Transformation underway at Murray Manor in Yarmouth

Chamber Corner by Linda Sutton

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Published on May 17, 2016

Vera Saeme is transforming the Murray Manor into the Murray Manor Art & Culture House.
LINDA SUTTON PHOTO

YARMOUTH - Vera Saeme is a woman on a mission. Actually, several missions.

Her first mission is the transformation of the historic Murray Manor, built circa 1821, from a bed and breakfast into the Murray Manor Art & Culture House.

The Yarmouth landmark, at the corner of Main and Forest streets, will open to the public early in June, with its grand opening June 9, Yarmouth’s natal day.

Along with beautifully displayed paintings by artists from southwest Nova Scotia, Murray Manor will be Yarmouth’s first crêperie, serving a variety of savoury and dessert crepes, homemade ice cream (both prepared by talented local cook Wendy Meuse), espresso and specialty coffees. As much as possible, the ingredients will be locally sourced, Saeme says.

“There will be tables outside, so our guests can feel the beauty of the place,” she says.

Saeme has spent the past year and a half restoring the charming residence, since buying Murray Manor from a listing on the Internet. Her husband, Mohammed, a physician and entrepreneur, had travelled to Yarmouth on impulse a couple years ago after a chance meeting in New York with a Tusket resident who raved about his home county and invited him to visit.

Mohammed fell in love with the Yarmouth area and decided it was just the spot for the busy, cosmopolitan couple to scale back, Saeme says.

Vera Saeme is a vivacious Brazilian, who has lived in 14 countries and speaks six languages. She met her husband, a Moroccan living in Norway, on a cruise ship nearly 30 years ago.

They lived in Norway and then Monaco and run a number of medical clinics around the world. Their two children went to school in Rabat, Morocco, where the family had a large home. When Saeme turned 50, she followed her passion to study art history at the Florida International University in Miami, where they also have a home, and graduated magna cum laude.

Now this well-travelled whirlwind is taking up the challenge of Yarmouth’s future prosperity.

“When we first came to Yarmouth, we feared we’d be considered foreigners,” Saeme says, “but we’ve never felt more welcomed. It’s refreshing, heart-warming. 

“Yarmouth is a place of opportunity,” she says, noting its assets include its welcoming, open-hearted people, it’s history and some wonderful architecture, and glorious scenery.

She’s so inspired with the mission to revitalize the business community, she walked into the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce office and demanded to become a member, subscribing to the philosophy: “I can’t — we can.” It needs the determination and enthusiasm of the business community and local government working together too make this happen, Saeme stresses, and even some tax incentives.

“It needs everyone pushing together to make Yarmouth a real destination,” she says.

 Linda Sutton contributes stories to the Tri-County Vanguard from time to time, profiling Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce members.