My grandparents have been gone for over a decade, but when I visit their house, on a remote island of Digby neck in Nova Scotia, it feels like they will walk in the room any second. The house was left in the family, my uncle retired from his library job shortly before my grandfather passed, thus the house lives on.

Both book lovers and librarians, my grandparents were ambitious. My grandfather fought in the US air force and fought in Germany in WWII. He fell in love with the culture of Germany during his time there. He went on to study German culture as one of his degrees, along with English literature and a Ph. D in Library Sciences. Every room at the house in Freeport has books except for the loo.

Bookshelves of all shapes and sizes fill the rooms, mostly non-fiction, books on Germany, the war and it’s aftermath, books on pottery, buttons, mushrooms, gardening, cooking, quilts, coins, antiques- the list goes on.

Each room is cozy and filled with unique pieces of my grandparents. It has helped in the grieving process to go there and spend time with my cousins, uncle and mother and step dad. Sometimes my siblings are able to visit, which is a real treat for me to spend time with them as adults in our favourite place as kids. It is home for me. Safe, secure and cozy. Visiting with them growing up, in the summers for weeks at a time brought some stability to my life. No chaos in Freeport. Just nature, sitting on the rocks across the street at the cove, looking at the fish house; it’s the place I go to in my mind, when I am stressed out and having a bad day. Both Grandma and Deedad were avid gardeners. Deedad built a greenhouse for tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. They made raised beds in the back yard for strawberries, zucchini (a family favorite, especially the young blossoms), beans, peas. There was a huge raspberry bush, my siblings and I would sit and eat for an hour before Grandma came out and told us to leave it alone!

She made all her meals from scratch. I loved her cooking, I feel I have gotten my taste for odd foods from her. She would make four kinds of cookies when we were staying with her for a week. There were jars of sweets all over the house, I would sneak a few Hershey’s Kisses or mini Mr. Good Bars on my way upstairs to read.

My love of reading started young, seven years of age I was reading The Babysitters’ Club books. My mom worked at the local Library Bookmobile when I was really little, it would be parked one street over from our family home. I would grab the coveted library stool and go to the upper part of the mobile, stand on the stool and on the top shelf were the chapter books I was seeking. Sometimes I would take ten books home. I used a flashlight and read under the covers, I was that kid. Reading was a safe thing for me. It’s comforting, just being around books and of course the smell of books.

I loved sitting in deedad’s office, surrounded by his art and books and nick-nacks of owls, which he collected. It was so cozy and felt so comforting to sit there and read.

Even though they have passed on, the traditions are still here. I go to Freeport when I can, maybe twice a year if possible. It’s a place to go to unwind and take a break. It’s particularly helpful when I am suffering whether I am feeling stuck in life or need to make a change. Freeport gives me answers I seek, sometimes not right away, maybe a few weeks after I return from a visit. Freeport is the constant I needed in my life as a kid and now as an adult I am so grateful each visit when I have the opportunity to come here. It has had a huge impact and influence on me, not just Freeport itself but my grandparents, and I see myself interested in the subjects and books that they loved too. Their influence has helped shape my love of books, of libraries and as a teen I had a goal to work in the library. I accomplished that goal twice, in my 30’s working at two education based libraries, one at the university of my undergrad degree. And now I am carrying on the tradition to study library technology this fall so I can accomplish my life career goal of working in a library full time as a career, I know it will be very rewarding.


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Jenn Britton

Jenn Britton

A book nerd. BA Arts in Psychology graduate. Loves reading and talking about it. Advocate for mental health awareness. Loves coffee and a cozy reading nook.