People in Merritt and the Nicola Valley

Bike Rentals in Merritt BC

Bikes, kayaks and paddleboard rentals – Breathe Bikes

Bike rentals in Merritt BC includes kayaking and paddleboards when talking with my fellow blogger and Breath Bikes business owner, Travis Fehr. Travis is the proud owner of Breathe Bikes in Merritt BC Canada.  The bike shop is a good starting point in Merritt for mountain biking, kayaking and SUP rentals during your summer visits to the Nicola Valley. 

Mountain Biking-Rentals-Canada-Merritt

Travis Fehr outside his bike shop in Merritt BC

10 Questions For A Merritt BC Bike Shop 

I asked Travel Fehr (bike shop owner) 10 questions about his Nicola Valley business. So pull up a stump and have a read about the only bike store in Merritt BC Canada.

Mountian bikes-Rentals-Canada-Merritt

Q1: Why did you want to start Breathe Bikes?

A: I have been working in bike shops for over 3 years and I got to the point where I wanted to be the boss. I was working in Camrose Alberta in a bike shop.

” I wanted to move away from the harsh winters of the prairies because I grew up in Saskatchewan. My family and I wanted to move to some place where the Winters weren’t so harsh and some place where they had excellent biking trails but no bike shops and Merritt fit all the those things.”

Q2: What did you do before you started Breath Bikes?

A: Before working in bike shops I was in the transportation industry in the Lower Mainland for many years. After realizing that I lost my passion for my career, I asked myself why should I keep doing what I don’t have a passion for?

Q3: What has been your biggest hurdle as a business owner?

A: Continuous learning. Being in business as a sole proprietor, you have to wear so many hats. Because there are so many things you have to know. You have to be open to learning and polishing your skills. It’s definitely a hurdle, but it’s also rewarding. I feel good when I am always learning. It keeps you motivated that’s for sure.

Q4: How long have you been in operation?

A:  We opened here in May of 2013, I can’t believe it’s already been 6 years.

Breathe Bikes

Q5: What sets you apart from the competition?

A: There is some competition with the big box stores. but the obvious difference is that I specialize in higher end bikes and bikes that are a little bit different in their specifications. As well, I offer full service and maintenance on all of those bikes. I also like to think that I am connected to my community.  

Q6: What is your best selling model?  

A: The hardtail mountain bike is my best selling model.

Q7: Besides bikes what else do you sell?

A: Cross country skis, snowshoes, kayaks, paddle boards and our newest product is stunt scooters. We not only sell them but people can rent them too. We also sell bikes, of course. Oh and we also do bike repairs!

Q8: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

A: I don’t want to sound like I’m patting myself on my back but I like to help those in need, when I can and in any way I can. Kids Christmas bikes. I donate kids bikes that have been used, I rebuild them. I’m really proud of that.

Q9: What is your company’s goals?

A: TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! No but seriously, I want to grow my business, to see more growth of Merritt by encouraging active transportation and recreation culture of Merritt and the surrounding area. I would like to see that grow as well as see my business grow with it. I also want to stay grounded. Because sometimes you see businesses start small and get big and then they tend to lose their heart in that process. I don’t want that to happen, so I want to stay grounded and community focused and keep it real.

Q10: If you had ONE piece of advice for someone just starting out a business, what would it be?

A: Stay Positive! There’s going to be obstacles, setbacks and the only defeat is to give up.

Well my friends, that is Travis Fehr and Breathe Bikes . 

Another feather in his cap was that Travis also helped fix up and rebuild the bike park in Central Park. This is complimented by his dedication to develop, maintain and design mountain bike paths in and around the Merritt area. To top it all off he is also a member of Council for the City of Merritt.

Some of the mountain biking events, of which, Travis is an active supporter of some of Merritt’s biggest mountain biking races include the Merritt Crown and the Epic 1000

So if you are driving through the Nicola Valley from out of town or even out of the country and are itching to go for  quick bike ride. Be sure to stop by and see Travis at Breathe Bikes just down from the Coldwater Hotel.

Thank you so much for you time, I now return you to your regularly scheduled scrolling

Bike Rentals in 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

Experience Nicola Valley Community Website

Your Community. Your Voice. Its Time Merritt.

Unveiling and launch party April 15, 2019

MERRITT, BC. APRIL 15, 2019 – Tourism Nicola Valley will be hosting the unveiling and red-carpet launch party for a new interactive and digital community tourism website called Experience Nicola Valley. The event will take place on April 15, 2019 at the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame . There are  appys, entertainment, door prizes and an unveiling. 

The hall is located at 2025 Quilchena Avenue in Merritt BC.  Most importantly, the event is open to Nicola Valley businesses, non profits, clubs, societies, associations and events. Above all, look for your invitation in your email inbox or get one hand delivered (invitation below)

Tourism Nicola Valley presents the Experience Nicola Valley Website

Tourism Nicola Valley presents the Experience Nicola Valley Website Launch Gala

Travel Merritt BC In Real Time

The digital platforms, which are the first of their kind in Canada, is in partnership with tourism marketing consultants Greg and Colin Girard from ‘eh Canada Travel’. More over, the new Experience Nicola Valley Blog and Website platforms use state of the art technology and content writing techniques to publish in real time. In short, authentic content is created and developed by community members in the form of informational pages and blogs.

In addition, the Nicola Valley website will feature tourism related information about events, activities, restaurants, hotels, as well as, other tourist related businesses. Best yet, the new interactive website is an opportunity for local businesses, non profits, clubs, associations and events to participate too. It is an opportunity to educate, self market, as well as, generate awareness in real time. 

Merritt BC Website Launch

Travelers want it now and in real time

“ Firstly, 74% of travelers plan their trips on the Internet. Secondly, 89% of millennials plan travel activities based on authentic content. Travelers of today and tomorrow research prior to visiting a destination. To clarify, they want it now and in real time”, states Greg Girard. “Most importantly, these people are looking for authentic stories and experiences from their peers. They are not looking for “corporate speak”.

Community and Technology Working Together in Merritt BC

The Experience Nicola Valley platforms create authentic content covering everything that visitors want to do in Merritt BC & the Nicola Valley including fishing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, and cultural events.

Experience Nicola Valley – New Merritt BC Website Launch

The “Experience Nicola Valley” Blogging Program hosted by “Tourism Nicola Valley” and led by the brother team of Greg and Colin Girard from “eh Canada Travel” is one of the most satisfying programs I have ever been involved with. The program commands your thoughts, inspires your hopes, as well as, creates faith in yourself and your abilities. The stories and experiences are positive, inspirational and motivating. Furthermore, the feeling of watching your blog position on the first page of searches is exhilarating. I would recommend everyone give this program a try and see for themselves.”, Melvina White (Merritt City Counselor)

Merritt BC Canada

Meet the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers.

Proud to be working with eh Canada Travel

“Tourism Nicola Valley (TNV) is proud to be working with ehCanadaTravel in presenting this new and exciting venture for smaller communities. TNV is impressed with the quality and speed eh Canada implemented the program and with the support they have provided. The volunteer Bloggers are a huge asset to the community and we look forward to seeing them flourish further under the guidance of ehCandaTravel.” Anoop Sehon (President – Tourism Nicola Valley)

Showcases and supports local Merritt BC businesses

“We are very excited about this project and specifically how it showcases and supports local businesses here in Merritt. Tourism dollars are such a huge source of income for so many of Merritt’s business owners, but the work that Tourism Nicola Valley and Eh Canada Travel have done on building this “Experience Nicola Valley” brand is also keeping people here to shop local and renewing interest in exploring their own back yards, which is amazing.” Meagan Preston (Merritt Chamber of Commerce)

Excited about the future

“I am really excited about the future of tourism in the Merritt and the Nicola Valley area. A strong team of bloggers are writing almost daily about the many opportunities and adventures we have to offer in this area. In short, the opportunity to tell the world about our hidden gem by local residents is, to me, priceless.” Tony Luck (Merritt City Counselor)

Proud of the successes of Experience Nicola Valley

“I am very proud of the successes of Experience Nicola Valley team. They continue to share positive stories and experiences about all that is good in the Nicola Valley. Furthermore, the new interactive website is going to add to this “feel good” story,” Greg Girard (cofounder of ehCanadaTravel.com / Small and Rural Community Tourism Consultant – Top Ranked Canadian Travel Blogger).

Tourism Nicola Valley – Merritt BC Community Website 

One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe, Merritt, BC

“Don’t panic….we have bannock”

One of the best places to eat in Merritt is Kekuli Cafe. “Don’t panic… we have Bannock” is the official slogan of Kekuli Cafe in Merritt BC. A wonderful place to enjoy a number of indigenous foods.

Before we dive into the amazing food I’d like to treat you to a look at the amazing skor bannock. You have got to try one.

skor bannock kekuli cafe merritt bc

Ohhh so yummy Skor bannock from Kekuli Cafe

How Kekuli was born?

It all started when for many years Sharon Bond wanted to own her own restaurant. Having a passion for cooking, baking and making people feel welcome. Sharon also had a passion for helping and pleasing people.

With all the other places to eat in Merritt Sharon knew she wanted to create a place like no other. Therefore that’s exactly what she did.

The Cafe

Sharon wanted a traditional cultural aboriginal ambiance. Low light pow wow music, aboriginal art, jewelry and of course aboriginal cuisine. She wanted a place where everyone would feel welcome and acknowledged. Along with her husband Darren Hogg they created one of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe.

You definitely feel welcomed from the moment you walk in the doors of Kekuli Cafe.

The Name Kekuli.

It was quite interesting to find out where the name Kekuli came from. Sharon was looking for a unique name that would have an aboriginal flair to it. While reading a book by James Teit she came across the word “kekuli” which means house. Right away she knew that was the name and sent in paperwork to have it registered that day. 

The Thompson Indians used to live in these pit house( Kekuli’s)  hundreds of years ago.  These houses are build into the ground with logs, tule, dirt and grass. They were a safe, warm and happy place. That also protected the people from the elements during harsh winters.

You can still find Kekuli’s throughout the Thompson/Okanagan areas.

Kekuli Cafe pit house bannock

Photo Credit: Kekuli Cafe

Now however you can also find that warm inviting feeling of home in every Kekuli Café.

Franchise

The next step in Sharon and Darren’s endeavor was to start creating franchises. With the first being sold in December of 2018.

On Dec 1, 2018 Elijah Mack, just 22 years old, started living his dream by becoming the very first Kekuli franchise owner.  When asked what he wanted to be in 10 years he would say “I want to be my own boss.” Now Elijah is the proud owner of one of the best places to eat in Merritt.

Kekuli Cafe franchise owner

Photo credit Kekuli Cafe

Saskatoon ice tea is wonderful and refreshing treat any time of year. I love the flavor. Makes me want another one just thinking about it. My daughters favorite it the saskatoon berry smoothie.

Kekuli Cafe saskatoon ice tea

Saskatoon berry ice tea. It was so refreshing.

They have a variety of Bannock available and some amazing lunches. Fry bread tipi tacos, grilled Bannock flatbread, bannowiches, and a variety of salads. Check out their menu here.

Lunch

Oh my goodness, look at this amazing meal. So nice to have a place where everything is made fresh with fresh ingredients.

bannock blt

BLT Bannock with cran apple feta salad

BLT bannock fresh

BLT bannock at Kekuli

This BLT bannock was so amazing. The bannock was soft and warm, lettuce and tomato were fresh and no skimping on the bacon which was cooked to perfection. Must say this was the best BLT I have had in a very long time. Along with my BLT I chose to have the cranberry, apple and feta salad. It was so crisp and fresh. Accompanying the salad was a saskatoon vinaigrette dressing made in house.  Perfect for this salad. 

salad cranberry apple feta

Cranberry, apple and feta salad.

Desert I had a skor bannock. It was so fresh and I have to say better than any doughnut I have ever had. I was very tempted to buy a whole bunch of them to take home. 

Happy customers

While I was visiting there were a group from White Rock who stopped in for lunch. They were extremely thrilled with the service. One lady spoke of how Kurt, chief at Kekuli Cafe, resonated such happy vibes. They really appreciated it and would come back again for sure.

Look at these happy faces.

kekuli cafe great food eat merritt

Guests from Whiterock having lunch at Kekuli in Merritt, BC

 The Staff

When you walk into Kekuli Cafe you are greeted by the amazing staff.  They always have a smile on their faces and are ready to help you any way they can.

staff kekuli cafe

Amanda and Kurt staff at Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe isn’t just on of the best places to eat in Merritt. Friday nights they have open mic night where patrons can come and express themselves over the mic. They have had people sing, tell stories or say a poem. It’s a great way to spend some time with friends, enjoy the local talent and of course have some coffee and bannock.

So far I have tried the traditional, cinnamon sugar and skor. What kinds have you tried?

Art work

Something else you will find a Kekuli Cafe is some art from a local artist Wyatt Collins. Wyatt has such a flair for life and creates some wonderful artwork which is featured on the walls of Kekuli Cafe. There are also greeting cards with Wyatt’s artwork on them. 

local art merritt bc kekuli cafe

Art work by local artist Wyatt Collins

Other aboriginal products

There are a number of aboriginal items for sale at Kekuli Café. Some of them include Jams, jellies, coffee, pottery and cards. Stop in and have a look.

Kekuli Cafe Merritt BC

Some other offerings from Kekuli Cafe

If you are interested in having a blog showcasing your business please feel free to contact me at Experience Nicola Valley.  I would love to chat.

One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe

Miss Georgia’s style 

“The laws of attraction are very strong with this old house.”

Her story

Laurie Turmel’s story is an inspiration on never giving up on your dreams. ‘ Miss Georgia’s style’ story starts when she was  a young girl growing up in the Nicola Valley. At a young age,  she had fallen in love with a home in Lower Nicola. She knew that one day she would own it. She did not know the man that lived there, all she knew was that he had no electricity or water.  The house is  roughly 75 years old.

When Laurie and her husband bought some acreage, she wanted to buy that home and move it on her property. The man who had been living in the home had died, and he had left it to family.

The family told Laurie that she could not buy it. However, she could go visit. Laurie would visit the home and sweep the floor, dreaming of owning it. At the same time, she had started her own paint line called ‘PIY Paints’.  After the man who had inherited the house had died, Laurie contacted his wife asking if she could buy it, and finally she said yes.

After decades, she finally got the home that she dreamed of. I was given the opportunity to interview Laurie and ask her some questions about the phenomenal home in the Nicola Valley. 

My interview with Laurie Turmel

Miss Georgia's style

A beautiful photo of Laurie in Miss Georgia’s Style

 What inspired you to start ‘Miss Georgia’s style?”

Laurie: . My dad built me a little playhouse, I started painting it and making it comfy with things from the dump that I would find with my grandma.Which later, gave me  passion for decorating.  By my late 20s, I was collecting things for the old house. 

 Where does the old fashioned appliances and furniture come from? are they donated, passed down , or do you buy them?

Laurie: It was a dream of mine owning ‘Miss Georgia’s style’ for over 50 years. In the last 20 years I have started collecting items for her. Every item has a story. The fridge was from the home my Grandmother was born in. The outhouse is over 100 years old which was given to me for Christmas a few years ago. My son found it on an old logging road, asked the owner of the resort if he could buy it. Which Afterward, He rolled it down a mountain with my grandkids and brought it to me.

 What is it about the “Old fashioned home” that intrigues you? Do you prefer the older home style compared to modern day?

Laurie:  I don’t really have a style per say, I love all styles. It is the feeling you get when you walk into a home that matters to me. Warm and cozy, a small voice that whispers, sit down relax, and stay awhile. A house is a house, It is a home that I love. 

 Where does the name ‘Miss Georgia’s style’ come from? does the name have a special story to it? 

Laurie:it sounded like a strong Southern woman. It’s iced tea on the porch. I told this to the woman I got the house from. She looked at me kind of funny. She said, ‘Do you know what the man’s name was who built the house? It was George.’

If you could go back to to any era in history, which would it be and why?

Laurie: I would love to go back to the times when families ate at the dinner table. An extra potato was always close at hand to add to the pot. Home baked goodies were always offered when a visitor came over. 

If Miss Georgia was a person, what would  her personality  be like?

Laurie: Miss Georgia’s style would be a strong women. A women who could go outside in the snow and milk a cow, Or help a mother farm animal deliver a baby. Yet still put on her Sunday best and love to look pretty. She would be comfortable in gumboots and heels sort of women. 

This story is truly magical. The aesthetic of Miss Georgia’s style is awe-worthy. It is interesting how a couple years later I am writing about this story. I too grew up in the Nicola Valley, I would drive by that house

The beautiful aesthetics of Miss Georgia’s Style.

 everyday going into Merritt. Suddenly the home was gone! I had always been curious of where it ended up. Laurie, you have done an excellent job on preserving that home and showing it’s true beauty. 

 

Nicola Valley Women’s Fair, Merritt, BC

A place for women to get together with friends and family.

“A Place to forget all the pressure and responsibilities at home and have a day to unwind.” Ellen Miller

Nicola Valley Women’s Fair is a wonderful idea in bringing people and different vendors together. Therefore, people will have a chance to see the different businesses in the community all in one place.

Curious as to how the Nicola Valley Women’s Fair came about, I decided to do an interview with Ellen Miller from Miller’s Farm. Ellen is the brains and brawn behind the making of the first Nicola Valley Women’s Fair come about.

Miller's Farm Lower Nicola BC

Miller’s Farm in Lower Nicola BC photo credit Ellen Miller

(MB) I understand that this is the first Nicola Valley Women’s Fair?

(Ellen Miller) Yes, this is the first Nicola Valley Women’s Fair.

(MB) What made you decide to put on a women’s fair?

(Ellen Miller)  I was involved with the Business & Professional Women’s Group (BPW) in the Fraser Valley in the past. BPW promotes the rights of women across the world as well as encourages young women to be the best they can be. They are advocates for health, safety, and learning opportunities of women and mentor wherever they can. I would like to see more opportunities here in Merritt for women to be able to promote themselves and their business or ideas.

(MB) And can you tell us what the Nicola Valley women’s fair all about?

(Ellen Miller) The Nicola Valley Women’s Fair is a day for women to get together with their friends, family, workplace companions and just relax and take a day to pamper themselves. To forget all the pressure and responsibilities at home and have a day to unwind.

Sounds so exciting. Hope you are all just as excited as me.

(MB) What can we expect to see at the Nicola Valley women’s fair?

(Ellen Miller) At the Women’s Fair you can expect to see vendors representing health, beauty, fitness, clothing, jewelry, financial advice, home decor, flowers and so much more.

(MB) Did you organize and put on this women’s fair or is it affiliated with something else?

(Ellen Miller) I organized the women’s fair on my own. I love planning events and then watch as people enjoy them.

If you want to get involved in the women’s fair contact Ellen Miller at Miller’s Farm

(MB) When is the Nicola Valley women’s fair.

(Ellen Miller) The fair is on March 30th 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm.

(MB) How much is it to attend the Fair?

(Ellen Miller) Admission is by donation to the Nicola Valley Food Bank.

(MB) Where will the Nicola valley women’s fair be held?

(Ellen Miller) The Nicola Valley Women’s Fair is being held at the Merritt Civic Center at  1950 Mamette Ave, Merritt, BC V1K 1R6

Merritt BC Civic Center

Front of the Merritt Civic Center Merritt, BC

(MB) Will there be food at the fair?

(Ellen Miller) Yes, Mary’s Catering will be running the kitchen to provide everyone with some delicious treats.

food catering corner cafe

Mary’s Corner Cafe and Catering. Photo credit Mary’s Corner Cafe and Catering.

(MB) I understand you have quite a few vendors for the first Women’s Fair. Can you tell us who they are?

(Ellen Miller) We have 31 vendors coming to the fair along with four guest speakers.

Opening Remarks

Our very own Mayor Linda Brown and MLA Jacquie Tegart will be onsite at 10 am to give the opening remarks for this great event.

Guest Speakers  at the Nicola Valley Women’s Fair include

Friday March 29th

Please join us. RCMP representative Tracy Dunsmore along with Tracy Auclair from Merritt Victim Services will be on site to speak about Domestic Violence. Room 4 at the Civic Center from 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm.

Saturday March 30th

11 am

Morgan Sparrow – Tips and tricks for a healthy lifestyle. Morgan discovered her passion for inspiring healthy living at a young age. She views health very important as a whole and finds purpose and passion impacting others in all aspects of their wellness. She is passionate about inspiring other women to live their best lives and empowering them to become capable of achieving all goals and dreams.

Morgan Sparrow

Photo credit Morgan Sparrow

12 noon

Leslee Lucy – Sunlife Financial – Planning your finances. Leslee is a certified Financial Planner with 20 years of experience with Sunlife Financial. 

“I live and work in Merritt, B.C. – You don’t plan your finances  – you plan your life. Whether by choice or circumstance, more and more women are taking charge of their money. I will give you a few simple steps to planning your finances and what to look for in a financial planner. If you don’t take care of your self – who will?” Leslee Lucy

Sunlife Financial Investing Merritt BC

Photo credit Sunlife Financial

1 pm

Joleen Morrison – Benefits of growing a garden. Joleen is no stranger to gardeners of Merritt and will be happy to tell you the health benefits of gardening. She is a graduate of U.N.B.C. with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Natural Resource Management, wildlife and fisheries. 

benefits gardening healthy lifestyle merritt bc

Photo Credit Ellen Miller

2 pm

Sheri Simson – Keen Fit Walking Poles – How to be fit! Sheri is a Health and Fitness Ambassador. She will be sharing with us how by just “Walking” she lost over 50 lbs. Sheri will also be demonstrating the secret techniques she uses to tone and sculpt her arms, stomach and back.  Want to know how 30 min can make a difference? Sheri will also be talking about that, so you don’t want to miss out.

Sheri Simson Health and Fitness Ambassador

Photo Credit Sheri Simson

Here are some of the Vendors that will be in attendance.

Sandy Labermeyer – Ki Essentials, Reflexology, Ellen Miller – Fused Glass, Jacquie Hall -Scentsy, Sue Thomas – Juice Plus

fused glass womens fair Miller's Farm

Fused glass from Miller’s Farm. Photo credit Miller’s Farm

Amy Douthwright – Custom made Tees, tank tops, baby items, Alycia Kempf – Seacret, Molly Toodlican – Watkins, Kathleen Courtoreille – Kathy’s Epicure Selections, Nicole Neufeld – Photography, Michelle Bacon – Bear Essential Apparel, Jamara Joyal – Massage Therapy, Megan – Akasa Yoga Studio

bath bombs soap lotions

Bath bombs, soap, lotions and more. You won’t be disappointed. Photo Credit B’s Bath

And a few more vendors

Pauline Ouellet – Hand Painted Jewelry, Julia Ahlin – Banana Bellem, N.V.I.T., Dawn Demuriak – Silk Flower Designs, Planet Women Ladies Fitness, N.V. Paddleboard, Primerica Financial, Vicki’s Petals and Flowers, B’s Bath products,  Florine Walkem – Native Arts, Deadman Valley Botanicals, Sara Vigh – Mortage Specialist, 31 Gifts,  T.O.P.S., Susan Riddle – Home Decor, Double Take Beauty Bar, Young Living Essential Oils.   

epicure selections spices women's fair

Spices from Epicure Selections. Photo credit Kathy’s Epicure Selections.

I have one more question.

(MB) Do you plan on having a Nicola Valley women’s fair every year?

(Ellen Miller) I plan on making this an annual event. There are already have ideas for next year to increase the speakers, provide mini learning experiences and add more categories – ie: wedding planners, mobile clothing vendors, resource information etc. I don’t want the event to take on the role of a craft fair. It needs to be a day of learning, having access to programs and resources available in this area, pampering and relaxing.

In Conclusion

Thank you Ellen Miller for speaking with me about this wonderful event.

The Nicola Valley Women’s Show is coming up on March 30th, at the Merritt Civic Center from 10-4. You won’t want to miss this! Lots to see and learn. I am really looking forward to this event and hope to see a lot of familiar and new faces.

If you are a vendor, we would love it if you would please share the link to your face book or website. Share this blog on your page will give people a chance to see where you will be on March 30th.

If you would like to see more blogs about Merritt and the Nicola Valley please follow me or one of our other bloggers at Experience Nicola Valley

Nicola Valley Women’s Fair

Shopping local in the Nicola Valley

Sometimes easier said than done when you live in a small town.

“Shop for the experience that you get locally.”

Shopping Local. Sometimes easier said than done when you live in a small town. I think most people would rather drive down the road to get something they need instead of heading out to a larger town. This is very true for Merritt, where you have to go “up and over the mountains” on a highway to go somewhere. But if we are honest, that isn’t always an option. Especially when what we are looking for is a specialized product, or the projects we are taking on are larger, more difficult or a one off endeavor. And sometimes, we simply “need it now” and can’t wait for something to be ordered.

I was recently approached by a lady, Shirley Reynolds, is a long-time resident of Merritt who likes to shop local. She started to tell me her story about how a local business, Home Hardware, had gone above and beyond for her and asked if I could share it. It is a perfect example of why so many really try to shop local in Merritt.

This is her story:

Going Above and Beyond

Shirley Reynolds at Merritt Home Hardware

“This summer I had a project that I wanted to complete. I had some thick, plastic greenery stems that needed to be cut, and tried scissors, wire cutters etc. to no avail.

I popped down to Merritt Home Hardware near closing time, and asked if they could help me out. Larry and Dea at the service centre were up to the challenge. They tried scissors, then medium sized bolt cutters, but the stems were very thick and defied cutting. Finally, they brought out the big guns, a giant sized set of bolt cutters.

When they used this tool, the stems went flying. Luckily, the store had closed and no one was in the line of fire. They happily finished the task until success was achieved, even though their work day had technically ended. On top of that, they didn’t even charge me for the use of the tools!

 

Awesome Merritt Home Hardware Staff

Great service and helpful advice is what I have experienced and received over and over again from the staff at our local hardware store. You can be sure that I will continue to give them my business. If you are new to town, shop local, give them a try, you won’t be disappointed!”

The truth is, that was one of the first things I noticed even before I moved to Merritt.

Going the Extra Mile

My shop local story is a little different. I drove up to see my parents for a few days when I lived at the Coast. My parents live off the beaten path 15 minutes outside town and 5 kms up a very well maintained gravel road on top of a local mountain. When I pulled up the garage and got out of my car I noticed a loud hissing, and looked down to see one of my front tires rapidly losing air. I had driven over a large sharp piece of shale which had punctured my tire. Darn!

Knowing I only had a small donut spare, I pulled the tire off, put it in my parents truck and my Mom and I headed for town. There is a Kal Tire just as you come in to town, so we proceeded to head there in hopes they could fix it. It was getting late in the day and close to closing time, but I arrived and explained I was from the Coast and had to head home the next day. The gentleman behind the counter quickly said “no problem, come back in 15 minutes”!

A Quick Fix

We left, only to return 15 minutes later to a fully repaired tire ready to go. I pulled out my wallet to pay but was quickly told “no charge, have a safe trip home”. I could only reply “what??” followed by “are you sure”? These people didn’t know me, and I had disclosed I was from the Coast. Shouldn’t they be charging me through the nose for my bad luck? Apparently not, the man smiled and told me to tell my parents to come in if they needed anything in the future. My parents reply was “yep, we will be back” and they were, again and again, they too choose to shop local.

I never forgot that day. And of course, when you have a good experience you tell everyone who will listen. Not only did I tell everyone at home, but my parents happily spread the word in Merritt. Even when I moved here 5 years ago (and probably 15 years after this experience) I remembered the kindness I experienced that day. Although I am sure staff has changed many times in the last 15+ years, my perception of the business never did.

There’s No Place Like Home

These two experiences, while different, are what shopping local are about. I am constantly reminding people that even the large franchises here are owned by families, not just the small businesses downtown. The fact is that often the vast majority of businesses here in Merritt, are owned by the person next door. The parent you see at hockey, the kid who plays with yours, people on the PTA, the people you curl with, etc. When you support local, you support people in your community who just happen to have businesses that add to your life conveniences.

I encourage everyone, to consider where you shop. Support your neighbors. Allow local business the opportunity to price match. Consider the gas and time to shop elsewhere, is it really cheaper? What if you were a business owner? But more than that, shop for the experience that you get locally.

 

Living My Dream In Merritt, BC, Canada

The Beautiful Quilchena Hotel

“My sisters and I were going on a trail ride.”

The first time I came to Merritt, BC Canada was on a family vacation in 1980. I was 11 years old and it seemed like an adventure of a life time. I will never forget as we started to come into Merritt, the site of those beautiful rolling hills was one of the most amazing sites I had ever seen. We grew up on a small acreage and seeing the vast landscape made me decide that this is where I wanted to be when I grew up.

horses riding hotel resort Merritt BC Canada

Photo credit:  HipPostcard

The Quilchena Hotel in the Nicola Valley

My family and I stayed at the Quilchena Hotel in Merritt, BC,. I remember walking in the front doors and just being in awe. The staircase leading up reminded me of one of the historic houses from the movie “Gone with the Wind” that my mom used to watch. The way it went up on either side was so beautiful.

We were shown to our room but I am not sure how they managed to get us all in that one room. Furthermore, I am not sure where all my family slept but, I do however remember being so excited because I got to push two arm chairs together and that was where I slept. It’s funny now to think about what excited me as a child.

merritt bc canada hotel resort

Photo credit:  Douglas Lake Ranch Merritt, BC

Horse back riding the open spaces.

The following day couldn’t come soon enough. My sisters and I were going on a trail ride. My parents and Uncle did not want to go with us. When we got to the stables we were shown around, introduced to our horses and told a few rules before being aloud to mount up. It was a beautiful sunny day, and not too hot.

We rode out on a few different trails. When we reached the top of this one bluff we could see the most amazing views of Nicola Lake and the valley towards Merritt, BC. All I could think about was how one day I wanted to be a wrangler and take people out on horse back rides or work on a cattle ranch like this one.

I wanted everyone to see the spectacular views and experience the feeling of being as captivated by the whole experience as I was. This also gave me a passion for photography. I figured if people couldn’t come to see these amazing places I would forever capture them in pictures and share them that way.

“I remember riding out on the hills on a big black mare.” Jackie Grohs

My dream come true

I don’t really remember anything else about that trip. I remember having a wonderful time with my Uncle who was visiting us from England. The Hotel was amazing but the horse back ride was the highlight of the entire trip for me.

About 38 years later, I finally decided to take a chance. I called the Quilchena Hotel to ask about opportunities available at the Ranch. They gave me an email address for whom I could write to about a wrangler position.

So, I sat down and told them my story. Not knowing what kind of reaction I would get or if I would even ever hear back from them.

A year later, I made the move to Merritt, BC, Canada and shortly after was a wrangler at the Quilchena Hotel. Living my dream. Although things had changed somewhat, I still found the trail that lead me to the lookout. This time I had the opportunity to share it with my daughter.

” Being able to share with my mom what she had dreamed as a child was truly amazing”

Janette Warmerdam

The Quilchena Hotel in Merritt, BC, Canada no longer offers horseback riding but the Hotel and One Eleven Grill are so amazing you’ll want to come back for more.

Merritt BC resort hotel

Photo credit:  Douglas Lake Ranch Merritt, BC

Living my Dream in Merritt, BC, Canada

 First Nation Traditional Foods in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley British Columbia Canada First Nation Traditional Foods & Lodging

“We harvest berries in the traditional Nicola Valley areas, as well as, fish and hunt using the old ways and new ways.”

What type of First Nation traditional foods and lodging in the Nicola Valley have helped my people endure the hot summers and cold winters? My people, through many generations, have experienced the changing seasons of the Nicola Valley for generations. The extremes of our Nicola Valley weather systems have taught us many survival skills and have played a large part in growing our appreciation of our lands. How did the First Nation people survive is a journey I would like to share with you? 

My Ancestors Were Nomadic During The Spring, Summer, And Fall Seasons

My ancestors used to live throughout the Nicola Valley territory traveling in groups. Living a nomadic life on the move provided my people the food necessary to last through the long cold winter months. Families would gather together in our seasonal villages and enjoy cooking over the open  fire, and celebrating our traditions.

First Nation Traditional Foods and Lodging

Saskatoon berries I picked

We lived on berries …

First Nation traditional foods in Merritt and throughout the Nicola Valley consisted of berries like Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, choke cherries and soap berries.

And We Hunted And Fished…

My ancestors’ diet wasn’t limited to just berries. No… we also fished and hunted wild game. During the fall seasons, my First Nation people would fish the mighty Fraser River. My people of our village would catch enough fish to survive the long winters. During the entire year, dependent on the weather, village hunters pursued wild game while hunting with bows.

 How Did My People Preserve Their Traditional Foods In Merritt BC?

traditional foods and lodging

Tule mat lodging

    In the early days of my people we often preserved our traditional foods by drying it on specially made mats of tule reeds. Tule reeds were gathered during the winter months on the shores of nearby lakes. Properly prepared these reeds were used for drying and preserving many of our First Nation foods. My people would also make larger mats from the tule reeds to double as floors in their makeshift lean-to’s during the warmer months.

How Did The Nlaka’pamux People Carry All This Food?

traditional foods and lodging

Cedar Root basket

As gathers and hunters we required transportation of our goods. Before the introduction of horses to our culture by the Spaniards, my people would use dogs to transport our goods. Because we lacked horses at that time my people would walk to and from,  here and there with their dogs. The dogs would be saddled with food packed in ceder root baskets.

Where Did My People Live Back Then?

traditional foods and lodging

Traditional lodges made out of cedar bark at Tuckkwiowhum interpretive village in Boston Bar

My First Nation ancestors used all sorts of materials from the land and waters. Because of our nomadic nature we were often in need of a portable shelter.  In the summer months we used temporary shelters because of the ease of transportation moving from location to location. These portable lean-to’s were created out of fir boughs and tule mats. If the location required a longer stay my people would build these lean-to’s with cedar bark. 

What About The Winter? 

First Nation pit houses

Interior model of a traditional Sheeiskin

Those summer temporary shelters wouldn’t hold up to the long winters of the Nicola Valley. During the winter season our shelters would take on new materials to create a new kind of shelter more durable to the winter conditions.  This new shelter covered in earth is called a pit-house. In our first Nation tongue Nlaka’pamuxcin it is called a “Sheeiskin”

Lots of thought and planning went into these structures. They would spend weeks looking for a proper location, then, when they found an acceptable spot, the community would work together and help build a pit house.

The sheeiskins were typically conical in shape with a hole in the center, which would let the campfire smoke escape through the hole.  The First Nation men would enter down a ladder through the same center hole. while the women would enter through a side entrance. Each First Nation pit house could usually hold up to 3-4 families.  There are locations in the Nicola Valley where you can still see the pit houses left behind from old sheeiskins, like at Monck Provincial Park.

Traditional Ways Are Still Around

Our First Nation traditional foods and lodging made it possible for my ancestors to survive the four seasons of the Nicola Valley. 

traditional foods and lodging

Chokecherries I picked

Today we still harvest berries in the traditional areas and fish and hunt using the old ways – as well as the new. Our respect for our elders has never wavered.  Elders are given first servings of any food we have gathered, and they are the keepers of our history often sharing their stories of our traditional and cultural ways.

A questions I have for you:

What is the traditional name of the First Peoples in my own area?   

Please feel free to contact me with your answers. I always love learning about new cultures. 

Or, if you also are Nlaka’pamux, share your stories with me!

See you later!  

(In many First Nation’s languages there is no word for “Good-bye”, as that word may be interpreted as I will never see that person again.)

 

 

 

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 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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