Anne Berrisford has seen much of Kitimat – she has been jogging its streets since she started running in the 1970s.
The die-hard CFL team Roughriders fan moved to Kitimat in 1966 with her ex-husband and their two sons, Les and Brian, from Regina, Saskatchewan, when the boys were one and three years old. They came to Kitimat, like so many other couples, initially to work for two years before returning “home”.
“When you have ‘little people’ you inevitably find yourself becoming involved in sports,” said Anne. “Soon we were involved in everything from hockey in the winter to lacrosse in the summer. It was a very busy household.”
Being involved in so many sports, in the early 70s Anne started submitting sports reports to the Sentinel, typed and delivered to the newspaper before she went to work in the morning the day after a sporting event.
The two years passed and the Martindale’s decided to stay, having fallen in love with Kitimat, which Anne jokingly refers to as the “Palo Alto of the north” in reference to Palo Alto’s garden city design which she said is similar to that of Kitimat, which was designed by Clarence Stein.
“The town had grown on us – the fact that it was a planned town and that we didn’t have to deal with traffic,” said Anne, who appreciated the fact that the family could go for long walks without having to cross busy roads.
She said at the time it was unusual to find retired people living in Kitimat, which had a very transient population, people leaving their jobs at Alcan to spend winter elsewhere, returning to pick up where they had left off.
“Back then it was easy for people to walk right back into the jobs they had left,” said Anne.
She said Alcan spent a lot of energy and resources into making Kitimat a place where people wanted to stay, especially when it came to funding recreational facilities in town, both indoors and outdoors.
“The one thing we didn’t lack in Kitimat was recreational facilities. Sports was very popular – when they introduced racquetball to the town, there were queues of players waiting outside Riverlodge to get in,” said Anne.
She said the various service clubs had big memberships and the community got together often to participate in activities.
“The idea was that if there was enough activity here it would keep people from leaving the town,” said Anne. “Sport and social activities played a big role in uniting the community.”
She said young people would have a lot more to keep themselves occupied if businesses in Kitimat reinvested and developed sports in the town.
“When my kids were young, they were so active that when they got home they were too tired to move,” said Anne. “The other benefit was that I always knew where they would be at all times.”
She said Alcan’s philosophy of “fit people make better workers” when she was younger is what started her off with running – she worked in the administration building at the time.
“I started running in the 70s and just never stopped after that,” said Anne, who doesn’t run in events of more than 10 kilometres.
After her divorce Anne met her current husband Lance Berrisford, and her two boys gained another brother, Lance Jr.
It was only when the three boys were grown up that she got into golf in the 90s after finding a set of new golf clubs under the Christmas tree – Lance was a keen golfer and wanted Anne to join him on the course.
She kept on running, even while playing golf, competing in the annual Kitimat half marathon which ran from the service centre to Alcan and back until KMP when the marathon was stopped due to safety concerns.
It was her running that came to the attention of then Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan, who nominated Anne to carry the torch for the 2015 Canadian Winter Games when it passed through Terrace on its journey through Canada.
“I was selected to be one of the people that carried the torch. All those years of running had led to that moment, which was a great honour for me,” said Anne. “It was a wet, sloppy day and we froze our toes.”
She ran as part of a group of runners who each ran with the torch for a kilometre.
Lately she doesn’t run as much as she used to, her time divided between reading, running, gardening and golf.
She will be competing in the 55+ games in Vernon later this year, despite her 38 handicap, which she says isn’t such an issue for golfers her age.
She doesn’t volunteer as much as she used to, because she and Lance spend three months a year in Arizona during the winter.
Her sons, who married Kitimat girls, have all left Kitimat, living in Victoria, Vancouver and London, Ontario.