A self described “parks brat”, Merlin Blackwell landed in Clearwater when his father was awarded the contract to operate Wells Gray Provincial Park in 1989.
“On my 19th birthday my dad got the contract to operate Wells Gray,” said Blackwell. “I worked summers here from 1989 onwards before I left for broadcasting school in Vancouver.”
Prior to Clearwater, the Blackwells moved 13 times in as many years, going to different parks across the province. Blackwell said although he’s lived in a lot of towns in BC, there’s something special about Clearwater. It was enough to draw him back in 2012 after living and working in Williams Lake as a copywriter for five years following university.
“As someone who moved my entire life this is the first place that felt like home,” said Blackwell who also returned to help his father manage Blackwell Parks when the company was awarded a contract to manage Wells Gray and Thompson River Park in 2012.
“Because it was so demanding I worked and bought a house here. After a while I got involved with the Chamber of Commerce. Then I ran for council and continued to run my business for a number of years,” said Blackwell, who is now the Mayor of Clearwater.
As a business owner, Blackwell found people to be very accommodating and willing to go the extra mile to help you. He appreciates the friendships he’s been able to develop in the community and working together with other business owners to find mutual success.
This friendliness is something he uses as a descriptor for Clearwater, especially when telling someone who’s never visited the North Thompson community why they need to visit.
“It’s a beautiful place filled with friendly people,” said Blackwell. “It’s relaxing and exciting at the same time and you can have an amazing lifestyle here.”
“We have a hospital with five doctors in a town of 2500 people and are close enough to bigger centre resources when you need them.”
He notes there are all the lifestyle amenities of a bigger centre, like a hockey arena, hiking, biking, curling, and a skateboard park, without the cost and pace of a city. Not to mention all of the outdoor recreation opportunities, both in and out of town, which Blackwell enjoys as much as possible.
“Even after 30 years, I still like visiting Wells Gray Park to watch the waterfalls and wildlife. It is still an amazing experience.”
Social media page: Mayor Merlin Blackwell Facebook