New store owners John and Charlene Wilson, Shauna Parks, and Hichem Fiadh pose in the Canyon Country Store. The twin sisters brought both their families on board for this new venture. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

New store owners John and Charlene Wilson, Shauna Parks, and Hichem Fiadh pose in the Canyon Country Store. The twin sisters brought both their families on board for this new venture. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)

‘Can’t separate the twinship’: Sisters start new life as owners of Canyon Country Store

Just outside of Creston, the historic little store offers everything from beer to snacks to fireworks

This summer, the Canyon Country Store came under new ownership. And no, you’re not seeing double. The new owners are identical twin sisters.

Originally from Calgary, Charlene Wilson and Shauna Parks have spent their whole lives joined at the hip as the best of friends.

On June 30, their lives changed dramatically when they were officially handed the keys to the quaint little store in the countryside.

“Living and working together was never something that I had thought about as an option,” said Wilson. “But I realized there was a slower pace of life involved with being here that would be great for all of us and our kids.”

Near the beginning of the pandemic, Wilson started dreaming up new plans when her business in Calgary closed down.

Over the last 15 years, she had visited the Creston Valley with her husband John many times to visit his parents who had retired in the area.

“Every time that we’d come to visit, we’d think that we should find a way to stay,” she said. “The weather, the people… just everything about (the area) was ideal for many different reasons.”

Months before, she saw the store for sale and asked the owner, Cora, to hire her so that she could learn more.

Built in the 1940s, the Canyon Country Store was originally a general store selling everything from flour to ammunition. Over the years, ownership changed hands several times and evolved to include the deli bar and pizza oven.

While learning the fundamentals of the business, Wilson lived with her in-laws for five months while looking for an apartment. In the meantime, she tried to convince her sister to make the move too.

“I think I forced her hand a little bit, because the twinship was apart,” said Wilson. “You can’t separate the twinship. I knew when I left that it was going to be really hard on us because we’ve only ever lived apart once, and it was so brutal.”

At first, Parks thought her sister was crazy for considering such a drastic change from Calgary. She rented an AirBnB with her husband, Hichem Fiadh, to visit the area and ask the owner some questions.

“We were still kind of skeptical, but we were ready for a change of pace,” said Parks, who had been laid off from her job at a non-profit in 2020. “But I could see the vision and a big part of me wanted our twinship to be together. We’ve always had a close bond, and I could see how we would compliment each other in running a business.”

It took some time to convince their husbands to get on board, but only a few months later, the two families were selling their houses and preparing to make the move permanent.

“We’re still kind of shocked that we’re living this life that we never imagined,” said Parks. “But being able to do this together as a family is a dream for us.”

The sisters and their husbands also share parenting duties with the four kids between them. They are thrilled to be able to watch them grow up together and get involved at the store.

“We’re navigating different aspects of our relationship dynamic,” said Parks. “It’s been a learning curve that’s required reflection and growth. But at the end of the day, we’re still family, even if we don’t always agree.”

Over the last few months, the welcome from their customers and neighbours has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This is the kind of community we always wanted to be a part of,” said Parks. “We’ve laughed more than we ever have before.”

The sisters are expanding their products and developing some fun ideas to bring new faces into the store, such as homemade ice cream sandwiches, fresh baked banana bread, waffle corn dogs, and deep fried Mars bars.

Located at 4493 Canyon Lister Road, the Canyon Country Store is described as a friendly one-stop shop for snacks, pizza and sandwiches, wine, cold beer, lottery tickets, fireworks, and much more.

For updates on weekly specials, check out the Canyon Country Store Facebook page. Stop by for taco-in-a-bag on Tuesdays and gourmet hot dogs on Fridays.

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