Although Prince Albert knew Charlie Squires as the Jam Man, the 93-year-old is being remembered for much more than his sweet spreads.
Squires, a resident of the Northcote Manor, passed away early Wednesday afternoon. He’s well known for making jams and jellies from scratch, sourcing his own fruit, and donating the proceeds from his sales to a variety of local charities.
Karen McLeod witnessed the days Squires would spend hours out in the bush, pails of berries hanging from his belt. Squires, a longtime family friend, would constantly be picking fruits and vegetables from their land in Buckland.
What really sticks with her, though, is a promise Squires made to her dad.
“In 2012, my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer,” explained McLeod. “Dad asked Charlie ‘Please take care of Lorene,’ my mom, which he did and he did very well. He was her dancing partner; he took her to all of her doctor’s appointments, helped garden.”
Lorene is clinically blind and lost part of her arm in a farming accident at the age of 84. He’d help her with everyday errands, of course—because that was normal for Squires—but he also called her every morning and frequently joined her for supper.
Squires knew all of Lorene’s five children, 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. He attended every birthday party, said McLeod.
“He’s like my second dad. I love and appreciate the little bugger although he could be quite stubborn,” she said with a laugh.
“He’s helped us all by giving us so much time to do the things that we need to get done and he loved the job of taking care of my mom.”
Squires was a milkman when he was younger. They used horses for delivery in those days, which he would shoe and train for the carts himself. He was also a carpenter, a skating instructor and helped set up the Prince Albert Shopper, according to McLeod.
He always helped others get their groceries or drive them wherever they needed to be.
“Whenever there was help needed, Charlie was there,” said McLeod.
He had a big heart, but he also had quite the personality to go with it.
“He thought he was funny,” said McLeod. “He had old man jokes.”
In a 2014 interview with CTV News, for example, he said he’s too old to chase the ladies.
“Oh, yes. I’d have to use my cane to catch them,” said Squires.
In 2017, Squires tried to help a woman who claimed she was looking for her grandmother in the Northcote Manour. Instead, he was robbed.
In an interview with the Daily Herald after the incident, Squires said she stole his wallet and left him with a black eyes and a few cuts. He was sure that people across the city would recognize his face should they find his identification.
“Everybody knows me,” he said. “I’m Charlie the Jam Man.”
Squires donated the money he made from his jam and jellies to the Prince Albert Legion, the Paddockwood Legion, the Rose Garden Hospice, KidSport and Seniors Transportation, to name a few.
Every single year, though, he donated to Kinsmen TeleMiracle. The thousands of dollars he gave over the years helped with medical equipment and travel costs for those with special needs.
Marcus Abrametz of the Prince Albert Kinsmen Club said he approached them over a decade ago.
When Abrametz met Squires roughly five years ago, his first impression was that he was joyful, witty and had an “undying enthusiasm to serve his community.”
“He was outgoing, always willing to tell a joke. He had a very friendly demeanour and even up until the last month of his life, he was really outgoing, gregarious and enthusiastic. He always had this enthusiasm this entire life,” he said.
“He was never discouraged. He always pulled himself up by his boot straps and kept on giving even when he was faced with dire circumstances.”
Brad Wall, the premier at the time, even gave Squires a shoutout on Twitter in 2014, thanking him for all of the years he’s made jam to benefit Saskatchewan charities.