First Nations of the Nicola Valley

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Shop Local in Merritt, BC – Vision Quest Optical and Gifts

Looking for Things To Do in the Nicola Valley? 

Shop Local in Merritt, BC – Vision Quest Optical and Gifts

“Come Downtown and Buy Something!” 

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Decorative BC designed drum bag

Jeanine Gustafson, owner of Vision Quest Optical and Gifts, encourages people to shop local in Merritt BC and support our businesses. That’s the message she would like to send out to the people who live in the Nicola Valley.

Vision Quest is an eclectic shop right on the corner of Quilchena and Voght Street, a corner everyone passes when they are downtown Merritt. Jeanine has a prime location on the main block, and fills her windows with a lively display all year round. If you pop in to see what’s there, you’ll find jewelry, gems, glass frames, toys, cards, books and local art.

On the Quest for Vision Services? Glass Frames? 

Jeanine is an optician with 30 years experience and her shop began as a way for her to offer optical services to the people in the community. You can find a room full of diverse frames for children, women, and men in Vision Quest shop, and Jeanine can help you find a frame you like and fulfill your prescription. She offers one more great choice in the community before a person decides to head off for Kamloops or to online services. Definitely worth checking out!

Looking for Local Art? 

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Bead Jewelry Galore

Over the ten years Jeanine has been providing options for vision care, she has expanded the offerings in her shop. Vision Quest is full of art, crafts, and jewelry created by about 40 local artists. 

All year round there are gifts, mementos, and useful items to choose from: cards by Marilyn Lytton, blankets from Amelia Washington, handmade soap from Les Keys, baskets and beading from Charles McKay. 

Jeanine herself creates feather earrings and other jewelry. There are painted tiles and jewelry by Pauline Ouellet, cards by photographer Heidi Koehler, beading by Ashala Harvie. And beautiful pained rocks by local artist Georgina Beatty! 

1st Nations Art 

Jeanine says the majority of the artists showing their work at Vision Quest are 1st Nations from the Nicola Valley, and some

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

1st Nations Art

from nearby regions like Lillooet. Her contacts also provide her with 1st Nations items designed in BC to satisfy her visitors from other provinces and countries. Look for beautiful designs on drum bags, a red lampshade, beaded earrings, medallions, baskets, cards…

The prices at Vision Quest are reasonable and range from about $5 to…more. I was very taken with a gorgeous across-the-shoulder bright turquoise suede bag, for just over $100. 

The local work in Jeanine’s lively, full shop is worth a leisurely search.

But I will admit that the jewelry, especially the gem jewelry, at Vision Quest often draws me through the welcoming doors on Quilchena Avenue.

Gems and Trinkets Galore!

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Gems and Jewelry

Jeanine’s windows are full of her jewelry, hanging or displayed in photo frames. And once you are in the shop, the jewelry is displayed in every cabinet, and in every nook and cranny. Amethysts, rose quartz, topaz, garnets, you name it. There are simple pendants to elaborately set jewelry, rings, earrings, bracelets in all shapes and colours.

There is also a diverse assortment of costume jewelry and a variety of pretty bags for storing your gems and trinkets.

What else? 

Jeanine carries local books from local authors when possible, fun toys for kids, guitar pics…

And a good supply of beading supplies: seed beads, gem beads, and others, and lots of supporting items like thread.

Business in Merritt 

I asked Jeanine what support she gets from the community. And her reply, “I am still open.” 

Shopping Local in Merritt, BC

Tiny decorative painted bird houses

In my opinion, with years of experience in owning a retail business myself, ten years is a success story!

Jeanine Gustafson is the owner of Vision Quest, renting her prime location from the local owners of the building. She has been open for ten years and is very familiar with what works downtown, and what doesn’t. She talks about how she is supported by the City of Merritt’s policies and attention. 

What can be better? 

However, Jeanine is very clear about what does not work and the trouble she has sometimes in her dealings with the City, like keeping the cobblestones level to reduce hazards to pedestrians and make it easier for wheelchairs and walkers. 

She discusses things that a city and the locals can do to support business in the community. What Jeanine chats about sounds a lot like the discussions that I hear happening at group meetings like the Business Resurgence, Vision Merritt, and the talks of

speakers at the Community Futures seminar.

We talked about business licenses, signage, opening days, first impressions…

What Works? 

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Hand made baby moccasins

Jeanine talks about other businesses and organizations which are supportive. For instance, she mentions how helpful the Open Door was to her. And comments on the support that Work BC has given to people she knows. 

“All sorts of fun people come in!” 

Jeanine enjoys the people who come in. She has regulars who pop in for tea and chats. She serves a steady flow of people coming in for optician services. And she welcomes all the visitors to town who make their way through her doors.

As we know, Merritt attracts people from all over the world. Jeanine often acts as an ambassador and tells people where to go in town, and what is happening locally. She has stories she shares with visitors, things I didn’t know about the history of some of the surrounding buildings and I’ve lived here for a lot longer….

What do you enjoy the most?

I asked Jeanine what she enjoys most about her business. After a moment’s thought, she describes the fun she has setting up

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Feather earrings by Jeanine Gustafson

the Christmas windows! Jeanine possesses the considerable Christmas village collection of the late Marguerite Kempin, a long time resident of the valley. It takes Jeanine a month to set it up, with no days off! And it will take a month to take down, ready for the next display! So it was great to hear that is a favourite part of her shop experiences.

I enjoy the Christmas window! And I know others who do too, some who take their grandchildren downtown to view it all.

Have you seen it? Whoops, it may be too late for this year. But the next display in Vision Quest’s display windows, on the corner of Voght Street and Quilchena Avenue will be there soon. Stroll by! Pop in!

Vision Quest is open Tuesday to Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.

But Jeanine is open on Mondays in the summer months. She says Monday is a busy day in Merritt in the summer!

And how will she keep going in the slow months? Jeanine’s message to the locals: “Come downtown and buy something!”

Now that’s a positive message that supports all the shops in Merritt!

Thanks, Jeanine! Good visit! 

Shop local in Merritt BC

Blue suede bag

 

Contact Jeanine Gustafson at Vision Quest visionquestoptical@gmail.com 

Vision Quest Optical and Gifts Facebook

More on the arts and culture scene in the Nicola Valley

And if you want to see more local art visit our local Arts Gallery at the heritage Courthouse on Nicola Avenue. 

And visit our Nicola Valley Arts Council site, to see what’s happening in the arts in our valley.

The NVCAC is also on Facebook. 

And check out my Creative Community Facebook page.

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Shopping at Vision Quest

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Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives  

A Senior’s Trip Through Time

I am always curious about how people lived before technology eased our lives.

Yesterday was blistering hot! So what better place for this senior to enjoy a trip through time than our air- conditioned historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives?

It was a short, hot, walk to Tutill Court. I stepped into the quiet, cool bliss of Merritt’s historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives. It sure is great to be greeted by two smiling seniors, Barb Watson and Jo Atkinson. They answered my questions (and I always have lots of those) with patience and knowledge. 

Experience Nicola Valley

Weaved baskets on display at the Museum

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- First Nations

I am always curious about how people lived before technology eased our lives.  So I  began with the First Nations people.  Our First Nations blogger, Gerome Garcia talk to us about how they lived and what they ate. I wanted to see the tools they used.

The Nicola Valley Museum & Archives has many, excellent, hand – made artifacts. Displayed in well-lighted cases are tools, equipment, baskets and clothing made by the first nations people who used them.

Some of these tools may look small but they were sharp and effective! Imagine the skill and time it took to make knives, axes, scrapers, arrowheads, bows, arrows, baskets and everything else you are looking at! All from materials found in their environment! Neither materials nor time were wasted.

Be sure to slide open the drawers under the display cases where many more choice pieces are  displayed. I got my face right down there for a good, close look. The shallow, lit drawers made it easy. I loved the exquisite beading and detailed decoration on these treasures.

No way can I leave this section without mentioning the baskets! They are made from many natural materials – even pine needles! They are amazing in skill, detail, pattern and beauty Many have tight-fitting lids for storage and some were made to hold liquids. Impressive indeed!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- School Days

A picture that makes me smile every time I see it is of Mrs. Lily Priest, Merritt’s first schoolteacher. The year is 1908 and the Merritt School District had just been formed. She is sitting in a chair in the open door of a teepee shading her eyes from the sun. Just outside the teepee is a wood- burning stove complete with a pot and kettle. This is Merritt’s first school. I can’t help but think how determined the settlers must have been to get their children an education and how determined Lily Priest must have been to see that they got it!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- Medical Services.

Next, I moved along to the medical display. The old stretcher looks as good as any today, although smaller. Some of the equipment seems familiar, other bits look rather alarming, including the shelves of bottles and potions. Everything would have been spotlessly clean – no antibiotics.

No comfy assisted living facilities for seniors either. You simply recovered or went to live with relatives willing to nurse you. That’s what family did.

The brave doctors and nurses who practiced in the valley got around however they could. On horseback, carts, by commandeering a special locomotive and even borrowing a section man’s hand-car. Now that’s dedication!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Home Equipment

This is a great display for comparisons! I found the icebox and “convenient”wood – burning kitchen stove fascinating. Maybe some of you remember a grandmother actually cooking on one.  Were you lucky enough to use one yourself? It is possible to turn out amazing baked goods with these stoves but this skill takes time to learn. The early models had no oven thermostats! Women, especially experienced seniors, were justifiably proud of their cakes, pies and bread!

The pioneers had everything they needed to get by, but they had to work a lot harder than we do.

Ever wash clothes by hand with home – made lye soap boiling water and a washboard? Then hand-wring them, carry them to a clothesline and hang them to dry? I have. That is one hard job! And I’m talking about summer. In winter, on washday the entire cabin would be festooned with lines of drying laundry. Those women must have jumped for joy when the wringer washer was invented!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Tools and Farm Equipment

Pioneer tools on display at the Museum.

Here is another fascinating area to explore. Take a good look at the equipment in the storeroom –  scythes, axes, saws, hammers, traps and dozens of other items too numerous to mention! All these tools had to be kept in good condition. This meant cleaned, sharpened, oiled and replaced. All the harnesses, traces, strapping etc. had to be cleaned, oiled, inspected for damage, repaired and put away. Of course, before any of this got done, the items had to be used

Ever spend a day plowing a field with a horse – drawn plow? Me neither, but I once saw it done by an expert. This fellow was a senior working with an experienced horse. But what a hot, sweaty job!

Imagine harvesting that field with a scythe! Better practice first because this is a tool that can nearly sever a limb! And yes, it is another hard, sweaty job.

I think- no, I know I would rather do laundry, bake bread, scrub floors, and work a half-acre kitchen garden!

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Back to the present

There is still so much to see. I haven’t touched on transportation, mining, ranching… Looks like I need a return visit, doesn’t it?

Do you want to read about my recent ride on an oversized trike? Read my blog on Seniors Bike Riding in the Nicola Valley.

From your seniors blogger,
Diane

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Experience Merritt BC Living

Experience Merritt BC Living

“The diversity keeps life and living exciting!”

Experience the “Dream” of small town living in the heart of the amazing Nicola Valley, Merritt BC

Want to experience living in a small town? Wondered if would be all that you have dreamt it would be? Well I am happy to share with you the reasons I love Merritt BC living. 

Merritt BC living, in the Nicola Valley, has given me the chance to experience  amazing diversity with the people, the colorful cultures, the landscape, and many experiences beyond any other community I have lived in!

We are nestled in the Nicola Valley, with a charming community, Merritt. And we are also IMHO blessed to be surrounded by first Nations Bands and can experience all of the wonders of their culture people and history. Much more on that to coming blogs. I will just say, if you haven’t been to a POWWOW or a first nations event, get out and go!

There are winding rivers,  sparkling lakes, beautiful creeks, natural river pools to swim and fish, amazing wildlife and forests spread over this entire valley with landscapes from wide open grasslands to dense pine and fir forests.

And it’s not just our location, our diversity in nature and landscapes, it’s our people! And there is about 8000 of us!

We have the best People!

People who love small towns like me!  People who have had family ties go back generations! Like the Pooley’s, the Voght’s, the Guichon’s, the Garcia’s. Many people I meet tell me that they were born and raised here. Or they moved away for work or to raise a family, and then they returned.

If you spend time living here to experience the beautiful community and the surrounding country it grows on you! And you grow on Merritt! People get to know you, you grow roots. You can’t help it! It just happens! It is hard to go anywhere where you don’t run into a friend or acquaintance.

We have are very own “mystery masked dancer” and a grapevine!

Merritt BC living

Experience Merritt masked dancer

The diversity here keeps life and living exciting!

Like our masked dancer! He has become famous in Merritt! Everyone is talking about him, and he makes (most of us ) smile. Who is he? Why does he sing and dance with a creepy mask on in public! Stay tuned for more to come as we “unmask” the mystery! 

We have a grapevine! A Facebook grapevine that sometimes takes on a life of it’s own. Do you want to know who is doing what, where, or when in town? Do you want to know instant gossip? This is the place to be! Check the grapevine! It really brings out the diversity I am talking about! There are 6626 members. Join in or simply watch! Believe it or don’t. Your call.

I love the grapevine because it is a place for people of Merritt to express themselves. Also because it is amazing to watch the town’s people come together in tragic times, like the fire last year of an apartment building where so many people lost everything they owned! Love that I live in community of such caring and generous people!

Experience Outdoor Adventure 

I can say for certain that Adventure and Play go hand in hand for me! It is never-ending!  Of course you may have heard Merritt’s mantra? “A Lake A Day As Long As You Stay” Well, that is a true story. My plan is to discover them all! I want to share it here!  I love exploring! See a back road, take it. See a fork in the road, take both! You will discover the most magnificent beauty in the world! IMHO!

Merritt BC living is a different experience every day.  My best times are when I take my old 4×4 jeep and find the “roads less traveled”.  Most often I feel rewarded with something that ignites the senses. A big healthy  mama bear with cubs, a gigantic moose, colorful wildflower fields, or even just a glimpse of landscapes as seen from a perspective I have not experienced before.

“An Adventure a day, as long as you stay” is a good mantra we use for Merritt too.

Experience Diversity in  Music and Arts

Music Festivals, Art, Musicians and Artists. I must declare that we have the best of the best!  In 2003 we have the honor of being named Country Music Capital of Canada. Make sure to visit the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame when you are here. Music and Art are often combined together in events like the Bass Coast Music and Arts Festival or the Rockin River Country Music Fest.

I have been to these and they are just an exciting part of Merritt BC living. No words can describe the experience of actually being in the sun drenched valley with the Coldwater River flowing through your toes as you await the stars to arrive! Yes the twinkling kind in the sky and the Star artists for the shows! It is without a doubt, a natural stage for a festival that would rank best in the world! New Festivals arriving this year too! 

Merritt BC Living

Experience Music Festivals like these people at Rockin River Music Fest

Merritt BC Living

Or these people at Bass Coast

The Arts are everywhere!

Of course in the heritage Court House Arts Gallery, the walls of the buildings all around town, in the local cafes and our amazing Art Walk each July to showcase Local Artists in businesses around town! “Take a walk on the art side” when in Merritt BC.

Our Art Walk is a summer feature in Merritt, just like the music festivals!

Now, those are a lot of reasons I love living in Merritt BC!

If you have dreamt of small town living, come and see what Merritt BC living is like!