Anyone looking for water front property in Nova Scotia knows that when opportunity knocks you don’t hesitate a moment to open the door.
In 2000 Tim and Lorraine MacDonald, of Halifax were looking for one of those opportunities in the Pictou area. For Tim, a Specialist Representative for Oncology Pharmaceuticals, Pictou was home and Lorraine’s roots were only 50 km down the shore in Antigonish. As kids they both grew up loving the outdoors. Tim spent his summers on the criss-crossing fairways of the Pictou Golf Club and Lorraine honing her skills as a competitive soccer player. Not long after they married and starting a family, the young couple knew they wanted their kids to find a sense of belonging and place in their childhood communities. Cottage life in Pictou County was the answer.
Having spread the word in a few choice areas that they were on the hunt for property they received a call that an old farm lot in Braeshore was being re-surveyed. In Tim’s mind that could only mean one thing. Someone was ready to sell. They made a call, looked at the property once and bought it. Tim says his next three years were spent slinging a bush cutter and a chain saw. “The land had been farmed for years but it was over grown with alders and all of the most unwanted vegetation known to man,” says Tim with a laugh looking out at his now clear view of the water. “Several times during the clearing process I would have gladly sold to a reasonable offer. Thank goodness that offer never came.”
Two years after purchasing the property and whacking weeds Tim and Lorraine put in the 500 meter drive way that would wind down to a small outbuilding that they called, “The Shed.” For the next three summers “The Shed” became their seaside palace. Three bunks, a chemical toilet and an outdoor shower and they couldn’t have been any happier.
“It was amazing,” says Tim. “It was meant to serve as glorified camping with two little ones. We never anticipated how beloved it would become. We would often drive to “The Shed” for a quick visit and end up spending 1, 2, or 3 nights. The kids loved it and so did we!
However when news the baby number 3 was on its way “The Shed started to lose a little of its shine. Tim and Lorraine discussed the purchase of a large travel trailer with a few more amenities or another form of “temporary cottaging.” A permanent cottage was option number eight. But opportunity came knocking again when the contractor they had approached with a plan to perhaps build for them in a few years said that he had an opening in his schedule and could start right way. Tim and Lorraine said that they laughed at the offer. “Not a chance, we told him but three weeks later the foundation was poured.”
Fast forward ten years. Tim, Lorraine and their three children Ellen 15, Abbylou 13 and Kysac 9 have created an amazing retreat. Even though the kids are involved in sports and activities in Halifax when Friday hits they can’t wait to jump into one of the families SUV’s for the hour and half cruise down the 104 to Pictou. A quick stop to Sobeys at the Rotary and into Crown Pizza to pick up their order and they are ready to settle in. Lorraine, a Social Worker employed by the Nova Scotia Health Authority working with the teen health centres in Halifax schools has her summers off. She and the kids move down as soon as school lets out and Tim does a little commuting and weekend trips, but tries to carve out a few weeks in mid summer for a real vacation.
Tim and Lorraine say that when they made their impulsive plan to build the cottage they did have two considerations that they kept to. The cottage was to be modest and it had to be a design that would easily accept a renovation upon retirement.
The cottage sits on a foundation that has four foot frost walls on three sides and an eight foot frost wall on one side which will allow for a full basement addition on the north side in the future. The main level of the house is designed to transition to a garage. The walls are framed for two standard garage doors and the concrete floor has a three degree slope. No walls are load bearing and a center I beam extends the entire floor length.
While a future build is something they will eventually consider they are too busy soaking up summer in northern Nova Scotia to focus too far a head. Tim and Lorraine passed their love of recreation and the outdoors to the kids. Their days are spent kayaking, on the paddleboards or hanging out the in “The Shed” that has been transformed into a kitchy little bunkee for Kysac his teenage sisters and their friends. In the evenings Kysac and Abbylou trek into Stellarton to play with the North Nova United Soccer Club. It was a sad day for Tim when the Pictou Golf Course closed shop. For a little solace he built his own putting green and has been collecting Club memorabilia. And if all of the activity gets to be too much there is also the giant hammock swaying between two strong birch trees in the back yard. “Its perfect, says Tim. “See this…the leaves give you perfect shade but you can see the front yard leading to the beach and a perfect view of the water.”
Yet another perfect opportunity… to catch a nap on a warm summer day.