Big Gap Centennial

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This great-looking outfit travelled from St. Paul, Alta., to join in the festivities. From left: Bernard Michaud, Jace Stover, Wayne Horner, Normand Michaud, and Charles Jackson. On the stagecoach, 12-year-old Thomas “Buckwheat” Dort, brakeman 79-year-old Otto Siemer and skinner Josh Michaud. Photo by Norbert Stoll

Many events come and go, but the Big Gap Stampede lived on in legend; so much so that the folks of the area decided to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Organized by the volunteers of the East Central Housing Society, they planned the route and entertainment, sent out invitations and recruited John Gattey from the Cross Bar Ranch to be the Trail Boss.

Ranchers and friends travelled by horseback, stagecoach and wagon to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Big Gap Stampede to the “end of the trail” at Gooseberry Lake.

Photographer Norbert Stoll made the journey from Fort St. John in northern British Columbia, and was pleased to hitch a ride on the stagecoach.

“One of my travelling companions was Honourary Trail Boss Gladys Radefeldt, an area pioneer who helped organize the ride,” says Norbert.

“She gave me a first-person narrative of the entire area, including where she went to school and how she got to school,” he continued. “I will cherish that conversation forever. A few photo opportunities were lost, but what I learned about the land and its people along this journey is a claim no one else can make that centennial day of the (first) Big Gap Ranchers Roundup.”

Will they hold another one? Sure — the next centennial ride will be in July 2116. Mark your calendars…

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