Hi My Name Is Belinda Atwell

How did I, Belinda Atwell ever receive the know how and confidence to build a popular web site like Annapolis Valley Vacation is becoming. I was always too shy and lacked confidence enough to ever do something like this.

Belinda Atwell
Belinda Atwell, Author of Annapolis Valley Vacation
I did know a little about computers. My brother, John had owned several through the years, and I had inherited his old ones a couple of times when he up-graded. I had learned how to play games or write a letter. Later I even got internet and learned about emails and how to do a search. I was into genealogy so I did start using the computer more when I learned about all the information on the web for genealogist. I even knew the basics on how to use a word processor, data base or spread sheet.

But I did not know a thing about making a web site. I thought that was only for the high-tech type of people. I knew nothing about HTML, domain names, keywords, search engines, RSS feeds or how to make a blog. That was all way to technical for me, or so I thought.

But sometimes life turns you in directions you would have never thought possible. Just when you think you know where your life is going, something will happen to completely change everything. This could be either a good or bad thing, but it defiantly opens new avenues for you.

That is exactly what happened to me, and it could happen for you also.

My Life Starts

On a cold snowy day in February, I, Belinda Atwell first began this journey we call life. I was born in Annapolis Royal, the youngest of four children. It has been quite the journey, over some rough roads, sharp turns, dips and dives but also over some well paved expressways to.

My first five years were spent in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. It was a good start; we had a comfortable home and lots of land to explore around the house. My two brothers and sister, who are quite a bit older, thought it was great then to have a baby sister to play with and teach me all they had already learned.

Then dad became the Fire Chief at HMCS Cornwallis and we moved there. This is where I started school and began making a few friends on my own. By then my siblings were getting tired of me hanging around all the time and wanted to hang out with their friends.
Ron & Phyllis Atwell  DaveJudyLynnJohn
Parents and Siblings of the Author of Annapolis Valley Vacation
After four years dad was allowed to move off the base and still keep his position as Fire Chief. So back to Annapolis Royal we went and right back into our original house. Around this time my siblings were leaving home for their own lives, so I felt like an only child.

I spent the rest of my school years in the Annapolis Royal schools. I did not graduate then, but did later obtain my G.E.D. grade twelve. Many years later I also took a course about Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management at the Community College in Middleton. I thought about starting my own business, but I could never decided on what type of business plus I never had the resources I needed for any.

I did not leave the Annapolis region again until my teens. First I went on a 4-H exchange to south-western Saskatchewan for a week. Then, when I was seventeen I moved to Flin Flon Manitoba for six months. But the call of the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy called me back to this area.
Carlene, Stacey, Curtis, Rhonda, Nickolas, Belinda Front Row: Clayton and Keaton, Sept 2007

I Get My Own Family

I was married in 1978 and we had a beautiful baby boy, Allister Curtis Veinot. Even though I had wanted to be home for at least his first few years, it wasn't to be. A new baby adds many more cost and I started work at the United Elastic Co. Ltd., in Centrelea; later known as Britex Ltd. I worked there for nine years, longer than my marriage lasted.

Curtis was only two when his father and I split up and I became a single mom. Any extra time I had from work was spent with Curtis trying to give him a taste of the good family life I had experienced.

After a couple of years I met the one to become my second love-of-my-life. He had also been married before and provided me with two wonderful step children, a girl - Rhonda Lynne Hardwick and a boy - Rollins LeRoy Hardwick. They did not live with us at first, but moved in when they were teenagers.
StaceyMeCurtis  Rhonda&I
Stacey, Me & Curtis - Me & Rhonda
We spent thirteen years continuing living in the Annapolis Royal area. We started work at Halliday's fish plant just before the bottom fell out of the Atlantic Fishing industry. We were able to hang on for awhile, but at last there just was no fish to process. It was at this time that I went to the Community College and took my course. But things had gotten so hard that I just could not get anything off the ground.

Leaving Nova Scotia

Then in 1997 we had a break. A representative from Bourgault Industries in St. Brieux, SK was in the area looking for workers with families willing to move there. It was our chance, and even though we did not want to leave the valley, we had to provide for our family. So off we went, heading west like so many have done both before and after us. We just did not go quite as far as most.

St Brieux proved to be a lovely little town. It did not take me long to obtain employment myself at the Co Op grocery store there. Everything was going good; the kids finished their schooling and moved out on their own. Rollins ended up moving back to Nova Scotia, but both Rhonda & Curtis have settled down in Saskatchewan. The grandchildren started to come and even though I missed Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan became my home.

On My Own Again

But all good things always seem to come to an end with me. Five years after moving to St. Brieux I found myself on my own again when my "love-of-my-life" decided he loved someone else better. I spent two more years in St. Brieux getting my life back together and deciding what I was going to do.

Then it hit me one day. I loved the wilderness, nature, beaches and especially fishing. Why not find a job that will allow me to do this. I applied to several and decided on one in Prince Albert National Park working for the Armstrongs at Armstrong Hillcrest Cabins & Motel.

I decided to give up my house in St. Brieux and travel back to Nova Scotia during the winters to spend time with mom & dad. This was working out great, I loved my job. Joyce & Brian Armstrong are just the best bosses. They provided me with a cabin to live in there and Brian taught me a lot about fishing in Saskatchewan.

That winter I flew back to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia and lived with mom & dad. I did their cleaning, cooking and ran any errands they needed done. While there I renewed several friendships that I had left behind when I had moved. It was good to be back, but I was missing Saskatchewan. So in the spring I went back to my job with the Armstrongs.
Armstrong Hillcrest Cabins, Waskesiu, SK

Some of the Best Co-Workers Ever

Back To Nova Scotia

Then there was another major bump in my life's road. Dad was diagnosed with cancer and was given two years to live. When my job ended that season I told Joyce that I would not be back, I had to care for my parents. I was the only one in the family that was in a position to be able to do it. I am very grateful that I did.

I arrived back in Nova Scotia the middle of October and as soon as I got there Dad started really going down hill. I think he was only waiting for me to get there. He passed away that December. Mom was unable to stay in the house alone, and really did not want to go into a home so I stayed and lived with her.

Even though mom had a lot of medical problems, she was very easy to care for. I mainly just had to be there, cook her meals, keep the house clean and take her to her appointments.

Oh my sister and I took her shopping quite a bit; after we convinced her she could do it if she would allow us to push her in a wheelchair. Several days I took her for a drive with me, she really enjoyed that. But most of the time she just wanted to watch her shows on TV and I had lots of time on my hands.
Mom in her wheelchair

Something To Fill My Time

So to give me something to do and make a little money I started buying and selling on eBay. Both my brother, John and sister, Judy did and they helped get me started. And mom just loved to go to the auctions with me; she bought more than I did.

I did alright, but soon found eBay was a lot of work, for not that big a return. Too many times the items did not sell and I was taking up all the spare room in the house. I cut back to only comics and postcards, (they were smaller) but it was still a big gamble and not much return for the investments of time and money you put in.

I was looking for something else to spend my free time on, something I would really enjoy doing.

John & I had talked several times about making a web site to help promote our eBay stores, but neither of us had a clue how to even start. We started doing some research online. Then John stumbled across SBI ( Site Build it). He sent me the link and we both spent several hours just reading over all the information supplied on it. It sounded do-able to me. A plan was forming in my mind. I started thinking about my dream I had since I was young.

Why Annapolis Valley

I have always had a sense of pride in my home town. After all we were the birth place of Canada! Even as a young girl I visited the Fort Anne and Habitation every chance I had. I loved local history and started saving any brochures I could find from the area.

Then when I was about twelve my father and brother John bought a store in Upper Clements and turned it into the Nova Scotia Handcraft Center. I worked in the store during my summers. I met so many fantastic people while working there, and they were interested in what information I had on the local area. Many of them asked about me on return visits to the area.

Then when I was older I was involved with the local Legion branch, holding many positions including secretary, 1st & 2nd Vice President. I was also head of several committees including sports, entertainment, Poppy Campaign and Natal Day Rep. Being the Natal Day Rep got me involved with the town Natal Day Committee and soon I was co-chair of this committee and the Canada Day committee. I was becoming more and more involved with the town events.
Clayton, Bailey, Me, Carlene, Delno

 Nick, Owen, Keaton, Me & Sadie

When I took my course; Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management at the Community College in Middleton I had to do a project and a report. At that time the Annapolis Restoration Society was debating if they should open a genealogy section. I was into genealogy and I thought this was a good thing to do my report on. I had to research everything about genealogy in the area, would it be feasible, profitable, or a loss cause. This had me traveling all over the valley talking to many different organizations. < br />
Well not only did I make very high marks on the report, but the Restoration Society used it to present at the meeting for their decision. Their genealogy society is a very busy, profitable and growing part of their organization.

After doing the report for the Restoration Society I became a member and volunteer for the society. I spent many hours indexing their archival material, old newspapers and photographs. Of course I loved the chance to learn everything I could find out about the area.

I know all this was for the Annapolis Royal area, but what about the rest of the valley?

Well after my oldest brother, Dave moved away to Toronto, he would come home once a year to visit. He loved to bring friends with him, people who had never been to this area before. It was always a busy time as we would be on the go continuously showing these people around our valley. I was always looking for new things to show off, and my search expanded right throughout the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy shore.

This area became even more of a passion for me, and I just wanted a chance to share it with everyone.

Even while I lived in Saskatchewan I was an ambassador for the Annapolis Valley. Every time I came back to the valley for a visit I was acting out as a tourist traveling all over taking pictures. Then I would take them back out west to show to anyone who would have a look.

So even though the Annapolis Valley was not the most promising subject to make a profitable website on, it was what I wanted to do it on. After all it was more a hobby then a business.
My Gang Having Fun at the Lake

Building My Site

So I built my site. One day a week I had someone come in to stay with mom so I could have some time to myself. On those days my sister and I went driving and exploring. We travelled from one end of the valley to the other checking out every museum, historic site, festival, and scenic places we could find. It was a great couple of years spending time like this with my sister.

During the rest of the days I would sit at my computer and write my pages while mom sat and watched her tv shows. It did not take long before I had two hundred plus pages up. I added adsense to it so I could make a little money. It was really starting to get popular. I had so many wonderful comments from people from all over the world saying how much my site had helped them or just how interesting it was. My site was among the top ten sites brought up on a Google search.

But then the sad day came when mom passed away suddenly from a heart attack. I was devastated. With mom gone I had nothing for me here any more. I went back to work for Armstrong Hillcrest Cabins in the summers and stayed with my son in Saskatchewan during the winters. Even though I had time during the winters to work on my website, it was hard when I was so far away. During the summer months I was too busy working and my internet was very poor so I could not really work on the site then either.

Then my brother John retired and moved into dad & mom's old house. He invited me to come back in the winter's to live with him. This was great, to be back in Nova Scotia for at least half of the year. But it was the wrong half of the year for my web site. I needed to be here during the summer months when everything was open and the festivals were happening.

Through much needed changes and updates to Google and then the age of the tablets and mobile phones I just did not have the time to keep up to all the changes and make them on my site. My information was becoming out-dated and without being here in the summer it was getting harder and harder to keep my site current.

So in the winter of 2017 I took my site down. It broke my heart, but I felt it was the best thing to do.

But again my life has taken a turn and I have made plans to stay here in the Annapolis Valley year round. I will be here during the summer months so I will be able to get up-dated information to put up. Plus as I put each page back up I can do the changes I needed to to make it "Google Friendly" and "Tablet and Mobile Friendly".

So here it is, the Annapolis-Valley-Vacation site is back up and running!