Terry Nabuurs has always loved cooking and teaching, and moving back to Prince Edward Island has allowed him to do both in the same place.
At 27, Nabuurs has already done more than some people in their entire lifetime. Those in Charlottetown know him from his Terry’s Berries seasonal food truck, and the blueberry farm of the same name that supplies pasteurized blueberry product for locally brewed ales. Bluefield High School students know him as their culinary teacher.
And for the past month, Georgetown knows him as the owner of the Wheelhouse In Georgetown, a seaside seafood restaurant located in a Victorian-style replica train station at 7 West Street with the best waterfront patio in town. The property became available when Clamdiggers, the former tenants purchased a restaurant in Cardigan.
Born in Cardigan to a farming family (potatoes, blueberries, soybean, grain), he realized by age 13 that cooking might be in his future. He started working as a dishwasher at the nearby Rodd Brudenell River Resort and worked his way up in the kitchen.
He left for Cold Lake, Alberta at 23 after graduating from Dalhousie with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and later an Education degree from UPEI. The goal of heading out west was to land a cooking job to save up to buy a food truck, but he ended up roughnecking on an oil rig.
“I flew out to Alberta with my knives, so I was really focused on getting into the food industry,” Nabuurs said.
He saved enough money from roughnecking to buy his food truck back in Charlottetown, and for two years he spent summers on the Island running Terry’s Berries and winters teaching cooking out west in Grande Prairie. The arrangement allowed him to both cook and teach – albeit in different time zones –but the pull of family and friends made it too difficult to spend so much time away from Prince Edward Island.
A year ago he moved home for good.
“Family was the biggest thing, 100 percent,” Nabuurs said. “Even for the little things – living far away means a phone call instead of actually being at the birthday party.”
There’s a community mentality here that Islanders sometimes take for granted, he said. It becomes obvious to those who move away.
“PEI is so close knit, Everyone is connected in some way – that counts for a lot.”
He cautions anyone considering moving back to Prince Edward Island to do it sooner rather than later. It’s easy to become comfortable where you are.
“Don’t wait – the longer you wait to move back, the less chance that you will actually do it.”