“A Moment in Time” by Chuck St. John, the stained glass wall at the Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital

One sector of the local economy that is difficult to measure, but that provides significant rewards to those involved, is the home-based business. While some of these enterprises supplement other sources of income, some provide full living wages. Products include food, health products, online training, furniture and artwork.

Mari Summers first learned about aromatherapy in 1994 and after taking a 3-year certification course at the Davey School of Natural Healing, she began producing products at her home near the Shuswap River in Grindrod.  She grows calendula flowers in her yard, infuses the petals with sunflower oil and uses it to produce body oils and natural aids under the name Mari’s Gold. Her popular healing products are sold locally in many stores, across the province in health food stores and to massage therapists.

There is bread and then there is gourmet, artisan bread. Thankfully, when Janice Cannon completed her degree in food nutrition at Ryerson, she learned about wood burning ovens and moved to Salmon Arm to set up her Little Red Hen bakery with the help of Community Futures. She began selling her bread at farmer’s markets, where she developed a dedicated legion of customers and now her line of breads, cookies, crackers and granola are available in local stores and restaurants. With the success, she now has two to three employees that keep the oven, located in her backyard bakery, hot and busy.

Structure Protection Team Leader, Jake Jacobson shows little Addison Blair how to use a hand-pumped water spraying fire extinguisher during the Silver Creek Fire Department’s 30th anniversary open house Sept. 15. Photo by Salmon Arm Observer

All forest fire fighters in B.C. are required to be certified, which involves taking a two-day course and Work Safe BC also requires that they are upgraded yearly. With his over three decades of experience in both wildland and structural fire fighting, Jake Jacobson has made a career as a trainer. He first developed an interactive fire training simulation program and then created an online program that is used by thousands of fire fighters every year. Many people who work in the woods are required to complete the “S100A” annual certification course, and thanks to Jake’s service, they can do it online in just a half hour.

Chuck St. John at his workbench, Photo by Linda Rightmire

There is no shortage of artists and craftspeople in the Shuswap, but few have achieved the success that Chuck St. John has with his impressive glasswork artistry. Think original, unique, and well organized, as that is how Chuck approaches his craft. Beautiful stained glass windows, sculptures, and art works are all produced in his Nimbus Glass Studio adjacent to his home in Lee Creek. He has developed a process that uses special glue activated by light to attach coloured glass pieces to many of his works and he converted an old house trailer into a sand blasting shop where he etches glass with his own designs.

“Fused Nouveau – Stained, kiln-fired and flashed glass allow this hanging panel to be  exciting and vibrant” – Chuck St. John

One of Chuck’s most outstanding works is the set of stained glass windows called “Moment in Time” in the Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital’s non-denominational “sacred space.” Restoration is also part of his work, as he was called upon to restore the stained glass windows for the old church at the Skeetchestn Reserve in Deadman Creek. Much of his work is architectural, since he incorporates his glass works into interior railings, panels, dividers and walls. Chuck offers tours of his studio and he can be contacted through his website, artmotive.com.

When former Brits, Mark and Samantha Binns moved to the North Shuswap in 2014, they considered various home businesses. They decided to turn Mark’s hobby of making English breakfast bangers into a full-time enterprise, The English Sausage Company. Mark had worked in his family butcher business in Britain and he brought a family recipe that was handed down over generations. They use a weekly average of 1000 lbs. of prime B.C. pork and imported spices to produce sausages and bacon in a processing facility adjacent to their home. Their products can be found in stores from Chase to Kelowna.

Abstract panel by Chuck St. John

If there is one aspect of home-based businesses that could be a determining factor for success, it is uniqueness, as most products that are available in an average store can be found anywhere. Whereas, the successful local home businesses featured here and no doubt many others all offer unique, quality products and services that are a “cut above” the commercial ones.


Another home-based business that is doing so well, that the owner, Christine Bégin, was likely to busy with orders she was not able to be interviewed for this column. White Lake Organics produces a unique type of cracker snack called Bickles, including ones made with bananas, chocolate, cranberries, and parmesan cheese. Christine also produces a wheat-free trail-mix. White Lake Organics is a true artisan bakery that uses all non-GMO organic ingredients and all of its products have a long shelf-life.

Home-based businesses provide a great addition to the local economy, that is both sustainable and bioregional. Even more ideal is when the products are made using locally created ingredients and are sold locally. Whenever income is re-circulated within a region, it makes the region more self-sustaining and more resistant to national and international economic downturns.

Learn more about the businesses featured above:

Mari’s Gold

Little Red Hen Bakery

Wildland firefighting safety refresher

Chuck St. John glassworks

The English Sausage Company

White Lake Organics


Latest Videos

Fun, insightful, inspiring and intriguing videos of music, backcountry ski-touring, environmental events, hiking, and biking.

Play Video

Roots & Blues Retro – a retrospective tour of festivals since 2011

Play Video

.A brief tour of the 2018 Adams River sockeye salmon run. The soundtrack is a song by Anie Hepher.

Play Video

Most of the images from the book, Everything Shuswap with an original soundtrack by Sylvain Valle

The Shuswap Country

by Erskine Burnett

Treasures come in assorted shapes and sizes. They might be a grandmother’s beaded purse, or an old apple basket like one resting atop my bookshelf that transports me to the family farm, with voices shouting from treetops as we pluck Macs and Golden Delicious. A personal scrapbook can also be an unexpected treasure, and The Shuswap Country by Erskine Burnett is just that.

Everything Shuswap

by Jim Cooperman

Everything Shuswap explores the region’s rich eco-types and its interwoven historical record. It’s a textbook for understanding one of the most beautiful and least understood landscapes and it should be mandatory reading for anyone who lives in or visits the Shuswap.” – Mark Hume, author of Adam’s River and other books