Artisan Collection by Sara Lopez Assu Executive Director of the Campbell River Art Gallery.
I’m a maker of lists. Grocery lists, task lists, checklists, wish lists… I use and love them all. So when my husband and I started talking about leaving Montreal to move to Campbell River, it was only natural for us to start with a pros and cons list! What ensued was both heartbreak and excitement. The idea of parting from all the things I love about Montreal was devastating. What kind of pros could outweigh the loss of museums, galleries, indie shops, pop-up shops, bakeries, restaurants, summer festivals, craft markets, food trucks, concerts, and that quirky French socialism all Montrealers learn to love?!
While Campbell River did offer a much-needed respite for our growing family, I feared I would lose part of myself moving here. The list of pros for Campbell River was anchored by proximity to my in-laws and access to natural spaces. I pumped myself up and decided to embrace the move cross-country with a deep dive into the great outdoors (I bought not one, but two tents, neither of which we’ve actually used… but that’s a different story). And to be honest, I have loved every minute of it. I’m reminded daily of what a positive decision this was when I see my kids exploring tidal pools, cooling off at the lake after a long day, or counting slugs on our nature walks with the dog. But ultimately, I’m a city girl with city girl habits. Could there be a way to eventually reconcile both these worlds? And not miss all the amazing artists, artisans, and cultural leaders I have grown up within Montreal. Could I find the same level of diversity and excellence in a smaller community?
Turns out, yes! Maybe not in the same quantity as a big city, but the quality is here, and it’s astounding. I’m consistently amazed at the work we exhibit at our art gallery and find the dialogue created in this space so enriching. I have discovered the most delightful farm stands, the most passionate community advocates, the most creative makers, and artisans committed to exploring, playing, and delivering the labour of their love. The people here care. They are about community. They care about seeing each other thrive. They care about supporting “Island made”. We’re a community of builders, makers of magic. Rough around the edges, just like our coast, but passionate and true.
This collection is an example of the diversity and excellence you can experience here in our region. It features shops with curated collections of locally made products, folks who experiment with recipes to tantalize our taste buds, places steeped in heritage and rich with contemporary art, and makers who continue to grace our world with the magic they create.
Together, they have filled my city girl cup and I wholeheartedly invite you to experience them too. There are few things I love more than strolling downtown to grab a delicious bubble tea, stopping by the farmers market for fresh produce, checking out our local indie shops for handmade goodies, enjoying the spectacular views that inspire our local artists, and winding down with a delicious beverage after work. Were I to revisit that pros and cons list from years ago, it would favour Campbell River… hands down.