Take the dog to the Maud Lewis Replica House in Nova Scotia

Poster advertising Maud Lewis historic site in Nova Scotia

A road trip with the dog requires some pre-planning, especially researching dog-friendly places to eat, stop, and stay. I always map out our trips, measuring the distance between stops in hours (and pee breaks) and booking pet-friendly hotels before we leave. True, my planning is extensive, but not at the expense of missing a few gems along the route.

Afterall, a car trip is also about the journey and what you might find along the way. I love unexpected discoveries especially those that allow the pup to also stop and smell the flowers, both literally and figuratively. The Maud Lewis Replica House at the Maud Lewis Memorial Park was one of those surprise stops.

Dog-friendly Historic Site

Last summer we drove the coast of Nova Scotia from Yarmouth to Kejimkujik National Park, stopping at Fort Anne National Historic Site and Port Royal National Historic Site along the way. One brief but poignant unscheduled stop lingers in my memory. A one hour drive north of Yarmouth along Highway 101 you’ll see a sign at exit 26 directing you to a Marshalltown site a few kilometres from the highway: The Maud Lewis Replica House in the Maud Lewis Memorial Park. (You’re also not far from dog-friendly Digby).

At the Maud Lewis Replica House site in Digby County, Nova Scotia, you’ll find just that: a metal replica of a simple one-room building housing a kitchen, living quarters, painting studio, and loft bedroom once belonging to the now acclaimed folk art painter Maud Lewis.

The Maud Lewis Replica House

It’s in the original version of this small house in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia that untrained artist Maud Lewis painted hundreds of colourful country images now beloved by many around the world. It’s also here that she once covered her entire house, inside out, top to bottom, with colourful paintings. That painted house, now considered a work of art, was moved in 1979. Today, it’s housed permanently in the Maud Lewis exhibition space at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, Nova Scotia .

But at this replica site in the Maud Lewis Memorial Park, you experience what the house almost looked like when Maud first answered an ad for an housekeeper and came to live in this one-room humble (to say the least) home with a brutish man who would become her husband. It’s here she spent her days painting on anything she could find including discarded wood, cardboard, and paper in the 1940s and 50s. Her husband then sold her work for $2 or $3 to tourists and whoever might pass by the house.

Who is Maud Lewis?

Maud Lewis was born in Nova Scotia in 1903 with birth defects leading to arthritis in her hands and a hunched back. Limited mobility left her with few options after the death of her parents, which is why she ended up married and confined to this small house in rural Nova Scotia. Despite these challenges, or maybe because of them, painting became a form of self-expression and escape from her difficult circumstances.

Maud Lewis painted colourful playful vignettes of country life, flowers, cats, farm animals, and whatever Maud visualized have become iconic Canadian images. She lived in this one-room house until her death in 1970, despite beginning at the time to gain attention as one of the country’s best folk art painters. In 2022, one Maud Lewis original painting sold at auction for $85,000 US, a record price for her work.

The Maud Lewis Memorial Park and Replica House

The site where the Maud Lewis painted house once stood is now called The Maud Lewis Memorial Park in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia. A steel memorial replica house stands on the foot print of the original house, providing visitors an intimate view of the restricted living conditions and isolation the painter would have experienced here.

Painting of white cat by folk artist Maud Lewis

However, true to Maud’s legacy, the site is defined by a colourful optimistic perennial garden (idea dog photo spot), picnic tables (bring a packed lunch), and benches for lingering.

Three interpretive signs explain the site’s significance:

  • one features Maud’s story and art legacy,
  • the second is about the restoration and conservation of her original home,
  • and the third is about the steel replica memorial.

What Did my Dog Think about the Maud Lewis Replica House?

Anytime we can get out of the car and sniff around is fun for her, especially if gardens are involved. Also, I think her black and white spotted gleefulness would make an excellent subject for a folk art style portrait.

Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research.

One comment

  1. […] Also in Digby: The Maud Lewis Replica House …. check out my dog’s visit. […]

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