Myself and my shadow finding something to do on Stuart Lake on a sunny winter day.

Myself and my shadow finding something to do on Stuart Lake on a sunny winter day.

What to do? What not to do!

What do people think? If you live in a small town, you sit at home and stare at the wall?

From friends or new acquaintances from other places, I often get the question: What do you do in Fort St. James?

I find myself struggling to answer this question, which always kind of surprises me, because to me, it seems like such an odd question.

I mean, what do people think? If you live in a small town, you sit at home and stare at the wall?

Do they think small places are so culturally deprived we have to resort to playing checkers with our neighbours? (Not that there is anything wrong with that if you and your neighbours are fond of checkers…)

When answering the question, I am often stumped, and not because I can not come up with things to do in Fort St. James, but because I am never really sure where to start.

Now, while part of my lack of free time has to do with the nature of my job, which has me attending different events throughout the month, with biweekly council meetings and everything from concerts to craft nights, there is a lot to try and cover, this is not the only reason.

No, there is just really a lot going on in our community, and while there may be people who find the winter long and boring, it does not take much effort to get your fill of things to get you out of the house.

While I know for a fact I am not aware of many of the activities going on, just the potential itinerary of my week can be a lot to keep track of, and I find because events are being told to me almost daily, if it is not in my day timer, I will lose track of it all and miss some.

Monday is the Community Arts Council craft night, which can be a lovely way to get together with crafty types in town and learn some new skills or work on a project, Tuesday is Argentine tango lessons with Alison Watson, just so you have a place to wear those heels gathering dust in your closet.

Wednesday is a bit of a juggle, as every second week is council, but there is also women’s hockey, which while I may not be a pro, is a great workout and a whole lot of fun. Unfortunately, these bookings mean I can’t make hoop dance class, and curling as well is Mondays and Wednesdays.

Thursday I normally stay at home to finish work, but there are often events going on, from meetings to talks, including one at the end of this month for the Friends of the Fort St. James National Historic Site, with Joanne Vinnedge talking about the Christmas birds of Fort St. James. As a passionate birder and biologist, I find Vinnedge talking about birds completely fascinating.

If I can make it, there is yoga, a favourite of mine, now offered more nights a week as well. Starting this month there is the learn to run program through Nak’azdli Health, which will culminate in the Sun Run in April.

Throw in Music Makers shows, art shows, live music events and the evenings are not often idle, and it is usually a nice change when they are.

Then there are the cross-country trails on the lake, right across the road from my house. I have even used the trails to visit a friend who lives behind the historic site, in addition to just getting out for exercise on beautiful Stuart Lake.

Of course, weekends are full of different options, the top of the list for my free time being Murray Ridge Ski Area, less than 15 minutes from my door. Hockey tournaments and other events have to be fit in as well.

Last weekend I mixed it up a little, getting out on the cross country trails on Murray Ridge.

Then there are the big events, with the dog sled races and snowmobile drag races going on next month, it will be hard to find time to keep up with chores.

Of course, the summer has the fishing derby and Canada Day, plus constant events at the local historic site, and other highlights like the sailing camp. And every spare moment seems to be spent on the beach or the water.

So it seems to me, while sure, if you are used to living in the city and you want to be able to go out to live music any night of the week, or you are looking for “foodie” dining choices, small town options might seem a bit limited. But I would say the limitations are truly more mental than anything.

So to all those who want to know what I do in Fort St. James, I guess I have to say, a little of this, a little of that.

Free events going on can be submitted to the Caledonia Courier online calendar, visit: and see the calendar  on the bottom right and click on add your event.