Wendy Pecora has been an active member of Golden’s community since she arrived in 1961 to teach at Columbia Valley School.

Wendy Pecora has been an active member of Golden’s community since she arrived in 1961 to teach at Columbia Valley School.

Golden Moments: From Salmon Arm to the Columbia Valley

Wendy Pecora arrived by train 42 years ago after accepting a job at the Columbia Valley School.

Joel Tansey

reporter@thegoldenstar.net

Wendy Pecora arrived in Golden by train (the Rogers Pass portion of Highway 1 wouldn’t open until the following summer) and she hasn’t moved since. Now, 42 years later, Golden has become her home and she can’t envision any circumstances that would take her away from the area.

“I don’t understand why people retire and go away from where they’ve been and where their friends are,” said Pecora.

She also has little desire to escape during the winter despite the fact that she isn’t a winter person.

“I really don’t care for the winter. I don’t like getting cold. If it gets really bad I just hibernate,” she said.

Wendy grew up in Salmon Arm and by 1961 she was applying to teach at several school boards across B.C.  She took her first teaching job at Columbia Valley School in Parson without knowing much about the area.

“I had no idea where that was,” she laughed.

One of Pecora’s early impressions of the town was regarding its questionable lawn care practices.

“I don’t think anybody in town had heard of a lawnmower. The sidewalks were wood and many of the boards were broken with weeds growing through,” she said with a grin.

Not long after she moved to Golden she met her husband Orlando, quit her teaching job and started a family. Surprisingly, Pecora says it wasn’t hard for her to leave her job as a teacher.

“For me, I’m not very well organized and it took me a long time to plan and that kind of stuff,” she said.

The Pecoras had three children: Talea, Michael and Thyra. Wendy believes that Golden was a tremendous place to raise a family.

“I think because it was small, you know most everybody and you could count on your friends and neighbours for support if you needed it and you were there for them, too.”

A few years later, when her second child, Michael, was about a year and a half, the Pecoras opened up a hobby shop called The Hobby House that remained a fixture in Golden until its closure in 1989. The shop sold crafts as well as toys and games and Wendy taught ceramics classes there as well.

Pecora says she has always placed a high level of importance on community involvement and she continues to be an active member of the Lions Club among other things.

“You have to do something. (It’s important) to help other people. The Lions Club motto is ‘we serve’ so we do what we can, raise money, and give it away.”

One of the ways that Wendy serves is by encouraging people to donate their old eyeglasses for collection. Glasses can be donated at The Golden Optometry Clinic where they are taken to the Canadian Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centre (CLERC) in Calgary. Inmates then process and adjust the glasses before they are distributed around the world to those in need. Pecora is also involved in the Lions Club’s annual yellow duck race that will be coming up in October.

Throughout her time in Golden, Pecora has seen the town grow and change significantly from when she first arrived. Back then, most of the people in Golden were from Golden, but Pecora says that just isn’t the case anymore. She still believes that the town has a charming feel to it that is hard to find in bigger cities.

“I think because it’s a small town, you get a small town attitude from clerks in the stores and at banks and stuff, because they kind of know who you are.”

Recently, she has enjoyed witnessing what the town has become, specifically with regards to the local music scene.

“Over the last few years, with Kicking Horse Culture and Bill Usher, that’s been an amazing addition to our town with the music groups and stuff that he’s brought in. There’s music groups going to every venue you can think of.”

But one of Pecora’s most satisfying highlights of Golden was something that only long-time residents can relate to.

“Seeing the young people that my kids grew up with, grow up and become mature, valuable citizens (is a personal highlight).”