The Burton Seniors put on a fine spread Dec. 13, with a twist. This year in addition to the fine food a Queen’s Jubilee Medal was served up to local force in the community, Gale Detta.
After the many salads, turkey, ham and dessert had been savoured by the well-dressed crowd, Paul Peterson got up to “say a few words.” A few of his words which included the announcement that Gale Detta had been awarded the Queen’s Jubilee medal surprised both the diners and Detta herself.
Detta, who moved to Burton in 1968, jumped in when she arrived in the little town and started volunteering in the community, contributing in many ways, some of which Peterson read out to the audience. When she came to collect her award, the room stood and gave her an ovation of appreciation.
“I gave Paul some information for the medal, but he had said there was no guarantee, and then I completely forgot about it,” said Detta.
Detta, who organized the evening’s entertainment, soon moved on from the award to a slide show of historical images of Burton scanned from Whistlestops Along the Columbia. The slideshow was the precursor to a series of skits Detta wrote and wrangled local people to take part in.
The Burton Boys were portrayed by Curtis Stenseth, Garney McLean and Bob Robins, two of which left to find gold and women in the Barkerville gold rush. The next skit had three local women in a saloon with spittoon and a table holding a liquor jug complaining about a rule that kept men and women separate.
The third piece had a Burton shopkeeper read out the letter that she had been sent by Hydro telling her that she had to relocate to either Fauquier or Nakusp, and that Burton wouldn’t exist after the flooding of the valley. A murmur ran through the audience watching the monologue, and Detta said yes, that was how it happened: Hydro had given Burton residents a month to decide where they were going to move. Clearly they had other ideas, and the town still exists to this day.
Another skit had Brian Harrop playing John McCormick Senior, and there was a bit of to-doing about the fact that Mr. McCormick wouldn’t be calling himself “senior” until there was a junior around. Mr McCormick, Sr., had been a member of of the Burton agricultural co-operative which had produced fruit and vegetables until the prices became so low that farmers could no longer afford to grow and export food.
The night was filled with more historical skits and laughter in the warm and cozy community hall while outside the snow continued to fall, covering the little town in a silent white blanket.