The Interior News is pleased to welcome back Sonja Lester as a community columnist.
The new column, titled Hard Copy, will anecdotally explore the people, places and happenings in the valley, much like Sonja’s former columns Rural Roots and Heard it on the Grapevine, that ran in the paper from 2005 – 2009.
While the world has increasingly turned to cyberspace for news and pleasure, Sonja said she and many other people she knows still enjoy the more leisurely pleasure of holding a newspaper in their hands and seeing their community reflected in its pages.
“Things fly by so fast on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” she writes in her first submission appearing on Page A24. “This will be an opportunity to cut out with the date attached and save it to a scrap book. Or send it out of town.”
Hard Copy replaces A View from the Porch by Lorraine Doiron, who has moved to Prince George to be closer to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“Our community columnists have always been the heart of our paper,” said Interior News editor Thom Barker. “We will miss Lorraine, of course, but Sonja writes with wit and a folksy style I’m sure our readers are going to enjoy. I am very happy she has decided to join us again.”
Sonja moved to the Bulkley Valley from the Lower Mainland in 1975 to a piece of Driftwood Canyon.
“Hiking was a passion for many years and while in the mountains and listening to groups as we walked I realized how much h wax a support we are for each other just talking of our daily lives,” she said.
She was a volunteer for Air Search and Rescue fro nearly 25 years.
“I belonged to a group that supported each other,” she said. “We were constantly learning and I felt the professionalism from the executive and military to our crews. It was all about training.”
She also worked The Interior News for many years starting as a typesetter for the classifieds and letters to the editor and transitioning into composition and later into advertising sales.
“I called the standing ads my meat and potatoes and the seasonal sales were the gravy, she said.
She recalled a memorable morning when she was first into the office.
“Little things were out of place,” she said. “I would pick up a piece of paper … it felt kind of strange. I opened the safe door with the combination and the very heavy, large door landed on the floor at my feet. Robbers had sat through the night and filed through the hinges little knowing that there was a large, vertical dead-bolt running through the combination lock on the inside.
“And little did they know that the cookie can on the shelf four feet from the safe had $600 from a music festival that I hadn’t had a chance to deposit that day.”
Since 1981, after her family hosted a bluegrass concert at the Glenwood Hall in Driftwood, they fell in love with live music and all picked up an instrument.
“We quickly began performing here in the valley and along the Hwy 16 corridor and made lifelong friends, and as the music began to grow so did our friendships throughout the province.”
Sonja’s daughter Jenny went to college in Texas and got her degree in Bluegrass music.
She has family in Belgium and a son who works in Kenya for part of the year and has lived there, so she has had the opportunity to travel and has climbed Mt. Kenya.
It salved two passions: being with family and hiking,” she said.
At the moment she is enjoying pastel painting and a little piece of Driftwood alongside her oldest son.