Old Crow Books sells wares to help Athabasca reconnect with its early days, when the town was a jumping-off point for the northern gold rush.
The town, incorporated as Athabasca Landing in 1911, celebrated its centennial anniversary last year, and Old Crow Books is concerned the place’s roots are fading. Behind the Old Crow counter, in the heritage Anglican rectory, Trish Bazalgette sells black-and-white photographs depicting life along the Athabasca River. Steamboats no longer trek up and down the Athabasca, but Trish’s shop provides a snapshot of how important the town’s landing was for trade 100 years ago.
“We got into it because it’s our love,” Trish says of the Old Crow’s historically oriented business. Trish and her husband, Charles, own and run the shop which sells antiques, custom frames, books, soaps and historic photographs of the river as it was 100 years ago. “It’s just a trademark with us; it’s something that everybody associates with us.” They also sell postcards, framed photographs and magnets depicting the town between 1910 and 1920.
While a lack of available capital hampers a small town’s ability to maintain its historic buildings, Trish and Charles are spending money to refurbish the rectory that houses their business. “In a big city, if you lose 10 or 20 per cent of your heritage buildings … so what?” Trish says.