By Michelle M. Winner and Maralyn D. Hill
In our too-fast world, it’s heartwarming to see children with a genuine affection for their mother. This is not the Hallmark card kind of celebrating, but the keen daily awareness that she has made you who you are.
The little college town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, is home to the lovingly preserved Blomidon Inn, built in the 19th century by a local sea captain. Strikingly detailed, the Victorian manor house dominates four acres of beautiful gardens, with a view to the Minas Basin off the Bay of Fundy. “ Blomidon” is a version of Cape “Blow Me Down,” an exclamation attributed to sailors who marveled at this spot where the world’s highest tides meet a fierce wind.
Over 30 years ago, the young Laceby family moved from the family farm in Ottawa to Amherst. They stayed as guests and purchased The Amherst Shore Country Inn, working together to make it succeed. In 1988, parents Jim and Donna also purchased the decrepit Blomidon, three hours away. Most thought they were crazy; they simply took to the repairs, refurbishing, and redecorating with zeal. For ten years, Mom Donna stayed alone at Amherst to run the inn, while the rest of the family worked on Blomidon. She did it all and enrolled in culinary classes to step into her role as cook. Each day, she worked in faith that her sacrifices would move the family forward.
Today at Blomidon, Michael and Sean Laceby reflect their mother’s passion and talent. As sommelier and innkeeper, Michael runs the front of the house, providing outstanding service. His wine choices consistently hit the mark and enhance the creations Sean prepares in the kitchen. It is easy to see why the Blomidon Inn received the Wine Spectator Award for “One of the most outstanding wine lists in the world.” In addition to Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada, they offer wine from Argentina, Australia, California, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, and Spain. Their cellar includes vintages no longer available—a true treasure. Chef Sean Laceby’s personal favorite is preparing wild game, which is reflected in the regular menu. In addition, he authored, “Wild Game Cookbook,” which covers hunting in North America. The recipes span a wide assortment, from upland game to waterfowl, and the seasonings, sauces, marinades, and side dishes that enhance what is being served. Sean is the quiet one and quite content to spend his time in the kitchen, creating.
Donna and Jim taught their sons to be chief bottle washers, front-of-house personalities, and behind the scenes titans, by working right along with them.
Perhaps the success of a family does indeed rest on the shoulders of their mother. These days, lovely Donna gets to indulge her talent for finding fantastic hats, jewelry, jackets, and small furnishings, displaying these treasures with an artful eye in her “House of Gifts” on-site. When we asked Chef Sean about growing up working along with his dad, brothers, and especially with his mom all his life, he said with a laugh, “Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?”
This summer you are invited to sit on Blomidon’s grand front porch and sip something soon. It’s a fabulous place to relax and enjoy the family hospitality.