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Kamloops author helps readers find Lost Kootenays

The book by Eric Brighton of Kamloops and co-author Greg Nesteroff of Nelson features more than 140 historical photos from the Kootenays
Lost Kootenays
Lost Kootenays can be found online at amazon.ca, at chapters.indigo.ca and in the “local history” sections of some book stores.

History buffs are spending plenty of time getting lost on various online pages as they visit places of days gone by.

Lost BC, Lost Kootenays and other history pages on Facebook and elsewhere, including Kamloops History, are popular web destinations.

That wealth of information has also been added to the print medium, with the publication of Lost Kootenays, a book from authors Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the latter being a Kamloops resident.

Brighton noted the Lost Kootenays Facebook page, created about seven years ago, was on autopilot for some time.

“I took it over a little over a year ago and we had about 28,000 members. And we now have 55,000 members,” said Brighton, who is also an administrator of the Lost BC Facebook page and a regular contributor to the Kamloops History Facebook page.

The book came about when Brighton and Nesteroff were approached by MacIntrye Purcell Publishing about taking the online information and creating a book.

The result is a trip down memory lane for current and former residents of the Kootenays — and for anybody else with an interest in history.

Lost Kootenays has stood at or near the top the Amazon Canada bestseller list for picture books since being released on Sept. 30.

But it is more than a picture book, even though there are in excess of 130 photos of Kootenays history, complete with detailed captions. At 128 pages, the book includes more than 20,000 words.

“We did a lot of research for each picture and did the most comprehensive caption we could for it, to try to find an interesting tidbit that hasn’t been mentioned before in other books,” Brighton said, noting the tome also has a Kootenays timeline, which he said comes in handy for those with an interest in the area, but without the background knowledge others might possess.

One of Brighton’s favourite photos is the one that graces the book’s cover, an image of the iconic Arlington Hotel in Trail.

But there are so many others covering myriad areas, including First Nations, railways, mines, farming, logging and steamboats that were lake transportation for so long.

Brighton is a longtime archive hunter, scouring the BC Archives, the City of Vancouver Archives, the Kamloops Museum and Archives and other repositories of historical documents.

To be a good archive hunter, Brighton said, one must learn how to navigate the collections.

“They all have their own different types of search engines and they can be a little outdated,” he said. “So I’m using methods that are unconventional, that I find I’m able to dig up pictures other people can’t find that are buried in sections that nobody’s even looking through because it’s not stuff that interests them. But I find lost pictures in there because a lot of these archives, they just don’t have the manpower to be constantly sorting their collections.”

Brighton’s fascination with history started with his dad, a surveyor who saw much of B.C.

“We did a lot of summer road trips and wherever he went, he was just always giving me a history lesson,” Brighton said.

“It was, you know, a shared past and we dug for old bottles and stuff and, you know, went to the ghost towns. It was just a passion from a very early age.

“I had my own set of maps. I’d stare at these maps for hours, you know, and see names like Pioneer Mine, Fort Steele.”

Lest anyone think the hobby is a casual affair, be forewarned that paying attention to history is hard work.

“You only have so much time and just running these groups takes huge amounts of time. It’s like a ball and chain 24/7 because you have to make sure there’s nothing going wrong with it,” Brighton said of running online history pages.

“Scouring the archives for pictures to post, that’s the tricky part. And you don’t want to post pictures everybody’s seen a hundred times. So you have to work. I’ve got files and files and files and I’m constantly adding to them for future posts. And I restore the photos, as well, as a hobby. I’m a little bit of an amateur photographer, So, you know, a lot of photos come with ruined borders, you know, water-damaged or scratched.”

Lost Kootenays (Facebook page and print edition) may be followed by more “Lost” memories elsewhere, perhaps Lost Vancouver Island or Lost Thompson, if future ideas of Brighton and others come to fruition.

In the meantime, Lost Kootenays can be found online at amazon.ca, at chapters.indigo.ca and in the “local history” sections of some book stores.