Ken and Nancy Jacobson

September 2018

Ken and Nancy Jacobson like to joke that the first time they met, they were paired together because of their height.
It was January of 1966 and Ken had tagged along with his buddy Jim Sargent (of Sargent & Son Funeral Chapel) when Jim went to pick up Nancy’s roommate for a night out.
“There were three of us who were good friends back then: Sandy Shaw the baker, Jim Sargent the undertaker, and Ken Jacobson the budding dentist,” recalls Ken. “The three of us were engaged in the perpetual pursuit of pleasure.”
When Nancy met Ken, he was on her doorstep with Jim and another friend.
“Jim showed up at our door with two guys, and since I was the shortest of the girls in the house, I thought I’d obviously end up going with Ken, who was the shortest guy,” says Nancy with a laugh.
Nancy had come to Thunder Bay from Southern Ontario. She was born in Toronto but grew up near Stratford and London. She had been teaching in Toronto and had wanted to get out of the big city to see more of Ontario.
She applied to teach in a few different places, one being Pass Lake. The school in Pass Lake appealed to Nancy because she wanted to continue to further her education and Lakehead University was a good option for her, and because in Pass Lake she would be teaching in the same kind of one-room school that she had taught in previously.
Ken, who was born in Port Arthur, took Engineering at Lakehead in 1957, the first year that the University held classes at its current and permanent Oliver Road location. He dabbled in a few different disciplines and moved on to King’s Business College and to the University of Toronto. He ultimately decided he wanted to study dentistry.
After receiving his Doctor of Dental Surgery from U of T, Ken returned to Thunder Bay and held his own dental practice for many years before he retired.
“I think we hit it off the night we met,” says Ken. “I asked Nancy if she’d ever been skiing before and she said she had, and we set a date for the following week to go to Loch Lomond.”
“So we went skiing, and at one point I saw a blur go whizzing by me straight into the bush. It turned out to be Nancy. ‘I thought you’d been skiing before,’ I said to her. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt.”
Ken and Nancy had several home-cooked dinner dates after that, and Ken discovered that Nancy is a fantastic cook.
“Not that that was a deciding factor, but we just seemed to hit it off and continued on with our courtship. That summer I introduced Nancy to golf and we had a lot of fun doing that together.”
They were married 11 months later, in December of 1966 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church on Farrand Street. Their reception followed at the Moose Hall. This December marks their 52nd wedding anniversary.
“In our early years of marriage, I fell even more in love with Nancy because she spoiled me just like my mother had. She gave me a lot of TLC,” Ken tells me.
Ken’s other love has always been music. He is well-known in town for his impressive talents as a fiddler and his active involvement in the music community. He competed in fiddle contests for close to twenty years with Nancy as his accompanist on the piano.
He continues to play in three different musical groups: a bluegrass group called Gibson, Martin, and I (that has been playing together for 30 years), a dance group called the Kenny Konnection, and the Pelimanni Orchestra, the local Finnish orchestra.
Nancy says that though she likes Toronto, she and Ken never considered moving out of Thunder Bay.
“The very first day I drove into the city, it was a cold, miserable day. I was driving down Cumberland Street and thinking to myself, ‘Oh gosh, what am I getting myself into?’ But it’s changed so much since 1965.”
They spent many, many summers at their camp on One Island Lake. Ken’s father had bought the property in 1934.
“It was our second home in the summers,” says Nancy. They are now in the process of passing down the camp to their oldest son and his family. They also have a daughter who has just returned to Thunder Bay after years away.
“It’s a great city, and it’s really been amazing to see it grow so much throughout the years.”

Cassandra Blair has a Masters of Arts in English Literature and is a regular contributor to Bayview.

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