A Tribute to John Gardner
A Tribute to John
Story By Gene Peters with Photos By Kelly Hawes, Back Country Horsemen of BC - Yarrow chapter.
Backcountry Horsemen has lost one of it’s biggest fans and most tireless workers. John Gardner, known to all and loved by many, succumbed to a heart attack while attending to his mules after a long day on the trail. He died with his boots on, doing what he loved, as all of us wish for and only the lucky few will achieve.
At 80 years of age he regularly would go out trail riding the trails alone if need be, or with company if someone, preferably female, was available. If anyone had reported a tree down, he would pack a chain saw to clear the way before the club could organize a work-bee to accomplish the task.
In the Yarrow Chapter he was always at the head table serving, at one time or another, as work-bee organizer, membership, chair or vice chair, and found usually wearing two hats at once. Currently he was taking another stint at the chair position. That not being enough he was also first to volunteer manning the Back Country Horsemen booth at the Mane Event, with his iron mule at hand to demonstrate packing skills or attending a meeting with Manning Park Trails and Recreation committee.
In the back country he was at home, knowing any trail he ever rode, and many “shortcuts” as well. He abhorred road riding which he defined as anything wider than a cow path. There are not many cow paths he has not explored, all the better to find a new “shortcut”. If a companion was game for it, or sometimes even if not, he would dispense with the convenience of any trail at all and go cross country, picking away through the trees, ravines, and creeks. No one forgets a ride like that, some chose never to chance it again, others grew to love it too!
Leading a ride in cattle country John would usually be up front, opening and closing gates in true gentleman fashion. He knew where they all were and occasionally he would call someone from the back of the pack to lead for a while, “it’s good training for your horse”. The honored person would find the real reason around the next corner. Time for a chuckle and a sip of Fireball while someone else did some work for a change.
A Celebration of life brought together his many friends and relatives from as far away as Alberta to his and Maude’s home. Along with the sorrow we shared memories of a great man and sipped some Fireball in his honour, As John would have said “We’ll feel better when the pain is gone.”
John Gardner will be laid to rest at the top of Gardner Trail as he requested, by his friends The Back Country Horsemen.