Looking Spry

The day after the first snow storm I was up bright and early to take the car in to have winter tires installed. The dull and dripping morning was brightened by a chance to explore some of Spryfield on foot. Here’s what I noticed.

I’m fond of the rama suffix so it felt auspicious to come upon this rama-rich sign as I set out into the panorama of Herring Cove Road.

I had not seen this building up close since its extreme makeover. The transformation makes it unrecognizable, in a good way.

This is a before shot from 2016. It was once home to the dreariest drugstore and post office imaginable. The tenants now include a credit union and a branch of Mezza.

Streetview, 2016

Notice the stairs at the end of the building in the photo below. They have been transformed into this adventure in geometry. And wooden slat panels hide things that need to be hid.

The Chinese restaurant next door has old school exterior stairs, but in a strange turn of events, the yellow paint from the parking lot lines appears to be creeping up the structure.

Although this is the main business district of Spryfield, there are several good-sized gaps and open spaces. Here is the wild country beside Shoppers Drug Mart and along the entrance to Sobeys. Could Sleeping Beauty be in there?

The telephone company has many windowless buildings scattered around the province. I guess they were built to contain equipment that has probably changed dramatically over the decades. Six column gestures in this formal design distract you from noticing the absence of windows. Sort of.

At one end of the building is a curious little walled garden. The bi-coloured brickwork is another plea to be taken seriously.

Next door is the rollicking design of Wilson’s gas bar. Is this walk more interesting than you anticipated?

Sobeys is set back behind a vast parking lot, but along the road there is a broad ribbon of landscaping that includes several mature trees that must have survived from earlier times. In the centre of this swath of green is a little seating area, where three park benches gaze upon a mugo pine. I wonder if anyone actually sits there? (Oh dear, now I’m sounding like Labi Kousoulis.)

The problem with this section of Herring Cove Road is, of course, speeding vehicles driven by people who take full advantage of the four lanes provided. When it came time to cross the street, using the beg button didn’t feel safe. I waited until there were no cars in either direction, and ran as fast as I could.

A real discovery was the beautifully maintained Yeadon Cemetery, set back from the road between the community police office and the City Church. The Yeadon family were early settlers in the Spryfield area and particularly noteworthy for operating granite quarries.

Once the cemetery would have had a striking view towards the Arm but those pesky trees keep growing back. Appropriately, there is a generous use of granite in the cemetery, which is located next to an old quarry site.

Spryfield is named after Captain William Spry who owned all the fields in the late 18th century. I was reminded of this by another large, undeveloped site across the road from Sobeys. There used to be a couple of nondescript buildings here, but now it is open prairie dominated by a majestic oak tree. Undoubtedly this site is destined for development, but if Spryfield has a soul the oak tree will survive. Keep that in mind as a proof of soul indicator.

That’s another view of this tree in the header.

Saint Michael is a big stone church that adds some gravitas to the road. The mid-century modern design is aging well.

This section of Herring Cove Road is generally well served by the design of its small scale commercial buildings. The peachy tones of the Animal Hospital brightened up the dull morning, and the cats on the roof make me smile.

And dotting your “i” with a paw print is a nice touch.

Brother Khurshid’s Halal Shack provided colourful sign painting that appeals to my sensibilities. It’s a good look for the community.



  • Trying to figure out what God wants us to do has often been a challenge. But Stella Maris Parish and I can agree that she would be happy if we improved our proofreading.

  • Back in the day, some really big blocks of stone at a Yeadon family granite cutting operation.

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.