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The Good. The Bad. The Ugly And the Kind.

“Sharing some acts of kindness and hoping for more.”

2021 Merritt Flood in British Columbia Canada – The community of Merritt BC Canada, has witnessed devastating forest fires, and floods in the last year. It seems this year, 2021, Merritt, and parts of the Nicola Valley, have gone through a merry-go-round of evacuation alerts, and evacuation orders. Some residence left. Some stayed behind. All have their reasons. The end result is a population in a community who are tired, worn out, confused, scared, or optimistic and, yes, some are angry too.

The 2021 Merritt Flood

During the 2021 Merritt Flood and Forest Fires, tragedy happened on all levels of devastation. There is no ignoring that. There are no benefits in comparing one heartache to another. They all hurt. Some more than others. Some life changing. I wish I could turn back time. Make this all go away. I wish my friends had their homes back. Smiling and laughing again would be another wish. I wish living in Merritt was like it use to be. Unfortunately I am no Genie. No lamp to rub just a water bottle to fill. All I have are big wishes with little answers. But I do have hope.

My Super Power

I take pride in my listening and observation skills. So, let me share my take on that. We are all our own master on what we decide to listen too and observe. We can take it all in, flip it upside down, make what we want of it. Some of us process the positive and spit out the negative or vice-versa. But what you process is up to you. Hence why, with all the sadness, I have decided to share some “warm and fuzzy” stories,  sending out some positive vibes to the community of Merritt, Princeton, Abbotsford and to our First Nation friends. I would like to share some of the kind and positive gestures I witnessed along this ugly road we travelled called the 2021 Merritt Flood in the City of Merritt BC Canada. 

8 Acts of Kindness

Because of the nature of my work online globally, and locally with Experience Nicola Valley, I see the good, the bad and the ugly of the internet. There are many sources online of nasty, negative with a big dose of nasty conversations. We all have a choice of which lens we choose to look through for every situation life presents us. Me? Well… when it comes to the Merritt Flood I choose hope. We need more stories of good people doing good things during these challenging times. Hence, why I am going to focus on the positive stories and share some “acts of kindness” I and my friends experienced during the 2021 Merritt flood.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Aesop

(1) ESS and Red Cross

The evacuation had problems on many levels. Remember, no one saw this coming. Yes, there were warning signs and reports and white papers. But…  no one saw it coming on November 15th, 2021. No meteorologists, engineer, politician or scientist told us to buckle in for a massive rain storm and possible flooding. Many of us went to bed the night before expecting to wake up to another normal Monday. Well that didn’t happen. The evacuation order caught us all by surprise. Therefore people slipped through the cracks. Communication was suspect. Volunteers were stretched at ESS and the  Red Cross.  Should I stay or should I go? Yes, the process was not perfect by any means. News flash! Nothing is perfect in a blender of chaos.  

(2) Volunteers

I know why it is tough to get volunteers at times. Just watch how some people treat them, like it was their fault. All they are doing is following direction or the lack of.  A big thank you to the volunteers for taking care of us with the best tools at their disposal. I know you did your best  and you did not design the system nor the process. I also know you are a volunteer, on your time, to make our challenges as comfortable as possible. So thank you to all the volunteers in Kelowna, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, 100 Mile House, Sicamous, Penticton and those in Merritt helping the community get back on its feet again. And if I missed anybody, my apologies. But thank you again! 

Merritt volunteers

Lining up for ESS. Photo credit: Greg Girard

(3) Let Me See The Light

The 2021 Merritt Flood was a sight I would not wish on anyone. Everything changed in a blink of an eye. Before we knew it, we were evacuated and in a hotel room. Everything was new again including an Optometry Office and a LensCrafters, next door in Orchard Park Mall in Kelowna BC Canada. I needed glasses for the first time and I did not have my prescription with me. But I did have time.  Dr. Keevn Otte heard I was an evacuee from Merritt and booked me in and redid my prescription at no charge! Then Ben, at LensCrafters, set me up with my new lens and frames and he too gave me a break on price, on top of the Black Friday Special. I was seeing with my eyes, the kindness of people. 

(4) Green Plate of Hospitality

Not sure of the back story on this one but it goes something like this. Someone at our hotel, the Kanata, was out in public one day sharing how eating out all the time was getting old. Someone, was listening in. Who we do not know? The next morning 50 trays of vegetables and dip arrived at the lobby in our hotel from an unknown source, someone who did not want to be recognized, but did it out of the goodness of their heart. To that mystery person if you are reading this – thank you for your kind gesture.  Loved the mini tomatoes and green peas.

merritt flood 2021

Vegetable tray surprise. Photo credit: Melvina White

(5) Class is in Session

Have you heard of the story of Ewa Olguin, an early childhood educator in Merritt, BC, Canada? If you have not, Ewa was evacuated from Merritt like many of us. At her hotel she recognized many of the kids were from the “Strong Start” Program back in Merritt. Her place of employment I believe. In seeing the children, away from a regular routine and their homes, Ewa decided to start a 3 hour class every morning with the kids reading, playing and learning.  Thank you Ewa!

(6) Is That To Eat In or To Go?

As we stated at the beginning of this list, the littlest gesture can make a difference. How about just smiling. When you eat at one spot for days on days they get to know you. In our case it was Boston Pizza. It did not take a lot of time for them to recognize our orders and to begin greeting us with smiles, and conversations when we ate in or picked up. Thank you for feeding many of us from the 2021 Merritt flood. 

(7) Experience Nicola Valley Pivot

When people are scared, and living in a mist of confusion, information is the currency of choice. I watched as councillors were inundated daily with phone calls, text and emails numbering in the hundreds asking questions and seeking answers. Being on the front lines of the evacuation, mixed in amongst the local population, every day and hour, your sleeves get tugged on a lot.  And yet, the questions were often 2 steps ahead of the answers available to councillors. They could only share what they knew and as information was being released. But they knew communication is the currency of choice during a disaster. So they stepped up. First to video, Experience Nicola Valley was proud to pivot their platform, so they could bring daily video updates, as need be, from Councillor White, Luck and Etchart. And then… some councillors met with the evacuees in the hotel lobby daily for briefings and updates as well. It took some guts to put their face out there. But they were humble, caring and doing what was right updating us the best they can. Thank you!

(8) Friends, Family and Business Partners

When the news hit all over Canada of the 2021 Merritt Flood, I could not believe the emails that flooded my in-box from people checking in on us from all around the world. Some I have not heard from in years and a few in decades. It was a moment-of-truth to see so many people checking in on my Brother and I.  We are so fortunate to have good people surrounding us and supporting us. Thank you and we are grateful for your kindness, support and friendship. 

brothers of tourism merritt flood

Colin and I on Evacuation Order in Kelowna BC. Photo credit: Greg Girard

Social Media

If social media is your only go-too for information, well then there might be issues with that? Working in that field, I  understand the pros and cons of a platform with little rules and high engagement. It is a platform which makes its rules on the fly based on all sides of human nature, good and bad. And there is good and bad. Do not get me wrong, social media, is a beautiful thing. I have seen lives changed for the better when social media is used positively.  Social media is a treasure for small businesses to get their message out. To me it is an art form. However, at times, it is also a bloody battlefield where communication is won or lost. There is one big caveat to the social media battlefield :

“Bad news travels at the speed of light; good news travels like molasses.”
Tracy Morgan

Together, when we start commenting, and sharing and posting and tagging each other with positive stories, good news will travel faster. It takes a movement, to create a message. 

Winter Adventures coming soon to the Nicola Valley. We are open for winter. 

I Choose Hope

I have witnessed how the community is divided along many lines because of the 2021 Merritt floods and forest fires. A disaster will do that to any community. Emotions will run rampant. Loses are off the map. But I have hope because the overall dominating factor in this conundrum are the people of Merritt. They are my baseline in the equation of building back better. Many are my friends. I have been around Merritonians long enough to know they are a strong and good people. Merritt will be back. I will do everything I can to be part of that re-awakening.  

Stay safe. Be kind. 

#merrittmatters

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“Experience Community Program” is a small and rural community authentic content marketing program.  Therefore it is a product of the EH? Canada Marketing Group.  Contact us today to bring this award winning community program to your region. 

Clearwater Speedway

Merritt Speedway Brings New Life to Sister Dirt Track

What happens when you are a member of a race track during a pandemic?

Clearwater Speedway – With no racing in 2020 anywhere including Merritt BC Canada, many racers were just vibrating, waiting, hoping, and dreaming racing. Well, good news for racing fans, the Merritt Speedway “the home of dirt track racing in the Nicola Valley”  helped resurrect a track that has been shut down since about 2006. That race track is the Clearwater Speedway.

clearwater speedway in bc

Clearwater Speedway. Photo credit: Susanne Snider

How does Clearwater Speedway happen?

A few Merritt Speedway racers attended an event in Rimby, Alberta called The Covid Cup in 2020. They travelled 12 hours to the event and almost got rained out for the weekend.  Consequently, the Merritt racers were caught, at times, waiting the rain out, under a tarp in a torrential downpour. The question going around circles was, “Why are we here?” Followed by, “there must be a closer venue”. Almost unanimously “Clearwater!” was said out loud. These five members got busy and had a soft opening of the dirt racing track in Clearwater, British Columbia, Canada in July of 2021. 

merritt speedway crazt times on a dirt race track

Chills and Thrills at Merritt Speedway Photo by Ken Beckett

Clearwater Speedway was once a busy, fun dirt track

Located at  75 Camp Two Rd, Clearwater, BC, the race track came on hard times in 2006. At the time the support just wasn’t there 15 years ago. In other words non-profit race tracks are a lot of hard work, insurance is expensive and there are never enough volunteers. Therefore it seemed like the right thing to do for the Merritt Speedway, who has been running consecutively for 30 years, to lend a hand and make it happen. 

dirt track race car racing in BC

#33 Ryan Sorenson & #13 Dennis Smith. Photo credit by Ken Beckett

Dirt Track Circuit in Pemberton, Merritt and Clearwater BC Maybe?

Currently there are quite a few Clearwater racers and their families that travel to Merritt to race. With a devoted racing community and more joining yearly, it’s the right time to get things started. The property has a new owner who is truly on board with the restoration as he remembers attending events years ago. Clearwater Mayor and council passed the final adoption of the rezoning application for the speedway.

Clearwater Dirt Track 2021

#89 Colin Reimer Street Stock Clearwater Invitational Champion Photo by Meghan Reimer

Clearwater Speedway is a sister track to Merritt Speedway, and ran 6 races this year.
In particular there were three classes competed – Late Model, Street Stock and 4 Cyl Bomber.

While in Merritt we ran the regular amount of races this season – Late Model, Street Stock, 6&8 Cyl Bomber, 4 Cyl Bomber and Junior 4 Cyl Bomber. B.C. Micro Mini Sprints came out to play four races as well. This years race season is complete, the enthusiasm from racers and fans, even with Covid 19 safety protocols and restrictions, was very promising. The community support has been amazing, but local volunteers are still very much needed.

 

 

Contact:  Clearwater Speedway
Website: www.merrittspeedway.ca  or  www.clearwaterspeedway.ca
email:  merrittspeedway@outlook.com

Clearwater, British Columbia, Canada Dirt Race Track

Merritt Speedway, Merritt BC, Canada

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“Experience Community Program” is a small and rural community authentic content marketing program. It is a product of the EH? Canada Marketing Group.  Contact us today to bring this award winning community program to your region. 

Merritt Dance Studio

The Love To Dance Academy in the Nicola Valley

In these times, we “bring the joy of dance into homes”.

 

The Merritt dance studio, Love to Dance Academy, contributes to the art and culture in our Nicola Valley.

Love to Dance Academy

Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

I invited dance teacher, Lizette Nel, to talk about her work when we connected here in Merritt BC Canada

How and when did your Merritt Dance Studio start?

I took over the local dance studio in December 2012 as the previous ballet teacher here in Merritt, Linda Sanford, was looking forward to retirement. The name, Linda’s Dance Studio, was changed to Love To Dance Academy in January 2013.

I started teaching in 2012. We had only 12 little ballet students in a lovely compact dance studio on the top floor of the beautiful old Courthouse in Merritt, BC.

Since then a strong dance program has been developed and the Love To Dance Academy now offers classes in four different dance genres to dancers of all ages.

There are recreational classes for those who want to dance for fun and exercise as well as classes for the more serious dance student who would like to do dance exams and participate in in dance festivals and competitions. 

Therefore, at the end of 2018, there was an opportunity to move to bigger premises and with the help of volunteers a second hand shop was converted into a spacious and fully equipped dance studio downtown.

 

Dance Studio Merritt BC

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor, Love to Dance Academy Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Who is a part of Love to Dance?

The Love To Dance Academy is a project of the Merritt Dance Society, which is a non-profit organisation. The Merritt Dance Society consists of a wonderful, supportive Board of Directors.

I am the Head Dance Instructor and I developed and manage the dance program for the Merritt Dance Society.

Vanessa van Rensburg, regularly teaches Spanish Flamenco and jazz dance classes.

However, from time to time guest teachers are invited to do short courses and workshops or teach during dance camps.

 And of course, there are the many children, youth, and adults who come to the studio to dance!

How is the Merritt dance studio supported in the community?

It is very well supported by the Merritt community who loves attending our classes and our twice a year recitals.

Love To Dance fundraisers are well supported by the community and we are fortunate to always have enthusiastic volunteers to help whenever they are needed.

Tell me about the different dance genres you offer.

Currently our main dance genres are Ballet, Modern Jazz, Spanish Flamenco, and Latin Line Dance.

From time to time Love To Dance offers workshops or short sessions of other dance styles such as Hip Hop, Tap, Musical Theatre/Broadway, Contemporary, Highland Dancing, Bollywood and Country Line Dance.

You put on twice yearly performances. A lot of the dances are choreographed by you, Vanessa, and your Love to Dance dancers.

Merritt Dance Studio concerts

Love to Dance Winter Concert Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

LTD Display

Love To Dance Poster Display of Dancers Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Ballet Shoes

LTD Red Ballet Shoes Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What are your inspirations for the themes and performance?

Life and what is going on around us… sometimes fun and sometimes deep and meaningful. We choose themes showing that we are different, but the same.

Your dance recitals are so enjoyable for the community!

Not only do we watch a themed story unfold onstage, but the Civic Centre is always full of beautiful displays focusing on the dancers and the culture of dance….

Merritt Dance Studio Instructor

Lizette Nel, Head Dance Instructor Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Can you share your dance background with us, Lizette?

Training:  I was introduced to the world of dance at age 5, in Johannesburg South Africa.  I did not like it, but fortunately my mom did not give up and reintroduced me to dance a year later.

In the beginning I was very shy and could not face an audience, but I loved the dancing and movement to music. However, I did all my dance exams and in my final year of school, I decided to become a dance teacher.

Work Experience:  Before coming to Canada, I owned and operated a successful dance studio in South Africa , where I successfully trained hundreds of young dancers and prepared them to enter exams, festivals and competitions with confidence, always striving for excellence.

 In addition to teaching and running a studio, I also provided mentorship for some dance instructors in South Africa. Consequently, I created an online dance network as a resource and networking tool for dance teachers, and was a founding organizer of the national “Eisteddfod of the Performing Arts”, a prestigious dance event of its kind in South Africa

It continues to this day, attracting thousands each year.

I was also a judge for the National Society on Dance Teachers as well as a lecturer in the Movement Science Department of the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

 It was a journey for you to be here with us in the Nicola Valley. Can you tell us a little about that journey?

When I became aware of the possibility of teaching in Merritt BC Canada, I started the process of obtaining a work permit, a very long process.

I started teaching in the dance studio in the old Courthouse in December 2012. After teaching for a year, there was a delay in the renewing process of my work permit, and I had to return to South Africa for a few months.

The local students and their parents were very disappointed that we had to leave. The community wrote petition letters and did fundraisers. Fortunately everything got sorted out and we returned in August 2014, just in time for the new dance year to start.

What inspires you?

Young Dancers at Merritt Dance Studio

LTD Young Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

I’ve had five dance teachers. Two of them, Janet King and Dorothy de Witt still inspire me. Also the smiling faces and chuckles in the dance studio inspire me.
Our Merritt dance family’s dedication and strong will to succeed inspires me even more.

Every new day and the fact that God’s loving kindness starts fresh each day inspires me.

What support do you receive in your role in your Merritt Dance Studio?

Non Profit Volunteers

Love To Dance Volunteers Photo Courtesy of Love to Dance

I have strong support from the Merritt community.  I am very grateful for the many volunteers involved in the many Love To Dance activities. They make it possible for us to successfully present many extra dance opportunities and related activities.
My children in South Africa support what I do and always encourage me.


Without Herman, my husband, keeping things together in the background and the assistance and hard work of Vanessa, my daughter, the Love to Dance Academy will not be able to exist

How do you relax, and give yourself a break?

Gardening.

Favourite things about Merritt?  

Four definite seasons in a year!

Favourite Music?

Classical harp

What role does dance have in society?

I am particularly conscious of the benefits of dance and I promote my programs as a holistic tool for physical fitness, and mental, emotional and social health. We promote character building for youth and motor planning for seniors and people with disabilities.
In addition, dance develops physical strength, co-ordination, and good posture.
Dance improves self confidence and positive body image. Dance builds self discipline
.

Ballet Dancing

Love To Dance Ballet Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Concert

Participants in a Love to Dance Recital! Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

What effect do you feel Love to Dance has on our community?

Community Dancers

LTD Dancing in the Community Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Our young students learn to take charge of their lives by being responsible for scheduling and costumes and by managing their time wisely. They take pride in work well done, show leadership with younger dancers, and experience the value of teamwork and supporting others.

They are growing into mature, confident adults and they set an example which has a positive influence on younger dancers.

These positive effects are felt around our community.

Love to Dance brings together all ages, and the different ages interact and dance together in the recitals. It is a joy to see the older students take the young ones by hand and include them in the specially choreographed dances! I can feel and hear the pleasure in the audience around me at this collaboration of ages and levels of dance.

Community Dance

Love to Dance Valentine’s Tea Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

For the older dancers of 55 plus, in the program, “Dance for Lifelong Wellbeing,” the benefits of dance include brain agility, fitness, improved balance and reduced stress. This contributes to their independent longevity, and their ongoing participation in the community.

 In this Covid 19 pandemic, we taught our students (and their parents) to be grateful, and to not give up. We taught them to not wait for it to pass, but to accept it and make the best of it. We put new things in place. Our students made it through 10 weeks of doing things differently and they’ve learned many new skills.  It was hard, but we all survived and we’ve all become stronger.

We hope that this will spread wider and have a positive influence on our community.

What challenges does your dance studio, Love To Dance, face?


We are challenged with how to catch up the three months during covid – recovery of financial loss over three months with little income, continued rental and utility, and other commitments.

The whole world is currently turned upside down and inside out. But we see these obstacles as stepping stones, not mountains.

Street Dance

LTD Street Dance in Merritt Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

In this time of Covid 19, how is Love to Dance managing to stay connected with the dancers and the community?

SET UP VIRTUAL DANCE STUDIO

When we had to close our physical doors at the end of the day on March 16, after just one day of Spring Dance Camp, we decided to explore the possibility of changing from a brick and mortar dance studio to a virtual dance studio.

We attended many webinars presented by four different dance associations and got ourselves set up for Zoom classes and coaching by video.

To keep the interest in dance going, we lowered our class fees to encourage attendance.

BALLET

Ballet Dancer

LTD Ballet Dancer Photo Courtesy of Vanessa van Rensburg

To give our Royal Academy of Dance ballet students and parents hope, we continued to practice as if our exams, which were scheduled for April 29, were going to take place. 

Students could attend our Zoom ballet classes once per week and they could also make use of our private coaching by video option. 

This worked really well for some students, who had the full support of their parents. But as always happens, we unfortunately also had some dropping out (“stopping dance until the brick and mortar studio re-opens”)…. 

Most dancers have lots of self-discipline and keep up their daily practice while they are placed under movement restrictions, but we notice that they still needed to see each other to feel connected and to be motivated. The weekly Zoom dance classes really help to create some sense of normalcy. 


SPANISH  FLAMENCO

Thirteen of our Spanish Flamenco dance students successfully completed their exams by video at the end of April. 

 

Dance Studio

Herman Nel, Technical Expert for Love to Dance Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

SENIORS

We also set up ZOOM exercise classes for our seniors to help improve their balance, posture and flexibility and also improve your sense of well being – physical, emotional and mental. Payment for classes is by donation.

None of this would have been possible without Herman, my husband. To set all of this up, was a steep learning curve and involved some expenses.

What is next for Love to Dance?

We want to expand opportunities and restructure the dance program to accommodate what is currently happening all over the world.  It will be a constant dynamic situation going forward.

Keep an eye on Love To Dance’s current initiative that the members of Love to Dance Society can participate in.

Ongoing MEDAL TESTS

To further keep the interest in dance going we started having Medal Awards by video during the months of May and continue for June. This is open to everyone in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. Participants can enter Ballet, Jazz, Spanish and Folk/National dances – set dances and/or own choreography and interpretive dancing.

We noticed how the fun element and dancing with family members can bring the joy of dance into homes, so we added a section in which you can partner up with a sibling or parent or grandparent to dance a duet. 

Video submissions must happen before June 26 and participants will each receive a bronze, silver or gold certificate and medal in the beginning of July.

Merritt Dance Studio

Thank you, Lizette, for telling us all about the Love to Dance Academy! Many of us in the community are grateful to have an inspired dance studio here in Merritt.

Just one more advantage to living here in the Nicola Valley!

Support our art and culture in our community!

We hope to see the doors of the Love To Dance Studio open soon!
Merritt Dance Studio

Love To Dance Studio, still closed Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Artist Cassandra Dolen

Dance in the Nicola Valley Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

Dance Teacher

LTD Head Dance Instructor Lizette Nel Photo Courtesy of Jano Howarth

CONTACT LOVE TO DANCE

1976 Quilchena Avenue, +1 250 378 9898

www.lovetodanceacademy.com

LTDADANCE@GMAIL.COM

Facebook Love to Dance Academy

Instagram Love to Dance Academy, The Merritt Dance Teacher

Art and Culture Blogger, Jano Howarth

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Culture and Art Show for Children

Merritt artists create inspiring art for children in our new Gallery Show!

“Out of inspiration comes curiosity, motivation, desire, and the creative process.”

Art for children in Merritt BC is thriving! We asked our local artists to bring in, or create new art that would inspire children’s ideas and imaginations. And we have had a wonderful response with over 25 artists participating in our five week-long show. It’s up! It’s fun and colourful! And it’s on until 4pm, Saturday, March 14, 2020. Come on by!

Art for Children

Children in Art, Art for Children

How did we get so many artists to contribute to a show about art for children?

First, we put a call out to artists in the fall, through our membership newsletter, our local papers, and social media.

Then an email went out directly to most of the artists who have participated in our shows in the past, and a few we would love to gather into our active arts and culture community.

Lastly,  were our personal reach outs to those who popped in to see us at the Gallery, or who called in for questions, or met at events like Open Mic, and on the street! We did our best to reach out to as much of the Nicola Valley community as we could!

Art horses

Miriam Loken’s “A Moment with Max”

What’s in our Art for Children show?

Of course, we have children in the art…

  • Miriam Loken’s A Moment with Max features a child and a horse
  • Nancy Ellingsen’s grandchildren’s portraits, Ember and Logan
  • Bruce Walter’s photo A Teachable Moment, children in nature
  • Jean Kiegerl’s Reborn with a father and his baby girl
  • Judy Young’s amusing Shopping with Dad
  • Robert Moretti’s Camping Branch Swinging 
  • Joel Reid’s large graffiti 3 Candles
Art for Children

Artists Michael Behrens and Joel Reid Paintings

Art can inspire.

But a lot of the art in the show is meant to inspire children, of all ages- from babies to teens. We have paintings – watercolour, acrylic, and pastel…. depicting a variety of subjects like butterflies, undersea creatures, fanciful trees and mountains by artists Joel Reid, Fran McMurchy, Karen Otway, Michael Behrens, Shirley Reynolds, and Herta Klassen, Gale Simpson, and Diane Wandler.

Paintings, 3D pieces, mixed media…

We have 3D pieces, like Pius Chong’s monkey and Amanda Pryzner-Dunn’s folded steam engine (protected in a glass case). Kelly Reid brought in two magical fairy gardens made from a mix of materials, like a path of pennies, and a tiny tea cup.

painting in merritt

Tina Barlow’s Love, Laugh

There are mixed media pieces like Lin Butler Buchanan’s stunning dark Sunflowers at Night, and Tina Barlow’s The Laugh Love Tree. There are cloth and fibre art pieces like Cindy Trent’s Circus quilt and Vickie Strom’s bright woven wall hanging.

Amanda submitted paper cuts depicting three fairy tales. Can you guess them? Visit the show and see!

And we are displaying whimsical pieces like a Vicki’s felt mouse, Barb Sayles’ vintage dolls, and Pam Clark’s adorable knit bunnies and chicks.

And My Topsy Turvy Circus Diorama

I jumped in myself for this show and created a five foot Circus diorama, populated with several dolls and puppets from my collection. They are dressed as jesters, clowns, mimes, trapeze artists, and horse trainers for the occasion. My favourite wooden Czech Marionette hangs high up in the Topsy Turvy Circus, attracting children to see the three ring performances. All in the imagination, of course. And I tried my hand at doll faceups, including a mime face on a Berenguer doll. Fun!

Children artists in merritt

Jano Howarth’s Mime Face Up

Art for children is one way to reach out to children.

As a life long educator, with over 30 years of interaction with children of all ages, I have realized how important inspiration is to the process of creativity and life itself. Out of inspiration comes curiosity, motivation, desire, and the creative process. Art is a very effective way to reach children! There are so many forms of artistic creativity that can appeal to children’s natural interests and help them identify their own passions and life directions.

When I put the call out to artists I said:

“This show is about children and how we inspire them to take their own path- maybe art, maybe another passion. Think of Cindy Trent’s quilt depicting the layers in the earth. Inspiration for quilting? painting? sculpture? photography? geography? zoology? ecology? writing? Art that stimulates the imagination. And not necessarily kids stuff.”

children art

Art Bud’s Renee Hartwig

And that’s what we got! One gentleman was expecting art by children, or at least childlike art. And we certainly have on display some very cute art, and art that is appealing to the child in all of us! Our Art Buds teacher, Renee Hartwig, brought in her Bunny on a Hill painting that brings out the oohs and aahs in children and adults alike. 

“Interesting, beautiful, quirky, or socially conscious art”

But we have some sophisticated pieces that can stimulate great ideas for parents, grandparents, etc. on how to look for and choose art for a child’s room. Or art for a living room or dining room (or waiting room, or educator’s office) where children can be exposed to interesting, beautiful, quirky, or socially conscious art.

children and art in merritt

Art to Inspire Children

 
Even some of our local artists were challenged by the idea for this show! But it didn’t take long, in this community of creative artists, to bring together over forty-five pieces of inspiring art for children. I am very excited and pleased with the wonderful responses, from the artists, and from the visitors, local and out-of-towners, who have come by the show already. 

We have art that stimulates, amuses, and soothes.

Art for Children

Vicki Strom’s Felt Mouse

We had a great Reception the other night, complete with marshmallow squares, of course! But with chocolate, whipped cream and fresh orange toppings! Thanks, Diane! And thanks to Lin, Joel, and all the volunteers who helped put this show together!

Now that the show is up, the people are coming by with and without children. Thursday to Saturday, 12-6pm.

We have invited teachers to bring classes. (Just let me know! nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com or Jano 250-315-3437)

Art for Children in Merritt, BC… Alive and Well! 

For more info on this show, or upcoming shows at the Nicola Valley Arts Gallery at the old Courthouse on Nicola Avenue contact me at 250-315-3437 or email nicolavalleyartsgallery@gmail.com

Jano Howarth, Arts Gallery Director and community supporter!

Art Things To Do in Merritt, BC

Check out some of our past Arts Gallery Shows

  •  Open Mic Weekly! Friday nights 7-9 pm at Kekuli Cafe
  • Gallery Shows every five weeks or less! At the the old Courthouse Arts Gallery, 1840 Nicola Avenue, Merritt BC. Thursday to Saturday, 12-6 pm
  • Gallery Shop all year round, and yearly popular Artisan Winter Show
  • Arts Classes, course and workshops- visit our website for info
  • Special Arts Events: Mayor’s Gala, Jazz in the Attic, Art in the Park

Join the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council! Tax receipt for Memberships and Donations! Online or pop in to the Gallery.

Jano’s

Interested in doll characters and photo stories?

  • Website: Hiya Dolly
  • Facebook and Instagram Hiya Dolly

More on the Art for Children Show…

Bev Veale contributed an in-progress piece designed for a child’s involvement… Come in and find all the animals!

Bev has been painting the flora and fauna of the Nicola Valley for decades. And she continues to contribute her support and show submissions! Anyone interested in an original Bev Veale, contact me!

NVCAC Vice President Karen Otway’s colourful painting is both our cover photo, and our show poster. Thanks Karen!

And getting ready for the Topsy Turvy Circus kept me happily busy for days!

art and culture in merritt

Topsy Turvy Circus by Jano Howarth

Get inspired with your children! Get a hold of a canvas, a fun item to paint, and get busy!

Art for Children

Inspired!

Art for Children in Merritt British Columbia Canada

Nicola Valley Arts Council

 

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Spaner and Webb

Local Merritt clothing store and fashion accessories

“The selection of quality clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes and much more decorate the walls and floors of this beautifully crafted and clean retail store right here in Merritt BC.”

Spaner and Webb is a locally owned and operated Merritt clothing store and fashion accessory retail outlet and online store operating, right here, in Merritt, BC, Canada in the Nicola Valley. Local residents Chandelle Agar & Chris Heppner are the co owners of Spaner and Webb. 

“We bought the store in 2018… I wanted to get out of what I was doing… I haven’t looked back and I absolutely love it, just love it.” Chandelle Agar

Merritt Spanered Since 1961

The first Spaner and Webb clothing store opened its doors in 1961. At the time, co founders Charlie Webb and Morris Spaner,  operated it as a menswear store only. Later down the timeline the store was purchased by Jim Emmons and Jim Irving. However, in 1981 Jim Irving and Brenda Irving bought out Emmons share of the business. Then in 2018 Chandelle Agar & Chris Heppner came along and “put their stamp” on Spaner and Webb and here we are today. 

 Chandelle Agar

Chandelle Agar – co owner of Spaner and Webb

Quality Merritt Clothing Store

The selection of quality clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes and much more decorate the walls of this beautifully crafted and clean retail store located right here in Downtown Merritt BC.  So much to select from. Brand after brand after brand of merchandise.  Browsing the shelves and racks at this Merritt clothing store I came across a whole line of brand names like Dex, C Mol, Guess, Fox, Westcoastees, Dakine, Doc Martens, Element, Hippy Tree, Joe Cool, Oakley, and Wild Outdoors Club. When deciding on what brands to stock her shelves with Chandelle shares, 

“We are trying to give what younger people like and what older people like and trying to find the middle too because we are trying to cater to everyone.”

Fashion 101

I am a simple shopper. I like adventure clothes and, for me, they have to be functional outdoors. Being a rookie in fashion brands, I am naive in the field of labels. So you can imagine why the brand “Wild Outdoors Club” caught my attention. How could it not, adventure is my passion. And so, I poked around a bit more in store and online, shuffled the deck as they say, checking out shirt after shirt. “Explore More”, ‘Take Me To The Mountains” and then I came across the “Built For Adventure” T-shirt. As karma goes, the “Wild Outdoors Club” line of clothing pretty much describes my adventure motivations in a t-shirt line. 

spaner and webb mens clothing

“Built For Adventure” shopping in the Men’s clothing section.

Personal Service Goes A Long Way

Entering Spaner and Webb, I was greeted by country music playing on the sound system.  The ambiance was inviting. I felt myself toe-tapping on the rustic hard-wood floors as I began looking around and taking photos.  On my arrival, co owner, Chandelle Agar, was busy serving and interacting with the customers shopping in her store. Some where looking at foot wear, while others were trying on clothing to find the right look. Chandelle was always available when assistance was required. 

 “I am learning new things everyday, meeting new people. You have no idea who is coming through the door.” Chandelle Agar

shopping merritt

Personal and friendly Spaner and Webb service

Discover Your Merritt Clothing Store

One by one, I began to take photos as I walked around the store making note of the many brands Spanner and Webb provides Merritt BC. How lucky are you to have so many famous brand names I thought to myself. So very lucky, selection is a good thing. Rack after rack, shelf after shelf, display after display were men and women clothes to browse, try-on, buy and take home. Where to start? That is where Chandelle comes in with her always growing knowledge of the brand name clothing and fashion industry. Come and visit Spaner and Webb and ask her.  

women's clothing in merritt

Selection of women’s clothing at Spaner and Webb

Women’s Clothing and Accessories

The Spaner and Webb line of women’s clothing includes a selection of coats, jackets, dresses, leggings, jewelry, lingerie and active wear. The jewelry available in this Merritt clothing store covers many gametes of the clothing accessory matrix.  I saw accessories like earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces and watches on display to compliment any casual and formal occasion.

shopping in downtown merritt

Shopping for shoes at Spaner and Webb

Men’s Clothing in Merritt

On the men’s side Spaner and Webb also has a good selection of coats, jackets, hoodies, jeans, shorts, belts, shoes, boots and adventure wear. In fact, during my visit, a “Merrittonian” was kind enough to allow us to take a photo of him while he was shopping for shoes for his children. Thank you for being our model. If you are reading this, you rock! 

“Come in and join us! It is fun here!” Chandelle Agar

Accessorize Merritt

It is not all about clothes in this Merritt retail business either. Another important aspect of Merritt fashion is to have a complimentary line of accessories to compliment your work and/or play day. In life, add-ons of any sort, can make or break a night out, road trip, dinner date and/or adventure. Some of the add-ons which caught my eye at Spaner and Webb were the backpacks, belts, gloves, sunglasses, boots, and hats. They had scarves too but I don’t do scarves.  

online shopping in merritt

Spaner and Webb have online shopping

Shop Online For Merritt Clothing

Spaner and Webb shopping is now available through their new online store (www.spanerandwebb.ca). Meaning, you can still shop Spaner and Webb from the comforts of your own home, after hours, from anywhere in the world. If leaving the house is not in the works, then fire up the laptop and place your order online. It is fast, and convenient. Mind you, shopping in store, is the only real way, in my opinion, to experience the whole Downtown Merritt experience. Travelers make note of this. 

“We are now selling online. It is a learning process. I want to see Merritt grow.” Chandelle Agar

One can also find a selection of clearance items on sale on the  Spaner and Webb website and in store. Access Spaner and Webb online and participate in any current contest and follow current trends through their “best selling merchandise feed”.  Check out their shipping and return policy and then shop till you drop.

What About Hard To Buy Merrittonians

No worries because Spaner and Webb also provides Gift Certificates for that “hard to buy” person or special occasion. Forget about sizes, colors, style and what they like and what they do not like. Go the safe route if you do not know… and pick up a Gift Certificate. Let the “hard to buy” person enjoy his/her own shopping experience at Spaner and Webb. This way you know you got them what they like. 

Experience Downtown Merritt

So now you are looking and feeling pretty sweet in your new digs you just bought at Spaner and Webb.  You have that fashion savvy thing going on. What now? Why not continue your Downtown Merritt experience over a lunch, enjoy a walk-about or poke your head in a store and meet some of the other local store owners. I have, and believe me, many are good people and a joy to be around.

Spaner and Webb is an easy walking distance from many coffee shops and restaurants including Mandolins Cafe, Canada Cafe, Kekuli Cafe, Mary’s Corner Cafe to name a few. And no downtown visit is complete without visiting the signature attraction in town – The Walk Of Stars and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame

Thank you Chandelle at Spaner and Webb for your time and hospitality. 

Remember Nicola Valley that #merrittmatters on social media.

Contact Us

Spaner and Webb
2032 Quilchena Ave
Merritt, British Columbia
250-378-5714

WebsiteFacebook

#GetSpanered

Merritt clothing and accessory store in the Nicola Valley

#shoplocalmerritt on social media 

 

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Empty Keg Brew House your relaxed, family friendly, and socially responsible place.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves in a situation when a decision is required if we want to move forward.

Empty Keg Brew House – Have you been in a situation that you prefer to delay instead of making a decision because you are not sure of the outcome? In general, it is normal to be concerned when we do not know how things will turn out.

Empty Keg Brew House – Starting your own business.

It is well known that starting a business is not easy nor is it for everyone.  In my opinion, most people have had a business idea in mind at some point in their lives. Throughout my employment as a business analyst, I have learned that every entrepreneur encounters roadblocks that slow them down or completely prevent them from starting their own business. On the other hand, I have dealt with clients that take all these roadblocks as learning opportunities along the way in their entrepreneurial path. Working with Kyle Hall of Empty Keg Brew House has taught me a way to deal with common issues in a more productive way while working on opening a business.

Build a case for Empty Keg Brew House.

Kyle and Kelly Hall are the owners and operators of our newest microbrewery in Merritt, BC, Canada called Empty Keg Brew House. While gathering more information to work on this story, I had the opportunity to learn more about the origins of Kyle’s business, and I am happy to share hoping that Kyle’s story will encourage you to take action and work on that business idea you have set aside. The fact is, there is never a bad time to launch a business if you have identified the need of your product or service.

the Rhubarb and Raspberry patch! Photo courtesy of EKBH.

Where did the idea of starting a microbrewery come from?

About 27 years ago the idea of brewing beer crossed Kyle’s mind. With only making $5.50 per hour to support his family back then, it was all about making cheap beer.  As a beer enthusiast, Kyle had never been to school for brewing, but instead he learned as he went. Kyle moved from extract to partial grain then full grain. Much to the delight of his family, that venture never took off, but his passion for beer continued to blossom. 5 years ago, Kyle remembers sitting around the table with his family and friends when someone suddenly said, “If you ever open a brewery, you will never be able to keep your kegs full”. Hence, the name Empty Keg Brew House.

Questions of a small business?

As any other entrepreneur, Kyle questioned himself: should we open a microbrewery? Could we open a microbrewery? When the opportunity came a few years later; he did not hesitate to seize it. He decided to move forward with his business idea. For that Kyle decided to further his skills in brewing, as a result, he completed the Master Beer Brewing Certificate in 2015.
Kyle envisioned creating a place where locals and visitors could enjoy various types of locally brewed beers made from as many local ingredients as possible.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

Getting into the Craft Beer industry.

If you think the most difficult part of starting a business is taking the crucial first step, you are wrong. Just wait to learn all the different licenses and regulations you must obtain to move forward within your specific industry. I remember Kyle working hard to get his variance rezoning approved. He also had to apply for his manufacturer and lounge endorsement licenses. It was not just applying for a permit or license; it was starting over and making changes so that your application can move forward to the next phase and waiting to see if there was any other requirement at the end of the day. Many entrepreneurs ask themselves at this phase, how much longer will it take to get their licenses? They always want it to go faster to stay within their milestones.

Grand Opening July 3, 2019

What was your experience at the Grand Opening?

For most people, a grand opening can be a powerful way to launch your new business. It creates awareness and generates a buzz about your new product or service offered in your community. When I asked Kyle about his own experience after all the hurdles he had gone through, his answer was: “We were scared out of our minds.” By the end of the soft opening he recalls asking himself – “What have we gotten ourselves into? It was a whirlwind that seemed so overwhelming. We worked against a tight deadline to be ready for the big date. I was lucky to count on my wife Kelly, my daughter, my nephew and other family members and friends who helped with the renovations until the day prior to the opening.”

experience merritt

My experience during the first months in business.

Before starting your own business, you work on financial projections and cash flow based on market research. As part of this market research, you determine your target market, but it is not until you are running your business you realize how close your projections are to your actuals. While determining his target market, Kyle looked at college age and up to maybe 45-50, but they have a wide range of friends that come in. The typical attitude on presenting the idea of a local Brew House was “we don’t need another bar in town”. But Empty Keg Brew House is a place where you can go and socialize, hang out, play some games while you have a beer, glass of wine or coffee.

‘Give-Back Wednesday’ donation went to NVSSS Housing First. Photo courtesy of EKBH.

What is Empty Keg Brew House 5 year vision?

Kyle would like to continue to do what they are doing now. They have focused on a “Give back Wednesday”, which is a way for the customers and the Keg to give back to local non-profit organizations. It is very well received; it is contributing to help local organizations who are playing a key component for the betterment of our social, economic, environmental, and cultural conditions of the Nicola Valley. As mentioned by Kyle “We would like to continue helping these organizations on a monthly basis. On the first Wednesdays of the month we “Give Back” a portion of our sales to local non-profit organizations. Although, Empty Keg does not have a Kitchen, they do offer appetizers and they support other eating establishments by allowing food from those approved sources to accompany the beers they offer. For example, they have Yaki Joe’s Pizza right next door and clients often bring in food from there and have a beer when they are hanging out with their family and friends.

Photo courtesy of EKBH.

What is your favorite thing about being a business owner?

Running a small business can be very rewarding, but as I said before it’s not for everyone. There are easier ways to make a living. Are all the long hours, hard work and sacrifice worth it? It sounds like it. According to Forbes, 90 percent of survey respondents say they would do it again and 65% say they are better off financially than if they’d remained someone else’s employee.

Kyle and Kelly have worked very hard to be able to open their brew house. They have dealt with parking variance rezoning, manufacturers licensing requirements, inspections and much more. I would not be able to calculate how much sweat equity Kyle and Kelly have put into their business. For every setback they experienced while working on their business, their commitment and dedication became stronger than ever.

Merritt’s Kitchen Party.

As Kyle said “There are so many things to do, we can do whatever we wish to, the two captains (he was referring to himself and his wife Kelly) can steer the ship wherever we want. It is rewarding to see smiles on everyone’s faces when they are enjoying not only the product but the atmosphere. People say this is a great place. We’ve had a lot of visitors from out of town say that our space reminds them of a “Kitchen Party””.

Empty Keg Brew House is a small scale micro Brewery.

Empty Keg Brew House is a small scale micro Brewery located in Merritt. This Brewery has recently opened their doors in our community offering locally made craft beer. A great place where locals and visitors can enjoy various types of in-house brewed beers made from local ingredients.

If you have not visited this place, I encourage you to stop by and enjoy some of their offerings. With more than eight unique beers on tap, Empty Keg offers a variety of options that include Kilt Lifter Scottish 80, Scared the Dark Stout, Blond Ale and many more.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empty Keg Brew House
2190 Voght St, Merritt, BC V1K 1C1
(250) 315-2337

www.emptykegbrewhouse.ca

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Merritt, British Columbia, Canada bee

                        Nicola Valley Foodbank

                     Merritt’s Nicola Valley Food Bank

“For some people life has been too much. They are overwhelmed and just can’t cope any more. It could have been me. It could be you.”  Derlanda Hewton, manager.             

Nicola Valley Foodbank ( some say Food Bank) in Merritt BC

In the 1990’s at the Crossroads Community Church, our community opened the Nicola Valley Foodbank.  From this small  beginning, it soon grew to fill the space it uses today. The Nicola Valley Foodbank planners designed it to supplement the diets of children, seniors, low income residents and the working poor.  Today, as when it first opened, the need is overwhelming.

nicola valley foodbank

Derlanda Hewton (left) of the Nicola Valley Foodbank

Why do people use foodbanks?

Derlanda, our Nicola Valley Food Bank manager, became involved with the foodbank by chance. She was struggling to find suitable work because of a disability.  When Work B.C. told her about a client advocate job at the foodbank, she applied and is now the manager. She knows why the food bank is so desperately needed and what causes that need. She sees it daily.

“For some”, she says “it is stress; for others, a job loss; some lose partners or children; still others can’t keep their housing.” For these people,” she says “life has been too much. They are overwhelmed and just can’t cope anymore. It could have been me. It could be you.”

Besides providing food, what else does the foodbank do?

Clients who use the foodbank often need other services too. Many times they are not even aware of the help that is available to them. The Nicola Valley foodbank educates them by putting them in touch with other agencies and services such as Work B.C., Merritt Youth and Families, the Cold Weather Shelter and Ask Wellness.

save on foods Nicola Valley foodbank

Save On Foods and the Nicola Valley Foodbank

Environmentally friendly changes coming

Of course food is the priority for the foodbank, but speaking with manager Derlanda Hewton really surprised me. Not only does the food bank distribute food to those in need, as you would expect, but it is also involved in a number of earth friendly programs to reduce food waste and increase local food security.

The zero waste initiative- No food to the garbage!

No food to the garbage is a big change in the way we use food- and one that is long overdue! The Food Bank Canada initiative plan involves many of our local food stores and farmers. They work with the Nicola Valley Food Bank to reduce waste in a big way. It works like this: the stores donate unsold, but still good, food to the foodbank. When it is not fit for humans, it will be sent to farmers for animal feed or to animal rescue shelters. If unfit for humans or animals, it will be composted and returned to the earth to improve the soil. Humans benefit, animals benefit and the earth benefits. A nice win, win, win situation for all.

Nicola Valley volunteers

Thank you to our Nicola Valley Foodbank volunteers

Long term plans

When I asked Derlanda what the long term plans for the Nicola Valley Foodbank were , she told me it depends on the type of facilities they will  have. Their ideal building would include walk in freezers, coolers, an air conditioned kitchen and an education centre. They want to teach clients how to cook unfamiliar food and how to preserve extra garden produce {canning, drying and freezing fruit and vegetables).  I think this would pair well with a community garden if one were started close by, don’t you?) Now there’s a project for a gardening group.

Does technology help?

When I asked Derlanda this question the answer was a definite, yes! Did you know the Nicola Valley Foodbank can accept donations through the square? And that you can find them on social media and on blogs? In addition,  they are also on the Farmers Market Site? They have their own website too. Here is the link: Nicola Valley Food Bank.

Volunteers- always needed; always appreciated

This summer saw 15 volunteers at our local foodback, including 3-13-year-olds. These ( both reliable and hardworking) young people pitched right in wherever they were needed! There were also 3 part time drivers, 1 summer student and a janitor. The foodbank found them through Open Door and Work B.C. The students are back in school now so if you have extra time, come volunteer.

Fundraising

In addition to volunteers, the Nicola Valley Foodbank always needs both food and money. A rumor made the rounds this summer that the foodbank didn’t need any more garden produce.  And that they just threw away the excess.  NOT TRUE. Our Nicola Valley Food Bank uses all the food it can get!  So gardeners, please know that any extra produce is definitely appreciated.

toy drive

Nicola Valley Toy Drive

Donations

Someone said that since the Nicola Valley Foodbank runs on donated food, they shouldn’t need money. Well, I saw volunteers stocking shelves with diapers, baby food, formula, feminine hygene products, laundry soap and other necessities. I know these things don’t grow in my garden! And in addition to food, how about  gas for that delivery van out back? Also the lights for the building? And not only the heat but also the rent? Yes, the foodbank needs money. They supply very basic needs.  The only “luxury” on the shelves?  Donated chocolate!  Could you go months without a piece of chocolate? Well, if you could, would you want to?

Yes, running our Nicola Valley Foodbank takes cash, serious cash. They are quiet about their need, and don’t talk about it much. But they worry.  As your blogger, I tell it like it is. They just want to keep those shelves filled. So I can say, they really need money! There are donation boxes wherever we have events in Merritt and we Merritonians are generous with food sharing. Let’s try shaking loose some spare cash too. Perhaps we could give up a chocolate bar or two and donate the money.  🙂

Why do they do it?

For the foodbank’s unpaid volunteers the job is often difficult, sad and (sometimes) frustrating. So why do they do it? “To give back to the community”, one says. “It’s knowing we can make a difference”, says another. What does Derlanda say? After all, she is the manager and sees it all. “It’s about food security for everyone in the Nicola Valley.” That, everyone, is the bottom line. We all need to eat.

Merritt Tourism

What did I learn? 

My level of ignorance about our local foodbank and the work it does was appalling. Yes, I  am a senior. However I  still go to the store and choose from hundreds of food items. For example, look at my chosen breakfast. Freshly cooked oatmeal with milk and a big, juicy peach. For  lunch I have fresh salad and a tasty sandwich.  In addition to all this, I know I will have dinner tonight. So, I will enjoy my roast chicken, rice and veggies.  Despite a limited budget, I can have chocolate any time I want, if I want it. Most importantly, after my foodbank visit I now remember to count myself among the very lucky!  

CONTACT US

Nicola Valley Foodbank
2026 Quilchena Ave, Merritt, BC

(250) 378-2282

Website

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Nicola Valley Foodbank

Merritt, British Columbia 

 

Growing Up and Living  in Merritt BC

Living in the Nicola Valley, BC

“… the childhood I am so grateful to have lead, I can proudly say I am who I am because of this community!”

Hey everyone! Life is good living in Merritt BC. I am very excited to join the Merritt Bloggers
team, and to share with you everything about health and beauty in and around Merritt BC!
But first, I’d love to share a little about my background to shed some light on my love for this
community.

Living in Merritt motorbiking

Family day motorbiking

My “Living in Merritt BC” History

I’ve been a Merrittonian since 2000, when my family moved to this gorgeous little community
from the small town of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. I grew up on a ranch that was half an hour outside
of town (and out of service), so you could say I was raised in the boonies. My childhood was
filled with many local sports, such as figure skating, hockey, and horseback riding, as well as
taking advantage of being outdoors as much as possible.

Merritt to QWhistler adventure

Zip lining in Whistler BC with friends

Memories of Growing Up in Merritt

As a very young child, I remember we were always driving down an old back road, or going
for a hike up the mountain side. My father was an avid hunter, and so it was not out of the
norm to be driving down dirt roads on the hunt for the next big buck. I think this is where my
love for the outdoors truly began. I could never get enough of being surrounded by mother
nature right from a young age. Whether it was observing the views from the top of a mountain, watching the
pine trees pass by out the window of a truck, or just taking in the sights and
sounds as we hiked down a trail.

Parenting in the Nicola Valley

 hockey merritt bc

As a parent now, I appreciate so much more the driving and planning my mother did for
us kids (I had one brother and two sisters). With the help of my grandmother (who also lived
with us), she would stop at nothing to make sure that those 5 am figure skating practices
were executed, that I was able to attend each out of town hockey game, and that we would
have dinner ready before attending my horseback riding lessons – talk about Supermom!

Living In Merritt With Mom

My mother has always been an outdoorsy lady as well. I remember just the two of us riding
our horses for hours down an old dirt road, or on a trail twisting through the pine
trees. Sometimes we talked and chatted about everything, other times we would both be in
our own worlds, silently riding our noble steeds through the tall grass. The
squeaking of our leather saddles and the clomping of hooves into the earth would echo as
we ventured on – they were such tranquil moments.

Raising a family in Merritt BC

Being a mom to my 8 year old son, I love the fact that he is involved in some of the same
local sports that I was as a kid, and to see the same volunteers working brings it
full circle – how cool is that! My son, Ryder, plays hockey on our local Merritt Minor Hockey league. He has made many friends and fun memories on the ice, but his real passion is on the seat of his dirt bike. Whether its on gnarly trails scattered on the outskirts of town or a track, this kiddo is sending it. We don’t realize how lucky we are to be surrounded by such beautiful back country for so many various activities.

It takes a community to raise a child

Our community is amazing, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. The saying comes to mind, “It takes a community to raise a child”, and that could not be more true. I had so many phenomenal influences growing up, and because of that and the childhood I am so grateful to have lead, I can proudly say I am who I am because of this community! I feel so thankful that I get to share with you my love for this community, and I am ecstatic to be able to share with ya’ll some insight on not only health and beauty, but the lifestyle we get to live!

Join me on my blogging journey, while I walk you through what healthy living inside and out means to me, and how you can incorporate it into your daily life
in the Nicola Valley too. Lets do this!

 

living in merritt bc

My son Ryder  getting ready to dirt bike in Merritt BC

Living in Merritt BC Canada

Growing up in the Nicola Valley

Horse Back Riding Merritt BC.

A-P Ranch Horse Back Riding, Nicola Valley BC.

Outdoor adventure at A-P Ranch

Horse Back Riding at A-P Guest Ranch Nicola Valley Merritt BC.  This rustic “Western Guest Ranch” is owned and operated by Andre and his wife Susan Patry. Established in 1986, this scenic ranch is nestled in a valley setting in the heart of B.C.’s prominent ranching country. The ranch is surrounded by impressive fishing lakes and thousands of acres of rolling terrain for picturesque trail riding and winter sports. Experience Nicola Valley is proud to have had an opportunity to visit with A-P Ranch. 

Horseback riding in Merritt BC

Andre and friends.

experiencemerritt

A great way to experience Merritt Canada is from the back of a horse at A-P Guest Ranch Nicola Valley BC.

Andre Patry, owner of A-P Ranch, shared with us that he has been riding for 73 years. More impressively, 53 years of that stretch is right here in Merritt BC. The Patry’s left Quebec around 1966 and with a bit prospecting for the perfect ranch Andre found what was to become A-P Guest Ranch.

Horseback riding in the Nicola Valley

A-P Guest Ranch. Kitchen, Saloon, Dining area along with bunk rooms.

Importantly Andre and family at A-P Guest Ranch believe in providing 5 star treatment for all their guests.

For example safety is very important for their guests when embarking on a trail ride. With Andre’s years of experience dealing with horses he seems to have this magical ability to team a horse and rider up perfectly. The right temperament is required between a horse and rider for a maximum riding experience for both horse and rider. 

A-P Ranch Horseback Riding

Andre making sure everything is in order.

In fact A-P Ranch is ideal for family outings, reunions, weddings, and for escaping the city for a weekend getaway! 

Horseback riding with Experience Nicola Valley

Gearing up.

Together with its 5 Star Hospitality A-P  Ranch also offers other outdoor adventures.

When was the last time you enjoyed a hay-ride, or have you even tried one of these sightseeing adventures. It is a great way to spend a fall day with the family. Why not make it a weekend getaway with your children and give them the ultimate experience of “Living Country” on a horse ranch like A-P Ranch.

Merritt BC Horseback Riding Tours

A-P Ranch Corrals.

A-P Ranch’s great hospitality.

Along with great “Lodge Package’s“(including meals & lodging)… A-P Ranch also has a Bed & Breakfast. Also for those campers with tents or trailers,  there are camping facilities as well, some with with power.

Mark Patry with Melvina White.

In case you forget your “Cowboy” boots.

A-P Ranch provides more than a horse and some good times. They are ready to help you look the part as well. They have the cowboy boots to fit all sizes of feet and adventures. Riding boots are not only great for the ambiance but also for the safety of the rider.

A-P Ranch Cowboy Boots

Great selection!

Merritt BC horseback riding

Melva picking out her riding boots.

Additionally Mark Patry helps with saddling up the horses.

Horses at the ranch

Saddle up!

Horseback riding in Merritt BC

Bill’s with his horse “Lapis”

Andre believes in “safety” first.

For this reason alone A-P Guest Ranch is a great start for beginners as well as all levels of horseback riding. From families to seasoned riders the people at the ranch have the skills and equipment for a safe ride. 

Nicola Valley horseback riding guides

With 73 years of experience Andre makes this look easy.

Indeed all of the horses at A-P Ranch are truly beautiful!

There is something special going on at A-P Ranch. Interestingly enough, you can see that more and more people are turning to horses for a connection with nature as well as a connection with themselves. Additionally Horses have been linked to helping people heal when dealing with PTSD, anxiety, depression, abuse, addiction, grief, and stress. 

Horseback riding tours and guides

Andre leading the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was my “ride” for our open trail experience.

A-P Ranch is a hidden gem within the Nicola Valley. Hidden in the sense that it is located on the outskirts of the Nicola Valley in the wilderness backcountry of British Columbia. A great destination for company retreats, team building and motivational seminars.

Horseback riding in BC

Tania’s beautiful ride.

Calling all “horse” lovers!

Whether you love to go riding in the vast outdoors or relax and stay in for a night being treated to country cooking A-P Guest Ranch is truly the place for you.

Trail riding in the Nicola Valley

Andre leads us to the “Range”

Especially with all its scenic beauty, its hard not to feel like your riding in the Old West of yesterday.

Surprisingly from Kamloops Purity Feed Ltd to A-P ranch is 92.3 km, average driving time 58 minutes. Also from Merritt’s Best Western Plus to the ranch is 26.5 km = 20 minutes driving time. If arriving from Vancouver British Columbia Canada it is only a little over a 31/2 hour drive, Kelowna just over an hour.

Merritt BC Guest Ranch

This is what 73yrs of experience looks like.

Amazing how one can connect with nature when on horseback.

From dessert grass to lush forest.

Riding on a perfect late summer day.

For the brave and more adventurous people, A-P Ranch also provides multi-day “Pack Trips”. These horseback riding adventures range from 3 days to 7 days. All you need to do is show up, saddle up and enjoy the experience.  My son and I along with other people hope to do a 3 day one in the fall.  

“Born to Ride” Melvina White.

Our host Andre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only can you see how Andre’s horses earn their keep, you see the love shared between horse and man. 

Merritt horseback riding tours

New friends.

Majestic Outdoors.

Melvina taking in the beauty.

Riding into the wild.

20 Minute Break

Half-way through our trail ride we had about a 20 minute break to stretch our legs. I found it got harder to get back on my horse. But, I guess I am a natural, as there are stumps around to help with the saddle up process. 

Nicola Valley horseback riding.

The perfect place to stretch your legs.

Notably the chances of making new friends are very high.

Andre, Sarah Pasco, Joe klemionks, Bill.

Can it get any better?

My hat, if I had one, is off to our very personable and knowledgeable horseback riding guide “Andre Patry”

Andre pointing out all the different trees.

Wildlife!

Coupled with nature, good company, well adjusted horses this is truly a perfect mini holiday!

I began whistling the tune from “The Good, the Bad & the Ugly”

Of course after the trail ride” you can cool of with a drink in A-P’s Saloon.

Were everyone knows your name!

Additionally Andre is an amazing artist.

Pictures do not do Andre’s art justice. Seeing his amazing work is truly an experience to see and enjoy. And I guarantee you wont leave with just one piece. 

Carving.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

A-P Ranch Box 1148-4220 Hwy 5A South Merritt BC. 

Tel: 250-378-6520

Email: apguestranch@hotmail.com

Website:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A-P-Guest-Ranch/

 

 

Courtesy Corner Supermarket

Lower Nicola Merritt BC Grocery Store

“We don’t need to go into town as much.”

 

Lower Nicola has a Merritt BC grocery store called Courtesy Corner. The mini supermarket is a family owned business located just outside Merritt BC Canada on Hwy 8 towards Spencer’s Bridge.  The Merritt BC grocery store offers a large selection of products that are priced comparably well with other big chain grocery stores.

But what everyone seems to want to talk about is how they are always treated with respect, and greeted with politeness by the proud owners of Courtesy Corner, Shamba Singh Bhown and wife Shreya Bhown. 

Courtesy Corner Family Owned Grocery Store

Meet The Owners  Shamba Singh Bhown With His Wife Shreya Bhown,

I had the opportunity to meet Shamba and his wife Shreya while making a quick stop to buy a lottery ticket on Saturday March 29, 2019. And to my surprise they were having a customer appreciation day. Best yet, there was a  Lotto Max rep “Kyleen Horodyski” on site handing out free giveaways along with cake and balloons.  Sweet! I was greeted by the owners with free Samosas. 

Time To Merritt Blog 

I  took the opportunity to ask the Bhown’s if they have ever heard of Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers? My story telling side (my blogger within me) came out and explained to them what was happening online and within the Nicola Valley. They quickly agreed that it was a good idea for me to  write a blog about their business!

Shamba Singh Bhown with his wife Shreya Bhown, along with their reno/store handyman Paul Jensen.

Experience Nicola Valley Interview

Type of Merritt BC business – Corner Store/ Supermarket.

(Q1) What made you come to Merritt BC Canada and purchase this particular business?

Shamba “I knew that we would do a lot better here. With its great location, beautiful area, friendly community. Right away we were welcomed by everyone.”

(Q2) How long have you been in this type of business?

Shamba “Many years, I have a lot of experience and through the years have been able to connect with reliable wholesalers along with brands I stand behind.”

(Q3) Can u give me an example?

Shamba “Organic Natural Drinks, along with Saunders Family Farm.”

(Q4) Are there advantages to owning a Merritt BC business here in the Nicola Valley?

Shamba “Many advantages. It is very community based, loyal customers, situated on a busy Highway that is well travelled by tourists, as well as, we have other small communities nearby that rely on having a grocery store nearby that supplies products at comparable prices along with a large selection.”

(Q5) What future plans do you have for your store?

Shamba “We will be putting in two gas pumps, as well as, start selling propane. Soon after we hope to obtain a permit so we are able to sell fishing & hunting licenses too.”

(Q6) Why do your customers keep coming back?

Shamba “We work hard to model our business to what people expect. Honesty, quality, selection, comparable prices, listening to what customers want.”

(Q7) Can you tell me an example of going above & beyond for your clientele?

Shamba “Last year we purchased the store in April, and within a couple of weeks the river flooded washing out the bridge. It made it almost impossible for many people to get into Merritt. After a few days our supplies were running out, so I drove to Kamloops to stock up on merchandise, making sure we could supply all the necessities for the community. Furthermore, I also drove to the lower mainland to purchase goods and stock up.”

Courtesy Corner had a winning ticket celebration March 29,2019. Representatives from Lotto Max were on location for free giveaways,

The Store With The “Winning Touch”

Amazingly not once but twice,  Courtesy Corner has sold  a winning lottery ticket to 3 of their frequent customers. Making them instant millionaires and “Living The Dream”.  The last 25 million Lotto Max ticket was sold recently.  It was a ticket sold by asking the customer if he wanted buy a ticket for that nights Lotto Max draw.  Talk about upselling! 

Products You Can Find At Courtesy Corner

Courtesy Corner Supermarket offers such a wide range of merchandise and household provisions that makes it a “one-stop-shopping” grocery store. 

Courtesy Corner is well known in the region for having comparable prices, with a wide range of provisions. Everything from office staples to vehicle products. 

Frozen goods. Ground beef from Lower Nicola’s butcher Keiper’s Ranch.

Beauty Products For Him & Her

Impressive selection of beauty products comparable to the larger box stores.

Products for men & women.

Great supply of hair products available.

 

 

Awesome Selection Of Ice Cream For Every Sweet Tooth For “Those Hot Summer Days”

World’s coldest Ice Cream! Try the Mini Melts!

Happy customer enjoying a tasty cone.

Hard to resist this Cotton Candy Ice Cream!

 Fresh Produce Or Planting A Garden 

vegetables and fruits are fresh and a great variety is available. Along with garden seeds they also have spice & seasoning.

Planting a Garden this year. Great selection of seeds.

Fresh produce available daily.

In case you forgot. Spices & Seasonings

Merritt BC Fishing And Hunting In The Nicola Valley

Unique items can be found at Courtesy Corner.

Hunting & fishing essentials.

Cabin Fever!

 

 

Vehicle Products

With its own section, vehicle owners will be pleased to see the selection of essentials needed for their ride.

Found at Courtesy Corner vehicle oil and wiper fluid.

Air Fresheners also!

 

Prepaid Cards Available & Rapid Chargers

A wide sort of prepaid cards available at Courtesy Corner.

Need a charge? Rapid charge available.

 

 

Testaments From Happy Customers

The customers I talked to couldn’t say enough positive things about the owners of this Merritt BC grocery store. They were telling me how impressed with the re-modeling of the inside, as well as, the selection of merchandise available.  Most importantly how gracious and friendly the staff are.

Brad & Irene Bennet

“Love Lower Nicola Courtesy Supermarket! What they have done to it , staff are great, courteous and helpful. amazing selection of products!” Brad & Irene Bennet

In Conclusion

Nicola Courtesy Corner Supermarket. A  family run business that offers a selection of merchandise/provisions that equal any big box store prices.  I was amazed at the selection that was on display.   Above all I dont live in Lower Nicola but I may find myself shopping here more. Experience The Nicola Valley.

“Awesome Store! We don’t live in the Lower Nicola, but we love this store” Dorothy & Helen Clarke.

Bus Stop 

There is a bus stop located on Aberdeen Rd. in Lower Nicola Valley. The bus stop is only a few steps from the store. 
There are public bathrooms. Video surveillance on site inside and outside.

Lower Nicola Courtesy Corner Friendly Staff

Courtesy Corner Contact List

Phone Number (250) 378-9457,

407 hwy 8 w
Lower Nicola, British Columbia 

Outside Lower Nicola Area, Dial +1 2503789457. 

Hours 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM Mondays – Saturday
Sundays 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Price Range $$ comparible to larger Supermarkets
407 hwy 8 w (4.92 mi)

Facebook Page: Courtesy Corner Lower Nicola

Lower Nicola BC Canada Corner Store – Merritt BC Business