Retirement interrupted: Larry’s River couple converts former convent into inn

By Helen Murphy    

LARRY’S RIVER– For some, a retirement of rest and relaxation isn’t in the cards – and that’s by choice. This applies to Mary Delorey and Bob Weber of Larry’s River, who took on a huge challenge and entrepreneurial venture after ‘retiring’ from the regular workforce. But it’s something they didn’t plan on.

The couple saw the beauty and potential of the former convent in Larry’s River, which had been for sale for some time, and decided they would take on the challenge of restoring, revitalizing and remaking the large home into something new for the community. In mid-August, they opened Murphy’s Inn. And that’s where they shared their story with The Journal last Wednesday.

Delorey was born and raised in Larry’s River. (And she’s quick to point out that means literally born in the tiny fishing village – there were no hospital births in her family.)

She worked for the provincial Dept. of Finance for 30 years, then took on renovation of her old family home back in Larry’s River in 2003. Along the way, she and Weber fit in lots of motorcycle adventures, including a cross-Canada ride for Canada 150 in 2017.

Weber grew up in Portland, Maine, and spent time in various parts of Eastern Canada, but moving to an isolated community like Larry’s River was something entirely new. Still, he says the transition wasn’t difficult.

“What I found is that even when the old house (Delorey’s family home being renovated) was a wreck I would sit out and look at the footbridge and think ‘this is all very calm.’ It was a whole new world.”

Weber says he was also excited about the history of the old convent. The house dates from the mid-1800s. It was originally a family home before Catholic nuns serving the community moved in. The last of the nuns left in 2006 and the house went up for sale.

“We had been in Florida for three months (in 2018), came back mid-November and heard that this house was back on the market,” Delorey recalls, “So we found that the price was good. Herman Murphy had it for sale…We thought about it and I said, ‘let’s go for it.’ And so we did.”

By early December 2019, the deal was done.

The house had started to deteriorate and required substantial work.

“As a kid I remember coming in here and this house was just so beautiful,” says Delorey. “I said, ‘Let’s take a chance. Let’s purchase it and see what we can do with it.”

Making it into a bed and breakfast was just a thought then, but it stuck. The couple had hoped to be open earlier this past summer, but weren’t ready to open the doors until mid-August.

In the final couple of months before opening, they received “enormous” help from family and friends. A weekend interior "painting party" completed the entire house.

To their knowledge, there has never before been a bed and breakfast or inn in Larry’s River.

The community has been very supportive, says Delorey.

“People are very pleased. They say how happy they are to have this. A lot of tourists pass on this road. Now they’ll have a place to stop and stay overnight and discover more about Larry’s River.”

The couple is keen to collaborate with others to enhance the appeal of Larry’s River to visitors. Among other things, they’ve been talking with local residents and organizations about the potential for a self-guided walking tour to see the sites in and around Larry’s River.

Although neither has innkeeping experience, Weber says he’s discovered the value transferable skills from something as simple as motorcycling.

“Like tenancy, and a positive attitude to get through challenges,” he says. “The same attitudes apply.”

That positive, can-do attitude came in handy when Hurricane Dorian knocked out power shortly after they opened.

“There was no power and no wifi,” recalls Weber. “So no well water. Then we hear a knock with two people at door from San Fransicso. ‘We just want to get off road,’ they said. A few minutes later there were two people at the door from Montreal.”

The innkeepers had a small generator they used to keep fridge going, so they used that to heat a frying pan and cook a meal.

“We had only been open a few weeks,” says Weber. “That was a test…It’s like the old lemons and lemonade thing.” Their unexpected guests did not mind at all dining by candlelight with new friends.

Murphy’s Inn has four bedrooms for rent, two with ensuites. The home also features a comfortable sitting room and dining area, with a hot breakfast included.

Delorey and Weber have a special interest in catering to motorcycle and bicycle travelers with route planning, for example, and they have a garage with tools and workspace on site. Also, guests who arrive with kayaks and canoes have access to the river.