A newsroom reflects on former North Shore Rescue leader Tim Jones

Most people in these parts know the late Tim Jones as the legendary team leader of North Shore Rescue, but here at the North Shore News we got to see a side of him that wasn’t readily apparent to the general public.

One of the most important parts of search and rescue work is educating the public so that there will be less unprepared wanderers in need of rescuing. Early on in his career, Jones realized that developing strong ties to local media outlets was the best way to get the message out to the masses.

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The proof is in the numbers. A rudimentary search of “Tim Jones” in the North Shore News online story archives reveals an astonishing 557 stories containing his name. And that archive only goes back to 2001, covering roughly half of his career with North Shore Rescue. You’d be hard-pressed to find any name, aside perhaps from those belonging to reporters themselves, that appears in our paper more than his over our 50-year history.

Jones was always keen to give blow-by-blow accounts of NSR’s rescues to the North Shore News. Often we’d call him up to learn about the happy resolution of one rescue only to be told that he was back out on some treacherous cliff taking part in the next rescue. He’d always get back to us, though, with an account of what happened and a tip for what the public could learn from it. Jones got so good at the drill that he could give reporters everything they needed, colourful quotes and all, without even talking to us.

“It got to the point that Tim could call and leave a voicemail, anticipating all of the questions I would ask about a rescue and leave enough information that I could write a complete story without having to call him back, including the always important public safety lesson learned,” says North Shore News reporter Brent Richter.

Every reporter from the Tim Jones era has a story to tell about him. I recall calling him up with some brilliant idea about an exposé about out-of-bounds skiers.

“Nah, you don’t want to write that,” he answered. “Here’s your story….”

He proceeded to describe in great detail some of the dangers around the growing trend of backcountry showshoeing, and he was right: his story was 1,000 times better than the one I was cooking up and earned me my first Ma Murray Newspaper award. It was all Tim. 

Jones died of a heart attack in 2014 at the age of 57. The public memorial and send-off confirmed his status as North Shore royalty. He was a very important figure on the North Shore, and a treasured source for the North Shore News.

“Tim was one of the few people whose phone numbers I had memorized, we did so many NSR stories,” says Richter. “And I have, so far, refused to take his name and number off my contact list.”

This story was included in our 50th Anniversary Issue, published Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Click here for more stories from this special edition of the North Shore News.

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