By Jennifer CroninFree Press Staff
Fernie’s New Year’s baby, Bev Mandel was born on January 4th, 1956, the second daughter to father Joseph and mother Mary (nee Gawryluk).
Joseph was raised on a Hutterite colony in Southern Alberta, which he left to move to B.C. to work in the logging industry. Bev recalls her father being known as “one of the best fallers ever.” His ability was so well respected that he could pick his jobs.
Mother Mary, was born in Michel Natal later relocating to Hosmer. Bev recalls her mom cooking in bush camps, as well as trying her hand as both a Fuller Brush and Studio Girl representative.
Bev has fond memories of her childhood growing up with her sisters, Maxine, 18 months her senior, and Darlene, 19 months her junior. Recounting her memories, she paints a picture of an easier time. “We created our own fun, swimming in the creek and catching frogs in the backwash of the Elk River. We used to go to Wellman’s dam in the winter. Our parents would brush the snow away so we could skate on the creek, and they would bring thermoses filled with hot chocolate.”
As “bus students” the Mandel children would catch the bus to Fernie for school. The bus would stop at the Hosmer Hotel and Bev laughs as she remembers the owners of the hotel as “Ree and Dupuis”. Bev pronounces this as ‘Doopee’ – another of those Valley names that everyone knew, and pronounced the same. “It was French, she says, and we did not know how to say it so we called him ‘Doopee’.”
Bev recalls it was a “big deal” to come to Fernie from their Hosmer home when she was a child. “We would come every weekend for groceries and go to the matinee and have popcorn and then meet Mom at the Diamond Grill for chips.”
When she was eight the Mandel family moved into Fernie. Bev remembers the family purchased their home on 8th Ave. for $2500. She attended the Fernie School, which housed the elementary students downstairs and the high school students upstairs.
Bev started working a week after her 16th birthday as a fry cook at the Dog & Suds. “I always seemed to have two jobs,” she shares as she tells about working at the same time at the Youth Drop-In program at the Community Centre.
In 1976 Bev enrolled in the Sciences program at the University of Calgary, scheduling her classes to allow her to work at the Fernie branch of the Legion on weekends. Finding it hard to get to know people, She readily admits that she did not like university. Returning home, she worked for La-Mar’s Grocery in the winters and at the 3/93 ice cream stand in the summers for a few years.
In 1979, Bev enrolled in the Office Administration Program at the local college, which gave her the tools necessary to secure a position at the Sparling East Medical Clinic in 1981, a job she still holds today.
From the age of 14, Bev helped with luncheons at the Fernie Legion, and at the age of 19 she became a member of the Ladies Auxiliary to Branch #36 of the Royal Canadian Legion. For over 40 years, Bev has volunteered her services tirelessly to this organization, serving in a variety of positions from secretary to president. Behind the scenes of the Legion, she, together with a handful of dedicated ladies have hosted the Children’s Christmas party for over 25 years, put on the Valentine’s Tea, organized Remembrance Day lunches, assisted with meat draws and offered support in a multitude of ways.
Bev is from a close-knit family, and spends as much time as possible with her sisters and many nieces and nephews. In her spare time she attends farmer’s markets with her AntB’s canning and pickled products.
With dedication and perseverance, Bev Mandel is a philanthropic “face of the Valley”.