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June 2000 

A Dream of Three Sisters

teaThe Chezzetcook Tearoom on the Shore Road in West Chezzetcook grew out of dream that three sister had of restoring the old easy going Acadian ways of their childhood. Bernadine Richard and her two sisters remembered a time when life in the village of West Chezzetcook was full of Acadian traditions, music, storytelling and conviviality. They built the Chezzetcook Tearoom so that others could experience their Acadian ways.

The village of West Chezzetcook Nova Scotia has a story worth hearing. The village was settled in the 1760's by Acadians who managed to escape the expulsion . The settlers held fast to their religion, culture and language for many years even though they were largely surrounded by an English speaking population and situated only 30 km. from Halifax. According to Ronald Labelle who wrote a book on the Acadians in Chezzetcook, a French historian visited the area in 1862 and was surprised to see that the costume worn by the villagers was closer to that worn in France than that worn by any of the other French or Acadian group in Canada.

From the 1760's on, the people in the Acadian villages of West Chezzetcook and Grand Desert worked diligently at whatever they could to to make a living . Living close to the land, the villagers fished, grew gardens, and harvested clams from the abundant clam flats in the Chezzetcook Inlet . Money was obtained by taking clams, garden produce and knitted items to the market in Halifax. At first, women walked to market, then gradually they traveled by horse and buggy and as late as the 1940's there was a local bus to transport people and their goods to market.

Even though the work was hard and the road to market long, this was the way of life the people enjoyed. Everyone had time for one another and neighbours and friends were greatly valued. Their entertainment was sitting and chatting, laughing and sharing a glass of sherry and a slice of fruitcake.

In the 1950's and 1960's things started to change. Many of the people began to travel to the city to work and they lost their way of life. People had less time to sit and relax and enjoy the lovely land and the water. There was less time for neighbours and Acadian traditions.

In the winter of 1993, Bernadine Richard and her two sisters dreamed of bringing the Acadian ways back into the village. They wanted to benefit themselves and their community by restoring the old way of life that they had all enjoyed so much. They made a plan to build a tearoom and craftshop. The building began with the help of their husbands who shared in the work.

When the Chezzetcook Tearoom opened, it specialized in home cooked foods like Bernadine's Acadian grandmother had made. Bernadine was proud of the fact that all the food served to the guests was homemade. The three sisters enjoy entertaining and having people come in, sit down and chat. People who live in the area are good storytellers and many talented musicians live close by.

This musical talent was especially evident at Christmas when the Tearoom hosts Acadian Christmas. Acadian musicians and singers entertained guests who came to enjoy Acadian Christmas favourites like pote pie which is a rabbit pie that was traditionally served after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, a turkey dinner and delicious foxberry pie. It was a gala event complete with waiters and waitresses in Acadian costumes.

An interest in their Acadian heritage has kept the sisters and their families following their dream. The Richards have gone to Louisiana and Montana to meet with Acadians who settled there after they were forced to leave Nova Scotia at the time of the deportation. According to Bernadine, it is amazing how much alike everyone is. Acadians who have lived a long way away are still the same- they talk alike, act alike and even look alike!

by Jessie DeBaie

Editor's note: The Chezzetcook Tea Room closed its doors to the public in 1999.

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Highway7 E-zine, a publication of Hatch Media, is an electronic journal with a focus on commercial, historical, cultural and ecological issues concerning the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia in Canada. Topics include a growing resource of currently more than 300 articles. More articles and image galleries are added frequently as new material is brought to our attention. With Highway7.com, our primary aim is to serve, inform and reflect the rural communities on the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia, as well as to acquaint new residents, visitors, tourists, and investors with the special beauty and enormous potential of our region.
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