In fall of 1998 and spring '99, when the construction business took a bit of a dive (I was a general contractor at the time) I took up driving a logging truck. It was what is called a "hay rack"; a fixed axle tridem trailer with stakes.
I picked up and dropped off logs of all species from the BC coast at Port Moody to Revelstoke, Valemont, Grand Forks and almost every mill in between. I would drop off chipping logs at Cache Creek and pick up oversize to deliver to a larger chipping operation at Chilliwack. The Kenworth I was driving had a large sleeper and I would go almost non-stop.
While driving through Sicamous on my way to Cache Creek with another load from Revelstoke, I picked up a hitchhiker at the 97A junction to Kelowna. I seldom picked up anyone, I was always in too much of a hurry. Introductions happened, his name was Gabriel and he was headed to Kamloops, no sweat, I have to stop and fuel up at the card lock there anyways.
If anyone knows me I like to talk. We shared a great exchange of thoughts and ideas. I spoke about how disappointed I was that I couldn’t get people engaged; that people simply took the easy way out and liked to complain but didn’t stand up for themselves.
We enjoyed a very philosophical discussion on people and society. The drive was a little over two hours. I pulled into the card lock at the top of the hill leaving Kamloops at Pacific Way. He said he was good from there. I shook his hand as he was getting out of the passenger side and he looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Never give up on your fellow man, Merv."
I said something back, maybe silly, I can’t really remember. What I do remember is I walked around the truck to say something else to him and he was gone. I looked over the banks, up and down the roads, nowhere.
This has stuck with me since then. Never give up on your fellow man.
I have spent my life dedicating my energies to making things better. Not just for me but for everyone around me. I sometimes get very disappointed. When I would fight until my last breath for what is right, sometimes an associate would say, ah, we may as well just forget it, we're not going to win it anyways. I'd shake my head in bewilderment. Give up? Not me. I always fight to the bitter end. If you needed help I never avoided you.
So, I arrived in Terrace in January 2006 and began reporting in earnest in May of that year. I was astounded by the lack of reality being shared here. The media was a once a week affair of stuff that happened well over a week ago. And most of it was completely one sided and a lot of it was half truths. Many issues never even got covered.
I was like a kid in a candy store. All this nonsense, blatant misinformation and biased coverage provided me an opportunity to really shine.
To say the "Apple Cart" was knocked over is an understatement. I up ended that thing such that many were dripping in apple sauce.
I admire everyone in Terrace. The Rotary Club, the Kinsmen, Lions, Chamber, Legion and many more freely contribute their energy and time to make Terrace a better place. I do the same. I have worked tirelessly to provide a service for the community of Terrace; to assist everyone to become more involved and engaged.
In January 2007, one year after I arrived, when I started the Terrace Daily Website News Service, there was no online medium at all. When the May 27th , 2007 slide happened on Highway 16 at Legate Creek, I was sent and I posted the photos See the story here
Immediately my audience increased. Suddenly you didn’t have to wait until next week to discover the highway was closed.
Then the flood of 2007 came. I warned about it first with a story titled "Flood Flood Flood, are you ready?"
We followed this with all the river level changes, pictures and the damage.
In the following years every media in Terrace became internet savvy. Astral Media began putting their radio online and we linked to their broadcasts. CFNR was already on line and we had linked to them as well as CBC.
In fact we provided links to every single organization and community group we could find in Terrace. Even the Terrace Standard changed to daily updates, in fact they have changed numerous times in an attempt to keep up.
Honestly, I fell in love with Terrace. Anything I could do to bring this small town forward, out of the dark ages of the narrow prevailing perspective I encountered, I was taking as a personal challenge.
I became a regular at the Terrace City Hall, the Regional District Board Rooms, the Skeena Hotel, the Legion, Beasley's lounge at the Terrace Inn, the Northern, the Race Tracks, the River Kings, well . . . everything.
And then someone named Tom posted a small ad on the free classifieds. I had provided a free service (it is all still free) for classified ads, jobs, notices etc. We even put up ads for the fund raisers, Kinsmen etc. free of charge. Want to register for Soccer or skating . . . free!
Tom's ad was asking if anyone was interested in challenging for the 2009 Hockeyville bid. Well we all know where that went. Huge success. Once again I devoted my newspaper and website to promote everything Terrace and the drive for Hockeyville 2009.
I cannot quit. I am driven. I have another vision for Terrace and it is much bigger than Hockeyville. Unifying all the peoples here, First Nations and non First Nations, uniting all the communities from Telegraph Creek and Dease Lake to Klemtu and Haida Gwaii to Smithers, is the central feature.
The common bond is the land and the rivers. We are all, everyone of us, depending on the health of the waters for our survival. This is the foundation. From this we can stand united. From this we can prosper. The world will be watching. We can present ourselves as a community of strength, willing to engage in industry and mining with responsibility.
Today I am humbled. So many people know me. I now have a family here and I am very proud. Five years ago I was left alone, no family, no relatives. From that humble beginning I am running to lead this beautiful community to a future of untold possibilities.
My new family is Tsimshian and Nisga'a, but my bigger family is all the surrounding communities and the community of Terrace. It is impossible to walk down the street or go into a business without someone saying "Hi Merv".
And the very best of all? Gabriel was right. Was he a vision?, was it truly Gabriel himself. I have often wondered. He was emphatic; "Never give up on your fellow man."
Personally I feel I can work with every single one of those running for Council and for Mayor. If I am unsuccessful, who thinks I will quit?
I will continue to promote this region and protect it. I will do this with my last breath. If I have to work on the outside or the inside does not really make any difference. I will always be your servant.
And that is all I have to say.
George Littles Grandson, Bill, attempts to trim Merv's beard on Remembrance Day 2011
Mr. Beard: Two questions.