The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award commemorates the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne as the Queen of Canada, and is given to Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their community. Recently, the award was bestowed on someone truly deserving of recognition, who many people in our community will know — Rudy Johnson.
Rudy Johnson is a true Cariboo pioneer. Our region is what it is today because of people like him.
Rudy’s family came to Canada from Sweden back in 1931, and he had trouble in school because he only spoke Swedish. The school asked him to come back when he had learned English, but Rudy never returned and so only received a primary education.
That didn’t stop him from becoming a successful entrepreneur and businessman though. After tying the knot with Helen in 1943, Rudy and his wife came to Williams Lake. Rudy worked in logging for a while and then started a series of businesses; first, a dairy farm, later, a sawmill, then a small airline, a motel business, and several bowling alleys – he even became the owner of a hot spring at Eucott Bay, west of Bella Coola. They moved to Soda Creek in 1962, when Rudy bought Bucksin Ranch. Raising six children there, the ranch kept the whole family working together for more than 30 years. Always ready to take on another big project, Rudy decided that a bridge was needed across the Fraser River. Without the help of any government funding, he found and bought an abandoned steel bridge in Alaska and had it brought to Williams Lake in pieces. With the help of an engineer and at a cost of $200,000, the bridge was erected within six months. That is just the type of person that Rudy is.
Rudy, I’m very proud to be able to call you a friend; congratulations on this well-deserved award.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.