Timothy Edmund Jones was born on May 30, 1956, in Edmonton, the youngest of three children. His father, Owen, was an attorney and his mother, Mary, a homemaker. Tim was a happy-go-lucky child who loved books and animals. He sometimes came home with stray cats on his shoulder and begged his mom to keep them.
The family moved to North Vancouver in 1962, settling in a home at the bottom of Grouse Mountain. Tim would explore logging trails, canyons and creeks with his brother, Owen Jr. Inheriting his dad’s Welsh talent for music, he started playing the piano at the age of six. When he fell in love with football in high school, however, he’d show up to piano lessons with his hands beaten up from playing centre. His teacher, horrified at the sight of the bruised fingers, gave Tim an ultimatum: piano or football. “And that was the end of his musical career,” laughs his sister, Susan.
Football became Tim’s passion. He played at Simon Fraser University on a sports scholarship. After graduating, he was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in 1978, but a knee injury in preseason ended his professional football career. At 24, Tim came back to Vancouver. Soon after, his father died. He took the news hard, and stayed home with his mom to offer support.
Tim earned his teaching degree at SFU. He became a substitute phys. ed. and geography teacher, and helped coach high school football teams. He also started working part-time with the BC Ambulance Service. He sometimes spent nights sleeping at the station so he wouldn’t be late for a call. “He never looked at himself as anything but part of a team,” Susan says. Tim started studying medical books, learning as much as he could about pre-hospital care and was soon working full-time as a paramedic in the Downtown Eastside.
Tim also loved a good party. For New Year’s Eve in 1981, he went on a ski trip with friends to Mount Baker in Washington. There, he met Lindsay Dougans, a registered nurse at the Vancouver General Hospital. Before ringing in the New Year, Tim was twirling her above his head on the dance floor. They married in 1984 and had their first child, Curtis, two years later. A daughter, Taylor, was born in 1989.
While raising a young family and working night shifts, Tim completed several advanced training certi?cations. He became an advanced life-support paramedic and, in 1990, was posted as the unit chief in North Vancouver. “If someone fell ill or hurt themselves, the first call was my dad and the second call was 911,” Curtis says. Around that time, Tim received a phone call regarding a North Shore search-and-rescue team member who fell into a 42-m-deep crevasse. Tim was helicoptered in to help save him, but the man died later in hospital. That experience pushed Tim to do more and he was soon volunteering 50 hours a week with North Shore Rescue on top of his regular work.
The little free time he had Tim spent with his family, skiing with Taylor or hiking with Curtis. But he was always on alert in case he got paged to help with a search and rescue. His vehicles had a short lifespan because of all the heavy rescue gear stored inside, Curtis says. “He couldn’t bear the idea of getting called to help and not being able to help.”
Tim taught his children about first aid and started taking them to visit the rescue base, which was, at the time, just a small trailer with gear piled to the roof. Recognizing the facilities were inadequate, Tim started fundraising so that North Shore Rescue could purchase a larger command truck. The search-and-rescue operations were often dangerous, sometimes requiring Tim to jump out of a helicopter in bad weather. His colleagues nicknamed him “Knuckles” for his ability to power through any rescue.
As Curtis and Taylor grew older, they started volunteering with North Shore Rescue, too. Tim also got another companion in 2003, a husky named Abbi, who was always at his side. “No matter where my dad went, there was husky hair somewhere,” Curtis says.
On Jan. 19, 2014, Tim was at the North Shore Rescue team cabin on Mount Seymour, thanking community partners for helping with the organization. As he left the cabin, walking alongside his daughter and another team member, Tim started to have difficulty breathing and collapsed of a heart attack. For 45 minutes, Taylor and others tried to resuscitate Tim, to no avail. He was 57.