The Toby

Driving through town the other day, I saw Mrs. Peters walking. I pulled over and thanked her for what her and her husband meant to Lisa and I and our family.

Ron and Elizabeth Peters owned and operated the movie theatre in Invermere. Toby Theatre was the hub of downtown. Its big neon sign and movie posters in glass cases mounted on the exterior were a constant pleasure for every kid and adult while growing up in the Valley.

Inside was a thing of beauty. Snack bar with the best popcorn and cold fountain drinks (I was once addicted to the Cherry, it froze my throat and gave me a headache if I drank it fast enough, and I always did), the aquarium in the lobby, the model planes flying high off to the side as not to interfere with the projected light from the film, and the films were always good.

That was our entertainment growing up. I went to every movie. If it was restricted, my Mom would write me a note saying it was ok to let me in. I saw bare breasts and gore. Mom and Dad were probably happy I was out of their hair. I saw True Grit with John Wayne, during the 70’s, countless times.

Toby Theatre showed films. Sometimes the films were not new releases, like you see in theatres today. Sometimes they were older, but always great.

Ron and Elizabeth didn’t put up with rowdy or rude customers, this was also their home after all. They invited you in, you toed the line and it was wonderful to see movies on a big screen.

My children were lucky enough to go there before The Toby shut down. They loved it as much as us.

By then they had also started renting VHS and DVD movies. We would often send the kids down to rent a movie on Friday nights. We would also tell them to pick us up some popcorn as well.

Small town theatres like Ron and Elizabeth’s don’t exist anymore. Back then it was an escape, an oasis in a place lacking in the kind of magic it provided.

Things are different now. I could watch any film shown at the Toby’s 45 year history on my phone. But it’s not the same.

They call what has happened gentrification, or progress.

After talking to Elizabeth on the street. Telling her what a wonderful place they had, how it meant so much to us, we bid farewell. I turned and was walking, thinking she may not remember me, I have a grey beard after all, when she said, give my best to Lisa, Kelsie, Madison and Hunter.

Photos of Kelsie taken at The Toby Theatre.


My manager Brandon presenting the award, glass artwork from a local artist.

This happened before Christmas, I was voted by the people I work with as Employee of the Year. It was presented at the Christmas Party I didn’t go to.

The resort I work at is staffed by wonderful people. Any one of my co-workers would have been a good pick, so I am especially honoured and a little bit embarrassed.

It is nice to work at a place that everyone cares about the job they are doing. The job isn’t easy. That is a tip of the hat to management that instills pride into their workers. I am fortunate to work with a great group of people.

I used to work at the School District, great pay, unbelievable government union benefits, large defined pensions and the most lazy unhappy workers you could find anywhere in Canada. Promoting the worst of the worst into management has had a great deal to do with the apathy and incompetence found in these positions. It is sad, especially for the workers who strive to do their best.

Today, I got on the radio and asked for help carrying a hide-a-bed up a flight of stairs, four people answered offering help. If that was the School District it would have been crickets until they decided to contract it out to a moving company. My job is much simpler with everyone pulling in the same direction.

My co-workers are mostly young. They don’t have pensions in their future or high wages, they may never own a house, yet they are Johnny on the spot, doing their best. It is incredible to watch and they put me to shame.


Lisa walking Lola and Willow. Long shadows, a constant reminder to get the sun on your face at every chance.

Cut a Christmas tree this weekend. I had to drag it for quite a ways so it may be flat on one side.

The dogs got along. Lola ran while Willow stayed close. Got the truck up the first branch to the first landing. It bucked a few times looking for traction. Lisa wouldn’t have liked it. It was fine. It is when the truck starts pushing snow that you have to watch out. Before long you’ll be sitting on a heap of snow with no traction and every spin of the tires digs you deeper.

My shins hurt the next day from breaking trail. Willow and Lola slept good, even into the next day.

The tree is in a bucket of water in the basement. If it was outside it would be eaten by the deer.


A few trees to choose from.

I’ve been enjoying driving the snow covered roads. A little bit of drift here and there. Once and awhile I put it in four-wheel drive. Usually when I have to get somewhere quick without spinning. On the highway regardless of conditions it stays in two-wheel, you burn too much gas otherwise.


Got a half pound of beef jerky for a good price. Some paté cheaper than bologna. Lisa and I are looking at the sales. I won a pound of coffee on the weekend for being the 50th person through the till. I’ll take it. I’m stocking up on protein and Peruvian blueberries. It won’t be long and we will have to knock off a wild turkey for Christmas.


I made fennel liquor in October and it’s just about ready.


Willow fetching sticks in the Columbia River.

A very good weekend. A sleep over with our Grandkids, a family dinner of ribs, vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes and my favourite triple chocolate cake. To top it off, I tagged along north to Golden to watch Cooper play hockey.

A Canadian Goose swims into the golden hour.

Lisa made the entire weekend special for my birthday.

A Bald Eagle watches over for an opportunity.

Saturday Willow and I found time to walk down the river and watch the geese and eagles. We took a few pictures and Willow chased a few sticks.

Willow swims up to an ice ledge but can not pull herself up. She proceeded to swim a few yards upstream to the rocky shore.

Very fine weekend.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lme2710.jpg
The full moon the evening of the eclipse. By the time the eclipse happened it had completely clouded over. That’s the way it works sometimes.

Remembrance Day, not sure what to make of it anymore. The news is full of discontent and war. Should the day be a reminder that discontent can easily turn to war?

I’m older now and can see further into my father’s eyes. I’m still a youngster sitting beside my Grandfather while he took his jackknife and cut into a black spot on his hip and took out shrapnel 50 years after Passchendaele.

Men were born to fight. Would I have been a better man in battle? There is guilt in not fighting.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lme2718.jpg
Looking between the mountains. The colour of the evening sky on a cold clear night.

Some chill in the air. The turnips in the garden were pulled just in time. We are eating the carrots as fast as we can. Lisa makes kale chips often with the impossible task of using them all up.


The lake has a skim of ice. If we get some cold without snow the skating will be spectacular.


Westman & Baker, Guillotine paper cutter, circa 1910.

Spent the morning in the studio cutting cards and booklets.

Our paper cutter was made by Westman and Baker, a Canadian Company. They went out of business around 1923.

Perhaps their equipment was too good and they hadn’t built in obsolescence like companies like, Apple, Ford, Facebook and just about any successful company. It is never about making things that last anymore. It’s always about selling more stuff.

The jaws of the beast.

I’ve used plenty of high tech cutters. They are easier to use, but don’t do as good of job and they break down, until you relent and buy a new one.

This cutter has been around. My father used to sit me on it in the back shop of The Lake Windermere Valley Echo newspaper and job printing building.

Back guide adjustment.

Even then I used to ask he put the blade down.

Later we used it in our printing business. It was the only cutter we ever had and served us well.

Now it sits in our studio. It doesn’t get used like it once did.

Cards printed on Neenah Environment duplexed with Classic Linen Red Pepper, cut to order.

This cutter depends on feel. The pressure on the paper and the way the blade feels as you draw it down over the surface of job work. I can tell instantly if I am creating a burr on the spine of a booklet or cube of business cards.

To work with this reliable tool is very satisfying.


The wind picked up today, stripping the trees of leaves. We still haven’t had hard frosts. I clear my windows with windshield fluid, the lazy fucker I am. Scraping is coming soon.

There is two cabbages, an entire row of rutabagas, three kale plants and a few weed plants drying on the vine. It seems like every fall is getting later.

The sunflowers are down. No sense keeping them up. The starlings got the seeds the beginning of September, those rabid raptors. The chickadees are shit out of luck.

Watched a three point buck run by, skittish, with a string of Christmas lights tangled in its antlers. My young companion said, if we could tell it we are trying to help we could untangle the antlers. I told him I don’t speak deer and the deer don’t speak our language.


That wind is going to turn on us soon. I used to be comfortable with a tarp, now I’m thinking a dugout, cave, lined with moss, where the roots of the trees, can be depended on, storing the heat, I could cozy up to it like a heating grate in the city. Just like the city, if you followed that advice, you’d be frozen stiff.


The best wager is to watch those wagging trees in the southern wind, consider yourself lucky, remember the year before, and hope the leaves end up in your neighbours yard.

Winter Stars

Starting from the top; Cassiopeia, Andromeda, The Andromeda Galaxy, Perseus and its two star clusters, also Pleiades, Taurus and Mars just coming over the mountain Ridge.

To look at the stars is to be amazed. In this day and age we know the science of astronomy. We know distances and the difference between planets and stars. You can steer a ship, plant a garden and set our calendar by them. If we have something in common with every generation going back to the beginning of man it is the stars. To look at the stars among the trees and mountains on a dark night, to feel those pin pricks of light flow through, as they have done and will continue, is to feel lucky.


Todays moon when the sun hit the ridge.

Lisa and I had eye exams in Cranbrook. We also had a service on the truck.

Cranbrook is a small city with a Walmart, mall, superstore and other box stores. I visited the garden centre even though I didn’t need anything.

It is not the nicest city. A large strip of businesses leading to a downtown that tries to hide the dilapidation. Much different then the tourist trap we live in. Not many Alberta plates.

I did notice the people. They were hardened. Overweight, limping; many I could tell were homeless. A homeless camp is behind the garden centre. Invermere would quickly run these folks out of town, ‘bad for business’ the higher ups would say.

Every small city across Canada is the same. In Invermere the people are tourists. They are the wealthy from Alberta. They are fit and healthy.

A store clerk once told me they can always spot a tourist, because they look healthier than locals.

Locals making minimum wage and living in overcrowded staff houses just don’t have the same resources. No matter what we pretend as Canadians.


Lisa and I will eventually be pushed out of our home to make way for more tourists and second home owners. It is inevitable as we will not be able to afford the escalating assessments and taxes. We will probably head to Cranbrook and join the good people.


The buds are filling out.

It’s funny, Invermere is actually becoming a small city and will eventually lose its charm with tourists. We are already busy building our own strip with box stores and polluting the lake.

Perhaps we will get lucky like Cranbrook and be abandoned by tourists so we can limp around, overweight, getting by on minimum wage, sickly and drunken in the place we love the most.