Ruby, Sapphire, McBride… rare gem resides in town

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Most people would be familiar with his unique voice, his humble demeanour and his involvement with several clubs and organizations in the community. A smile of happiness and gratitude tells the story of how Gordon McBride was able to garner the respect of an entire community.

McBride, 91, hails from Winnipeg, to parents who immigrated from Scotland in 1925. His interest in radio and broadcasting led him to accept a job offer and move to Fort Frances in 1951.

“We were a family of six kids,” McBride said. “At that time, the custom for people like me was to go into a small town and get some radio experience and then go back to your home. But my wife and I love the town and the people and everything about it. And so we stayed.”

McBride had been the voice of CFOB for 40 years, managing the radio station and covering hockey play-by-play before finally retiring in 1996.

His broadcasting career stemmed from his interest in sports. And because there were no televisions, he would listen to the radio and follow scores and play-by-play.

McBride initially moved to town alone, before Nettie, his then girlfriend and now wife of 69 years, joined him two years later.

“She was a very good letter writer,” he said. “We corresponded by letter and telephone, and the occasional visit. We got married in 1953.”

McBride kept a very full agenda. From being a Board of Education trustee, a Lions Club member, BIA director to advocating and helping with the Salvation Army, hockey championships, and being on the public library board and the Chamber of Commerce.

As a trustee, McBride said the school board was on top of the issues and made sure that they had the best teachers qualified to be in the classroom. To this day, McBride said, the school is equipped with dedicated and professional teachers.

“I enjoyed being very busy. I was happier with a full agenda,” McBride said. “[Volunteering] is good in two ways. You’re helping the community by donating your service. And it helps your presence, your mind and your outlook to know that you’re helping somebody.”

McBride said Netty takes a lot of credit because she decided to stay home and raise Doug, Don and Debbie, their three children. They now have about 20 grandchildren and great grandchildren. The most important thing in a marriage, McBride said, is to make sure that you’re marrying the right person that you want to spend the rest of your life with and you’re going to be compatible with.

“A good wife is a good life,” McBride said. “You grow up together in a marriage. She’s a very good wife, mother, grandmother. If you’re married, your first duty is to your spouse, and then your family and then the community. If you’re not married you’re going to serve your community by volunteering for different groups.”

Compromise is also a very important aspect in a successful marriage, McBride said, because it means both partners are willing to make sacrifices for each other.

“The opposite of compromise is one person holding all the power and giving direction to the other one and that is not, in my opinion, a good marriage,” he said.

The key to enjoying your life, McBride said, is to love and enjoy the job that you are doing. He said if you work eight hours or nine hours a day doing something you enjoy, then it will reflect on what kind of character and personality you have, because it’s going to influence your life.

He said he always encouraged his children and they were also involved in the community.

“A parent has to realize that a child has to grow up so that they respect themselves and realize that they’re an important part of this world,” McBride said. “The children have to be supported by the parents.”

McBride has also been a mentor to many people, and he said resolving conflict happens by understanding people, their background and having face-to-face meetings to find the problem and come to a solution.

“If a person is upset, why are they upset? And what do we need to do to improve it?” he said, while stressing that life comes with hardships.

Gordon McBride has enjoyed a good life, with a loving wife, and support from the community. He came to the area to gain experience for his radio career, but fell in love with the town, and set down roots. He has spent decades in community service, through a variety of boards, committees and service clubs. – Merna Emara photo

“First of all, I expect that things are not always going to be 100 per cent,” McBride said. “You know that something is coming that’s going to upset you or your family and you just have to be ready for it.”

McBride has just resigned from the public library board and most people can pick out a certain year as their favourite but for McBride, each year has been just as good as the one before.

“There is no one year. It has been a good life,” McBride said. “I’m fortunate to have married a good woman and I live in a good community and people are very respectful and friendly.”