John Acreman

John Acreman

Obit: John Acreman

"Man's man" John Acreman passes at age of 72, celebration of life announced

Torn between his family’s longtime roots in Sooke and his love of farming, John “Jake” Acreman, by his mid-years, was drawn to expand his vision. He moved first to a rolling ranch spread in Campbell River and then further afield to Didsbury, Alberta.  On May 1 John passed away at age 72.

The Acreman name came to Sooke from Newfoundland, when Benjamin Acreman brought his wife and seven sons to the West Coast in 1916. The Acreman sons, all of them tall of stature, all played roles in the development of southern Vancouver Island, with brothers Rueben, Robert and Bert living out their lives in Sooke. While Rueben married Jessie Phillips and Robert married Florence Muir, Bert wed Annie Johnson, the pert young schoolteacher who had arrived in our village from Prince George, through the route of Vancouver Normal School.

John, the only child born to Bert and Annie Acreman, took great pride in the almost legendary reputation developed by his mother, as she taught three generations of Sooke schoolchildren. She was referred to as the “mother of Sooke” when she was recognized in 1976 by the Sooke/Jordan River Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the Year.

Bert Acreman, John’s dad, was a logging truck driver and from him John developed a love for trucks and tinkering with motors, leading no doubt to establishing his own trucking company as a young man. Though too ”rough and ready” by nature to be particularly scholarly, John graduated from Milne’s Landing High School in 1958 in a class of 11.

With his tall, rangy Acreman build, John had been involved with softball and basketball in high school, and it was natural for this enthusiastic young man later on to umpire softball games at the ball park, and to coach youth hockey after the arena was built.

It was his “uncle” Ralph Strong who initiated John into a love for farming, helping him to get his feet wet, so to speak. The Strong farm was on Church Road and back in the days when Sooke was a close-knit community, your neighbours were often your extended family as well.  John went on to assist youngsters with 4H work. When he established his trucking business, with a five-ton International, one of his missions was hauling livestock, such as cattle and sheep.

He married high school sweetheart Loretta Moore, and the couple raised sons Derek and Lorne, and daughter Charlene.  By 1964 John and Loretta managed to buy 55 acres of the Strong farm on the west side of Church Road and it was on this acreage that his actual farming began. At the same time, though, his fascination continued with trucks, heavy equipment and off-road vehicles.  It was no surprise that he began driving the heavy diesel trucks operated by Butler Brothers Ready-Mix.

Farm space soon became an issue, however, and he needed more acreage to expand his cattle herd. When their Church Road land was subdivided into a housing development now called “the Ponds” the couple were able to relocate and indulge their cattle ranching dreams to their hearts’ content with a substantial ranch at Elk Meadows, north of Campbell River. Sharing John’s farming dreams, Loretta worked alongside him in full partnership.

Visiting their ranch, one would have the opportunity of watching small herds of elk roaming amongst the cattle, browsing not so much in the open fields as in the pockets of evergreen and poplar trees where the stately animals were somewhat sheltered from view. With a herd of 85, half in purebred Red Angus and half in mixed breed, John had become interested in artificial insemination as a method of stock development.  It was fascinating to listen to this man discuss his studies of scientific methods of beef ranching. Another aspect of his life on the Elk Meadows ranch was watching out for wolves, that, he explained, had a nasty trick of attacking a steer in the nose and leaving a poison behind that would sicken the animal.

A few years ago, with their sons both employed in Alberta, John and Loretta decided to move once again, to even more spacious grazing pastures at Didsbury.  A “man’s man,” John took every opportunity of chewing the fat and discussing issues with men in the ranching fraternity that he would meet at cattle auctions and on prairie road trips.

A high school classmate, Sally Bullen, recalls John as a very caring man who got his grad class friends together for their 25th anniversary reunion. When Sally came to the 75th anniversary of the Sooke Community Hall last month, she brought a message from John Acreman saying how much he wanted to attend, but lung cancer stood in the way.

John leaves Loretta, his wife of 49 years; son Derek, a hospital administrator in Mayerthorpe (Traci); granddaughter Kelli; his son Lorne, (Kathie) a heavy duty mechanic in Carstairs. At the family home in Sooke he leaves his daughter who shared his passion for farming, Charlene.  A celebration of his life will take place at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #54, Sooke at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, May 30th.

Elida Peers

Historian, Sooke Region Museum

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, development agent for cannabis supplier Seed and Stone’s, holds products from the new Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Darrel McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2018 for his first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. His newly-released memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, follows as a sequel. (Black Press Media file)
Critically acclaimed Sooke author releases new memoir

Peyakow follows as a sequel to Darrel McLeod’s first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read