Welcome, and not so welcome, signs of spring

Great Village Notebook, By Patti Sharpe

Published on May 30, 2014
A lovely backyard and veranda await the new owners of the Elizabeth Bishop House, Great Village.
Patti Sharpe photo

St. James United Church, Elizabeth Bishop House both up or sale

Spring has brought a number of changes to the life and landscape of the community of Great Village. There have been familiar, pleasant signs that a new growing season is upon us — fresh cut lawns, the village roadside banners and the panels returned to the heritage pergola.

At Balamore Farms, strawberry plants are going in the ground and new calves are visible in the fields. These are all welcome signs another year has passed.

Unfortunately, there are changes happening that aren’t pleasant or welcomed. For more than 150 years a congregation of believers (first Presbyterian, later United) has met and worshipped in a large white church at the centre of Great Village. On May 4, the congregation at St. James United Church, faced with a declining and aging membership, made the difficult decision to cease meeting and functioning as a congregation effective the end of September.

The building itself has been on the market for approximately a year, but the congregation had continued to hold Sunday services and the life of the church went on. This most recent decision will leave the church empty and force its members to attend churches elsewhere.

Across the road stands Elizabeth Bishop House on the lot it has occupied since it was moved there from Mount Pleasant (Scrabble Hill) in the latter part of the 19th century. Bishop's grandfather bought the house in 1874, her mother was born and raised there and later returned as a widow with her small daughter in 1915.

Currently owned by a group of individuals from Nova Scotia and the United States, it has functioned for the last 10 years as an artists' retreat. However, the owners have agreed it’s time to move on and the house has been placed on the market. It’s hoped a prospective buyer might emerge from the international circle of Bishop scholars and admirers, or at least someone who will strive to honour the historical and cultural significance of the house. Regardless, the owners are content to wait for the right buyer(s) to appear and a full slate of visitors are already expected this summer.

The most alarming news I’ve received recently is with regard to our post office and postal service. Postmaster Bev Smith has been advised that effective in June, the post office may be open 10 less hours each week. Saturday closure will definitely happen, but negotiations are ongoing to try to maintain something close to the current weekday hours.

The proposed reduction would see the post office closing by mid-afternoon each day with the exception of Wednesday, when closing time has always been noon. Last summer saw drastic changes to our rural mail routes and the installation of community mailboxes. Now we’re faced with reduced service hours at the post office.

I believe we have reason to fear for the future of postal service in rural communities. If you’re concerned or angered by this latest development, you’re encouraged to write to Adam Lintaman, Local Area Manager for Canada Post, at 366 Industrial Ave., Truro, NS B2N 6P0 and voice your support for your local post office.

By the time this column appears in print only a few days will remain to place your orders for the Fire Brigade Auxiliary's annual lobster and potato salad take-out meals. The cost remains a very reasonable $15 for two canner lobsters, potato salad and trimmings, roll and pie. Orders can be placed by calling Betty MacNeil at 902-668-2314. Meals can be picked up from 3 to 5 p.m. on May 24 at the Great Village Fire Hall.

Also plan on having the Auxiliary’s delicious chicken barbecue on July 1 — it’s a holiday and no one wants to cook! More details to follow in my June column.

Patti Sharpe is a long-time resident of Great Village and actively involved in various organizations within her community. Send your news to her at sharpep@eastlink.ca.