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Wolfville couple selling B&B after 20 years in business

After 20 years in business, the owners of Harwood House Bed & Breakfast in Wolfville are selling their home.
After 20 years in business, the owners of Harwood House Bed & Breakfast in Wolfville are selling their home. - Chris Saulnier

WOLFVILLE, NS - Peter Jucker isn't joking when he says the process of the move he and wife Frances made to Wolfville 18 years ago is a "long story."

In fact, the story of how the two immigrants came to Canada, fell in love, and wound up owning Harwood House Bed & Breakfast in the Valley is a grand yarn all its own.

The Juckers and their kids have called Wolfville home for a long time, and entertained countless guests, but they're finally ready to downsize, leaving their luxurious B&B up for grabs.

"We got help from this company (Canopy Creative) and built a website that told our story and showed all the photos of the house," said Peter.

"We had nearly 40,000 hits, but only a handful of people had actually come in and shown interest."

The website – movetowolfville.ca – tells potential buyers about the area and the opportunity and also explains how the Juckers fell in love with a town.

Immigrating to Canada – and falling in love

While they're ready to move on, Peter remembers so many details of what it took to get them here.

"I came to Canada through England in 1967. I arrived in Toronto in January after crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a German steamboat," he said.

"I'm originally from Switzerland, and it was just the most incredible journey. I was only in England a year, witnessing the World Cup the prior year."

Frances' story is a little bit more traditional. She came to Toronto with her parents in 1955 from Manchester and the family settled down.

Given Peter's colourful background, it's no surprise he met Frances shortly after a rousing trip with a friend down to Guatemala.

When he returned, he was broke but still full of adventure. He met Frances at a Christmas party, but it wasn't until their second meeting that he was smitten.

"We were married by 1971 and we had two little girls. We were very happy together in Toronto," said Peter.

But in 1986, the two decided to take the kids and go to the Maritimes for three weeks on vacation.

Over that summer, they enjoyed the lakes, toured the Maritimes, and almost exclusively stayed at bed and breakfasts. Frances, for her part, fell in love with the atmosphere of the places they stayed.

On their final night in Nova Scotia, they went to a Loyalist farm in Bridgetown, where they met a B&B owner named Hilda.

"That was the clincher," said Peter. "It was that night Frances decided she wanted to come back to the Maritimes, and she wanted us to have our own bed & breakfast."

Becoming entrepreneurs

"I had no idea she was so serious. We went back home, and I told her we had a family to support. I was at an architecture office, and I didn't know what I'd do in Nova Scotia,” Peter recalls.

By the mid-1970s, friends had moved to the province and settled in Chester. After a few more years of toiling at the office, Frances convinced Peter to give things a try. They began looking with vigour in 1993.

"We had another set of friends buy a farm in Wolfville. It became easier for us to visit and look at properties. We saw the place we loved, at 33 Highland Avenue. It was adjacent to Acadia University," he said.

It was originally built in 1923 for the then-provost at Acadia University, Dr. Wheelock.

But after they put in an offer and it was rejected, they went home empty-handed. The following year, their daughter Simone went to the Valley with her mother to explore Acadia.

"We put the same offer in on the house again, which had been on the market for a year, and it worked. We owned it by Christmas 1996," he said.

Read about more recent Wolfville businesses closing:

Slow Dough Pastries closing café in Wolfville

Valley Vixen’s education-focused sex shop closing in Wolfville

Atlantic Lighting closing after more than 16 years in business in Wolfville

Wolfville’s Cinematopia closing in June

They moved by 1998, and did renovations that allowed them to add to the east side of the home, construct private bathrooms and get things ready for the business.

The home is made up of three suites, one studio, and four-and-a-half baths, with a 3,165 total square footage. The maintenance on the property and garden have been taken­­ seriously over the years.

The Juckers opened in 1999, at the behest of their daughter Simone, now a proud student at Acadia.

"She said if we didn't open for graduation weekend that year, we may as well forget about it. We booked two rooms that very weekend," he said.

All good things…

From 1999 until the time they closed in 2016, the Juckers played host to guests from around the world.

"We just got so comfortable having people from all over. I realized how important our location was due to the university. Our very first week, we had guests from Australia," he said.

"Over the years, we've met many friends who we've visited. We've had offers to go to Europe and all over, we just could never take anyone up on it. We were too busy running the place."

The two worked hand-in-hand and never hired any staff. Frances did the baking and bread-making, with Peter doing fruit salads. They conversed with guests, did bookings, and kept everyone comfortable.

Between the Atlantic Theatre Festival, which ran until 2002, the Tidal Bore, Grand Pré and the DEVOUR Food Film Fest, he says people came in for a host of reasons.

"We also had people like Gordie Howe, Jean Belliveau, and Darryl Sitler stay for sports events Acadia athletics put on," he said.

"We always enjoyed it, and loved having all kinds of people. We got to know an awful lot of artists, students and parents as well."

But all good things must come to an end, and due to recent health issues, the 2016 closure of the B&B has led the couple to seek a downsized home.

"We know we're going to stay here. We love Wolfville. Thanks to our daughter, who now works at Acadia, we have housing arranged," he said.

They're interested in bringing in a buyer who might want to carry on tradition.

"We'd love to see someone bring it back. It could also be turned into a guest house, or a family home, but everything would be available to get started back up," said Jucker.

"It would be great to have someone in there who has dreams of opening a bed and breakfast, and this could be amazing chance. If we needed to, we could start serving breakfast again tomorrow morning."

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