John D’Arcangelo signs a copy of A Trail to Remember during the book launch on June 27 at the Piazza Colombo

Trail book of memories a hot seller

350-page book highlighting the history of Trail practically flew off the shelf when released at Festa Italiana.

Trail residents are reminded daily of their history when they look out at Teck’s glowing lights or tour the city’s many historical murals or rock walls.

But another great way to learn about Trail and its surrounding communities is from neighbours, if John D’Arcangelo’s sold out book A Trail to Remember is any indication.

The 350-page book that highlights the history of Trail from local contributors practically flew off the shelf when it was just released at Festa Italiana Family Day in the Park. A few days later, and all of the 300 copies printed by the Trail Historical Society were spoken for and this doesn’t include the 200 D’Arcangelo printed and sold himself.

The retired teacher’s vision came to life with help from Sarah Benson, director of Trail Museum and Archives, and Trail Historical Society president Jamie Forbes, who helped sift through 200 submissions and select 162.

“We’ve been around for a long time and we’ve published quite a few books so we didn’t totally want to focus on the same things that we’ve already heard,” explained Benson.“That’s what’s interesting about reaching out to the public and capturing their personal private memories and it was a different perspective, hearing these stories from the mouths of people who lived them.”

The stories touch on everyday life of growing up in the Gulch, working at the smelter and floating down the river. But what makes the book unique is the personal sport insights like crafting a mask for Trail Smoke Eater goaltender Seth Martin.

“We think we captured the best of the best here and covered a lot of ground in terms of what people remember and what they value about growing up in Trail and the culture of Trail,” added Benson.

She is reminded just how much people care about their history with a project like this, even though she can look back at the 15 years it has taken to get a green light on a new museum – the future Riverfront Project.

She realizes that it’s the personable connection people feel to a familiar name or place that gets the community excited about their history.

“People like to be heard and they like their stories and memories to be captured and considered important,” said Benson. “There’s something so unique about this community . . . we’ve often found that maybe people don’t care but then a project like this, where it’s far more personable, really takes off.”

The break-even project was planted with seed money from the Columbia Kootenay Culture Alliance ($4,000) and then further supported by $1,400 raised from community organizations and private businesses (Salsman Insurance Agency, the Colombo Lodge and the Trail Fiesta Italiana). The total financial backing made it possible to keep the book at a $20 price point and print the short run.

Benson doesn’t expect any more books to be printed anytime soon, due to the cost, but sure hopes another run can be done in the future.

“We are just so thrilled at how many people participated in this project and even if stories weren’t published, they are still in the archive,” she said.

“They are still part of a collection and they will be preserved and saved.”

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