Thirty years: Glenda Radies remembers the grand opening

Trent Ernst, editor

 

There might be a few people around town who remember Glenda Radies these days, but not many.  But back in the day, Radies was one of the most recognizable women around town, if by dint of the fact that she was one of only ones:“I was probably one of the first women in Tumbler Ridge,” says Radies. “We moved in before the houses were ready. We were the third or fourth family in town. There was no roads when I first arrived. I had only been up for two or three days and I went to work with Cigas which was out near where the stables are now. There was so much mud. I remember coming out of the gate from Cigas, and I got stuck in the mud and I could not get out. A policeman from Dawson saw me and he pulled me out. I can’t remember the policeman’s name, but he used to come around quite often. He would call me ‘Stuck’. If it wasn’t for him, I might still be stuck there.”

Somewhere along the line, Radies picked up the job of organizing the grand opening celebration. “I just knew everybody,” she says. “As people started moving in I got to know quite a few of them. I worked on the paper. I had a couple businesses of my own. I got to know everyone there and was wrapped up in the politics of the town.”

But, despite being the spearhead for organizing the event, Radies was far from alone in the matter. “At the time, I think there were about 300 or so people in town. We didn’t have very many people, but nearly everybody pitched in. I went from door to door to get people to help with the opening.” The focus of the event was to celebrate the town and Northern BC. “We did the opening all on our own. We didn’t import anything. Because the coal was being loaded in Prince Rupert, we had salmon…that sort of thing.”

On the big day, Radies says, she was so busy with organizing it, she barely remembers it. “It was all a daze,” she says. “I was so busy and so nervous. I was trying to get everything perfect. I was just amazed at the people who came out to help.

One of the biggest issues was feeding all the dignitaries. “We had one lady who was in charge of the catering, she had 25 or 30 people helping her. We had to use the little kitchen they had in the school to cook everything. It was quite an ordeal.”

The events took place at the newly-finished Recreation Centre, and while she remembers the local performers, she doesn’t remember anything about Dave Broadfoot, the headliner of the evening.

After the festivities, a group of politicians and other dignitaries hopped on the train to Prince George, leaving the folks from Tumbler to put the finishing touches on the town. “I think we really put on a good event with what we had to work with,” says Radies. “I think everybody else felt the same way. I think everyone was proud. We accomplished so much with so little. Everybody just jumped right in. I don’t think there was anybody who was left out. I was pretty proud of it myself. We accomplished quite a bit with what we had.”

Radies stayed in town with her husband, the general formant out at Quintette until 1987. They moved to Kelowna for a few years, then on to Quesnel to help start a mine there; they are still there. But Radies will always remember her time here. “Tumbler Ridge will always have a piece of my heart. It was all so new to everyone to see a town born out of nothing.”