Gran Fondo brings woman back to her roots

By Lois Ann Dort    

HALF WAY COVE – Last year when Charlotte Rogers retired she couldn’t have imagined that doors to the past would open, and be constructed – nor that the key would be a bicycle.

Rogers decided, upon retirement, to take up a more active lifestyle. Running didn’t suit her so she got a bike and hit the road. She soon felt comfortable enough to look for events to challenge her skill and endurance. She found a Gran Fondo “Big Ride” on the French Shore and decided to look for other events in the province and found the Lost Shores Gran Fondo in Guysborough County. And it was a perfect fit.

Rogers, as her last name suggests to anyone who is familiar with Guysborough County, is part of the musical Rogers family, first cousin of Stan Rogers, namesake of the Stan Rogers Folk Music Festival in Canso. Coming to this area for vacation, even a biking vacation, was something that had great appeal; after all, that’s what she’d done for many years in her youth.

In the 60s, Rogers’ father Prescott bought a four-acre piece of land in Half Way Cove with a little house situated on a hill. She spent teenage summers here and has great memories. As the years passed visits to the area decreased. “After Stan’s passing, he (her father) lost interest in coming here,” said Rogers. The house fell into disrepair, leading to its demolition.

With the Gran Fondo passing by the former location of the house, Rogers started to think of what she could do with the land that was in trust to her and her sister. She thought about clearing a little spot for tenting, maybe a pop-up camper-- but once she was on the land, the dreams got bigger.

She explored the site when she participated in the Gran Fondo and after that started to come back regularly to do work on the property, cutting and clearing the land that had grown up significantly in 35 years. She loved the land, the memories and the great biking that she had found in the area.

As her plans grew she reached out to Gran Fondo organizer Rob Carter for assistance and advice. First there was a path to cut to the top of the hill; Carter did that. After a while there was a contractor to find to build a modest replica of the original house. Carter helped her find him too; Joey Myatt of Myatt Construction, Canso.

When Rogers met Myatt he told her a story about taking Stan and his brother and band-mate Garnet Rogers out in a boat in Dover to film them singing a song. After hearing the story, Rogers said, “I thought ‘This is the guy I want.’ He understood the vision.”

The only picture Rogers had of the original house was one of Stan and Garnet standing in front of it; she sent a copy to Myatt and things progressed quickly. “It went up in weeks,” said Rogers sitting next to the newly installed wood stove.

“These guys,” Rogers said of the work crew, “everything they say you want to soak it up. I really appreciate the work they’ve done here.”

“It came together so fast,” she said noting that she luckily had the free time to devote to the project.

Rogers plans to do more biking and perhaps bring her banjo down on her next trip to Half Way Cove. She signed up for this year’s Gran Fondo as soon as registration opened; after all, it is what prompted her to make this dream come true. “If I hadn’t done the Gran Fondo it wouldn’t have gotten off the ground,” she said of the little house.