Patty (nee Howlett) was born in Calgary, Alta., the oldest of three children. She recalls her interest in reading started at an early age, being really curious, reading everything and anything from Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books to toothpaste and cereal boxes. Her interests also included camping, crafts, hiking, biking, cross country and downhill skiing as she grew up. Graduating from SAIT with a degree in Library Arts, Patty accepted a job as a librarian in Calgary. Spending weekends in Fernie pursuing her passion for skiing, she was a ‘weekender’ for a year, until 1990 at which time she put her belongings in storage, sold her condo and moved to Fernie. “I moved here for the winter, but stayed for the summer. I thought I would go back to Calgary to my job as a librarian,” Patty shared.
Patty secured her first job in Fernie, working at Fernie Sports, after which she worked in the summer at Mt. Fernie Provincial Park as a park attendant. “I loved it, it was so different (from my librarian job). I embraced the change,” she said.
Jobs at a variety of coffee shops followed, as well as a job cleaning houses which suited Patty’s lifestyle, allowing her to get her work done and head to the hill. Patty next accepted a librarian position with the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, commuting and staying with friends, which she did for a year. Feeling something was missing, she returned to Fernie.
Patty next worked at the Fernie Golf and Country Club for two years until she started working at Polar Peek in 1993. In 1996, she welcomed her son Ryan, and reduced her hours at the bookstore to part time, gradually increasing them to full time again when Ryan went to school.
In January of 2008, Patty started to ‘line her ducks up’ to purchase Polar Peeks which she did in July of that year. Her enthusiasm is evident as she speaks of her business. “We have just finished our eighth Christmas. It is a tough season. We are so busy stocking up, and then we wait.” Patty feels that the store remaining in the same location for so long has really helped and she loves being on the middle block of uptown Fernie.
Between hosting the Book of the Month Club which meets at her store the last Wednesday of each month, and involvement with the Booked! Fernie Writers’ Series, Patty still manages to find time for snowshoeing, bike riding, getting together with friends, and of course reading, in her spare time.
In discussing the changes since her arrival in Fernie, Patty singles out the new facilities for the library, museum and pool, as well as the new people bringing new energy and arts to the community. She notes that people involved in the arts get an idea, and they don’t wait. They just make it happen. “It is such a good group of people.” On a more personal level, Patty shares “I love the river, seeing changes during every season.” One thing that she admits missing in Fernie is a video store, which much like Polar Peek, encourages discussion.
Patty feels that books are here to stay, even with the advent of ereaders. “I like the spontaneity of talking about books,” she shares, and goes on to explain that the bricks and mortar of the store allow people to meet others with like interests, which often leads to great conversations about books. “There is so much that goes with face to face conversation,” she says.
With a lot of change and challenges in the past year related to suppliers, Patty feels “super lucky” to have such a good staff. “It (operating the bookstore) is a lot of responsibility, and I want to do a good job,” she confides. “I do love being here, I love books, and I get excited being here every day.”
As a true bibliophile, Patty Reedyk is this week’s “face of the valley”.