We were Arthur and Carol Rivoire, husband and wife, and parterners for 43 years. Arthur died in December 2012. I’ll miss him terribly as will so many people from around the world who enjoyed his creativity and wit. – Arthur and I emigrated from the U.S. (New Hampshire) to Nova Scotia in 1991. We’d vacationed in the province in 1987 and fell in love with the land, people, and lifestyle. We had a 100 acre farm with an 1804 Colonial house in New England, but Nova Scotia was calling us. We found a wonderful 350 acre farm with a barn built in 1845, and three years later moved to Canada with eighteen horses, a dog, three cats, household goods, and farm equipment. — Friends and family used to ask us . . . “Well, how do you like it now?” expecting that we might regret our move … well, not for a minute. In fact, life in Nova Scotia just gets better and better. We’ve been lucky to live in such a place.
Arthur worked in the leather business all his life, and ended up a vice president for the largest tannery in the States. When not selling leather, he painted pictures. Arthur and I married in 1969, second marriage for both. In 1970, Arthur’s business took us from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Alsace, France. — For 10 years, we thoroughly enjoyed “la vie Francaise”. — We learned French, although never well. — I studied French cooking and prepared for the day when we’d return and maybe I’d open a French restaurants. — I resurrected an old passion (horses) and took riding lessons. — The boys went to French schools, and learned French perfectly.
In 1979, we returned from France and bought a farm in New Hampshire where we began to import and raise Norwegian Fjord Horses and Carol opened a French restaurant in the farm house. It was called “Le Coq au Riesling. – We named our place Beaver Dam Farm as there was a pond with beavers. We first thought of growing fruit to produce jam which we’d call — Beaver Dam Jam, but gave that up when we discovered Norwegian Fjord Horses which we imported, bred, trained and sold for 32 years in N.H., then in Nova Scotia.
That brings us back to 1987 and that fateful and fortunate vacation in Nova Scotia. — I’ve got to tell you about our reception to our little Acadian village of Pomquet on the Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia. — Arriving at the farm, we found a pot of homemade corn chowder on the table, a plate of biscuits, and a sign on the wall saying . . . .”Welcome Home Carol & Arthur”. — All that first year, neighbors would come calling bearing the most wonderful Nova Scotia gifts. — a pot of baked beans, a pail of fiddlehead greens, fresh caught mackerel — and most wonderful of all . . . A bucket of fresh snow crab legs. Can you imagine
We continued in the Norwegian Fjord business breeding and importing quality yearling fillies, ten to twelve each year. — This was exciting and nerve wracking business. Lucky for us it went well. –
When we lived in New Hampshire, we sold horses all over the U.S., but moving so far away from the market affected sales. What to do? — We thought maybe we could bring the market to us, so we created Nova Scotia Beginner Driving & Riding Vacations. People came and stayed in our house. I prepared all their meals and taught them riding and driving during the day. Our guests loved the farm and Nova Scotia experience. Lots of people came from all over the U.S. and other parts of Canada, and quite a number of them decided to buy Fjord Horses while staying with us.
Eventually, we renovated the Charming Cottage for guests and built the Carriage House Loft apartment. Arthur and I ran this program for 18 years. We still have wonderful friends from those days.
In 1998, I wrote a book on the Norwegian Fjord Horse . . . “The Fjordhorse Handbook.” — It turned out that this was the only English-language “how to” book on this breed and it was a best seller in a very small market. We self-published and sold out the first printing of 1500 copies. The second printing is now almost sold out.
Arthur was a life-long artist, and both of us love art and collect it. Over the years, we collected a whole lot of paintings and art objects of all kinds. — When we moved to the farm in Nova Scotia, I climbed up into the loft of our old barn. — My first thought was . . . .”What a grand art gallery this would make.” — That was one of those ideas you don’t really expect to come true, . — but, it has, THE OLD BARN GALLERY & DÉCOR opened in 2011. –
In 2007, we began to think of retiring from the horse business. It had become fairly large with 25 – 35 Fjord Horses on the farm. We needed several people working for us, and that meant a lot of office work, organization, and not much time for hands-on horse experience. — So, we began to downsize until by 2011, we were down to just three Fjords – Our old mare, Holly, and her two sons, BDF Quasar, 14 years old and his full brother, BDF Zenith, 4 years old. — Zenith is now leased to a great Nova Scotian family, and I find it’s wonderful having the sole care of the two charming horses left on the farm.
In 2011, Carol opened The Old Barn Gallery in the magnificent loft of our 170 year old barn. — Our opening season was as good as it gets. I loved showing and selling art and antiques, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many people. — People came, some bought, and all thrilled to be in the old barn loft. They felt they were in a cathedral. They were awed, stunned by the immense beams and this structure, all hand hewn, hand pegged, put together using roman numerals. — We sold paintings, antiques, sculpture, folk art, garden art, vintage linens, and lots of rustic treasures. — We’d built a wonderful perennial garden outside the barn doors and put café tables and chairs for lingering and smelling the roses. –
As I write, we’re getting ready for our third season. We’ve expanded the gallery space and added another old-fashioned perennial garden. We have a lot of new art, antiques, and some very special handmade rustic furniture.
Each year we have new artists and a lot of new antiques - Each piece of art and antiques is personally chosen by Carol who is as choosy about these pieces as she was about the horses that left Beaver Dam Farm.