Normally a private man, Les Bishop enjoyed a roomful of well-wishers at Evergreen Acres on July 4 as he celebrated his 100th birthday.
According to his niece, Valerie Rampone of Kamloops, Les was the second son of James Henry (Harry) Bishop and Elizabeth Jane (Jean) McCarrel. He reportedly was born in a ‘soddy’ (sod-house) near Inisfree (east of Edmonton). Orice was his older brother by four years. He had three sisters: Hazel, Grace and Rampone’s mother Ruby (Westerman of Kamloops) the youngest. All are gone now.
His mother Jean (a widow) settled in Kamloops in the early 1930s with her second husband, Big George Farquharson, a B&B (bridges and buildings) foreman for the CNR. For a short while Les also worked for the CNR. When he returned from service in WWII he settled in the Clearwater area (1946).
“He has great stories of working in the ‘planer mill’ and was delighted to have several people who worked with him present at the Evergreen Acres party,” said Rampone.
One of those present was Wilf Radmacher, who was also celebrating a birthday (his 84th) and helped Bishop blow out the candles on his cake(s).
“Les has wonderful stories to tell of logging with horse drawn sleighs, of loading rail ties, and working in the planer mill, etc.,” his niece said. “He could tell you a ton about life in the Clearwater Valley, but about himself he is very private.”
His daughter Beverly Shook married Les Shook (deceased) now lives in Evansburg, Alberta. She and grandsons Leigh and Danny Shook, plus their families of Chetwynd were in Clearwater over the July 1 long weekend in honour of the occasion.
“Les Bishop has good genes,” Rampone observed. “His mother Jean lived to be almost 106 and was known as the ‘Go-go’ girl at the Ponderosa Lodge in Kamloops where she moved at 97. Go-go because she was always doing something. Les was that way in the community, always helping someone. If it wasn’t haying it was helping put a roof on or finding a part to fix an engine.”
Rampone said that for at least the last 15 years Bishop’s birthday celebration has taken the form of a potluck gathering of neighbours, friends and a few relatives. For many years his Dunn Lake Road home was the venue. When he moved into Evergreen Acres and sold the property the potluck tradition continued at his neighbour and good friend Sandy Allen and Richard Lovelock’s place on the flats below the switchback.
“This year began a new tradition (I think) where his friends and neighbours at Green Acres were able to join in the celebration,” his niece said.