Community: So long and thanks for the tarts

Ask any hockey parent in town, Shirley Dorin has an uncanny knack for remembering kids’ names.
However, the longtime owner and operator of Shirley’s Place in the Jasper Activity Centre claims she doesn’t have the same skill when it comes to adults.
“I’m not good with remembering adults names,” she shrugged.
But there was one adult’s name who, in 1968, a young Shirley Dorin was never going to forget. The name was Mr. Bill Ruddy and Dorin had learned it from a girl who was riding the bus back to Edmonton from Jasper. This girl had just spend the summer working for Mr. Ruddy at the Columbia Icefields. She told Dorin, who was herself returning home from a trip to Jasper after a weekend with her girl guides group, about her summer spent at the glacier. Dorin thought it sounded like a dream.
“It sounded just like summer camp,” Dorin recalled.
Dorin wrote to Mr. Ruddy shortly thereafter and in December, a letter arrived which explained that although Mr. Ruddy no longer operated a business at the Columbia Icefields (having just sold the enterprise to the Brewster family), there was an opportunity for work at his fledgling operation at Maligne Lake, where the road from Medicine Lake had just been constructed. The company was called Rainbow Tours and Dorin could apply to be a cook.
“The wage was $1.65/hour the first year and room and board was $60 per month,” Dorin said.
Such was Shirley Dorin’s introduction to Jasper. As she had hoped, it was just like summer camp.
“Nobody in the world had more fun than us kids at Maligne Lake,” Shirley said.
Dorin joined the Maligne Lake family; she was employed there for many of the area’s major transition points: not just the new road, but the building of the day lodge, the parking lots, and the launch of the first powered tour boat, the Mary Schaffer.
1970 also saw the launch of another piece of Jasper iconography: Shirley’s butter tarts. Dorin was thrust into the role of cafeteria manager. She had very little experience, just a book of her family’s recipes, a penchant for hard work and a whole lot of personality. But she took that gumption—and her butter tarts—wherever she went. After Maligne Lake it was the Jasper Tramway, then a long stint as the owner of Scoops and Loops. Ten years later, she got talked into running the concession at the Jasper Activity Centre and that is where she remained. Twenty five years, dozens of sports camps, hundreds of hockey tournaments, thousands of kids and tens of thousands of butter tarts later, on August 28, Shirley packed up her kitchen and called it a career. It’s been an emotional week.
“I’ve had so much support over the years,” she said. “I just want to thank people for allowing me into their lives, and for their support. I hope people will to continue to visit and let me know what’s happening in their lives.”

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