Beachcombers’ Colonel Spranklin remembered at Molly’s Reach

Gibsons restaurant Molly’s Reach is a living museum dedicated to The Beachcombers, the hit CBC television series that aired for nearly two decades starting in the 1970s. A new photograph of one of its minor characters has been added to the collection.

Hanging on one of its walls is a black and white still from an episode starring Frank Wade, known to fans as Colonel Spranklin. Wade’s grandson John Wade, who moved to Gibsons in June, donated the photograph. “You come into this place, it’s a museum, it’s part of Canadian history,” Wade said.

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Wade presented the photograph with Coun. David Croal to restaurant owner Diane Twohig on Nov. 16. Croal worked as an art director on the show, starting in 1979. “Sadly, some of the best characters had the smallest parts,” Croal said.

Frank Wade was in his 70s when he started with The Beachcombers and performed in 23 episodes from 1972 until he retired in 1979. “He loved it, because it was his last little bit of fame,” said Wade of his grandfather’s role. “He would be up to his 80s filming.”

Spranklin lived on Keats Island, and was a “crusty old army colonel,” according to Wade. Frank Wade began acting in vaudeville in 1922 and worked as a freelance actor in radio dramas and Theatre Under the Stars in the 1960s. He was also a dog expert and appeared on The Bob Switzer Show with a poem about a different breed each week.

Twohig, who has owned Molly’s Reach since 2011, said donations of photographs or other memorabilia happen fairly regularly and are welcome. “It’s always nice to have more pictures – we have so many people coming in, so many fans still, so the more the better,” she said.

For Wade, putting the photo into the public realm also serves another purpose. “It’s his legacy, really,” said Wade of the donation. “I’m keeping whatever legacy that he gave here, keeping it alive for future generations.”

Listen to an interview with Croal and Wade on Coast Reporter Radio

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