My Name Is
Belinda Atwell

The 20lb Northern Pike I caught in a canoe, by myself and without a net!

This is me, Belinda Atwell holding the 20lb Jackfish (Northern Pike)
I caught from a canoe, by myself and without a net!

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.

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.

Ronald & Phyllis Atwell. They were always my inspiration in everything I did.
My oldest Brother Dave, my sister Judy, Myself and my brother John

Ronald & Phyllis Atwell.
They were always my inspiration   
in everything I did.   

My oldest Brother Dave, my sister Judy,
            Myself and my brother John

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.

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.

My Kids Curtis, Rhonda & Rollins Taken in 1998
Carlene, Stacey, Curtis, Rhonda, Nickolas, Belinda Front Row: Clayton and Keaton, Sept 2007

My Kids
Curtis, Rhonda & Rollins       
Taken in 1998        

Carlene, Stacey, Curtis, Rhonda, Nickolas, Belinda
       Front Row: Clayton and Keaton, Sept 2007

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.

My Grandchildren: Keaton, Clayton, Carlene and Nick

My Grandchildren:
Keaton, Clayton, Carlene and Nick

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 & Motel Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park, SK

Armstrong Hillcrest Cabins & Motel
Waskesiu Lake,
Prince Albert National Park, SK

Back To Nova Scotia

Mom sitting in her wheelchair waiting for the Natal Day Parade

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.

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. We had already looked at several other services offering to help you build a web site, but none of them impressed us the way Site Build it did.

I could both understand and agree with what they were saying, it made sense to me.

Neither of us really had much money, so we wanted to be sure of what we were getting into to. We spent another week finding out as much information as we could. The more we read and discussed with each other, the more excited we got. We could do this, and we could make money at it to.

Besides SBI offered a full money back guarantee if we found it wasn't what we were expecting. We knew it would be hard work; they never imply that it is easy, or that you can "get-rich-quick". They just let you know that if you want it bad enough, you can do it, and they will provide you with all the tools you needed. All their tools come with a proven track record of success.

A plan was forming in my mind. I started thinking about my dream I had since I was young.

I decided to join SBI and started off reading their tutorials. I was still undecided on which I wanted to do, a site to promote my eBay business, or a site on the Annapolis Valley. But their tutorials actually encourage you to think of at least three choices for your web site. Then they use Brainstormer to find an extensive list of keywords for all of them and Niche Choose It to help you decide which site is best to do.

Annapolis Valley did not really have the most promising and profitable keywords. However it is also suggested that you go with which ever one you are most passionate with, and for me the valley was it. It may take longer to see the big results, but your passion will pay off in the end. Besides I was not in a hurry, I just wanted something to keep me busy while I was caring for mom. That is how it started out.

My Nephew Jason, Curtis and I Exploring the Digby Neck Islands

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.

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.

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 this was not the most promising subject to make a profitable website on, it was what I wanted to do it on.

Another of Life's Bumps

I had joined SBI in December of 2006 and I spent the winter learning as much as I could and choosing which site I wanted to do. By spring I had decided on the Annapolis Valley and I had all my best keywords picked out in my Master Keyword List. I was ready to choose a name and register my domain. All of this was explained in their great tutorials.

I arranged for someone to come in with mom for one day a week and my sister and I started traveling over the valley. We visited all of the different historic sites, museums and parks so I could provide up-to-date information on them. Several days I took mom and just drove around looking for anything that I felt should be mentioned on my site. It was a good summer.

I was still running my eBay store, which kept me very busy, but I did find time to start writing up my pages. Oh, to start with I had no idea how to write a page for an interesting web site, but SBI helped me with that also. I tell you, they help you with everything you need to make a successful site, at no extra cost. They also provide the best support system around through their fantastic forums.

Back to my story, sorry I just get so excited when I talk about this. I started writing up my pages, (oh and I did not have to learn HMTL either, SBI does it all for you if you want), and added them to my site. As I added my pages their WorldSubmitter would inform the major search engines and keep track of all the technical stuff for me.

I did not have to do hardly a thing; just keep writing more pages and look at the results as my site grew. I admit it was slow at first, but as the major search engines started recognizing my site the visitors per day grew higher and higher. I was well on the way before the first year was up.

But then my world was turned upside down again. In early December, two weeks shy of two years after dad, mom passed away suddenly. After the shock wore off I was faced with the reality that I had to find work again. I phoned my previous boss and yes I was welcomed to go back to Armstrongs, but I had to survive until then to. My web site had to wait.

I found a job, which I hated, but it lasted until I got back out to Saskatchewan. Then when I got there I found out that I only had limited access to internet, and that was at a cafe. I had no way of working on my site during the whole summer, but I did check it every time I could.

I did not believe how successful it was becoming. I had managed to put up over sixty pages before I left and that was enough to interest people enough to visit my site. Many of my pages were showing up in the top ten with the search engines. Even without me doing a thing with the site, it was becoming a success!

Curtis, Stacey, Carlene, Clayton and Me Having Some Fun with the Camera

The Future For Me

What is in store for me now, well I am still not completely sure. I am torn between Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan; I love both places and have family in both.

I did come back to Nova Scotia after the season at Armstrongs was finished. In the spring I headed back out to work again. But trying to manage the house by myself proved to be too costly for me.

So I decided to take up my son's offer of living with them during the winters. It was great to spend the time with all of them, especially with Carlene & Clayton. Everyone was great and we all got a long no problem. But their house is small and our life-styles different. I kinda missed the Annapolis Valley and my friends here.

When my brother bought our parents house he offered me the opportunity to move in with him and split the bills. John and I have always had the same interest, both model railroaders, both interested in history and going to auctions. We have always got along so well I did not see why this would not work.

It has been two years now. In April I go out to work in Saskatchewan during the summer in the park I love. Curtis and his family all spend as much time as they can at the park with me. At times they all come up but each one also takes a turn spending time with me.

Curtis and I now own a boat and we go fishing as much as we can. We have bought tents  and camping gear and have started camping in different parts of the park almost every weekend.

Then come October when the job is finished for the season I come back to Nova Scotia and live with my brother. We work on our hobbies, sell a little on ebay, and I work on my web site.

The hardest part is that I am not around the Annapolis Valley during the summer when I should be for my web site. My brother is being very supportive and last summer even went around to several of the festivals and took new picture for me.

I know to some it may seem like it is taking quite awhile to do my web site, but in all honestly I only really work on it for about six months and that is on the off season. I do have internet at my cabin now, but it is very slow and not real reliable.

I knew from the start this was going to be a site that would take longer to build up, but it is the one I wanted to do. The important thing is that I can really see now that it can work.

Hey, would you be interested in finding out more about Site Build It for yourself? If you have ever thought of making your own successful web site, or have ever thought about working from home and setting your own work schedule then let me recommend Site Build It. You may check it out yourself by watching this short video that introduces it:

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To Web Site & The Annapolis Valley

We just purchased a vacation home in your area and want to thank you for your wonderful site, it has answered all our questions and provided us with other great information about things to try. Keep up the fantastic work, the area couldn't have a better ambassador.


Well I don't live there yet, but recently bought a house there, and my favourite thing so far is the people!! I have travelled all over the world, lived in a few different provinces and never, never in my life met such, caring, and giving , wonderful people.

Having your website it like having a friend there already.!

Debbie M.   Oshawa, ON

This site has been very informative. I've lived here all my life and Belinda is introducing me to places I've never been to before. Love the pics and some of the recipes of the area sound great. I look forward to checking out the new info every time she up-dates.

Julie Melanson Milford, N.S.

Great resource for finding information on the Annapolis Valley.

John A. Annapolis Royal, NS

Great Site! I come back often to read your stories. I love the Ghost Stories, Mysteries and Folklore Stories. The Trivia pages are interesting also.

Arlo S. SK

Thank you for your love of the Annapolis Valley, it really shows!

Cathy Briggs

Hey, great page! Very useful in planning my upcoming vacation to the Annapolis Valley!

Kathy M.

This is the best site I have ever seen for info on Annapolis Royal.
Keep up the great work.

A. Veinot, Saskatchewan

Our family had a wonderful vacation last summer to the Annapolis Valley and it was mostly thanks to your website. We used the site to plan ahead what we wanted to see and do there. Thanks!

H. Thompson, USA

I'm so glad to have discovered your site - for years I've been
planning to do this and just haven't found the time. Congrats on a great site -
I'll spread the word to all the locals who should be taking the opportunity to
explore this wonderful Province and Valley.

Linda Best, Greenwich, NS

I just wanted to tell you that I just love your site! What a
wonderful place to live. You have done a fantastic job oh your site.

J. Burrell

I love your site! We are hoping to move to Nova Scotia next year.
Your life story is inspirational. Congratulations on a very informative and friendly website I am so glad you finally did it!

C. Milligan

I have visited here in the past and just loved it! My family is planning on visiting again this summer. Love your website, keep up the good work.

Stacey Bonneau Rosthern, SK

I live in the Annapolis area, and have searched for several
weeks to find a listing like this of the Valley. Myself, my wife Jennifer and son
Max all love to hike/walk, and there are very little to nothing for websites
with detail like yours.

Ryan Taylor

This web site is a dream come true for me.

Do YOU have a dream?

Let "Site Build It" help YOU!

Check out their to see what I mean.

When you join up with "Site Build It" they provide you with everything you need to make a successful site,

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