Today Verna Jordan is 84 and is still keeping busy. (Photo by Verna Jordan)

‘A real flare for words’: Terrace author Verna Jordan

Seniors Corner by Diana Penner puts a spotlight on our elders

Seniors Corner by Diana Penner

Verna Jordan was born 1938 on her grandfathers’ farm in Manitoba… in her grandfathers’ bed one cold February … on her grandfathers’ birthday… The beginning of a charmed life full of odd co-incidences and adventure. Full of curiosity and an avid learner Verna was eager to try things. At 17 she took a 6-week course to become a teacher and soon after taught a class of 8 students from grade 1 to 8, in a one-room school house on Lake Winnipegosis. A challenge that Verna did not shy away from.

A year later in 1955 Verna moved to Terrace and started work as a teller for the Bank of Nova Scotia and then later at the “5 to a Dollar” (a well-loved store owned by Gerry Duffus). There she met Alex Jordan- the love of her life. She and Slim; as he was more commonly referred to, got married a year later and by 1961 had 3 kids – Calvin, Gerry and Kathie. Together they would spend their summers at Lakelse Lake so when power was installed on 1st ave. they moved out there and built a home. The kids, now older were bused into town and attended Thornhill School and it wasn’t long till word got out that their mom was a teacher. So, as the kids grew up Slim worked as a faller and Verna filled in whenever a school needed a substitute teacher.

Verna and Slim loved the bush and were drawn to the Stikine region, where their dreams to live a pioneer life could come true. In 1974 they sold their home on the lake, packed up provisions and began a journey into the past… to live the life of a frontiersman. They bought a trapline that was only accessible by boat or plane and moved deep into the woods where they built their log home some 40 miles upriver from the Stikine River Bridge. There they trapped wolves, marten, and mink taking them an hour downriver to market their furs and then 4 hours upriver to home. When they weren’t trapping; they were guiding or mining in the area. They communicated by radio and unlike most of us with our 9-digit phone numbers… Vernas’ was only 2…. 93…her radio call sign.

In 2002 their trapline and land were expropriated by the government who were developing the Stikine corridor. They were forced to move out and leave it all behind. Verna began expediting for the regions mineral exploration industry. Later on, she worked as a cook and/or 1st aid’r for the many mining and oil-patch companies that were exploring the area. Eventually she ended up working as a Jill-of-trades at a camp at Eddontenajon. Collectively Verna and Slim remained in the Stikine region for almost 3 decades.

Verna had a real flare for words and was encouraged to record her experiences by Slim’s mom Blackie McConnell (a Terrace pioneer). 1n 2003 Verna’s husband Slim passed away at their home in Dease Lake. Sometime after Verna recorded their adventures by writing her 1st book “Stikine Sojourn” which spoke of the many hardships and ordeals that came from their time foraging a life out of the bush. He story is later continued again in her 2nd book “This Journey Called Life”. Today Verna is 84 and is still keeping busy. She currently cooks at the Seniors Center in Terrace and is known by many as “Firecracker” for her spunk and quick wit.