I actually thought Jane Gaffin, who passed away at 73 years of age on July 15, 2015, at 5:30 in the afternoon, was too ornery to just up and die on us. Anyone who ever knew Jane knows exactly what I’m talking about. Turns out I was quite wrong. She was every bit as mortal as the rest of us.
It’s just that she was one of those rare larger-than-life personalities who would, at the drop of a hat, take on any injustice that dared cross her path. And if you dared go after one of those mere humans she favoured God had best help you because you were going to need it. Jane’s tireless defense of Yukon prospectors over the decades is testament to that.
My path crossed Jane’s through her work on the Allen Carlos firearms case. The federal government, not impressed that an uppity prospector would dare tell them to get off his land, decided to make an example out of this Yukon prospector in the hopes they could put the screws to the entire bunch. What they didn’t foresee was both Allen’s determination defend his rights and Jane Gaffin’s outrage that these “mindless bureaucritters” would dare attack her friend.
She wrote article after article about Allen’s ordeal and absolutely refused to let the matter drop. Not even Crown prosecutor David McWhinnie’s libel lawsuit threat phased her. She just dared him to follow through. Needless to say, he backed down and Jane kept writing about the case.
Jane documented the entire legal ordeal Allen Carlos suffered and published it in “Justice Served Up Yukonslavia Style: The Shameful Conspiracy Behind the Allen Carlos Trilogy”, an 800-page opus that made several federal civil servants cry.
In my introduction to her book I wrote the following:
In this amazing piece of work, Jane Gaffin documents the entire conspiracy and disgusting conduct of our so-called "public servants" as they systematically tried to destroy one man's life.
Why? Because they didn't like him. Or what he said. Or how he said it. Not that anything he said was illegal. Far from it. In a free society, one has the right to freedom of speech.
This case proves what many of us have known for some time: Canada is NOT a free country. Oh sure, we have the illusion of democracy. Once every 4 or 5 years, the dictator in Ottawa lets us vote him back into power. But is that true democracy? I think not.
Read the entire manuscript and see for yourself how the government abused its power and authority to silence one man. Because they didn't like what he said. Or the way he said it. And you will be as disgusted as I am with this country.
Like thousands of other readers of her work, I’d followed Jane’s musings online but I never imagined she would become one of my closest allies in the war for our God-given rights and freedoms. Yet that’s precisely what Jane became.
Together we founded diarmani.com as an outlet for our writing. We proudly flew the Gadsden Flag and a quote from William H. Macey that we felt best embodied our spirit:
“All writers are lunatics, except for the good writers, who are maniacs.”
That was us. Two maniacs unafraid to take on anyone who dared attack our rights and freedoms. Or people we cared about.
Our motto for the site was written by Jane.
“Our poison-tipped pens are mightier than the sharpest swords.”
We used our sharp wit and our biting sarcasm in Blastogram after Blastogram (Jane’s favourite word) and publish them wherever we could. Some newspapers were happy to publish our musings, some were horrified we dared contact them at all. None could claim they didn’t know where we stood on whatever issue prompted us to write, that much is certain!
We wrote about the onslaught of Big Government into the lives of “mere citizens”, a phrase I coined to embody the contempt with which our government and its “bureaucritters” (Jane’s creation) viewed us, the good citizens of this nation.
We railed against the unlimited “discretionary power” our government grants to bureaucrats through poorly (lazily?) written legislation. We edited each other’s work and frequently bounced an article back and forth until we got it just right. Other times we would ignore each other’s editorial suggestions and if that person was me, I would hear no end of it from my writing partner.
Jane knew better and was never shy about telling me why her version was superior!
Our telephone conversations were legendary.
We didn’t talk on the phone more than a couple of times a year but those calls lasted forever. A 6-hour telephone conversation was not unheard of and, in fact, was quite common. I often would not call simply because I wasn’t prepared (emotionally or otherwise!) for the marathon that inevitably awaited a phone call with Jane.
We would cover every topic imaginable, it seemed, and many topics two or three times until we got to the root of the matter. Often calls would end only because I so desperately had to empty my bladder that I simply couldn’t stand it any longer!
Yes, I do believe Jane’s bladder was larger than mine.
So was her personality.
Jane was larger than life most days and proud of it. Just as she should be. And despite any confrontations or arguments we would have over the years, we would ultimately come back to each other, article in hand, and ask for some advice on how to make that stupid opening paragraph something worth reading. Whatever caused the rift was long forgotten or, at the very least, ignored for the greater good. It worked for the two of us and I have no doubt the same dynamic was at play with her other close friends. It’s just how Jane was and I loved her for it. Most days, anyway!
Ultimately the thing that defined Jane Gaffin for me was not her temper, her attitude, her irascible anger at me for things both real and imagined…. It was her love of people.
Jane would probably disagree with me on this but she was hopelessly devoted to the lives of the people she loved. If you’ve ever been alternately yelled at and comforted when you were down by this woman, then you were one of those she loved. If you and Jane were both too angry with one another to speak for months at a time, then you absolutely were one of those rare and precious human beings that Jane would walk over burning coals to save, if that’s what you required.
Her book "Missing in Life" on Ed Hadgkiss, the pilot who disappeared one day on a routine flight, is a compelling testament to a man she clearly held dear. Her devotion to Jim McFaull and the entire Yukon mining industry is most definitively another. Her dedication to Allen Carlos throughout his legal ordeal and her 800-page book prove beyond doubt that Jane Gaffin was loyal above all else. If you were her friend there was no road she would not walk, no bridge she would not cross, no avenue she would leave unexplored while she defended you.
Dare say it even I would be in that circle of those Jane loved and that love was most definitely returned. Did we fight? Oh my! Yes, we fought over all kinds of things. Especially when she edited anything I wrote. Like any writer my personal writing style contains one or two minor errors. A few things simply are not correct. I know it’s not correct but I’m okay with it. It’s a style thing, I tell myself. Jane, on the other hand, would scream at me for the same grammatical fault while simultaneously wonder at my intelligence level, or more specifically if I had one!
“If you’re not going to stop doing that you can just stop sending me stuff to edit. I’m sick and tired of you not doing what I told you to do and you know I’m correct!”
While that’s not a direct quote, it’s also probably not very far from the mark. And if I dared use profane language in an article she was not above telling me,
“You’re a better writer than that. Just stop it.”
Sometimes as politely as that. More often not. That was just Jane.
How do you not love someone who is so brutally honest with you and demands you be the same with her?
What would she say about this article? She’d probably tell me I was full of shit, that I’m just trying to make her look good now that she’s gone. Perhaps. I think it’s far more likely I’ve remembered her just as she was… a true Character of the North, and one that will be sorely missed by all who knew her.