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George Tidball dies at 83

Well-known Langley horseman and Keg restaurant founder, George Tidball, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family on Tuesday, June 3. A memorial service will be held on Sunday at Thunderbird Equestrian Centre, the facility he and his wife Dianne built.  - Byron Smith photo
Well-known Langley horseman and Keg restaurant founder, George Tidball, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family on Tuesday, June 3. A memorial service will be held on Sunday at Thunderbird Equestrian Centre, the facility he and his wife Dianne built.
— image credit: Byron Smith photo

A legend in Langley has passed away.

George Tidball, founder of Thunderbird Show Park and the Keg Steakhouse restaurants died peacefully on Tuesday, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 83.

Tidball is known to many as a visionary and a cowboy who was a driving force behind growing the equestrian industry in Langley.

With his wife Dianne by his side, Tidball is responsible for bringing the first McDonald’s Restaurant to Canada in 1967. It opened up in Richmond.

He went on to open 32 more outlets.

Tidball then came up with his idea for the Keg Steakhouse. He envisioned a casual dining spot, where people could eat good food but still wear their jeans.

With his family’s passion for horses, they planted their roots in Langley in the early 1970s.

The Keg in the Country was originally attached to the first Thunderbird equestrian centre he opened at 200 Street, now the site of Colossus theatre complex.

George is survived by his wife, Dianne and the couple’s four children, Jane, Laura, Kathy and Stephen.

Daughter Jane Tidball is president and tournament director at Thunderbird, now located at 248 Street and 72 Avenue.

Thunderbird is one of the top show parks in North America.

The Tidballs were inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame in 2009, recognizing their commitment to the equestrian sport. They were given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horse Council of B.C. in 2012.

Tidball was featured in the Times Living 60 Plus magazine in May 2013.

In that article, Tidball said he is a huge supporter of maintaining Langley as a farming community.

He has spoken publicly about developing wisely and having the government support farmers, so that land isn’t gobbled up by speculators.

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