The skies ominously threatened the night before and as Ellen Sager put it, ?We?re glad the weather held because we were sure it was going to rain.? But a little rain never hurt a garden, did it?
The dedication of the Hartford Gardens took place on the morning of July 23rd, as scheduled. The lineup was impressive; Hourglass Road playing jazz music softly in the background. The Community Choir sang, the Honourable Jay Hill and Mayor Clay Iles were present and also speaking was Dr. Charles Helm.
An appreciative crowd was treated to the music of Hourglass Road, who performed many songs, but also did a rendition of ?In An English Country Garden? with words rewritten by Brian Bray to suit the geography and cleverly scripted, ?In Tumbler Hartford Gardens?.
The choir stood semi-circle with a piano nearby, to sing several songs of significance to Janet Hartford. Apparently a long time favourite of Hartford?s is ?Come Unto Me?, followed by ?Surely the Presence? and perhaps best describing the new garden, ?What a Wonderful World?.
Mayor Iles spoke following Ellen Sager. Before officially dedicating the garden and unveiling the plaque that will remain there, he spoke admirably of Hartford. He passed along a message from MLA Blair Lekstrom who despite attending to business, was apologetic for not attending and said that Janet ?means a lot to (him) and she knows that.? Mayor Iles finished with a heartfelt, ?This is a better place, and a better community because you live here.?
Mr. Hill was kind and complementary to the honoree, citing his appreciation for the volunteerism in Tumbler Ridge, especially Hartford?s and then addressed her to say, ?Mrs. Hartford has impacted virtually every part of lives.?
In his speech, Helm reflected on how he enjoyed looking out the windows of the clinic to watch the hard-working Garden Club preparing the grounds. Helm was quite patriotic as he paid homage to the both Janet and George Hartford for becoming the town?s matriarch and patriarch since the early days of Tumbler Ridge.
Ellen Sager closed the dedication speeches with an evident respect to Hartford. ?We wanted to name it Hartford Gardens because we wanted it to be a community garden and we thought that Janet represented that. And nobody could represent it like Janet could.?
The crowd was of course waiting to hear from Hartford herself and she didn?t disappoint. Clearly touched by the tributes, she said that she had prepared a lot of things to say, but felt she couldn?t quite manage that. Teary-eyed, she smiled as she said, ?I think the choir said it best: What A Wonderful World?. It was following the ceremony that she explained, ?I didn?t expect the event to be so big!? Hartford had thought it would be the Garden Club and perhaps a few others. ?I was very overwhelmed?.
A cake cutting followed and people filed by the namesake to congratulate and reminisce the early days when her own infamous gardening was a mere twinkle in her eye.
This beautiful garden project, so lovingly created in the celebration of one of Tumbler Ridge?s pioneers, Janet Hartford, was dedicated and has officially become Hartford Gardens. It is the area surrounding the green side of the caboose, facing the Health Centre. Congratulations.