By Laura Stovel
Kelowna resident Bob Burchinshaw rarely misses a Revelstoke Homecoming event. “It’s a big thing for me. That’s the only time I get together the kids I grew up with,” he said.
“Growing up in Revelstoke was one of the best things in my life,” Burchinshaw said. Revelstoke is a “beautiful little city” and it “was a very caring village” to grow up in.
“You didn’t need a lot of money. If you had a bicycle you could go anywhere. If someone came into some money we would share,” sometimes treating friends to the movies. Burchinshaw and his friends would go fishing, providing “good food and it didn’t cost us anything.”
As a teenager in the 1940s and early 1950s Burchinshaw worked at the Revelstoke Coop (where City Furniture is now) and the brewery. “I remember when the Coop converted to a supermarket, how traumatic” the change was for some people. Previously, customers “phoned in their orders and the groceries would be delivered” or they could come and tell staff what they wanted and the staff would go and get their items. The modern Coop supermarket soon caught on, Bob recalled. “It had buggies and baskets and you got your own food. People like to do their own shopping.”
Homecomings lead to reminiscing. Burchinshaw remembers fondly his favorite elementary school teacher, Miss Burns, and the trips she led up Mount Revelstoke with the class. “She used to introduce us to wildflowers and birding.” She taught her students to identify and press flowers. One day Burchinshaw found a rare patch of orchids on a bluff and he brought Miss Burns to see it. She was impressed, he said, and they sat on the bluff and “she shared some stories of her life with me.” It’s a memory he has always treasured.
Burchinshaw was also very active in the Air Cadets in Revelstoke and he’ll be joined by some of his air cadet buddies, like Jack McMahon, at this Homecoming. “He was my best buddy,” he said. “He still is.”
In 1952, at the age of 19, Burchinshaw left Revelstoke with his friend Ronny Olson. They drove across the United States and up into Canada, eventually ending up in Winnipeg. There, Burchinshaw joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, beginning a life-long career that would take him to the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany. He eventually retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and settled in Kelowna with his wife, Marge, and daughter, Laura.
Revelstoke Homecomings are not the only events that draw former and current Revelstoke residents together. Burchinshaw also attends the annual Revelstoke Ladies Luncheons in Vernon. More than 80 people attend these luncheons and they come from as far as “the Coast, Kamloops and Nelson.”
Burchinshaw is all ready for this year’s Homecoming. He booked a hotel room a while ago and “I’ve got a whole list of people that I look for.” There are always good stories to share.