Élise Turgeon’s creative, generous spirit has brought a neighbourhood together.




Our new Cumberland home came with a view of the crisp Beaufort Range mountains, Mount Apps standing tallest above a green plethora of bike trails. The real-estate listing didn’t mention, however, that it also came with a neighbour who would bring community and whimsy to our lives.

It was COVID times as we settled in. After ten years away, we’d finally come home, but we couldn’t invite old friends over or meet new ones. I’d stare out at those mountains until my attention was caught by the movement of flowered fabric through the slats in the fence across the street—the woman in the dress! When two more sets of flowers pranced behind her, I’d quickly call out to my kids, “Look, it’s the girls! One day you’ll be great friends with them, I know it!” It gave their lonely hearts hope.

Then one day, a formal tea party invitation arrived, scribed in the most beautiful handwriting, and from the most charming names. “Who are Sir Thomas, Starlight, Lily May, Huckleberry Moonheart, and Luna Love?” my kids asked, their eyes filled with twinkling intrigue. Magic was entering them after just one letter. Since then, the whole neighbourhood has changed. Invitations for other eager children arrived at other doorsteps, and more tea parties were held where fancy play costumes were part of the fun. The next thing we knew, old-fashioned dresses had made a comeback on our block. Kids in dresses—with the odd flamboyant hat to boot!—were bouncing all around from homes close by.

It turns out Élise Turgeon, of the floral dress, used to design clothes as a hobby. And she has ample other skills, especially with her hands, in all sorts of fields. After studying herbology, she opened The Little Garden Stand in front of her house, where she sells healing tinctures under her business name Ra Earth. More recently, she launched Enchanted Fables Tattoos. In Cumberland, she’s mostly known for these enterprises, but we, her lucky neighbours, know so much more.

CVC Vol31 FloralDress Gallery

Élise does everything from the heart; evidence of this sparkles everywhere. Under her entrance arbour is a chapter-book share cabinet, filled with books for kids, that she set up to help connect families during the pandemic. She often leaves free items on a bench in front of her yard, or drops beautiful bouquets on others’ doorsteps. Just because. She designed and carved out (literally) my booming garden. She even launched a neighbourhood newspaper. Yes, that’s right, she’s that artistic and ambitious.

On a misty, cloudy eve, Élise’s home looks like a little cottage in a fairy tale. My kids say, “It’s almost identical to Snow White’s.” Her Enchanted Fables Tattoos clients get a sneak peek inside! As they walk toward the house, their senses will lift at the abundance of flowers and the inviting doorway. Upon entering, they will be greeted by an array of delightful creatures—some painted, some real. What a perfect place for her to create her delicate artwork with needle and ink.

Being with Élise is like stepping back in time to an era of embroidery, brooches, and brooms. A time when neighbours worked together, harvesting, chopping, or hunting. Only we do it by sharing household items, cooperating on garden work and other chores, and looking after each other’s families. Élise has even collected everyone’s birthday so they can be properly acknowledged. All the neighbours are becoming part of it—how could we not? 

Every neighbourhood could be this way, if we just follow in Élise’s footsteps. In praising her, I’m also inviting us all to throw a neighbourhood garden party or tea party; offer help, no matter how big the job; share belongings; and be part of building a community. You never know what might happen. It could be magic.