John Charles Tresierra, a pioneer of the Cariboo and a descendant of early Cariboo pioneers, passed away at Cariboo Memorial Hospital on Sept. 24, 2006 at the age of 89.
His heritage was rich, deep and lengthy in the Cariboo, New Spain and Spain. He was born in Ashcroft, B.C. on Aug. 25, 1917 to Charles Ernest Tresierra and Harriet Ethel Brown.
His late father, Charles, was the son of Pablo Tresierra, whose father was Jose Maria Tresierra. Jose was a descendant of Don Alonzo Tresierra y Cano, (a lettered deputy for His Majesty the king of Spain, interim political Governor of Sonora and Sinaloa. Alonzo was born in Chiclana, Spain in the 1700s.)
John’s paternal grandmother was Hortense Isnardy, daughter of Amadee Isnardy, an early settler of Chimney Creek. His mother, Harriet Brown was a granddaughter of S.L.G. Brown, called “Charlie”. (He started as a packer. He went on to ranch and build a grist millat Dog Creek.
One of his sons, James, distinguished himself as a writer, sculling champion.) Among John’s other relatives was Benjamin Franklin “Doc” English, an early owner of Deer Park Ranch. “Doc” English Gulch is named after him and he was well-known for horse racing. Pablo Mountain, Brown Lake, English Road, San Jose River and Tresierra Street are some of the places named after family members.
When members of this huge family were ranchers, they owned the land from Chimney Creek to the Fraser River Bridge. There were some noted horsemen in this family – the late Otis English and Charles Isnardy, Hortense Isnardy’s brother, to name a few. In the early Williams Lake Stampedes, John’s father, Charles, participated.
John loved Cariboo history, the Cariboo itself and could talk for hours about this if you got him started. His beloved grandsons, Roberto and Stuart McLellan, loved to get him started and absorbed much of this – apparently John could dance, party and work with the best of them in his youth!
John loved to talk about his early mentors: the Rev. Basil Resker who took him under his wing, the late Matt Latin, his first boss on the PGE railway, his beloved grandmother, Josephine Brown, the late Charles Moon, his employer in John’s cowboy days, Gordon Bruce, his boss at Lignum Ltd. and Cliff McIntosh of Lignum’s who taught him to be a planerman.
He never forgot these people and the debt he truly felt he owed them for helping him in his way of life – John tried to pass this on to others. He was appreciative and surprised by those who took the time to thank him.
John worked at many jobs, places – the PGE railway for five years, cowboying at the Moon Ranch, at the Bullion mine, owned a dry cleaning shop in Wells in its heyday, cut wood with the late Phil Coxon in the 40s for the townspeople, was one of the first employees at Lignum’s for nearly 20 years, started as a box car loader, ending his career there as a planer superintendent.
After Lignum’s he went over to P & T Mills where he lost his right hand in a mill accident. He ended there as a watchman. After this he worked at home while his wife worked. He said this was his hardest job as he had 11 children in his family. Once his wife came home from work and counted 28 pairs of jeans hanging on the outdoor clothesline, using a wringer washer. His wife did not ask him what he had done that day – she knew better!
One of the great legacies John left his family was his grit – his family never, ever considered him handicapped even if he had a hook on his right hand and two fingers on his left hand. They just assumed he could do everything that they could do, and he did! His large pile of worn-out work hooks, shovel, tool handles he left speak loudly of his hard work and determination. He did most of the maintenance, landscaping, car repairs, etc. until his 80s. One of his special joys was when he and his wife purchased their home in Wildwood. They cleared land, did landscaping and gardened. John loved to get projects going, which mainly meant major work. As he said the words “Let’s get a project going!” some family members would shudder and disappear.
John was a very devoted family man. His life revolved around his wife and family. He doted on his grandchildren, great-grandchildren. John added a special richness and joy to their lives. His generosity and patience were legendary. The family treasures their memories and times with him and the large, noisy, fun-filled special occasions. John was very much a part of the birthday parties, Christmas gatherings, etc.
At the age of 88, he was still playing hide and seek with his grandson, Matthew, and going out with the little ones for treats.
In the last years, John suffered much will ill health but faced it with dignity and courage. He rarely complained but when he did, it was a sign of major pain. He was genuinely appreciative of all who tried to make his last days comfortable.
John is survived by his wife, Mary, daughters, Ramona Galisky (Milt), Harriet Yochman (Joe), Valerie Ehrenberg (Klaus), Lynnette (Mark), Ava Webb (William), Victoria McLellan (Gary), Dawn (Roger) and Charmaine, sons, Robert (Susan), Tony and Sean (Joanne). He also leaves 22 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and numerous relatives and friends. He is survived by his sisters: Rose Lehmann, Pearl Roberts (Andy), Winona Gillogly and his brothers Wayne (Carole) and Alvin. His pallbearers were: Stuart, Roberto and Gary McLellan, Wade and Trent Yochman and Sean Tresierra. The touching eulogy was given by his son, Sean.
The family would like to especially thank Father Tony Ackerman, Dr. York and Dr. Neufeld, the nurses who cared for him so kindly and with such compassion and love, the Home Care workers, the cleaning, food staff at the hospital, the Catholic Women’s League for their lovely tea, the Sacred Heart Church choir, all the relatives, friends who gave their love, food, flowers and prayers.
The family would also like to thank Michael and Hope of Compassionate Care Funerals for their perfect arrangements during this sad event.