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Celebrating a Happy Amherst Day

Community Editorial Panel with Leslie Childs

Happy Amherst Day!

We’ve just had Canada Day and American Independence Day. Don’t you think that Amherst deserves a day of its own to celebrate all the great things that started here?

I do, and I unofficially declare July 26, Amherst Day. Why not? We have lots to celebrate and lots of stories to tell.

In case you haven’t already guessed I love Amherst and I believe that it is the best place to live in Canada. Let me tell you my story.

Did you know that when we retired we drove slowly across Canada looking for a new place to live, not because we didn’t like Amherst but because we want to live someplace that was not work related, someplace we had chosen.

By then our kids were grown and scattered across the country (Yellowknife, Regina and Sydney, Cape Breton) so visiting would always require a long trip…. we could live anywhere that caught our eye. We drove through New Brunswick, Quebec and northern Ontario via Ottawa and then on round Lake Superior to the Lakehead. From there, we looked at Manitoba and followed the Yellowhead Route north through Saskatoon and Edmonton and on to the coast. So many amazing small towns with so much to offer.

Our return route followed the TransCanada Highway straight east and back to Amherst. Again we found many small towns with lovely people and great recreational opportunities. Canada is truly a wonderful, welcoming country and each region has so many pluses.

How to choose?

Once home, we had a meeting, Ed and I. We discussed and analysed and debated. We researched and cogitated and forecast the future. We took our time and repeated the process. Finally we were sure. Amherst won! It was the best place we had seen. It offered everything we wanted: close to major airports and shopping without being metropolitan; a depth of history like no place else in Canada; two sea coasts to explore; magnificent landscapes, great craft opportunities, and really, really good people. Who could ask for more!

In fact, I’d say that we are more in love with Amherst now than when we made our decision. It’s growing and building and starting to offer authentic experiences to residents and travellers alike.

Amherst has started to celebrate itself and all that it means to be the “first town in Nova Scotia”. A walk through downtown Amherst sure feels different than it did just a couple of years ago.

Shop windows are full, storefronts look so attractive, and there’s lots to do: Night Markets, Music in the Park, parades, and Date nights. We have craft markets, clothing stores, a marvellous shoe store, all under one roof at Dayle’s, a heritage building celebrating its 112 birthday this year. Mansour’s a men’s clothing store with 100+ years service now sports a colourful electronic billboard on its north wall; 30 Church offers bright fashion choices; Deanne Fitzpatrick’s looks after everyone’s FibreArts needs.

Just keep looking around. Every downtown shop is housed in a repurposed heritage building and most are 100+ years old. Sharon’s closet, DeMaris, Looking Good along with Vanderkoi’s brightly coloured shops a little farther south on Church; 2 Barker’s old garage and automobile sales on Acadia is fully occupied; our library is in a 100 year old school….and there are so many more.

And when it comes to eating, we now have lots of choices downtown. Every eating establishment offers taste treats from a heritage location. Victoria Faire in the Vail Building (c.1900), The Art of Eating Deli in Moss Jewellers (1897), Crystal Café in Dayle’s (1907), Duncan’s in the old Hickman House (1887), Breakfast at Brittany’s (old police station), Berkinshaw’s in the Douglas warehouse, Bambino’s (c. 1900 house) and soon a brand new restaurant in the 1907 train station.

Clearly Amherst is well on its way to remaking itself. Bravo and thanks to all those entrepreneurs who have stepped up, taken the risk, and offered us all a little something extra in our everyday world

Thank you too for helping Amherst preserve its built heritage, that little something extra that makes us so special.

Happy Amherst Day to all!

Leslie Childs is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Board.

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