Glenn Birnie retired over 20 years ago but that doesn’t mean he has slowed down, not even a little bit.
“I can’t just sit around and do nothing,” he said.
The long-time hardware store owner keeps plenty busy with woodworking projects and gardening around the house, as well as numerous activities in the community. Birnie also helps out his son David, owner of the Mistaya Lodge (located just north of Yoho National Park and west of the border), by transporting new guests up to the Blaeberry for their eventual helicopter ride into the lodge.
Birnie moved out to B.C. from Wawota, Sask. in 1949 to cut Christmas trees and he never went back to the prairies. He eventually landed a job at Invermere Hardware in 1957. A few years later they decided to expand into Golden and chose Birnie to open and manage the store. That was in 1960 and Birnie has lived in Golden ever since.
The original hardware store was located downtown in the space now occupied by Moon Cafe. The Birnies lived in the back of the shop for their first couple of years in Golden before they got their own place. Eventually the store also outgrew this location and it moved further down 9th Avenue North, across from where Sobey’s is now. Birnie took a 50 per cent ownership in the store in 1972, which is also when the name changed from Glenn’s Hardware to Golden Hardware.
Birnie eventually bought out his partner to give himself 100 per cent ownership of the business. The store joined Home Hardware in 1981, but because the hardware giant is a dealer-owned business, Birnie maintained full ownership. His three children took over the store when Birnie retired in 1990 and ran it together for eight years before his two youngest, Sandra and David, decided to move on to other ventures and Douglas took the store over by himself.
Birnie has limited involvement with the store now, instead it is hobbies and community groups that keep him busy. One of his favourite places is his workshop, a large shed that he has behind his house where he builds birdhouses and picture frames. He often donates his work to the Eastern Star, where it is raffled away to raise funds for cancer research. Birnie, along with his wife Joanne, spend plenty of time in their backyard garden where they grow tomatoes, carrots and beans along with other assorted veggies and even a few pumpkins. Beyond that, Birnie enjoys curling and golf and attends Eastern Star, Masonic Lodge and Mountain Shrine Club meetings and events. Birnie and Joanne go to Hawaii once a year in October but he says he has no desire to escape south for the entire winter.
“There’s too many old people down there,” he said with a grin.
Birnie has seen his hardware store go from being a small shop downtown to a big box store at its current location on Highway 95. One constant, however, has been Birnie’s desire to keep busy and active, even in retirement.