Ambulance brings man from B.C. to Saskatchewan to fulfil dying wish

A family living in B.C. paid $6,500 to have their father transported from Victoria to Moose Jaw, Sask., in an ambulance to fulfil his last wish.

2,000-kilometre trip from Victoria to Moose Jaw satisfies Jim Jeffery's desire to be home

Ninety-five-year-old Jim Jeffery's final wish was to die at home near Moose Jaw, Sask. After an epic journey via ambulance from Victoria, B.C., he got his wish. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)

To what length would you go to fulfil a loved one's final wish?

For one family, checking off the final item of their father's bucket list meant a 2,000-kilometre road trip from Victoria, B.C., to Saskatchewan, so Jim Jeffery, 95, could be laid to rest at his old farmhouse.

Family members were on hand in B.C. as Jim Jeffery began his 2,000-kilometre journey. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)

Jim worked at his farm near Moose Jaw, Sask., for years before following his wife to Victoria. While on the farm, he built a road and a fence and he registered his own cemetery, where he planned to be buried someday.

Jim spent the last part of this life in a seniors home in Victoria, so his entire plan hinged on getting to Moose Jaw.

It was a big moment when Jim Jeffery crossed the border into Saskatchewan. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)

"He was very determined — he was able to communicate with us at the end that that was why he was hanging on, to get him back home, and so that's where it all started," his daughter, Denise Jeffery, told CBC Radio's BlueSky.

So the family decided to transport their fragile father in an ambulance.

He hung on, and we were able to get him home.- Denise Jeffery

Starting Aug. 26, Denise and her father boarded a 2 p.m. CST ferry from Victoria. They arrived in Moose Jaw the next day at around 6:30 p.m. CST.

"He did his part with staying alive, so we were happy with that," Denise said, adding at this point her father hadn't eaten for 17 days.

Along the way, the ambulance ride quickly turned into a convoy of family members.

Jim Jeffery returns to his farmhouse in Saskatchewan. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)

"We had two more carloads of people join us in Vancouver, filled with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so we had a trail ride on our way out to the Prairies," Denise said.

The paramedics tending to her father's needs during the ride were very courteous and became part of the journey, Denise added.

It was an emotional day as Jim Jeffery, 95, returned to his Moose Jaw-area home. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)

"They told me 'we don't usually get emotionally involved but our lives are changed forever,'" Denise said.

In the final stretch to the ranch a huge "welcome home" sign greeted the convoy, and Jim knew exactly where he was: home.

"There were a few close friends that were there," Denise said. "The next day people had heard about it so they all came out to the ranch, got to see dad, so he was really happy to spend extra time with people who haven't seen him in a while."

Once Jeffery was settled in, his loved ones toasted his accomplishment. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)

Jim passed away on Aug. 29.

A week later, Denise is holding on to the notion that her father gave his family the greatest gift: just enough time to fulfil his last wish.

"He hung on, and we were able to get him home," she said.

Denise said the trip ended up costing $6,500, but her father had enough money left to cover the expense. 

Jim Jeffery died on Aug. 29. A horse-drawn cart took him to the cemetery. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)
Pall bearers took Jim Jeffery to his final resting place at a cemetery near Moose Jaw, Sask. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)
Jim Jeffery has taken his final trail drive and is at rest at the Ranch Cemetery near Moose Jaw, Sask. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)
Jim Jeffery was trail boss one more time in 1993. Now the old cowboy has hung up his hat. (Submitted by Cheryle Watson)

With files from CBC Radio's BlueSky