Doris Bradshaw wasn’t the first woman to work in the editorial department of the Nelson Daily News, but she was easily the longest serving.
Bradshaw, who died in Nelson on Friday at 94, was a reporter, editor, columnist and archivist at the newspaper for 32 years. However, when she was hired in March 1952 as a filing clerk and cultural events reporter, it was only supposed to be temporary. Later, as front-page editor, she spent 17 years combing through reams of wire copy each day to meet a minimum requirement of 25 stories on page one.
“I had good teachers on the staff at the Daily News in Art Gibbon and Harry Proctor,” she told Art Joyce in 2002 as the newspaper marked its centennial. “I just loved everything about it — you got a real feeling of accomplishment when you got each day’s paper together. and then the next day it would start all over again.”
Bradshaw was later named regional editor and was also acting editor in Gibbon’s absence. But she was perhaps best known as a columnist. In 1954, she began writing Just a Line, followed two years later by Odds and Ends. Although ostensibly about gardening and intended for women, its subject matter and appeal was considerably broader.
“I believe there is a timelessness about the observations in the columns that can be appreciated by young and old,” she wrote. “It is almost like a diary.” Her columns appeared irregularly, “due to pressure of other work in the editorial room, and at times, lack of inspiration.”
Marjorie Doris Habegard was born in Nelson Jan. 4, 1921 and attended Hume school and Nelson high school. In her youth, her soprano voice earned her frequent prizes at the West Kootenay Music Festival, thanks to training from Dr. Amy Ferguson, who became a close friend in later life.
Before joining the Daily News, she was a telephone operator and clerked in stores in Vancouver during World War II. She returned to Nelson to take a job at Wood Vallance Hardware.
Bradshaw retired from the newspaper in April 1984. Although it wasn’t in her job description, she maintained the newspaper’s morgue, compiling extensive clipping files and mugshot galleries that are now held by Touchstones Nelson’s Shawn Lamb Archives.
“I did it in my spare time,” Bradshaw told Joyce. “I couldn’t bear to see them let go.”
When the Daily News building marked its 100th anniversary in 2008, she was given the honour of cutting the huge birthday cake. When the paper folded two years later, photographer Brian Clarkson visited her at Mountain Lakes Seniors Community and took her portrait. She told him she spent the happiest years of her life working at the paper.
Bradshaw published two books: Poems for the Mind’s Eye (1970), and Kootenay Souvenir: Sifting Through Odds and Ends (1993), a collection of her columns, which is still available at Touchstones.
A celebration of life is planned for Nelson United Church on Aug. 8.