DARTMOUTH ORIGINAL – MEET POET
Poet Comeau is the owner of Lake City Cider, downtown Dartmouth’s first and only craft cider production house and tap room. Comeau admits that her first name, Poet, is a conversation starter, but it’s a name she’s always loved, even though she says her parents took some flack for it when she was born in 1980 in Comox, BC.
“My parents chose Poet to honour a close family friend. But a relative actually wrote to my parents when they heard my name and told them that they were ruining my life.”
Quite the opposite has proven to be true. Comeau says her unique name has helped her stand out in life, which was an asset growing up among four siblings. When Comeau was one year old, her parents moved the family from British Columbia to Dartmouth Nova Scotia and eventually, to a home near Lake Banook. Poet recalls a fun and lively childhood growing up in a big old house on Crichton Avenue.
“We lived right by the lake. It made sense for my parents to enroll us all in paddling lessons. I was nine when I started.”
Poet saved this newspaper clipping from her childhood.
Paddling is where Comeau began to come into her own, by setting goals, testing her limits and gaining confidence. Between the ages of 12 and 19, she routinely rose at 5:30 a.m. to train and prepare for race season. Comeau’s hard work and determination earned her consistent podium finishes. Her greatest achievement was winning the under 16-national championship in kayak.
“I would bring a signature energy and grit to my races that friends started calling “the P-Factor.” I still tap into that P-Factor mindset all the time.”
Comeau says the P-Factor fueled her to work long hours to avoid debt while pursuing her university education and teaching degree. She also earned enough money to take several months off to backpack around Europe.
“There was cider everywhere! I tried six ciders in France alone. Right after prohibition in North America, beer and spirits took off, but cider dropped off. That never happened in Europe.”
That trip changed Comeau’s life and set her off on a new career path. She became a sommelier and, for years, worked for the world’s biggest wine company. Comeau says it was a dream job, that gave her valuable insight into the beverage industry. While wine was her focus, she noticed cider producers were beginning to slowly emerge onto the North American scene, including Bulwark, Nova Scotia’s only cider producer for years.
“My dad was from Wolfville and we always went to the cottage at Evangeline Beach and visited the area U-pick orchards every fall. I thought, why is there not a cider industry around here?”
Comeau dreamed of opening her own cider house one day, where juices from pressed local apples would be transformed into an elevated cider experience. With her wine background, she envisioned her cider would be bottled like wine, with the effervescence and dryness of fine bubbly. She got the nudge she needed to make this dream reality in 2017, when her employer cut its entire Canadian workforce and she was made redundant.
“I decided if I was going to take a risk, I was going to take it for myself. So, I took a day job for the money, then hustled every evening and weekend until I got the business going.”
35 Portland Street in December 2017, before the building was renovated to become home to Lake City Cider.
Lake City Cider in August 2021.
On July 12, 2018, Lake City Cider opened at 35 Portland Street with a tap room, retail space and a small production facility. Since that day, demand for the product has grown steadily, with an unprecedented spike in online orders since the pandemic began in 2020. Lake City Cider also continues to introduce new products for distribution through the NSLC. Last July, Comeau opened a second production facility at 30 Estate Drive.
“No matter how big we grow, will always use only Nova Scotian apples. And we will always remain family-run business, based in downtown Dartmouth. That’s never going to change,” says Comeau.
Portrait photo credit: James Arthur MacLean Photography