Welcome to Living Here

Living Here is a place to share local stories about people in rural communities and small towns who are helping to build healthy, safe, strong and sustainable communities.

Living Here is about our shared values and finding the common ground to move us forward. We care about the people and places that make small towns and rural living such a treasure. Like friends around the campfire or a family at a holiday meal, we share stories that let us learn about each other’s lives and help us help each other to enjoy and take care of our home

Many Hands Build a Home

Sometimes an event is so significant that a person’s life divides into everything that happened before and everything that happened after that moment. For Peter Beliveau of Grand Forks, British Columbia, that moment was when his car rolled over when he was 21, just outside of town. Peter was lucky to walk away from the accident with his life, although he didn’t walk right away as he experienced damage to his spinal cord. 

“I got in a car accident, broke my neck and stayed in the hospital, and when I could sort of walk again, I wanted to travel overseas.” 

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The story continues…

When we saw news that tied right back to some of our Living Here stories, we realized it was time to bring you short follow ups to some of the big stories from our small towns. Read what’s new with three of our earlier stories to see how things are moving forward in your community.

Gearing up for another active year

by Anna Lamb-Yorski

It’s been almost one year since Living Here last connected with Trail, British Columbia’s Glen Byle, and almost five since he traded in his Ford F250 for an electric fat bike. Now a one-vehicle family, the Byles have managed to save around $5,000 a year since the truck left their driveway for good. 

“The extra spending money that we have is AMAZING,” Glen shares. “I finally bought the new mountain bike that I wanted last year, and there are many things that we are able to afford now that increases our quality of life. Like eating out at our favourite restaurants.” 

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Small Town Nurse Makes a Buzz

Many would shy away from starting a new infection-themed job during a pandemic. Castlegar, British Columbia’s Olga Hallborg, however, does not shy away from a challenge. As a registered nurse, mother, student, wife and volunteer, she is a busy bee. Olga works at Trail’s Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital as an Infection Prevention and Control nurse, and occasionally, she still works at her previous nursing job with elderly patients in long term care at Nelson Jubilee Manor. 

Olga, originally from Ukraine, lives with her husband Murray and 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. The family moved from Saskatchewan to Castlegar for Murray’s job at Castlegar’s Celgar pulp and paper mill six years ago. After living and working in the Kootenays for only two years, Murray lost his job unexpectedly, and the family faced some challenges. For the past four years, he has driven weekly to Vancouver to work as a mechanic at the Swiss Water coffee company plant. Murray still applies to Kootenay jobs regularly.

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If You Build It, Great Things Will Come

Driving north along Highway 401 in southern Ontario (more simply known as the four-oh-one to those who drive it daily) you might pass a little community called Ingersoll.

Ingersoll is the type of town that you might not notice while driving the busy 12 lane highway, that is unless you know that it is one of the stops on the Oxford County Cheese Trail, and is home to Canadian Automotive Manufacturing Inc. (CAMI)

General Motors (GM) Canada, which now owns the CAMI Assembly Plant, is the main business in town. At the beginning of the year, GM announced that they are committing $1 billion to convert Ingersoll’s long-standing automotive plant to become Canada’s first large scale electric vehicle manufacturing plant. This was huge news for the community of 13,000 people, many of whom work at the plant.

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Check Up on Medical Professionals One Year into the Pandemic

Do Unto Others

Dr. Kyle Merritt is what you call a busy person. He works part-time in the emergency department at Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson, British Columbia, where he happens to be the current department head. Kyle also has a group practice. That means looking after patients in the clinic and hospital and long-term care settings. On the side, he teaches University of British Columbia residents and students. Not to mention spending time with his wife Courtney and three children, Brynn, Leah, and Caleb.

Kyle is family-oriented, born and raised in Castlegar, with his two sisters. His mom was a teacher, and his dad a family doctor who still practices in Castlegar today. Kyle grew up going to the United Church in Castlegar and still occasionally attends with his parents, who are active members. Their church is a vibrant, engaged community. 

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Something’s Goat to Give

It’s rare to experience a moment in life when everything lines up perfectly. To have the stars align, so to speak. Well, Tammy Bessant knows this feeling. The second that she and her husband went to visit a property with a soap shop for sale in Yahk, British Columbia, she knew her life would never be the same. 

“It felt like our lives were always supposed to be like this. Like everything led up to being here.”

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Skate where the ice is

When Grant Kelly and his buddies in Invermere, British Columbia, found out that their men’s hockey league would be shut down because of Covid-19, they weren’t sure how they were going to make it through the winter. 

“December 2nd was a sad day,” Grant recalls. “It’s been an interesting year since then.”

Before moving to Invermere 20 years ago, Grant lived in Calgary, Alberta, and he grew up in the Gatineau region of Quebec. But no matter where he finds himself, hockey is the home he returns to every winter. 

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Salmo River angler casts a line to the future of fishing

“I remember thinking: it looked like a good trout river.”

So thought James Baxter, a West Kootenay angler, when he first drove over the Salmo River in 1997. Little did he know then that he would come to spend the next 24 years of his life working, playing, and fishing on this river.

The Salmo is a 60 kilometre river born from the Selkirk Mountains. It winds through stands of cedar, hemlock, and Englemann spruce, and it is visited by foraging grizzly bears and breeding Harlequin ducks.

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Small Farms Feed Community in Big Ways

The best piece of relationship advice that Geoff Beech ever received was on the day of his wedding when a friend told him a simple secret to a long lasting marriage:

“Find something that neither of you have done before and do it together.”

In their thirties, Geoff and his wife Terri Austin-Beech learned to ski together. Now that they have reached retirement, they are pursuing a dream 40 years in the making; they are learning to run a farm together.

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Clear Sidewalks and Close Neighbours

Shovelling snow is a chore as familiar to most Canadians as folding laundry. 

Some shovellers enjoy waking before dawn like a song sparrow in spring. They are the first ones to make that crunchy rhythmic chorus that will soon be echoed by the rest of the block.

Others swear under their breath and begrudgingly set their morning alarm an hour earlier than normal as the next morning’s forecast sinks in. They’ll need to walk the dog, make lunches, drag the kids out of bed, put out the trash, and shovel several inches of snow to get everyone out the door by 8 a.m.

Wherever you may fall on the snow shovelling spectrum, however, you’d be lying if the thought of rolling out of bed, slipping on some Sorels, and firing up a snow blower has never crossed your mind. 

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