Doris and Dale Brocke have been enjoying the quiet life at their Arras home just outside of Dawson Creek for over 20 years, and have put out a new book capturing the beauty of the South Peace.

Titled ‘Character in the Garden’, Doris says her book is about the study of character and appreciating nature, spanning 50 years in the making.

“It tells a story, basically, of character and happiness. And how to be happy is to have a good character,” she said.

The book is filled with quotes collected from philosophers, artists, poets, and other sources of inspiration to Doris, based on the 28 Christian virtues.

“The list of Christian virtues at the front of the bible always intrigued me – it was a list of character. I was young, so I didn’t really do anything with it, other than be interested in it,” she said. “So all through my life I’ve always thought about that list and I collected quotes about it.”

Accompanying the quotes is a collection of photos by Doris, taken over a decade at their home. They range from bees to birds to bears to flowers to moose and other critters found in their backyard — all “characters in the garden,” says Doris.

She started collecting quotes in 1971 after she was gifted a Gideon bible in Grade 5, when she lived in her hometown of Georgetown, Ontario.

“I’m an avid reader, so I’ve always drawn from wherever; it didn’t matter where it was from. And I wanted to write about things based on those quotes, but the more I tried, the more I couldn’t do it, so one day I decided, well, I’m just going to use the quotes,” said Doris.

The couple has released one book prior in 2013, a children’s book called ‘The ABC Musical Garden’, filled with watercolour drawings of plants from A to Z.

Dale is an experienced stained glass artist and professional glazier, with a growing collection of his work at their studio and tea lounge, attached to their garden centre, Roses and Rhubarb, a favourite of residents and seniors in the community.

“I started working with stained glass professionally in Montreal, I had moved back from Nova Scotia to Montreal,” he said. “I had picked up a book on how to do stained glass, and started to study and learn, and experiment with it. I also did arranged flowers out of glass there, and it went really well.”

“I really started getting back into it the last 15 years, after I retired,” added Dale, who says it remains a lifelong passion for him.

He grew up near Muncho Lake and has always appreciated the outdoors, moving to Eastern Canada to explore the country before settling in Dawson Creek, where the two met. Many of his pieces are inspired by the wilderness of Northern BC.

“I loved the mountains, I used to live at Muncho Lake when I was younger, and they’ve always inspired me,” Dale said. “I always feel at home when I’m in the mountains. And I love wildlife and flowers.”

While their garden centre has been running for over a decade, the couple thought it best to close at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave them ample time to reflect and put the book together.

By: Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative
Source: Alaska Highway News