PORT WILLIAMS - It’s been a while coming.
After two years living in Port Williams, selling her items online and to friends, Kathy Browne, a Scotland native and owner of The Linen Pavilion, has finally acquired the paperwork and insurance necessary to open shop to the public – as soon as her new signs arrive, of course.
Browne packed up her shop in Scotland – full of the items ranging between antique, vintage, and modern that she acquired or handcrafted over the 10 years it was open – and brought it to Canada with hopes of sharing her passion and bringing pleasure to others.
Operating out of the home she’s been renting since moving to Canada, Browne makes the majority of her sales online and will have her shop open to the public on an appointment-only basis.
“Right now, it’s by appointment only, which I hate,” said Browne. “But it’s only me here, so if I have to go out… there would be no one else around.”
Browne’s shop in Scotland was located on Glen Esk, a glen that has belonged to the Dalhousie family for many generations – the same Dalhousie family that the university in Halifax is named after.
Lady Dalhousie herself frequently visited the shop, as did Lady Elizabeth Anson – the Queen’s first cousin and royal party planner for the past 50 years, and Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, current wife of Prince Charles, and heir apparent to the British throne.
“She’d come every October,” said Browne. “She and Prince Charles would come up for the stag hunting and she would always visit the shop.”
Browne says the ladies would buy mostly quality pieces – older linens and needlepoint rugs – but were particularly fond of the older linens.
“In the older works we have quality that we’ll never see today,” said Browne. “It’s that people either don’t have the time to work or can’t get paid for their work.”
Fortunately, Browne amassed a surprisingly large amount of older and antique items while living in Scotland, which she has brought with her for her shop here in Canada.
“I actually arrived with a 40-foot container,” said Browne, “I knew I’d be coming to Canada, so I kept adding to my stock. I’ve got something like 1,200 tea cups.”
Browne says that while she won’t need to restock anytime soon, that won’t stop her from shopping, playfully saying, “it’s an addition you know.”
Browne’s passion for old linens and handcrafting pieces began at an arts college in Scotland, where she studied embroidery and design.
“Through that, I really had my eyes open to the embroidery of the past, and that’s when I literally fell in love with old textiles,” said Browne. “I have a passion, I just love it.”
Along with her passion for linens, Browne holds a passion for creating, and explained that she hand makes the majority of the items found in the shop – including fabergé goose eggs, potpourri bags, jewelry, and more.
“My passion is creating new things from the old ones,” said Browne, “I might take a piece of an old chandelier and some embroidery and make something new.”
While Browne knows that not everyone will be interested in her shop’s style, she’s just happy to continue pursuing her passion and bringing joy to others.
“I know there will be a lot of people walk in turn around and say, ‘oh it’s really beautiful, thank you very much, I’m off.’ Because it’s very fussy,” said Browne. “It certainly won’t appeal to an awful lot of folk. But you just hope over time you find the people that resonate, and hopefully it can bring a wee bit of pleasure to folk.”
Browne added she hopes her shop can be a place for people to find things they can’t find somewhere else.
“I wanted people to come in and say, ‘I might find something different here,’” said Browne, “I wanted it to be a wee bit of a surprise, you know, that folks will say, ‘wow I wasn’t expecting that!’”
Along with the linen shop, Browne’s initial plan was to open a tea room as well. A dream that, while not possible due to limited space and regulations, she isn’t going to give up on.
“It’s a dream I find very hard to give up on,” said Browne. “But I’m not dead yet, so who knows.”
Browne added she is so grateful to her landlord for allowing her to set up shop in the house.
Choosing Nova Scotia
Browne says that choosing to come to Nova Scotia was easy. Aside from the fact that her brother lives here – Dr. David Duke, a professor at Acadia University - being close to the ocean, and in a place with seasons, meant a lot to her.