Janet Walford in her music room at home in Smithers. (Tom Roper photo)

Janet Walford in her music room at home in Smithers. (Tom Roper photo)

A passion to sing and a love of books

Janet Walford looks forward to a return to normal

Born in Nova Scotia, Janet Walford grew up with a passion to sing.

Her connection with the church was strong and provided the framework for her compassionate life.

At 11 years old, Janet’s family moved west to Prince Rupert in search of better work opportunities.

She brought her character with her. She joined the church, got involved in its functions and continued to sing.

This was the time of folk singers and Janet became hooked on the likes of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and others.

She wanted to play the guitar in the worst way and the opportunity finally presented itself when she went to university.

Janet returned home, guitar in hand and with a certain level of independence, ready to find her way.

A couple of years later Janet partnered with David. Their trip to Europe confirmed commitment to his faith and they decided he would follow his goal of becoming an ordained minister with the Anglican church.

The Diocese of Caledonia invited the family to move to Houston and the introduction to the Bulkley valley began.

While David was at university, Simon was born with Shola following soon after.

Their adventure continued within the church and as David’s exuberance spread, his need for a more personal approach to religion was decided. He would step away from the confines of a specific diocese.

The couple also decided to move to the Smithers area to find other employment and the opportunity of a bookstore presented itself.

Books were Janet’s second love.

Mountain Eagle Books was to be a family affair as they worked through the complications of operating a business.

Many trials and tribulations were weathered and several locations were scouted before ending up at Third Avenue and Main Street.

“Smithers provided me with a sense of community; I felt like I belonged,” Janet said. “The B.V. Folk Music Society was my outlet. Through the store we were able to become a local ticket outlet for most events. It connected me with the art and entertainment community too.

“The opportunity to set up an inclusive business within this community was what we were looking for. The store “Mountain Eagle Books” has morphed several times to reach its present format.

“Used books and a coffee shop in a place where all are welcome is something we have strived for. We have a picture up in the store of the past owner Leslie Boot. It’s titled, Leslie’s living room and that’s how we feel about our establishment.”

Janet’s personel trials have also been weathered.

Three heart attacks and a mini avalanche from the roof of her house are just a few of the difficulties faced and in each situation the community stepped up to help.

“I love my community and have always stuck to my motto, ‘there is no quit in me’,” she said. “My family helped me through the tough times and my employees kept the business operating.

“My philosophy in life is simple, ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ Everything we do matters. Margret Mead said you do not have to be a big group to affect change. We all contribute to the small things. Our store is a place for everyone to be treated respectfully.”

Currently, the book store is for sale. If it does sell, “I would definitely frequent there for coffee, we make good coffee,” she said. “I have a beautiful music room in my house generously provided by my son Simon and I look forward to a return to normal, making music with my friends and working to make a healthy community for all is what I’ll be doing.”