Canyon Creek Winks is the “only store, liquor store, food services, and U-Haul” between Slave Lake and Kinuso, owner Patrick Brunet says.
Originally from Sudbury, Ontario, Patrick moved from Edmonton to Slave Lake when he bought Canyon Creek Winks in September 2017. Before this, he owned a Bud’s Blazes BBQ in Edmonton.
Along with Winks, he owns a contracting company called ALH Innovations. He generally works half-time in Edmonton contracting, and the other half at Winks which is open seven days a week.
Asked why Canyon Creek, Partrick responded, “at the time, my girlfriend was from Slave Lake. I fell in love with the location. Originally, wanted the hotel,” but bought the convenience store.
He added U-Haul in 2018 because there was none in the area. The next closest U-Hauls are in Athabasca, High Prairie or Westlock.
Other services he mentions are kayak rentals, custom baking, and Friday and Saturday specials.
His favourite part of the job is “serving clients,” he says. “I love the people of Canyon Creek.”
Just off Highway 2 at the Canyon Creek intersection, the Winks looks like a house with advertisements on the wall and a long blue wheelchair ramp. Brunet says it was originally the Seppola homestead. There was a log cabin where the garage now stands and like most of the area it was a mink ranch.
Many locals come in the morning for coffee and like to talk about the old days, Patrick says.
In the small dining room, hangs original art by Edmonton artist Rae Curry. She inspired a vendors’ village which he plans to build out front. He is building a stage.
He plans to add a coffee sitting area and a village of quaint lopsided buildings.
“A hobbit town in a sense,” he says.
Brunet hopes his improvements and varied services along with the historic hotel, marina and beaches will draw people to the area.
His goal is to “make it (Canyon Creek Winks) a destination location.”