March 1, 1943 – January 27, 2023
In loving memory ~
Gary was born in Haney and raised in Hammond B.C., now a part of Maple Ridge with his older sister Mavis (Paravantes), and little sister Jill Gunnarson.
After school days he attended Emily Carr School of Art. He apprenticed to a butcher, and at one time owned an antique shop in Surrey. Gary picked up his first guitar at about 16 years old. The first guitar lessons he was given, ended early when his guitar teacher deemed Gary too skilled for him to teach.
Gary spoke fondly of working in Jasper. He had a couple of different jobs there for a few seasons. He would get to go on free horseback camps if he brought his guitar. By 18, he was going by the name Gary Trent and bought his first electric guitar for $130, including tax and case. Paying dues to the Musicians Mutual Protective Fund allowed Gary to play with bigger names of the day, and in clubs.
He backed up Ray Price, and got an opportunity to play a gig with Roger Millar when his bass player couldn’t make it. He also played a few gigs with Susan Jacks, whom he described as a very nice person.
Gary played with Ray ‘Toole of the Northwest Company out of Maple ridge, playing gigs in Vancouver. He played with Floyd Fergueson and the Sundowners. He played with the Plainsmen and the Canucks with Gary Cooper. There were probably a few others too, as bands and gigs were plentiful then. He toured the U.S. playing a lot in California with a band called Junction. Then he ended up with Applejack, who merged with Wintergreen and became Trooper.
Gary tired of life on the road. He spent some time in the Okanagan before coming to Boundary country, and music called him back. He made a living playing in a duo called Snapshot, known for their harmonies, which he was strong at.
He played a couple of gigs at the Longhorn, rebuilt as Clyde’s and decided what a great place to call home. He lived for a while in Greenwood. Running a jam at the Hot L, which he helped to name from the stage after the e burned out in the sign. He collaborated with many musicians in Grand Forks and ended up playing with Paul Henderson.
Photography was another passion of Gary’s and he was involved long before the age of digital. It wasn’t unusual for him to turn bathrooms into darkrooms, and have a fridge full of film canisters. His love of music and photography got him to make the move to Grand Forks. With all the hotels playing live music, there were lots of people to entertain, meet and befriend. He settled into a shop on 2nd Street, (where Kokomos was more recently), and opened a photography shop, gift store and framing business. He ran this with sister Jill Gunnarson, under the name Arts and Unique
He would colourize and repair photos for customers by hand. He said sometimes the paintbrush only had one bristle, the work was so delicate. He said he had his frame-cutting saw in the basement. Due to the age of the building, this was a bit precarious, but he loved the place nonetheless.
Eventually, he had to move, and he saw it as an opportunity. He bought the building at 248 Market Ave, called his business Art Effects, and didn’t look back for decades. Many people, not just in Grand Forks, have treasures from his shop. His photos, pencil drawings, and beautifully framed art prints are still in their homes.
He embraced the Russian culture so prevalent here and had many beautiful Matryoshka dolls. He could go on about their beauty, and uniqueness, or show you a video on how they were made. Some people came in to have their treasures framed, some came in to chat, or to sit awhile with him on the windowsill outside.
Gary took great pride in his window displays. They were always changing, lovely and engaging.
Gary ran photography courses for a bit but was always available to encourage beginning photographers. Many lovely photos taken now had a start in Gary’s advice and encouragement.
All this is not to say Gary didn’t know how to have fun. So many people have memories of him, and they usually involve something fun. He loved to dress up for the occasion, and if the occasion called for something kooky, so much the better.
One of his mother’s birthday parties involved live music in the little oasis he created behind his store. It ended with a friendly reminder from the RCMP that it was now 11 pm, but this was not before many from Clyde’s pub had taken seats in the alley to listen to the music.
After the 2018 flood closed his store for finally and forever, he chose a less public but peaceful existence with his last and forever love, Lori Hess, sister Jill, stated brother Tim Engstrom and a few other close and valued friends.
The pandemic certainly made him less noticeable about town but he continued to enjoy camping, kayaking, photography, and the local car club. His 65 Mustang really raised his smile.
He stayed active online, participating in BC history pages, as well as his own pages. Gary Trent and Gary Trent Photography on Facebook.
Gary touched so, so many hearts, and helped to leave them with happy memories. He left us with beautiful things, friendship, and fun. What a legacy! His smile and the twinkle in his eye is something we can all treasure.
We could all say to him the words he said to so many others, “Well, bless your heart”