Tumbler Ridge Turns A Quarter of a Century

On a windy day in picturesque Tumbler Ridge, a main event was being held. On Sunday April 9th, a crowd was gathered on the front steps of the Town Hall. Due to the wind gusts, the event was moved indoors. Originally, the plan was to move the event to the Community Centre, if needed; however by unfortunate circumstances, the power in the building was off. Just to show the tenacity that has kept this community alive, that was not going to be a deterrent. We have faced far worse.

Approximately 50 people packed into Council chambers to see the festivities, complete with visiting dignitaries, guest speakers, current Mayor and Council, as well as two songs performed by the Community Choir, directed by Dawn Wagner. Another 30 or so stood in the lobby of Town Hall, close enough to hear the speeches.

It was an informative and touching array of speeches, at one point overwhelming an obviously moved Mayor Mike Caisley. Among the list of speakers, in order of succession were: His Worship – Mike Caisley; Theresa Walsh (wife of Pat Walsh who was the first Commission of Tumbler Ridge and later served an appointment as Mayor); Frank Oberle (former Member of Parliament); South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom and Councillor Michael Hunter. Additionally there were many other dignitaries in attendance, such as Evan Saugstad, Mayor of Chetwynd; Jim Eglinksi, Mayor of Fort St. John & two of their town councilors; George Hartford, former Mayor & Councillor of Tumbler Ridge; Fred Jarvis, Mayor of Taylor; Director Wayne Heibert, Peace River District Electorial Area ?D?; and Director Tim Caton, Peace River District Electoral Area ?E?. Several members of the current Town Council and District staff were also present.

Speaker Theresa Walsh shared the long-ago story of her initial shock when her husband first told her of the planning stages of this town. She was brought to see where all of the envisioned buildings and amenities would sit and got an appreciative laugh from long-term residents when she reminisced about seeing only dirt and trees. She commended the townspeople and council on the strong spirit that prevailed to turn a potential disaster and disappearance of a viable community into a thriving, functional district. ?You have shown great sensitivity to invite me down (to Tumbler Ridge) on the 25th Anniversary?. Mrs. Walsh spent the remainder of the day participating in the ongoing activities following the birthday celebration.

Frank Oberle spoke next and shared many humourous anecdotes in a comfortable manner and paid special thanks for the visionaries of this community who planned and implemented the town we know as Tumbler Ridge. He also mentioned Don ?Bulldog? Phillips who was an early advocate for Tumbler Ridge before its existence. ?Without his indomitable spirit, this would have been a very different town?. He then added, ?Congratulations on 25, I will be back for 50.?

MLA Blair Lekstrom, a familiar guest in our town, spoke of growing up in the Peace, adding ?There is no prettier spot (than Tumbler Ridge).? He shared a story of the early days when the RCMP trailers were located just off the highway and on a political note, assured residents that he personally ?is in it for the North East.? Lekstrom brought congratulations from Premier Gordon Campbell who could not attend.

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Councillor Michael Hunter wrapped up the speeches by giving the itinerary for the remainder of the day and reminded people that this is the anniversary year, not just the day an that ongoing activities were planned. He made special mention of the anniversary Celebrations Week that begins July 29th and ends with the closing of Grizfest on August 5th.

The crowd enjoyed the official birthday cake and visiting with one another. Following that, the public was invited to the groundbreaking for the Family Park and then a tour through the PRPC site, hosted by our resident palaeontologist and curator, Rich McCrea and Northern Dino Tours supervisor Lisa Hildebrandt. Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary and Congratulations Tumbler Ridge. Filming the event was CJDC News and radio coverage by CHET Radio in Chetwynd.