If you have driven past or along 96 Avenue in Fort Langley since last Friday, you’ll likely have noticed the addition of several bright blue signs, declaring the route “Brenda Alberts Way.”
The official unveiling of the signs, which renamed a stretch of road in honour of the late art gallery owner and tireless volunteer, took place at the Fort Langley Community Hall in the morning on Dec. 2, in front of a standing room only crowd.
The rare dedication is a fitting tribute to a woman who was something of a force of nature.
I met Brenda shortly after taking over the arts and entertainment beat for the Times. I don’t remember the circumstances, but in all likelihood, she had called and invited me to an event she was hosting at her gallery.
It was the first of many opportunities to meet a number of the artists whose work she displayed and sold and to begin to get a sense of the village’s rich artistic environment.
The first few visits, upon my arrival, she’d whisk me around and introduce me to the painters whose work was being featured. She was a savvy business woman and understood, of course, that any publicity would benefit her gallery as well as the artists involved, but the pure joy she took from creating those connections was obvious.
During the dedication ceremony, one of the artists, Margo Harrison, expressed her appreciation for Brenda’s unwavering support of the arts.
It was here we also learned that the Bedford Rowing Society planned to name a York boat in her honour the following day. They did, and the vessel is now called the Brenda A.
It seems to me like a pretty darn good name, although her husband, Kurt, did confess that Brenda wasn’t a huge fan of boats — particularly when they were on the water.
During the sign dedication, Mayor Jack Froese commented that if he ever had a half hour to burn he could simply ask Brenda how the Canucks were doing and those 30 minutes would soon be gone.
I speak from experience when I say she was indeed a passionate fan of Vancouver’s NHL team.
Several years ago I came into possession of a pair of company tickets to a game. Knowing she followed the team, I invited Brenda to join me and she happily accepted.
Early in the game, as the home team scored their first goal, we all jumped out of our seats.
Suddenly, I found myself enveloped in a giant bear hug. This was followed by Brenda exchanging a round of high-fives with everyone within arm’s reach of her seat, all of it carried out with whoops and an ear-to-ear grin.
If a person were to look up exactly how many goals the Canucks scored that game, they would know precisely how many times that scene was replayed.
The kind of zest Brenda showed for life is far too rare. And in her case, it is gone far too soon.
For myself, I know that passing the signs that bear her name will always call to mind fond memories and bring a smile to my face.
And, as her husband quipped, they will show the world that, once again, Brenda has gotten her way.