|Jolene and Lorne Jackson
talk about the beautiful barrier reef that is San Pedro's main
attraction, but who are the people that take them to see it? Tour guides
and boat captains work together to make visits to Belize's marine parks
memorable for those who arrive from far away destinations. Then there are
those whose job it is to ensure that tourists are safe in the water while
diving or snorkeling. Jolene and Lorne Jackson of Grumpy and Happy Dive
Instruction are just these kinds of people.
Jolene Jackson was born to Carole Ann and Clayton Bowman (a
military man) at a Canadian Forces base in Marville, France. When she was
three years old, her father was transferred to Ottawa, Canada, a trip
that was only the beginning of her travels. Jolene's father was
transferred to different bases every two or three years in cities across
Canada. The family finally settled in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada
when she was 12 years old.
At the very young age of 13, Jolene went to work at
her first job, as a strawberry picker during the summer vacation. At 16,
she worked as a chambermaid in Mission, B.C. for a few months before
being hired as a secretary at the Cultus Lake Park Tourism Bureau in the
heart of the Fraser Valley. Jolene worked at the park for three and
a half years before she met her future husband, Lorne Jackson.
Although Lorne had lived most of his life
in Toronto, Canada, he had also traveled. He was born in Toronto, and
moved across the ocean to the island of Bermuda at the age of 12. Three
months after his 17th
birthday, he returned to Canada and joined the army. The following
eight years of his tour in the army were spent as a weapons specialist.
Lorne was attached to the United Nations Force in the Middle East and
served for a period of time in the Golan Heights, on the Israeli/Syrian
border. He described it as an "interesting" place to be although there
were some harrowing experiences. When Lorne returned to Canada he was
transferred to Chilliwack, B.C., where he met his bride to be,
The couple "courted" for two
years and then married in March of
1981. A year later, Lorne left the military to join the Canadian
Penitentiary Service, where he worked in a maximum-security prison in
Aggasiz, B.C. In the meantime, Jolene had left her job at the tourist
bureau, and was hired by the Chilliwack General Hospital as a purchasing
clerk, where she worked for the next year.
During this time, Lorne decided that the job at the
penitentiary was not suited to him, and that he would be much happier
working as a police officer. The couple moved back to Bermuda, where
Lorne was trained to be a policeman, and served for the next two years.
Jolene found work with a company called Bermuda Office Services, a
secretarial employment agency. After two years, Jolene and Lorne decided
to return to Canada. Lorne applied and was accepted to the Winnipeg
Police Department in Manitoba where all three of their children (Lorie,
Amy, and Nicolas) were born.
Lorne served on several police forces in Canada such
as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Winnipeg City Police, in
addition to the Atikokan and Elliot Lake Police Departments, for the next
14 years. During that time, he spent long hours studying after work, and
earned two certificates in Advanced Police Studies, from Waterloo
University. Following that, Lorne attended Laurentian University and
obtained a third certificate in Law and Justice.
Following Lorne's service in Elliot Lake he was
transferred to the Ontario Police College to teach fellow police officers
law, and investigation techniques, particularly in relation to child
abuse, sexual offenses, and discrimination, (areas in which he had
special training). He also taught law in relation to various criminal
offenses, as well as officer safety. With all three children in school,
Jolene took a job as a cashier in a local grocery store and also drove a
school bus. Once they returned to Elliot Lake, Jolene continued to drive
a school bus, which seemed to be the appropriate line of work for a
mother who still wanted to spend time with her children.
It was at this point in the couple's lives that they
decided to take a chance, and try something new. Jolene and Lorne were
both people-oriented and wanted to travel, so they decided to become dive
instructors and move to the destination of their choice. Thus, the couple
enrolled at the Professional Diving School of America in Florida,USA and
graduated as PADI instructors.
Jolene and Lorne's choice of places to move was based on
research gathered over the course of a year. One of the couple's
requirements was that English must be the country's first language in
order for their children to continue their high school education. After
careful consideration and much information provided by a new E-mail
friend in San Pedro, Jolene and Lorne decided that Belize was the best
location to start a new life.
Immediately after becoming dive instructors, Jolene
and Lorne took a trip to investigate Belize. Impressed with the island,
the couple decided to purchase a piece of land in San Pedro, based on its
beauty, safety and great business potential. Following a short trip back
to Canada, Lorne, Jolene and their children returned to their new home on
In Belize, the couple first purchased a diving boat,
and Jolene named it Grumpy and Happy,
which later became their business name and slogan. Jolene thought
that the motto for their dive instruction should be "Grumpy before
diving, Happy after." Contrary to popular local belief, the boat was not
named after the personalities of its owners, yet the longstanding joke is
what tourists always ask, "Who is Grumpy and who is
Two years later, Jolene and Lorne constructed their
own large, private, 10-foot deep pool for instructional purposes and
began to teach very small groups of people to dive, and provide
occasional snorkelling trips. According to Lorne, "By teaching small
classes we find that we have a lot more time to give people on a private
level and have a lot more fun doing it.
We have had fun and made tons of friends in the process."
Although the couple loves to take vacations back to Canada,
they also choose to relax in Belize. Jolene enjoys playing piano and
cross-stitching while Lorne is happy to read novels and tinker about the
house. Jolene says that her husband "is a gifted carpenter and
This happy couple is delighted to share their experiences
with others, in addition to showing visitors the wonderful undersea
world. It is through the skills of people like Jolene and Lorne Jackson
that others can safely enjoy the feeling of what it is like to dive into