If you happened to catch the CBC afternoon news on Tuesday, then you already know all about Sheree Fitch's latest project. But for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about (or that there even is such a thing as afternoon news on a weekday), July 3rd saw the official opening of Mabel Murple's Book Shoppe and Dreamery.
In 2015, Fitch became heavily involved in a local effort to prevent the closure of the River John Consolidated School, which sadly was unsuccessful. Out of frustration at losing an important source of literacy in their community, Fitch and her husband Gilles Plante came up with the idea of the Dreamery. Since then the couple have worked hard to convert the old granary on their beautiful farm in River John, Nova Scotia into a rustic bookstore where people of all ages can access books by Atlantic Canadian authors, while getting away from the bustle of everyday life and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Although Fitch is best known for her children's books, including the infamous Toes in My Nose and Sleeping Dragons All Around, the Dreamery will sell Atlantic Canadian books from all genres. In addition to the bookstore, the couple have also created an all-purple house inspired by Fitch's beloved character Mabel Murple, and Plante hopes to build more model homes based on Fitch's books. The Dreamery will also act as a meeting place for literature lovers by hosting writing workshops, readings by local writers, and by simply providing a quiet space to think and write.
To someone who comes from a similarly small community which is now facing the same terrifying possibility of school closure (Chipman, NB), Fitch and Plante's efforts to support literacy in their community are not simply heartwarming, but essential. It is no secret that small communities survive because of the strong bonds shared by those who have roots there, but it takes leaders like Fitch and Plante to really create change.
The Dreamery is located at 286 Allen Road in River John, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, and is open from Tuesday through Saturday until Labour Day.
Check out the Dreamery's Facebook page for more info: https://www.facebook.com/mabelmurples/
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- Katlin Copeland.
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