"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Cousin Elizabeth" and "Field Guide"

On my recent trip to Halifax to attend the Creative Arts Awards, I had the great pleasure of eating at a new restaurant: Field Guide, which had just celebrated its first anniversary the week before I dined there. This delightful new establishment is owned and operated by a lively young couple, Ceilidh Sutherland and Dan Vorstermans. I mention this experience not only because the food was fantastic and I had one of the best cocktails I have ever had in my life, but also because Ceilidh is Elizabeth Bishop's first cousin twice removed. 

Bishop's favourite aunt was Grace Bulmer Bowers. Bishop exchanged hundreds of letters over the decades not only with Grace, but also with Grace's daughter Phyllis Sutherland. When Bishop visited Nova Scotia in the 1970s, she always spent time at Phyllis's home and she knew her children. Phyllis's younger son David was a particular favourite. He recalls that upon meeting Bishop for the first time in the early 1970s, she brought him the new Grateful Dead album (which he still owns, by the way). I first met Phyllis in 1991, which also meant that I met her sons and their children. In particular, I met David Sutherland's little daughter Ceilidh.
Ceilidh and me about 1992 or 1993 at Phyllis Sutherland's home in Balfron, N.S. We are looking at some of the amazing archival material Phyllis had in her possession, which I catalogued and which now forms part of the Bulmer-Bowers-Hutchinson-Sutherland family fonds at Acadia University, Wolfville, N.S.

I watched Ceilidh grow and go out in the world, travelling like her "Cousin Elizabeth" (which is now Bishop was known in her maternal family). A couple of years ago, Ceilidh and her husband Dan moved to Halifax, N.S., and with their creative, entrepreneurial spirit they opened Field Guide. Elizabeth Bishop would be impressed by the warm hospitality and imaginative menu of this lively eaterie. She would be as impressed as I am by the dedicated work ethic of this young couple. And wouldn't Ceilidh's grandmother be proud. Sadly, Phyllis died in 2011.

If you find yourself in Halifax, N.S., visit this delightful restaurant with its open kitchen concept and its commitment to superb food and leisurely dining. Congratulations Ceilidh and Dan on your first year in business. I'll be back!
An image from the evening when I shared a meal at Field Guide with my friends Mary Ellen Sullivan and Jim Stewart. Ceilidh is standing at the bar on the left, quite grown up from the little girl with blonde curls. Their bar tender is a magician!

No comments:

Post a Comment