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7/19/2015

The Hippie Houses of The North Mountain Nova Scotia

The 1970's on the North Mountain near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia was a magical time and place in history. Word had gotten out to hippies near and far, that land on the mountain could be had for a very reasonable price and the chances of anyone coming looking for you in this very remote location were pretty slim. American Draft dodgers from all walks of life began showing up to the remote Canadian mountain to start communes, build handmade homes and live off the land. Many of these homes were completely off grid, some only accessible by foot path.
My Dad was a young man and a local during this time and lived in and visited many of the hippie houses in the area. I grew up hearing stories from my parents about the hippie houses on the mountain and these stories have gradually taken on fairy tale status in our family. With names like The Farm, Crow's Hollow, Moonrise, The Wooden Tee-Pee and The Dome, it's easy to see why. 
When I was a teen my Dad took me to see the remains of The Dome where he had lived for a time in the late 70's. My love affair with handmade houses was born, and geodesic domes top my list of favorite specimens. I recently harassed asked him to take a trip to visit The Dome and take some pictures for me. This past week he made my dreams come true and sent me some great photos of the old dome. Coincidentally the people that own the land now said it will have to be torn down this Summer, so I guess it was fate that he made it there before it's last day. 




After 40 some years left to decay in the weather, the dome has seen better days. While some groovy details remain very intact. As my Dad pointed out- " They took the time to corbel it (the chimney) and add some character to it, how cool is that? The fascia board on the wood shed is 40 years old and it still looks great". 
The interior of the dome, like many of the other hippie house was not very well insulated. As Dad said, he had to sleep in his toque in the Winter. Folks were not necessarily the most experienced carpenters and for that reason many people didn't make it through the harsh Canadian Winters, and bit by bit the hippie houses on the mountain were mostly abandoned. 
There is no sign of where Moonrise had once stood, The Dome is on it's last legs. Dad tells me people are living in The Tee-Pee still (awesome). Rumor has it some ruins can still be found in the forest of maybe Crow's Hollow and some other satellite commune buildings. 



Sadly we won't make it up North to visit this Summer. We absolutely will not miss next year though and when we do, I can't wait to go on the hunt for more of the hippie houses. While we're there we'll visit some hidden waterfalls and beaches that I 'm lucky enough to have the inside scoop on from dear ole' Dad.
Whenever I think of these houses and that beautiful time in history, I am reminded of this quote by the late great Hunter S. Thompson- 

“It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant...

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning...

And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply PREVAIL. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave...

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.”


I think that the waves are gathering their momentum again, but this time they won't break and roll back, but instead wash over us finally with love, peace and understanding. Here's to hoping. 

Peace Man
xoxo-Andrea

Bonus Reading- To read more about these groovy times, check out my friend Seymour Hamilton's book- The Hippies Who Meant It HERE


Update! Due to the amount of exposure this post has received, I think it is important to note that The Dome is indeed on private property. Although The Dome itself stands empty, people do live VERY near by. Please respect their privacy and don't visit The Dome without permission. Thanks!

72 comments:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful time amd place! It is really excuting that many gen Ys are getting back into the tree change thing, and with maybe a little more knowledge of building!

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    1. Yes! It is the age of information and we are better informed than ever before!

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  2. Anonymous7/20/2015

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Anonymous7/20/2015

    south mountain had a few of these built also

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    1. So I've heard, I will have to search those out next time I'm home as well :)

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    2. south mountain was where all the incestuous families lived, right?

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  4. We did have some friends who lived on the South mountain. It was a great time and I do think 'the hippies were right'...except about bathrooms.

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    1. Haha! I wish I could have been there!

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  5. Anonymous7/20/2015

    Hello we live off-grid on North Mountain, directly across Arlington Rd from Crow Hollow. Those houses are falling apart, and have been vandalised by 'geo-cash' visitors. Our Community is called Snow Lake Keep, we have a Facebook page and a blog: www.snowlakekeep.ca

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    1. Hi! It's so terrible to hear they have been vandalized. I would love to see them restored and preserved. Especially the Dome, since it is part of my family history. It is wonderful to hear about your community there and I will be sure to follow along with your blog :)

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    2. Anonymous7/20/2015

      Geocache visitors vandalizing?? Hardly.

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    3. I visited the so called hippie houses a couple of days ago. It was a sort of pilgrimage to me as Spider is one of my favorite authors. It saddened me to find the place in such a state, but I guess time marches on and nature does eventually reclaim its own; albeit it seems, with the help of vandals.
      I wondered who might live across the road.
      I wonder, do you mind the odd visitor, perhaps next summer?

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    4. rick l. weir12/28/2016

      we lived in clarence, under the north mountain in the early 70's. my father would invite the hippies to supper and usually 3 or 4 vehicles would arrive with 12-15 people. we would have supper and then have a bonfire in the yard where they would play guitars and sing.we went to a couple places on arlington rd to visit and stay for supper with them also. of course the "jug" was off limits to us kids, lol. they were a fun bunch and loved being treated well and would gladly give the shirt off their back to anyone needier than them.i have only good memories of them and their time there. sorry, but i can't remember how the buildings looked inside.

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    5. Rick, Thank you so much for sharing your story! Very cool to hear from the perspective of a local at the time :)

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  6. Yes the other hippie houses on Arlington Rd have been vandalized which is a sin sin I grew up on these stories myself but I have never ever been to the dome which I would love to see can you please help me find this Andrea like can you send me an email with the directions or just put them on here my family is from Arlington Rd and there are many more hidden in the woods on that road you just have to explore and as far as the ones on the south mountain I have never been able to find.

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    1. Cool to hear you grew up with the same stories. The dome is on private property but it is very near Arlington rd as well!

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  7. Anonymous7/20/2015

    I wouldn't blame the geocachers for vandalizing those old homes. I would blame local kids for the most part.

    I'd love to go see the Dome. Is there any directions I could follow?

    Another great old Hippie House is up off Arlington road. There is a twist in the road and small bridge over a river. We call it the Gingerbread House. Mostly fallen into ruin and it also has had its share of vandalism. There is another small house there as well. Canadian Sci-Fi author Spider Robinson wrote several books which centered around these locations as part of the MindKiller Trilogy. Apparently he spent some time up there in the 70s. A group known as the "Sunrise Hill Gang" had their commune nearby.

    I was inspired by the books and decided to go hunting for the place.

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    1. The dome is on someones private property and their home is very near by so I wouldn't recommend getting too close ( I don't want to get in trouble) but the Dome is in the same area off Arlington road :)
      I think the gingerbread house you speak of was called Crow's Hollow.

      My Dad knew Spider and I have read some of his stuff!

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    2. Anonymous7/22/2015

      Thanks Andrea. I didn't know the Dome was so close by. The names of things change over the years so its hard to track things down sometimes. As an example, even my road has gone through several name changes over the last few decades.

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  8. Anonymous7/20/2015

    Lower East Chezzetcook also had a dome and 3 other unique homes on the property. I believe most of the dome builders knew each other. Cape Breton had one at least.

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    1. Very cool info. I'll be on the hunt now!

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    2. Anonymous10/07/2015

      I remember visiting the dome and buildings in Chezzetcook on a high school math field trip in the 70s (we had very cool teacher who inspired us with Buckminster Fuller), and in the early 80s I visited with friends at a dome in Cape Breton. I have no idea if they still exist ...

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  9. Your Dad knew Spider Robinson and his wife, Jeanne. I remember meeting Noel Harrison (son of Rex) at parties.

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    1. I remember some mention of that and have read some of his stuff including "North Mountain Crazies" I think it was called.

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  10. wow...this is pretty fascinating.
    It (the whole Nova Scotia hippie scene you describe) would make a great documentary, I think.

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    1. I agree about the documentary idea 100 percent. I'd just love to tackle it. Hmmmmm...

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  11. I too lived at the Dome, 1991 or so, doing the retro hippy thing. And I loved it! Look! Wrote an article, (which you do not have to read)! http://news.nationalpost.com/arts/books/janet-e-cameron-life-at-the-dome

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    1. Hey Janet, I read your article a few times a while back. It actually helped spark my interest in The Dome once again when I was searching for articles about the North Mountain hippies. I will have to print it and begin a collection of related memorabilia.
      Cheers!

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    2. Really? Whoa. I didn't think too many people saw that article. Nice to hear! Here's a version with pictures if you want to check out what the inside looked like back in '91.
      http://www.asimplejan.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=286:life-at-the-dome&catid=63&Itemid=373

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    3. Thanks Janet! I've been wanting to get hold of some pictures of the interior! If you have any more, I'd love to see them.

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    4. I do have more I can scan when I'm a bit more organised. Which...um...might be a while. I'll send them on.

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    5. No rush...Cheers!

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  12. theres another dome about an hour away south of weymouth near sissiboo falls i think - abandoned as far as i know

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    1. So I am beginning to hear. I will be adding it to my search list for my next visit for sure! Thanks!

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    2. There is a dome in the Nictaux Falls area. I haven't been by there in a few years, but I assume it's still there. It is located alongside the railbed trail that heads from Middleton to the South Shore. It was being used as a shed. I always found it remarkable, but didn't know the history of domed structures in the area. Thanks for the article.

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    3. Happy to share my knowledge! And glad you shared yours, I will be adding another pin to my map. Thanks!

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    4. Anonymous10/20/2016

      I saw this on oct. 15/2016.....still standing but in rough shape.......sissiboo falls......

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  13. Anonymous7/22/2015

    I still live in one.

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    1. I am completely jealous! I'd love to make a dome my home. Are you in NS?

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  14. Anonymous7/22/2015

    Preserve our history - especially of those groovy, less cynical days gone by. If you stumble upon one of these places, people, leave a small item of memorabilia and a note. Please don't vandalize.

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    1. Yes! Agreed, and a lovely idea!

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  15. Anonymous7/22/2015

    I grew up in new minas and I've heard of these places but never seen them. I know the son of one fella that lived up there but he has a different last name so I don't know what his father goes by. Amazing to see that it lives on though, I was under the impression it was a thing of the past. Maybe me and my wife will join you up there some day.

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    1. They're mostly falling into the ground now sadly, but judging my people's response to this post they are still dearly loved by many.

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  16. Dome energy is so different--very grounding. Acoustics are fabled. Sound travels more freely. I've been in two domes in N.S. one in Mabou and one on the South Mountain in Kings County. They were both built in the mid seventies and both are still really nice.

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    1. My Moms family is from very near to Mabou, I will have to search that one out as well. Yes, the energy is very organic and natural. Good to hear they are both still kickin' it. Thanks!

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  17. Yes , the South Mountain had a few for sure. There is a rock building back of Crocker Road in Harmony, done a little later than the sixties but for the same reason.

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    1. Thanks! I will be on the look out for that as well!

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  18. I remember your Dad telling me stories about the Hippie Houses when I was little. Whenever we drove by the Mountains, sitting in the back seat I always looked to see if I could see the houses. Nova Scotia is such a beautiful place and I feel so lucky to have been able to grow up there and be surrounded by creative people like your Dad. He always had a magical story to tell me when I was young. I try to visit with my kids also as much as possible. Like me they love it there and already have some of their own stories to tell. Cam loves to tell people Grandma's home in Cape Breton is where he was bitten by a crab! Thanks for the beautiful post!

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    1. It is a magical and beautiful place, no doubt about it! I love hearing about it's history and people's stories<3

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  19. Very interesting post.....enjoyed it! I am a new reader and new follower. Just wanted to say a quick "hello" and introduce myself!

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    1. Hi! Glad you're here and you enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for more :)

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  20. Anonymous9/08/2015

    Still living in one not too far from Arlington :) If you're up this way again next year, let me know, you can come in and have a look around :)

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    1. I would LOVE to! Seriously.

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  21. Anonymous10/01/2015

    I grew up in Middleton back in the 70s. Many nights were spent partying in the hippie houses in the Port Lorne area.

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    1. Wish I could go back in time and be there!

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    2. Anonymous1/02/2017

      I've been going back and forth between NYC and Mount Hanley (just a little north of Middleton) for over 12 years. The Arlington Road--known locally as "Hippie Hill"--is still referred to lovingly by the locals. They consider that time period as being very beneficial to the area because many of those people were well educated and stayed, becoming doctors, vets, teachers, etc.

      But if you want to document, you better move fast, because the "hippies" and the people who knew them are dying out fast.

      However, the area is having something of a revival. Young people are coming from the US, UK, and other areas, into the small eco-farming thing. It's pretty exciting.

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  22. There was a famous dome canteen in Cape Breton in late 60s early 70s on the Trans Canada at the turn off to the Cabot Trail. Was called the Dog Dome because they sold hot dog. I summered in Bridgetown in the 60s and 70s and remember the informal housing on the Arlington Rd.

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  23. The Dome has gone. It was torn down in just one day. But they left the lovely woodshed and standing alone as it does now, shows off the beautiful detail.
    I live just around the corner from the dome property. Have done for nearly 46 years. I built y home,a house and stable combined the same year as the Dome was built. I have watched the people come and go,the building deteriorate,and been able, over the years to turn a lifestyle choice into a livelihood and remain here on the north mountain into my elder years.

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    1. Oh no! That is very sad news indeed. Well, I'm happy I got to share it's story here before it's last day. It's wonderful you are able to live there full time. Maybe one day I'll build a dome to vacation in somewhere on the mountain.Hehe. One can dream right?

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  24. Anonymous9/30/2016

    The "hippies" also bought my father's ancestral home and farm on Grant Road near Port Lorne. They got the 500 acres for $12,000, which included the farmhouse, all the machinery and the livestock. We always just called it "The Farm", so perhaps that is the property referenced in this article also as "The Farm". This was in the 1970s, 1971 to be exact. A large number of American draft dodgers arrived and they were fascinating. One of the leaders of the group was a fan of comic books so he would borrow a stack of ours periodically. They tilled the land and used old shells and seaweed they gathered on the shore as fertilizer, something we had never seen before and we thought it was rather weird. They also built a teepee on my father's former property. Certainly those were interesting times.

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    1. Thank you so much for joining the discussion and sharing your memories. I love hearing the more detailed history and your personal experiences!

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    2. Anonymous1/03/2017

      Very interesting history. Originally I'm from the south shore n.s. living now in kentville N.s. I'm Brent jødrey

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  25. Nice to meet you all. I was one of those Hippies who came here in 1971. My boyfriend and I built the 3 story wooden TiPi on the Arlington Road. I am happy to say that I was just up there and took a few pics. It looks like it is in decent shape and is being lived in. This building was the brain child of Mr. Clifton Shorey from Maine, a very well known architect and historic house renovator. I was fortunate enough to be able work with him on buildings in Salem and Newburyport, Ma. and learned much about historic house restoration. The land that the tipi sits on was once called "Stirk's Field" after a person... we thought it was Struck Field and that is what we called it. There used to be a small field to the east of the tipi. Behind the tipi the land drops off and there is a lovely rock based stream that flows year round. It is a runoff from Rumsey Lake ( which itself is a misnomer as it was originally called Ramsey Lake after a person.) We used to get our water from that stream and often there would be tiny stickleback fish in the bucket! My partner at the time moved back to Maine and I stayed and bought a 1791 house in historic Tupperville. I have fond memories of that amazing time on the Arlington Road and all the people who somehow discovered themselves there. I am sharing this with the James House Museum as I am presently the Admin./Curator there and have thought that this time frame of the early 70s and the Arlington Road people would be a great story to tell. Cheers, Kathy

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    1. Thrilled to hear from an original hippie home owner.Thank you so much for sharing. I am elated at the resurgence of these stories and that this magical time in history is living on in them. And thank you for sharing! Love & Light to you!

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  26. This particular dome was my childhood home.... sigh. Good memories. Good times.

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  27. lovely photos. Does anyone remember Norma Terry? ~~~~~

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  28. My aunt owns a dome in Granville Ferry, it's honestly one of my favourite buildings ever. Still lived in today.

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  29. My aunt owns a dome in Granville Ferry, it's honestly one of my favourite buildings ever. Still lived in today.

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  30. I find this so interesting.Before reading your article last year I didn't know these places existed.I would have loved to check them out.

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  31. Anonymous12/06/2016

    Great to read of the interest in this hippie era. Back in 1970 I was one of the folks who lived on the Chezzetcook property, in a tiny cabin built around 4 living trees, along a footpath behind the dome. We all moved on to Cape Breton eventually, for more arable land and room to grow our families. The builder of the Chezzetcook dome, David, then built the dome outside of Mabou. My only contribution was to help shovel gravel for the foundation pouring. Special times, indeed.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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