With the publication of Kootenay Cameos: Tales of the West Kootenays, Creston artist Bruce Paterson has fulfilled a dream of putting some of his favourite sketches of historical scenes and buildings in the Kootenays into book form.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” he said. “Now the times and technology have changed and it is much easier to reproduce them in good quality.”
Kootenay Cameos, a newspaper feature that included a sketch and article, appeared in the now-defunct Kootenay Review from 1987-1995. Paterson produced a total of 84 articles, a quarter of which are included in his book.
“It wasn’t easy to make the selections,” he said. “But I wanted to include at least one story from each community in the West Kootenays. I have updated a few of the articles, but mostly they are the same as originally published in the Review. I tried to leave the stories as I saw them in those days. They are a snapshot of the time.”
Paterson said that when he started out on the series he expected to struggle for ideas, but the opposite turned out to be the case.
“I barely scratched the surface,” he said. “There was always a story behind each building and I met people with wonderful stories. There is a lot of passion in these buildings, and so much tragedy in a lot of them.”
Kootenay Cameos opens with a short biography of Paterson, who was born in England and moved to Canada at age nine. He first visited the Slocan Valley and Kootenay Lake in 1970 and vowed to return. It took him 10 years, but he and his wife, Pat, moved to Crawford Bay where he taught school for eight years. They later relocated to Creston, where he taught at Prince Charles Secondary School for another 16 years.
Describing himself as leading a “Jekyll-and-Hyde type of existence”, as an artist he also produced more than 330 editorial cartoons for the Advance in the 1990s and has also delved into comic art, oil painting, graphics and fantasy ceramic sculptures.
The Creston area is well represented in Kootenay Cameos, with stories about the Midgley murder mystery, Jordan’s Cabin, Kootenay Landing, the Constable barn in Alice Siding, the fruit growing industry and the Town of Creston, which is accompanied by what may well be the most beautiful depiction of Creston’s grain elevators every produced.
Kootenay Cameos is being sold at bookstores and outlets throughout the Kootenays, including Kingfisher Used Books in Creston.