Merritt BC Canada Murals

Merritt BC Murals – Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Featured Country Music Musician : Carolyn Dawn Johnson

“I’m going for the big picture” Carolyn Dawn Johnson

The Merritt BC Murals attraction includes Canadian country music singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson. She is one of  25 + Canadian Country Music Murals located throughout the community of Merritt, BC, Canada in the Nicola Valley. But here, at this mural in front of you,  I am going to tell you a little about Carolyn Dawn Johnson. 

Carolyn Dawn Johnson – Merritt BC Murals

Carolyn Dawn Johnson played at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now called the Rockin’ River Country Music Fest) in 2002 and again in 2006. Johnson was born and raised in Alberta, Canada. At the age of 5 she was singing in church and started taking piano lessons from the pastors wife.

At one point in her life she steered away from country music. But luckily for country music fans, Carolyn finally found her way back to the stage and calls that period of her life, that hiatus from country music, “a stain in her heart”.

country music mural Carolyn Dawn Johnson Merritt BC

Michelle Bacon (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

The Songs Of A Canadian Country Singer

Many a country music fan of Carolyn Dawn Johnson know her best for her songs like “Complicated”, “Georgia”, and “I don’t want you to go”.  

Carolyn also has two children, Abigail and Bennett. In one of Carolyn’s videos you can watch as she and her daughter Abigail sing a duet (story book style) that she wrote with Stella ladies. 

Life Of Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Carolyn Dawn Johnson was born on April 30, 1971 in Grand Prairie Alberta. She had many influences growing up. Her parents would play country music records while later in life she listened to many other artists and genres. Some included ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, Charley Pride and Marty Stewart.

At 5 years old she started taking piano lessons from the pastors wife at her church. Then in high school she learned to play the flute, saxophone and clarinet. Because her teacher Evangeline Theissen kept sending her books about piano, she continues to play the keys with passion.  

High School And Beyond

Although she took music in high school, her teachers were not very encouraging. She then turned to science. After graduation she attended Trinity Western University in Langley, BC studying biology. The following year she returned to Alberta, Canada and specialized in education.

Night Clubs

While attending collage she frequently went to the local clubs and sat in with some of the featured bands.  It was while playing with the local bands that her confidence grew on stage and in her talents. The bands, watching her perform on stage night in and night out, encouraged her to get back into music. It was then that she realized that her true calling was country music.

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Country Music Education 

Carolyn, realizing that country music was her future, decided to pursue an education in the production of music. She enrolled in Vancouver’s Columbia Academy and learned the technical aspects of the music industry. While learning song writing from a video she purchased she wrote songs in her spare time. It was also at this time Johnson joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International.

Nashville Is Calling Carolyn Dawn Johnson 

“I’m going for the big picture”  Carolyn Dawn Johnson

This quote was said to her mother during a phone call in 1994. It was then she moved to Nashville. On her arrival  in Nashville, Tennessee Carolyn began to seek out and attend song writing workshops. In 1998 everything changed. It was then she signed with Patrick Joseph Music as a songwriter. Her demos captured the attention of some amazing artists like Jo Dee Messina, Patty Loveless, Mindy McCready, Chely Write among others.

Big Break Writing

Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s big break came in 1999 with “Single White Female”. Johnson co-wrote the song “Single White Female” with Shaye Smith and, ultimately, Chely Write ended up recording the song. This song became her first #1 hit as a song writer. The momentum continued when Jo Dee Messina recorded  another of Carolyn’s songs called “Downtime” which became a top #5 hit.

Music Row Magazine named Carolyn Dawn Johnson “Breakthrough Song Writer of the Year” in 2000.

Country Music Starts On The Road

In 1999 Carolyn started her country music solo career. Martina McBride asked Carolyn to go on tour with her as a back up singer and guitarist. While on tour with Martina, Carolyn worked on her own songs for her debut album.

 Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Photo Credit :Carolyn Dawn Johnson Facebook

2001

In 2001 the doors continued to open for Carolyn Dawn Johnson. She opened for stars like Sara Evens, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Jamie O’Neil while on the Girls Night Out Tour.

Later in 2001 Johnson released her debut album “Room with a View” in Canada. An American release followed soon after. Selling almost 18,000 copies in the first week it became Nashville’s highest debuting album by an new artist. “Room with a View” became Certified Gold in Canada a few months later.

By the end of 2001 Carolyn Dawn Johnson had received 10 nominations from the Canadian Country Music Association. She went on to win 5 of those awards including Female Artist Of The Year.

2002

2002 Carolyn went on tour with Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. She won a Juno award for “Best Country Artist”. Another award won by Johnson that year was “Top New Female Artist’ by the Academy of Country Music.

2003-2005

Carolyn went on a co-heading tour in 2003 with Keith Urban. While on tour she wrote songs for her next album “Dress Rehearsal”,  released in 2004. Later that year she received seven CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) award nominations and won 5.

In 2005, Carolyn Dawn Johnson left Artisa Nashville stating “what they wanted me to do is not who I am.”

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

2006 – 2009

By 2006 she released her third album “Love and Negotiation” under Angeline Entertainment, a Canadian record label. At the CCMA awards in 2007 Carolyn was named “Female Vocalist of the Year”. Love & Negotiation was eventually released in the US by Dancing Lily Music, on October 13, 2009.

2010 – 2013

Johnson released a single “Let me Introduce Myself” from her next upcoming album “Love Rules”. The Album Love Rules was released on July 21, 2010 in the US and on Aug 10, 2010 it was released in Canada. Carolyn received “Female Artist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” for her Love Rules album. She also received “Female Artist of the Year” in both 2012 and 2013.

Recent years

Carolyn has been involved with another band JD & The Straight Shot. She started touring with them in 2018 and in 2019 became an official member of the band. They have just released an new album “The Great Divide” You can check out a live stream of the new album here.

Merritt’s Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame

Merritt BC is the Country Music Capital of Canada. Downtown Merritt BC Canada is home of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, the “Merritt Murals”, and the “Walk of Stars” have transformed Downtown Merritt BC into the largest country music art gallery you will ever have the pleasure of  experiencing in Canada. 

Take a selfie with your favorite country music artists and send them to us at @experiencenicolavalley on social media. Another Merritt BC Canada Attraction is the Walk of Stars.  There are 100+ hand prints and even one foot print that have been cast in bronze for prosperity located throughout the community of Merritt BC Canada. Do you know who the foot print belongs to? 

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery.  You can find the Carolyn Dawn Johnson – Merritt BC Mural at 1701 Voght Street which is the Home Hardware building.

For more info and stories about the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame – Merritt BC Murals please go to Experience Nicola Valley.

Say hi on social media and let Carolyn Dawn Johnson know you saw her on Experience Nicola Valley. Better yet send her a selfie of you with her mural here in Merritt BC. Carolyn Dawn Johnson can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Merritt BC Murals – Carolyn Dawn Johnson

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How to Create a Forest Garden

Living with the land

“Provides great nourishment for you and your family”

 

First, let me tell you what a forest garden is. A forest garden is a very old way of creating a low maintenance system that meets human needs by planting gardens that copy the natural structure of a forest.

Layers of a Forest Garden

There can be as little as three or as many as seven layers to a forest garden. They are quite different than a traditional garden. You don’t have to till the soil or worry about weeds. Depending on space, you can do three main layers of trees, shrub and soil surface or root. With more space you can do a full seven-layer edible forest garden. The layers are;

1 – Canopy Tree Layers (Large fruit and nut trees)

2 – Low tree layer (dwarf fruit trees, dwarf nut trees)

3 – Shrub layer (currants and berries)

4 – Herbaceous layer

5 – Soil surface layer (ground cover crops)

6 – Root layer

7 – Vertical layer (climbers and vines)

 

seven layers forest garden

Seven layers of a forest garden

Designing your forest garden

When designing a forest garden, you want to understand a few basic principles. They will allow you to plan what you need in the space you have available. Usually forest gardens are comprised of perennial species, thus allowing for less maintenance and more productivity, although you can use some annuals.

forest garden design

Drawing of my forest garden so far.

Other Crops

Depending on what your plans are, you can also plant medicinal plants. These may include eucalyptus, St. Johns Wart, balm and nettles et cetera. Other possible crops you can add would be different types of plants for crafting, like willow, bamboo or building material, firewood or wood to use for smoking meat. 

Layers of a Forest Garden explained

Let’s dive into the different layers of a forest garden and what are some examples of the different types of crops you can add to each.

Canopy Tree Layer

The first layer is the tall canopy trees. “When planting full size fruit and nut trees, be sure to plant them with enough space for them to grow. As well, you need to make sure there is enough room for light to come through once they are fully grown. Apple, peach, plum, and some species of nuts are good ones to start with.

Low Tree Layer

The second layer of a forest garden consists of a low layer of trees. This layer can be dwarf fruit trees or some species of nuts that grow lower than full size fruit and nut trees.  Apricots, peach, nectarines, hazelnuts and almonds are all naturally small trees. Any would make good choices to add to your garden. Nitrogen-fixing trees are also great for supplying mulch and compost. They grow quickly and can be heavily pruned. You can check at your local garden center to see what dwarf trees they have for your area.

Shrub layer

The shrub layer should have some different shrubs and smaller type plants. Some great examples are blueberries, bamboo, butterfly bush, raspberries, blackberries, currents, gooseberries et cetera.

Put sun-loving plants at the edge of the forest garden where they will receive the most sun. You want to plant mostly perennials, but you can still add some annuals and self-seeding species

shrub layer of a forest garden raspberries and blackberries

Part of my shrub layer with raspberries and blackberries.

Ground Cover Layer

Next is the ground cover layer. You want ground-hugging plants such as strawberries, creeping thyme, phlox, verbena, nostrum and clover. This layer is important for helping to keep the weeds at bay. Culinary herbs, vegetables and cover crops are great for mulch as well.

Vine Layer

The vine layer can be grown up the tall and dwarf trees. This creates a great use of space by using the taller trees as a ready-made trellis. There are a variety of vines that would work great. Kiwi, grapes or hops are just a few. More decorative choices could be English Ivy, wisteria, and honeysuckle. You can also train raspberries and blackberries to grow up although they will need help staying in place. I am also going to try planting some peas and bean vines to see how they will turn out.

The Last Layer is the Root Layer

There are several easy to grow plants that can be used as a root layer. Some of the ones I plan to try out in my forest garden are potatoes, onions, beets, garlic and carrots. I may even try some sweet potatoes and yams.

Benefits of a Forest Garden

There are many wonderful benefits of a forest garden. Not only will it provide great food and nourishment for your family, it can also provide attractants for pollinators and woodland creatures. Once it is more established it can be a wonderful place to go and relax. You are working with the land and not against it. You can yield a wide variety of products with very low maintenance. Helps to keep the land from eroding and also helps with winter run off. There is very little to no greenhouse gases and it promotes biodiversity. Besides all that, it is very pleasing to look at and to wonder your way through. 

My Secret Garden

Throughout my years of growing up I have seen a lot of amazing gardens. We used to travel to England almost every summer. They have some of the most amazing and beautiful gardens. Then watching The Secret Garden, I knew that one day I wanted to create one for myself. A forest garden isn’t quite the same in it doesn’t have walls and a locked gate. You don’t really worry about weeds and it’s not in rows. You also don’t have things planted in the same area. It will have a bench and maybe even a swing. It will be my little oasis to get away and relax. The best part is that I can nibble on whatever I please while I am relaxing on the bench.

Space needed to create a Forest Garden

The wonderful thing about creating a forest garden is there is no hard and fast rule on the space needed to do so. You can start one right in your own back yard on a small lot or an even bigger one if you have an acreage.  Some have done a forest garden in a 50 square meter area and others in 1000 square meters or more. If you are doing a smaller space just omit some of the taller layers. Use the space you have available to you and plant the layers according to what you can fit in that space.

The Beginning

At first it was just a space where we decided to plant some fruit trees. I didn’t know anything about forest gardens. While researching different ways of gardening, I came across an article on a forest garden. It really intrigued me to see all these different plants working together to create this amazing little ecosystem.

From that moment on it was decided. We were going to create our own little forest garden.

Although I have only just started my forest garden, I am looking forward to watching it grow. Last spring, 2018, I planted three fruit trees, five blueberry bushes, two raspberries, one blackberry and two Saskatoon berry bushes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t protect my Saskatoon berry bushes and my goats ate most of them. I have since taken them out to try and save them. In their place, I have planted two rhubarb crowns. I re-potted the Saskatoon berry bushes and have put them in the greenhouse in hopes that they will come back.

forest garden beginning

The start of my forest garden.

If what I planted last year survived the winter I will plant some ground cover crops and root crop. Strawberries, Jerusalem artichokes and even some herbs will be going in as soon as the weather warms up enough.

Another addition to my forest garden is a drip irrigation system. I have it attached to a timer, so I don’t have to remember to water. Also, if I need to go away for a few days or even a week, I am not worried about my garden drying out.

Kootenay Permaculture

The Forest Garden at Spiral Farm was started in 1993. If produces an abundance of fruits, berries, nuts, medicinal herbs and fiber crops such as willows and bamboos. It is located in the Slocan Valley on a 10 acre farm. Kootenay Permaculture was created to research and provide education in Permaculture and ecological living. It was started in 1991. It is an amazing example of what you can do to create a very productive Forest Garden. If you are interested in taking a Design Course in Permaculture get a hold of Spiral Farms. They have been offering a course annually since 2002.

Pictured below is a 20 year old Forest Garden from Kootenay  Permaculture. It is amazing how beautiful it can look over time. 

20 yr old forest garden

Photo Credit : Kootenay Permaculture.

I have also introduced Mason Bees. I will be releasing them as soon as the weather is cooperating. Check out my blog on Mason Bees here.

mason bees emerging cocoons

My little mason bees emerging a little early.

Over the year I will be updating and doing more photos as the forest garden grows. I hope you will follow along to see how things work out. You can find more of my blogs at Experience Nicola Valley.

More Information

If you are looking for more information about creating your own forest garden, the internet is a great place to start. There are many sites full of information on forest gardens and permaculture.

If you’re in the Nicola Valley, there are couple of great places to purchase supplies. Canadian Tire and Purity Feed both have a great selection of trees and plants. 

I also can make garden signs for your garden, walkway or anything you need. You can have a look at my Twisted Turkey Facebook page to see some of my signs and home decor items.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and HAPPY GARDENING.

Feature photo credit to The Green Parent – The Edible Forest Garden. Feel free to check out their article here.

How to Create a Forest Garden

Merritt BC Canada Murals

Tanya Tucker – Merritt BC Murals

Find Tanya Tucker in Spirit Square in the Center of Our Town!

 “I know I’ve found…A place in space where I belong” Tanya Tucker

 

Merritt BC Canada Murals – Tanya Tucker made it center stage not only in major music venues around the world for decades, but right here in outdoor small town BC. Tanya Tucker’s visage is on display right in the middle of our town in Spirit Square, a place often filled with live music. Tanya’s flowing hair and engaging smile attracts a lot of attention, from locals and visitors alike. 

Merritt BC is the Country Music Capital of Canada, and besides the incredible live music we get here, our town is alive with large and colorful murals of both Canadian and American musicians and performers. As a result people come from far and wide to our see our murals and visit our music festival community.

Merritt BC Canada Murals - Tanya Tucker

Jano Howard (Experience Nicola Valley) / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

“I’m the Singer, You’re the Song…”

That song was on the playlist of my early adult years, I listened to it at the beach, driving down country roads, and at dances. I probably still have that vinyl album. In short, I loved her moody country/rock voice!

Consequently, Tanya has released almost 30 albums since 1972. It was during that year she released her first album “Delta Dawn”.

And promises of more to come…

Tanya is considered a country singer, first and foremost, but crossed into the pop/rock genre and gathered more fans along the way. Her music was influenced by some major talents, including Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn, the Eagles, and Glen Campbell. She was nominated several times for awards from the Country Music Association.

Her lifelong success has been marked with many Top 10 hits and Top 40 hits. In 2002, Tanya Tucker was ranked #20 on CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.

Merritt BC Murals - Tanya Tucker Selfie

Edgy, Classic, Country

These three words head up Tanya Tucker’s website. And they suit Tanya for sure.

Tanya Denise Tucker, was born in Seminole, Texas.  At the age of six she began taking saxophone lessons, then started singing. She knew from the time she was a child, that she wanted to be a country singer when she grew up. Tanya and her family lived in Arizona, then Utah, and then the family moved to Las Vegas, where Tanya performed regularly.

In 1972, Tanya had her first hit, “Delta Dawn” at the age of 13! Two more hits followed quickly, “Love’s the Answer” and “What’s Your Mam’s Name”. And soon Tanya was established as a major star.

Merritt BC Canada Murals - Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker – Spirit Square – Downtown Merritt / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

MCA Records

In 1975, MCA Records snapped her up and a string of country hits followed.

Her music and image changed in the late 70’s, widening into the pop/rock genre. The move was surprising to her fans, but was a successful career move over all. However things did slow down for Tanya and her life took several turns until the late 80’s when she returned to country, but pop-styled, and this brought Tanya back to popularity.

“…I just reconnected with my fans, and gathered a few more — now I want to gather a bunch more! I’m not satisfied.”

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

In 1989, Tanya Tucker released a “Greatest Hits” album, and she has continued to release albums and perform.

Her last album with new material was “Tanya” released in 2002. She more recently, in 2009, made a classic covers album, “My Turn”.”You’re gonna hear from me.”

From news I read recently, after several years without an album release, Tanya has one in the works along with a documentary. It’s a long time coming according to her fans.

According to my sources, like Country Daily, Tucker is very engaged when talking her upcoming projects. She says, “If I could do every album I wanted to do, it’d take me 50 years…I want to do a duet album, a classic album with classic songs, of course a Christmas album…And maybe a spiritual album.”

“Hell,” she adds, “I’m busier than a one-legged man in an (butt)-kicking contest, I’m telling you! I need about three or four more hands and about six more pair of feet. But I’m doing what I can do.”

And here’s a project Tanya seems very happy with…

“I used to be a wild thing…”

Country legend Tanya Tucker is launching her own tequila brand, Cosa Salvaje. The singer partnered with Elle France, the founder of Cosa Salvaje, which translates to “wild thing” in Spanish.

“I used to be a wild thing, now I just drink a wild thing!” Tanya Tucker said in a press release. “I truly love the taste of Cosa Salvaje and certainly wouldn’t be partnering with it if it didn’t pass my taste test… the agave and distilling process is environmentally conscious, so we’re taking care of our planet too.”

Each bottle of Cosa Salvaje tequila is made from recycled glass.

From Cision, and other sources…

Will Tanya come to Merritt?

She has been here already! More than once.

Tanya Tucker performed at our infamous “Merritt Mountain Music Festival” in the late 90’s.  And she was in town in 2006 to unveil her stunning mural!

I would love her to visit again… Hey Tanya!

I checked her upcoming events list and although six out of thirteen are here in Canada, none are close enough to head to for an evening’s drive…

So, we’ll download some Tanya Tucker oldies, and listen while we cruise our town, checking out the mural tour with other country superstars- like Carol Dawn Johnson, Paul Brandt, Dolly Parton, and Elvis!

And when we stop for near the Spirit Square, we’ ll check out the Walk of Stars too. But that’s another story.

Merritt BC Canada Murals – Tanya Tucker

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”, a project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery.

  • To visit Tanya’s site, where you can listen to some of her music, click here.
  • For a list of songs by Tanya Tucker go to Songs Tube.
  • The Tanya Tucker Facebook 
  • Tanya Tucker on Twitter (27.600 Followers)
  • Other sources about Tanya: The Most Coveted, Wikipedia, All Music, and our own locals: Susan Roline and Melvina White.
  • For more info on our Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, read Melvina White’s blog. Melvina has been bringing live music to town for decades.
  • For more blogs on the many murals/artists scattered around our community, stay tuned to our Experience Nicola Valley site!

Come and visit!

Take in the Rockin River MusicFest, our country music festival, around the beginning of August every year.

Tickets sold out? Pop in to our weekly Open Mic at the Kekuli Cafe. Have a bannock while you are there….

Keep an eye on my Facebook page, Creative Community, to see what creativity is up in town.

And definitely tour the town of Merritt, to visit all our Country and Western murals featuring stars like Tanya Tucker!

As the Arts and Culture Blogger for Experience Nicola Valley. I am thrilled to talk about our live music history, our community public art-like the murals, and the participation of our locals and visitors to bring the Arts alive in the Nicola Valley!

Yours in creativity, Jano

Merritt Downtown Mural Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

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Merritt BC Canada Murals

Aaron Pritchett Country Music Artist – Merritt Murals

Downtown Merritt Mural Walking Tour

“I Grew To Love Country Music Because Of The lyrics”. Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals features country music artist Aaron Pritchett who was born on August 2, 1970 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. By the same token, Aaron grew up and was raised in Kitimat, BC, Canada – a coastal community in the northwestern region of British Columbia.

Aaron’s love of music didn’t start with country music. Growing up he would listen to the rock ‘n’ roll legends of his parents like Elvis, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, The Miracles, Van Morrison, and James Brown. Correspondingly, as Aaron grew older, Canadian acts from the 1980’s, especially Bryan Adams, were a major influence as well. Consequently Pritchett’s single ‘DRIVE’ was co-written by Bryan Adams and British writer Phil Thornalley.

“Def Lepperd, AC/DC, bands like that; they are all a big part of the rockier licks I use in my songs today. I grew to love country music because of the lyrics . The songs are all about true life experiences.” Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals

Aaron Pritchett – Featured artists of Merritt BC Murals

Working The Road

Aaron Pritchett started his career as a DJ at Rooster’s Country Cabaret in Pitt Meadows, BC. As a result of his DJ career, he also played in a house band throughout BC and Alberta playing cover tunes.

Aaron Pritchett Big Break

In 2001 everything changed for Aaron.  In short he enter a singing contest called “Project Discovery” sponsored by CMT (Country Music Television). Most importantly Aaron won $10,000 in cash, and a professional music video directed by internationally acclaimed director, Steven Goldmann.

Aaron put his winnings towards recording his first album “Consider This”. The title track from the album was co-written by Pritchett and BC country music legend Rick Tippe. After that he got to record three songs with one of Canada’s top producers, Tom McKillip. In short, it was then, when Aaron Pritchett won the Project Discovery Talent Contest, at the Canadian Country Music Awards, he started receiving national recognition and attention.

Aaron Pritchett

Aaron Pritchett on City Furniture Building / Copyright 2019 ©Canadian Country Music Heritage Society / Painted by Michelle Loughery

Country Music Charts Recognizes Aaron Pritchett

Pritchett was now on a roll with some of his songs climbing to the top of the charts. As a result his success continued to grow with the release of his next albums – “Something Going On Here” in 2003 and “Big Wheel” in 2006. During this period of Aaron’s country music career he toured promoting his albums to his growing fan base.

“Combine humble, driven, talented, great songwriter and a focused artist together and you have Aaron Pritchett.”

Merritt BC Murals Connection

Merritt, British Columbia, Canada has played a big roll in Aaron’s career. Not to mention Aaron has played a big roll in building Merritt’s country music brand. For instance, Aaron Pritchett was a regular attraction over the 17 years of the Merritt Mountain Music Festival (now the Rockin’ River Country Music Fest). His debut performance at the festival was on the “The Little Big Stage” in 1993.

Pritchett said, “the times I performed in Merritt were quite an experience”.

Winning Independent Male Artist of the Year at the CCMA’s in 2004 and then Songwriter of the Year in 2007 put Aaron on the country music map. His winning single ‘Hold My Beer’ was not the song Aaron and his co-writers thought would ever make it big. Were they surprised.

Record Label Signing

604 Records, the production company of Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, signed Aaron Pritchett to a label in 2008. Soon after, the “Thankful” album was released on September 9, 2008. Aaron promoted this album on a tour of Western Canada with Toby Keith and Jessie Farrel.

Aaron released his next album “In the Driver’s Seat” on November 9, 2010, under his own record label Decibel Music. Pritchett’s first greatest hits album, “Body of Work: A Collection of Hits”, was released on May 12, 2015 under Big Star Recordings.

In June 2016, Pritchett released the album “The Score”.  Moreover, the title commemorated his 20th year recording and the anniversary of his first album . The lead off single “Dirt Road In Em” went on to become #6 on the country music charts and was earmarked as a comeback single in Pritchett’s career. The second release from the album, “Out Of The Blue” followed suit reaching #9 on the charts. The release of “When A Momma’s Boy Meets A Daddy’s Girl”, climbed the charts and sat at #10 on the Canada Country Billboard for 8 weeks. Because of the results of Aaron’s efforts he was nominated in 2017 for Country Album of the Year at the Juno Awards.

The Country Music Team

Aaron is often heard praising his team for all his success. In addition Aaron credits his success, in the early part of his career, to Country Music Television and radio airplay. In addition, Aaron credits each and every fan that has supported him along the way. An early highlight of his career, was playing for an audience of 20,000 people in Ontario, Canada and listening to them singing along with his songs. 

“Without a team it is impossible to reach your goals.” Aaron Pritchett

Above all Aaron credits industry icon Heather Ostertag for much of his success. Heather is the Past President of FACTOR, Past President of the CMAO and owner of Heather Ostertag and Associates.

“Without Heather, many aspects of my career would never have happened. She has been a major supporter, a strong mentor and one of my best friends to this day. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for believing in me.” Aaron Pritchett

Merritt BC Murals Selfie Photo

Recognition as a Canadian Country Music Artist

To sum it up nicely, Aaron is considered, one of Canada’s favourite entertainers and all around good guy. Firstly, he has been honored with multiple Canadian Country Music Association, Juno and British Columbia Music Association nominations and awards. Secondly, some of the hardware he has taken home include Independent Male Artist, Independent Song, Entertainer, Male Artist, Album and Group of the Year Awards.

Aaron Pritchett has earned his title as one of Canada’s most energetic and electrifying entertainers in the industry. Most importantly, to all of us here in Merritt BC, Aaron has been a staunch supporter of The Merritt Walk of Stars, The Merritt Mural Project and The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Merritt Walk Of Stars

Hundred’s of International and National Country Music Artists have performed at the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival over the 17 years of the festival. As a result, those stars left their mark permanently in Merritt BC by creating hand prints (or, in one case, footprints) accompanied by signatures. Each artist print is encased in concrete stars.

In 2003, those hand prints became the motivation behind the Merritt Walk of Stars – a self guided walking tour throughout the community . More importantly, the project helped solidify Merritt BC, Canada, as the Country Music Capital of Canada. Today, more than 100 bronze stars are located in plaques throughout the community. Aaron Pritchett created his star in 2004.

“It is huge to get a star,” he said. “It a real honour to be among the artists who have made stars in Merritt. As well as be recognized among some of the names that are included, in The Walk of Stars.”

Merritt Mural Walking Tour

The Merritt Mural Project was created in 2005. The Merritt BC Murals were part of a successful program called, the “Merritt Youth Mural Project”. A project designed for working with local young artists and “ youth at risk”. Merritt Murals were painted by muralist Michelle Loughery. These beautiful works of art can be seen all over downtown Merritt BC.

Therefore, as a result, not only did the program serve to enrich our society, but it helped to transform Merritt BC, Canada into the largest outdoor country music art gallery you’ll ever visit. Subsequently, Aaron had his mural painted and sits on the wall of City Furniture on Voght street in Downtown Merritt, BC.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Capital of Canada

Merritt, BC Canada has its own history of cowboys, cattle ranches and country experiences. Country music is a part of the heritage and country lifestyle of Merritt, BC, Canada. Because Merritt has hosted an annual Country Music Festival for many years, it consequently became branded as the Country Music Capital of Canada. There was a short festival hiatus from 2012 to 2014. As a result Rockin River Music Festival took over the festival in 2015 and, since then, every August long weekend people come to Merritt for some top quality country music.

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

The Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame opened in Merritt, BC Canada in 2009. In 2012, it became an arm of the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society in order to create a venue to display artifacts related to the inductees of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. As a result, in 2018, there is a total of 139 inductees in the Merritt Hall of Fame.

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame is located in Downtown Merritt, BC, Canada on 2025 Quilchena Avenue. Moreover, make the effort to visit the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame and enjoy their  displays of your favorite artist inductees.

Make the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame your starting point for your visit to Merritt, British Columbia, Canada, as well as, visit our downtown coffee shops, restaurants and local shops for a unique shopping experience.

In addition say hi to Aaron on social media and let him know you met him here on Experience Nicola Valley. Further more, Aaron can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to send us a selfie of you with his mural too.

Downtown Merritt Mural Walking Tour

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame

Experience Nicola Valley Blog

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Experience Nicola Valley

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Mason Bees

Pollinate using mason bees

How to keep mason bees

Mason bees are a native species of bee that are fantastic at pollinating our fruit trees and gardens. There is a decline of wild and honey bees due to the use of herbicides and parasitic mites. Mason bees are a great and easy way to restore the productivity of your garden.

What is Pollination?

Pollen transferred from one flower t another is called pollination. Flowers depend on bees to move pollen from one flower to another thus pollinating them. The bees are rewarded with food to survive and to use for inside the chambers of there eggs.

The more bees there are to pollinate the more abundant the crops will be. It’s quite simple really. More bees equal more the more pollen delivered, equals more fertilization, equals more seeds which equals more fruit and larger fruit. It’s a win, win for everyone.

mason bee pollen

Photo Credit Crownbees

How to tell bees from wasps.

Bees have three body segments, head, thorax and abdomen. The female bee is the only one who can sting. Her abdomen has an oviparous for laying eggs which also serves as a stinger. The male does not have this but has male genitalia instead. Therefore he can not sting. Bees are also covered in tiny little hairs. These hairs are what help the bees to collect and distribute pollen.

Wasps on the other hand only have two body parts, the head and abdomen. They are carnivorous which means they get their protein from meat. They do also look for sugar substances from any source available.

Mason Bee Appearance

Mason Bees look black and like a house fly. But there are a few ways that you can tell them apart from house flies. One way is the antennae. A mason bees’ antennae are segmented.  Another way to tell them apart is that a mason bee has little hairs on it’s body where as a house fly is bare of hairs. You also won’t find mason bees on your food or leftovers or anything that is rotting etc. Mason bees you will find on open flowers in your orchard or garden. 

You can tell the male mason bees apart from they female mason bees by the little tuft of white hairs on its head and up the antennae. Males are also smaller than females. Male mason bees also have antennae that are longer than their heads while female mason bees have smaller antennae. 

mason bee merritt bc canada

Mason bee landed on my finger.

Life of Mason Bees

The mason bees are a solitary bee. Females do not need the aid of a colony to nest ad lay eggs. She finds a nest site and provides everything necessary to ensure the success of her eggs.

Adult mason bees stay in their cocoons over the winter. Once spring arrives, they emerge and have a very busy but short life span of about a month.

Spring time for Mason Bees

Mason Bees are very active once they emerge in the spring. There life consists of mating, producing their offspring and dying. This usually happens anywhere from Feb to May depending on the altitude of where they are living.

Male mason bees will emerge first as they are the last to be layed in the nesting tube. They are so cute with the white hairs on their heads and along their antennae. The males will not stray far from the nest as they wait for the females to emerge.

Once the weather is warm enough, daytime temperatures need to reach 14 degrees Celsius. The females will start to emerge. Male and female mason bees mate as soon as the females emerge. The female then starts looking for a place to lay her eggs and build the nests. 

Nest Site

After the female has found a suitable nesting site, she will go looking for pollen and nectar. While she is collecting the pollen and nectar, she is also pollinating the flowers all around. Once she had enough food the female mason bee will go back to her nest. She places the food down, lays and egg on top and closes the segment off with mud. The female mason bee will continue to do this until either she has layed all her eggs or she dies.

Nest Material

Mason Bees nest in tubes and holes or pretty much anything that has a cylinder shape. If you’d like to make a mason bee house of your own there are a few things to consider. First you need to make sure that the tubes you make are at least 5″-6″ in length and 5/16″ in diameter. This ensures that there is a good ratio of male to female eggs layed. If the tube is too short there will be more male mason bees layed. 

mason bee nesting tubes

Mason bee tubes. Made from Plastic. Can be taken apart.

You will want to make sure you place your mason bee house facing east so that it will receive morning sun and get afternoon shade in hotter climates. Ensure that your nest is protected from wind and rain. Very important to make sure there is an area they can get moist clayey mud in a hole in the ground as they need this to close off the sections in their nests and the end of the nest.

In the wild there is a chance for the nest sites to become infected with parasites or destroyed by predators. If we are looking after the nests, we can ensure more bees will survive. By making or buying nest that come apart so they can be cleaned, inspected and kept safe from predators.

Mason bee home

Mason Bee House

Once the nests are closed

Inside each chamber the egg will hatch, and the larva or grub will feed on the pollen and nectar ball left by the mother. Once the larva has fully grown, they go into a resting stage. The larva then spins a cocoon and changes into a pupa inside the cocoon. By the end of summer, the pupa’s have evolved into adult mason bees. Warmer temperatures will ensure the adults have developed fully. Cooler temperatures may halt growth and even cause death. But if the summer heat is too hot it can also have detrimental effects on the cocoons.

Keep your nests safe

You can also make sure that your nests are kept safe over the summer before harvesting. Once all the holes have been closed with mud you know it’s time. You can take the block of nests and place them inside a special nesting bag. This bag allows air to flow through but will not allow birds and other predators to get in and destroy the nests. You can move them into a shaded place until it’s time to harvest the cocoons in fall.

Retrieving the cocoons

Female and male mason bees remain in their cocoons over the winter. In the fall you will want to retrieve the cocoons from the nests and go over them for parasites or diseases. 

Usually around October it’s time to harvest your mason bee cocoons. How you harvest your nests will depend on which type of nesting materials you used. Carefully take apart, unravel or cut your tubes open. Remove the individual cocoons from the nesting tubes. You can put them aside and wash or discard later. 

Now you will inspect the cocoons for any mold, fungus or parasites. Good cocoons are nice rich brown color and look similar to deer droppings lol. 

Washing your cocoons

Once you have harvested your cocoons you need to wash them. You can do this by taking a 4 L bucket of lukewarm water. Place a layer of cocoons into the water. Gently roll them in the water to help the mud and other debris to fall off. Let the cocoons sit in the water for 20-30 min. Stir them occasionally to remove dirt and ensure they are well whetted. Good cocoons will float. If any sink to the bottom they are no good and can be set aside. 

Mites

You can inspect cocoons for mites. IF there are mites you will want to wash them in a solution of bleach and water. The solution consists of 1 tbsp bleach to 4 L of lukewarm water. Put the effected cocoons into a sieve and lower the sieve and cocoons into the bleach solution. Carefully mix them around to help any mites fall off. After 10 min remove from the bleach solution and put them under warm running water for 5 more min to help rinse of the chlorine. This should have removed any mites or remaining dirt.

Drying your cocoons

Now you are ready to dry your washed, dirt and mite free cocoons. Place a couple layers of paper towel down on the counter. Place your cocoons on the paper towel and cover with more paper towel. After a couple hours you can reinspect your cocoons. 

Inspection

Look under your cocoons for any orange spots on the paper towel. If there are less than 10 per square inch you are good to go, and washing them was successful. If there are more than that you need to screen your cocoons to remove the rest of the mites or as many as you can.

Screening your Mason Bee cocoons

The best way to screen for mites is to use a metal window screen or a metal kitchen sieve. Put the cocoons onto the screen and start rolling them around by gently shaking the screen back and forth. You will want to do this in a place where the mites can fall and be easily cleaned up, like over a bathtub. Once you have rolled the mason bees cocoons around on the screen for about 60 seconds you can put them back on replaced paper towel for another hour. Rolling the cocoons around on the metal heats them up a bit and causes the mites to fall off. Now they are ready to be stored and inspected for mason bees or wasps. 

Inspecting for wasps

The easiest way to inspect your mason bee cocoons for wasps is to candle them. Take a flash light with a lip, place enough cocoons on the glass plate to cover it. Make sure you are in a dark room. Turn the flashlight on. In the cocoons that contain mason bees you will be able to see the little bee in a fetal position. If the cocoon is transparent then you know the cocoon is questionable. Do not leave the cocoons on the light for more than a min as it can dry out the cocoon and may kill the bee.

Unsure if the cocoon is good?

IF you are not sure when you candle or check over your mason bee cocoons. You can take those and store them in a separate container for the winter. In the spring warm up the cocoons and watch what emerges. If its a mason bee, cool it off in the fridge until the outside temp is warm enough to release. If it is something else that emerges destroy it. 

Storing cocoons over winter

There are special coolers that you can purchase to house mason bee cocoons. They have a space for your cocoons and a space for a wet towel to help keep the humidity correct. There are also air holes to make sure they have adequate air circulation. You can also use a cardboard box with paper towel on the bottom to cushion the cocoons. Make sure there are holes in what ever container you decide on. Once you have them snug in their container the best place to store them in in the refrigerator. Manual defrost fridges are more humid than frost free. Therefore, are best for keeping mason bee cocoons. If you have a frost-free fridge keep an eye on your cocoons. Sometimes males will emerge while in the fridge. 

If any bees emerge while in the fridge don’t panic. I had some emerge and created a cotton ball with equal parts water and sugar and put it into the container, so the emerged bees had something to eat. Once the weather is warm enough and there is enough food outside you can release them along with the other cocoons.

mason bees emerging cocoons

My little mason bees emerging a little early.

Spring Emergence 

The easiest way to tell if it’s time to release your bees is wen the temperature outside is a steady 15 degrees Celsius and there are flowers on your apple tree. If you don’t have apple trees just make sure there are blossoms of some kind close to where you have set up your nesting area. Place the cocoons adjacent to or in the nest site.

Make sure the ground underneath your nesting site is not too wet or has any puddles and the newly emerging bees can fall and will drown. Best way is to release in batches every 4-7 days. This way if the weather turns bad you won’t lose all of your bees.

Bees need full sun and early as possible in the morning. There bodies need to warm to 90 F in order to be able to fly. They like to be out early to avoid the afternoon heat.

mason bee warming in the sun

Mason Bee from Merritt BC Canada warming up in the sun

Fascinating to watch

Mason bees are so fascinating. They are social bees and are so easy to watch. Make a mud area where you and the family can enjoy watching the females collect mud to wall off each section of their nests. You can also go out early in the morning to check out the bees sitting in the opening of their nests. They really are quite cute. There are nest boxes you can purchase that allow you to watch each stage of the mason bee’s life. 

Conclusion

Mason bees are only on species of bee that are so important to our environment. Do your part by not using pesticides. Plant native wild flowers. Grow and harvest your own mason bees. So easy, so fun and so rewarding.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog on Mason bees. Interested in learning more? Please feel free to contact me or check out my other blogs on bees at Experience Nicola Valley

If you would like to purchase some supplies and mason bee cocoons you can check on the internet. If you live in the Merritt or Nicola Valley area you can contact our local supplier Ellen Miller from Miller’s Farm in Lower Nicola. They also put on beekeeping courses and other seminars, including a mason bee seminar.

Photo Credit

Feature image of mason bee on the purple flower taken by Rusty Burlew of Honey Bee Suite. Stop by her website to check out all the great things she has to offer. 

Photo of mason bee on the nesting tube covered in pollen courtesy of CrownBees. They also have a wonderful website with lots of great information.

Mason Bees – Merritt BC Canada

Restaurants in Merritt BC – Crystal Gardens

Places to eat in Merritt

Great Chinese Food

There are plenty of different restaurants in Merritt BC Crystal Gardens Chinese cuisine is one of my favorite to go. Located at 2226 Nicola Ave in Merritt BC Canada. Crystal Gardens is easy to find and easy to access. 

If you are looking for a great Chinese food buffet then Crystal Gardens in Merritt BC is a great choice. As soon as you walk in the door you are hit by the amazing aroma of Chinese food. The dining room is very spacious with plenty of booths and seats to choose from. The restaurant is very clean and welcoming. Walk in and choose a place to seat yourself. Nice clean tables and booths throughout the restaurant. Servers are always friendly and will help you out in any way they can.

Chinese food Merritt BC

Crystal Gardens Chinese cuisine Merritt BC

Have a look at the buffet. With so many items to choose from your palette is not left wanting. One of the best parts about this restaurants in Merritt, BC is that fact that it is the only one that allows you to take the buffet as take out. Yes that’s right. In a hurry but would love to have a choice of all those delicious menu items, including the soup. Well, look no farther. You get a container for your choice of buffet items and a bowl you can put more in or soup. Its such a great thing to be able to just go in and choose items that you love. All for a great lunch or dinner buffet price.

Buffet

The buffet includes all the usual menu items like chow main, rice, spring rolls. There are also items like deep fried prawns, chicken or pork with veggies in black bean sauce, sweet and sour pork. And don’t forget the mixed veggies, dry garlic ribs, deep fried chicken wings and egg foo young. Some of my favorites are ginger beef and breaded almond chicken. Furthermore you can’t forget about the won ton soup. It’s always a nice light addition to any meal.

chinese buffet table good good

Buffet Table

Desert

Desert is also on the buffet menu. There is jello, home made cakes fresh vegetables as well as fruit. I have also seen different types of tarts on different occasions. With so many different items to choose from. How can one decide? Unfortunately I am usually so full from the amazing lunch or dinner items that I rarely have a chance to have any of the deserts.

Chinese food Merritt BC

Desert buffet at Crystal Gardens in Merritt BC

Not up for the Buffet

There are so many wonderful and tasty items on the menu you don’t have to choose to have the buffet. Crystal Gardens offers combination meals, family meals as well as single entrees’. Weather you want to eat in or take out Crystal Gardens Chinese Restaurant is an excellent choice.

A few of the menu items

Combo A – $11.99

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

 

Combo B – $13.99

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Prawns

Combo C – 15.99

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Prawns

Sesame Chicken

Children Combo – $10.99

French Fries

Chicken Nuggets (5 Pc)

 

 

Dinner for 2 – $34.99

Spring Rolls

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Beef Chop Suey

 

Dinner for 3 – $47.99

Spring Rolls

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Beef Chop Suey

House Special Fried Rice

Dinner for 4 – $63.99

Spring Rolls

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Beef Chop Suey

House Special Fried Rice

Deep Fried Chicken Wings

 

Dinner for 5 – $76.99

Spring Rolls

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Beef Chop Suey

House Special Fried Rice

Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Deep Fried Prawns

Dinner for 6 – $89.99

Spring Rolls

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Beef Chop Suey

House Special Fried Rice

Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Deep Fried Prawns

Almond Chicken

 

 

Dinner for 8 – $125.99

Spring Rolls

Sweet and Sour Pork

Chicken Chow Mein

Beef Chop Suey

House Special Fried Rice

Deep Fried Chicken Wings

Deep Fried Prawns

Almond Chicken

Sesame Chicken

Dry Garlic Ribs

For more information on places to eat and stay in Merritt BC Canada check out the blogs on Experience Nicola Valley. We are all volunteer bloggers that enjoy sharing our experiences about this amazing little City. Thank you for reading, please share for others to enjoy as well.

Places to eat in Merritt – Crystal Gardens

Great places to go camping in the Nicola Valley.

Some great camp sites around Merritt.

Never a lack of things to do while out camping in the Nicola Valley.

Camping in the Nicola Valley is by far one of the best pass times in the spring, summer and fall.

You can start by checking all the provincial and forestry camp sites. There is a great map to look at and see what they have available at each. You can take a look at the interactive map from Ministry of Forests. From there it would be easy to decide on which site has what you are looking for in terms of hookups, power, showers, lake , fishing hiking etc.

I have done this a couple times and it can be very convenient. I may decide to do this again one day. But right now I prefer a little more rustic way of camping in the Nicola Valley. It opens up so many more options and places that you can go.

Provincial Camp sites.

Some great provincial campsites around the Merritt area include Kentucky Alleyne. Located off of highway 5A between Merritt and Princeton. There are some great hiking trails, fishing and geocaching. There is also a great kids pond between the two lakes where children can fish in the stocked trout pond.

fishing kentucky lake

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Another great site is Monk park on the north west side of Nicola Lake. There is also great fishing here and if you have a boat you can get out into the deeper channels to fish. Rainbow, and kokanee are among the fish you can catch in Nicola Lake. You can get there by following highway 5 from Merritt towards Quilchena. Then take the Monk Park turn off just before the Nicola Lake dam.

fishing Nicola Lake

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

More rustic camping in the Nicola Valley.

There are plenty of great forestry campsites through out the Nicola Valley as well. Some of them include Tyner, Boss, Shea, Davis, Kane, Lundbom, Marquart and so many more. Each of these lakes has it’s own pro’s. There are usually quite nice set ups for camping at all of these forestry sites and each lake has good fishing, trails and an abundance of wildlife.

Lundbom is a great place to camp for those who love to take their horses along. There are corrals and some great trails and open range land. Makes for an amazing camping trip.

Rustic Camping

We usually just drive to a nice spot in the bush by a lake and camp. No power, no hookups, no water. Sometimes we are not sure if our trailer will make it in but we do. If for some reason the road it not safe to take the trailer we will take the tent.

camping Helmer Lake

Photo Credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Our trailer is always loaded with food.

We always bring our own water, propane, battery or solar lights. We even make a portable out house. And last camping trip we lined the path to the outhouse with solar lights. It was great.

camp at Rey Lake

Photo Credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Canoeing, kayaking and boating

All of these lakes would be great to take your canoe, kayak, boat, belly boat or even pontoon boat. They are all easy to access. There are so many lakes close to these lakes as well so you can travel a short distance to a new lake and a new experience.

Loons

We love going fishing to catch our dinner or just catch and release. It’s all about getting out and enjoying the day. One lake we go to has a resident loon that will come and try to steal the fish right from the side of your boat or belly boat. You have to be very careful and keep a watch or your fish will either get taken or have some pretty good marks in it from the loon’s beak. It is quite exciting and kind of scary at the same time. You can get some great photos of the loon though. 

loon wanting to steal fish

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Eagles

I remember another lake where you had to be careful as the resident bald eagle likes to come and steal the fish right off your line. Have to keep your eyes open and reel like crazy to get the fish in before the eagle steals it. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

We are seriously so lucky to have what we have in our back yard. I remember setting up camp one summer and just going back and forth to work right from camp.

Bruce the Spruce

I have to tell you a fantastic little story about Bruce the spruce grouse. While out driving around, there is one road we always take to see what wildlife we can capture. Once particular day when we stopped at our normal corner I heard a grouse. I started to call it to see if it would come closer and what do you know. This grouse came right out strutting his stuff. He would follow me and even the truck for a little ways up the road. 

NO WAY!!!

On our way back down I didn’t see the grouse again but told my boyfriend to stop and I would try calling him again. My boyfriend said no way is it going to come back again. I got out of the truck and started to call “Bruce…come on Bruce where are you” Well, wholly crap. Here comes Bruce strutting his stuff again. We couldn’t believe our eyes. I got a few more photo’s before heading home for the day.

Week Later

Thinking there is no possible way Bruce would still be there I decided to take my daughter for a ride up the road a week later. I needed some better photo’s. The ones I took the first time were not as good as I wanted. We got to the corner and I got out. My daughter must have though me to me crazy to be calling a grouse. “Bruce, come on Bruce, where are you” My daughter was just floored as out of the bush comes Bruce the Spruce. I got some better pictures this time. Had a little visit and left for home.

When my boyfriend got home and I started to tell him that Bruce was still there. My boyfriends daughters were listening couldn’t believe that I was calling this grouse in. I let them know that we would go out again as soon as we could so they could also see.

Couple weeks after that

It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that we got to head out again. I thought for sure this time Bruce would be gone. But he was still there and came out when I called him. My step-daughters thought it was the craziest thing. I also thought it was pretty wild how this grouse would come out when I called it. He was there and kept coming out for about a month and a half. We would go up and visit for a while and get some photo’s and a couple video’s. 

I am not sure what ever happened to Bruce but he finally did disappear. It was a sad day when I went to see him and when I called he no longer came. I can only hope that he just moved on.

Gardening

I was pretty much ready to start planting a garden out there. Although we were back and forth I did plant some potato’s and lettuce. Our trailer stayed out there from April until the first snow in October. It was the best summer I have ever had. I think  this year I will bring some planters out and have a bit of a container garden. 

Property

Now we live on property and I thought by having property I wouldn’t want to go camping in the Nicola Valley anymore. So I started to get animals to sustain us on our own land. Well, I was wrong. I miss camping in the Nicola Valley. Quading, fishing  going on hikes from out in the bush some where. There is absolutely nothing like it. I love being able to see all the amazing wildlife when I am camping in the Nicola Valley.

bull moose calf

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

New places to explore

Usually we always camped at Helmer Lake. Unfortunately there was a bad flood that took out most of the camp sites as well as the road. Forestry has not fixed it for the past 3 years. So on to new and exciting places.

We decided to sell all the animals so we can do some serious exploring again. Some of the lakes that we are looking forward to checking out this year are forestry camp sites. But that’s okay. I am looking forward to picking fresh berries and catching my supper again.

Can’t wait to share with you all what I have experienced over the spring, summer and fall and which ones we love. There are so many places to check out when you go camping in the Nicola Valley. Some you may have heard about. Some maybe you haven’t. I will tell you about all of the ones I visit and what I see and experience at each.

Take Care

Please take care of our country so that others may also enjoy it for generations to come.

I would like you to make a promise. When you go into the back country please, leave it like you were never there.  Always make sure your camp fire is out before you leave. If you see someone else has left a mess behind, please make an effort to clean it up then make a note and message me at Experience Nicola Valley. I will make a point to go back and see if there is anything else I can do. Thank you all so much. 

Great places to go camping in the Nicola Valley.

Merritt BC Canada Hotel

Best Western Plus in Merritt British Columbia Canada

“The Best Western Plus, Merritt BC is the newest and largest hotel throughout the Nicola Valley. “

From the minute I stepped into the foyer to the minute I checked out, my stay at the Best Western Plus, Merritt BC Canada hotel was a 5 star experience. The vibrant and stylish decor made for a welcoming front entrance and lounge area.  Danica, who greeted me at the front desk with a warm smile and conversation, performed a seamless check in. It was off to my room in no time and ready to enjoy my stay!

Best Western Nicola Valley

The foyer welcomes all guests

Meet This Nicola Valley Hotel

The Best Western Plus, Merritt BC is the newest and largest hotel throughout the Nicola Valley. Enjoy your stay in your choice of a one or two bedroom suite, single/double room or pet room. All rooms have high-speed wireless internet, 43 inch LED televisions with On Demand movies and single serve coffee and tea makers. 

General Manager Anoop Sekhon shared with me his thoughts as well, 

“The Sekhon family takes  pride in giving first class service and offering high end accommodations to all our valued customers.” 

In my experience, this definitely holds true!

Last Minute Hotel Goodies

If you forget something, don’t worry. Do what I did. Drop by the Snack Bar located next to the reception desk and pick up what you need. I noticed it was open 24 hours a day and sold a variety of items including juices, soft drinks, yogurt, chips, candy, and assorted personal care items. I loaded up and headed back to my room.

Comfy Quarters 

My room had all the comforts of home –  comfortable bed, fluffy pillows, warm comforter, and plush towels. Even the hand cream was worth writing home about! The best feature is how quiet the room was – something I can honestly say is not a feature in most hotels.

Pet Friendly Hotel Merritt B.C.

Comfy beds!

Complimentary Full Breakfast 

There is nothing like a good breakfast to start your day and the Best Western Plus, Merritt BC serves up a meal fit for a King! The hot entree’s were impressive indeed. There was bacon, sausage, eggs, waffles, toast, muffins, bagels and pastries!  Also there were continental breakfast items such as yogurt, fresh fruit, juices, coffee and tea. And many more items to suit most dietary needs.

Merritt, B.C., Canada Hotels

Dining and lounge area

The breakfast/lounge area is a great gathering room any time of day. Pockets of varied seating are great for visiting, reading or just watching TV. It is by far the largest breakfast/lounge area I have ever seen in a Merritt BC Canada Hotel.

Best Western Plus, Merritt BC Amenities

All guests get to enjoy these features:

  • Large, complimentary parking areas
  • Pets welcome
  • Meeting/banquet facilities
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Fitness centre
  • Terrace
  • Non-smoking property
  • Business centre
  • Laundry
  • Dry cleaning
  • Facilities for disabled guests
  • Family rooms
  • Elevators
  • Indoor pool & hot tub
  • Soundproof rooms
  • Fax/photocopying
  • Non-smoking throughout
  • Air conditioning
  • Designated smoking area
  • Special diet menus (on request)
  • Vending machine (drinks)
  • Vending machine (snacks)
  • Shared lounge/TV area
  • Mini-market on site
  • Daily maid service
  • Electric vehicle charging  Tesla stations
  • Accessible parking
Best Western Merritt BC

Time for a swim

Nearby Places To Eat 

With a wide variety of restaurants and lounges located nearby, guests never have to go far for a good meal.

Pet Friendly Hotel In Merritt

Pets are not just accepted at this hotel, they are welcomed! Of all the Merritt BC Canada Hotels the Best Western Plus is a winner at planning well thought out rooms for pet stays! Pet rooms have two entrances – one leading to the lobby and the second to the outdoors. Indeed this is the best hotel I have stayed at with my dog Bailey!!  

Pet Friendly Hotel Merritt B.C.

Bailey guarding his doggy treats!

Hotel Conference Rooms For Large Groups

This Merritt BC Canada hotel accommodation is ideal for business professionals and for hosting large group functions by way of their professional meeting and conference facilities.  The Sagebrush Room can accommodate up to 65 people.  It is ideal for meetings, social functions or events.  

 

Pet Friendly Hotel Merritt B.C.

3969 Crawford Ave.

Merritt, B.C.

Local # 250-378-0700

Book Today: Best Western Website

Best Western Plus, Merritt B.C.

 

Canadian Country Music

Country Music Hall of Fame is a Merritt Tradition

“Canadian Country music continues to grow in Canada and a number of US artists have recorded and made hits of songs written by Canadian Song writers.”

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum collects,  preserves and displays the history and tradition of Country music.  The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame honours Canadian country music artists, builders or broadcasters, living or deceased. The Country Music Hall of Fame is a national attraction and a must see Nicola Valley Experience in Merritt, BC Canada’s downtown.
 
Merritt and the Nicola Valley country atmosphere, outdoor adventures, traditional ranches, heritage and the unique
desolate landscape has been the inspiration for the biggest Country Music Festivals in Canada.  In addition it has earned Merritt the title, Country Music Capital of Canada. It has also set the stage for the Country Music Hall of Fame to showcase our national artist inductees, song writers and  their contributions  to country music.

Canadian Country Music Roots

Canadian Country Music

Photo Source CCMA: Hank Snow

The Maritimes, parts of Ontario and BC shared a strong folk tradition similar to that of the Appalachian region of the US. Because of this country music has found ready acceptance in Canada. It was first popularized by fiddlers such as Don Messer and George Wade. They started their careers on radio in the late 1920s. The Canadian Victor Record Co signed Wilf Carter in 1932, and his success prompted Victor to sign Wade (1933). Hank Snow (1936) and Hank LaRivière (1941) were signed as well. Carter, Snow, and later Earl Heywood introduced a unique style of country music to the scene using a lower, less nasal-sounding voice with clearer enunciation and fewer of the blues like slurs and high whining sounds that dominate much American country music.

Canadian Singers

However, Canadian singers depend more on the traditional ballad and story songs than on the “cheatin'” and barroom songs often preferred in the US. The Great Depression, WWII,  a more mobile population, the success of the “singing cowboy” movies, the number of US radio stations with access to Canada, the increasing number of pop adaptations in country music, national radio shows and tours all increased the popularity of country  music throughout the 1930s, 1940s and into the 1950s.

Movement to the United States

Canadian artists have struggled with low population of the country. Until the mid-1950s country artists relied on live radio shows,  regional touring in clubs, barn dances and local television appearances to earn a living. With a shortage of places to perform and the lack of good recording studios, numerous artists, including Ray Griff, Stu Phillips, Lucille Starr and Ronnie Prophet, followed the lead of Hank Snow and moved to the US.  In the 1960s country records became more pop-oriented. Artists such as Anne Murray, R. Harlan Smith and Shirley Eikhardt received airplay on commercial radio.

Country Music and Rock

Rock-oriented music, of the Good Brothers, Prairie Oyster and Colleen Peterson, gained a wider audience. The urban folk boom of the 1960s consisted of artists such as Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan and Bob Ruzicka. These musicians have both a strong urban and country appeal. The folk-music boom  introduced bluegrass, the jazz of country music, and traditional Canadian fiddle music to a much larger audience. In the 1990s there continued to be a strong crossover feeling to Canadian country music. The addition of new music artists Rita MacNeil, Quartette, Colleen Peterson, Ashley MacIsaac, The Rankins and The Barra MacNeils appeal to Canadian music audiences in general.

Growth of Western and Canadian Country Music

Canadian-content regulations for commercial radio in 1970 gave valuable airplay to artists such as Dick Damron,
“Stompin’ Tom” Connors, Carroll Baker, Gary Buck and the Family Brown. More radio stations were licensed and
more began to program for specialized markets. In 1960 there was one radio station, CFCW in Alberta, featuring
country music entirely. By 1987 there were 85 originating stations programming some country music during their
broadcast day, and by 1998 there were 110 full-time country stations and 36 part-time stations broadcasting country music in Canada. Because of this the 1980s saw a revival of interest in the older styles of country music of Ian Tyson, k.d. lang and groups such as Blue Rodeo and Spirit of the West. The more mainstream music of Eddie Eastman, Terry Sumsion and Terry Carisee, etc, remained popular.

Nashville Calling

Up until the 1990s primary television exposure for country artists came through such network shows as the Tommy
Hunter Show and syndicated broadcasts such as Sun Country and the Family Brown Show. More importantly, with the advent of country music specialty television channels, such as the Nashville Network and Canada’s Country Music Television (established in 1994 as New Country Network), new exposure possibilities for country music artists became possible. A new genre of country music, often referred to as new country, arose to take advantage of these opportunities. Borrowing promotional and production techniques along with a dose of attitude from rock music, this new music challenged accepted ideas of country music. This resulted in giving country musicians a much wider and more urban audience.

Making It Big

Country Music in Merritt

Photo Source CCMA: Michelle Wright-Patricia Conroy

Canadian artists who emerged in the 1990s include Michelle Wright, k.d. lang, George Fox, Charlie Major, Blue Shadows, Prescott/Brown, Paul Brandt, Cassandra Vassik, Patricia Conroy, Lori Yates, Terry Clark, the Wilkinsons and multi-award winner Shania Twain. There is still the notion that to make it big you must move to Nashville. However, television now offers Canadian artists a chance for much wider exposure. A 3-hour 1992 CBC-TV special brought new country and old country together in a program devoted to the history of Canadian country music called Country Gold. This program featured interviews and performances by Canadian artists from Hank Snow to k.d. Lang.

Birth of Canadian Country Music Association

The Canadian Country Music Association, formed in 1975 as the Academy of Country Music Entertainment, has sponsored an annual country music week in different cities across Canada. Country Music Week, as well as, Big Country Awards have brought artists and industry people together and have become major events in the promotion and development of country music. Therefore, the annual broadcast of the Country Music Awards has for many years been the top-rated Canadian music show on television. The Country Music Association is also responsible for the Canadian Country Music Hall of Honour, with a permanent home in Edmonton. The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame however, is situated in Merritt, British Columbia.

Then and Now

Country Music hall of Fame

Photo Source: CCMH of Fame

The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame has released a Then and Now Album Volume 1.  On September 7th, 2018 the first-ever Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame album was released. During the Canadian Country Music Awards in Hamilton, Ontario the ‘Then and Now – Volume 1’ compilation album was released. The album features Hall of Fame inductees Ian Tyson, Murray McLauchlan and Michelle Wright. They performed their biggest hits, in duets with some of today’s top names in Canadian country music. Some of the top artists performing are Brett Kissel, Aaron Pritchett and Jess Moskaluke. They were proud to participate.

Country Music Hall of Fame

There is an artifact collection of plaques, vintage turn table with 100’s of records (collection growing), national artist memorabilia, builders or broadcasters, living or deceased. Secondly, the country Music Hall of Fame includes extensive biographical information on the inductees. It is located in downtown Merritt, British Columbia at 2025 Quilchena Avenue. The facility is open year-round for custom tours, and is open to the public on seasonally adjusted hours. The initiative is governed by a not-for-profit society (the Canadian Country Music Heritage Society).

For more information contact:

Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame
2025 Quilchena Avenue
Merritt, BC Canada
Phone: 1-250-315-5508
Email: info@ccmhalloffame.com

Canadian Country Music in Merritt BC Canada

 Merritt BC Bakery-Confessions Of A Baker 

Confessions of a Baker, Merritt, BC Bound!

Dessert Tray made by Marie’s Sweet Shoppe

 

Confessions Of A Baker-Merritt BC Bakery

When I was a little girl, living in Merritt, BC. I was always in the kitchen helping my Grandma, my mom, and even my Foster mom cook or bake. Whether it be adding ingredients for them or mixing it up for them.

Even-though I was always in the Kitchen helping didn’t mean that baking was my passion, I just enjoyed helping and learning at all costs. I felt if I was not helping then I was not accomplishing anything, or contributing my part in the house hold.

Back in those days though; we were not asked to come in the kitchen, we were told not to get in the way, or not to play around the stove! I guess those rules are still in play with families today!

If we wanted to learn or even to be apart of the crowd so to speak, we would have to ask! Even show a little interest to learn what or how they made everything taste so good.

Confessions of a Baker# 1: I was more interested in playing and exploring the outdoors getting into trouble so to speak! The street lights were our window to curfew! Dinner Time!

First Attempt To Cook!

I was 7 years old, when I first used a stove on my own! Paying attention, or being observant paid for a great cause!

Both parents were working and the babysitter didn’t show up! We, (my sister, and I), were home alone. It was  late, and my sister was on a schedule, due to her medications she had to take. 

Anyway, my mom had made extra meat pot pies! First time I ever had to used a stove or oven, I was scared shitless! But someone had to feed us right?

 Can you imagine what was going through my mind at that time? That was a lot of pressure for a 7 year old, but I was determined to succeed!

My main concern was to feed my sister because she had to take her medicine. She has epilepsy! Guaranteed, her having a seizure was more scary to me than burning a house down, trust me!

Although, the countless things going through my head at the time was overwhelming, I did get it done. My sister was fed, she got her medications, and I was quite proud of myself in the end!

Confessions of a Baker# 2: I did get into a lot of trouble when my mother found out! I got grounded! But on the other hand, she was proud of me. Knowing that no matter what, I did what I had to do!

Chocolate Brownies, By Marie’s Sweet Shoppe

First Time Following a Recipe!

At the time, I was 10 years old. I was living with my Foster Mom, Joan Lawrence. This was the time I first learned how to bake! Joan was baking some bread and buns that day, and I has asked if I could help.

“Not with the bread!” she said, ” But how would you like to learn to make some cookies?”

Joan saw the interest in my eyes, at the time I was not sure how she did it, but she knew. However, she opened a cook book and gave it to me. She told me that all I had to do was follow the instructions.

 All we had to do now was place the cookies on to the baking sheet and bake. I was pretty excited that I actually followed the recipe step by step, well… at least I thought I had. 

Confessions of a Baker# 3: She told me they were very good! But they were hard as a rock! She didn’t know that I knew, Baking disaster….. What a Kind Soul She Had Though! I had forgot the baking soda!

Baking Was History!

A little bit of History of the first time I started to bake! There you have it, I lost interest after the last Confession. I took for granted how much work baking would be, thinking it was easy.Who was I kidding!

From then on, I enjoyed every moment of eating the baking everyone else did.

 

Confessions of a Baker# 4: I never started to bake again until… Until I became a mother myself. Of course it was not on a regular basis either!

When My Passion Came To Light!

The first time, I ever decided to try and be creative, when it came to baking, was is 2009! I was living in Kelowna, BC.  That was when I created a recipe, no cook book, no instructions, just the idea that flowed through my head. The idea came to light, and I even searched it, online, in every dessert cookbook out there! Could not find not one recipe that even came close to this idea.

My very first Creation! That was when everything changed for me. From then on, I dedicated, all my spare time I had baking and creating.

Edible Bouquets, By Marie’s Sweet Shoppe

That is also when The realization came to me as well. Every time I felt alone, sad, angry, and disappointed; my go to thing was baking! Yes Baking! I felt so much better after losing myself in creating new recipes,and baking up a storm. So much so that at the end of the day I started to give it away because I had too much, haha! Go figure!

Confessions of a Baker# 5: At first I was convinced I was going crazy, or thinking I had some kind of Compulsive disorder, or even a never ending baking frenzy! HAHA! Baking more than needed or necessary!

Therefore, this is how it was going for a few more years!

My First Business Was Created!

So after years of baking and creating, I thought what if…. Well that what if if, lead to getting a business setup! Such as a Business name, a business number (through Revenue Canada). Then finding the clientele, because first step, clients! Who else right? It takes a lot of work to get a business set up, it takes time and a lot of time. Learning all the rules and regulations, the laws, the city bylaws, and well you get the picture I am sure!

The most important though…. is you have to be completely committed…..you have to believe in yourself as well as your faithful clients! It all takes time, effort, and passion to be completely successful.

Learn as much as you can, put your heart and soul into your work, because if you don’t then you really are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.

Confessions of a Baker# 6: I have made this very Mistake. I had to Learn the hard way! My First Business failed because I did not put a lot into my business. I actually lost Faith in myself, NOT A GOOD THING TO DO!

Therefore I learned that before you get yourself into a loaded ship, and before you sail, make sure you put 110% into it all! Lesson Learned!

Success Of A Baker And Her Confessions

Today! Not only Have I succeeded, I have more experience, more Faith, and more clients! As the years go on, it only gets better! Although it is a lot easier now than it has been, the pride I have now is worth every moment this path has taken me thus far!

 Today I get more request, more happy clients, and it feels so good to see that thinks can only get better with each passing day! As along as I keep working on not just what I love, but constantly working on improvements and feed back from my customers.

Confessions of a Baker# 7: Never be afraid to ask for help! I learned this lesson along the way, and believe me the help and support from other bakers whom are more experienced is the best way to help you succeed!

Marie’s Sweet Shoppe did several Cakes in the past few Months!

Merritt

Cake made by Marie’s Sweet Shoppe