The Gleaner
Arts & LifeBusiness

Café La Ruche is a hive of healing activity

Carolyn Hersey has a wide range of luscious hot and cold beverages on her menu at Café La Ruche in Huntingdon, but her focus at the café is connections between people. “The coffee was almost a front for the spiritual connection,” she says, adding that she learned of and embraced this idea while working with Mary Sullivan and Diana Strader at Serenplicity in Ormstown.

The café project began when Hersey was looking around for a building where she could set up a home and possible business without knowing exactly what she envisioned for the latter. She saw the real estate agent’s sign in the window of the building on the corner of Lorne and Chateauguay Streets and arranged to visit it. “As soon as I stepped into the building… [it felt like a] space that needed to be shared with people.” She says the process of buying the building was “kind of magic” – the previous owners said that when they purchased the building 30 years prior, the owners at that time helped them, so they in turn helped Hersey in terms of flexibility through the purchase process. “For some reason, they just believed in the project,” she says.

They were not the only ones who believed in the vision, Hersey adds. “Everyone else believed in me… my own self was the biggest challenge.” As the project evolved, she says she still didn’t have a concrete idea of what the space might become, although the café aspect was established. She knew she wanted a place where people could connect and feel safe to share their emotions: “I wanted to have a space like that for me and for [my] boys,” she explains, as she has three sons. Some of the loose concepts she had in mind included music, art, and support groups.

Today, those things and more have come to fruition. There is a weekly drumming session (with other instruments welcome), a drafting table at the front window for anyone who wants to sit and make art, tarot readings, and a women’s circle on Monday evenings. The latter came about “from the desire to help other people,” but Hersey says, “It turns out it’s helping me more than I could have ever imagined… as uncomfortable as it is, people need each other.”


Carolyn Hersey owner of Café La Ruche in Huntingdon says that she felt connected to the space that now holds the café as soon as she stepped into the bulding PHOTO Chantal Hortop

This feeling of mutual support seems to be built into the framework of Café La Ruche. “There is just something healing” about the space, she says; “I feel like I encounter a lot of people who end up telling me their story.”

There is also a “pay-it-forward” board for those who wish to buy a beverage for a stranger who needs it either financially or just because they could use a kind gesture. Hersey says that most of the time when she offers it to someone, they end up paying it forward again. “The positive energy that gets passed on is pretty awesome.”

She admits that some days when the café gets quiet, she might get nervous about it; but then “Somebody comes in who really needs to talk.” The physical space of the café has created an emotionally safe space for anyone who needs it, and Hersey says she hopes that anyone who feels that need will “just come in.”

Café La Ruche is open Tuesday through Thursday, with the weekly activities posted on its Facebook page.

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