Edith Iglauer & Valerie GibsonSaturday, February 03, 2007
In 1981 American writer Edith Iglauer wrote Seven Stones - A Portrait Of Arthur Erickson - Architect. Not known by many is that Vancouver Magazine gossip writer Valerie Gibson had helped Iglauer in her research for the book. At the time Gibson knew more about most of the people in power in Canada, BC and Vancouver than anybody. And Vancouver Magazine editor Malcolm Parry knew this. So Gibson wrote a monthly column that was the most popular column in any magazine in our city at the time. Mac knew that she had other talents and it was her 1978 cover article on 6 very old and brilliant Vancouver old timers (including Jessie Richardson) that was my first magazine cover. For many years she insisted that I take the pictures for her column, as she explained to Mac, "Alex knows who my people are and I don't have to tell him whom to photograph." It was amazing to see Gibson work a room. She would occasionally whisper in my ear, "My! That's the third time Elini Skalbania has worn that dress!"
In 1987 I went to the Sunshine Coast to photograph Edith Iglauer at her home. I was particularly excited as I had read and thoroughly enjoyed (even though I hate fishing, fish and I get seasick on any boat) her book and part memoir, Fishing With John. It was there that I also first met her son Jay, by a previous marriage to Philip Hamburger of The New Yorker fame. I don't think anybody else would have been so gracious and delighted as she was when I gave her as a gift (I was told that she was going to insist I stay for dinner) a large tin of Russian Caravan tea. The meal was one of the best I have ever had in my life. At dinner she told me that Valerie Gibson had a special gift for writing and she only wished she (Iglauer) could push Gibson to take her seriously and write.
I have not seen Gibson for at least 8 years and I last saw Iglauer and Jay a couple of years ago at a party at Arthur Erickson's garden. Every once in a while (it is usually a Japanese restaurant or a theatre) that I delight in being able to loudly yell, "Hey, Hamburger!" and Jay comes over to where I am and he updates me on the status of his mother and the state of his plays. He is a playwright.
Today editor/art director Bob Mercer told me that during his short tenure as editor of Vancouver Magazine, Valerie Gibson won the magazine an award for a profile on John Turner.