On a narrow, unpaved road in Kings County on the edge of the Bay of Fundy lies a small group of little cottages that are the stuff of legend.
The cottages are the work of Charles MacDonald – traveler, socialist, concrete pioneer. He traveled the world as a young man, returning to Kings County to settle down and open a concrete factory. What I’ve read about him suggests he was a savvy businessman, with a deep appreciation of his employees. During the Great Depression, he had saved enough money to keep his factory working, and set his sights on a new building project when there were no paying customers for anything else: cottages.
He stood behind his belief in concrete as a superior building product. His home in Centreville, Kings County, now the Charles MacDonald Concrete House Museum, is a sight to behold. Not only is his house made of concrete, but there’s a menagerie of animals in the front yard similarly made of concrete.
Back to the cottages. At the end of the road on Huntington Point, overlooking the Bay of Fundy, you will find the “faerie cottages.” MacDonald and his wife kept one for their use and rented out the others at a small fee (starting at 20 cents a night, back in the day). As the story goes, he was approached by many potential buyers over time, but wouldn’t sell any until he found the right person to entrust with such a valuable possession.
A trip out to see the faerie cottages is a nice way to cap off a trip to Hall’s Harbour, since it’s only a short drive away. I’ve been wanting to find the cottages for some time, and while visiting my family over the holiday, we piled in the car and set out on a voyage of discovery. I was not disappointed, we stopped for a closer look at two of the cottages, the Blue Cottage and the Spencer-Jefferson cottage.
The Blue Cottage is still available for rent these days. Armed with this information, I may need to make it happen next summer. Its bright colours and sailboat chimney charmed me completely.
I didn’t get inside, but the Concrete House Society, who owns the Blue Cottage and rents it out to society members (one week for a $350 donation, plus a $10 society membership) have posted some lovely images. Note the Nova Scotia Historic Property designation on the mantle. (Images are from the summer rental ad placed by the society)
Next door to the Blue Cottage, you’ll find the equally-bright Spencer-Jefferson cottage. As far as I know, this one is privately owned, so we didn’t dare get closer to it.
Charles MacDonald was a man who knew how to live. When it was time for him to retire, he handed the factory keys to the foreman, said, “It’s all yours,” and walked out the door.