Two friends with a passion for the Kootenay region have helped uncover some of the history of the area, giving it new life.
Eric Brighton and Greg Nesteroff run a Facebook page called Lost Kootenays, which represents the diverse history of the east and west Kootenays.
The success of the page has now spawned a book.
“At the start of this year, we got a message from a publisher in Nova Scotia, MacIntyre Purcell, who asked if we were interested in turning it into a book. I guess one of the ways to come up with ideas for books is to search for Facebook sites, particularly historical ones with a lot of followers” said Nesteroff.
The Facebook page had 40,000 followers before the book was published, and has surpassed 50,000 followers since its release. A lot of the page’s recent success is credited to Brighton, as he spends roughly 10 hours a day, seven days a week on it.
“Greg took over the page in 2019 and he brought me in July 2020. I immediately took over the page as the sole poster, administrator and moderator. Greg is still an administrator of course, but I handle all such duties, etc. The page had around 30,000 followers when I first took over, and It now has over 54,000 followers,” said Brighton.
Brighton tells Castanet he also spent over 100 hours enhancing the photos for the book. He doesn't claim to be a professional by any means, but it's something he loves to do.
“I spent a lot of time cleaning and restoring all 143 pictures in the book. I also created several 'Eric Brighton Edits' for the book which is the art of creating a new version, from an old pic, by cropping and zooming in, etc. I did the work in multiple sessions for the book, often returning to the same image many times to work on it until I was completely satisfied with the final result,” said Brighton.
Nesteroff said he was always under the impression a lot of the history in the Kootenays had already been made public, but as it turns out, there are still stories to be told. Sharing those stories is something both he and Brighton are passionate about.
“There's all sorts of things that remain to be discovered or that people hadn’t really been paying attention to, and I’ve always been very interested in the history of this area,'' explained Nesteroff.
Nesteroff said the Facebook page has been a huge help in revealing missing details in certain stories.
“I was trying to track down a story about a miner in Nelson from Italy, and he saw a woman's face in a postcard. He fell in love with her and started corresponding with her in England, and eventually went over there and married her. I was trying to find out what became of him, so we posted a message on our page, and it took about 20 minutes for me to get a message from his granddaughter,” described Nesteroff.
Nesteroff hinted there may be a second book coming out in the future, after seeing the success of the book. Lost Kootenays is a number one bestseller on Amazon in the History and Photography section.
Both Brighton and Nesteroff say they plan to continue sharing the history of the Kootenay region and growing the page, as a way to honour the previous site owner, Randy Glover, who passed away from cancer in 2019.
The book is available at Costco in Kelowna and Kamloops, as well as chain and independent bookstores throughout the Kootenays. To order a copy, click here.