Spirit of the West Gallops Into Town

Hugh and Billie McLennan arrived in Tumbler Ridge on Thursday, July 27th and were greeted by members of the Grizzly Valley Saddle Club. Hired by the Tumbler Ridge Musical Ride committee to announce for the RCMP Musical Ride on the 29th, this was a first for the radio broadcaster who has been gracing the airwaves for over 20 years.

He is the voice of the radio program ?Spirit of the west? which has been carried on 15 stations across the country and in the United States; with CJDC in Dawson Creek carrying it the longest. Along with his wife of 43 years (Billie), McLennan also brought his horse female Mustang, ?Lucky?. See story on Lucky the Wonder Horse also in this edition of Tumbler Ridge News.

His radio career began back in Portage LaPrairie, Manitoba two decades before at the radio station CFRY. He was always fascinated with radio and upon learning of an opening at the radio station; he rode a bus from Edmonton to Portage LaPrairie, audition tape in hand and got the job.

It paid $130.00 a month working 6 to 7 days a week and he spent 13 years in broadcast.. This cowboy also dreamed of building up a herd of cows and training horses and left radio in 1973 to pursue that destiny. He started ?The Spirit of the West? in 1992 and says, ?It?s been a labor of love ever since.? He credits his wife Billie and he for the idea of Spirit of the West, a long time before it came into play.

McLennan is also touted for his excellence in horsemanship, training and breaking and agreed to do a horsemanship clinic at the Grizzly Valley Saddle Club on the Sunday after the Musical Ride.

Quite enamored with Tumbler Ridge, McLennan and his wife spent part of their down time riding the trails in the area with Gary Doonan and Larry White as guides. McLennan said, ?We loved Tumbler Ridge, and met so many wonderful folks and will always have fond memories of the great time we had. TR has a lot to offer and it occurred to us that there are so many recreational riders who live in areas of the province where they can only ride their horses in an arena or on a road.

If they could somehow find out about the thousands of acres of un-spoiled wilderness, the miles of trails where there are no fences, no gates to open, the great faculties at the Saddle Club, they would fall in love with TR and bring their horses and families to stay.?

McLennan served as announcer for the RCMP Musical Ride for the first time, right here in Tumbler Ridge and for trivia buffs ? his preparation for the script of facts and fill-ins throughout the show was shown to him just seconds before his start. He has a quick wit, a quick thought and a ready smile and his entertainment throughout the show was good-natured fun. McLennan and his wife reside in Pinantan Lake, BC and his website is www.hugh-mclennan.com.