By Jennifer Deacon
There was some sort of enchantment in the air when Jackie Barkhouse and Monika McEwen were brought together. "We met through craft shows and had an instant connection,” Barkhouse told me in an interview. “At that time, I had my business, Saltwater Soul Inspired, and Monika was running Monika McEwen Art Dolls. We believe in Mother Nature and the wonders that she provides us, and we believe that we all have magic inside us. Things like the faeries have always been of interest because they were in the stories and songs I grew up hearing from my Irish father."
McEwen shared Backhouse’s interest in spirits and herbs. "It is just who I am,” said McEwen. “I really strongly believe that there's spirits out there. I think it is a positive thing. Think back to times when people relied on what was around them. They used herbs for their healing purposes, to flavour their food and wore ‘tussie mussies’ of fragrant herbs to mask their body odour."
Barkhouse and McEwen’s shared interests and friendship grew into a small business now called Limnoreia, the nymph in Greek mythology who cared for salt marshes. They launched at the 2018 Seaside Christmas and set up in a small room at the Eastern Shores Gallery’s location in Head of Jeddore. McEwen said their customers appreciated that “everything we do is sustainable, handcrafted from reliable sources and vintage material. We recycle and reuse.” Their start-up was so successful that they decided to continue renting space when the Gallery purchased St. Barnabus Anglican Church in Head of Chezzetcook.
McEwen started making dolls after she and her husband moved to Musquodoboit Harbour in 2009. “By that time, I had grandkids, and I started making beings (dolls). The grandkids would say 'Can you make me a sea maiden; can you make me this?' I love fabric, especially linen.”
McEwen had an herb shop when she lived in Vancouver. “When Jackie and I went into business together, I went right back to my original roots with herbs and started making wreaths again. Jackie grows most of the stuff, gives it to me, and I make them."
Barkhouse takes advantage of the beach on her property in Murphy’s Cove. "When I moved from Halifax in 2013, it was to regenerate my spirit,” Barkhouse said. “I am on the beach nearly every day, so I collect all the driftwood or branches that have washed up, and we use those for the wreaths. We forage for things. The flowers mainly come from our gardens. I have a love of stones because my mother always had stones on the windowsill. They have healing properties. We've started a Goddess line of jewellery that is on a natural level and includes stones."
Barkhouse credits her dad for the success of the cards she makes from old magazines. Her Dad brought home magazines from his frequent travels. When her mother passed away, Barkhouse found thirteen boxes of magazines that were in pristine condition. "I started making cards for friends,” Barkhouse said. “I even had some actual Woodstock ads, and my friends loved them. I have regulars who come for cards When we opened our business, I had one man who came every single grocery day like clockwork."
Barkhouse and McEwen still have their original personal businesses, but they collaborate on Limnoreia. "We bounce ideas constantly and we're very focused on making sure that with anything we do make, there is a sort of aesthetic to it,” Barkhouse said. “We talk everything through before we make it. A number of people have said that the shop reminds them of shops they've visited or grew up visiting in England or Wales…that there is a quaint charm and positive energy, and that the shop feels like an old apothecary. I found that lovely."