By Richard Bell
Renée Lavigueur (left, above) and Ola Jackson (right, above) announced on February 13 that they will be opening Martinique Desserterie in Musquodoboit Harbour in the space formerly occupied by Dobbit Bakehouse. Paul Nicholl (center) the owner of Dobbit Bakehouse, will be consulting with them on getting their new shop opened as quickly as possible.
"This bakery will be our love letter to the community," Jackson said in an interview. "We want people to always feel welcomed, comfortable, and enjoy our space as much as we will. Our goal is to provide people with a fun space year-round and we have so many ideas for expansion."
They are hoping to be open sometime in April, after going through the province's required process.
The Desserterie will be a combined bakery, cafe, and gift shop featuring local goods. As a special attraction for tourists struggling to learn how to pronounce "Musquodoboit," they're planning to put up a big neon "Musquodoboit Harbour" light outside above a chair love seat, where people can pose for photos. Inside, they're planning to do a "lipstick renovation," with some fresh paint, new furniture, and an expanded cooler to display fresh fruit and other goodies.
Jackson and Lavigueur got to know each other when they were selling donuts and cupcakes at the Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers Market.
Jackson said her Mom "was a great baker. She made all kinds of cookies, lots of Polish and European pastries. She died when I was 14, so I didn't get to spend as much time in the kitchen with her as I would have liked. But a few years ago, I found a big folder with recipes. She was a cut-out-from-the-magazine kind of gal." Jackson came to Nova Scotia when her husband got a job in the booming film industry. "I wasn't driving at the time, and I had a little girl, so baking seemed like a good way to make a little money."
Lavigueur started baking after she was furloughed from her airline flight attendant job for 15 months during Covid. "Aviation gets really addictive," she said, "going, going, going all the time. When Covid slowed it down, I thought, 'Wait a minute, maybe this is an opportunity to get out of this, to do something else with my life. I've always enjoyed baking. And when you're spending your life eating in airports and hotels, you just want some home-baked goods."
Jackson came to appreciate Lavigueur's cupcakes after Jackson ordered some for her daughter's birthday. "I was like, 'These are really good!', Jackson said. "Cupcakes have never been my thing because I'm not good at piping. So I decided I won't bother making cupcakes, I'll just buy them from Renée. And then one day, I reached out to her and asked her if she wanted to start a business together."
They planned to start by buying a food truck, which they thought would give them enough flexibility to deal with Jackson's family and Renée's return to the air. But then the chance to take over the Bakehouse space appeared. Taking over a fixed space was a jump, but they had been doing well with private orders, and decided to take the plunge.
Since they started quietly spreading the word, they've found people were "extremely" supportive. To raise the funds for paint and new furniture, they're reaching out to the community with a Go Fund Me page, "Keep a Locally Owned Bakery in the Harbour." https://www.gofundme.com/f/keep-a-locally-owned-bakery-in-the-harbour
And they've scheduled a St. Patrick's Day fundraiser on March 17 with The Harbour Brewing Company for people to bring in their dogs for a nail trim and a treat, plus some green beer for the owners (Jackson is also a dog groomer.)