Don and Lynn Hanson

Don and Lynn Hanson

THEY CALL THE CARIBOO HOME: Don and Lynn Hanson grow a team and other things

If you’ve been to a Williams Lake Stampeders hockey game in the past 16 years, Lynn and Don Hanson are to thank for the entertainment.

If you’ve been to a Williams Lake Stampeders hockey game in the past 16 years, Lynn and Don Hanson are to thank for the entertainment.

The Williams Lake couple, who moved to the area in 1959 from Prince George, helped bring the historic team back from the ashes in 1996 more than 10 years after it folded from the Central Interior Hockey League.

They’ve thanklessly volunteered their services in the community for years. And aside from that, they keep an immaculate, award-winning yard, tending to an endless array of flowers, vegetables and fruit trees. When they do have spare time Don enjoys fishing and hunting and Lynn takes to her hobbies — cake decorating, baking, scrapbooking and cooking.

“We were already married when we came to Williams Lake,” Don recalled. “I worked out of Prince George at Rose’s Ice Cream and the fellow that was down here in Williams Lake, he had a bad accident in Quesnel in the truck. I used to run from Prince George to Mackenzie and up to Fort St. James and the guy asked me if I’d come down here for a couple of months until he came back, but he never did and I ended up staying.”

The next year Lynn moved down to Williams Lake, they bought a little house and, as Don explained, “things progressed from there.”

“We already had two daughters when we moved here — Cindy and Debra,” Lynn said, noting Cindy was born in 1959 and Debra was born in 1960. “Cindy’s in Kamloops and Debra lives in Terrace now.”

Lynn and Don are now grandparents to four, and great grandparents to seven.

Don said the house they built and live in now stands adjacent to the one they bought when they arrived in Williams Lake.

“The little house that’s there, we were in that,” he said. “Right next door there was a big piece of property, one acre, so we built the bigger house on the other side and eventually we got in there in 1969.”

Eventually Rose’s Ice Cream was bought out by Dairyland, with Don continuing to work for the company as a manager and truck driver.

Meanwhile Lynn worked at Glendale elementary for 10 years, before beginning a career with the Child Development Centre, where she stayed for 30 years.

Around the late 1970s a lack of competitive hockey began what would, eventually, become a mainstay in the community for many years to follow.

Don and Lynn found themselves managing the then defunct Williams Lake Stampeders hockey club, scouring the community for sponsors, digging up players and attempting to get the team back on its feet.

“There was a little bit of hockey here,” Don recalled. “They folded up in about 1976 originally. Willie Dubray, he started to get it back together again in about 1996, and then in 1997 I ended up taking it over, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Lynn also became involved right from the beginning looking after the secretarial duties for the club. For the past five seasons she’s been the secretary for the Central Interior Hockey League.

“It was hard to start up,” Don said. “We had absolutely no money, we never had uniforms, we never had anything — everything dissipated that 10 years the team was out of the league. A couple of us put in a substantial amount of money and, it took a few years, but we eventually got it back and it’s kind of progressed ever since.”

In 2009 the Stampeders won their first Coy Cop provincial senior men’s hockey championship, distinguishing themselves as the best in the province.

“Now, financially we’re in pretty good shape, our crowds keep getting better and better and we’re hoping it keeps going — that’s the big thing now,” Don said.

Once the spring sun begins to shine and the ice on the hockey rink gets lifted, the couple shifts focus to their other love — gardening.

“We have an acre of land and it’s all in flowers — perennials and annuals — and we got a greenhouse this year,” Lynn said.

Lynn grows flowers, vegetables of all varieties and some fruit, while Don makes sure the grass is neatly kept.

“I’ve always enjoyed it,” Lynn said. “They’ve had garden tours we’ve been a part of and then we’ve done some garden competitions in the community and we’ve won that for most unique gardens. A couple of the areas are decorated with teapots and teacups and things like that in the garden. Then we’ve got another area — it’s all birds and bird houses, so it’s kind of different.

“My daughter and I used to have a basket shop in the basement, too. But now she’s moved so we don’t do that anymore but it was fun.”

They also find time twice a year to travel to Prince Rupert to halibut fish.

“Our daughter has a 60-foot yacht and we travel up there twice a year,” Lynn said. “It’s great.”

The Williams Lake Stampeders home opener against the Kitimat Ice Demons is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cariboo Memorial Complex.