Ella Lamoureux is a truly Canadian drag queen. Heralding from the Kaska First Nation, whose traditional territory covers parts of northern British Columbia and southeastern Yukon, Ella’s ancestral people have lived in what is now Canada for thousands of years. For her part, Ella has lived in Kelowna – which she aptly describes as a “warm oasis” – for 10 years.
Growing up in Oakville, Ontario, a young Omar D’Souza had a dream – to run an ice cream business. That dream is now a reality and one that delights both Kelowna locals and visitors alike, as D’Souza owns downtown Kelowna’s Parlour Ice Cream.
Loyal Wooldridge is a successful entrepreneur – operating Loyal Hair, a full-service luxury hair salon since 2006 – and in fall 2018, he was elected to Kelowna City Council. Loyal was the only newcomer elected, as all of the other councillors that were voted in were incumbents.
So, how does a business owner and recently-elected politician capitalize on all Kelowna has to offer? Luckily for us, Loyal is here to share his thoughts on what makes Kelowna awesome!
Loyal’s love affair with Kelowna started in 1993. That’s when Loyal and his RCMP family moved here from the Kootenays. Kelowna’s perfect balance of big-city amenities and small-town community feel is what kept him here, along with the plethora of activities available such as visiting wineries, hiking, living the lake life, and the vibrant arts scene.
Loyal manages his business and civic responsibilities all the while balancing a healthy marriage and staying actively involved in the community. So, how does Loyal keep it real in business and politics around town? What does he get up to? Let’s find out…
Dustyn Baulkham: Kelowna has no shortage of outdoor and indoor activities. What is your favourite thing to do in Kelowna?
Loyal Wooldridge: “Anything that brings people together! I am a social creature so those activities are generally hiking, road biking, wine tours or cooking classes at Mission Hill Winery. It’s hard to choose only one! Summer is, without doubt, my favourite season in Kelowna, but one of the great things about living here in the Okanagan is that it’s a true four-season playground.”
DB: What is your favourite annual event in Kelowna?
LW: “Kelowna Pride – it is a celebration of inclusion and diversity. The organizers do a great job of offering varying events inclusive of all ages and accessible at varying price points.”
DB: If someone asked you for a restaurant recommendation, what immediately comes to mind?
LW: “Gather Restaurant – this new Korean Italian fusion restaurant is located in the Innovation Centre and offers beautifully curated wines, ciders, and even a spirit tasting bar. Everything on the menu is delicious (I’ve tried everything) so I can’t choose a favourite! They even offer freshly baked desserts, which are always tempting.”
DB: Based on population size, I feel like Kelowna could set a record for the number of wineries, cideries, distilleries, and craft breweries. Which one is your favourite location for an adult beverage?
LW: “Sandhill Winesis my favourite winery located in the north end of Kelowna. They offer many amazing wines in a gorgeous space that is out of this world. They also put on weekly jazz and tapas evenings in peak season and often feature long table dinners with local chefs. Sandhill is a gorgeous facility with something for everyone.”
DB: Newly elected to city council and an active part of the community, we want to get your take on an important part of Kelowna’s culture, the LGBTQ2+ scene. What do you think about the LGBT2Q+ community in Kelowna?
LW: “The LGBT2Q+ community is ever evolving and enhancing for the better! Since coming out in 2002 I have seen our community grow and embrace our differences and emerge to where we are today. There is always room for more diversity but I’ve seen Kelowna go from bi-monthly dances to a vibrant environment with festivals, shows, and events all year. My favourite part is that everyone is welcome to partake in LGBT2Q+ events and there is truly something for everyone.”
DB: And finally, for visitors to Kelowna, how would you recommend they make the most of their trip?
LW: “Choose to do something that you have never experienced before. Step outside your comfort zone and find something authentically local to bring back as a memory of your visit. There’s no shortage of awesome stuff to do and experience in Kelowna, and if you see me around town, be sure to say hi!”
Leaving behind corporate careers in big city Vancouver to open an authentic gelato shop in Kelowna may sound like a dream, but for Kevin Bojda and Victor Laderoute it is reality.
Kevin and Victor moved from Downtown Vancouver in February 2017, opening QB Gelato at 1884 Dayton Street in June of the same year. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you have to try their delicious treats! They also make more than ‘just’ gelato. Serving lunch Monday through Friday, they specialize in soup, bread, and an ever-changing dessert menu as well.
Through all that they produce, Kevin and Victor are committed to supporting local and using real, raw fresh ingredients. Their soups and gelato are all made from scratch. In fact, they’re pretty unique in this regard, with only 2% of the overall gelato industry committed to this practice.
That commitment is part of what inspired the couple to move to the Okanagan. The availability of local ingredients – from fresh milk to a plethora of herbs, berries, fruit, nuts and wine – meant Kelowna was a perfect spot to turn their gelato dream into a reality.
Of course, it wasn’t solely the local ingredients that brought Kevin and Victor to the Okanagan, as they admit to being attracted to the topography of the area – the mountains, the valley – and of course the lake! When they’re not at QB, they love exploring the entire Okanagan. Whether it is discovering new wineries, hiking trails or a farm.
Like many locals and visitors, the duo are fans of the culinary and beverage scene in Kelowna. You might find them at Fixx Café, enjoying a Wards Cider, at a big, established winery like Mission Hill, or at a more boutique spot like TH wines. Ultimately, they are passionate about supporting local and enjoying the beauty our region has to offer (both visual and tasted).
Not that it was all plain-sailing for the couple, as they admit to some initial trepidation at leaving Vancouver’s LGBT2Q+ community behind to move to a smaller centre. However, they have been pleasantly surprised by Kelowna’s thriving LGBT2Q+ scene and inclusive atmosphere, noting that:
“There are so many incredible champions in this community from Tor Broughton speaking to what it is to be a transgender youth, to Loyal Wooldridge elected as the first openly gay man to sit on Kelowna City Council. It is an inclusive community!”
The couple believe that they “couldn’t be happier” here in Kelowna, and we certainly couldn’t be happier to have them. QB Gelato hosted MX in October 2018 (MX is Kelowna’s premium networking event for the LGBT2Q+ community) and they were a smash hit!
So, according to Kevin and Victor, what should visitors know before they come to Kelowna? “Support local! Take the time to find the local gems and speak to the small business owners and inquire who they recommend. You’ll be surprised by what you uncover.” You could do worse than to start at QB Gelato!
You can find QB Gelato on Facebook, Instagram (@enjoyqbgelato), and via their website – QBGelato.com
When a drag queen enters the room, you always notice. After all, from the fabulous personalities through to the jaw-dropping outfits, how can you not?
When that drag queen is Freida Whales, you pay extra close attention. Who else introduces themselves as “Freida Whales – mother of manatees, breaker of nets, the unsoaked, Khaleesi of the actual sea, rightful heir to Poseidon’s throne?”
Freida is so creative, witty and talented as an orca, you’d be forgiven for wondering if this fishy Kelowna drag queen is actually a freshwater orca born in the deep, deep depths of our beautiful Lake Okanagan. However, we can confirm that she is 100% drag queen!
As you might have guessed, Freida, also known as Tyson when not in drag, is obsessed with sea creatures and animals of all types. She basically has a mini zoo in her house. When leaving for a show, she has to double check that none of the animals have nested in her outfit – she custom makes all of her fabulous clothing!
Born and raised in Kelowna, Frieda is a truly local drag queen, and that’s not as common as you might think. Traditionally, many members of our LGBT2Q+ community have left to move to the big city. However, that is starting to change.
As a Kelowna gurl, during the summer months, you’ll often find Frieda at the beach (where else would you find an Okanagan orca?), while she spends the winters at home creating her incredible outfits.
Like many before her, Freida started experimenting with drag due to her fascination with some of the talented queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Freida found herself inspired by Bianca and Trixie from the show, due, in part, to the way that they utilized clownfish in their acts. Naturally, as an animal and sea creature lover, this really spoke to Kelowna’s fishiest drag queen.
Freida likes to bring a sense of fun and comedy to all of her performances. This sometimes gets her into trouble. For example, Santa was so unimpressed with her fishy behaviour in 2018 that she ended up on the naughty list and even got a spanking from the big guy himself…
When she’s not beached, splashing around and getting the crowd all wet at a drag show or crafting amazing outfits, you might find her hiking, baking (both cookies and a little seaweed, if you catch our drift…) or gardening. Freida is also a big fan of Mama Rosa’s Restaurant in Kelowna.
Freida reveals: “It reminds me of going for dinner with my Nana. The mussels and pasta dishes are the best! The staff treat you like family and one time my nana and I got to go in the back to meet Rosa herself, and to learn how to make an onion sandwich.”
This fishy drag queen is fintastic, and if you get the chance to see her perform – take it! In the meantime, you can find her on the ‘gram at @friedawhales or on Facebook. Frieda also does commissions for outfits and shoes – learn more here.