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Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives  

A Senior’s Trip Through Time

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

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

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

Experience Nicola Valley

Weaved baskets on display at the Museum

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- First Nations

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- School Days

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

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives- Medical Services.

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

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

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

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Home Equipment

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

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

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

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Tools and Farm Equipment

Pioneer tools on display at the Museum.

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

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

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

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

Historical Nicola Valley Museum & Archives – Back to the present

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

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

From your seniors blogger,
Diane

Seniors Bike Riding

Things to do for Seniors in Merritt

“Bike, helmet, lock and picnic lunch all organized, off we went.”

Come have some bike riding fun in Merritt. Remember when we were kids? We biked everywhere because we had to. It was our only means of transportation if we didn’t want to walk. Today we planned to take an easy ride around the flat part of Merritt, since I haven’t been on a bike for over 35 years. As a senior I decided a gentle restart to bike riding was in order. We could stop for a picnic lunch in a quiet, grassy place, near the river or in one of the parks along the route.

Senior Bike Choices

Since I don’t own my own bike, I decided to get the best bike and biking information directly from Travis at “Breathe Bikes”. The word is out. He not only sells a wide range of bikes and all the gear to go with them, he also rents them. And at very reasonable rates too! Some really pretty ones include a new favorite of mine – the tricycle.

Tricycles For Seniors

bike riding

Ready for a picnic

At first, I felt unsure about riding a tricycle. I thought, “How can I say I got my bruises

from falling off a tricycle? This thing will be heavy, clumsy and hard to steer.” That is sooo not true! Travis had me test-drive an evo bike. Once around the block and I was hooked! That’s all it took for me to get the feel of “triking”.

I loved my evo tricycle with its upright handlebars. I could actually sit on its comfortable, bum-shaped seat! It is light, steers well, and has a large basket fitted on the back. A good load of groceries or a big picnic for two (with wine) will easily fit. It even folds for easier storage! Bike, helmet, lock and picnic lunch all organized, off we went.

Seniors Biking Routes

The route you take will depend on your fitness level. You can wimp out (as I did) and go for super easy or challenge yourself with a tough, uphill grind. Our choice was the Coldwater River/Voght Street route, an easy 3.4 km, most of it away from traffic.

We started outside “Breathe Bikes” on Quilchena Avenue, turned right onto Voght Street and were on our way.

We passed several interesting shops in the first few blocks so I mentally marked them for further exploration another day. Our goal was the entrance to the trail that runs alongside the Coldwater River. It’s an easy find because the parking lot gives it away.

The Coldwater River Trail

bike riding

Coldwater River Trail

When we reached the Coldwater River Trail, everything was amazing! It was one of those perfect days when Merritt smiles on you. The sky was a beautiful cloudless blue. A warm, light breeze cooled our barely sweating skin and not a single mosquito showed its nasty little head! Not even in the cool, tree-shaded parts of the path.

This is a peaceful, scenic route with lots of little perks. We lucked out that day! The saskatoon berries were ripe when we went by so, of course we stopped to pick some. Good thing we brought a couple of bags with us. Merritt always seems to have tasty, wild things growing along the paths wherever we go.

Route Distractions

It’s a good thing we weren’t trying for a hard workout. The river is low at this time of year and such a distraction that we tied up and skidded down the bank for a short wade. Yes, the water is cold! Found some pretty rocks washed down by the spring floods, nothing valuable, just pretty. Afterward, we sat on a gravel bar listening to the birds and enjoying the sweet, warm air.

Bike Riding and Lunch

bike riding

Coldwater River

Our stomachs were starting to let us know that lunch was next, so we scrambled back up to our bikes and pushed on. This last part of the path seemed to be quite busy. More bike riders, people walking dogs, dogs walking people, and several runners- all going faster than we were!

When we were almost at Main Street we found a good place for a picnic. Lots of green grass, a few shade trees, laughter, families having lunch, a dog chasing a ball. A good place to eat. We tied up our bikes (trike), spread out our feast and tucked in. I guess I should admit here that the saskatoons never made it home. They topped off our lunch deliciously!

Homeward Bound

The last part of our ride was on city streets, but quiet city streets. Main Street and then Quilchena Avenue were very peaceful all the way back to “Breathe Bikes”.

We’d had such a relaxing day! It felt as if I had been gone for a weekend instead of only a few hours. Going bike riding is another great thing for seniors to do in Merritt.

I returned my tricycle reluctantly. In the short time we spent together on the trail, I felt that the trike and I had become good friends. Do you think I should give her a permanent home? 

I would call her Millie.

From your senior blogger,

Diane

Coffee House Music in Merritt, Canada

Another Great Thing for Seniors to Do in the Nicola Valley

Coffee House Music – On to the Future

Remember the old underground Coffee House of the 60’s and 70’s? Come with me and enjoy all the nostalgic fun of that era minus the toke smoke and obscure poetry.

No sneaking around in dank, dark cellars either. This Coffee House is in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame at 2025 Quilchena Avenue, smack in the heart of downtown Merritt! It’s a spacious well- lit venue with great acoustics and good lighting. Add live, mostly country, music, a mix of songs from earlier times, some blues, a bit of sing-along fun and of course, coffee. Welcome to the future of the 1960’s coffee house, Merritt style.

Coffee House

Coffee House Jam in Merritt, Canada

On June 23rd, we went to check it out. Not only did we have a fantastic time, we also met several old friends and made a few new ones. Imagine my surprise when I looked around the room to discover not only the expected seniors, but also a family with five (very well-behaved) little boys and a good mix of younger people. It seems that everyone loves coffee house music!

Coffee House Entertainment

Al Horne and his wife Denise hosted, and they entertained us royally! Everyone enjoyed their music. We seniors because we remembered most of the “oldies” they sang and could sing along. The kids caught on to the chorus quickly.

They especially loved the hand clapping and foot stomping bits.

I so love to watch Denise and Al perform. A sweetness shows between them as they peek at each other for cues or just flash a quick, encouraging grin back and forth. Their give and take banter always gets a laugh too. They offer us these naturally, warm, “feel good” moments without even realizing they are doing it! It’s obvious to everyone that they’re having as good a time as we are. Makes the coffee house atmosphere so friendly and personal.

Coffee House Feature Act – Bobby Garcia

Every coffee house needs a feature act and Bobby Garcia certainly delivers! In person he

Coffee House

Bobby Garcia

seems quiet, polite and a little shy, but on stage he sure can sing up a storm! Backed by Herb MacLellan, we were surprised and delighted to hear this young man sing the oldies that we grew up with, as well as some modern country. This talented entertainer not only writes a lot of his own songs, but sings them as well! He was nice enough to let me take his picture during the break. And as you can see, he’s a cutie!

Bobby has been a popular singer/songwriter in Merritt for some time. But did you know that he recently recorded an album in Nashville, which is  available online and here in Merritt? Nashville’s interest can only be a good sign! Best of luck to Merritt’s own Bobby Garcia!

Coffee House Entertainment – Robert Bertrand

Coffee House

Robert Bertrand

What fun we had with Robert Bertrand on stage. That truly was a trip down memory lane! I have to admit I’m pretty good at recognizing country songs as far back as the 1930’s. My dad used to sing them to me when I was a baby and they really stuck! Robert stumped me but good though when he took the old cowboy songs and blues back past that era. We all enjoyed the music but some of the older audience really got it! I wonder, did their daddies sing to them too?

If you like Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson, you would certainly enjoy Robert. He sings like a bit of both of them, with a little gravel of experience in his voice. All those “Don’t love me honey or “I might do you wrong” lyrics are delivered with a twinkle in his eye and a wicked, knowing grin. He sure can get the crowd smiling and toe tapping! No wonder he is asked to play so often.

During the break he, too, was nice enough to let me take his picture. Doesn’t he look as if he would fit right into his songs?

Coffee House in the Hall of Fame

Al and Denise, and the Coffee House crew, host a monthly coffee house at the Hall of Fame here in Merritt. Featuring both new guests and repeat favorites, it isn’t just an entertaining evening, but a social event too. In this coffee house, visitors are welcomed, friendships renewed and new friendships formed.

If good friends and entertainment aren’t enough, there is always the Hall of Fame itself. The exhibits tie in nicely with the music and atmosphere and are worth exploring in themselves. Quite a few of the the exhibited stars are seniors. I was glad we arrived early so I could check out some of the costumes that I missed last time. Some of those women were so tiny! Hmm, maybe I should take up guitar and singing.

Coffee House Wind-up

What did this senior learn from doing an evening of coffee house music, Merritt style? This is one experience I will definitely repeat.

Do you enjoy coffee houses?

From your senior on the go,

Diane

Things to Do for Seniors in Merritt

“I’m a senior on the go, never knowing what I’ll decide to do next.”

What an adventure! Starting a blog will be easy and fun, I thought. Right? Well, it’s not just about writing. It’s about things to do for seniors in Merritt!

Things To Do For Seniors In Merritt:

-the Seniors Spring dance

-the “new”  path along Voght Street

-a visit to the Community Garden behind the hospital

The Seniors Centre was not somewhere I had been before.  Honestly, I thought it would be a place where really old people sat around, played cards and gossiped.  Not so!!!  When I walked in, there were a number of women around tables decorating hats.  When I asked why they were decorating them they told me it was for the spring hat dance contest on Saturday night.  Now, I have to admit that I haven’t been to a Saturday night dance for umpteen years, so I decided I needed to go.

Seniors on the Go in Merritt

 

The Spring Hat Dance was a lot of fun

May 12/18     Two smiling, beautifully hatted ladies greeted me at the door and took my ticket.  Punch, both alcoholic and non, sat on a sideboard where we could help ourselves along with coffee and water. I enjoyed the three- piece band (music by Randy Chillihitzi) that played good old country dance music, a bit of rock n roll and tossed in a few modern tunes to boot. Since I grew up with these songs it was a trip down memory lane for me.  One thing for sure, we seniors really know how to dance and wow can some of us rock!

Seniors on the Go in Merritt

The food was tasty pot- luck appetizers.  Yumm.

Would you believe admission was only $10.00?

Will I go again?  You betcha!

For more information about what real seniors do and to find out what other fun is planned including:

  • swimming
  • shuffleboard
  • exercise
  • cribbage
  • carpet bowling
  • bridge
  • floor curling
  • horseshoes
  • pot luck suppers

Phone:  250-378-3763

Email:  msca2@telus.net

Have yourselves as much fun as I did.

 

Enjoy A Simple Walk – The Path

On the way up to the community garden I remembered reading an article in the Merritt Herald  about the new path that ran along the edge of Voght Street.  I was thinking it might be fun to walk there, particularly on a hot day.  It looked shady, cool and interesting- especially from the inside of the car as we flew by, always a quick way to check out new stuff.Seniors on the Go in Merritt

So here I am on the wide, paved, smooth path with greenery, trees and some recognizable plants at the edges of the pavement.  The sun is smiling down on me, a few fluffy white clouds are floating by and a cool breeze is blowing away the heat.  Life is good.  Some wild pea plants that grow back a little from the edge looked tempting so I confess to pulling a few shoots for a nibble.  They taste exactly like fresh peas if you get them very young and their little purple flowers are good too.  Just be absolutely sure you know what you’re eatin

If you make a mistake, the path starts across the street from the hospital.

Well!  The path went only about ½ a k and ends too near Mickey D’s for my own good.  Still, it is pretty and the peas were tasty.  Enjoy!

 

Fellow Seniors – Dig This! The Community Garden

Come with me today to visit Merritt’s community garden. It sits quietly behind the hospital in an alfalfa field, with parking on Reid to avoid crowding the hospital parking lot.

Seniors on the Go in Merritt

We are in the process of starting some new projects.  By the end of summer we will have:

  • a gazebo
  • a pollinator garden
  • a possible beehive
  • planters for the food bank and soup kitchen
  • a public area under the sign for people to pick a few samples

Most of the above are started already, the food bank and soup kitchen gardens are planted and our personal gardens are growing well.   I feel happy to see the tiny plants popping up out of the ground despite the cold, hot, rainy, dry weather we are getting.  Very unpredictable this year.

Visitors are always welcome

Anyone who happens to be working that day will be glad to show you around and tell you how we got started.  The part of the garden outside the fence is for public use so pick a few strawberries, snip some chamomile for tea or try the swiss chard.

The gazebo is a cool place to have lunch on a hot day, not only for the shade it provides but because there is usually a cool breeze too.  Please bring your own chairs and enjoy some peaceful down time.

By July, the height of the blooming season, the pollinator garden will be gorgeous.  Right now we are discussing which plants would give the best results and make the bees and other pollinators happy.

To protect our little plots we do request that visitors leave their pets outside the garden and thank you for  not smoking in the area.

If you would like more information or would like to join the community garden contact us at:

nicolavalleycommunitygardens@gmail.com

I’m a senior on the go, never knowing what I’ll decide to do next.  And with lots of things for seniors to do in Merritt, what would you like to do?