Aylmer Days—Aylmer's own Instagram influencer
Did you know that Aylmer has its own Instagram influencer? Joanne Zalera opened Aylmer Days on Instagram in May 2019. For those unfamiliar, Instagram is a popular photo and video-sharing social media platform that is owned by Meta, the parent company of Facebook.
Joanne’s husband, Sachin Zalera, was the first to learn about her desire to create an Instagram account promoting Aylmer. “He asked me how many people I thought might be interested in following the account. I said, ‘Maybe 500’.” As of August 2023, Aylmer Days has attracted over 5,400 followers — 10 times the number of people she had initially projected.
Joanne was born in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an archipelago approximately 25 km off the southern coast of Newfoundland. The islands are part of the French overseas collectivities and have been since 1985. At the age of 11, Joanne moved to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with her parents and three siblings. Years later, she found herself in Aylmer. “In 2011, my husband and I were looking to buy our first home. We were looking in Nepean, but decided to view some listings in Aylmer because the houses were more affordable.” It took only one viewing of a house in Old Aylmer that was built in 1880 before Joanne and Sachin were new homeowners and Aylmer locals. “It was a coup de cœur – love at first sight.”
Joanne often features local businesses in her Reels—Instagram-speak for their signature and explosively popular video template: a fast-paced, minute-long video edit that often features catchy, trending music. “I think the first post I ever made was about the $5 slice at Boulangerie aux Deux Frères. I truly believe it's the best pizza you can get in the region for that price.” She has since featured numerous other local businesses, including Restaurant Antonyme, Crêperie Beurre Salé, and Microbrasserie 5e Baron, to name a few.
Apart from promoting the town, and its local businesses, Joanne is intent on using Aylmer Days to build community. Indeed, she was inspired by her husband’s “Dads of Aylmer” weekly meetups that he started organizing in 2019 by posting to the Aylmer Community Group on Facebook (another online local community network with over 23 thousand members). “My husband had read an article in the Boston Globe about the negative health impacts of prolonged loneliness in middle-aged men and decided to do something about it in Aylmer.” Following suit, Joanne began hosting “Mom Brews,” a weekly hangout for local moms. She later changed it to “Ladies Nights,” to be more inclusive. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Joanne hosted virtual get-togethers and, when possible, socially distanced porch-hangs.
When asked what her future goals are for Aylmer Days, Joanne said that she doesn’t like to think in terms of numbers. “It’s my creative outlet. And beyond that, a place to build community locally and attract positive attention to Aylmer.”
Find Joanne on Instagram @aylmer_days
Photo caption: Joanne Zalera, the blogger behind the Aylmer Days Instagram account, at the Aylmer Marina.
Photo credit: Valerie Doucette