September 30, 2023

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Did you come from a one-horse town, or was it a bit bigger than that? I grew up in Merritt, British Columbia, and it’s about as horsy as you can imagine. If horse activities such as Skijoring are your thing, you really need to come to my part of the world. I’m not into horses, but I can suggest a few other things to do when you come to town. I’m an 18 year old Indigenous youth, with a love of my town.

My plan for this summer is to get a dirt bike. I’m actively saving money for one, as Merritt has some of what I imagine to be the best dirt biking trails in the world. I’m a beginner with this sort of thing, so I wouldn’t want a big bike. For me 125cc would be perfect, and I have friends who would teach me how to ride. I don’t know of any places in town to buy a used bike. I’ll probably look for a bike on Facebook Marketplace or ask around to see if anyone in town has a great working bike for a good price.

Who doesn’t want to check out cool historic buildings? Two of my favourites are the Baillie House and the Coldwater Hotel. If you visit either at or after midnight, you’re likely to encounter ghosts. My friend was at the Baillie House, and felt possessed, like something was in control of him, and filling him full of violent thoughts. He had to be smudged five times! I was in the Coldwater Hotel, and playing the claw machine. My friend heard a growl from behind us while we were playing the machine saying, “Get out”! We moved quickly.

Coldwater Hotel, Merrit, BC

One big ‘ghost’ that haunts Merritt plays a twangy steel guitar. That ghost was the late Merritt Mountain Music Festival. I never went, but my family went a couple of times. My brother got to meet Willie Nelson, and I heard he was a very cool guy. When you walk around town today there are amazing murals of country-western stars left over from the Festival.

What do you do when you have a craving for bannock? I drop by the Kekuli Cafe, because it exudes a traditional cultural Aboriginal ambience that you can’t find anywhere else. There are many places to eat in town, but the Kekuli Cafe can’t be beat for its all Aboriginal cuisine. Personally, I go for the Saskatoon icing bannock or an Indian taco. And while on the topic of the food, the eight local First Nations bands often get together and make many different types of bannock, and even Indian ice cream, for as many events they can get to for the local school district. I have been to many of these events and loved every one that I have participated in.

It could be that you’re wondering if there could be drawbacks to living in Merritt, which is a mere 270 kms from Vancouver. Some of the fast food restaurants are terrible. The roads aren’t always properly plowed, and sometimes the City doesn’t take care of what it needs to. For example, there is a bridge that was taken out by a disastrous flood. The City decided not to fix it but instead put a walking path through central park. The bridge is still waiting to be fixed. There are many homeless people in the downtown area which results in a lot of garbage all over the place and also brings birds and other creatures to the downtown area that people have to clean up.

The Baillie House, Merrit, BC

For 11 years I’ve made Merritt my home. It’s small and so it is easy to get around. If you spend most of your time in town, you don’t need a car. There are many roads coming in and out of the place. It’s not too far to interesting places like the lookout point, Windy Canyon, and Central Park. Speaking of Central Park, there are many events going on in the park like pow wows. A couple of other examples are music in the park where different local bands go and play at the stage in the middle of the park, or the more seasonal events like the Easter get together with the Easter egg hunt to a pie eating contest. I think you should definitely come here if you want to have a spectacular time!

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About The Author

Isaia McMath

Isaia McMath is an emerging writer and First Nation (Tsleil-Waututh) student based in Merritt, BC. Isaia is the great nephew of the late Chief Dan George who has been a big inspiration on his writing and life journey. Isaia is someone who loves making new friends and finding new adventures that inspire him.

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