Telephone:1-888-620-3377 (toll free)
Muzzies Crokinole is located in Forest Glade, in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley region.
Sue and Murray Skaling enjoyed crafting beautiful items from wood for many years for their own use, as well as gifts for family.
Through the 90s, as Murray’s work involved visiting the cabinet and furniture businesses throughout the Atlantic Provinces, his appreciation for real wood products and the process involved in making them grew.
Sue enrolled in a woodworking course to improve her skills and learned how to make beautiful furniture herself.
In late 2000, debilitating symptoms from a health condition made it impossible for Murray to continue to travel and carry out the duties involved in the business of supplying many products to woodworkers.
Sue wanted to care for him and be with him as much as possible, but needed to help provide financially. She had taken business at university years before, but spent most of the years since raising their children and looking after things at home.
She decided to put her business knowledge and love for woodworking together and start a business she could operate at home. She took a course on small business startup and began collecting ideas and researching potential products and markets. She had always loved flowers and gardening too and had previously operated a small greenhouse business.
Sue named her business Muzzies, a combination of nicknames they’d been called over the years, Muzz and Suzzie. Murray helped out when he could. They made wooden buckets and games. When their daughter needed summer employment during college, she helped them introduce a line of adirondack style chairs which sold very well. They planned toward other outdoor furniture and structures. Along wth this they bought an old truck and did gardening and yard work for clients.
Several years later, they made a crokinole board for their daughter and her husband. The response from friends and family was so positive that they made a dozen more and set up a booth at a local Christmas craft sale. The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of people young and old stopped to look, play a round, and share stories about crokinole. The stories were memories – of family and friends, of multi generations gathered around a crokinole board at the cottage, at Christmas gatherings, at community tournaments, at late night marathons in college dorms. The comments were universal – these were the best quality boards any of them had seen.
Before the weekend was over, Muzzies had a new focus. They had a product people really wanted, and this was going to be fun!
They listed a few boards on EBay and they were purchased by people all over North America, so their son in law developed a website and orders started to come from around the world.
Customers loved their Muzzies boards so news spread quickly. They were blessed with great feedback through phone calls, emails, in person, and through online forums and gaming websites.
By late 2015 Muzzies has made over 2700 crokinole boards which people are enjoying on five continents. Most are ordered on recommendation of friends or family. (The biggest week for new orders starts Christmas day when people see a Muzzies board for the first time when gifts are opened, then get online and place an order for their own). It is amazing how many extended families own a dozen or more Muzzies boards. They can be found in college dorms, military rec areas, prison activity rooms, on TV show and movie sets, and from humble homes to Hollywood’s hills.
But as Muzzies grew, sadly things changed for Murray and Sue. In early 2012, they learned that they would not be celebrating 15 years of “cancer free” later in the year. Sue’s breast cancer had metastasized to bones throughout her body and to several other organs. Aggressive treatment proved wonderfully effective for awhile, but in 2014 the cancer surged again.
The last week of August the family enjoyed one last grand weekend together at their favourite oceanside vacation spot. Then on September 6th 2014, Sue left this world behind and was taken to enjoy the glories of heaven forever.
Family and friends miss her and everything about her immensely – none as much as her junior high sweetheart and husband of 37 years, Murray.
He has honoured her dream of seeing Muzzies continue to go and grow.
More family has become involved, taking over some of the work Sue performed.
Her nephew helps in the woodworking shop, their daughter in law and young grand daughter now sew the checker bags and big board carry bag Sue designed and made. Their son sometimes helps in the shop and their son in law still looks after all the website and tech needs.
They are all proud of the little business Sue started and proud that they can carry it on, with the enthusiastic support of great folk around the world.
One of the great rewards has been hearing many crokinole stories people have shared over the years:
The man who’d left home in his youth to study and work in another part of the country, and returned only years later to attend the funeral of his beloved grandfather and claim the crokinole board they’d spent so many hours around during his childhood. With tears in his eyes he revealed that he never got the board. He had stayed away too long and it disappeared in the mean time.
The family who have enjoyed a big family tournament every Christmas season for years -elaborate trophy and all – and now needed more boards for their growing numbers.
The lady who came with her daughter to buy a new board to surprise her sister. They had grown up playing crokinole in their home, next door to the family business, almost below Blomidon’s red bluff. Generations of their family were coopers, making wooden barrels for shipping Annapolis Valley apples and Bay of Fundy fish to consumers all around the world. She and her sister, who is in her nineties, still “play a few rounds” almost every day of the week. Often, their brother is able to join them as they compete, laugh, and talk of the old days.
The guy who grew up on a northern prairie farm, who had fond memories of competitive play in the one room school house during long cold winter lunch breaks, when it was way too cold to stick their noses outside.
The retired farmer who spoke fondly of the community highlight of the year in his eastern Ontario home- the spring maple syrup “sugar off” celebration, and the crokinole boards lined up in the community hall for the tournament that was a big part of the special weekend.
The fellow who’d honed his impressive skills playing solitary crokinole for endless hours one winter, while living alone on an island in the Bay of Fundy, tending a lighthouse.
The grandfather who wanted the nicest board he could find to teach his grandson to play on – he had grown up in a home where money was scarce. His father drilled holes in the kitchen table for the “croke” hole and to place nails in for pegs, and each evening would draw circles with chalk before the games began.
Some of Murray’s best crokinole memories are of playing with his own grandfather, who had his own unique “thumb” shot. (He had lost all the fingers on his right hand many years before in a sawmill accident – but was almost unbeatable!) and of teaching Sue to play, then their children, and now grandchildren.
Great games, great times, great memories. Too many to share here. But they love hearing them, and love being
part of new memories they are hearing about all the time. Parties, tournaments, gameclub nights, new traditions started with family and friends in locations all over the world, gathered around a Muzzies crokinole board.
Boards can be purchased online at muzzies.ca, locally at their shop in the Annapolis Valley, R.D.Chisolm’s in Kentville NS. Inquisitive Toys in Wolfville, and in Halifax at Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia.
What is the meaning of the board names? We chose Annapolis, Fundy, Blomidon, and Melvern because we live near the Bay of Fundy, on the mountain that forms the northern boundary of the Annapolis Valley. At the eastern end of our mountain, Blomidon, a clay bluff, juts out into the Bay, separating it from the Minas Basin. The little community where we raised our family is called Melvern Square. It is a beautiful part of God’s creation that we get to call home.