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Meet the octogenarian bookseller still working 6 days a week

Sitting down and actually reading a book is “hard work” for a lot of people these days, antique book dealer Dave Shoots acknowledges. But as Shoots prepares to mark his 80th birthday this Saturday, he isn’t particularly concerned about the long-forecast death of the printed word.

“People who are easily distracted depend on the noise and excitement of TV or the computer,” he said, but “people who are able to picture things in their mind and appreciate the value of being alive, and being able to respond to ideas, are still reading.

Meet The Octogenarian Bookseller Still Working 6 Days A Week

Shoots examines a 19th-century pulpit Bible, one of the the many rare books in the store. (Roger Cosman / CBC)

“It requires concentration, and a regular schedule. Slowly and carefully that’s the only way I know how to do things.”

“There have been times in my life when I had to move quickly at somebody else’s demand, or command. Now, I find an easygoing plod is the only way.”

Labourer, flea-marketer, minister

True to his word, Shoots has taken a long and unhurried path to his current job as a dealer in antique books. He studied journalism in the United States, then did a master of divinity before ministering at a number of Methodist churches. In the ensuing decades, he worked variously in advertising, as a photocopier technician, security guard, pub maintenance worker and farm worker, from Ohio to Ontario.

On the side, he acquired “small collectible items, things made of brass, old licence plates, a few books” to sell at flea markets. He settled in Saint John in 1998 to be closer to his daughter.

“I like the old buildings and the fact that it is on the water,” he said, “and the easygoing nature of the people. The uptown is small. Everybody knows everybody.”

In 2000, Shoots struck a partnership with the late bookseller Terry Keleher, who offered to let Dave run his Coburg Street storefront and keep half the profit. A few years later, Shoots and his daughter expanded their floor space in the early 19th-century building.

Off the beaten track

The unhurried pace has worked well. Dave Shoots, Bookseller at 40 Coburg St. will mark 17 years in business this summer.

“We are very fortunate here, with this very old building that we appreciate,” Shoots said. “We’re off the beaten track, so our rent is probably half of what it would be in King Street.”

Meet The Octogenarian Bookseller Still Working 6 Days A Week

The early 19th-century storefront at 40 Coburg has housed Dave Shoots’s bookshop for 17 years this summer. (Roger Cosman /CBC)

On May 27, the bookshop will host an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to celebrate Shoots’s 80th birthday. Books published in 1937 will be 20 per cent off. In lieu of gifts, his daughter Wendy has requested guests bring donations of non-perishables for the local food bank.

“I am looking forward to Saturday with some trepidation,” Shoots said. “Wendy has told everyone in New Brunswick, and I start to worry what will happen if everyone shows up.”

No desire to retire

Shoots isn’t doing as much heavy lifting these days. His daughter, he said, is responsible for running the business and sourcing old and out-of-print hardcovers with a special focus on Saint John and local history titles. But he has no desire to stop coming in to work six days a week. Cancer surgery in 2014, followed by months of complications, was “the longest I’ve been away from the shop,” he said.

“I was in the hospital from July to November but I came in right after that within a few days. I enjoy it. I was brought up to enjoy reading.”

Meet The Octogenarian Bookseller Still Working 6 Days A Week

Shoots examines one of the oldest books in the store, an 18th-century copy of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. (Roger Cosman/ CBC)

Shoots feels it’s appropriate to mark his milestone birthday in the bookshop.

“As long as Wendy can put up with me, and as long as I can manage, both in my balance and my mental abilities, I will keep coming in,” he said.

“There are always more titles, always more books, that you never dreamed existed.”

Monkeying around at Snow Valley Aerial Park, set to open Saturday

Reporter Scott Leitch tries his skills on the new Snow Valley Aerial Park attraction in Edmonton. Tip-toeing across a wooden suspension ladder 15 metres above ground, I was reminded of my terrible balance. One step, two steps and I slipped off the shaky cross steps. But the harness did its job, leaving me dangling high above the ground, hanging off Snow Valley s newest attraction, a large high-ropes aerial course.

The new Snow Valley Aerial Park, which opens Saturday, is hidden in Whitemud Creek beside Rainbow Valley Campground. The structure was larger than expected when a producer and I showed up, with a 30-metre-by-30-metre footprint of land across the parking lot from the Snow Valley ski hill. Tim Dea, Snow Valley s marketing and communications manager, showed us all the ropes Friday morning, and there are a lot. The park features more than 100 routes, suspended at three different heights and of varying degrees of difficulty, from simple less than one-metre children s challenges to high-wire balancing acts, a sort of giant, adult-sized jungle gym.

Monkeying Around At Snow Valley Aerial Park, Set To Open Saturday

Reporter Scott Leitch trying his skills on the new Snow Valley Aerial Park attraction in Edmonton, May 19, 2017. Ed Kaiser / 20080277A

The structure is a KT90, made by German company Kristall Turm. It arrived at the park pre-built, essentially needing only to be bolted together on-site. It took about one month to put together once the parts arrived. It is the first of its kind in Canada. The new playground didn t come cheap, costing Snow Valley US$2 million, and didn t arrive without controversy. There was opposition to it being built on public park land last fall when the not-for-profit pitched the idea to the city. Beyond a few weeks of visitors during camping season, there were few reasons to visit Snow Valley in the summer after the snow melts.

At the time, Coun. Scott McKeen questioned why Snow Valley already had much of the equipment to build the aerial park on site even before it was approved by council. The ropes course is fun (as long as you re not too afraid of heights) and safe. It uses a Clic-It harness system, making it impossible for a user to accidentally unclip from the course while on it. The campground has a nightly security guard who will also keep an eye on the Aerial Park, making sure no one misuses it overnight. Although currently not enclosed, management is planning to install a small fence around the structure.

The course opens Saturday but visitors are required to book in advance. A three-hour adult pass is $49. Youth and children are cheaper and children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult.

Return home finds a ‘sad’ Eugene

I returned to my home town the other day and thought I would go downtown for a walk. What a sad, sad state of affairs. It is appalling to see the number of vagrants that have taken control of downtown Eugene. The term homeless doesn t apply I m a left-leaning liberal, but the aggression and anger, the sheer nastiness of the people that have overtaken the city core, is beyond the pale. Despite walking only five blocks, and passing eight police officers or security guards, I was accosted three times. Panhandling is one thing, but the vitriolic anger when declined was startling. As I left I passed one poor Eugene officer, a young woman, being screamed at for standing across the street from a pack of a dozen of these folks. It was as pathetic a sight as I ve ever seen. Where will this lead? I can t imagine anyone who lives in the city would be comfortable shopping downtown. And you can be sure that any visitor who makes the mistake of visiting will do so only once. Do you plan to simply cede the core to this group? What happens to Eugene when there isn t an actual city?

It s time for Eugene City Council and the people of Eugene to open their eyes and get real about this situation.

Martin Kennedy

Okotoks, Alberta

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