A cake fit for 100 candles. Photo submitted

Jack Tibbles celebrates 100 years

Jack is the first centurion in the Stuart Nechako Manor, and Vanderhoof’s only living centurion as well

On August 8, Jack Tibbles celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends.

The birthday celebration was held at the Stuart Nechako Manor.

Gabriela Sholty gave a slideshow presentation showing photos of “Jack-of-all-trades” through the years. Rick Romain and Ouellette Peter provided music entertainment.

The Sholty’s attended from Fort Fraser and Kamloops, John Tibbles and his wife Jean from Hixon, and Jack’s granddaughter Maureen Ann Townsend from Garden Bay, Sunshine Coast.

The Sholty family wish to thank: the wonderful staff at the Manor for all the help and snacks provided on his 100th birthday; Rick Romain and Ouellette Peter for the music; Four Rivers Co-op for the cake; the Lieutenant Governor of B.C. on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, the Governor General, Prime Minister of Canada and Mayor of Vanderhoof for their birthday wishes.

The story of Julius “Jack” Tibbles

Jim and Sarah Tibbles married on January 24, 1903. They moved from Idaho with their three oldest children Thelma, Helen and Lizzie and Joe Spehar, arriving in Quesnel in 1911. They travelled the journey from Ashcroft by horse and wagon. From Quesnel they proceeded to Nazko, 85 km west of Quesnel, and then on to the Blackwater River, finishing at the Trout Lake Indian Village some 80 km south of Revelstoke. The Tibbles family and Joe Spehar spent the first winter at the Blackwater place, which became Joe’s first home and store.

In 1912 Jim, Sarah and family moved back to Quesnel, stopping about halfway between Quesnel and Nazko where they homesteaded near a lake, now called Tibbles Lake. Jim supported his family, Sarah and three girls, by trapping and working ranches in the Chilcotin country. His was the first trapline registered in 1913 in the Tibbles Lake area. They had four more children Fred, Raymond, Jack who was the second youngest, and then Elsie.

The beginning years were difficult. The family lived in a small dirt-roofed and dirt-floored cabin on their homestead on Tibbles Lake where Jack was born on August 8, 1917. Older brother Raymond died in the flu epidemic of 1919. Jack is the only surviving member of that generation.

Jack once shared that he remembered having only moose meat and turnips to eat for all of one winter. A huge forest fire of 1926 almost burned them out. And if someone was sick they either got better or died as there was no doctor, and it was a long, two day trip to Quesnel to find one.

Jack grew up in Tibbles Lake area, and was married on November 29, 1937 to Hazel Rawlings. Jack and Hazel homesteaded at a place on Bluestone Creek, about 30 km closer to Quesnel from Tibbles Lake, where they lived until the war began in September 1939. They had three children, Joyce in 1940, John in 1943, and Margaret in 1946.

At the outbreak of the war, Jack volunteered for service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He initially joined the Rocky Mountain Rangers, but later transferred to the Provost Corp., where he served in the Military Police for the duration of the war. During this time in the MP, he was scheduled to go overseas in early 1943, but prior to sailing day was involved in a motorcycle accident and broke his ankle. He later learned the ship in which he was to embark was torpedoed with the loss of everyone on board. It seems that he was being looked after. He continued military service until he was discharged in 1946.

Upon discharge, Jack worked in Alberta for the Park Service, cutting ties for the railroad, in several open pit mines and as fire boss monitoring safety in underground coal mines, checking for dangerous gases. Then they moved back to B.C. to several small towns and villages, where Jack worked mostly at logging operations. In September 1955, the family arrived back at the small community around Tibbles Lake area. Just prior to retirement, Jack went to work for the RCMP, as an auxiliary and a guard. He was indeed a “Jack of all trades”.

His first wife, Hazel, passed away in 1975. Jack, John and Margaret are the only surviving members of Jack’s original family. Jack remarried in 1977 to Marcelle Sholty of Vanderhoof where they still reside.

Jack worked part time at the Plateau sawmill and helped RCMP in Fort St. James, then when Marcelle retired they moved to Salmon Arm to raise milk goats and sheep. Hackberry picking was a hobby as well as an obsession, literally picking hundreds of pounds during the season.

Family traditions included happy hours spent playing cards, celebrating holidays and birthdays.

Jack used to go bottle picking with his grandchildren Robert, Murray, Tony and Kaili Sholty, a great adventure in the summers as well as picking cherries and plums.

When Jack needed extended care, they moved back to Vanderhoof to stay closer to family. With some loss of cognitive abilities, he required full-time care. Jack has lived in Stuart Nechako Manor for 10 years since it opened in 2007. Sadly, Jack’s daughter Joyce passed away in 2012. Pam and Steve Sholty live closeby and visit Jack on a regular basis. Now it’s 2017 already. Happy 100th birthday Jack!

– submitted


Jack Tibbles holding a fossil circa 1960. Photo submitted.

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