Dailies: April 6, 2013
Dailies! We haven’t seen THOSE for over a week! Many things have transpired since our time in Steinbach, Manitoba, and after I’ve made sure that we’re all caught up I will be writing posts and backdating them to detail our experiences over the past seven days – make sure you check us out regularly.
This post is the first of many to be written from the small town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, located just across the St. Croix River from Calais, Maine. It’s actually the largest community we have set up in, with nearly 5,000 residents living within the town limits. St. Stephen has a number of distinctive qualities, especially to us Westerners, but one of the more intriguing to us is its relationship with Calais (pronounced “Callus”, we’re told). Despite being separated by an international border, the two towns consider their communities fairly intertwined to the point that their fire departments collaborate on calls on either side of the border and, though the community was primarily settled by fleeing British loyalists after the War of Independence, St. Stephen town elders gave their British-supplied munitions to their American neighbours for a Fourth of July celebration during the War of 1812. This is the stuff of legend, though; we’re interested to see how the two communities interact in the present day.
It is also worth noting that St. Stephen is “Canada’s Chocolate Town.” Brothers James and Gilbert Ganong founded the eponymous confectionery company here in 1873 and, though the area’s shipbuilding industry was dominant until around the turn of the century, Ganong Bros. took over as the major employer around the end of the Second World War. Ganong is Canada’s oldest candy company and continues to be a major player in the town. There is also a Chocolate Museum and a Chocolate Festival every August.
Here we are partnered with St. Stephen’s University, which has the distinction of being the smallest university in the country. It is a very cool school housed in a former mansion / dormitory for Ganong employees near the town’s waterfront. While they do own a handful of other houses in the immediate vicinity, all of the classes, events, meals, and quarters occupy the one building. The students and staff are thus very close and very community focused. We found ourselves welcomed immediately – we went in to meet our main contact, Katie, and before long we were having coffee and talking with a number of the students. That night they prepared a Ukrainian dinner of homemade pierogi and cabbage rolls…we were in heaven.
The bus has a cheery little spot on the far side of their parking lot, and we will be spending the next few days getting our Maritimes sea legs and putting out the word about the workshop. I know I am looking forward to the longer days and the lack of any noticeable snow on the ground.