Top News

Bessie North House restaurant in works for historic Canning home

Susan Meldrum and David Smart are in the process of turning their humble abode in Canning into the Bessie North House Farm & Restaurant. (AppleHead Photography)
Susan Meldrum and David Smart are in the process of turning their humble abode in Canning into the Bessie North House Farm & Restaurant. (AppleHead Photography) - Submitted

CANNING - A familiar homestead at the foot of the North Mountain is about to become the setting of a one-of-a-kind culinary experience.

Bessie North House Farm & Restaurant co-owners Susan Meldrum and David Smart are in the process of getting ready to open a 12-seat, farm-to-table restaurant out of the 130-year-old farmhouse previously owned by a well-known teacher who worked her way into the hearts of many within the community.

“If you live in the Canning area and you’re 50 or older you were probably taught by Bessie. She was a schoolteacher here in the community, and everyone remembers her very fondly,” said Meldrum, adding that they are commonly referred to as the new owners of the Bessie North house.

Meldrum has heard tales of Bessie North, who lived in the house built by her great-grandfather for 87 of her 88 years, regularly “walking the loop” in her red raincoat, spoiling her students with freshly baked bread and doling out cookies and milk when visitors came knocking.

The property, located on the aptly named Bessie North Road, changed hands a couple times since North’s passing, but Meldum said it continues to offer a warm and inviting atmosphere.

“We knew that we were home the moment we walked through the door,” she said.

The couple hopes guests will feel a similar sense of comfort when they visit the

Bessie North House Farm & Restaurant. The small restaurant, serving up local food from seasonal menus that change monthly, is all part of realizing a dream both Meldrum and Smart thought up individually before they met and eventually married.

“David and I have had this dream for a long time… we both wanted to do something like this,” said Meldrum.

“We’ve got more than enough garden real estate to satisfy the requirements of the restaurant and ourselves,” added Smart.

Chef David Smart can hardly wait to offer guests a seven-course dining experience featuring a variety of tastes and textures found in locally sourced foods.
Chef David Smart can hardly wait to offer guests a seven-course dining experience featuring a variety of tastes and textures found in locally sourced foods.

 

The plan is to start small, with the reservation-only restaurant opening on Friday and Saturday evenings. Smart, a chef who graduated at the top of his class at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Ottawa, will prepare a seven-course, pre-fixe menu of dishes. Guests arriving early will be invited to walk around the farm, and learn more about how food grown locally makes its way to the table.

“It’s really about reconnecting people with what we can grow here in the Valley and knowing where their food comes from,” said Meldrum.

The idea to offer seven courses comes from a shared desire to showcase a variety of tastes and textures in a setting that is more intimate than the 65-seat Front and Central restaurant the couple used to own and operate in Wolfville. Visitors will be guests in their home, and treated as such.

“All in all, at the end you are comfortably full,” said Meldrum, who noted that the seven dishes consist of smaller portions to ensure guests can enjoy every course.

“You’re eating the same amount of food, we’re just giving you more things to taste and experience.”

The couple was overwhelmed by the positive response to an online crowdfunding campaign they launched through Kickstarter with the aim of raising $12,500 to help with a portion of the costs associated with renovating the house and getting the restaurant up and running. Through Kickstarter, they sold rewards like tickets to pig roasts, harvest dinners and meals for two to gain financial backing.

“We surpassed our goal in the first six days of the campaign,” said Meldrum, who has 25 years of hospitality experience.

“We pre-sold experiences.”

They hope to be able to open the restaurant in late spring, or early summer.

 “It’s really exciting to see your dream really come to life in front of you,” said Meldrum.

Visit the Bessie North House Facebook page for regular updates, or e-mail info@bessienorthhouse.com.

Co-owner Susan Meldrum will be the general manager of the 12-seat, farm-to-table operation.
Co-owner Susan Meldrum will be the general manager of the 12-seat, farm-to-table operation.

Recent Stories