ANTIGONISH: Since it was announced last August the landmark business wouldn’t re-open, the place of enjoyment for nearly half-a-century vanished in plain sight from Antigonish.
The former owner, Don MacPherson, decided that 2017 would be his final season of operation following his 70th birthday and the time had come to finally lock-up shop one final time, and retire.
“I had a hard time with that really, you just get old,” MacPherson said last Wednesday afternoon, covered in paint as he was putting a fresh coat on his back step. “I was hoping to be able to sell it to somebody who could carry it on – I really think there’s a need for it around here.”
Step in Garrett Juurlink, who grew up in Antigonish County and has spent his fare-share of time at the Snow Queen Leisure World growing up.
“I thought it was kind of sad to see it go,” he said. “We used to have cousins come home over the summer and that was always one of the places we’d go. It certainly was a highlight to the summer.”
It wasn’t until sometime this spring that Juurlink was driving by the recently abandoned roadside pit-stop that he began thinking this could be something he could take on himself.
“I thought it was an opportunity. It’s a landmark attraction here in Antigonish,” he said. “It’s a place where every kid in the last 40-years from around the area has been to at some point or another.”
Snow Queen Leisure World re-opened on July 20.
“It’s truly amazing,” MacPherson noted on how it was basically word-of-mouth that people found out about the re-opening.
There’s been nothing but positive comments since Juurlink re-opened the Snow Queen Leisure World doors.
“People are genuinely happy to see it re-open, kids are having a time – I’m enjoying it greatly,” he said. “Everybody’s enjoying themselves whether they’re eating ice cream, going on the go-karts or playing mini-golf, it’s all fun for them.”
And that’s what it’s all about MacPherson said speaking from experience.
“When you get to see the people, the kids with great big smiles on their faces – that’s all the satisfaction you need.”
He said it doesn’t bother him driving by it now and knowing the Snow Queen Leisure World is no longer his.
“It’s over with,” MacPherson said. “I put my whole life into that, and for that reason I hope he does really well with it.”
During the mid 1960s, MacPherson’s mother, Marie MacPherson purchased the original business, a small dairy bar in Lower South River.
Nearly a decade later, MacPherson purchased the business from his mother and had expanded it greatly to develop what is now Snow Queen Leisure World.
Over the years many new additions have included, go-karts, bumper cars and bumper boats, pitching machines, arcade games, the space train, the space ball and mini golf.
MacPherson’s three kids all worked at the business during his 45-year run.
“It’s just crazy when you look back and think about all the people that have gone through there,” he said. “I went through four different generations there.”
Juurlink is set to move his other business, Shine Factory Antigonish , which deals in automotive protection and detail, next to the Snow Queen Leisure World.
Other than that people won’t see any major changes, and Juurlink will continue with the Snow Queen’s legacy.
“It has been there for 45-plus-years, it’s been the L eisure World since the 80s,” he said. “That never really crossed my mind to take that name away.”
MacPherson said he’s extremely humbled that the little dairy bar his mother purchased all these years ago will still be enjoyed for generations to come.
“I just hope it lives on forever and he gets 10-times the amount of customers as I did.”
With Snow Queen Leisure World completely out of his hands and under new management, MacPherson said he can finally focus on his retirement, as he’s only felt he’s been retired for three weeks.
“Yesterday I put 350km on my motorcycle,” he said. “But don’t ask me what I’m going to do tomorrow, because I don’t know what I’m doing yet, but I’m going to be doing something.”