Making the right move

Asselins proud to operate Antigonish Evergreen Inn

JOEY SMITH @SaltWireNetwork



SaltWire Network


Linda and Rick Asselin knew they wanted to operate a business together, but just didn’t know what type. During the summer of 2014, fate stepped in and made the decision clear. The couple, on the road to Gatineau, Que., after vacationing in Linda’s hometown of St. John’s, NL, made a stop in Antigonish and spent the night at the Evergreen Inn. “I said to (Rick) in the morning when we came in for breakfast, if we ever open a B&B I’d operate it like this,” remembers Linda. “And the owner was here and she said, ‘well, this is for sale.”’ That same day Linda and Rick set up an appointment with the realtor who had the listing and made an offer. Three months later, they were the new owners. “It’s a good thing we didn’t know what we were getting into because if we knew then kind of what we know now we maybe wouldn’t have done it,” laughs Linda. “But you know what – we don’t have any regrets because we love it. We just love meeting all the people that come through.” The Evergreen, located at 399 Hawthorne St., features eight suites, each one consisting of a fireplace and a fully equipped kitchenette. The inn has a 4 ½ star rating with Canada Select. Naturally, summer is a busy time, while business slows during the winter. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on tourism, including on the local inn. “COVID has hit us hard,” says Linda. “It’s taken us to be very creative; drop our prices, all of that stuff, to try and keep the place going. We’re like every other business in tourism – we’re struggling. I’m sure we’ll be fine; we’ll get through, but it’s tough. It is tough but at the same time we do love it here.” The Evergreen hosts visitors from all over the world, including several American and European travellers. The most notable guest to stay at the place was former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who bunked there for a night, three years before the Asselins took ownership. The Asselins have a second generation involved at the inn. Linda’s daughter Christie, her husband Christopher and their four-year-old son Christian moved to Antigonish from Calgary last summer and are helping operate the place. “They’re a great help and they love it,” says Linda. Linda and Rick met in 2012. Linda owned a cleaning business in Gatineau, and Rick was a retired banker who spent most of his adult life in British Columbia. Following their 2014 summer trip to St. John’s, Rick expressed a keen interest in living on The Rock. “And I said, ‘no way – you’ll never handle the weather after living in B.C.,’” says Linda. “I had lived in Halifax for four years and when I lived there it hardly snowed … it was mild and I told him the weather here (in Nova Scotia) was a lot like Vancouver.” “And I believed her!” Rick laughed, to which Linda replied: “I really thought it was. I didn’t realize the weather here in Antigonish was so different from Halifax. And that first winter we were here, in March we had three storms back-to-back in one week and the drift going down the side of the inn was so high you couldn’t even see the windows.” And while cold and snowy, Rick warmed up to his new home right away. “It’s the people in Nova Scotia, they’re so nice,” he said. “I think Nova Scotia is actually the premiere province in Canada if you want to know the truth. I’ve travelled all over the world … and Nova Scotia, boy, is the best place to be. People are so terrific here. “It’s just so beautiful,” he added. “It’s spectacular and the people that live here and grow up here, I don’t think they realize unless they’ve travelled around the world what a special place this is. It’s just a little piece of heaven.”