Halloween at the Lightfoot Tower

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The Municipality of Chester presents the Halloween Party at the Lightfoot Tower on the grounds of the Zoé Vallé Memorial Library.

Friday, October 27   6:30 pm to 8:00 pm

(Rain Date: October 28)

Wear your costume and enjoy spooky Halloween fun.

Children must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information call the Recreation & Parks Department at 902-275-3490.


Witches and Concealed Shoes

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Municipal employees display some artifacts found under the Library.

With Halloween coming closer, I recall a time several years ago when Municipal employees were upgrading the electrical wiring here in the Library and they found two old shoes in the crawlspace under the east section of the building. We sent them to experts at Parks Canada, who dated one from the early 1800s and one from Victorian times. One must have been put there when the house was built and another around the time Zoé bought the property for use as her summer cottage.


The custom of putting concealed shoes in buildings, all but gone now, was widespread in earlier times in Europe, North America and Australia. Archaeologist Brian Hoggard has observed that the locations in which these shoes are found suggest that at least some were concealed as magical charms to protect the occupants of the building against evil influences such as demons, ghosts, witches, and familiars.


Witches were believed to be attracted by the human scent of a shoe, and after entering one found themselves trapped, as they are unable to reverse. It has been suggested that an unofficial 14th-century English saint, John Schorne, may have been the source of the belief that shoes had the power to protect against evil. Schorne was said to have succeeded in trapping the Devil in a boot, a legend that may have its origin in a more ancient folk belief, which the Church was attempting to convert into an “approved Christian rite”.


Not long after the shoes were back in the Library and stored in a cupboard, we began to hear a loud knocking sound, at different times, coming from the crawlspace under the house. We had never heard the sound before and could not figure out what could be making it. I then recalled the time when I found a baby shoe in the wall of my parent’s house when I was doing some renovations for them. When I showed it to my mother she went white and told me to immediately put it back where I had found it, with no explanation.


Perhaps the knocking was some sort of warning or request? I got the shoes and tossed them back into the crawlspace where they had come from. We never heard that knocking again.

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The old shoes, Victorian on the left and the one from an earlier era.

A Gift of Flowers

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This year we were very fortunate to have Myra Knight of Chester Basin create exquisite floral arrangements for the tables at our Garden Party. Each of these arrangements was carefully crafted in an empty cat food tin and were so popular that all were sold at the end of the party and taken home by people who attended. This was a beautiful and thoughtful donation to our summer celebration and very much appreciated by all who saw them. Thank you Myra!


Myra Knight

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Library Garden Party – 2017

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On a beautiful August Wednesday afternoon, the Zoé Vallé Memorial Library held its annual Garden Party. This year it was a fundraiser for the restoration of the Library exterior and due to generous donations, the event raised over $ 11,000.

Just as important as the total raised are the contributions from individuals and businesses toward the success of the event:


Various food plates from members of the community

Jamal Pizza, Subway, Independent, Foodland and A touch of Heather Catering

Party Contributors (Cash for Supplies)

Mdina/Sales Beacon, The Fo’c’sle, Nancy Grove

Silent Auction Items

Pat Christiansen, The Rope Loft, Amicus Gallery, Going Coastal, Chester Garden Club, Linens For Life, Chez Glass Lass, The Village Emporium, Black Market By The Sea, Oceanview Garden Centre and Home Hardwware

Other Contributors

St. Stephen’s Anglican Church (tables), Flowers, Flowers, Flowers (flowers), Myra Knight (flowers), Chester Municipal Heritage Society (tables and tents) and tent providers who wish to remain anonymous

First Donations to kick off the campaign:

Jim and Kathryn Shaw

Mike and Sue Barnes

Thanks also go out to Sue LeBlanc and the Friends of the Zoé Vallé Library.


Here are more pictures of the event:

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Silent Auction 2017

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Painting of the Library Club Room that was donated to the silent auction by Pat Christiansen





2017 Annual Newsletter Now Available

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Our annual newsletter for this year is now available here.

The newsletter includes an invitation to our Garden Party fundraiser:

Library Garden Party

The Smell of Books

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In addition to new donations, our Library has many old books on its shelves. Books from every decade that it has been in existence for the past 89 years and some even older. Some people, when they enter the Library for the first time, make a comment on the unmistakable smell of books. When I have been away from the Library overnight, I can detect the scent as well, even though I’ve grown used to it, having lived in the building for 22 years. Recently, I discovered there is a reason why we love the smell of old books. Below is some interesting information from ebookfriendly.com:

“Five years ago, a team of researchers tested over 70 books. The smell is a mix of hundreds of ingredients, so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air from the paper. Some of the compounds were common to all the tested books: acetic acid, benzaldehyde, butanol, furfural, or methoxyphenyl oxime, to name a few.

To describe it in a more accessible way, the study’s lead researcher, Matija Strlic said:

    A combination of grassy notes with a tang of acids and a hint of vanilla over an underlying mustiness, this unmistakable smell is as much a part of the book as its contents.

There is something more about the book smell than just a balanced blend of pleasing scents. It’s memories. Blame the nose for that. The nose is more sensitive than you think and is tied right into the limbic system responsible for our emotions.  It is one of the strongest ways to trigger memories. Your favorite smell is probably tied to a memory, most likely from your childhood. The smell of books is tied to the celebration of reading and can bring back happy moments.

You’ll be surprised to discover how many home and beauty products recreate the book smell in its finest glory. Perfumes, sprays, and candles collected below can’t replace the sensation of reading a real book. What they can do, however, is to invite the book smell into a home library, a bedroom, or just anywhere we go.”


A Radiant Gift

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From its earliest days in 1928, the Library has been fortunate to receive donations of historical interest related to the community. Zoé’s sister, Isabel, left some of Zoé’s personal items that could be used in a library, such as tables, art, bookcases and books. Others have donated special books, paintings of Chester and photographs of people associated with the Library.


Recently, the Library has received the gift of a beautiful lamp that originally used oil or kerosene, but has been converted to use electricity. It had long been in the family of Chester resident Joan Chandler and she felt it would find a good home in the Club Room of the Library, where it could be seen and appreciated by visitors.

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The new lamp provides a bright yet cozy light in this section of the Library Club Room

Indeed, it is a wonderful and appropriate addition to the décor and function of the corner of the Club Room that holds the biography collection, as well as the cabinet housing some books from the earliest days of the Library and the cups and saucers that were used by the Women’s Institute of Nova Scotia, Chester Branch, when they met each month in the Club Room of the Library from 1928 until 1978.


For years, it has been our goal to create in the Library a look and feeling of what the house may have looked like around the 1920s when it stopped being Zoé’s summer cottage and became a free community library in her memory. A special thank you to Norm and Joan Chandler for helping us make this happen with their beautiful gift.

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A closer look at the lamp showing the beuatiful hand-painted glass shade and detailed metalwork.

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