Shortly after meeting Kimberly Hurley, a saying came to mind: the best view comes after the hardest climb. It was in Zambia’s dense jungle where one of Kimberly’s most challenging climbs took place. Kimberly and her best friend from Stratford, Marissa Izma, came across Kibombomene, a small rural community without access to proper education and adequate healthcare. The two women worked to build a high school to satisfy the many young local girls' aspirations for school beyond grade 8.
While hauling construction supplies for the new high school, Kimberly met her husband, Anthony, a native of South Africa, who was operating a hotel and restaurant. Surprised to see two beautiful, savvy women in the middle of the Zambian jungle, Anthony immediately turned on the charm. Kimberly laughed at the African Casanova - as she wasn’t looking for a relationship - but she did accept the offer of free food and running water. Over time, however, their bond grew leading to a trial living experience - two weeks in Ireland - after many years of Anthony unsuccessfully attempting to get his tourist visa to Canada.
The challenging travel continued for Kimberly, with Anthony in tow. Kimberly was offered a job helping the hearing impaired in Nunavut, flying between more than twelve communities. It was a rewarding but frustrating five years as the challenges of the North and its sparse service offerings seemed unjust in comparison to what was experienced in other Canadian communities. The pull of family resulted in a move to Stratford where Kimberly currently works as an audiologist. At night, her personality shines at Keystone Alley, their newest venture, a bistro very much worth a visit.
What is Same World, Same Chance?
It began as project to build a girls' high school for the isolated village of Kibombomene, Zambia. The organization now helps Kibombomene women advance their skills at a private school in Lusaka, the capital.
What have YOU gained from your global travels?
In Zambia, it was about being fully immersed in the present without thoughts of the past or future. Happiness was not based on possessions. It was based on being yourself and being with others. I wasn’t weighed down by things I didn’t need.
I left Nunavut unsettled. There is so much need there. However, the people do not typically complain or advocate for themselves. I have presented a Tele-Audiology Model to the Government of Nunavut, in hopes that they will change their service delivery model to address the needs of their people.
How would you describe Keystone Alley?
The previous owners, Patty and Sheldon, had operated Keystone for thirty years and had very loyal customers. We kept their ideals but changed the cuisine to fit with our passions.
We decided to be less formal with a Bistro theme and a focus on everything being local and homemade - even our ice cream and soon beer. There is also a bit of South Africa incorporated in the menu, especially in the desserts. This summer, we hope to offer a few very special South African drinks.
What do you love about Stratford?
My parents and sister being here. It is so lovely to hear customers say such wonderful things about my parents - my father was a much loved teacher in town - and they have formed a special bond with my two children.
Living in Stratford has also given me a feeling of being part of the bigger picture. Guests can walk to everything and be connected to incredible shops and restaurants all in a small place. For families, check out Upper Queen’s Park for playgrounds and beautiful surroundings.
What is your advice to visitors?
Pick up a yummy milkshake at Jenn and Larry’s and walk down York Street towards Stratford’s Art Gallery. York Street is trendy and has so much heritage. It is across the water from the original settlement in Stratford. Few visitors are aware of the the waterfall in Confederation Park on the hike to the Gallery. The flowers and the cool “bridge to no where” all add to the charm. On the way back, check out the local stores. Get lost in the Green Room, with its eclectic mix of cool items. For upscale, professional women’s wear drop by Dana Nicole’s and Resonance for trendy, casual and professional. The Forest Motel is a great place for a quiet getaway in Stratford.
Do you have a favourite road trip?
Take a trip to Elora Gorge, a quaint town lined with fabulous shops, St Mary’s for its stone architecture and river walk and Shakespeare for antiques. Huron Lake is also one of our favourites. It's quiet and peaceful and immense. Many of our friends confuse it with an ocean!
Keystone Alley is one of my favourite restaurants (www.keystonealley.com). On a recent visit for dinner, the absolutely delicious cuisine left our group in a fabulous mood on the walk home. The menu offers items that most guests wouldn’t cook at home which makes the night out a treat. Check out Same World, Same Chance at www.sameworldsamechance.org. Jenn and Larry’s Brittle n' Shakes and Ice Cream Shakes can be found behind Edison’s on York Street.