Book celebrates Penticton’s women

A local author doesn’t want to forget Penticton’s women during the city’s centennial year.

Cass Robinson, former newspaper writer, radio reporter and now author, has published Celebrating Penticton Women 1908-2008.

The book offers profiles and photographs of 100 of the most interesting and important women of Penticton’s history and future. When Robinson approached city councillors about plans for a centennial book, she was told only a few women would be showcased.

“Since women make up over 50 per cent of the world’s population, I felt that wasn’t enough,” said Robinson. “I decided something needed to be done and no one wanted to do it ... I was going to.”

Sending a call out to the public for suggestions of important women to include, Robinson’s original idea of profiling 20 women soon ballooned and she found she would end up with 100. From there she did research in the Penticton Museum archives looking at the Okanagan Historical Society’s annual reports.

Some of the lesser known stories she came up with were Vee Dewar, a counsellor who introduced sexual education into her course and caused a stir. After her retirement she became Pockets the Clown for 10 years visiting the hospital weekly.

Ann Kathleen Spiller who worked in the Royal Bank after graduating high school managed to swindle $500,000 from the bank within five years. When caught during an unrelated bank audit, she was sentenced to a three-year term in a Kingston penitentiary.

Lise Ecclestone, Robinson’s (living) hero, established a co-op for those recovering from mental illness. The co-op now has seven operating businesses in the city.

“Mental illness affects one in five people in our society and we make out as though it’s contagious and we don’t talk about it,” said Robinson. “She has broken real ground here.”

Robinson’s book is available Saturday at the Home Business Show at the Sandman Inn; Saturday and Sunday at the Santa Presents craft show at the Penticton Lakeside Resort; and at the Cannery’s Winter Markets every Saturday from Nov. 10 to Dec. 15. It is also available at the Penticton Museum for $14.95.

Celebrating Penticton’s Women 1908-2008 will be officially launched Nov. 25 at Leir House at 7 p.m.

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