It has been a terrible week in Penticton. The Peach City has lost some of its finest citizens.
Our condolences go out to the family and friends of both Bruce Stevenson and Laurel Burnham.
Bruce and his family have been permanent fixtures in downtown Penticton for 45 years as operators of The Book Shop, which also rented movies. Although he stocked a copy of the latest “Spiderman” movie, his rental pool consisted of mostly hard-to-find documentaries, foreign and Canadian films. He provided an audience for movies that deserve an audience.
Bruce was always humble and said his success was due to “being lucky enough to get a great location” and his loyal and knowledgeable staff.
To say The Book Shop is one of the top used stores in Western Canada is not an exaggeration. It’s that good and that’s because of Bruce Stevenson.
Laurel was known for her many environmental and social causes, but is perhaps best remembered for building the Downtown Penticton Association market to what it is today. She spent seven years as market manager and 21 years as the city’s Canada Day coordinator.
A dispute with a former DPA board led to her abrupt departure. Rather than feel sorry for herself, she was quickly snatched up by both Summerland and Naramata to run markets and she took over the popular Santa Presents holiday craft show.
Laurel was a rare individual who told it like it was (“dogs hate fireworks”), but even if you disagreed with her, you could never question her sincerity or fierce devotion to a cause.
She loved gardening, markets, the outdoors and anything that was handmade. A lot of young musicians got their first break because Laurel was willing to give them a chance.
In what was her final interview with The Herald a few months before her passing, she praised her husband Darrel (“the best nurse”) and the entire staff at the Penticton Regional Hospital for the exceptional care she was receiving.
Downtown Penticton is a better place because of Bruce Stevenson and Laurel Burnham.
- - -
My mother was visiting from out-of-province and we had the chance to see a matinee of “Savannah Sipping Society,” presented by Many Hats Theatre Co. It was a real scream. Well done by the cast and crew. The comedy closes this weekend.
- - -
Good luck and best wishes to Supt. Ted De Jager who is moving on to a new position in Surrey.
De Jager was in charge of all RCMP detachments in the South Okanagan, including Penticton.
I appreciated that he worked on the file for the “financial irregularities” with the Downtown Penticton Association and recommended charges to the Crown.
De Jager also hosted public forums where citizens were allowed to vent. His “Coffee with a Cop” was also a nice touch.
The recent shooting incident which claimed the lives of four people was one of the worst days in Penticton’s history. As hard as it may seem, it could have been even worse without the stellar work of the local RCMP.
James Miller is valley editor for Okanagan Newspaper Group.