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A ‘small but mighty’ market in the Cariboo

Saturday market in Horsefly helps make an impact for small producers and citizens

Dianna MacQueen calls her little market “small but mighty.” MacQueen started the Horsefly Saturday Market nearly a decade ago, after she had been running the pub. She was the only vendor at the beginning, selling her sourdough baked goods.

Most Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local bakers, makers and growers can host a table to sell what they have. MacQueen usually sells out of her baking, and Sept. 9 was no exception, with only two items on her table when the Tribune left the market. She also sells her baking every second Tuesday at Chief Will Yum store near Williams Lake and does deliveries.

In 2017, she said the Horsefly market became a lifeline for the community, after it was cut off during extreme wildfires to the west resulted in the evacuation of the entire city of Williams Lake, normally the supply centre for the small rural community.

Since then, MacQueen said it has continued to grow.

Maureen LeBourdais hosts a small shop in one section of the market, and said she first joined the market as a vendor because one year she had too many green onions and didn’t know what to do with them.

LeBourdais is also an Cariboo Regional District director for area F, so the market also helps her talk to local constituents in the rural, spread out riding.

“I feel like I’m connected to the community more,” she said, in between making coffees for visitors to the shop.

She said the market can act as an incubator, with local producers able to see what people think of their wares, and tables only $10 per market.

LeBourdais’ section with her little shop includes local goods, such as her own handwoven items, imported artisanal goods, coffee roasted by her son, as well as locally made quilts, and local woodworking made from wood salvaged from cull piles.

LeBourdais began importing goods around 10 or 12 years ago, initially as a way to potentially fund her travels, but then it became something more. Now, she hosts colourful silk scarves from Cambodia, a project started by a woman who lost her leg to a land mine and now employs others who have suffered similar debilitating injuries to make her designs. A women-owned cooperative in Kyrgyzstan felts the slippers she carries.

LeBourdais markets her weaving and her imports online under the name Mamaquilla Textiles, but still hosts the market shop much of the year.

Not only does it help her stay connected, but the shop also helps support local producers, putting around $500-$800 in the hands of local creators each month, she said.

Another fixture of the market is Hooker’s Bakery, featuring baking by the mother-daughter duo Kay Marinus (Hooker) and Darlene Hooker.

Marinus said she used to sell her baking in Williams Lake at a bakery, then moved to a bakeshop in Horsefly and now just sells at the weekly market and some from her own home.

The flexible nature of the market allows them to participate when they like, and take time when they want. The pair were preparing to head to Alberta the following week to visit family.

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

I moved back to my hometown of Williams Lake after living away and joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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