If you’ve been hiking or shopping anywhere between Cranbrook and Kootenay Bay in recent weeks, you may have noticed a new kind of ladybug making their way around. Not the kind with wings, but ladybugs that have travelled around the Kootenay region from the east shore of Kootenay Bay in the form of rocks.
Megan Rokeby-Thomas owns Ladybug Coffee at the Kootenay Bay Ferry Terminal. When COVID-19 left her with no choice but to close her coffee shop, she wasn’t sure what she would do with all of her free time. She decided to spread some cheer through a mix of art and nature.
“Before COVID, I was working at the shop for 14 hours a day, most days getting there at 4:30 or 5 a.m. to start baking,” said Rokeby-Thomas. “We were shut down and all of the sudden, I wasn’t sure what to do. I went down to the shop on the first week and I was just kind of sad. Then, the second week, I decided I would paint a few rocks to put outside of the store; I needed something to do. I painted the rocks to look like ladybugs to reflect our coffee shop’s name.”
When restrictions started to ease and B.C. residents were told to get outside and go hiking, Rokeby-Thomas decided she would place the ladybug rocks along trails and give them away to families to hide.
Since then, she’s painted, hidden and given away hundreds of ladybug rocks, bringing a smile to the faces of many past, present and future customers.
“When we were allowed to reopen, and the province encouraged travel close to home with phase three, we decided to expand our ladybug reach and bring them to Cranbrook,” said Rokeby-Thomas. “A lot of locals take the ladybugs home and so many kids become attached to them. Otherwise, most people find them and hide them for someone else to come across.”
She adds that keeping track of the ladybugs’ journeys is part of the fun. She encourages anyone who finds a ladybug to take a photo and post it on the Ladybug Coffee Facebook page.
“We just started up an Instagram account (@kootenaybayladybug) to share their journeys,” explained Rokeby-Thomas. “We don’t really care where they end up, as long as they make people smile. So far they’ve been spotted in Nakusp, the Okanagan, Alberta and even on the Island. I think a lot of grandparents have taken them to bring to their grand children when visiting. We encourage anyone to do the same.”
Rokeby-Thomas says that her new goal is to paint 500 rocks per year, every year, and continue to see where they end up. She has some of her employees painting rocks, and many people have volunteered to do so as well.
“We hope to have some painting parties down the road as well,” she said, adding that when travel starts to open up country-wide eventually, there’s no telling where the ladybugs may end up. She hopes this project can continue to bring smiles to people near and far for years to come.
“My husband and I have owned Ladybug Coffee for two and a half years now. We’re open every day from 6:30 to 3, and our signature meal is our breakfast sandwich. We just love the east shore, it’s such a magical place. COVID has been hard for all of us, there are so many artisans, campgrounds, tourism sectors, and not many people have been able to come and enjoy what Kootenay Bay has to offer.
“Not only that, but last year we experienced the ferry strike, so it’s been a hard couple of years for many of us. We just wanted to make people smile and show how great a community we have.”
She echoed the same for Cranbrook and the surrounding area, which is why they chose to drop off ladybugs throughout the City and on local trails.
“We chose Cranbrook because everyone there is so nice,” Rokeby-Thomas said. “We’ve been visiting for years. Many people travel from the Kootenay Bay to Cranbrook and vice versa. It’s a natural fit. Plus, it’s such a beautiful, scenic drive. It seemed like the perfect pairing.”
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