One of Prince Albert’s kindest souls was honoured at a pandemic-friendly mini gala Thursday.
The Prince Albert Senior’s Advocacy Centre held a stripped-down version of its annual seniors’ gala, where one local older adult is honoured for the work they do giving back to the community.
A select group of guests met, distanced, to pay tribute to the late Charlie Squires, affectionately known as the Jam Man.
Squires passed last May but was well-known around Prince Albert for his jam sales. Squires would hand-make the jams and jellies in his Northcote Manor apartment and sell them at the Gateway Mall or at Canadian Tire and donate all proceeds to not-for-profit causes.
Squires supported organizations such as the Prince Albert Legion, Paddockwood Legion, Rose Garden Hospice, KidSport and Seniors’ Transportation. Each year, he also donated to TeleMiracle, raising thousands to help with medical equipment and travel costs for those with special needs.
Squires was also remembered for the years he spent looking after his late friend’s wife, Lorene. He helped her with everyday errands, but also called her every morning and frequently joined her for supper. He knew all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and attended every birthday party.
“He’s like my second dad,” Lorene’s daughter Karen McLeod said last year following Squires’ passing.
“I love and appreciate the little bugger, although he could be quite stubborn. 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.”
Lorene was invited to Thursday’s event but was unable to attend.
Squires was known for his sense of humour too. He would often stop by the Daily Herald building to drop off posters to advertise his sales and was quick with a joke. Even in a 2014 CTV News piece played Thursday, Squires joked about being too old to chase the ladies because he’d need his cane to catch them.
That piece was done to report on Squires’ retirement.
But the Jam Man never really did retire. He kept making jams for friends, family and fundraisers.
Jerry Paskiw, the owner and publisher of the Prince Albert Shopper, told those at the event Thursday that Squires was a friend and mentor.
“He was well-liked, he remembered people and he gave to the last moment,” Paskiw said.
“I’d like to thank the community for recognizing Charlie. He was a very giving man.”
Paskiw said watching the video and slideshow tribute to squires warmed his heart.
“It’s about remembering the legacies of people,” he said.
‘We don’t want to forget them.”
Paskiw was joined by another man who counts Squires as a mentor — Mayor Greg Dionne.
“He encouraged me 19 years ago to run for council. He worked on every one of my campaigns and brought me lots of votes,” Dionne said.
Dionne recalled that when he first went into politics, Squires invited him to a barbecue at Northcote Manor. Dionne showed up with his nomination form, and Squires collected enough signatures before Dionne managed to get through his first burger.
“Charlie was an honest, honourable man, and he will be missed,” Dionne said.
“At Northcote Manor, I called him their guardian. He stood up for them and fought for their rights. He got lots of new equipment for them.”
Dionne said that every Christmas, he’d join Squires at 6:30 a.m. and they’d make a breakfast for all the shut-in residents who weren’t able to go out.
“He certainly will be missed.”
Hannelore Fryters, who helped to organize Thursday’s event, explained why Squires was chosen.
“He was so impassioned in what he had done in this town for everybody,” she said.
The Seniors Advocacy Centre long had Charlie in their sights as someone who would be deserving of an award. When Squires passed in May, they decided to give him the award posthumously.
Fryters described Squires as “a pillar of the City of Prince Albert.
“He worked to help others in need. Making jam was his daily task. Telemiracle, hospice, Kinsmen Club and many others — Charlie is a light that shines over Prince Albert.
“Charlie went … to live with the angels. Thank you Charlie.”