KENTVILLE – It’s been a life spent loving the Annapolis Valley for Jean Calkin, a 94-year-old Canning native who has spent all her years living in the region.
She is passionate about her home – so much so she submitted a letter to the editor in March in response to the Chronicle Herald story, ’Twenty-five reasons why I love Nova Scotia’, submitted by Liverpool author Vernon Oickle.
In it, she describes why the Annapolis Valley, which she calls ‘paradise,’ has its own list of over 20 reasons why she loves calling it home.
“I thank God every night that I was born here. It’s safe – you reach out, and where else are you as free, with good air, beaches, surrounded by beautiful people?” she says.
‘How could he stop at 25?’
Calkin was born in Canning and, after marrying her North Mountain husband, moved to Black Rock, where the couple kept a 268-acre farm with cows, pigs, sheep and chickens.
“I was born a sand-peep and turned into a mountain goat,” laughs Calkin.
Now, she lives in a senior-living home in Kentville near her sister, 84, with whom she often meets to talk with their brother, 91, over the phone in Ontario. She says they chat, bicker and laugh about their times together.
“We really are so fortunate. I always say if you add up our ages, that’s one pretty big number,” she laughs.
When Calkin came across the original story, she balked at the idea that there were only 25 reasons to love Nova Scotia as an entirety, when she could think of more than 20 alone for the Annapolis Valley.
“It really was a lovely story, but I just thought to myself – how could he stop at just 25?,” she says.
“So I sat down and rattled off my own reasons, remembering what I loved and still love about the area, as a little girl and now so many years later.”
Sell the natural wonders to get people here
Calkin lists beaches, sandpipers, flowers, produce, clear skies, clean air, hiking trails and winter wonder that make up so much of what people cherish about the region’s outdoor splendor.
She also lists restaurants, drink, the Apple Blossom festival, the towns and villages, and most importantly, she says, the people.
Calkin and her husband never had a honeymoon when they were first married, but, several years before he got sick with COPD, they traveled with a camper along the entirety of the Annapolis Valley, stopping in every nook and cranny along the way.
“I’m telling you – you could spend an entire trip just doing that,” she says.
“I am full of those memories.”
She says she doesn’t believe the province advertises the valley enough, besides a “little skit here, a little bit there. We know people visit, but that’s not news,” she says.
Calkin suggests selling people the natural wonders of the province, as things they’d have never heard of before seeing them for themselves.
“I take drives with my family down around Blomidon, Medford, Kingsport, the Look Off, back into Canning – I feel so good when I go to bed that night, and think it all over,” she says.
“The things people don’t see – this is what to sell. Tell them about it, bring them out and get them curious – come see it for yourself.”