To give an example of how popular Armstrong’s centennial book has become, co-author Jack Jamieson shares a tale of a recent trip to Vancouver he made with his wife, Dawn.
Stopping at a Tim Hortons for a coffee on a rainy day in Kamloops, Jack and Dawn were standing in the long lineup inside when they struck up a conversation with the couple behind them, who said they were from Revelstoke.
When Jamieson replied they were from Armstrong, the Revelstoke woman piped up she was reading “the most fascinating book on the history of Armstrong.”
“I wrote that book,” Jamieson told the woman proudly. “She replied, ‘Oh my, I’ve got it with me, I’m reading it on our way to Vancouver.’”
Jessie Ann Gamble, who co-wrote the book Celebrating the City of Armstrong 1913-2013 with Jamieson, said she received a call at home recently from a man in Edmonton.
“His sister gave him a copy,” said Gamble “He said ‘I can’t believe how good this is.’”
The book, which serves as a historical record of the city, came out the last week of March, but the project was nearly three years in the making.
“The city asked the museum and art gallery group (Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Arts Society – ASMAS) to put a book together for the centennial,” said Gamble, who was born in Calgary but moved to Armstrong when she was one and lived one block over from Jamieson, who arrived in the city in 1948. Both graduated from Armstrong High School in the Class of 1956.
“The city was aware of the centennial for a long time, I think they asked us to put the book together about seven or eight years ago.
“Every year, the city has given a very small amount of money to ASMAS to put aside for the publication.”
The book covers Armstrong from its birth as a city in 1913 to present day.
Each year is given a two-page spread in the 220-page book. A locomotive engine in the top-left-hand corner of each page highlights the year. On the opposite page, surrounded by railway tracks, are the highlights of the year, “guided” by a train conductor, the mayor of Armstrong at the time.
Having grown up together – Jamieson joked Gamble used to beat him up in softball – the two authors naturally had their own recollections and photos to put toward the book project.
They were, however, also aided by summer student Emily Rice, who sifted through hundreds and hundreds of copies of Jamieson’s former paper, the Armstrong Advertiser, as well as other publications.
Rice went through the old newspapers, catalogued the information onto a computer and broke down the highlights of each year into categories.
There are 400 photos that accompany the book, which Gamble and Jamieson edited down from thousands to choose from.
“Some years, there was the absence of good pictures related to that year,” said Jamieson. “The two of us, as you can imagine, had some lively discussions on what should be included in the book. We were limited as to what could go in.”
The book sells for $20 (no tax) with proceeds to ASMAS. It has been made available at the city’s Homecoming in July, plus other local events throughout the year.
With Christmas coming up, the book will make an excellent present.
“We’ll have it at the Farmers Market, in Askew’s one day and the book is available at three museums in Armstrong, Vernon and Enderby,” said Gamble.
“The book has been very well received and supported. Everybody has supported this project to the hilt.”
A second printing of the book has been ordered and the book will also be available in 2014.