It was always great to talk with them in Ellice Variety or Cinema 3: an oasis in the middle of inner city craziness.”

December 2, 2014

When I finished university and decided to do freelance writing, I made a strict rule for myself. For anything I wrote and had published, I would get paid for it. Often the pay was small but it always was good for my sense of self worth and every cheque has truly contributed to my income, sometimes in the nick of time to pay off bills or buy groceries.

Having made this pact to myself, I seldom write letters to the editor. It has to be something very important to me in order to write a letter.

When I read in STREETS that Ellice Variety had closed its doors, I had to write the following letter about the variety store on the corner of Ellice and Maryland (I think) with Cinema 3 (the reason why, to this day, I absolutely love foreign films) next to it:


May/June 2003


I read, with a warm sense of nostalgia, Cyril Keeper’s piece on the closing of Ellice Variety. When I lived on Simcoe St. in the West End, I had so many interesting conversations with Bonnie and nice chats with Connie. It was always great to talk with them in Ellice Variety or Cinema 3: an oasis in the middle of inner city craziness.

When I read the story, I told my son Luke (who is now 6’1″) that Ellice Variety had closed. We started going there when I was still pushing Luke in his stroller. Later, we would go there after Luke’s swimming lessons. He was especially ‘hooked’ on Bonnie’s tuna sandwich. When we moved to Salt Spring Island, Luke always asked me to make sandwiches like Bonnie’s I have a feeling I never quite replicated Bonnie’s recipe.

Bonnie, Connie and Wayne, may you have some much needed rest and relaxation. Thank you for your warmth and friendliness.

Tanya Lester, Salt Spring Island, B.C.


To read the first posts in this blog, please go to

Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google.

Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be bought from the author or go to the title and author name — to read the first few pages and purchase it — at

Tanya Lester’s other books are Dreams & Tricksters, Friends I Never Knew, and Women Rights/Writes. These books are available in some library systems including the Salt Spring Library and at the Legislative Library of Manitoba.


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