Patrick and Laura Van Minsel-Decoster moved to the Okanagan Valley in 2011 from Leuven, Belgium. We first visited Canada for three months in 2008, our travels took us across the country enjoying the beauty, diversity and friendly people of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC.
When arriving in British Columbia it was in Parksville on Vancouver Island, as we watched the wildlife pass by our door, we knew we’ve found our dream. We looked at each other and said, “We could live here!” As the saying goes, the rest is history. That same year on New Year’s Eve we decided to apply for a Permanent Canadian Resident Visa Card. To better understand where we would like to live we visited Nova Scotia and P.E.I. in September 2009, this area of Canada is lovely and impressive, but the winters would have been too harsh for us.
We received our Permanent Resident Visa in August 2010, and we came to BC in October 2011 to decide where to live, we revisited many locations on Vancouver Island, as well as Squamish and Whistler, looking for our long-term home. We had little success in finding what we wanted and then the Okanagan Valley was recommended to us. As we followed Highway 3 to the Okanagan, we knew this is where we wanted to live. For three weeks we travelled between Penticton and Lake Country, passing through Peachland regularly. Each time we’d pull off the highway into Peachland we enjoyed eating on a lakefront patio and walking along the lake. Suddenly it hit us Peachland is the place!
A shout out to Loretta Robinson (Visitor Centre Manager) who spoke so passionately about Peachland she convinced us this was the place to settle down.
In September 2011, just arrived from Belgium with only a few suitcases and our 2 dogs Pacha and Day, we moved to Peachland and opened a Day’s Dream B&B, named after our Leonberger dog, Day. We also started a wine tour company, Winelicious Tours, as well as, partnering with a Belgian Master Chocolatier in Vancouver, created the company Xocolicious. In 2015 the B&B and wine tour business was sold.
As newcomers to Peachland, Laura took care of the B&B and Xocolicious.
Patrick became a volunteer for the Peachland Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 Patrick was elected to the Chamber’s Executive Board as Treasurer and in 2014 became Interim-President. In May 2014, Patrick took on the official duties of the Chamber as the Executive Director, and Patrick continues to work in this position. More recently he was elected to serve as a councillor for the District of Peachland.
Peachland to us is like a little gem, where friendly people live, and nature is phenomenal. It still amazes us that we can see deer, bear and other wildlife on a regular basis, we who came from a country were a wild rabbit was considered our wildlife. We met some fantastic people who we now are lucky enough to call our friends. We enjoy walking at the lake, visiting local shops and having lunch or dinner at one of our restaurants.
Our advice to all of our fellow Peachlanders would be never to lose your sense of adventure, relish the fact you live in such an awesome country and town and dare to dream big, dreams can come true, ours did.
Laura, Patrick, Yeah-Girl (our SPCA dog), Basil and Sybil (cats) wish you a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.