'Now Lunenburg County' road trip off to successful start

Tina Hennigar promotes Lunenburg County as a place to call home through cross-country tours.

Summer tour aims to convince people across Canada to move to Lunenburg County

Tyler Duft from Duft & Co. in Abbotsford, B.C., talking to Tina Hennigar. (Submitted by Tina Hennigar)

When Donna Malone, a real estate agent based in Bridgewater, N.S., got a call from a prospective buyer in Victoria, B.C., she wondered what prompted him to seek out property clear across the country.

As it turns out, he was inspired by an interview he heard on CBC Radio in Vancouver with Tina Hennigar, the co-ordinator of a cross-Canada tour to promote Lunenburg County as a place to call home.

Her "Now Lunenburg County" project is taking her across the country in a bright yellow boler trailer, circa 1976, hoping to persuade enough people to relocate to the South Shore to reverse an aging and declining population trend.

Lunenburg County charm

Malone wasn't surprised that her new client, originally from Newfoundland, picked up the phone and called a real estate agent after hearing the CBC interview.

"Being from Newfoundland, he had a certain experience of the way that people treated each other and what it was like to be in a community. In his city life, he found that element was missing," said Malone.

Hennigar started her cross-country road trip in Edmonton, then made a stop in Vancouver.

While she's only just begun, she said she's met a few people like Malone's client, who is in his mid 50s, and ready to return to a more close-knit community.

'Quirky and bold enough'

Hennigar said people have been both curious and receptive. She thinks the idea is just "quirky and bold enough" to work. 

"We've had great media [attention] everywhere we've been so far. People are really taken by this campaign and smile and tell us what a great idea it is. It shows that Lunenburg County can think a little differently," said Hennigar. 

Tina Hennigar started Now Lunenburg County to attract more people to move to the area. (Submitted by Tina Hennigar)

The campaign not only focuses on a family-oriented, friendly place to live, but also affordable housing, which Hennigar said is a big selling point, especially for people comparing prices to those in Vancouver. 

According to Malone, there's a wide range of options for potential buyers on the South Shore. 

"A young family can still get a three-bedroom home for not much more than $100,000. There's something in every price point…if you want a fabulous million-dollar home, we've got those too," said Malone. 

'There are jobs there'

The toughest part of the pitch, Hennigar admits, has been convincing people there are jobs to come to and a way to make a good living in Lunenburg County.

"The jobs are there," she said. 

"The people who delivered the camper trailer to us, for example, is a trucking company looking  for truckers." 

The tour has reached people from all walks of life, ages and occupations.

Hennigar said she met a carpenter looking to go into business for himself and provided him literature on special programs set up on the South Shore that can help get his business off the ground.

She also talked to a nurse about the dire need for health-care providers in rural Nova Scotia.

'We've lost a lot of young people'

Malone is concerned about the effects that long-term population decline will have on the community. 

"We've lost a lot of young people to other areas. We need a variety of new people coming here, active retirees, entrepreneurs, home-based business owners and those able to work remotely from Lunenburg County for companies based in other cities." 

Next stop on the tour is Vernon B.C., where Hennigar said she'll park the boler trailer and talk to anyone willing to listen.

"I have been really surprised at just how receptive everyone is to a random stranger talking to them about my community."