Local authors Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen and the South Delta-based newspaper Delta Optimist have been recognized by the city for their work in preserving Delta’s heritage.
On March 7, Mayor George Harvie and Councilor. Jeannie Kanakos presented Dwight and Cullen with the Friends of Heritage award for co-writing the book Lord don’t want me, the devil won’t take me about the life of colorful Tsawwassen pioneer Pansy May Stuttard.
Nicknamed “Pistol-packin’ Pansy” by the media in 1958 after chasing down three men who had robbed her, shooting them with her shotgun as they ran down the street, Stuttard ran illegal liquor operations and of prostitution from his “lodge” on (or possibly across) the border with Point Roberts in the 1920s and 1930s.
“It’s a very interesting book, I skimmed through it in a flash,” Harvie said. “I would recommend reading this book. It is a pleasure to watch our history.
Lord don’t want me, the devil won’t take me is available for purchase from Black Bond Books at Ladner or online at blurb.ca, with all proceeds from the sale of the book going to the Delta Heritage Society.
Harvie and Kanakos also presented Optimistic publisher Pierre Pelletier and publisher Ian Jacques with the Heritage Merit Award on the occasion of the newspaper’s 100th anniversary and in recognition of his long service to the community.
the Optimistic was founded in 1922 when Vincent Dunning, then owner of two newspapers in Alberta, was asked by the Delta Board of Trade to start a new newspaper to fill the void left by the closure of the Delta times (1903-1914) due to difficult business conditions caused by World War I, according to a memorandum from city staff.
Dunning moved into the saloon of the old Ladner Hotel on 48th Avenue and Delta Street, and the first edition of The weekly optimist was published on March 23, 1922. Dunning left the area a year later, however, his family continued to own and operate the paper for over half a century.
In 1964 Ernie Bexley bought a 50% stake in the paper and became co-editor with Edgar Dunning. The Bexley family purchased the remaining shares in 1983 and ran the newspaper until it was sold in 1990 to its current owner, Lower Mainland Publishing, now part of Glacier Media Group.
The newspaper, which at one time was also called the Ladner Optimistpublished three weekly editions and an exclusive North Delta edition from the 1960s through the 1990s. Today, it regularly includes a “Throwback” feature highlighting historical photos of individuals, events, buildings and important places in the history of Delta.
the Optimistic is currently based in the historic Ladner Baptist Church building at 47A Avenue and Delta Street, which itself was the subject of the Heritage Award of Merit in 2003.