By Diana Penner
A match made in heaven? For sure … if you live on an acreage and enjoy cows, chickens and sheep, but Jean Hamer hated cows and husband Ted hated sheep. This resulted in range wars on the family farm of 80 acres…one of the largest homesteaded spreads in all of Terrace.
Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in spring of 1930, Jean Little was one of half a dozen children. Her dad worked as a train engineer for Canadian Pacific Railway, thus enabling the family to make very affordable trips by train, so her mom would haul the kids off to visit Cranberry Portage or Flin Flon.
At 13, Jean’s mom passed away and with her dad busy working away from home Jean was sent to Three-Hills, Alberta to go a boarding school. At 15 she started work in Regina Beach as an au pair.
The vocational school in Moose Jaw taught girls typing, not something Jean had any interest in, so at 16 she went to Medicine Hat to work as a nurse’s aid. At 17, Jean was enjoying this field of work so much she moved to Calgary to join their military hospital team. Jean’s oldest sister Gertie had moved to Prince Rupert, a busy, little coastal town in B.C. so, for a change in scenery, Jean moved there, too. It is here that she meets Ted and here begins her ongoing argument with Ted, who insists he met Jean at a card game and dance at the Odd Fellows Hall, while Jean recalls their first date to be a dance at the armory building…now the Legion.
They were married in 1949. Jean was 19. They had their first child in Prince Rupert and then moved to a two-room cabin on Eby St. in Terrace. Ted found a nice five-acre chunk of land right down the road in the Horseshoe, so he jacked up the house and moved it over there, building additions as the kids kept coming.
Jean had nine children that scampered about, amongst the cows, goats, pigs, hens, dogs and horses on that beautiful piece of land lined by spruce and lilac trees framing driveway of the farm.
Eighteen years later the city is encroaching, taxes are climbing and it feels like it’s time for something else. Jean, like many moms, is now very involved in the kids’ lives.
She is active with Girl Guides and saddle club and organizes many horse shows for Terrace and is involved in the construction of the 4H Barn at the fairgrounds. In the middle of all this she starts looking after foster kids, something she will do for the next two decades.
It’s 1974 and Ted is logging for Clair Giggy and George Little. He applies for crown land just north of town. When he isn’t working for a living, he’s clearing land on his newly acquired 40 acres.
Ted mills the timber from the land to put in their own power poles, and builds a long road into their spread, where they build a large barn for all the critters and a house for the family.
Ted acquires another 40 acres adjacent to their first piece and the property flourishes under Jean and Ted’s care.
In 2009, at 84, Ted passes away, leaving a legacy of stories shared within his family’s zeal for life.
Jean is now 92 and still lives on the homestead with her two cats, three dogs, four pigs and 30 chickens.
She has supper with her youngest son every day and her family are over often.
Jean is still independent – cooking, canning, growing, knitting, reading and beating her grandkids in scrabble matches.
She says she’s a bit slower now but she’s still just as feisty as ever.