Meet the Business Community

A Little Pharmaceutical Background

After the mines closed down Tumbler Ridge didn?t have pharmacist. Al Kopeck, who owned the local pharmacy, was in need of one to stay open. Mike Ortynsky and Charissa Tonnesen came and volunteered their time, until a permanent pharmacist could be found. Unfortunately no one ever came. Canadian law prevented the pharmacy from operating without a permanent pharmacist. In spring of 2001, Mike and Charissa formed a company and purchased the pharmacy from Al.

Not only do they make our medication, their kindness always puts a smile on many faces. This team is motivated to beat the odds. Charissa and Mike ventured into a life changing partnership almost five years ago, when they bought the pharmacy here in Tumbler Ridge. At first it wasn?t easy, (usually never is) but they worked hard at it, and now feel that they have accomplished a great success. This is the second pharmacy that this duo owns; the other is in Fort St. John.

Charissa is a graduate from UBC, where she earned her Bachelor of Science and Pharmacy. She started her career off by getting out of the city, and heading to a more peaceful atmosphere. She found her sanctuary in the north. Aside from working you could find Charissa singing in the local choir, or letting her creative juices flow on her acoustic guitar. One of her favorite moments is when she faced her fear of heights in Mexico. She climbed a pyramid, rode a zip line, and went parasailing. Future plans for Charissa, is to keep working hard and making her dreams come true.

Mike has been married to Catherine for 25 years!! They have two children, Mary and David and two grandchildren, Liam and Miya. He said that he feels very lucky to have such a loving wife, because she gave up so much of her career to allow him to pursue his. Mike says his biggest accomplishments in life are his two pharmacies, and most important being a great husband, dad and grandpa. He is looking forward to next year when the whole family is taking off on a vacation together. They are not sure where they are going, but know that it will be memorable!! Mike has been a pharmacist for 26 years, and says being his own boss has been very rewarding.

Charissa and Mike love their job because they get to make people feel better. They plan on doing renovations in the future, making the pharmacy a little more street savvy.


Stay healthy by being active, drinking adequate water and getting plenty of rest.