Share Your Maritime Love: Nicole Boutilier and Colby Veinotte

Driven by a passion for adventure, photography, food and culture, Nicole Boutilier and Colby Veinotte started Explore the East as a way to share their adventures and highlight lesser known areas of the Maritimes.  They love to collaborate with other East Coast adventurers and they seek to prove that the Maritimes has just as stunning landscapes as any other part of the country.  They were happy to participate in our Share Your Maritime Love project and I’m so happy to have them here.  Here’s what they had to say:

Do you live in the Maritimes?  Where do you call home?

NicoleI was born and raised in a small rural community in Cape Breton called Gardiner Mines. I moved to Dartmouth to study photography at the NSCC Waterfront campus for 2 years but made my way back to the Cape shortly after graduating and I’ve been here since.

ColbyMahone Bay will always be my home, though I currently live in Halifax.

Nicole Boutilier 1
Photo courtesy of Explore the East

What do you love most about life in the Maritimes?

Nicole – I love just about every aspect of life in the Maritimes. Of course the obvious… the incredibly breathtaking landscape and unspoiled natural beauty.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the Maritimes you are only minutes away from the ocean, mountains or all the awesome things in between.  As a photographer I couldn’t possibly dream up a more beautiful place to call home.  I also love the people, I dare say you will not find kinder, caring or more generous people then Maritimers.  It’s a place where your neighbour will always let you borrow a cup of sugar or lend a helping hand. Our laid-back and relaxed atmosphere combined with our great sense of community is incomparable to any place I’ve ever been.  And lastly I love all the fascinating history that we hold in every Maritime province, I never get tired of learning about our heritage and culture.

ColbyIt’s hard to narrow it down to just one answer.  First off I’d have to say the cuisine. Growing up with farmers and fisherman in the family makes it so easy to appreciate the food that ends up on our tables.  Second, the scenery of the Maritimes.  From the highlands of Cape Breton to the world’s highest tides of Fundy.  It’s only a few hours of driving to see some of the most diverse landscapes.  Most of all I love the people and the culture.  I’ve never met anyone as friendly as someone from the Maritimes.  Every person is as friendly as the next.

Nicole Boutilier 2
Photo courtesy of Explore the East

What do you find most challenging about living/doing business here?

NicoleBeing from Cape Breton, there are definitely some obstacles that make growing a successful business and life here more difficult.  It’s unfortunate but the population is steadily on the decline and we have the obvious economic struggles.  Last year, Cape Breton had the biggest loss in population over any other region in the country.  I’ve seen half of my family move to other parts of Canada to find employment, and it always breaks my heart to see people leave this beautiful place.
Personally I feel like many Maritimers are stuck in their ways, not too keen on taking risks or change.  I believe the open-minded creative people are what’s keeping this island and other parts of the Maritimes going strong.  We need more people who are willing to do whatever it takes to make living here long-term possible.  I love seeing people going out on a limb and starting a new business.  During a time when the economy is struggling it’s so rad to see people taking a risk and following their dreams.  It would be great to see more people supporting our local businesses.  Even if it means stopping by a little cafe for your morning coffee over Tim Hortons every now and then.
Two of my biggest passions are photography, exploring and promoting the Maritimes. That is why Colby and I started Explore the East, we want to share how incredible this place is. We want to showcase not only the cool scenic places but also the small businesses that make this part of the country so special.  If you are dedicated and willing to put in the extra work anything is possible.  As Maritimers we don’t give up easily.

ColbyOne of the toughest things I find is the old-fashioned mind set people have.  People being set on their ways of thinking and not accepting change.
I also find that far too many people seem to give up and make the move out west for work. There is much that one can accomplish here with the will to work for it.  Especially with all the modern day resources available such as a myriad of social media platforms. Communicating and networking has never been so easy as it is today.

Nicole Boutilier 3
Photo courtesy of Explore the East

What is your favourite places(s) in the Maritimes?  Why?

NicoleThis one is easy for me, Cape Breton.  One of my favourite places in particular is the Cheticamp area.  It’s where my grandfather is from, and where lots of great childhood memories were made.  It has always been our go-to spot for summer vacations.
I believe growing up in Cape Breton shaped me into the person I am today.  I grew up always being outdoors, and I’m sure that played a massive roll in my love and appreciation for the island.  It might sound a bit cliche but Cape Breton is in my blood and it will always hold a very special place in my heart.  We are surrounded by the ocean, mountains, and wildlife that are simply stunning.  We have endless hiking trails, beaches and little villages to explore.  We are home to some of the most artistically talented people in the world, so there is no shortage of inspiration.
The people are hard working, kind-hearted, strong and generous.  I love that when you walk down the street, everybody greets you even if you are an unfamiliar face.  I recently spent a weekend in the Highlands of Cape Breton exploring the Cabot Trail.  As I was driving through the little communities I noticed that every person walking or every vehicle I drove by, would wave and greet me.  I had dinner with some local folks and they couldn’t have been nicer.  I felt like I was eating dinner with people I had known my entire life, even though we had just met.  It’s the small gestures of kindness and big hearts that make Cape Breton, along with the rest of the Maritimes, so special.

ColbyI would have to say my hometown and surrounding area.  I’ve had so many great memories in Lunenburg and Mahone Bay and continue to make more with every visit.

Nicole Boutilier 4
Photo courtesy of Explore the East

What do you think we can do to build a better Maritimes?

Nicole I’ll say it again the Maritimes are one of the most beautiful parts of Canada.  From the Bay of Fundy’s rising tides, to the sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island, to the mountains surrounding Margaree Valley.  While it’s scenic beauty may be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the Maritimes (with good reason!), it’s the people who call it home that are really at the heart of it’s beauty.  Many musicians, photophraphers, writers, sculptors, painters and other artists have created works of art that mirror the beauty of the land.  It is through their creations that we are able to experience the Maritimes for what they truly are.  It is for this reason that it hurts so much to see the provincial governments cutting funding to the arts.  It is unreasonable to remove the funding for an arts program and then to expect the artists to remain in the Maritimes.  Tax credits, grants, and scholarships are relied upon by many in the arts community.  We need incentives, not only to keep our artists here, at home, but also to attract foreign artists to the Maritimes.  The Maritimes has no shortage of artists, but unless we’re able to give them a reason to stay, the art community has a serious risk of facing an upcoming departure of talent.  And I’m positive this is also relatable to many other industries and fields of work beyond just the arts.  If the government isn’t going to support us, we have to take it upon ourselves to make a change.  Support each other, and do whatever we can to keep Maritimers here.  Shop local, support our artists, small businesses and keep promoting that we are just as great as Western Canada or anywhere else in the world.

ColbyWe need to realize that the Maritimes are just as important as Canada’s other more-celebrated provinces.  We’re still growing in some areas but we are well on our way. We need to learn from our Canadian counterparts that social networking and similar platforms are just as important as other tools in the workplace.  Collaborating and working locally can only do good for the economy. We also need to remember the beauty of our own provinces.  We have few landscapes that are publicized, but Peggy’s Cove is just the tip of the iceberg.  There is so much more to discover and share.

Thanks so much for participating in our Share Your Maritime Love project, guys!

If you would like follow along with Nicole and Colby as they Explore the East, you can visit their Instagram account here.
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Share Your Maritime Love: Dominique Leger

If you live in or around the Saint John area, you’ve undoubtedly seen Dominique Leger and her In Pursuit Mobile Boutique. It’s pretty hard to miss.  It is, after all, a big pink truck. Inside, Dominique sells the latest in women’s clothing and accessories. She got the idea after spotting something similar on a trip to Boston’s SoWa market for mobile vendors in 2011.  She knew almost immediately that she wanted to bring this unique idea to the Maritimes.  Getting the boutique up and running wasn’t easy but In Pursuit has been in operation now since October of 2013 and has been building a base of loyal shoppers all over the east coast.  Here’s what Dominique had to say about what she loves about living and doing business in the Maritimes:

Do you live in the Maritimes? Where do you call home?
I do! I currently live in Saint John. Growing up I spent the most time in Fredericton (from Grades 2 – 12) before moving to Toronto. I lived in Moncton after that and then Ottawa before relocating to Saint John.

What do you love most about life in the Maritimes?
It’s unlike anywhere else I’ve ever visited or lived. All of the cliches are true. The atmosphere is relaxed, the people are friendly, everything you need or want is within 15 minutes from your house. You’re surrounded by water and stunning scenery at every angle, every single day of the year. Life on the East Coast is magic, it’s the total package (and it explains why I’ve moved back twice).

What do you find most challenging about living/doing business here?
This is a tough question! I like living and doing business here so much that it’s difficult for me to list any negatives. Simply because of the nature of my business and it being mobile, sometimes Mother Nature really gets in the way. Because we’re on the coast we get a lot of fog, a lot of rain, and a lot of cold weather during the winter months that can sometimes prohibit me from operating street side. That said, because In Pursuit is a 24 hour operation, those days give me an opportunity to work from home on my never ending to-do lists and website updates.

What is your favourite place(s) in the Maritimes? Why?
There are so many! Every city or town you travel to is completely different so it’s difficult to pick just one favorite. I love Fredericton because my family is there. I grew up going to the Saturday market and now every visit brings back all kinds of memories. I love Moncton because of its faster pace and its hustle and bustle. I love tiny towns like St. Martin’s and Saint Andrews because nothing smells better than ocean air and there are few things cuter than little shops and boutiques full of tourists and locals alike. I recently traveled to Halifax and I instantly regretted not having spent more time there. It has a perfect mix of big city coldness and Maritime hospitality. It’s gritty and pretty all at the same time and I’m so anxious to get back (sooner rather than later, hopefully). All of that said though, I really think Saint John is my most favorite of all. It took awhile for me to warm up to it, but once I did; I fell in love and I fell hard. Saint John has so much character (and so many characters).  I am charmed every day by its landscape, its buildings, its history, its people. I’ll never get over the fact that “rush hour” is having to wait your turn at 2 stop lights instead of just 1. Or that the Nature Park is even a place that exists in real life. Everything we need is right here. There’s a renewed excitement in the air and so many things up and coming, I’m proud to say I live here and that this is the place I’ve purposely chosen to open and operate my business.

What do you think we can do to build a better Maritimes?
I think it’s important that we all take ownership individually and stop relying on other people, other corporations and other governments to “make it better”.  I think if we approach things with a sense of optimism and belief that things can and will get better instead of a negative attitude and “we have to do it this way because it’s always been done this way” approach we’ll see a shift. We really do have so much opportunity here; just as much if not more than what exists in any larger city. 

Thanks so much to Dominique for sharing her Maritime Love!  You can follow In Pursuit on social media to see where she’ll be next and don’t forget to check out her online shop at www.inpursuittruck.ca!

If you would like to participate in our #ShareYourMaritimeLove project, drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you!

Share Your Maritime Love: Wes Booth

Feeling frustrated with the situation in his province and the lack of support available for youth, Wes Booth and a friend took matters into their own hands last summer and founded the group We Are NS. Wes immediately hit the road for a hitchhiking tour of the province to meet Nova Scotians and share stories of positivity.  You may have seen him on the side of the highway, or had him paint your nose blue as part of his grassroots social media campaign, #bluenoserbychoice.

His passion project, while at times overwhelming, has garnered him lots of attention and social media followers.  He understands the challenges facing youth in our region and he’s committed to helping to create solutions and that’s why he is the perfect person to launch our Share Your Maritime Love project.

Do you live in the Maritimes?  If so, where do you call home?

Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

What do you love most about life in the Maritimes?

The people.  We have a safe and beautiful environment but our people make the biggest difference and they are our greatest asset.

What do you find most challenging about living/doing business here?

The conservative nature and narrow-minded thinking.  People are constantly being told, “times are tough, resources are limited”.  We are resistant to change, anything new is considered a risk.  We don’t listen to each other.  We need to learn to communicate, to respect each other, to collaborate.  We need to support people in trying things.  I think a lot of it stems from fear.  We need to see competition as healthy.  I think we can learn a lot from America’s example in the way they always strive to improve and get better.

But I do think there is more opportunity here than other parts of the country where the markets are saturated.  If you are a risk taker with passion and you work hard, you can make it happen here.

What is your favourite place(s) in the Maritimes?  Why?

Cape Breton, NS – When I was there I really felt their struggle and I could relate to that used, abused, forgotten feeling.  The place is beautiful, the people are awesome and welcoming. They have resiliency.  They’re survivors.

White Point, NS – This is a special place that my family goes to a lot.

What do you think we can do to build a better Maritimes?

Make youth feel valued.  We have no future if we don’t value youth.  And it’s not just about retaining youth, but attracting youth too.  Unless you prove yourself or get lucky or persevere you can’t get anywhere.  Youth and seniors are the two groups that have the most free time – we can use them.  We need to invest in youth programs, invest in people. We need to attract new people who can sustainably live here, attract people with like-minded values and build around that.

Thanks so much to Wes for participating!  You can follow Wes on social media @wesleybooth as well as his group We Are NS @wearenovascotia.

If you would like to take part in our Share Your Maritime Love project, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Share Your Maritime Love!

Today marks my one year blogiversary.  It’s been one year since I started writing regularly at Maritime Love.  It’s been a wonderful year full of self discovery and creative expression.  Thank you to everyone who has visited maritimelove.com and read, shared and liked my posts.  It’s so amazing when people reach out to tell me they enjoy the site. I really appreciate your support!  This has been a labour of love, in an effort to give back in some small way, to a place that has given me so much.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my stories here over the past year and I will continue to post about my adventures around the Maritimes in the future.  But this year I want to focus on connecting with people in the region and learning what it is they love about the Maritimes.  So, I’m launching the Share Your Maritime Love Project, where I’m inviting you to share what you love about this place and why.

More specifically, I’d like to know:

  1. Do you live in the Maritimes? If so, where do you call home?
  2. What do you love most about life in the Maritimes?
  3. What do you find most challenging about living/doing business here?
  4. What is your favourite place(s) in the Maritimes?  Why?
  5. What do you think we can do to build a better Maritimes?

I would like to feature someone new on the website each week.  It could be a born-and-bred Maritimer, a new resident, someone who has left the region or a visitor.  I want to hear from all of you!

By doing this, I aim to learn more about the Maritimes and the people who live/have lived here and I hope to gain insight into what we can do to improve life for Maritimers.

If you are interested in being featured on Maritime Love, please comment on this post or reach me through social media (links on sidebar) and I will be in contact with you. Please share this post with anyone you think might be interested.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

And don’t forget to use the hashtag: #ShareYourMaritimeLove