Muzzies began part time as Muzzies Country Lane Woodshop in 2002. Initially, there was a lot of scroll saw work, then furniture for the family. The first products sold were outdoor furniture, window boxes and trellises. The outdoor game, Kubb, was added. Wooden Shaker style buckets became popular and were sold locally in several stores and at some outdoor markets.
As skills were honed and good tools and equipment were added to the shop, the product offering broadened and it became evident that the dream of making a living working wood could become a reality.
Having always enjoyed playing crokinole, Murray designed and built a board for his daughter and her husband for a Christmas gift in 2006. It was a hit, and the feedback from friends and family was tremendous. The next fall 12 boards were built and taken to two Christmas craft fairs. The reactions were amazing as hundreds stopped by to talk about the game, ask questions, and try a few rounds on boards set up for play.
After listing and selling for a few months on Ebay, a website was designed and soon there was less time for making any other products as the crokinole board market grew.
When a very favourable “review” was posted on a popular board game site – BoardGameGeek – by a very impressed customer, things really took off and orders came in from all around the world. As customers showed off their boards to family and friends the word continued to spread and things got very busy. There was no time to make boards ahead and have them ready to ship, and wait times sometimes stretched depending on order volumes throughout the year.
Many orders are now from repeat customers buying gifts so family and friends can enjoy Muzzies boards too. Many others email to say they are ordering after seeing a Muzzies board or reading or hearing a solid recommendation.
As of early 2022, over 5000 boards have been proudly made – by hand – and shipped to every province, territory, and state across North America and to dozens of countries around the world.
Feedback from happy customers has been tremendous and very rewarding.
For years now, the biggest ordering day of the year, starting the busiest week of the year, begins Dec 25th and continues late into the night – then through the week as eager folk get on line to order – after seeing a Muzzies Christmas gift board unwrapped or playing a few rounds on one.
It has all been a tremendous experience, interacting with people from many walks of life in so many different places, and one of the great rewards has been hearing the 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 whose daughter brought her 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 around the world. She and her sister, both in their 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.
- The commander of a Canadian military base – who, though he grew up in an area of rural Canada well known to many as a crokinole “hot bed” had never heard of the game until he and his wife were introduced to it in a small hotel in Greece, and came home seeking a good board of their own.
It is amazing how many people have talked about generational connections through crokinole, especially with grandparents. Hundreds of people – young children, teens, young adults, middle agers and seniors have told with emotion how they love to play with grandpa and grandma – or loved to when papa and nanny were still here among us – and how much those games and conversations are missed. (Is this because it is grandparents who have or make the time when parents are just too busy?)
Several times customers have said their board purchase is a memorial to a recently lost parent or grandparent – to continue a tradition – to play and display as they remember those special times.
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 one hand many years before in a sawmill accident – but was almost unbeatable!) and of teaching his wife 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, game club 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, or locally at their shop in the Annapolis Valley, NS.
What is the meaning of the board names? At the eastern end of the mountain that forms the northern boundary of the Annapolis Valley, the clay bluff Blomidon juts out into the Bay, separating it from the Minas Basin. Melvern Square is the little community where Muzzies started. We grew into a full time plus business while living in Forest Glade, and since 2019 have been operating out of our new shop overlooking the the Bay of Fundy, here in East Margaretsville.
It is a beautiful part of God’s creation that we get to call home.
What are the stains that these names describe?
Fundy deck and Melvern ditch – “natural antique Cherry”
Blomidon – “dark red Mahogany”
Annapolis – “golden antique pine”
Forest Glade – “honey amber”
Margaretsville – “driftwood grey”
Evolution of the Muzzies logo from 2006 to 2022
Muzzies Crokinole is located in East Margaretsville, on the shore of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley region.