By Renée Lavallée
My first memory of the East Coast was when I was six years’ old and my family packed us all into the car for the drive from small town Quebec. Our first stop was Prince Edward Island, and my only memory is of a cottage we stayed at and the sandy beaches. When we came to Halifax, I remembered that it rained a lot, and that there were gargoyles outside of our hotel window that scared the living daylights out of me. As a six year old, my East Coast experience was not one that impressed me much, and did not leave a desire to return to this area.
Many moons later, as a 29-year-old woman, I was offered a job at the prestigious Inn At Bay Fortune in Prince Edward Island. I still remember how excited and amazed I was when I crossed the bridge and arrived on this lush green island. This was not the Prince Edward Island of my childhood memories. I immediately fell in love with the island and its people. For two years, I was proud to call myself an “islander”, even though everyone knew that I was a recent transplant. It was during this “island time” that I met a young Haligonian, who eventually stole my heart and persuaded me to call Halifax my home.
I have been living in Halifax for the past five years, and it certainly feels like home. The Haligonians remind me of the folk of the Pontiac, where I grew up. Always friendly, always willing to help and laid back. At first, I wondered if I could live in a world of no 24 hour Vietnamese restaurants or Starbucks on every corner. Could I handle being in a small city where everyone knew your name? It was like being back in Shawville! Oh, how I missed the anonymity of living in Toronto, where no one cared or even gave you a second look. I soon learned to love the small town feel, and found that when I returned to Toronto to visit, I found it busy, loud and unfriendly. My family that comes to visit from Ottawa and Toronto always laughs when they ask me where a specific place is in Halifax and how far it is and my response is always “oh, just around the corner and a few minutes away”.
If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be living on the East Coast, my response would have been “hardly now”, but now I am sure that it was the best move I ever made!
Renée Lavallée (aka Feisty Chef) is a chef, mother, crazy cheese lover.