Moving to Bear River ‘from away’

Bear River residents John and Jane Fowler were interviewed for the Annapolis-Digby Economic Development Agency. They emigrated from the UK with their sons in 2006. Here is their story:

John’s work was featured in  the local Digby newspaper when he was asked to design and build Captain Ahab’s chair for the Moby Dick movie; filmed here in Nova Scotia. If you are interested in visiting John’s workshop/studio where he handcrafts traditional Windsor chairs and contemporary furniture,  please contact him through his website or through their farm blog.

PS: the video was filmed and produced by our Bear River  filmmaker Tim Wilson.

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46 thoughts on “Moving to Bear River ‘from away’

  1. Sara

    Thank you so much for such a wonderful community web site!!! We are in Ontario and considering a move to the East Coast. Bear River speaks to my soul, but I do wonder about services for my littlest who has some pretty significant medical needs, and my older girls who we home school (currently 10 & 12). Also wondering about work… is there a need for home day care/nursery school in the area? Hoping to visit soon.

    Reply
    1. Jane Fowler

      Hi Sara, Bear River is a wonderful place to raise children in a rural setting. However medical services are not very easy to come by with a shortage of family doctors in the area, thankfully this has never been an issue for our family. There are hospitals in Digby (15 minutes) and Annapolis Royal (25 minutes), so you should probably check if they offer the services your family needs. It’s a 2 1/2 hour drive to the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax. We’ve never had to use their services but I understand it’s an excellent hospital.
      We home schooled our children, and there was always plenty to do, especially if you enjoy the outdoors and nature. Kejimkujik National Park is only 50 minutes away, with family activities, as well as Raven Haven Family Park and kids activities in Annapolis Royal and the Fundy Y, at Cornwallis. I’m no longer involved with small children so I can’t really answer your question regarding the need for day care/nursery school.
      You would be made very welcome if you decide to visit our friendly village and see for yourself if you think rural living would be a good fit for your family. Jane

      Reply
      1. sarabeamish

        Thanks Jane! We currently have to travel about 2 hours to get to the children’s hospital from where we live in Ontario, so we’re no stranger to those sorts of travel. Can’t wait to come and visit.

  2. Kerry Gillman

    I discovered Bear River through some wishful thinking on the part of my daughter and I. I have always had a compelling urge to move to Canada, my dad is Canadian by birth as well as my great grandfather. My daughter Jazmin seems to have the same compelling urge, perhaps our roots are pulling us back.

    I am currently trying to convince my husband that moving to Canada is the best thing we could ever do. He is concerned as he has type 1 diabetes, we are worried about the cost of his medication. We also had a severe motorbike accident last year and he is concerned that the cold winters will affect us both with all of our broken bones and lumps of metal. i will also need surgery again in the future as I will need a hip revision. Can anyone help by letting us know how the medical system works there.

    Here’s hoping that we will be able to move to you lovely village within the next couple of years. I am planning on visiting in August this year.

    Kerry

    Reply
    1. Jane

      Hi Kerry,
      Once you have Permanent Residency you are eligible for Canadian Health Care. There is a service called YREACH, run by the Fundy YMCA, set up to advice and answer questions for new and prospective immigrants. They would be able to tell you what you would be eligible for and how to register for Health Care.
      You can find details on the FundyY website or contact Jill Balser at jill_balser@ymca.ca or at 902-638-9622.

      As for the cold winters for actually find we cope with the cold easier than in England because it us so much drier. We lived in Cornwall which is very wet so you may not have the same experience.
      Hope this helps,
      Jane

      Reply
      1. Kerry Gillman

        Hi Jane

        thank you for your reply, I have been saying to my husband that it is not so much the cold that causes the aches and pains but the damp weather. We live in Somerset so we are more than used to a bit a rain. I will contact Jill and see if she can help

        many thanks

        Kerry

    2. Kerry Gillman

      Really excited, I have just found out that Both of my children have Canadian citizenship as well as myself. We are still planning on moving to Bear River but it looks like it will be in two years time after I finish my degree in Fine Art.

      There is a house that I am really interested in, it is 934 Riverview Road. It has been on the market for quite a long time and is not listed at the moment. Can anyone give me any info on this property, who owns it and why has it been on the market so long. I really love the look of this house and the garage is amazing.

      Kerry

      Reply
  3. apreemiemom

    Hello…I am new here 🙂 My family and I are considering moving to BR. It’s looks so beautiful and we really want to find a place away from the fast pace of Alberta. I have contacted a few realtors…unfortunately..every response has been to steer us away from BR. The comments have been that’s it’s too isolated, there are no amenities and the people are a little “different”. Advice/thoughts sooo welcomed….thank you kindly!

    Reply
    1. Flora Doehler

      Hi there DJ.
      I LOVE living here and I would say the majority of people who live here would agree. But it’s not everyone’s ideal community and there are challenges to living in a small community that is a 1 1/2 hour drive from the nearest movie house or big box store.
      I don’t have small children so I can’t speak to facilities, but there are some families here with small children and I’m hoping they will add to the discussion.
      I mostly never feel isolated here…perhaps the internet plays a role. But the other big part (for me) is that my social life is richer now than when I lived in Toronto because I have time to be with people and people have the time and the motivation to be social. I think that’s because the ‘activities’ are self-created. So if moms want to join a play group, they organize one themselves, or approach the Y in Cornwallis to set one up.
      There are lots of beautiful communities in Nova Scotia. If I were you, I’d make a list of all the ‘must haves’ ‘perks’ and include the ‘activities’ that you’ve identified. Then rank those in priority and then score the communities that you’re considering.
      I’d also write a journal page or two describing what your ‘dream’ life and place looks like and what everyone is doing. That might help you to sort this out.
      Please note that Bear River uses amenities from Digby (15 min) to Annapolis Royal (25 min) and children from Bear River are bused to schools in both communities.
      Finally, my advice to you is to come and visit and see for yourself. And check out our blog about activities in the community to get a feel for some of the events that happen here.
      http://bearriverarts.wordpress.com

      PS: People here different? Than where? People are friendly, welcoming and there are many people whose families go back generations, there is one of the highest concentrations of artists in Nova Scotia here, and overall many independant thinkers and former hippies. It’s eclectic and creative. In the last 6 years there have been entrepreneurial initiatives in niche markets like vineyards/wineries, First Nation culture, eco-friendly/green products and services, organic small-farm gardens, heritage vegetable growing.
      Although the technological age enables people to work remotely, the continuing barriers around settlement in Bear River are the lack of a variety of skilled, paid employment, the scarcity of doctors and the problem of children being bused out of the community for school.

      Reply
      1. bolerame

        We too are looking at moving to Nova Scotia from BC within the next 6 months. One of the places that has caught our attention is Bear River. You had mentioned that the nearest movie house is 1 1/2 hours away…. we love going to the movies. Is there no theatre in Digby? Where is the movie house that is 1 1/2 hours away?

      2. Flora Doehler

        There are movie houses (Cineplex) in Yarmouth and Kentville. Both are about 75 = 90 min drive.
        However, there is a wonderful community theatre in Annapolis Royal, The Kings Theatre and that is 30 min away. They have one theatre so the movies are limited, but pretty top quality. The theatre also hosts live performances. http://www.kingstheatre.ca/

    2. healingadventuretravel

      Hi DJ,
      What a shame that the real estate agents are so negative (and clearly ill-informed) about Bear River.
      I moved here from Ontario 7 years ago with my two children (then ages 7 and 11) and have loved every moment of it. If nature, homeschooling and close knit community living are what you are looking for then I think Bear River is ideal.

      I think there are lots of young families here…I live on Riverview Road and one morning on my way to work I counted over 17 children waiting for the school bus on our street. That was a couple of years ago and there’s been a few wee ones born since, my own included.

      Although my older two children are now 14 and 18 years old, I now have a two year old so am very much plugged into the Mom and tot scene here. We have a lovely play group that meets every Friday, the host of which is a certified doula and LaLeche League leader. There are beautiful, kid friendly walking trails and swimming holes in very close proximity to town as well as a sweet little ice cream parlour and a family owned pizza place that even offers gluten free options! As of March this year I’ll be starting to teach art classes for children and youth, and there are a number of festivals and events in the area that my kids have enjoyed participating in over the years.

      Now that our older boys are teenagers, Bear River gets a little boring for them. However, my husband helped remedy that by building a “man-cave” gathering place in the loft of the barn for our two older sons complete with pool table, 1/2 pipe for skate boarding, a punching bag and sound system. Our barn becomes quite the gathering place for teens during the summer but I love having them around.

      Hopefully this helps you out a little. I agree with Flora that it would be wise to visit, check out a few towns and weigh all the pros and cons before making a decision.

      Best of luck finding your new home!

      Reply
      1. ackstu

        Hello! I wanted to drop a note and just thank you for all of this information. We’re moving to Bear River this spring with 4 children and it was amenities for them that I was wondering about. We’re homeschoolers so I’m really happy to hear you say the area is ideal!

      2. Robert Scott Dobie

        Great Bear River thread Flora. My friend and I have the old Cook Farm on Sissiboo Road and spent half of August and September there this year cleaning the place up. Also as it turns out a very good friend of mine from Vancouver is now the owner of an old wood mill near Annapolis Royal. His family has been in the area for a long time. Just happened that he picked the place up about a year after the purchase of the old Cook Farm. I managed to get together with Debbie Cook this past summer and got enough info to trace the old farm back as far as 1861 through old records but think it is a bit older than that. I will be back in April 2017 to carry on with the clean up and hoping to have the place in a livable state in a couple years. I think it may be one of the oldest places in the area and have it dated back to Nehemiah Chute in 1861 so far. As for the folks of Bear River I would have to say they are the most friendly people I have ever met. The Fowler’s across the road are awesome and everyone else I have met from the area has been very helpful. Looking forward to getting to Bear River full time this Spring. Lots of artists like myself and lots of good people. Can’t wait to get back to Bear River in the Spring. Lots of work to do on the old farm but what a great place to set up an art studio. Cheers to Bear River, Robert Scott Dobie P.S. if anyone in the area has any info on the history of the old Cook farm I would be interested in hearing from you. Thanks

  4. Roxy Gaddes

    My husband and I have been looking (via internet mls) at properties in Nova Scotia as we plan move there when we retire (in the next year or so if I can stand to wait that long). We have spent the past 15 years in Alberta, spent a year in Courtenay on Vancouver Island, a year in the Okanogan, I’m originally from Southern Ontario and my husband from Victoria B.C. I’ve always loved the east coast so we’ve targeted that as our next and last move. I tripped over this area while researching and that’s it; I’ve fallen in love!!!! I’ve been drinking
    up this site all week and I can’t express how impressed I am with it and the sense of community it relays.
    But to the point. I’ve noticed some of the properties have dug wells. Is water an issue? Is drilling a deeper well problematic?
    Any info and advice on things to look for when purchasing in your area would be greatly appreciated as it would help us narrow down prospective homes, especially as our work commitments, price of airfare and sheer distance make it difficult to just pop over to Nova Scotia whenever we see an interesting house for sale.
    So if you have some advice about the area I would love to here from you.
    thanks

    Reply
  5. Julie

    Hi there! About to move to Bear River from the kootenays, in BC, with 8yr old daughter in tow. I see there are a few comments bout children and homeschooling. Is there much of a non-religious homeschooling community there? Are there schooling co-ops between families? I’d love to hear back from anyone with young(ish) children… Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Julie

      Hello Bear River! Our house has sold and we are close to being en route… (August 26th is our magic date)… I’ve enjoyed this blog immensely and I’ve really appreciated all the email replies I received. Each time I hear of a new carnival, festival or workshop I’m missing, it makes me want to just drop everything and run… I can’t wait to get there! PS… Does anyone have thornless blackberries there or do I need to bring my own suckers? ;~)

      Reply
      1. Flora Doehler

        @ Julie – Speaking of blackberries, we don’t have cell phone reception in the village. ha ha. There may be people with thornless blackberries and certainly there are nurseries, but just to be sure, I would bring a few cuttings.
        Will you be driving? Have you rented a have a place to stay here? Congratulations on your house sale and on new beginnings. Enjoy the journey.
        @ Roxy – I think that the most difficult aspect of life here is the job shortage…especially in the rural areas. The jobs that do exist pay far less than those out west. If you take a look at some of the blogs listed here in the sidebar under “Bear River Sites” you’ll get a sense of people’s lives here in this village. I’m referring to
        Blueberry Hills Farm
        Life at Sledding Hill
        and my own blog
        Our Bear River Adventure

        As for what to look for in a house….Since heating is a huge chunk of the cost of living, take into consideration the age of the heating system and how well insulated the house is or factor in the cost of adding insulation. Water is a big issue too. Most rural homes are on wells and it’s important to make sure that there is enough water. Digging a well is part art, part science and it’s impossible to predict how far down to drill or how many holes it will take to find a good water source. This has been my observation with friends who have had new wells drilled. Eventually it works, but sometimes it takes a few tries for the well company to hit that liquid gold.
        I always suggest that people rent first in order to get a better feel for the community before making the decision. But most people want their own nest immediately and are reluctant to rent and to have to move yet again. Even better would be to come to Nova Scotia for a month long visit and travel around.

      2. Julie

        Thanks Flora! I don’t own a cell phone, so I’m safe! ;~). We will be looking for something to rent right away, or at least somewhere to plug in our deep freezers! (Anyone know of or have a rental?). Yes, we are driving, and I have no idea how long it will take us to get there… We might meander a bit en route…

  6. Jennifer Groeneweg

    I have been enjoying reading all the blog comments this evening, and just wish to add how blessed I feel to have been accepted into the beautiful community Bear River is- I feel I am ‘home’ finally :). It is coming up on a year that we have been here, and although it has not been with out struggles and such, I am so grateful for the outpouring of support from all the wonderful folks I have met so far- staggered by their generosity and acceptance….I am proud that I get to say, ‘I live in Bear River, NS’ 😀

    Reply
  7. Brian

    I had a very good experience in and around Bear River and remember it and the people who I stayed with and the townspeople very fondly.

    During my Hippie days, I visited Bear River during a summer in the early 1970’s and slept outdoors on a piece of land which had a one-room cabin- the “landlord” lived there – and a paritially sheltered outdoor kitchen. There was a goat who liked to dance on top of a wooden wheelbarrow. There were others who were staying there including a young woman and her baby. I still have pictures I took of them and others who stayed there.

    I remember how high the bridge is over the river especially when the tide is out, the boats are “drydocked” then. I also ate at a very “homey” restaurant, of which I don’t remember the name, that was on a hill.

    Reply
  8. Karen Jones

    I would love to live in Bear River. sitting here in Winnipeg where on March 4 it is 28 degrees below zero with a wind chill factor of minus 36. also in Winnipeg, Crime Capital of Canada, teenage pregnancy capital of canada, child poverty capital of canada, car stealing capital of canada. Also uglier than heck. (except for river) it is so flat that when your dog runs away from home you can see it for three days! But the attraction is ‘a job’. I have several degrees, diplomas, certificates etc, but my problem is I don’t really know how to do anything. Well, I have a 3 year diploma in horticulture from Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. But here in Manitoba this does me no good. sometimes I feel like the heck with it, I should just move to Nova Scotia. But would that be wise? I think that where ever you live if you are poor it is pretty difficult and you can’t eat the scenery. The scenery won’t pay your medical bills. Another question that has been at the back of my mind but I have been reluctant to voice is ‘why is it easier for someone to immigrate to Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick for that matter than for someone from Manitoba to emmigrate? I would love to emmigrate to Nova Scotia, I already speak English and already have an education, I pay taxes, I would be a good citizen. I am fairly healthy so I wouldn’t drain the health care system. Do you know how hard it is to get a job in Nova Scotia if you don’t live there? Well, think of how hard it is to get a job if you do live there and multiply that by 100.
    Well, life is short. I know I want to live in the Annapolis Valley. It is incredibly beautiful. Nice climate. Good for gardens. Would I be totally insane to just give up my job and go live there? I will listen to all advice. Thanks, Karen

    Reply
    1. Flora Doehler

      Karen, I hope the weather has warmed there! Doesn’t it seem that it is always worse just before the warm weather comes along.
      Perhaps you could pose some of those agricultural employment questions to the people at our local economic development agency. ADEDA (Annapolis Digby Economic Development Agency). They would at least be able to point you in the right direction.
      If employment is key in your decision to take the leap, I would do extra research and planning. It is the biggest challenge of rural living, but not insurmountable. Perhaps you could get a leave-of-absence from work and come and try out life in the valley. Good luck!

      Reply
    2. Russell Quinn

      ”About working”,,,,I have heard many times and applied it to myself,,,,”You have to do what you have to do”,,,,meaning there are jobs here,you must not be so selective and enjoy the community as thats what you seem to be looking for. If you had say $5000.00 when you got here you could establish yourself well. And know that starting over is difficult but it seems worth it to us now after 12 years. Happy Canada Day,,,and good luck.
      Russell,,,,Bear River N.S. and loving it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply
    3. Ginny

      Hi Karen,

      Just saw Russell’s response to your post and totally agree.
      We emigrated to Canada from the UK in ’97. Spent 7 years in Calgary then ’emigrated’ again to Bear River. There are plenty of legal ways to make money and earn a living here. As for not eating the scenery – well you can when it’s a big organic garden !
      Most of us here are on a tight budget, but we make it work. We grow, we trade, we donate, we help each other. I can’t say that it’s not hard work, but there is a great sense of community and I would rather be living here with less disposable income than have a ‘proper’ job and be shoulder to shoulder with people in the UK.
      Horticultural opportunites seem to be on the up here. I grow organic veg transplants and sell them at the farmers’ markets and business is brisk.
      There comes a point when you realise that life IS too short and you just have to bite the bullet and get on with it. Insanity rules !

      Good luck with your decision.

      Ginny

      Reply
    4. Todd DeFrank

      Dear Karen,
      I feel the same way. I am 60 and I have been living in Arizona, although I am originally from a small town of 1800 people. But I have been trapped in cities, financially, and can’t get out. I have a Bachelors and Associate’s degree, but small towns are my nature to me.
      Thank you for your time.

      Reply
  9. iris hunter

    Hello its Iris again. I wonder if someone can answer a few questions I have. I notice most people have electric heat, isn’t than terrible expensive? I now the summers are cooler, which I don’t mind at all, but is winter longer than Ontario. I do grow Rhodos here which is a real challlenge as Ontario has alkaline soil and I have had to make it acidic with a lot of work. I also have 150 roseblushes (my passion). I do decorative painting as a hobby. How is shopping in Bear River as I know there is no large town in the area. Thankyou

    Reply
    1. Flora Doehler

      Hello Iris,
      Quite a few people use wood heat here. Personally I think that the most cost effective way to heat a place is to insulate, insulate, insulate. A number of government programs in recent years have encouraged this and what a difference it makes! Strangely enough, it is easier it insulate a wooden house (the majority of housing in Nova Scotia) than a brick house in Ontario.
      The temperatures in Bear River are moderate…hence the grape growing.
      Our soil definitely is acidic.
      Digby is 15 minutes away by car and has 2 major grocery stores, a couple of big box stores, a library, a handful of restaurants, an arena, a high school etc. The town website is http://www.digby.ca/
      Bear River shops are listed in this website. There is a farmer’s and artist’s market on the waterfront on Sundays in the summertime where you can buy local produce too.
      Your rose bushes would be tough to say goodbye to, I’m guessing!

      Reply
  10. iris hunter

    So nice to hear all your comments. Thankyou Suzanne. Catherine I am getting my house in order to sell. I live a few miles from you in Brooklin. It used to be a lovely village but has now become a busy bedroom community for Toronto and new residents neither seem to care about the history of my village. Traffic has gotten way out of hand as as Ajax’. Definately considering Bear River so all comments appreciated.

    Reply
  11. Suzanne

    Well, my husband Jack and I also cannot wait to move to Bear River – we plan to relocate in the coming Spring 2011! So we are busily making our current house market ready and get on with becoming residents of this lovely town! We visited last August the province in our search for the “right spot” and we felt Bear River call our names – my husband is a photographer, woodworker, makes wind chimes and such – I am a reiki master and crystal healer – I make my own bath salt blends (I have a small home-based business) and we felt the connection right away with the area of artisans, creative souls who are living a somewhat “quieter” life than we have here in Ajax Ontario (commuting to work in Toronto etc). So, we both look forward to getting to know new neighbours, new friends and like souls in our journey of self discovery, tranquility and good times!
    See you all in the Spring!
    From our hearth to yours!
    Suzanne & Jack

    Reply
      1. Suzanne

        Hi again Flora ! How lovely to hear from you… we are so excited about the prospect of moving and being “consequence free”…*grin*
        looking forward to meeting you and everyone when we finally settle in the place that we feel is “home”… challenges, adventure and a time to be!
        and it seems we are not alone in our journey to such a delightful environment!
        Cannot wait for the wild roses and apple trees to greet us!
        Jack will be there in a few weeks to check out possible properties. “Life in the fast lane” is definitely over for us and we are ready to have “Life in the sane lane”…
        Cheers and blessings to you

      2. Suzanne

        Hello all ! Well, we shall be there by end of May!! our house is sold in Ontario and just working on the logistics of moving and such – packing, de-cluttering etc and the even more interesting job of figuring out what to take, what not and how it will be to transport our 3 fur faeries (aka our 3 cats) along with!
        in any event… see you all just in time for the Bear River Winery to reopen!! Good times!!
        Cheers!
        Suzey & Jack

      3. Suzanne

        I cannot believe how quickly 3 weeks have passed since we arrived in Bear River… I just felt a thank you was in order to this community for making Jack and I feel welcome and at home in our new surroundings! I do believe I am going to like it here! Now, if I could just get the house fully unpacked, painted, etc etc and such…:)
        Blessings to all this sunny (finally – lol) day here in the village!
        Cheers

  12. iris hunter

    I am a widow living in Ontario who is looking or a village to move to. I have been watching the real estate in Bear River and all news pertaining to the village that I can find. I have lived in a village for most of my life but subdivisions have increased the pop from 1700 to 20,000 and is continuing to climb and I hate it. I do decorative painting and from what I have read there are many artisans living in Bear River. More reasons are I would like to move is I love country walks with my dogs (2) and I an avid gardener, particularly roses and rhododendons. Would like to hear from other people who have moved there and how they are intergrating. What is the weather like.

    Reply
    1. Catherine Sherwood

      Hello Iris Hunter, I have just moved to Bear River from the States, but originally from Canada. Born in Montreal, then lived 10 or so years in Toronto, then on to Vancouver. Met my new husband and ended up in the southern states. We stumbled upon this place as we were touring Nova Scotia. I love it here, the Tidal Village (as it is called). The short time that I have lived here has been quite an experience. Purely positive. I have lived in the fast cities but when rush hour is 10 or so cars, you just have to love living in a village so quaint. Digby, the big town is only 10 min. away and even that has it’s own charm. The weather so far has been opposite of what occurs up North closer to Halifax, not as severe because we are more inland. I give this place 2 thumbs up. It will be our last place of residence.!!!

      Reply
      1. Flora Doehler

        Catherine, welcome to Bear River! I look forward to meeting you and your husband. Do check out the Bear River Arts and Action site for information on some of the local events coming up in the village! http://bearriverarts.wordpress.com
        And thanks for your response to Iris too! I’m glad that you’ve had good vibes about the community!

    2. Flora Doehler

      Iris, what a beautiful name! Are you thinking of visiting Nova Scotia this year? Meeting people would probably make it easier for you to assess the situation. From my experience, people are more than happy to talk about their ‘how I came to live in this village’ story! Sorry that I missed your email……glad to see Catherine picking up the slack!
      There are huge rhododendrom bushes growing down at the waterfront. I’d only ever seen hedges like that in England. I don’t know if they are a special variety, but people say we have a ‘microclimate’ here….hence the grape-growing.

      Reply
  13. John

    Throughout our research to find a place to settle, my wife and I keep turning back to Bear River. The biggest barrier for people like us, and I imagine most young families, is the lack of a school. I have to say, this is one of those things Bear River will have to address, or forever bleed citizens to other communities.

    I have no idea how many kids live in Bear River, but lets face it… they’re the future. There are communities with far smaller populations that have schools. I have to imagine that there is some way to make it work in Bear River.

    Reply
    1. Flora Doehler

      Hi John,
      You and your wife will just have to come and visit Bear River and talk to your counterparts with young children to know how satisfied they are or aren’t with the school bussing situation. 😉 The school bus goes practically door to door and Digby is literally 15 minutes away, and has French immersion and a high school, so it seems to be working for many.

      Naturally it would be better if there was an elementary school here and people would still like to see one here. Perhaps the population will have to grow in order to put the pressure on government to reinstate the school, whose funding was withdrawn about 10 years ago. Local activism and its pressure on government seems to be a long-standing tradition in Nova Scotia and in my opinion, is the only way Bear River could possibly get its own school at this point.

      There are a number of families home-schooling in and around Bear River. Local school and medical services are a real challenge all over rural Nova Scotia. The entire provincial population is less than 1 million so the funds are spread thinly.
      Moving here for me from Toronto was a shock in terms of the lack of funds for things that we took for granted like municipal water and sewer , sidewalks, well-funded public buildings, free recreational services.
      I remember one of the first public meetings I went to where I discovered that a large chunk of the population volunteered their services for community work that would have for sure been municipally funded without a question back in the city.

      In economic terms, I suppose this keeps the housing prices low. In social terms it means that community members have a personal investment in the village and feel a responsiblity for the shared assets of the community.

      I do hope that others will weigh into this discussion. I’m in the wrong demographic to give you a truly authentic reponse.

      Thanks for writing John. I hope to see you here someday……how about in two weekends. We’re having our first Culture Days event……mostly on donations and volunteerism — natch’.

      Reply
  14. Bear River Board of Trade Post author

    Jennifer,
    Thanks for your enthusiasm about our village and especially about this excellent video from our award-winning, sometime NFB filmmaker Tim Wilson.
    Seeing is believing and even for Bear Riverites, it’s interesting to hear what inspires other people to move from thousands of miles away to come to Nova Scotia.
    There always seems to be from 15 to 30 houses for sale on mls. Our postal code here is B0S 1B0, in case you want to delve further! I’m sure there will be one with your name on it, if and when the time comes. There’s always room for one (or 4) more in Bear River.
    Cheers!
    Flora

    Reply
  15. Bear River Board of Trade Post author

    John,

    Thanks so much for your letter.
    The web is a great way for this community to reach out to the world and to show and tell about our community. I’m guessing that there are other places tucked away across this country that we will start hearing about via the web.

    We are lucky to have so many people here who appreciate the beauty of our surroundings and who contribute their good energies to helping develop this community…..people like the Fowlers in the film and like the folks at the Annapolis-Digby development agency who funded the film and give us total access to use it too.

    It is a leap of faith to move to a small community in a distant province and no doubt for many it’s tough to unhook from the economic, cultural and material advantages of the city. It’s not for everyone, but when it works, it’s pretty wonderful.

    I hope you can come and check us out sometime!

    Thanks for writing – Flora

    Reply
  16. Jennifer

    This is absolutely lovely! Beautifully shot and edited. I think this storytelling approach is the way to go.

    We’re also from Vancouver and I can’t even tell you how appealing this is to us – particularly with a 12-year-old and one on the way. It’s heartbreaking when I compare Bear River to our current neighbourhood! Vancouver’s a great place to live if you’re single and stupidly rich.

    Selfishly I hope not too, too many people see this and move in before we get a chance to get our act together and make the big trek!

    Reply
  17. John

    I think the blog is great. Most innovative approach to promoting a small community that I’ve ever seen. Communities far larger than Bear River could learn a thing or two from your approach. LOVE that you use YouTube and a Flickr pool. Clearly somebody there gets the web.

    What confuses me is why are more people who can work outside of urban areas – i.e. telecommuters, and crafts people on Etsy – not moving to places like this.

    My wife and I live in Vancouver. Great city, but we think $1.4 million for a crack house is a bit pricey. Seeing as we rarely leave our villiage-like neighbourhood anyway, we’re thinking of moving to a small town. Just trying to figure out how to make it work, and Bear River is definitely in the running.

    Reply

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