While she hasn’t yet fully moved to town, she’s hoping to make a good first impression on her new neighbours.
For this week’s edition of People of Collingwood we spoke with Vicki Brookes, 64, federal government employee and baker.
Q: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Etobicoke and went to school there.
I went to the University of Toronto – Victoria College, and I spent one year abroad studying French. I went to teacher’s college, then I became a dental hygienist.
I got a job with the federal government working in immigration, refugees and settlement. I work in settlement. I’ve been there for 24 years. I provide coaching and mentorship to newcomers to Canada who are internationally trained professionals – like engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, architects, etc. -- to find them a job in their profession and work with our regulatory bodies.
Just prior to the pandemic, I went to George Brown College to get my baking arts certification. When everything closed down in March 2020, I finished my program online.
Q: You haven’t moved full-time to the Collingwood area yet, correct?
I have a place in Thornbury. Right now, I go on the weekends. (During the week), I'm in Toronto. I’m planning to retire next year in April when I turn 65.
I’ll be spending more time there after that.
Q: You’ve posted in a few Collingwood community Facebook groups about wanting to bring a baking lottery to the Collingwood area. What is a baking lottery?
A: It’s something I started on a whim. (laughs)
I lived in Clarkson for a few years. To start to get to know that community, I started a baking lottery. People from the community would follow me on Instagram, and I would post on there the ingredients I was using at the beginning of the week.
Every Thursday I would announce the product and the first person to direct message me would get the cake, pie or cookies. It was nothing I had ever seen before so I thought I would try it as a nice way to get to know people.
Sometimes people would donate money for expenses, but I would just give it to a charity. I did that every week. I did porch pick-ups during the pandemic.
When starting this in Thornbury, I plan to send any donations to Beaver Valley Outreach, although the donation part is very, very voluntary.
It was a way of filling in time. I would get up very early in the morning to bake, then I would go online to work, and then I would bake again in the afternoon.
I had a lot of upheaval during the pandemic. I lost my mom. My daughter moved out to B.C. I found myself with too much time on my hands.
I decided to fill it with something I’m very passionate about. I’ve been baking since I was a little kid. My mom was an amazing baker and an amazing cook.
I’m up there the last two weeks of August/beginning of September, so that’s when I had planned to start baking up there.
Q: If people want to participate or follow along, what is your Instagram?
A: I post on my baking page almost everyday. It’s @sweetvickimaes on Instagram.
Q: What are some of your other hobbies?
A: I love music. I volunteered for the past couple of years with a live music not-for-profit since 2017. I love needlepoint. I love to ski, and paddleboard in the summer. I also love to sail.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like people in Collingwood to know about you?
A: I’m very interested in immersing myself into the community. I’m excited about being part of this community.
It can be hard to extricate yourself from the Toronto world, but I’ll tell you, if there’s any place to be, it would be there. It’s absolutely beautiful.
For our feature People of Collingwood, we’ll be speaking with interesting people who are either from or are contributing to the Collingwood community in some way, letting them tell their own stories in their own words. This feature will run on CollingwoodToday every weekend. If you’d like to nominate or suggest someone to be featured in People of Collingwood, email email@example.com.