Tom is “Mr. Brewing” in Prince George
Tom Leboe was born in McBride, the seventh of the seven children of Alvin and Mattie Leboe, in 1947. His parents were both school teachers and taught in Dome Creek and Crescent Spur.
He was raised in Loos, a community approximately 40 miles west of McBride, situated by the Canadian National Railway line near Crescent Spur and the confluence of the Morkill River and the Fraser River. The original settlers of Loos were Tom's grandparents Ole Olson Leboe of Vagland, Norway and his wife Anna Maria. Their sons started Leboe Lumber Company in 1917 and over the years the sawmill was destroyed by fire and then rebuilt several times. The Leboe family will soon celebrate 100 years of history in Loos. The post office in Loos officially opened in March of 1916 and closed in 1951 after most of the residents moved to Crescent Spur.
At the age of 22, Tom happened to be in Prince George visiting some friends. His friend proudly advised him that he had found a job for him at the Tartan Brewery. Tom said, "I wasn't looking for work but I took the job on a whim. I only knew the sawmill business but I decided to try out the brewery business. I started at the bottom of the labour pool back in 1969 and by 1991 I was the plant manager. Tartan Brewery became Uncle Ben's Brewery and then finally the company became Pacific Western Brewery.
"In the beginning I thought the production line was pretty high speed and automated compared to the logging industry. What I thought was high speed back then is nothing compared to what it is now. Now the production line moves like a bullet producing 300 bottles or 500 cans a minute which is not fast compared to the really big breweries. I had a great career and after 43 years in the business I retired in 2012."
Tom married Jean (MacEachern) in 1979. Jean, the eldest of four children and originally from Wilkie, Saskatchewan, was working as a nurse in Vanderhoof when she met Tom. She continued working on and off in the home nursing care profession for many years.
They have one son Christopher (Alison) and two daughters Murdine (Murphy) and Gabrielle (Levi). They have two grandchildren Ayden and Jaelynn and one more on the way. Over a period of 30 years, they had 63 foster children, mostly with special needs, pass through their lives. Tom and Jean agree that fostering the children was both rewarding and heartbreaking at times but in the end they were all a real blessing and a special gift from God.
Tom is now semi-retired and is self-employed as a brewing consultant and Jean is still caring for yet another special foster child.
Tom and Jean were recipients of the 2006 British Columbia Community Achievement Award recognizing their efforts and achievements in their volunteerism with many organizations and in particular the various levels of foster parent associations. Their award was presented in a formal presentation ceremony at Government House in Victoria by the Honourable Iona Campagnolo.
Their community volunteerism also includes Cub Scout leadership, Rotary and many years with the hospital auxiliary just to name a few.
Tom summed it all up by saying, "It was Jean, my beautiful wife, who should get all the credit. It was Jean who has the heart of gold and the empathy that was needed on a daily basis to work with all the foster children. She really did a good job and she is still doing it."