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VALLEY SENIORS: Jean Stephens has a passion for photography

Stephens works part time at Abbeyfield
Jean Stephens counts photography as one of her passions. She is also known for her stained glass art. (ORLANDO DELANO PHOTO)


Special to the AV News

Jean Stephens, the only child of Pat and Norman, was born in Vancouver and moved to Port Alberni with her mother and father in the 1960s.

“We moved to the Valley when I was six years old, right on time to begin my schooling. I did it while living at Sproat Lake, so I was enrolled at the old Sproat Lake Elementary School,” Stephens recalls.

The move from Vancouver to the Alberni Valley was made because Norman’s brother was living here at the time and he soon found a job as a mailman at the main post office on Argyle Street (the building now occupied by the Salvation Army). He worked there for the next 30 years.

During her school years, Stephens loved sports and practiced a wide variety of them, including basketball, volleyball, field hockey, among others.

After finishing her schooling at ADSS, she was hired to work in the old West Coast General Hospital, right behind where Abbeyfield is located now (it was the extended care unit at that time). “I was employed to do dietary services, which was followed later on by housekeeping and laundry, a job I did until my retirement, after 40 years at the hospital,” she says.

When she turned 21, she booked a year off from work and went to Australia and Tasmania with two friends. There she travelled the countries, and also, in order to save money to return to Canada and gain experience, she worked on a farm during the apple season.

Back in Port Alberni, she resumed her work and joined sports activities. She enrolled in adult sports a for a while, including the A.V. Mixed Volleyball League and a summer ladies dragon boat team.

In addition to her regular job at the hospital, and also after her retirement, Stephens developed artistic interest in stained glass craft design, a pastime she developed in the 1980s, and photography. Many of her stained glass artifacts have been displayed and sold at craft fairs in the Valley.

“I also joined the (Echo) Sunshine Club, which had a photography club. It was a great and fun activity for me, but unfortunately the program was cancelled during the COVID pandemic and to my regret, it never reopened again.” Among her life craft interests, photography is the one she loves the most. “When I retired I was given a Nikon camera.”

Stephens is also a volunteer who has given her time to various local organizations. Currently, she is a member of the Alberni Valley Lions Club, where she helps at their annual auction event and at the traditional Lions Picnic, (before the pandemic), a well-known summer event. Throughout the years, she has been providing assistance at the Lions’ bullhead derby for kids. And during the Christmas season, she is seen volunteering her time for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive at various points in Port Alberni.

For the past two years, Stephens has been a part-time worker at Abbeyfield. “I didn’t plan to work here, but during my regular visits to my mom, who at the time was a resident here, I was asked if I was interested in a job,” she says. “And I do like it here, not only because I got to see Mom all the time, who, unfortunately is now gone since Mother’s Day last year, but because this is a nice place to work and visit.”

Today, Stephens continues her part time work at Abbeyfield by working in various areas of this seniors’ home operation while at the same time she is fulfilling her passion and hobby: photography. “With my camera at hand, I cover different events that take place here, from some and regular activities to social gatherings and special occasions. Then, I post those photographic moments on the corridor walls of the home for the residents and their visitors to see and reminisce.”

Although her interest in photography focuses on people and their activities, especially events attended by seniors, Stephens’s major field of interest is capturing nature scenes— from scenic milieu of our beautiful environment to birds and animals in general.

(Orlando Delano writes the monthly Valley Seniors column for the AV News. Do you have a senior you think we should profile? Email us at with your suggestion.)