The Harley Haggerty Technique for Meeting People

Jamie Steel – the man about town who knows music.

He was due for his annual hair cut. Yes, his white hair was past his shoulders and his beard was down to his chest. Definitely a character.  I walked up to him and said: “Mr. Steel, I understand that you’re the person I have to meet”. He was somewhat surprised but not really taken aback. He seemed to know that he was the unofficial cultural liaison for St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick.

Jamie Steel is the type of person I look for in every small town I visit. He is one of the reasons that small towns make great destinations. He’s an outlier. Jamie is exceptional for his role in the music scene. The important characters of other towns may stand out for their age, the stories they tell or their unofficial political role.

These are people really worth knowing but they are rarely tripped over. They are typically found through others. I find them by simply asking.

The shopkeeper of Kilt & Kboodle told me about James Steeles

Who is the person in town that I just have to meet?

My assumption is that the person I find to chat with easily, the chance encounter in a coffee shop or a clerk at a Visitor Information Center, is not the most interesting person in town, but that they know who is. So I ask: who is the person that I just have to meet?

On my trip around the Bay of Fundy, I met many fascinating people but there was one who got away: Harley Haggerty of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. I learned of Harley simply by asking the young woman serving me a coffee at Tim Horton’s (a Canadian institution when it comes to coffee). She told me where he hung out in the evening but, in spite of taking the long walk to his preferred watering hole, I missed him. It happens some times.

But in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, I was lucky. This is a quaint town that thrives primarily on tourism. I was in a tartan shop (there is a rich Scottish heritage in New Brunswick) chatting with the owner, when I asked her the question.

She thought about it for just a moment and said Jamie Steel. — “Where would I find him?” — Well, she stepped out of the shop to point out the pub I should go to that evening and there he was, walking in, at that very moment.

Glass of beer.

Yarddoor beer (with an orange) from Fredericton, New Brunswick at the Red Herring Pub & Eatery.

Off I went and, as I told you, I walked right up to him and introduced myself. And what good fortune that I did. Jamie Steel is not only the executive director of the Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre but also books all the musical talent in the town. He invited me back to the pub that evening to see Adam Olmstead, a local boy who made good in Nashville was on his way through town to play at a festival in Nova Scotia. He would play at the pub that night with the Nashville String Band that includes a number of Grammy Award winning members.

I returned after dinner that evening, listened to the music and met the entire band. I don’t usually play the groupie but this was  a fabulous evening!

We don’t always meet the Harley Haggertys of the world (what a great name – I just have to adopt it for this technique for meeting people) but sometimes we do. How fortunate I managed to do so in St. Andrews by-the-Sea.

Many people forget about small towns when they plan their travels. I recommend them highly.



  • leelaurino

    meet the locals is far better than the local monument and most museums……….and i have altered my blog to feature ‘people i meet on the road’. When doing a road trip I force myself to get off the interstate and take the local route. if you never get out of the car you are not a traveler……. when traveling solo you are more inclined to meet people

  • Jerry pontes

    I met a Scotsman here in Seixas, the smallest village of central Portugal. A tiny cul de sac with one cafe, no stores and no hotels. Quite a character, he’s an expat who has been here for seven years…. For the past two days he has shown me a side of this country I would never have seen on my own. My journey is so much richer by meeting him.

  • Sharon

    what a great idea! I will try this on my next trip!

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  • Janice Waugh

    :) I don’t know Harley but he could be another Jamie Steel. Meeting people like Jamie is one of the reasons I travel solo so, if I’m in a small town and have the time, I try to find them.

  • Eaglewatcher

    WHY would you go through the bother to seek out Harley Haggerty????

  • Nina F

    Definitely am a fan of small towns with their slower pace and intriguing inhabitants!

  • Mary

    It’s always interesting to meet new people and communicate with them :)))

  • S. Hirsch

    Great Story

  • Tracy Antonioli

    I love this post! Meeting people is the best part about traveling, and I guess I just never thought to ASK who I should meet. Such a simple idea–love it!

    Also–did a Bay of Fundy trip–well, really a whole Maine/Maritime Canada trip–this past summer. I managed to make it take an entire month to drive from here (near Philadelphia) to Cape Breton and back. It was definitely the best trip I’ve ever taken. There’s a little restaurant right off the highway after St. Andrew’s but before St. John. Best fried scallops ever, and with the nicest waitresses. I don’t know the name of the place or even the name of the town–but I agree. Small towns are the best!

  • Gabby Kearns

    I wanted to hear all about Jamie Steel! Now I need to travel up to New Brunswick and meet him myself.

  • Jessica Festa

    What a unique post! I never thought of doing this, but is such a great idea. It must make for interesting travel stories (and great blog content!).