Peter Bernacki standing in front of his home in Columbia Park. (Josh Piercey/Revelstoke Review)

Peter Bernacki standing in front of his home in Columbia Park. (Josh Piercey/Revelstoke Review)

Constructing a community: Putting the spotlight on one of Revelstoke’s influential builders

Peter Bernacki has been living and building in Revelstoke for over 50 years

If you’ve spent any time at all in Revelstoke, chances are you’ve heard the name Peter Bernacki. He is part of a generation of builders responsible for a long list of contributions to the community, and is to this day an influential figure in Revelstoke culture.

Driving around the community in his truck you get the sense of his impact on the local landscape just from the waves and warm smiles he receives. Bernacki has been working harder than most for decades and loves every minute of it, rarely seen without a smile on his face.

Bernacki grew up in rural Manitoba with his parents, seven brothers and one sister. When he was 17-years-old, he moved to Revelstoke to join his brothers who were already builders in the community. He got a job working hard labour at the Mica Dam project.

Peter Bernacki as a young man. (Contributed by Peter Bernacki)

Peter Bernacki as a young man. (Contributed by Peter Bernacki)

Bernacki learned the subtleties of carpentry and contracting through that early work with his brothers. He said that his brother George was a hard man to work for, but that his skill and leadership taught him many lessons as a young man.

“He’d pound it into your head,” laughed Bernacki. “He was a great teacher.”

Bernacki and his brothers had their hands in plenty of builds around Revelstoke, especially in Columbia Park which barely existed when he first arrived. “The difference form then til now is amazing,” said Bernacki.

According to Bernacki, in those times, the 1970’s, the brothers could hardly unload houses for $27,000. “There was no demand,” he said.

Peter Bernacki on a build site in Columbia Park as a youth. (Contributed by Peter Bernacki)

Peter Bernacki on a build site in Columbia Park as a youth. (Contributed by Peter Bernacki)

Eventually he became a contractor himself and started his own company: Nu-Trend Construction. Although he’s into his seventies now, Bernacki still spends most days driving around from site-to-site and contributing to the community.

Over the years, he’s done countless jobs for Canadian Pacific Railway and Parks Canada. Bernacki said that he laid most of the foundation found at Downie Timber.

Bernacki said that there are plenty of people he thanks for mentoring him to the success he enjoyed over the course of his career. One name that stands out in conversation with Bernacki is Rocco Zappone, a longtime Revelstoke resident who’s list of accomplishments goes on and on.

“What I learned from him is integrity,” said Bernacki with a smile. He said Zappone, like many other leaders in the community at the time, handled himself in an exemplary way, and wasn’t building just to get paid: he took care of his crew and kept them going through the winters.

Zappone was the superintendent on the Revelstoke Forum build.

According to Peter Bernacki, this house was the first ‘skinny house’ in Revelstoke, and has the distinct look signature to all of his builds. (Josh Piercey/Revelstoke Review)

According to Peter Bernacki, this house was the first ‘skinny house’ in Revelstoke, and has the distinct look signature to all of his builds. (Josh Piercey/Revelstoke Review)

Bernacki added that the city has maintained a part of that integrity through local companies that continue to operate in those old school ways even though prices now change from week-to-week.

“We have some great people here, good corporate citizens,” said Bernacki. “You have to be fair, honest, and trustworthy.”

All these years later, Bernacki’s builds still have a unique, distinct design. He employs flat roofs with a modern look. “Some people still like a lot of peaks, which I’m against,” said Bernacki. He added that he tries to be more then a builder, and wants to build projects that are appealing to the eye.

Bernacki said that going forward, restrictions have to be lifted for local builders in order to make affordable housing a possibility in Revelstoke. “Now, with everyone involved, it’s just about impossible to have affordable housing,” said Bernacki.

Peter Bernacki has always sported the ‘cowboy’ look, and can be seen sporting his signature hat in this photo from 1962. (Contributed by Peter Bernacki)

Peter Bernacki has always sported the ‘cowboy’ look, and can be seen sporting his signature hat in this photo from 1962. (Contributed by Peter Bernacki)

While on a drive around the community in his old pick-up truck, he was pointing out all the projects he worked on. Your head is on a swivel in awe of the contribution he’s made to the local housing market.

Between work, smiles, and visits to people in the community, Bernacki is a well-known angler, and has been fishing the waters surrounding Revelstoke for 40 years. If you meet him on the street, there’s a good chance that he’ll invite you out on the water for a day of fishing and laughing.

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@josh_piercey
josh.piercey@revelstokereview.com

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