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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

hillsteps tearoom


My father's only sister, Henrietta (Aunt Henri) was a bit of an entrepreneur
in the 1930's.  She had 2 different tearooms and I'm not sure
of the years or how long they were in operation.  I do know
that the one called Hillsteps in the photo above was in 1938-39.

Hillsteps was located at Public Landing in the small community of Westfield outside
of Saint John along the St. John River.  I tried to find out more
about this house and business on the town's website but there wasn't
any information on it.  Do you see the little buildings on the right?
I wonder if they are 'rooms' for lodging.

This photo was taken in 1938 before much landscaping was done.
Note the sign hanging next to the driveway.

This is a Hillsteps business card.  And this is where my search began to find this house.
I had the pictures in an envelope marked Hillsteps but the card was separate and they
were all in a wooden box that came from my grandmother's house.  My sister told me
about our aunt having this business.
You can see that Aunt Henri had quite a business going by all
the details on the card.

Grand Bay-Westfield was 'cottage country' for many years for people
who lived in Saint John. It is a beautiful area along the
St. John River and near where the ferry crossed to the Kingston Peninsula.
It was a very popular place to visit in the summer within a short travel distance by
car, train or bus from the often foggy and damp harbour city of Saint John.
Most of the cottages and summer homes have been changed into permanent homes
over the years. 

The back of the business card even had a map.

The view of the river from the front steps.  The yard was steep down
to the highway and the railroad runs between the road and the river.

Now, here is the mystery.  While on a day trip this past summer, hubby and I
drove along the river route through Westfield.  I was admiring the beautiful old summer
homes and took a couple of photos as we were driving by.  I remembered the pictures of Hillsteps
and was kind of looking for a house that resembled it.  Here is the picture of one that I think
may be the house although it has changed in it's appearance.

Now I know this is a far cry from the first photo at the top, however,
there is quite a resemblance with the wrap around closed in porch, the steps
and the dormer and of course the hill.  There are changes with time - the dormer
expanded, the porch with new windows, new siding and steps. Even the chimney
has been moved.  But, the location, large fir trees and overall design makes it
the closest resemblance to the old house.

What do you think?  I can't wait until this summer when we can take  a
drive down again.  I will take the old photos and business card with me and
may even be brave enough to go to the door and talk to the owners.
It's been 70 years since Hillsteps existed.  The current house is in the same
location near Public Landing where the ferry crossed. 

My Aunt Henri was a maiden - never married and lived her days with her mother.  She
worked outside of the home at the hospital for over 25 years.  I know she had
admirers but, being the only daughter, in those days, duty to mother came first.
She was a doting aunt and loved children.  Two of my siblings and I were
all born in July and she always made a birthday cake for us.  It was angel
food cake with lemon frosting with sprinkles on top.  She loved to laugh and
had quite a sense of humour.  Aunt Henri lived to be 88 years old and will
always hold a special place in my heart and memory.

Another business card that I have is for the Brittany Tea Shop. This shop
was also owned by my aunt. 

This shop was in Moncton but I don't know when. 
I have 3 of the ice cream parlour chairs that were used in this tea shop.
I sure wish I could go back in time to visit these two places and
I wish more items were saved from them, more history and more pictures.

You can see 2 of the chairs in this picture.  I painted them yellow a few years ago.

 I would love to have had a cup of tea with Aunt Henri in her tea room.
If only chairs could talk....

Have a wonderful day!



  1. Hi Pamela! Oh, how interesting your Aunt Henri must have been. Love tea house and how I wish you knew all the particulars! How wonderful to have her cards too! Good luck in finding out more about the tea house! ;)Thanks for popping in to see me.
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  2. I once thought that I would like to open a tea room...still a dream but in the meantime, I love hosting for friends and family!
    Such an interesting post!
    Thanks for sharing,
    P.S. Have you ever read the Grace Chapel Inn series? You would enjoy them...your post reminds me of them:)http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/series/tales-from-grace-chapel-inn/

  3. Hi Pamela!!!
    Thanks for entering my giveaway!! I've entered your name!
    Pamela :)

  4. wonderful post!
    i'm all about a mystery ")
    and this is just luvly! hoping your summer travels satisfy your curiosity ~
    my girlfriend lives right along that river & we were together when her and the hubby were purchasing it, so i have been there myself - crossed the ferry too - verrrry cool reminders you've brought me this evening ... thank you!

  5. It is lovely that you remember your aunt so well and have a few mementoes!! My grand parents had a French restaurant in London in the late 40's early 50's and I have sketchy memories of going there. One of my distant cousins has memorabilia from there as his father worked in there as a chef and it is now on display in his sons restaurant.

    I love tearooms and would love to of owned one, although I would have to get someone else to bake the cakes and scones!! I am a dad hand at making tea as I drink so many during the day!

    I am sure the owners of the property now would love to see the memorabilia you have.

    A few years ago Phil and I went to stay in a B&B that was the nursing home when I was training as a Nursery Nurse, the owners were very pleased to hear about my time there and I was very pleased to see the changes.

    Looking forward to hearing about your trip back there later in the year. Have a good day, Jackie in Surrey, UK.

  6. Oh how fun to think about this very mysterious situation! That house looks to me like it could be your Aunt's old house, it is a beautiful house and piece of property. How sad that it wasn't handed down in the family.
    I'm so glad you have two of your aunts ice-cream parlor chairs, if only that could talk!
    What a great post, very interesting.
    Have a really lovely day, it is -40 with wind chill here today. I wanted to go for a walk because it is so sunny and nice looking. But my hubby has warned me not to, so I had best listen.:)
    Hugs, Cindy

  7. Thanks for the post Mom, and the little bit of history of our family. How interesting! If only we had a time machine to go back in time and visit these places as they were.

  8. Very interesting family history! Your aunt sounds as if she was quite an entrepreneur. Is that her walking up through the flowers? Those little "cabins" look like today's small house movement. You may well have found the house! It looks quite similar. I'll ask John and see what he thinks.

    1. He says that he can't say with any degree of certainty because there have been many changes, including the gabled roof with a dormer. Formerly the porch roof had its own roof, now it is incorporated. And there was some landscaping done to make the front look less formidable. We found it all very interesting. You could always go research the deed and make the connection that way.


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