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The Chair Walk, Merritt BC

July 10, 2019 to August 7, 2019

“Chairs like you have never seen before”

Art in Merritt BC. Art in Merritt comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. There are art galleries for you to enjoy, craft markets where many different artists participate, as well as, various venues with live entertainment. Locals and visitors will also enjoy the “Chair Walk”, the latest addition to the art experience while exploring Merritt BC Canada.

How does the Chair Walk Work?

The Chair Walk is modeled after a self-guided walking tour. Many communities provide self guided art walks including Merritt and the Nicola Valley. The Chair Walk will soon be one of the many art experiences to enjoy alongside the Merritt Murals, Walk Of Stars and many others.

However, one should know, the Chair Walk is different than many other art exhibits because it is a fund raiser for the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council and the Nicola Valley Community Theatre Society . The Chair Walk has some unique twists and turns that are not found in your every-day conventional Art Walk. It will be well worth the walk.

The Chair Walk is an army of community minded artists coming together for a good cause by donating their time and talents to producing some amazing art creations in the form of chairs.  While the basis of the work is a common chair, there is nothing common about the finished results. But hold on! That is all we can tell you about it right now because it is a surprise. You will have to come to Merritt BC Canada this summer and take the walking tour to see the collection of creative chair masterpieces.

What will the chairs look like?

The Business Community is on board.

Of course, all this effort by the artists would be for naught if the businesses did not see this as a valuable event, not only for themselves, but for the whole town in fostering art in Merritt. You will find that the interesting thing is the large variety of businesses involved.  There are flower shops, restaurants, auto parts dealers, a bike shop, sportswear, gift shops and many others for you to visit. All with their own versions of chair art.

Making Money for Art in Merritt, BC

Whereas the artists and business are crucial, you will be the ones to determine the success of this event.

Each chair will be the subject of a silent auction 

However, if you are not going to bid on a chair you can still help the cause. Each chair will have a piggy bank placed nearby where you can make a donation.  As a side note, the banks are fun to see as they come in all sizes and shapes too.

“Families, children, teens, seniors, singles, tourists, and couples are all encouraged to support this event as it will not only be a fun summer activity but also help make Merritt become a better community in which to live.” says Team Leader for the Chair Project, Shirley

Inviting Store Front promoting Art in Merritt

Art in Merritt is worth the effort

The Chair Walk will give you a great introduction to our wonderful little City.  While you travel to each venue you will pass by other attractions that might interest you,  such as the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

In addition,  if you are into museums visit the Nicola Valley Museum and Archives.  You will find great information on the local history including the Indigenous peoples of the region.  You can also take in the many murals of the country stars that have played at our annual summer music fest. 

The Merritt Murals are another example of art in Merritt that is on public display. There are said to around 20+ murals depicting country music stars. All painted by Michelle Loughery.

Accommodations Galore!

While experiencing the Chair Walk you may find time flies by fast.  There are fifteen art sites spread out around town. Therefore, if you are from out of town you will want to consider staying over night. Accommodations in Merritt are varied from first class hotels to camping in the wilderness.

What to expect with art in Merritt

You will see some amazing creations, you will feel the small town experience and you could win a prize at the same time.  Just get your passport stamped at all fifteen venues and you will be entered into the draw. You will walk away feeling proud that you participated in the Chair Walk  in Merritt.

Chair Walk – Art in Merritt BC Canada

Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert

Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden and UniTea Cafe, Ashcroft, BC

“… a Mexican Fiesta of luscious fresh produce!”

There are many kinds of food adventures, and yesterday I had a particularly delightful one, involving not only ogling, handling and buying fresh, ripe, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, but also eating some with a dear, old friend! I fetched her for a journey from Merritt to Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden in Ashcroft. It was a grand day for a drive, not too hot, and the smoke had receded, revealing blue sky. Who knew we would find Mexican Food in our Canadian desert?
Just over an hour’s drive northwest of Merritt, through gorgeous sagebrush hills, Ashcroft is a delightful village whose Gold Rush historic downtown is couched between the railway tracks and the emerald Thompson River.  The town of Ashcroft straddles the Thompson, and Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden can be found on the west side of the bridge.

An Oasis in the Desert!

Driving through some of the Ranch’s gorgeous green fields, my first thought was, “Zowie! An oasis in the desert!”
Mexican Food in the Canadian Desert
Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden is aptly named because Ashcroft is found in a unique desert setting. According to Wikipedia, is “the driest place in Canada, south of the high arctic”!  According to Desert Hills Ranch’s website, “early in the 20th century, settlers of Ashcroft found that its rich volcanic soil produced some of the best produce in the world. They found that, as long as you added water to the fertile soil, it would grow nearly anything.”

Ashcroft BC

Painting of Ashcroft by E.J.Hughes, 1965

BC & Canada’s Hot Spot

Often the official hot spot for both BC and all of Canada, Ashcroft’s plentiful heat, soil and water helped its settlers become major producers of potatoes and tomatoes in the early 20th Century. Now potatoes and tomatoes represent only a small fraction of the huge variety of vegetables and fruits now grown at Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden. Family owned and operated since 1983, it draws folk from all over.

A Mexican Fiesta of Luscious Fresh Produce!

Mexican Food

Pick a peck of perfect peppers

Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden is a feast for the senses. Outside, huge hanging floral baskets scent the air, while pots and pots and pots of kale, in their purples, greens and blues, line the outside of the packing shed. Walking toward the Market, we find boxes of fruit stacked high and ready for transport, their contents colourful and inviting. My friend grabs a grocery cart to assist her walking, I opt for a red wagon, and we head indoors to shop.

Mexican Food in the Canadian Desert

A harvest of many colours

Inside, a Mexican Fiesta of luscious fresh produce! Scores of large cardboard bins contain gorgeous fresh-picked fruits and vegetables in a multitude of colours: dark green cucumbers, jalapeños, watermelon, beans, broccoli and zucchini; purple peppers, plums, onions, cabbage and eggplant; orange peppers, nectarines & peaches; yellow peppers & melons; light green pears, cabbage and honeydew melons; white potatoes, onions, and garlic; red sweet & hot peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes.
I can tell that the peaches and nectarines have been ripened on the tree by the telltale branch mark near the stem.  The watermelons ring with that perfect hollow sound when knocked.

Seedless sweet watermelon

Mexican music streams from the speakers in deference to the many Mexican workers who work here, imported each spring & summer to assist with the planting, tending, picking, hauling & packing. It was fun to be able to practice my meagre Spanish on a few of the staff. They were so ready and available to help!

Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert!

Imported as well, are many Mexican grocery items. Facing one wall, with strains of Mexican music playing in the background, I felt as if I had been transported to my favourite grocery store in Puerto Escondido! Here I was, finding Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert: canned salsas & peppers, hot sauces, drinks, and spices galore, including my favourite, Chili con Limon!
I find all I need to make a fresh Pico de Gallo – roma tomatoes, jalapenos, gigantic 2 pound sweet onions and cilantro. Finally, our carts bursting with fabulous, inexpensive produce, we head to the busy checkout. I can only begin to imagine how many mouths this farm feeds, with markets in both Ashcroft and Cache Creek. They are currently open seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm.
Getting peckish, we inquire about lunch. We had heard that Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden also served terrific tacos, and we were eager to enjoy their authenticity.  Turns out tacos are available only on weekends. Next time, we will be sure to visit on a Saturday or Sunday.  There is a shady picnic area on the hillside, where you can enjoy your tacos, or a picnic of your own making, or a Foothills Creamery ice cream cone from the Market.
All watered up for Mexican food, and simply not able to let it go, I search online, and find that the UniTea Cafe in Ashcroft serves some Mex! We head downtown, doing a wee circle tour to enjoy the historical sights and lovely mosaics that abound.

More Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert

Nadine busy in the kitchen at the UniTea Cafe

UniTea Cafe

The UniTea Cafe is a groovy little tea room, serving comfort foods, a wide variety of drinks, coffee and, of course, perfectly brewed full-leaf teas. Also, quesadillas and, lucky for us, on that day, the special was burritos! Stuffed with many good things and cheesy-messy as they should be, and including a side of tomatoes and cucumbers from Desert Hills Ranch Market Garden. Both were delicious!
Oh, and the UniTea Cafe is licensed, so I enjoyed a cold Corona with lime and, my companion, a chilled Chardonnay. All this, accompanied by a lovely collection of Spanish
tunes, and we were, again, transported, enjoying Mexican Food in our Canadian Desert!
The UniTea Cafe often hosts musicians, so check out their Facebook Page for upcoming concerts.
(For other coffee house music opportunities in the area check out Coffee House Music in Merritt, Canada.)
Satiated and happy, my dear friend and I continued our circle tour, back through Spences Bridge, along the Nicola River, through the beautiful Nicola Valley and home.
What a treat to discover the tastes, sounds, smells and colours of Mexico, so close to home!
JGS
August 23, 2018
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Historic Murray Church

The oldest building in the Nicola Valley

“The quaint little white church, the first in the area.”

One of the most iconic attractions in the Nicola Valley is the historic Murray Church. Located in the Nicola Valley on highway 5A just northeast of Merritt, the quaint little white church, the first in the area. Built in 1876 the Murray Church is the oldest building in the Nicola Valley and also the only building still standing made with local Nicola Valley lumber. If you peek in the windows you can get an idea of what a 19th century church looked like back in the day. It has a pulpit at the front, pews waiting to be filled, and stained glass windows at the back.

Historic Murray Church - Experience Nicola Valley

Historic Murray Church

Murray Church originally starts out as a Presbyterian Church and in 1927 became Murray United Church. The church named after its founder Rev. George Murray is the most photographed church in all of the southern interior of BC.

Murray Church cemetery

A small cemetery surrounds it with several dozen headstones, some crumbled and worn, but mostly still legible. These told the story of a harder period in history, when many didn’t make it past the age of 50. One headstone marked the grave of a young mother who died just 19 days before her infant daughter. There was also a number of unmarked graves, distinguished only by small piles of rocks or wooden fences. Walking amongst these graves, some marked with ornate marble headstones and some just with a pile of stones, was a somber but fascinating experience.

About the founder – Rev. George Murray

Murray United Church - Experience Nicola Valley

Reverend George Murray

Reverend George Murray first arrived in the Nicola Valley in 1875. rev. George Murray, who became the only Presbyterian minister in B.C. for five years after his arrival. A graduate of the University of Glasgow, rev. Murray had previously ministered to the district extending from Yale to Clinton, including Ashcroft and Lillooet. Perched on a saddle and armed with a Bible, the reverend travelled through the wilderness on horseback covering a circuit of 600 miles. Now the Nicola Valley was added to his parish. As he travelled the circuit, the reverend would camp outdoors, or sleep at whatever house he happened to be near when night fell. As more settlers arrived, the village of Nicola began to take shape and the more optimistic looked forward to the day when it might become a great city. 

Rev. Murray was accepted into the valley and soon found his way into the people’s hearts. In 1876, with their help, he began construction of Murray Church. It was originally St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church as the local Presbyterian pioneer families. The Clappertons and the Moores were no doubt among the founders of the church. While living in the Valley, the reverend’s travels took him to surrounding settlements, holding services on alternate Sundays as far away as Stump Lake, Douglas Lake and down the valley to the old 22-Mile House. On special occasions he held services at Aspen Grove and Mamette Lake. Every other Sunday, he preached morning and evening in the little church at Nicola and in the afternoon at either Lower Nicola, or Forksdale (which later became Merritt).

Nicola Ranch home of the Murray Church

The Nicola Ranch is situated around Murray United Church. Major Goldman in 1919 purchased the Nicola Ranch and Town site in Nicola, which grew to some 300,000 acres. He owned all the way up to Monck Provincial Park. Which is now that name. He named this park after his son Commander Victor Robert Penryn Monck Goldman of the Royal Navy. Charles Sydney Major Goldman was a British businessman, author, and journalist who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1910 until 1918. There is a memorial stone in the Murray Church yard. He had purchased all the land including the land that the Murray United Church on today. 

Much to the regret of the early pioneers, the great city that had been hoped for at Nicola did not materialize. Coal was discovered at Forksdale and with the completion of the railroad into the valley in 1908, Merritt began to grow at the expense of Nicola.

Historic Murray Church - Experience Nicola Valley

“Strings Plus” concert.

Today the Murray Church stands among the pioneer buildings of the original village of Nicola and the newly renovated buildings that serve the Nicola Lake Ranch.

Historic Murray Church today!!

 

This year the Murray Church has undergone renovations to restore the building to it’s former glory. 

Regular services there were terminated in 1957 and today the church is only open for special occasions, such as Easter Sunday service, wedding ceremonies and most recently “Strings Plus” concert.  Anyone is welcome to any of the services. Please contact the Trinity United Church 1899 Quilchena Ave. Merritt BC 250-378-5735 for more information.

If you are a history buff this attraction will definately be of interest to you!!!

Take a selfie and post your visit on www.experiencenicolavalley.com.

Nicola Valley Food Adventures

“…I love nothing better than hiking for awhile, then finding a sweet spot in the sun to spread out a blanket, yummy foods, and delightful bevvies.”

After over thirty years in the Nicola Valley, and an increase in weight of ten pounds per decade, I feel well-qualified to blog about Nicola Valley Food Adventures!

I love the Nicola Valley and all that it has to offer, and I am a Foodie, so I am especially keen on Nicola Valley Food. As well, I adore adventure, so I am always up for discovering new Nicola Valley Food Adventures.

What is a Foodie?

The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines Foodie as: A person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet. 

Yup, that would be me!

And since I love to write almost as much as I adore food and adventure, I am going to blog about the fabulous foods of the Nicola Valley, as well as adventures that involve food, whether home-cooked or prepared in a restaurant.

I can’t go anywhere without packing a goodly bit of nosh. I blame it on my deprived childhood: six siblings fighting over scant servings.

Food Adventures of My Youth

From an early age, adventures included food. I remember when my older brother and I (he eleven, me six) packed up a can of creamed corn in a plaid shoulder bag, and embarked on an adventure. We walked downtown, climbed to the top of Quesnel’s water wheel, opened the can of creamed corn and devoured its contents. Creamed corn never tasted so good!

Casbar Drive-in movies with all of us kids sardined into the Pontiac station wagon always included very buttery popcorn and a chocolate bar at intermission. The downtown Carib Cinema: a bag of Liquorice Lozenges or a box of chocolate-covered raisins. Coming home from a day at Dragon Lake: a soft ice cream cone or a Coke Float.

Sunday drives: sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, an orange for dessert.

Tobogganing in winter was generally followed by a steaming cup of hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. Drives to the Coast included a stop for a hamburger and French fries in Hope. And trips to visit the Grandparents in Alberta involved camping at Mt. Robson, roasted wienies and marshmallows, and those cute little boxes of cereal for breakfast. Birthdays: angel food cake; sports days; boiled hot dogs on steamed buns with fried onions. Sunday drives: sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper, an orange for dessert.

We loved our trips to visit our cousins in Prince George, where we could count on a fresh batch of Auntie Al’s Nanaimo Bars waiting for our arrival. While there, my cousin introduced me to her favourite movie watching food: Cheezies and grape pop.

Time at Skaha Beach in Penticton wouldn’t be complete without a cardboard container of salty fries, drowning in ketchup and vinegar.

Trips to Vancouver included a trip to the White Spot Drive-In on Granville

Trips to Vancouver to visit our paternal grandparents often included a much-anticipated trip with Uncle “Fud”  to the White Spot Drive-In on Granville Street to enjoy the best burgers, fries and pop, served on a tray bridging the rolled-down windows of the jeep. What a treat!

White Spot Drive-In on Granville

One trip with my Dad included a stop in the Fraser Canyon for a huge bag of fresh bing cherries upon which my younger sister and I gorged ourselves, only later to have them all come up. They had tasted much better going down!

Adventures included food; it was as simple as that!

Adventure = Food

I was hiking with a new friend last year when I was suddenly consumed by the thought of a wienie roast! It dawned on me that almost all of the time I had spent outdoors during my lifetime had involved food in some form or other, and that I felt quite deprived when it didn’t!

My friend was happy to take along a banana, a Gatorade, and a chocolate bar. He would get frustrated with me taking time to pack and then eat a picnic. I would spend time creating a fabulous feast to take on our outings, as I love nothing better than hiking for awhile, then finding a sweet spot in the sun to spread out a blanket, yummy foods, and delightful bevvies.

A Nicola Valley Food Adventure on top of Mount Thynne

His preference was to stop for a minute, eat his banana, gulp his Gatorade, and continue hiking. The chocolate bar was saved for the ride home.

I required Food Adventures!

Nicola Valley Food Adventures

Nicola Valley Food Adventures

Wildflowers on the way to Mount Thynne

A primo Nicola Valley Food Adventure that we enjoyed last July, was a trip up Mount Thynne when the wildflowers were in bloom.

We drove out Coldwater Road, crossed under the Coquihalla and continued up the road through Brookmere, always a scenic journey. When almost to the top of the mountain, we parked and hiked the ugly, steep bit, with my picnic pack on my back. After a good hike, we found a perfect little hollow, protected from the cool wind, where I lay down my blankie and spread out my delicious fare.

Fabulous Food + Nicola Valley Adventure = Nicola Valley Food Adventures

Variety is the spice of a fine picnic, and I’d included kalamata olives, roasted red pepper strips, hummus with carrots and celery for dipping, feta cheese drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano, as well as a delightful, chilled Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. I’d even carefully wrapped and packed my favourite champagne flutes from which to enjoy the bubbly.

Nicola Valley Food Adventures

To me, it couldn’t get much better than this! Fresh air, exercise, wild flowers, fabulous food, fine wine and the most spectacular of views! This was a true Nicola Valley Food Adventure!

Nicola Valley Food Adventures

View from Mount Thynne

However, my friend wasn’t a Foodie and, unfortunately, he didn’t revel as I did in my lovely picnic.

When I told my son this story, he asked, in disbelief, “Who isn’t a Foodie?”

Truly! My boy was raised to enjoy and appreciate great food, and it was unfathomable to both of us how someone wouldn’t adore food as much as we did!

It soon became apparent that I couldn’t be a good adventure buddy with someone who doesn’t appreciate great cuisine in the same way I do; who doesn’t see an adventure as something with which to pair fine food. He was, undoubtedly, an incredible Nicola Valley Adventurer, but he was not a Nicola Valley Food Adventurer!

Here’s to Nicola Valley Food Adventures!

Nicola Valley Food Adventures

Atop Mount Thynne

Stay tuned, my friends! I look forward to sharing many Nicola Valley Food Adventures with you!

Cheers!

JdW

Nicola Valley Food Adventures