Dreamery, Deanery, in the Greenery

Out in the country greenery, you’ll find little treasures, in the scenery. We got off the main roads and found this perfect pair: a Dreamery and The Deanery.

Mable Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery

Last August we spent a couple of days with friends at their cottage on the Northumberland Strait. One day, when out sampling the delights along that coast, they suggested a stop at the bookstore in River John, operated by much loved children’s author Sheree Fitch. I assumed the shop was in town, but we headed into a maze of back roads, making me wonder if our hosts were lost. Then, on a dirt road lined with old trees, we came upon a collection of barns and sheds decorated with fanciful embellishments: Mable Murple’s World.

There were animals to observe, and the bookstore was perfect, but the house of Mable Murple (one of Sheree’s characters, who aggressively inhabits a purple world) is really all I photographed. It is out-purple-standing.

The interior is furnished in a style I’d describe as exuberant.

Because Sheree is a poet, the “do not” signs are soft but firm.

The website proclaims: “when you visit Mabel Murple’s, our dreamery is your dreamery.” I got that, and I’m sure you would too.

Far from life’s machinery: The Deanery Project

For Thanksgiving, we were invited to another cottage, this time on the Eastern Shore, just past Sheet Harbour. Sunrise on a cove + a turkey festival, all good.

On our way back to Halifax we decided to take the loop road along Ship Harbour, realized we were passing The Deanery, and decided to stop and take a look. I’ve been aware of this project for several years—it started in 2011, and I associate it with natural building workshops and programs related to the environment. Take a look at their website because they offer many experiences.

There was no one around on Thanksgiving morning and we just wandered for a few minutes, particularly attracted by fanciful examples of earth building.

The Sheiling is described as an outdoor classroom, and demonstrates the charms of building with clay and logs and empty wine bottles. Only a goat, grazing on the green roof, could make it more idyllic.

Once I used to fantasize about making a clay oven (even got Sheila to give me a “how to” book for Christmas). So, I always take note of outdoor ovens we happen upon, they make ideal community gathering places.

The Deanery’s oven is zoomorphic, evoking a turtle or tortoise.

We do love the little things.

It was clear that The Deanery Project and their landscape nourishes both imagination and information. Maybe I’ll get back when there is a field day; I’d like to know if a brush fence could keep out deer.


  • In case you did not notice, this Deanery, Dreamery talk got me thinking about the old show tune Mountain Greenery. Check it out sung by the “velvet fog”,  Mel Tormé. There are many other versions on YouTube, including by The Supremes, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
  • While preparing this post, I also remembered the Federico Fellini film, Juliet of the Spirits, last seen by me in 1966. Although details of the story didn’t stick, I retain and cherish an image from the film of a tiny, exquisite house shaded by tall trees. I think children who visit Mable Murple’s house will have enduring memories of their experience too.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.