I first met Jeremy Jones when he was a rascally 10-year-old kid living up at Pancake Bay. His dad, George Jones, was the general manager of Pancake Bay Provincial Park, and the convenor of Batchawana’s Recreation Committee.
George had asked me if I could coach the local hockey team of 10-12 year old boys. We played in the now long gone north shore league of Heyden, Goulais, Searchmont and Batchawana.
And so it was that Jeremy showed up at the first practice with an old set of leather goalie pads, a goalie stick, and a facemask, and indicated that he was playing net. He was the only kid with the required equipment so the job was his.
Fast forward 35 years and Jeremy is now a licensed mechanic, a manager with the Ferrovial Road Maintenance Services Company, and a volunteer for the Batchawana Fire and Rescue Team. In fact, he is the team’s Fire Chief.
This is a role that is so suited to Jeremy. His father performed this admirable role too, and Jeremy learned much from his father’s way. Jeremy has grown to become the caretaker of the Lake Superior north highway. The renowned Hwy 17 North.
He has seen a lot in his many years of service to the safety and well being of locals and travellers along this sometimes treacherous route. Jeremy has cut countless traffic accident victims out of their seatbelts as they hung upside down in rolled over vehicles. Jeremy has used the jaws of life to pry open transport truck wreckage so that the lone driver can get out of the twisted mess of metal and wire before a fuel fire erupted , and Jeremy has doused flames on fires at tragic accident scenes where victims were pinned helplessly inside.
Needless to say, you can imagine the trauma that rescuers experienced during those kinds of rescues.
Jeremy Jones has voluntarily and selflessly risked his life so that others could continue living theirs.
Jeremy is also to be commended for the work he does as highway fixer. My business location calls Jeremy quite regularly to come on over and break into a vehicle that has the keys locked inside it. Jeremy is the best rogue out there when it comes to breaking and entering a locked vehicle. As the vehicle owner frantically pleads for help, Jeremy just calmly takes out his tools and gets to work opening the locked car door with minimal or no damage to the car.
Jeremy often puts his mechanical skills to work to help stranded motorists who have something wrong with their car or truck. In many cases he accepts no money for his help or very minimal payment. Two summers ago, we had a situation whereby a group of all girl motor bikers had a major breakdown on one of their bikes. The front tire was pooched and no longer ridable. Jeremy was called into action. He removed the tire, worked with another biker enthusiast to get a tire ordered from Sudbury. Another good man had to actually drive to Sudbury to get the bikers their tire, and brought it back to Batchawana Bay. Jeremy then put the tire back on the bike and did all the necessary connecting work to make it spin, and the crew was on its way. This gang has since become very good friends with Jeremy, and consider him a true gentleman of the highway. As a Harley rider himself, Jeremy has been invited down to ride, and enjoy the hospitality of their hometowns in southern Ontario. He has graciously obliged, and will most likely make it a yearly visit.
Jeremy is instrumental in our Fire and Rescue Team continuing its lifesaving work, and he and his crew of volunteers work tirelessly to find funds to make it all happen. Their back to back weekend fish fry event every summer up at Pancake Park is well known up and down the highway as a great event for a great cause. It is always wildly successful because folks all know how important Jeremy and his fellow volunteer firefighters are to the wellbeing of our shoreline.
Thank you so much for your efforts to keep us all safe Jeremy. You and your team are good people. I hope you and the girls enjoy a joyous, peaceful and Merry Christmas.
Your old coach – Frank O’Connor
Frank is a former teacher and local businessman who owns and operates Voyageur Lodge and Cookhouse on Batchewana Bay with his wife Gail.