In the summer of 1962, construction on a new highway between Revelstoke and Golden was completed, and Roger’s pass was opened to travellers. Norma Ballendine was there, pen in hand, to report on the new highway for the Golden Star.
Between grades 11 and 12, Ballendine found herself in need of a summer job. She wasn’t keen on the idea of waitressing, and as the Golden Star’s high school reporter, she was already in the habit of submitting stories to the paper and had plenty of personal connections in the office. It didn’t take much convincing for the Star to offer her a summer position.
“I mainly ran the printer press, that great big ugly thing that’s sitting in the museum. I was scared to death of it,” recalls Ballendine. “I didn’t get paid very much, but that was ok; I found it really interesting. I did a little bit of everything.”
Ballendine first came to Golden when she was a mere four years old in 1949. In her 70 years here, she has not once considered leaving. She’s made Golden her home; she’s raised her kids here, she’s retired here, and she plans on spending the rest of her days here.
People often suggest to Ballendine that she live out her retirement elsewhere; with her children grown, there’s no longer family tying her to Golden. But for Ballendine, the people of Golden keep her here, and have become like a family to her.
As a member of the Cree Metis, she has found a community here, in a town whose history is entwined with the Metis.
“I love these people, because it’s the people who bring the town to life,” said Ballendine. “I always tell people, that this is my valley, and these are my people.”
Retired for 15 years now, Ballendine keeps busy, although not just for the sake of being busy. She’s a part of the senior centre, she plays accordion at Durand Manor, and most importantly, she’s returned to her roots at the Golden Star.
One of Ballendine’s favourite projects currently has her volunteering at the Golden Museum, digitizing articles from the Golden Star, dating all the way back to 1891 when the paper first started publishing. Her work with the museum has allowed her to see the changes in the town over the years, as recorded by the Star.
“Researching the Golden Star, I see how our town has responded and changed; whenever there was a need, somebody in the town stepped up and filled the need,” reflected Ballendine. “When I was growing up, it was a pretty bleak town. We didn’t have any public flower beds, or decorative trees, and now look at our town! So full of beautiful things! I’m quite proud.”
Another one of the changes Ballendine has noticed was the development of the ski resort. It’s brought in a diverse array of people from across the world and across professions, and has really helped develop the town.
In the last four years, Ballendine has gotten back into writing, and joined the writing club here in Golden. She says members of the club are all working on their memoirs, which she finds incredibly interesting.
The Star has certainly changed since the summer of 1962. Golden itself has transformed many times. Despite this, one thing has remained constant – Ballendine’s love for her town. And that certainly won’t be changing any time soon.