By Brittany Wentzell-Verge
Special to The Advance
As you drive through Port Mouton, you cannot miss the Company House General Store. If the bright orange paint doesn't get your attention, the giant redwood carving will.
The carving is seventeen feet long and five feet; eight inches high. A disc of 23K gold leaf shines on its surface. The bas relief is hanging from a piece of spliced rope which was used in the motion picture "The Scarlet Letter". Besides this massive work of art, there are also carvings, signs, paintings and other colourful pieces. This is the home of artists Jamie and Kryzsztof Skoczylas.
The couple opened the Company House General Store in May of 2012, in the building that was once home to the Nickerson Brothers General Store and Cannery. The building was on the market for some time before the Skoczylas' purchased it, and they have renovated extensively since then. The Skoczylas' store is unique both inside and out. The first thing you notice about the store is the orange and turquoise colours.
"We wanted it to fit into the atmosphere here," explains Jamie, "it's the colours of an old fashioned dory."
Inside the store you will find general items like olive oil and sugar but you'll also find textiles, clothing, christening gowns, folk art, incense, linens, carvings and more. The linens in the store can be personally monogrammed too. Much of the artwork on display is the Skoczylas' own work, but many pieces are on commission from local artists.
The store provides a place for tourists and locals to get a treat and have a rest. Jamie sells homemade Pizzelle, a traditional Italian waffle-cookie made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter and different kinds of flavouring and cooked on a press. You can wash your pizzelle down with a cup of homemade cappuccino or espresso.
Jaime's background is in paints and textiles, while Kryzsytof is a classically trained sculptor and painter. Kryzsytof graduated from the Academy of Fine Art in Poznan, Poland and immigrated to Canada to sculpt for the Catholic Diocese. His sculptures were featured in the motion picture "Two if By Sea" and his work has been exhibited throughout Canada and Europe. Jamie studied art history at the University of Ottawa.
The couple met in Toronto and moved to Jamie's hometown Kenora, Ontario where Kryzsytof had a business creating hand-carved signs - a business he has continued in Queens County. Drawn by the call of the ocean, the Skoczylas' moved to Mahone Bay in 1994, where they ran an art gallery, studio and linen shop.
Their plan was to stay close to the ocean but also close to Halifax. However, Carter's Beach soon became a favourite spot for the family to visit. The Skoczylas' and their two small children visited Carter's for hours in the summer.
"We'd be the last ones to leave the beach," says Jamie.
In 1998 they purchased the Company House and rented out the apartments in the summer to tourists, but continued living in Mahone Bay. Three years ago Jamie and Kryzsztof closed their businesses in Mahone Bay and moved to the Company House to live full time.
"It was our dream to retire in the little village by the ocean," says Jamie.
Summer hours for the store are 10 - 6 Monday through Saturday and 12 - 6 Sunday. Winter hours are 10 - 5 Thursday through Saturday.