Who’s Who – Hilary Drummond

0111This time out, the Who’s Who section goes international as we catch up with Valley native Hilary Drummond who recently returned to her roots for a visit and has some dreams for the future about coming home for good. Now living in Paris, France, Hilary says that during the last couple of weeks in Wolfville, she can’t walk very far without running into someone she knows. “I really feel a sense of place here,” she says. The former Central Kings student said that during her vacation she has achieved her goals of swimming, bonfires on the beach, impromptu musical gatherings and “enjoying the natural beauty of this place.” There was a time, though, when the local area did not inspire much enthusiasm in her. She describes her attitude toward the Valley as a teenager: “This is the embodiment of hell. I need to leave this tiny, backward place.” And leave she did. But these days, she is partial to the T.S. Eliot line that says, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Beginning at age 16, Hilary began a pattern of travelling to foreign countries and staying in one place long enough to get a real feel for the local culture and language. She identifies her love of languages as one of the main motivators behind her travels. That first trip brought her to Thailand as part of a student exchange program. Subsequent adventures led her to sailing the world on the Picton Castle, nine months in Italy working as an Au Pair, 6 months in St. Petersburg, Russia as part of her Russian Studies degree from King’s College/Dalhousie and most recently Paris, where she has lived for two years. Currently, she is working her personal “dream job” at the legendary bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. Many people will remember Hilary from Box of Delights where she got her start as a bookseller at age 13 and has “worked on and off ever since.” She gained further experience in the field working at Frog Hollow in Halifax and the Dalhousie Library while she was going to school. She sees a great difference between the Canadian and French attitudes toward bookstores.
In France, she says, “bookstores are considered cultural institutions and booksellers are trusted to supply books of quality.” The French government has enacted price-fixing laws to protect the independent stores from corporate stores and there are more grants available for book store owners. The result, she says, is a lively book culture where people gather at her store for everything from political discussions to poetry readings and other community events. Despite having “won the booksellers lottery,” Hilary does hope to one day walk away from one dream job to pursue another. “I’ve always wanted to own my own book store,” she says. Despite the dire straits that most independents are facing in the “fast and cheap” Chapters economy, she has faith in her home town. She would like to one day take over Box of Delights and try to change people’s minds about what a bookstore means to a community. Always one to support and promote the Valley, she will be carrying books from Gaspereau Press back in her luggage to grace the shelves of Shakespeare and Company. On that note, she says that she must go home and pack for a plane that leaves the next day but there is a wistful tone in her voice. “Every time I come home there is a stronger and stronger pull to stay,” she says.