Basil Oickle is getting ready to doff his top hat and bow tie and lay down his reins.
"I'd like to see what it's like to be bored," says the owner of Trot in Time, a buggy rides business in Lunenburg, N.S. "Sometime in the next year or two, I'll be passing the reins over to a much younger person who can do this," said Oickle, 60.
Oickle's business started in 1996 by fluke. He owned a vintage wagon from 1888 that he kept in his yard as a lawn ornament. When a neighbour suggested he find a horse and offer rides, Trot in Time was born.
Rides and stories
When he hit the streets of Lunenburg for the first time in May 1996, he said he made about $16. Currently he has six horses who work three days on and two days off and he operates tours every day of the week.
The tour weaves through historic sites of Lunenburg, a UNESCO heritage town. Drivers tell tales of Lunenburg's colourful rum-running past, the fishing industry, who owned what home from the 1700s and, of course, Nova Scotia's famous Bluenose schooner.
All of the buggies are replicas of the 1888 original, which is still in use today. Oickle said the old buggy's wagon design makes the tour such a hit because, unlike many modern horse wagons, people riding in the back can always see the horse.
22 years in business
Clifford, one of Oickle's horses, is a charmer who reverses when Oickle pretends to pull his tail. Clifford looks both ways before going through stop signs.
"I tell you, I wish I could clone this fellow. If I had hundred of these guys, I'd buy every one," Oickle said.
Oickle said he has lost count of how many tours he's run in 22 years of business, but he guessed it's somewhere in the thousands. Oickle said he is thankful for every time he's been able to show off his town to people from every corner of the world.