Nova Scotia

How a rural doughnut shop stood in for police HQ during phone outage

RCMP officers in Guysborough, N.S., used the phone at Robin's Donuts to make and receive calls.

RCMP officers in Guysborough used phone at Robin's Donuts to make, receive calls

As much of Atlantic Canada was grappling with dead cellular and landline service, a couple of police officers in the tiny community of Guysborough, N.S., found refuge — and phone service — in the village's doughnut shop.

When service went down on Friday afternoon, RCMP officers set up shop at Robin's Donuts, which is just two minutes from the Guysborough detachment.

A message on the municipality's Facebook page asked residents to call 911 for emergencies, but to also call the coffee shop if they needed RCMP or paramedics.

Fraser Cook runs the Robin's Donuts, which is part of Cook's Gas Bar and Cafe. He said since it's a small community, staff knew the officers and were happy to help.

"Anytime any calls came that were requiring their assistance, we'd just kind of give them the wave," Cook said.

The community of Guysborough is home to fewer than 400 people, so the store wasn't exactly overrun by officers. Cook said only two officers showed up, and they mostly stayed outside near their cruisers.

"They were no trouble," he said. "You wouldn't hardly know they were here."

RCMP officers used the Robin's Donuts shop in Guysborough as home base during a massive phone service outage on Aug. 4, 2017. (Google Street View)

Stereotype not accurate

While some may think using a doughnut shop as a police station was a match made in heaven, Cook said he's not even sure the officers partook.

"In all honesty I'd have to say here they're not the coffee-doughnut type. Sometimes I think they maybe get a bad rap for that. Most times when they're here getting fuel, seldom are they actually getting coffee and doughnuts," he said.

"Yesterday they may have indulged in a couple because … they wouldn't have really had the opportunity to go back to their own detachment to get their snacks and lunches.

"So they may have had a coffee or so here, but they certainly weren't here having coffee and doughnuts all day. They were doing their work."

Cook said officers were stationed at the store for only a couple of hours before relocating to the municipal offices.

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dal Hutchinson said the fact that officers were welcomed to use the shop as a base illustrates the good relationship between police and the community. (Submitted by Dal Hutchinson)

RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Dal Hutchinson confirmed that the old cop-doughnut stereotype isn't really accurate.

"I can speak from experience, we are always ridiculed for taking breaks at a coffee shop that sells doughnuts. To be honest, most of us don't eat doughnuts," he said in an emailed statement.

Hutchinson said the episode shows how strong the relationships are between police and the communities they serve.

"Being comfortable to go to a local business during situations like yesterday and having the business's co-operation to assist the police, and the community, is what we would like people to take from this," he wrote in the statement.

Hutchinson added that he wasn't surprised to hear that it happened in Guysborough.

"I can say they are some of the nicest and welcoming people you ever want to meet. Ninety-nine per cent of the motorists you meet wave to you when you meet them on the roads."