There’s a new bear in town

Guests at the Revelstoke Best Western pose with this magnificent soapstone bear statue that was carved by the late Bill Cameron. Hotelier Fred Beruschi (centre right front) acquired this large sculpture from Bill's widow, Ruby (center left front, beside Fred). And, yes that is champagne — VERY nice champagne (Veuve Clicquot), in fact — that everyone has in hand. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

As many people know, the late Bill Cameron was a prolific sculptor. His most public bears guard the entrance to Grizzly Plaza but other ursines, both large and small, are owned by many people around, including his long-time friend Fred Beruschi.

Fred already owns one of Bill’s larger and most majestic bears. It is on display in the 112 Lounge at the Regent. And now he owns another — a very large and magnificent sculpture carved from a block of gleaming, dark green (almost black), soapstone that has been ensconced in the foyer of his new hotel, the Revelstoke Best Western.

“This is a fantastic piece of work,” Fred told a crowd of almost 20 people when he and Bill Cameron’s widow, Ruby, unveiled the work on Wednesday morning.

“This is a special day for Ruby and I. Our association with the Cameron family goes back to 1982 during revitalization. It was just after a parade and we were sitting in the River City Pub.”

The two men talked about the plaza that was planned for the end of Mackenzie Avenue and tossed around ideas for sculptures that could guard the entrance. Lions came up. So did tigers. “But it was bears — grizzly bears,” Fred said. “Bill said he’d make me a hell of a deal and that’s how Grizzly Plaza came about.”

For her part, Ruby was pleased to see her husband’s sculpture given pride of place on a stone plinth in the hotel entrance.

She said Bill carved and polished the statue in one summer.

“He couldn’t work on it all day every day,” she reminisced. “He’s be exhausted. So’d work a few hours at a time and then work on smaller pieces that were easier to do.”

Mayor David Raven congratulated Fred on his acquisition and noted that he, too, had known Bill.

“This bear sculpture symbolizes the family support that exists in our community,” he said. “I can think of nothing better that stands for our community.

Here are two additional photos of Bill Cameron’s magnificent bear:

Here's another view of the Best Western's new grizzly bear sculpture. David F. Rooney photo
Doesn't he have a nice smile? David F. Rooney photo