We came wearing Gore-Tex and fleece.
Some of us came on mountain bikes. Some walked with dogs on leash. Some came down the mountain, out from the trails. Some of us were going to the trails, later. Others were going further, to the slopes for skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing. It is what we do on the North Shore.
The Centennial Theatre was full on Jan. 25. There were thousands outside. We gathered in silence, in the noonday sun, in the parking lot. We watched on the big screen TV, united in tribute to the big, brave man whose big heart suddenly stopped beating prematurely six days earlier. Sometimes life can be cruel.
The weather was dry. Spring-like. Yet there were intermittent tears. It began with a sombre parade up Lonsdale of uniformed men and women from around British Columbia and ended with a helicopter flight to the mountains, with his ashes. The last goodbye to Tim Jones. Mr. North Shore Rescue. The last journey of Tim Jones. “North Shore Five-Four,” as the 57-year-old was known to his teammates.
Drafted out of Simon Fraser University in 1978 by the Toronto Argonauts, a knee injury cut his pro football dreams short. As it turned out, the CFL’s loss was BCAS and SAR’s gain. He became a paramedic. A volunteer search and rescue team leader. A family man. His daughter Taylor and son Owen and their pet husky, Abbi, were with him on Mount Seymour when he suffered on Jan. 19. Grief-stricken Taylor, comforted by Owen, told the masses that her heart was broken into a million pieces.
So many things were said about Jones by those who spoke on the stage inside. Jokes were told and there were serious moments. It was said, so succinctly, that he was finally tasked to heaven for another search and rescue mission.
During his time on Earth, Jones spoke his mind. He advocated for better resources for his search and rescue team and those around the province. He warned the inexperienced or ill-equipped about the dangers that exist among the beauty and serenity of the mountains, valleys and rivers. He helped his employer, B.C. Ambulance Service, improve its disaster planning. Whether it was at his day job or rushing to help a lost hiker in the wee hours, he put himself in harm’s way and he taught others to do the same. To save lives.