Big possibilities, small village

Arts & Entertainment Community Featured

What started out as a joke during a morning on a fishing boat turned in to an effort to save a childhood school in River John.

Village resident Nick Bigney purchased the River John school to prevent it from being demolished.

A fisherman by trade, Bigney decided he would rather take on the school himself than see the community hub demolished.

“We were fishing and I heard (about the school being for sale) it on the radio, and we were kind of joking,” said Bigney about how the idea to buy the property came up. “The more I thought about it the more I thought I could do something with it.”

With a plan to turn it into self-storage units, the space has morphed into much more over the weeks since the purchase and the ideas for the space are still rolling in.

“It seems like the self-storage is kind of on the back burner,” laughed Bigney about the evolution the project has taken. From self-storage to talk of camping, a cafe and much more, Bigney has been taking suggestions and opening up his space to the community.

June 30 was the grand opening, so to speak, of the Rubber Boot Expo at the building. The expo is a sale area that allows vendors to set up shop and promote themselves. The expo is open to the public; with an entrance fee at the door anyone can go in and check out the various vendors and organizations that set up shop in the space.

The idea was born from a comment on a River John web page where someone pitched the idea for the expo. From there, Bigney replied, adding that he owned the school and would be happy to host it there.

Bigney added that aside from the roof, the building is in great shape so he is looking forward to what it can become. He said he has had people calling and emailing him with ideas about what the space could be. Bigney suggested that if anyone has an idea or proposal for usage of the school they can call him at 902-956-1466 or send an email to

“The way I see it, the more people that come and go, someone else might have a vision,” he said.

Shoppers at the first Rubber Boot Expo at the old River John School take in what the vendors had to sell. (Brimicombe photo)