November 5, 2012

The Ghost Story Gala of Annapolis Royal

I’d promised to write a blog entry on my trip to Annapolis Royal – and I intend to keep that promise.

It was actually two trips in one.

The first trip took place on October 18th. My host’s daughter – who lives in Halifax – picked me up after I’d finished my shift at work and drove me to Wolfville, where my host’s husband Chick – (his nickname) – was waiting to drive me the rest of the way. Wound up being about a three and a half hour drive – and I am still amazed that they went to this effort to bring me down there. I feel more than a little honored by all of the trouble they went to.

Here’s a picture of my good hosts, Sherry and Chick.

I spent the night at my host Sherry’s home. Basically went to bed as soon as I got there.

The next morning I was up bright and early and we walked over to the school – the Annapolis West Education Centre where I spoke and told stories to two large groups of high school kids ranging from grade 10 to 12. It was a little strange given that two days ago I had been presenting my stories to a large group of Halifax Grammar School students from pre-primary to Grade 2 – but I adjusted fairly quickly.

These kids were awfully keen on learning and were an absolute pleasure to teach.

Then I had dinner and hopped into a third vehicle owned by a couple who had volunteered to drive me home to Halifax.

PART TWO

October 27, 2012 was the Ghost Story Gala itself.

Getting down there was a lot simpler. Belinda had taken that Saturday off to drive me down. The scenery was positively intoxicating and to help add a little intellectual content to our drive Belinda created a Road Kill Statistical Countdown Sheet.

Yes – my wife found something to keep me entertained – and out of her hair.

It was my job to keep a tally on the roadkill we spotted along the way. I was diligent in my task – although there were a couple of critters that were sadly unidentifiable. I didn’t want to guess at what they were. A good statistics man NEVER falsifies his data.

That’s one dead bunny, five dead porcupines, one dead crow, nine dead raccoon, one dead skunk, seven dead tires and one dead badger. I want to be clear with you folks and let you know that the bunny and the badger were both write-in candidates – and the sloppy drawing of both bunny and badger belong to me. I am a writer – NOT a visual artist.

We left at about seven in the morning and drove into Annapolis Royal at about eleven in the morning. We parked outside of the bed and breakfast we were to be billeted at and strolled the town, having coffee and fancy German pastries at a really wonderful GERMAN BAKERY AND CAFE.

http://www.germanbakery.ca/

The pastries were heavenly and the coffee stood up on the table and barked – just the way I like it.

Then we strolled down St. George Street and stopped to poke around through the FAR-FETCHED ANTIQUES AND ART GALLERY – where we were amazed by some Asian curios and had a fine old talk with the owners Tom and Cindy.

http://www.nslocal.ca/results.php?hide_id=2951&hide_stylesheet=4#.UJeXl8VZV-Y

By that time I had a book signing scheduled at MAD HATTER BOOKS.

http://www.baintons.ca/books.htm

This was a really cool little bookstore and leather shop. Belinda browsed for a bit and found herself a pair of really slick driving gloves that she fell in love with. Her hands do not like the winter chill and these gloves will DEFINITELY be a godsend for her. Then she took a stroll while I sat and signed. It was a quiet time of year for the town but we sold a few books and I had a great time meeting some of Annapolis Royal’s citizens.

Following the signing Belinda and I walked back to our Bed and Breakfast. We decided to have dinner before checking in and we ate our dinner at the German Bakery and Cafe. I was dying to try some of their sauerkraut and their schnitzel. The meal was great and we bought a bagful of German pastries to take home with us to Halifax the next day.

The pastries were awesome. Just awesome. Apparently, the German Bakery has an outlet here in Halifax, at the Farmer’s Market. I’ll definitely have to get down there soon to hunt me up some sweet treats. Leave the diet book at home, brother!

We stayed in the Cottage Room at THE TURRET BED AND BREAKFAST – a lovely looking house with a pair of very friendly Border Terriers, Simon and Posy. It was a lovely home, very convenient to the downtown area – and the breakfast was truly splendid.

Then I had to walk down to the KING’S THEATRE, where the Ghost Story Gala was going to be held, for a short sound check – while Belinda had a much-needed nap.

http://www.kingstheatre.ca/

The theatre was a grand little venue and the acoustics of the place were sound.

We ate supper at YE OLD TOWNE PUB, just across the street from the King’s Theatre – where I plowed into a heap of poutine – although in hindsight I wish I’d tried the Potachos – a plate of deep fried lattice potato chips covered with melted cheese, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions.  These are served with sour cream and a zesty salsa.

http://yeoldetownepub.wordpress.com/

And then – The Gala!

GHOST STORY GALA

I’ve spent a lot more time on this blog entry than I usually give to it – but I wanted to hit every single detail.

The Gala opened with Daniel Froese, violinist and fiddler, strolling gypsy-like through the auditorium serenading the audience with his finest fiddle playing.

Following that, Shalan Joudry entertained the crowd with wonderful Mi’kmaq stories.

Guitarist Caleb Miles sung a wonderfully haunting ballad that I actually knew the story behind – a tale of a Halifax serving girl who was hanged for the theft of a single silver spoon.

Following that they had some guy up there telling ghost stories. I think his name was Steve Vernon. He was pretty good, I guess…

All kidding aside, I had a wonderful time up there and I really feel I was at the peak of my story-telling form. It felt wonderful to be standing up there and telling stories, knowing that the love of my life – Belinda – was sitting there in the audience listening. I told two stories and might have told a third – but somebody went and called security to escort me off of the stage.

(grin)

Following a brief intermission Daurene Lewis, past mayor of Annapolis Royal, both entertained and educated us all with a brief talk about Rose Fortune.

You want to learn a little more about Rose. It is a heck of a story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Fortune

Following this, Halifax storyteller Cindy Campbell – whom I’ve worked with many times before – told a bone-chilling tale about a man who met himself. Cindy was definitely at her best for this event as well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down any photos of Cindy from the event but here’s here listing at the Storytellers of Canada.

http://www.storytellers-conteurs.ca/directory-pages/campbell-cindy.html

Finally, the torch singing Jazzette brought the house down with an absolutely smashing entrance and their cool swinging musicality.

I could spend the rest of the morning yacking to you all about what a wonderful time I had – but I just want to end this blog entry on this note.

This is the real reason that I enjoy working in rural areas. There is a real sense of community that goes on just as soon as you step outside of the city. There is nothing with living and working here in Halifax – but it was great to see how this little community bonded together to create this wonderful event. The local folk helped raise the funds, decorate the theatre, opened up their doors and their hearts to the entertainers who travelled here. They came out and filled the crowd and were all truly in the spirit of the festivities.

So – the next time you are wondering what to do with your weekend – you’d be well-advised to take a drive down along the shore to Annapolis Royal. Spend a night in one of their many wonderful bed and breakfasts. Take a tour of the town and find yourself some good eating.

Heck. I can’t be poetic about everything.

I just had a wonderful time.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon