Looking over the past year and hundreds of written articles, it’s difficult to pick a “favourite” because every time someone shares their story, it’s a privilege to put narrative to print.
Instead, after scrolling through 205 Trail Times editions from January to December, there were special moments, each captured by an image, that to me, symbolize another eventful year in the city.
And, upon further review, my Top 3 picks unwittingly revealed something interesting – 2017 was a year of “100.”
Vimy Ridge anniversary
Stories about war are especially emotional to write, so the 100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge- published March 30- and the life of Private Lancelot Appleton, 24, was no exception.
I made a visit to the Trail Legion prior to the April 9 candlelight vigil, and that was when veteran Greg Hill shared the story of Private Appleton, his great grandfather’s brother who hailed from Castlegar.
“The First World War was a very different war to the Second World War and on,” Hill said. “There was so much slaughter … it was a different time. There was a lot of hand-to-hand combat, and it was the first time machine guns and trench warfare were used.”
The young Lancelot was killed in action July 10, 1917 in the Vimy Sector, and is buried in La Targette British Cemetery, pas de Calais France.
The young Castlegar man was part of the 54th Battalion Kootenay, a Canadian Expeditionary Force that recruited in Southern British Columbia and was mobilized in Nelson. Soldiers embarked for Britain on Nov. 22 1915 and disembarked in France on Aug. 14 the following year. The men fought as part of the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war, then disbanded in August 1920.
“They fought a battle the rest of the allies couldn’t,” said Trail veteran Vern Schneider. “Other people couldn’t do it, so they put the Canadians in.”
Centenarian Vicki Bisaro
The next nod to “100” was during the “Passeggiata” or “Evening Stroll” across the water. The walk was featured during Silver City Days as a grand opening of the city’s newest landmark, the Columbia River Skywalk. Communities were invited to take in the spectacular riverside views in a leisurely walk across the pedestrian bridge.
The atmosphere was uplifting on a balmy Thursday evening – even the warm sprinkle of a spring shower didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit.
The best part, however, was seeing 100-year old Vicki Bisaro walking, quite briskly at that, across the bridge. Vicki’s big smile was brightened by her usual shade of pink lipstick and as always, she was dressed to the nines for such an outing.
Vicki, the 2008 Trail-Warfield Citizen of the Year, turned 100 years old on May 5. And there she was less than one week later, staying active in a new Silver City Days tradition – the Passeggiata.
“I hate to miss anything, especially at my age,” she said.
After a long and exceptionally full life, Vicki passed away on Oct. 2.
Another “100” moment, this one required a few Kleenexes, is simply titled “Il Silenzio.”
The Trail Maple Leaf Band honoured its 100th anniversary in 2017 – the celebration culminated in a masterful mass band concert on Saturday, July 22.
“Il Silenzio” was performed that evening, the music so captivating that I had to remind myself to breathe.
The song is a memorial piece, commissioned by the Dutch, and first played in 1964 on the 20th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. Moreso, “Il Silenzio” is instrumental, noted for its deeply moving trumpet theme and spoken Italian lyric. During the Trail Maple Leaf Band rendition, photos of members, now passed, were displayed behind the band on a movie screen.
It was such a heartfelt memoriam that bandmaster Joseph Fuoco wrote a Letter to the Editor as a way to answer the many requests he received from those seeking to know more about the piece.
“I have been repeatedly asked for more information about one of the selections we played -‘Il Silenzio,’” Fuoco wrote. “The trumpet soloists were: Daralyn Fox, Don Clark, and Doug Lewis. The speaking parts were performed in Italian by Joe Ranallo and in English by Jennifer (LeRose) Schlegel. A special thanks to all of them for helping us in an extra special way during this piece. I have also been asked to have the words that were spoken printed so others could read them: Buona notte, cari amici. (Good night, dear friends.) Eravate con noi una volta, ma non piu. (You were with us once, but no longer.) Ovunque siete vi auguriamo pace ed armonia. (Where ever you are, we wish you peace and harmony.) Buona notte a voi che ora siete lontani. (Good night to you who are now far away.)”
Nini Rosso, Il Silenzio (1966) video and audio restored
Finally, this last moment is not focused on “100” per se. Rather the story is yet another example of the caring community in which we live, no matter the year.
Back in November, Dan Ervin walked up two flights of stairs to the Trail Times newsroom to tell his story. Notably, the stairs are steep and can be a struggle, especially for someone with health issues, so I always appreciate when senior readers pay us a visit.
Dan is a senior, living on a fixed income, and a renal patient at the Trail hospital. Two months previous, Dan borrowed money from a friend, also a senior on a fixed income,to pay for a flight down to Vancouver for a kidney transplant. While on the tarmac, the transplant was cancelled so Dan never boarded the plane. He had been waiting since that day, Sept. 2, for Air Canada to refund him $354 for the flight. After the Trail Times ran Dan’s story, several local individuals and community groups stepped in to help Dan with his plight. In the end, with help from Rossland’s (former) Golden Nugget Saloon volunteers and Kiwanis Club of Trail volunteers, Dan was able to pay back his friend and put aside a donation of money for future medical expenses.
“It’s renewed my faith in people,” said Dan.
Trail Pipe Band performing at the April 9 Vimy Ridge candlelight vigil
Vimy Ridge story here: vigil