Barriere teamsters travel to Powell River for centenarian

Senior Bob Stutt celebrates 102nd birthday with carriage ride

SPECIAL GIFT: Powell River resident Bob Stutt (right front) recently celebrated his 102nd birthday with a ride in a wagon pulled by his own horses

SPECIAL GIFT: Powell River resident Bob Stutt (right front) recently celebrated his 102nd birthday with a ride in a wagon pulled by his own horses

By David Brindle / Powell River Peak

When Bob Stutt stepped out of the door at Willingdon Creek Village on Saturday, Dec. 10, he said, “That’s a good-looking team.”

He was referring to a team of horses hitched to a wagon, with his son, Dave Stutt, holding the reins. They were there for a special occasion: Bob’s 102nd birthday, which he would officially celebrate on Dec. 20.

According to Fred Stutt, it was his brother Dave’s idea to bring the horses down from Barriere, B.C., where he lives, so their dad could see them and take a ride up front in the buckboard for his birthday.

Because he lives in Powell River, it was Fred’s job to coordinate everything.

“He’s been looking for his horses ever since he moved into Willingdon,” said Fred. “So my brother said he’d bring them down.”

According to Bob’s grandson, Mark Ralko (a Barriere resident as well), the plan started to come together about eight months ago.

“It’s pretty awesome to be able to have the means to bring it together,” said Ralko.

Fred said his father moved into Willingdon Creek a year ago and, almost every morning, he would ask the staff who was taking care of the horses. According to Fred, the staff would tell him the horses were fine.

“Well, now they’re here,” he said.

The team drew a lot of attention for the special occasion, and Bob did not ride alone. Family and many friends came to wish him well and some Willingdon Creek residents braved the wintery day to ride in the back of the wagon, sitting on hay bales.

According to Ralko, Bob is originally from Wapella, Saskatchewan, one of those prairie towns where not much is left. He arrived in Powell River in 1939.

“Less than four months after he started at the mill he was shipped overseas,” said Ralko. “He had two years of training in England, then went to North Africa and up through Italy. He had met my grandma, Freda, before he left and married her when he came back.”

The couple had four children and there are now a total of 23 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren across four generations.

According to Ralko, his grandfather ran horse teams on the prairie and he and his uncle have carried on the tradition.

“It runs in the family,” he said.

Ralko’s uncle Dave got into horses when he still lived in Powell River. He has been doing it for 20 or 30 years and once ran 30 horses at one time. Ralko has been at it for eight years.

When the ride was over, Bob said, “It was pretty good,” and Ralko added that his grandfather was happy in the moment.

Article courtesy of: Powell River Peak,  http://www.prpeak.com