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Thursday , 1 October 2020
From left, Tanisha Raposo and Crystal Swan were full of cheer at Night Owl Sweets and Treats 1675. Photo credt: Angus Cockney/ZenSeekers

Searching out gems in northeastern Alberta

ZenSeekers adventured around Vermilion last week capturing sweet spots for food, fun, and rest during their #TakeItToTheLake Creator Showcase.

In partnership with Travel Alberta, they featured locations that residents or families and friends can experience to take a break, when travelling, or to try something new.

“People can travel outside the province, but there is a lot to see and do right here in Alberta,” said photographer, Angus Cockney.

Community members were challenged to answer three questions about experiences they would like to have in Vermilion, and based on their answers recipients were selected to be part of the filming adventure.

Colleen Pilkey didn’t know that her fiance, John Wassenaar, applied and was surprised to learn they had been selected only a couple days beforehand.

Wassenaar had entered because he thought they would enjoy staying at the Pomeroy Inn & Suites and that it would give them the opportunity to check out the rooms prior to their wedding next fall.

The couple enjoyed their stay and spent time relaxing and playing cards with one another. Having met in 2017, they love living in Vermilion and both enjoy the miles of walking trails in the Vermilion Provincial Park.

“For anyone who hasn’t been here, the murals and historical walking tour downtown are interesting things to take in,” said Wassenaar.

For lunch, the ZenSeekers team had the opportunity to try wood-fired pizza at the community oven. The brick oven neared 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit in preparation for the meal, and with careful watching, the result was a perfectly crisp crust.

Toland Cochrane cooks pizza at the Vermilion Community Oven. Photo credit: Angus Cockney/ZenSeekers

Volunteer, Toland Cochrane, said the purpose of the community oven is to bring people together, and that it’s nice to see people making use of the gazebo this summer.

He said in terms of the economic makeup, that Vermilion offers a broad range of retail, industrial and commercial businesses.

“Vermilion is one of these communities that doesn’t seem to follow the boom and bust cycle as much,” said Cochrane.

Another stop on the showcase journey was at Night Owl Sweets & Treats 1675. There Crystal Swan, Sergio Raposo and their daughter Tanisha Raposo had the opportunity to sample ice cream and venture down to the spray park.

Owner, Dawn Woywitka has worked with children all her life and said candy, ice cream and popcorn are things she knows.

“The children that come in are so respectful,” said Woywitka.

Enjoying the different flavours, the family recognized the businesses effort to bring in old-time favourites or even offer lactose free options from time to time.

As long time residents, they have enjoyed much of the summer camping and spending hours on end the spray park.

“If you want to learn about small-town living, visit with the locals and learn about the history, visit the museum, and find out what’s here,” said Sergio Raposo.

Throughout the day, the ZenSeekers team focused on capturing highlights from the locations and people in the community.

The ZenSeekers team included photographer Angus Cockney (originally from Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories) who resides in Canmore; and videographer, Steve van Diest from Edmonton.

Van Diest was born and raised in Alberta and said his 20 year videography career has allowed him to travel internationally.

He looks forward to upgrading his camper van as he continues to tour and find new, ideal locations In Alberta.

“Pictures can bring back a memory, but video can draw out the emotion allowing people to feel like they are really there,” said van Diest.

Angus Cockney is a previous national cross country ski champion and friend of Beckie Scott. Having worked with her regularly on her SkiNorth project, he has also continued Inuit sculpting which has led him to travel the world.

After working with ZenSeekers he said, “Life is a journey and now I know where to go in northeastern Alberta. I’ve enjoyed meeting people with such awesome characters, as well as finding out things like where to go for coffee in Vermilion or for a run in Lac la Biche,” said Cockney.

Throughout the showcase, they also toured Lac la Biche, Athabasca County, the Municipal District of Bonnyville, and Metis Crossing.

To see the full story on what it’s like to visit Vermilion, visit ZenSeekers.

About Angela Mouly

Angela comes to Lakeland Connect Media from the Vermilion Voice newspaper where she spent the past four years reporting on community events. Her repertoire includes writing about history, politics, agriculture, sports, entertainment and art. She was the third place recipient of an AWNA General Excellence Award for “Best Front Page” during their 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. Angela has lived in rural Alberta all her life and in Vermilion for the past 15 years. She looks forward to continuing to serve and inform the Lakeland community by joining in people's many adventures and sharing their stories.