It’s hard not to appreciate Bob Bose. He kicks like a mule when it comes to civic politics but doesn’t get too uptight about it. He also knows what it is to enjoy a good laugh.
I hope I’m not spoiling a clever thing here, but the former Surrey mayor, who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of this city as well as a world-class sense of humour, called me up the other day to discuss his latest project.
Bose, age 89, is known in some circles as the “soul of Surrey.” His granddad farmer Henry Bose was Surrey’s reeve – that’s what a mayor was called, back in the days of yore – from 1905 to 1910. A major Surrey road, 64th Avenue, is also known as Bose Road, after his family.
Given his service to Surrey, and deep roots here, it’s hard not to pay heed when he figures this fine city of ours could benefit from having its own patron saint. He is lobbying council to adopt as our own Sta Rita of Cascia, an Augustinian nun who died in Italy 564 years ago, in 1457.
And why not?
Surrey already has its own poet laureate, two sister cities – Zhuhai in China, and Koto-ku in Japan – and when Bose was mayor, from 1988 to 1996, its logo was a beaver.
When he was mayor, Bose presided over a rock-em sock-em council that ritually conducted the city’s business on a five-to-four vote.
But unlike Mayor Doug McCallum – who holds all the power chips these days with his Safe Surrey Coalition majority of five on council – Bose’s vision as a preservationist mayor was often frustrated because his Surrey Civic Electors slate had four members on council while his pro-development Surrey Electors Team rivals had five, and typically, used that majority to foil his crew at every turn.
Fun times, just like today. I daresay Bose probably still had more fun than the present lot, though. Back in the day, when mayor Bose felt that a local reporter was giving him a particularly rough time, to “get even” he went out and bought a small dog dish and had a graphics guy in the city planning department print the reporter’s name on one side and “Bad Dog” on the other.
“My intention was to run down to the Rodeo Drive-In and buy him one of his favorite hamburgers, and present it to him before council that evening,” Bose recalled. “Time ran out so all I could do was present him with the empty dish.”
It’s no secret Bose is not a big fan of Doug McCallum’s administration, probably in no small part due to McCallum having retired him from the mayor’s seat in the 1996 civic election. “This mayor and his councillors are a humorless lot,” Bose opined.
“I got to thinking, given the state of affairs we find ourselves in here in Surrey, under Doug McCallum’s leadership, it might be time for Surrey to adopt a patron saint. No more appropriate candidate than Sta Rita could be found,” he explained.
“I have proposed to some members of council, that Sta Rita would be a fine choice. I left it up to them to google Sta Rita to see why I chose her.”
Pope Leo XIII canonized Rita on May 24, 1900, and, as Bose noted, she “is known as the patron saint of impossible or lost causes.”