“You're not kidding — this would have been perfect,” he said. “This is her style. When there's a little bit of snow and she gets to break trail early in the morning, and nobody else is out before her, this is what she liked to do.”
“Jean's Gentle Jaunt” — the trail named in memory of the 63-year-old former Rainbow District School Board director of education, who passed away from cancer Feb. 3 — isn't exactly one of the ski club's most challenging routes.
The 4.3-km trail is mostly flat, and features a loop around Bennett Lake. It was Jean's favourite trail, Hanson said. “She just liked to get in a rhythm and go non-stop for an hour,” he said.
Laurentian's varsity ski team has also purchased a bench in memory of Jean, who was a long time volunteer with the ski club. It will be placed on an outlook next to Bennett Lake.
Hanson said he and his wife have been volunteering with Laurentian Nordic for 30 years, and ramped up their involvement in their retirement.
While he was out grooming the trails, Jean would be back in the chalet, selling trail passes and outfitting patrons with rental equipment.
“That's what she liked to do — to meet the people,” Hanson said. “She always had a connection with anybody that came through the door, whether she worked with them or taught their kids.”
As a board member with the ski club, Jean also procured a $113,000 provincial grant last summer to run Laurentian Nordic's ski school for two years and to upgrade its rental equipment.
“There wasn't anything she did half-heartedly,” Hanson said. “Everything she touched was pedal to the metal. We got married almost 40 years ago. I didn't know I was getting married to a superstar.”
The trail dedication seemed like an appropriate way to honour the legacy of such a dedicated volunteer, Laurentian Nordic president Perry Sakki said.
Hanson was hard worker who raised a lot of money for the ski club, he said. She could always be counted on to get things done, Sakki said.
“She was very passionate about all the things she did,” he said.