Interviewed by: Clare Willis

 I am Clare Willis of the Oral History Committee and the Retired Teachers’ Association of Prince George. I am interviewing on March 21, 2000, Jeanne Anderson, who has been in the district for many years. She was the first president of the Prince George Branch of the Retired Teachers’ Association here, and was president for nine years. She was also instrumental in setting up the sub-committee, the Education Heritage Committee, of this group. So, Jeanne, we’re going to look at you now and start with where you were born and what your school career was like.

Jeanne Anderson: I was born in Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops on March 20th, 1921. We lived there for a short time. I would say six to eight months because I have a picture taken there by a photographer, so I presume we lived there. And then we moved to a very small place called Messiter.

 My father was working for the CNR at that time and Messiter was only a little flag station on the railway, about fifteen miles south of Blue River. We remained there a short time. Again, I was too young to have much knowledge of this, but we did go back to Messiter later on to have a look at the little log cabin that we lived in.From Messiter, my father transferred into the divisional point of Blue River, which was fifteen miles towards Jasper. I’m not sure how old I was, I’d say probably two years old. We lived in a little cabin up at the end of the Y-track, which they call the turnaround point on the railroad. From there, my father built a large log house out of jack pine, that we would now call jack pine poles. There must have been twenty or twenty-five poles in the height of the wall, and quite a large place. So we moved there and that’s where my memory actually begins to function.

Because we were living alongside the railroad track we saw every train that went through and we had on this little Y-track which had banks on it where my brother and I played. My brother was a year and a half older than I was so he was the leader in most of the things that we did.

As far as schooling goes, it was a very small school built up towards the Jasper exit of the railroad. It was right next to the icehouse, because at that time the trains used to have to be iced up to keep them cool in the summertime. They had great big compartments under the coaches and they put ice in it. And across from that was the water tower because the engines were steam power. And close to that, again, was the coal dock because the engines were…coaled up... that’s where the fuel that they used to run the engines was stored. There was a daily passenger train, one going each way. The one to Jasper came from Vancouver and went through about nine o’clock in the morning, and the one from Jasper came about five o’clock in the evening. So we had two passenger trains a day. The railway had a very large yard there because the trains came up from Kamloops and they were too heavy or too long to be pulled through the railroad to Jasper so they broke the trains into two sections. So we had a large place we called the roundhouse and a turntable in which they repaired and serviced all of the steam locomotives.

CW: So this was your play area, was it?

JA: No, we weren’t allowed to go across the railroad tracks or play around the railway tracks because there were eight or ten sidetracks where they parked all these part trains. We lived, as I said, on the Y-track where they could turn the engines around if they wanted to. They could also turn the engines around on the turntable, which took a whole locomotive and was like a merry-go-round. You’d see these big engines going into their little shop. It was like a truck garage, only it took a locomotive. It was a huge building, and they went on a turntable, ran into that, and then they backed them out and turned them around and headed them back out again. We used to go…sometimes on a Sunday or something, my father would take us over there to have a look around, go through the shop to see the locomotives that were in there.

The school was a small building; I guess it was thirty feet long, maybe twenty-four feet wide. It was wood construction and both sides were shingled and the roof was shingled, and it had a little shed on the outside. But because it was so near the railroad track and that, we had no playground at that time.

CW: Wouldn’t be safe to have you out there. And how many students would there have been then at that….

JA: I don’t know how many exactly, but I know that when I was under school age I was somehow coerced into going to school because they needed to have ten students at least to keep the school open. My brother had started the year earlier, but for some reason, I guess some railroader had moved out with some children, attendance dropped. So I was coerced because the people that were operating the school, I guess the School Board at that time, came and said…and I’m saying, “No, I don’t want to go there.” But they said, “Well, if you go to school you’ll be allowed to take your doll.” And I would say I would be about…under five years of age at that time. But my brother was going to school so I gained most of what he did at home because we lived in a very isolated sort of situation with only maybe eight or ten families spread out over a mile along the railroad track.

CW: So you’d have a private tutor.

JA: Yes. The first year I don’t know if I did very much at school except play, but that was accepted. From there on, in two or three years I caught up to my brother and so we had a good time going through the remaining grades up to Grade 8 together. The teachers we had, as I remember, were very concerned…and excellent teachers at that time because they had children spread out from Grade 1 to 8 all in one room, maybe starting with ten pupils up to twenty. I think when that school ended we must have had 30 pupils or more because they built a new school.

 But going through the early school years, we had one teacher whose name was Miss Lemm and I think probably that’s the teacher that I started with. I think she only stayed one year and then we got the most beautiful (I thought) teacher in the world, a Mary C. MacKay. I think she came from Vancouver. She was tall, dark curly-haired, very neatly dressed, and quite a comparison to the usual railroaders that lived in Blue River. She was a wonderful teacher and I think everybody just loved her. She stayed two or three years. But they were very good teachers because we were then controlled by the Grade 8 entrance exam. Everybody in the province had to write the Grade 8 entrance exam in order to go on to high school. And they were government exams, government supervised, and the strange part about it was when we got to Grade 8 you wrote the exams and then you waited, and you waited, and you waited to find out if you had passed. The results were not sent to you, they were published in the Vancouver paper. It had the whole province, by school, listed there and you had to go through these sheets of paper in the Vancouver paper…I think it was the Sun…to find the Blue River School and see if you had passed the entrance exam.

CW: They were published whether you wanted it or not.

JA: Fortunately, most of us passed. We had, again, had a very diligent teacher. His name was Charles A. Trotter, and he did the senior room at that time. I can’t remember the name; I think it was a Miss Hoover that was teaching the primary room. This is when Grade 7 and 8…we moved to the new school which was built away from the railroad tracks, back in the bush, but still with outside “biffies”. But these were two-stallers, really nice, with concrete floors and all of that. It was really a jazzy place. The school was built by a contractor, I think probably from Kamloops, and it was done to a specific government instruction. It had huge windows all along on the one side facing the south-west section and we had a huge playground there, but we still had an outside pump to get the water. I don’t remember exactly what the heat was. I imagine it was still a wood-burning furnace of some type.

CW: Have you any idea of why the town grew from a very small school to the one requiring two rooms?

JA: I’m not particularly sure of this but remembering the people that moved in, I think they were more or less squatters. It’s during the Depression. There were squatters looking for a cheap place to live and that because most of them lived on what I would then call the outskirts of the town. I remember one family who squatted down by the river and they spent the whole year practically in a wood base with tent foundation, and lived in that all winter. Other families lived back in the bush someplace. We didn’t see them except when they came to school. But also I think some pole contracting, not logging but poles, all the telephone poles and that required for the railroad. They found a good cedar stand that was just about three miles out of town and some families lived there, and these children used to walk the three miles on the railroad track to school and back again because there was no road. But during the Depression years they started to build the so-called highway from Blue River to Kamloops.

 The people who weren’t working for the railroad, I presume they were on what we called Relief, which is comparative to our present day Social Services. They got so much a month to keep them but they had to put in so many hours on this roadwork. Most of the roadwork…all of the roadwork…was done by hand labour and horses. I remember going out to look at them. They had these scoop things that you pulled behind a horse to move the rocks and the gravel on the road. Looks like a oversize of our…what we call a snow scoop now that you use to run up and down your roof to dump the snow on the ground. But these men had to work very hard with picks, shovels and handling the scoop behind the horse to gouge out the highway (# 5) because it was very mountainous there. It was all on a side hill. They had to scoop it out and dump it over the edge in order to get a roadbed.

CW: Heavy rock work.

JA: Yes, it was very, very heavy work. Most of the people stayed but they didn’t work for the railroad because even at that time you had to have certain qualifications and I don’t know whether they had seniority or what. But I think they must have had some because most of the men that worked there in the Blue River yards…My father was the switchman who looked after all the switches and that for the trains. He had to make sure that they were all in good working condition because they weren’t automatic at that time. They were all hand turned. And they had to have lights. He had to take his cans of what we call coal oil…kerosene as it’s called now…and he had to check every lamp and fill it every day. I don’t know how many there would be…forty or fifty probably. Fill the lamps, make sure they were lit, and turn them to see if they were turning for this track or that track. To make a little extra money, he also did what we called track patrol. He had to take a hand speeder, go three miles east and three miles west, which meant he had a twelve-mile stretch to do on Sunday because there was no… Sunday was a holiday. Saturday was not. But Sunday was a holiday. At that time he was getting between twenty-five cents an hour and thirty-eight cents an hour for his work.

CW: Goodness sakes! And this track patrol was to make sure that there were no rocks or any obstructions on the tracks?

JA: Breaks in the rail or anything else. Winter and summer, he went every Sunday.

CW: And this is the CNR? I don’t think we mentioned that.

JA: Yes, this is the CNR.

CW: Goodness sakes. Interesting community though. What was the community like in the recreation area?

JA: When I look back at that now I think that it was really a wonderful place and there were a lot of wonderful people there. We were completely isolated. A hundred and forty miles to Kamloops, I think, and a hundred and thirty-six or something to Jasper, and there were no close communities. We were the biggest community between Kamloops and Jasper at that time. But we were isolated so you didn’t run anyplace else. As I say, I look back at it now and I think how wonderful it is.

 A man moved in from Vancouver sometime in the early years and he built a big general store. His name was David MacLaren. But he was farsighted when he built the store…I would say it was a barn-sized store but he built it two-story, and up above the store he had one end of it and he put in a poolroom, which was recreation for the adults there. And the other end was…he called it the community hall. It was the hall for the whole community. It was large enough to play badminton. All the dances were held there. When we had a Christmas concert in the early years, I think it was held upstairs in MacLaren’s hall. So that was the beginning.

And then we had a Norwegian contingent move in, railway workers, and they were great on the skiing. Our next-door neighbours at that time were two brothers, Ollie and John Johnson, and they had come straight from Norway. They were ski makers and they were greatly interested in skiing. So, to start with, a lot of the children in the community got hand-made skis from the Johnson brothers. They had a workshop out there. They cut down the birch. They had their steam that turned the tips up. They fashioned all the skis. The harness was a metal plate, which they forged to screw onto the ski, and then you had a leather strap over it. I know I happened to take skiing quite early because I lived next door to them. I think I started that at about three or four years of age, skiing, because they made skis. As then as I got older I got into the racing skis. I remember my racing skis that were made by Ollie Johnson were two inches wide, nine feet long.

CW: And you were just a child at the time?

JA: Umm hmm. I profited by all the help I got and all the skis. So very soon after they got enough skis going around the community they started having ski races and it was much as it is now. This would be back in the ‘30s, beginning of the ‘30s. They had a fifteen-mile…No, they were on kilometers at that time. They had the fifteen-kilometer for the adults and for the younger people…my age then would be twelve…they had the seven-kilometer race. You went all through the bush on these races. I think we did seven kilometers in an hour or something like that. I was quite good at that. I got several prizes. Because I was one of the few girls that could keep up, I was in the ladies’ class and I got a lot of … See the silver cream and sugar? That was one of my prizes. The bed tray at the back was another. They gave silverware because the storekeeper brought in silverware. ????????????? half a dozen teaspoons and all sorts of things. So that caught on very quickly. All the young people skied. And then they started a ski hill which was way over behind the roundhouse on the hill. I’m not sure but I would say it was about four hundred feet from the top down to the bottom. They built a.…if my memory is correct…a twenty-foot jump on it. So they started a new kind of skiing.

CW: Jumping on some cross country…

JA: Jumping skis had to be four inches wide and about seven feet long. They got that going and we did have…even at that time Revelstoke was the skiing centre of British Columbia, and we had members of the community who went to the competitions in Revelstoke. It was a railroad town. But it was on the CPR, not on the CNR. Then after they got that one going they built a ten-foot jump for the teenagers, so we learned to jump on the ten-foot jump. I can remember one time when I jumped forty-five feet or something. I was flying in the air.

CW: Well, it sounds exciting as if no one was worried about danger or anything. You would just go...

JA: I think there was probably a broken leg or two but…Yes, that was just because the people didn’t know how to ski jump. It wasn’t the fault of the ski. It was the fault of the person that did it.

CW: Yes, that’s right.

JA: So we didn’t want to cut down this… From there… The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadians were the hockey teams of the heyday. So some of the men decided that we needed to have a skating rink. They went down first to the store and, oh maybe two hundred yards from the store, and they built the skating rink, outdoor rink. There must have been a sawmill operating somewhere because we had great big heavy unplaned board, rough lumber, around the edge. So then everybody, all the children, female, male, boys and girls, got skates. I don’t know where we got the skates from but we were out there. I think the first ones I had were blades that were just strapped onto your boots.

CW: Double blades?

JA: No, we might have had bobskates, but that was chicken…bobskates! We got the single-blade ones. But it developed into the skates with boots. I can’t remember where they all came from but we all got them somewhere, and so then we played hockey.

CW: Girls too?

JA: Oh, girls had to play hockey too because in a two-room school how many do you get that... twelve to fourteen-year age group.

CW: You’ve got to have everybody involved and interested.

JA: Because there was a fairly elite supervisory staff at the railroad, the people in the offices we called it, wanted to play tennis. So right next to the railway station, somehow a tennis court, a cinder court – because they were coal-burning engines, they had to dump their ashes and??, but they were cinders from it, and these were put in and packed and the court was a cinder court. But this was just for certain people, so the rest of the community got a little bit annoyed with it, so they went down by our lake, which was only half a mile along the railway tracks, and they built another cinder court for the people.

CW: So this was for the elite….

JA: Yes, the office staff – the roadmaster and the station agent and all the clerks and all of this sort of thing that they had there that controlled all the trains – the dispatchers, I think they called them at that time. It got so that we were allowed to use both courts.

CW: Once you knew how to play the game.

JA: Yes. And the lake was another great asset. It was called Lake Eleanor after one of my school friends. Her father owned property on the lake. His daughter was named Eleanor, so they called it Lake Eleanor. I think at first it was called Blue River Lake but then they called it that. The site of that is now I think the spot where some of the helicopter skiing takes off to over into the mountains. But we had a very good time there. They built a wharf, a long wharf, two-level diving board, so we had all that in the summertime. And, also, a full-sized ball ground. When you consider that there were only maybe forty children in the school – forty to fifty children in the school – we just had everything.

CW: The population of the town then must have been what, about…?

JA: I’m not sure. Perhaps four hundred…five hundred.

CW: Back to the school situation. Did you once say something about the importance of these Grade 8 exams to the school population?

JA: Yes. I said I think we…I really feel that we were well educated. I know I was because I had no difficulty in high school later on. But this Grade 8 exam was the driving force. The teachers worked towards it. They knew when it was to be. We had to do this and that and that for every grade. We had to be able to write well, spell well. We had one teacher in Grade 7 or 8, Ethel H. Brown, who was a “jim dandy” on the McLean method of writing. Right from the start up we had followed the McLean method because it was the prescribed one for the province at that time. But she was really good at it and every so often we had to do a writing sample and it was sent it in to H.B. McLean and he graded it and certificates came out that we had passed it. This is the one that you see in the Heritage Group of mine which is the senior certificate. I must have got that in Grade 7 or 8 because it was signed by Ethel H. Brown. And then she was succeeded by…I mentioned before…Charles A. Trotter. He was the principal, I guess, of the two-roomed school. I’m not sure if Ethel Brown taught at the same time. I think not, because I think she was in the senior room. So he got us all through the Grade 8 exam and then the problems began.

 There were about six of us who passed the Grade 8 entrance exam at this time. Previous to that, there had been a few. The storekeeper’s two sons had passed the Grade 8 exam an earlier year but he was able to send his two sons to relatives in Vancouver where he had come from, so they left the community. They wanted to…the ??? family who had some older children. I think he managed to transfer out of Blue River to some other place in the province, probably Kamloops, where his two boys, Jim and Peter, could go to school. The rest of us were children of the working men and we didn’t have an opportunity like that so we didn’t know what we were going to do. I didn’t have any relatives anywhere. And some of the others didn’t have relatives or the means to send their children away, so Mr. Trotter came to our rescue and got permission from the Department of Education, I believe, to teach us some grade 9 subjects. The other courses were taken from the Correspondence Department in Victoria. I had to take first year French and first year Latin to be on an academic programme.……

Mr. Trotter must have done a good job because I know he spent quite a bit of time helping us with all of this. At that time, languages were just reading and writing. We didn’t have to speak any French and we didn’t have to speak any Latin. We just had to learn all the conjugation of the verbs and the vocabulary. You could translate them, one to the other.

CW: I think actually, at that time, I thought Latin was the easier one of the two because it was more related to English.

JA: French, I didn’t like, and never did like all through high school. I know it was a compulsory subject and I think…I had reasons for that though. Let’s move on.Mr. Trotter left Blue River… I don’t know whether he left at the end of my session of Grade 9…but he did go into the Ministry and I remember up until a few years ago hearing his name mentioned as in charge of something to do with the Ministry. At that time I didn’t really like him well. I thought he was a mean guy but….

CW: Schoolteachers are always mean people, aren’t they?

JA: And Ethel H. Brown, whom we had there, went on to be the administrator or supervisor of the correspondence department in Victoria and she was there for… It was always amazing to me because I was five foot eight, I think, or nine, when I was in Grade 8 and 9, and she was about five foot two.

I can remember one time we were sitting in class. My brother was one of the oldest and the tallest one in the class, and he and another Ukrainian boy, who came there for a challenge for the biggest and toughest in the class, … so one day we were sitting, writing, in Miss Brown’s class and all at once there was a big ruckus started. Here was my brother Bruce and this Bill Fedoruk, they were fighting in the middle of the classroom! My brother at that time must have been close to six feet tall and Bill was no slouch either. And here was Miss Brown waving her hands in the middle…. “Oh, somebody please stop them, please stop them, please stop them!” So this time the boys thought this was kind of funny so they kept on sparring and going on for quite a while. Finally they gave up and sat down. She didn’t know what to do with it because…. Either one of them would have made two of her. But this didn’t detract her. She was a good teacher, and the rest of us were horrified that they would do such a thing to such a nice little teacher.

CW: Those mean big boys! So in Grade 9 you took correspondence. I presume that was in the classroom when the others were…the other students…were working at the lower level?

JA: Umm. It was a two-roomed school so it would be, I suppose, on for 1 to 4 and (one for) 5 to 8. And I don’t know if I had some choice, especially now that maybe Miss Brown and Mr. Trotter switched off, although my Grade 8 picture has another teacher in it so Miss Brown was not there. Now I don’t know if it’s a Grade 8 picture, so…. It was a primary teacher, so I guess we didn’t pay much attention to her. But we don’t think that…you know, when we get to Grade 8 or 9, you don’t think that the primary teachers are really important.

CW: So, I understand your family situation changed a little after Grade 9?

JA: During my Grade 9 year, in January of that year, my mother took very ill and we had only one nurse… We didn’t have any doctor in the town. The lady who lived across the first track from us was a RN and she tried to attend to my mother. She phoned Kamloops or someplace. She did have a little bit of equipment and stuff and that. But they decided that they had to take my mother to Kamloops. So they put her on a stretcher and put her in the baggage-car of the train that came through from Jasper to go to Kamloops. I went along with her in the baggage-car to attend to her needs as best I could. They took her in the hospital there and she passed away the next morning.

CW: Oh, goodness. Did they say what it was?

JA: No. They didn’t really. If my father knew he didn’t tell me, and we never discussed it after that because he was quite upset about it. Well anyway, I finished Grade 9 that year and the question was ‘Then what?’ So he gave me a choice... my father gave me a choice because he had not a great deal of education but he insisted that we get as much as we could. So he said, “Well, you either have to go to school or you can go to work” in what he called the ‘beanery’, which was the restaurant associated with the station, the railway station, because the trains always stopped there for a fifteen-minute break. People had coffee, etc. Why it was a ‘beanery’ I don’t know, but I looked at that and I could see all these trainmen coming and going and I said, “No, I wouldn’t do that.” So I said, “I’d like to go to school.” So my father fished around and there were a number of the supervisory staff – one in particular, the roadmaster, who was in charge of everything, and the roadmaster’s clerk had children in the same predicament. So they decided that they would move their families. They both went to Vancouver. But that didn’t appeal to me; I didn’t want to go with them. I just didn’t want to leave home really. But then he talked to some of the train crew and he found out about Kamloops, because that was closer. That was only 140 miles away. Vancouver was 400. The cost wasn’t anything because at that time children of employees could get what we called an educational pass and I could go back and forth as many times as I wanted without any pay.

 So anyway, he found a place in Kamloops where I could board. It was with some railway employee’s relative or something. It was a Mrs. Cross. So when September rolled around… I had a good summer swimming and all of this sort of stuff…I got packed up and put on the train and went to Kamloops. This Mrs. Cross had two older sons. By this time cars were in evidence, so one of them met me at the station, took me to the house, and I started school there. There was only one high school in Kamloops at that time, a secondary school. So I went there and again I was on the top programme. Because of what I’d taken in Grade 9, I was considered on the academic program. At that time they had the general program and the academic.

 Well, I didn't have any credentials for Grade 9 non-academic subjects because we had taken correspondence for the academic. So I went on the academic program there which was the same old thing again – math, geography, history, English. I think it was broken down into Literature and Composition. You read all the good stuff and then you were expected to write. I think we had one option that we could take and I remember taking art in Grade 10. It was mostly painting small things. We got some wooden buttons that we had to paint??? (unintelligible) I painted owls on them. An owl wasn’t really a thing that the art teacher was very familiar with so she didn’t think much of my buttons.In the meantime, the boy that sat behind me in Grade 10…we always sat in the old wooden desks. (We didn’t go to tables to work.) He used to pull up the back of my blouse or whatever it was that I was wearing, and paint something on my back. I couldn’t see…. because I was the shy little one -- first time away from the small town, into the big school. You keep your mouth shut and keep out of trouble. So I did most of that.

But the boring things I didn’t like and I didn’t think that the lady was too fond of me and I didn’t like her older son. I guess I sniveled my way out of that. Somehow my father ???? paid this other trainman or something but… He was a younger fellow and he had a wife and small daughter, so I moved over to Jerry Phillips place and I stayed. But this happened to be, well I would say about a mile, east of Kamloops …along the CPR tracks towards Revelstoke. So that was quite a walk, so I decided that I would bring my brother’s bike down. My brother had, by that time, gone to work for the railroad. My father didn’t think he could have two away at school because he had had to buy extra clothes now that I was going to a big school. My mother made most of my clothes up until that point in time. But when you went to the high school in Kamloops you had to have factory-made clothes. It wasn’t right to look like a bush rabbit! My brother was a big, strong fellow, so he went to work on the railway in the summertime, on the extra gang as they called it. And so, somehow it wasn’t pleasant. I stayed there for the rest of that year, but it was not a very pleasant year -- changing boarding places, having to ride a boy’s bike up on the hill. I forget what the name of the hill was, but they lived in a rented house up on the south side hill.

 I remember one time when spring came around I was riding the bike down and here was this huge rubber snake, right across the road. It was just a road, you know, one-track road that was on the side hill. I ran over this snake. I was sure it was a rattlesnake. I stuck my feet up and pushed the bike back and forth. And after I got through town I started…It was a big thing like a gum rubber eraser, and they said it was a rubber snake; it was harmless.

CW: Something to think about on your way down the hill!

JA: Yes. Well, I was there…I had my educational pass and was allowed, because I was paying $25/month for my board. I had to pay them $25. I’d go home for the weekend and come back – go home Friday night and come back on Sunday night. Sometimes the train was a little bit late. I had to go directly from the train to school – that was no big problem. So I finished that year. My mother had passed away the previous year. My grandfather lived in Edmonton and my grandmother had passed away a few years before that. He had re-married and so they sent me an invitation to go and spend most of the summer with them. This was a real experience as this was a big, big city!

CW: Oh, right.

JA: So I went to Edmonton. My grandfather was a very patient man, because at that time I was age fifteen. He took me out…they had a summer cottage out at Lac La Nonne, which was sixty miles northwest of Edmonton. He had a little acreage there. And he had a car. He decided he would teach me to drive. So he took me two rounds of the acreage and then he said, “It’s yours. Go.” And so I did, around and around, up the little side hills, down and around and around and around. It’s fun when you change gears! It was all standard shift and I stalled it. I didn’t damage the car. So by the time I put in three or four weeks up there with them – I went back into Edmonton, they took me down and I got my driver’s license, because Alberta at that time apparently had a younger age than BC. So I ended up getting my driver’s license.

CW: You could drive a car!

JA: So that was a real fun deal I know. So they lived on a beautiful lake and I was put in charge of motorboats and all sorts of things because he was….at that time he was in his sixties, I guess; he had this wife who was twenty years younger than he was, and I guess he found out that he couldn’t keep up with a wife twenty years younger. So I was delegated to drive her here, or take her there, because she had family that lived around the lake. It was seven miles long, Lac la Nonne. So I drove her in the motorboat. ‘Learned to take her to the nearest Richfield or some place for shopping. That was that.

CW: It took the strain off. Was this your maternal grandfather or…?

JA: Yes, my maternal grandfather.

CW: That’s grade… Or that was the summer before Grade 11, right?

JA: Yes.

CW: So after your wonderful summer in Edmonton, then you headed south I understand.

JA: I hadn’t been too happy in the Kamloops situation and again, these same people, the roadmaster and the roadmaster’s clerk, had both moved to Vancouver and they had moved their families to Vancouver – the roadmaster being a fellow named Michael Abrahamson. He was Swedish and had an English wife. After a year of being separated, more or less, they decided it would be a really good deal if I would go and stay with them and I could look after the three children while she did the traveling up to Blue River to visit. My father thought that was a good idea too, but I, at that time, would be fifteen/sixteen and I had what I think were three children to look after. The oldest boys were eleven and thirteen, and the little girl probably about nine. And so Mrs. Abrahamson would leave Friday night on the train and I didn’t go out of the house from Friday until she got back on Monday morning. I had to supervise these three kids for the weekend and provide some kind of food.

 Now Mrs. Abrahamson was an excellent cook and she always left the lamb cooked and…it was British stuff. I was in Grade Twelve, Grade Eleven, yes. A family from Blue River had moved to Vancouver and they offered to board me for $25 a month. As my father worked for the railroad it didn’t matter where I went. I still had my CNR pass. This family, the Stewart family, lived out on East Georgia and they had three children, all younger than me. But that was fine, I had some company. We went to Britannia High School which was in East Vancouver, and was predominately at that time Oriental people. So a lot of the students in the classes were Chinese. They were very friendly and I learned quite a bit. I learned what litchi nuts were and quite a few things. One of the funny things was there were two sisters in the class and they were the Cho sisters so we called them the cho-cho train.

When we went to P.E. – we seemed to do a lot of gymnastics, and being as I was always very large for my age and strong, I got most of the job of standing by the box and helping these people vault over the box and so on. It suited me fine because that wasn’t my line. It was easier to heave the little Chinese girls over the box! I was able to travel home quite a bit on weekends and participate in my own fun and skiing and such like in the wintertime. So it was, to me, a much nicer situation. Britannia High School – just the same old courses. When you’re on the academic program at that time you just had the basic courses. You weren’t allowed any fun and games. One other thing I remember about Britannia High School, the student council president there was Robert Bonner, and Robert Bonner did go on to be a member of parliament, I think, somewhere. But anyway, he was a name brand at Britannia.

Well, at home on weekends, I soon learned that my friends were getting married or sort of disappeared somewhere. Very few of them went on to high school because there was no high school there in Blue River. For entertainment in Vancouver…we didn’t have very much. At high school they gave us every once in awhile a free ticket to the Saturday matinee of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. It was at one of the theaters out on Granville Street, which was not too far from where we lived, so we were able to go to that. But school at that time kept you busy with home assignments and so on. There were no typewriters, you wrote everything that you did. Of course part of my job, too, was to help the younger children with their homework. We didn’t go out in the evenings or do anything exciting as I think you would now -- high school students. In the end I passed all my boring academic subjects – Math, English, French, Science, Chemistry, Social studies. By this time I had decided to be either a nurse or a teacher so was not interested in subjects…just the desire to pass and get on with my life.

CW: I was going to ask you…then, that left you with one more year before you could get your graduation certificate and finish your high school?

JA: (reply unintelligible)

CW: So that left you with one more year to finish high school before you moved on?

JA: Yes, I spent my summer in Blue River, swimming, playing tennis, and doing what else. A short time in Edmonton, but that was also getting a little boring because I was getting older and I think that interested me because running a motorboat and fishing were not in my line. But when I returned to Blue River from my little summer vacation, my father had made different arrangements. Another family, the roadmaster, had moved to Vancouver the year before, and being separated from his wife and family all the time didn’t suit him. So he decided he would like me to stay at his house so that I could look after the children, so his wife could go to Blue River on the odd weekend…or quite often on the weekend. My job was to baby-sit three children. I think they were ages eleven, twelve, and one younger. I would be, then, about seventeen or so. It was quite a chore to do that. I went to John Oliver Secondary School. John Oliver at that time was considered to be about the toughest school in south Vancouver. It was out towards the south end.

CW: Tough in what respect?

JA: (voices overlap) There they had a principal named Jake Palmer who scared everybody. You were warned about ‘Never get to the office to see Jake.’ In spite of it being at that time considered a tough area, it was very well disciplined ... over-disciplined, really. We weren’t allowed to go out to walk on Fraser Street or very much of anything. We were pretty well confined to the school grounds. The Grade 12 class was in, I think, probably the original part of the school because it had been built onto. But the Grade 12s were in the one building separated from the rest of the school. We had to again take the same academic subjects. The one thing that really bothered me was the French. The French teacher was a French-speaking person although she did speak English. In the Grade 12 French class she never spoke a word of English and I had been used to studying the correspondence French and then having two shifted years of French, which was a compulsory subject, I was not very good on the oral French. So I had to spend most of my time in French whispering to the girl in front of me, “What did she say? What did she say? What did she say?” And she would very nicely tell me what she said, so then I could get on with the written assignment. I’m afraid my French mark was, that year, the lowest mark I ever got in high school. It was in the marginal fifties...55%. But, again, I had a successful year in Grade 12 and then confirmed my idea to become a teacher. In order to become a teacher in that day you had to have Senior Matriculation, which was equivalent to first-year university, and then one year of Normal School.[papers rustling]

The last thing I said was something about we had to do one year of Senior Matric and one of… Okay. Senior Matric was not taught in all of the high schools of Vancouver and the closest one to the area that I happened to know about was King Edward, which was more downtown (in the) Granville/Twelfth Avenue area. So I had to change boarding places. It was too far to get from where I was, to go to John Oliver and there were no buses for city students at all. The people I had boarded with in Grade 11 had moved from out the east-end more down to the area of Broadway and Kingsway, so that was within walking distance. So I moved back and boarded with them.King Edward High School at that time was one of the older high schools in Vancouver. The buildings were, I think, brick – kind of old things like that. I thought the teachers were very slack. I don’t know if they thought they were University professors... or if they just really weren’t concerned about us, because the teaching was very slack. Most of it was left to the students to do. They would give you an assignment and you had your textbooks, and so you were expected to do it and hand it in. I don’t know even if they ever marked much that you had there. I remember one class I was in where the teacher decided he would give us a little bit of a lesson at the beginning and then he disappeared for the rest of the block. Fortunately, there was one girl in the class who was very, very bright and she would get up and take over as teacher for the math class. I found this very helpful because math at the senior matric level was Algebra, Geometry and Trigonometry and it was our first run at Trigonometry and of course…I still have not too much of an idea of what they were trying to do except test our brain power! So she would get up and she would explain what was in the text assignment and so on and so forth. So most of us did manage that one.English was Literature and Composition. I don’t have too much memory of that. French was back to book learning, so I was fine again. I could do the French from the book. Science... I had by that time chosen Chemistry because we had a choice of taking Physics, Chemistry or Biology. I had taken Chemistry in Grade 12 so I took chemistry again in Senior Matric, and it was still the same old table of elements, balancing formulas and knowing the formulas, and so on. I had a little bit of weights and measurements. We did some lab experiments but labs were not, to my notion, very well equipped. We had a little gas burner and a few things but there was none of the high-tech stuff going on that there is nowadays or, you know, the ideas behind science. So I guess it was adequate for the times.

CW: Could I just…

JA: I managed to pass Senior Matric with average marks. I was able to apply to the provincial Normal School for teacher training for the following year and I was accepted. I spent the summer in Blue River doing my usual stuff. I then returned to the same boarding place to attend Normal School in 1940-41 year. It was anything but normal. As far as I could see, I never figured out where the word ‘normal’ comes from. But the war was in full swing now by this time and from the appearance of the attendants at Normal School, most of the able-bodied men had gone to join the army. I can’t remember, but there were very, very few men in, and I think the only reason that they were attending Normal School is because they hadn’t been able to pass the army’s physical test to get into the army or the armed forces. In the Normal School the classes, as far as I can remember, were arranged alphabetically. I think there were five or six classes…the A’s, the B’s, the C’s. I came down near the end with the W at that time with the person, Nellie Williamson, that I was to be working with throughout the year, because nearly everything we did seemed to be worked in pairs.

The formal academics that we had experienced all through high school were now put away for future use if we ever found one, and the teachers’ training began. Teacher training at that time, to me, meant that we were… in all areas we had to cover all the subjects taught in Grades 1 to 8 because I was on elementary level at the intermediate level. But that was no guarantee that you were going to work in the intermediate, which was Grade 4 and up, so we were compelled to start with the Grade 1, being no formal kindergarten at that time, and go all through. The president of the [corrects herself]…the principal of the Normal School at that time was a Mr. A. R. Lord. His name appeared in the math text that we used, so apparently he was a mathematician…kept track of the numbers. The subjects we did… I think we did have some introduction to psychology, but not too much, just a little bit of how we were supposed to treat the children and how the children were supposed to behave.

One of the things that were required to do was the ?? reading program from the Preprimer right up to the Grade 8 literature I think. Canada, ??? Canada, some of those things that we had in Grade 8. It was taught by Mrs. Grace Bollert; she was also associated with the Dick and Jane Readers. Her name appeared in that series reading training. Writing skills – they were not given in great detail. I think we just worked after the reading questions. We went through all the workbooks as well as the readers – answered the questions in the workbooks that were accompanying all of the readers at that level. Poetry – I think we had quite a bit of poetry because it was considered to be very beneficial to know poetry. The art we did – I think the teacher there was a Mrs. Farmer. We did all kinds of painting and messing around. I don’t recall too much of that.

Hand writing – it was the writing of the day by Mr. H. B. MacLean. He was the instructor and, once again, we went through all the levels from the Grade 1 ‘My Printing Book’ up to the Grade 8 and into the teachers’ manual which contained a bit of everything for every grade. I then got my senior certificate. I had started in Grade 8 but I had wanted to get another one from Mr. H.B. MacLean. He was a very pleasant person to work with just as long as you can write.

P.E. was kind of a fun course because, again, we had to learn how to have P.E. in a classroom without a gymnasium. We played all those nice little games, you know. O’Grady Says Do This, O’Grady Says Do That. Everybody stands up and then you go all through it. O’Grady Says Do This, you do it, but if it says O’Grady Do That, you don’t do it. If you do it, then you have to sit down. The last one that stands up in the classroom is the winner. Then we used to have some classroom drills such as changing seats, kind of a musical chairs run around until somebody says “Stop.” You sit down. But it was given with the intention of keeping us active or keeping the students in your class active without a gymnasium. And then we had quite a bit of team games. The one that I remember so well is grass hockey. I had never in my life seen grass hockey before. I’d seen ice hockey and that, but grass hockey is played with a stone ball and a great big club. You use the same idea as ice hockey except you have to club this ball, larger than a tennis ball, and pass it forward to some of the other players, and so on. Of course the mistake that comes along is that the club hits somebody else in the shins rather than the ball. It wasn’t a game that I enjoyed. It was so slow and so heavy and so dangerous. The clubs were about the size of three golf clubs, you know in thickness, and so on, not little things at all. At the Normal School they had a very nice campus. We had lawn grass to play on, so I guess that’s why the grass hockey was… Of course it is…I don’t know if it’s still played at the Coast or not.

CW: I think so. I think it was an English game.

JA: Yes. All our education comes from Victoria, doesn’t it? On campus, there was what we called the model school. I can’t remember the teacher except that her name began with a Z. I don’t know whether it was Miss Zilver, or Miss something. But anyway, we were required to go to the model school which was an un-graded school, had students in it year-round from Grade 1 to 8 so that we would… Of course a beginning teacher always had to go out to the country to an un-graded school, so you had to learn to… I’m not sure if it went on all year but I know our term was to go every Friday to the model school. And then we did practice teaching in pairs. We went out and spent a month in the schools in Vancouver.

 I remember our first one Nellie and I went to was Beaconsfield. I think it was about a Grade 6 class. We had to divide up the subjects and each one teach a class for awhile ????? throughout the day on that... Then we would be inspected, as we all called it. The Normal School staff would go around, because all the students I think were out at the same time in the Vancouver and area schools, so the Normal School staff would come around and sit and observe your classrooms after class or something. You would go out after you finished your teaching and they would tell you what you did wrong mostly, or something that was done right. But mostly it was how to improve our teaching.

The second one was at Livingstone School. I think, again, it was an intermediate grade and the same process went along. At the end of the Normal School year, if you had been successful you received a Normal School diploma. This was to say that you had done…been able to do it in this situation, but it was not a license to teach. Once you got your Normal School diploma you had to apply to the Department of Education for a teaching certificate... send to Victoria and you came out with what was called an Interim Certificate, which was good for two years. In the succeeding two years, or I’m not sure if you were given any longer than the two years to do it, you had to go to summer school and take six units of credit. When you took six units, you could take it in whichever area that you chose, I think. And then if you finished the two summers of summer school, you were in. You could apply for a Permanent Certificate. So teaching actually did take you four years before you got your Permanent Certificate.

CW: And that would be contingent on good instructors’ reports in your classrooms?

JA: Yes. About the mid ‘50s, the educational…our teacher training asked the guide to change …. to change to being a university-type education rather than the old Normal School and that eventually all teachers in… all teachers would have a BA, a Bachelor of Education or a four-year degree from the University. So they started out by making an E.A., an Elementary Advanced Certificate, necessary to hold or make [tape breaks] Following that, I got interested in Special Education so I went back and took a fifth year of Special Education and got a diploma for that in the late ‘60s. I think this was the complete educational path that you had to follow if you wanted to teach in British Columbia.

CW: So you’re starting to look at jobs now.

JA: Yes. As I say, I got my Normal School diploma and applied for my teaching certificate, which was granted from the Department of Education. The next thing was to look for a job. At that time all the jobs were pretty well handled by the Vancouver Sun, which was the main paper. You looked in the Vancouver Sun and you would make out your application for it. I don’t think the applications we filled out came up with what resumes are today that you must submit your life story in order to get it. You had to put down what your education was and the certificates you held.I applied and I had an offer from a place called Moose Heights which I found out was some little place outside of Quesnel. This was not filed in my realm of travel at that point in time. So I didn't take that one but very shortly I had a letter from the official trustee of the rural schools in the Prince George area, or McBride area, which was handled by the Superintendent or Inspector of Schools, as they were then called. Harold Stafford offered me the school at Dunster. This was on the railroad again, so it suited me quite well. I was used to railroading so I accepted the job at Dunster.

 I didn’t know too much about the school except that it had most of the grades from 1 to 8, but it only had eleven students at that time. So when it came time for school, the weekend before Labour Day, I hit the train. At that time from Blue River you had to go to Jasper which was on the main line, and then you changed trains and went on the Prince Rupert line to Dunster, which was just twenty miles east of McBride. The train left Blue River in the morning, I think, and went to Jasper, had quite a long layover, and it must have been evening when we left Jasper because the train wasn’t due to arrive in Dunster until 11:00 p.m. at night. At that time the railroad was not electrified. The conductor calls out “Dunster next stop.” He knew that I was getting off and so the train stops. I’m standing on the steps waiting to get off. Got off, and it was dark, no lights of any kind. Finally a tall man came up to me and said, “Are you Miss Walker, the new teacher?” and I said, “Yes.” “Well” he said, “we’ve got the truck over here. We’ll just wait for your baggage to come off.” The other gentleman that was with him took me over to the truck and I got in and they looked after the luggage. From there we had a three-mile ride -- down a long hill, across the Fraser River, up the other side, and over to where my boarding place was with Mr. and Mrs. Hans Diedrichson. So they showed me to my room, it was a nice little room. I got into bed all excited about this new job.

 First thing in the morning I hear Bang, Bang, Bang! It stopped. I heard a voice ??? Thump, Thump, Thump. So I thought well maybe I should get up. So I got up, got dressed, got the washbasin and pitcher of water… a little "thunder-mug" [chamber pot] under the bed. Dunster was strictly a farming community and there was no indoor plumbing or anything like that.I went out of my room and here were three children lined up in a little dining alcove that they had, and Mrs. Diedrichson said, “Good morning.” She says, “I hope the noise didn’t disturb you.” I said, “Well I heard a little bit of thumping.” She said, “Linda (the youngest one who was about four years old) wanted to see the new teacher, so they sat on a bench and banged their feet on the wall until the teacher got up.” So I saw two of my students right away.

 But this being Labour Day weekend, things were quite exciting around there because on the Sunday before Labour Day nearly everyone – about all six families in the community – went up to Tete Jaune to spear salmon because this was permitted. September was the spawning season for the salmon. So of course you have to go. So I put on what I thought were my outdoor clothes, got in the vehicle, and trundled off about twenty miles to Tete Jaune where the Fraser [River] comes out of great big gravel bars and that. So I sat and watched for a bit to see what they were doing. The men had spears on the end of a pole, small pole, and they stood out in the middle of the river on sandbars, water probably about two feet deep, and watched. When the salmon are coming up the river you can see their tail flipping in the water, so you just sort of stood very, very still. And when it got close enough you jabbed it and however the spears are made, you got your fish and you dragged it into the shore. At this day and age…that would be 1941…you wouldn’t get very far this day and age because you’d be poaching salmon illegally, but everybody did it and did it quite well. Nobody was afraid of anybody coming to catch you spearing salmon. As time…as the day went on, they kept pushing me, “Come on, come out and try it, come on out and try it.” So finally, being the big, brave teacher that I was, I waded out into the river and they gave me one of these things and told me…well, I knew by then what was supposed to happen. So I stood there for awhile. Nothing came along. All at once a great big spawning spring salmon went between my legs. I forgot all about spearing the salmon! Anyway, that was my tryout. But they did have a very successful day spearing salmon at Tete Jaune and we ate smoked salmon all winter. The way they smoked it at that time…everybody had wood fires. This house that I was boarding in had a brick type of fireplace and they hung the stuff to be smoked on a pole and dropped it down the chimney, it was a stone chimney, and left it so long to smoke.

CW: Oh. What kind of wood would they be burning for ????

JA: Whatever was there. After this dried-up smoked salmon, Hans, the gentleman of the house, went out and shot a black bear in the fall when it had gone hibernating, and it got smoked in the chimney too. So we had smoked bear ham, smoked salmon, and chicken. So we had eggs. And they grew…Dunster is a good vegetable grower, so we got some potatoes…

CW: Sounds like good food.

JA: Well, I was not familiar with salmon as such. If you’ve ever seen a salmon that’s spawned, I don’t think nowadays I would even touch it let alone eat it, but that was what was there, and it’s the only time in my life that I’ve ever eaten bear meat. But it made good ham. Bears have a certain amount of fat so I suppose it would pass for ham. Back from the fishing day at Tete Jaune…the next day was Labour Day. The children walked me down to the school which was about a quarter of a mile from the house. First of all, I stood outside the school and I looked at it. What was it? A shack. I would say maybe twenty-four feet long, maybe… The weird thing about it, it was built from…seven logs high on the wall and they must have been old cedar logs because they were…you know they’d be at least a foot…a foot wide and seven logs to make 7 foot walls. The ceiling was average, maybe seven feet, maybe not eight, but logs. It had a shake roof. Outside the door was a water pump -- well and pump. So we opened the door and looked in. It was one room with the old wooden… wood desks with the metal frames on the right. The stove, I think, was a type of barrel-type heater. Behind the school, or past the school at one end, was a woodshed. One of the students, one of the older boys, was the janitor. He was supposed to come to school early in the morning and light the fire. We looked over the school. There wasn’t too much there but I was full of great ideas so that didn’t bother me. So the next morning, the day after Labour Day, I walked down to the school bright and early. I had my daybook in my hand, everything ready, what I was going to do. I don’t know if I even had a list of the kids in the class, but I came in. There were students…I think there were from?? families because one was related to two of the older students, Cora and Gladys Pleasants, were aunts to a number of the younger students. They were older brother’s children. We lined up the grades.

CW: And you had to get the names, did you?

JA: I think so but as I said I didn’t have a list of the names. We actually had three teachers because of the two girls…Gladys Pleasants I think was in Grade 7 and Cora was in Grade 8, and they knew all the children. They were quite good students so they looked after the little ones, their little nieces and nephews. The Diedrichsons, there were two of those – Walter was the oldest one and then Rita. The next one wasn’t ready for school that year; she was ready the next year. I’m not sure what the arrangement was or why. First of all, the Diedrichsons had bought a little house, a two-story log house down close to the school and they wanted to move into that, so I was asked to move into another boarding place which was almost a mile from the school, along the highway there that ran from Prince George to Jasper. I moved to another boarding place and boarded with John Brown and his wife, Violet. They had no children. But it was quite a trek. I think it must have been after Christmas.

CW: Ideal winter weather.

JA: Yes, real winter weather.

CW: So how did you make out? You said there wasn’t much in the school itself.

JA: We had all of the regular textbooks and the workbooks and everything, but a lot of the small schools, including this one, Lee School, didn’t have any school board or that. They were run by the official trustee which was Harold Stafford. I remember the first time he came to the school... I was forearmed to October, I guess. I’d been there about a month. Everything was going fine. We were having a wonderful time. I heard thumping on the outside of the building so I sent one of the children to the door and there was nobody out there. The door opened and this gentleman came in, in a nice suit and a tie and everything, came in and introduced himself as the official trustee to the school. We greeted him. He said, “I was just going around to test the walls. I wanted to find out if it was safe to come into the building!” The logs were very dark brown in colour. I don’t know if they’d ever been painted or treated or anything.

CW: A little joke, eh?

JA: I think he was probably joking because that was part of his responsibility, to make a report on the state of the school building and so on. So I stayed there that year and then continued on the next year. But this year…The second year I was fortunate in that a lady and gentleman that lived just across the road from the school, that had a daughter who had moved away to Edmonton and they said they had a room if I would like to stay there. So this was a real treat because I didn’t have a long walk to school. The schoolroom stayed at around eleven or twelve students but the beginning of amalgamation, I guess, started to take over in their thinking. They were paying me at that time $780 a year, my salary, or $78 a month for ten months.

CW: Thinking about that seven-log-high school building, I was wondering about, you know, windows…how much daylight you’d get, what other light you would use in winter, that kind of thing.

JA: It had windows on the… what would be the west side…all the way down, four or five good-sized windows so it was quite nice. There was no electricity at all. Everybody had gas lamps. That was what you had. Gas lamps for your main room, a little coal oil or kerosene lamp in your bedroom.

CW: Long winter days. I was just thinking how short the hours of daylight are in January.

JA: Yes, I guess it was but I think school got out pretty well at 2:30 or something. I’ll always remember when I had the longer walk it was getting dusk by the time I got home.

CW: I suppose.

JA: We only had ?? chores. So I was teaching?? The people in there did most of their shopping in McBride, a long 20 mile drive at that time. McBride was a railroad town, so all the shopping was there in McBride. The Dunster stop-off was on the railroad side. There was also a school over there which was called Dunster School. The amalgamation idea, I think, got into the school district trustees' thinking and the second year I was there, in 1942, they decided that they were going to amalgamate the two schools. I’m not sure just how, but they were going to transport the building of smaller logs. It was a combination school and community hall, so it was quite a big deal. Because I had been there the year before and the teacher that was at Dunster was just new that year, I was offered the job. But the other teacher, Alice Riley, and I had become good friends and I thought ‘Well, she had a nice boarding place and everything and it really wasn’t fair. I wouldn’t take the job away and send her packing somewhere else in her first year. And I guess I had had enough of a very small farming community.

There wasn’t very much entertainment that went on there because everybody had a different idea. They had a central community hall there, which was down by the river, but it was more to do with the railroad side of Dunster than the highway side that I was on. So they had the odd dance there. They had a number of splinter religions there and a lot of the people didn’t attend dances. The Farmers' Institute was active there, so they spent evenings at the community hall planning future activities.

CW: It was time for you to move on.

JA: Well, there was another.. I’d say.. "more humanitarian" idea that I had. Alice also had a boyfriend over on the other side of the river too and…

CW: Oh, so it wasn’t compassion…

JA: So I thought well…two things…Mr. Stafford made an offer of Giscome which was, as you know, only twenty-five miles from Prince George… So for me… And it was a two-room school. It was a move up for me, so rather than staying in Dunster, I wanted to go to Giscome.

CW: Okay. Must have been very lacking if you… [laughter] So what year was this then when you went to Giscome?

JA: In January 1943 I went to Giscome. There I was to board with Mr. and Mrs. Howard Webb who was well-known in the IWA circle. He was secretary of the IWA for many years when he was in Giscome and also when he moved into Prince George. I was slated to be the Primary teacher in the lower room because I was less experienced and younger. They had hired a girl from Saskatchewan, Theresa Parness, to be the senior teacher but she was a neat little, I think, partly French girl. So she was the Senior Teacher. At that time the school’s up to Grade 8. Some of the students in Grades 7 and 8 were fifteen and sixteen years old and they were quite man-sized and they were going on…. I don’t know. I minded my own little business in my little primary room with all the neat little kids. The big boys decided they were going to give Miss Parness a little run for her money for the first week. They’d keep at her until every night she was crying. I don’t know…still don’t know what really went on, but they would just tease her and do things and she couldn’t stop them. At that time Giscome had a School Board and the secretary of the School Board was Mrs. Roy Spurr, who was the wife of the mill owner. Roy Spurr owned Eagle Lake Sawmills. Alec Brown was also a member of the board. He ran the general store in Giscome and Alec Hubbard was the third member of the school board. He had the largest and best farm just a mile out of town.

 After about two weeks, right after school, Mrs. Spurr came down to the school and she came in and talked to me and asked would I take the senior room and let Miss Parness have the Primary room. So again, big, strong… [laughter] I said, yes, I would. So we switched around. It did have a little effect, or else some parents had a little effect on the students because poor Grade 7 and 8’s were getting a teacher with only a year and a half teaching experience and they didn’t have much hope for their kids with something like that, so they did straighten them out a bit.But I was…One day, I hadn’t been in that room very long and I was teaching backwards, you know, keeping my eye on all them, walking backwards between the desks. One of the girls stuck out her foot near the back of the room. And fortunately, I didn’t get hurt at all, but of course the class just let go one great big horse laugh. "That was really funny!". This was the type of behaviour they had practiced. I said, “All seven of you girls line up at the front.” The strap came out from the desk drawer.

CW: 'Little show of force.

JA: I went down the line and strapped all seven of them. I said, “Now you can go home and tell your mothers what happened. If I find out who did it, I said, I’ll let you back into the school.” Next day one of them… one of the girls took responsibility for having done it. From then on, my reputation was made. I had very little trouble and a whole lot of pleasure out of teaching the group.

CW: Established discipline in the first place.

JA: Yes. Well, I said they may have had quite an experience before that. I don’t know whether or not experience, but I said teachers had not wanted to stay there very long because it was a mill town and the houses were all occupied by mill workers. It was very difficult to find a boarding place. I was just fortunate that I was taken in by Mrs. Howard Webb. A year and a half before I went there, Wesley D. Black had been the teacher of the Senior Class. Change again. He had moved on; I’m not sure where he went. And then there were two ladies who lived in Prince George who came out, Mrs. Boomhower was one. I forget the name of the other lady. Her husband was a railroader of some kind. They just came out and then they went back to Prince George for the weekend. So they decided at the end of December in 1942 to resign from their positions and wait for one in Prince George. Three teachers in a year, practically.

CW: And this put you in in January?

JA: Yes, in January because the teachers had left at the beginning of the Christmas vacation. I managed to get myself adjusted to handling the senior students reasonably well. But after a few weeks the Grade 3’s began to pick up the practice from the senior boys and started causing problems in the primary room. So I was asked then if I could take Grade 3 in with the seniors, get them out of the teacher’s hair, and I ended up having forty-odd students, Grade 3 to 8. This added more preparation, more corrections, added courses and then reports. So that continued and that teacher left at the end of the year. I think we were almost ready for a three-room school…from a two-room to a three-room. We had the required students to be... 90. So the locals, or the school boards, somebody authorized it. There had been a full basement underneath where the furnace was. So they partitioned off a good-sized room there and made it into a third room so I was assigned down to that room and then the other two rooms were split up for primary and to grades 3 and 4. It was a much better grouping for an upper intermediate, grades 5 to 8.

CW: This got you something for your numbers?

JA: You have to do something for the fewer numbers… more activities and more instructional time for each group or grade.

CW: And Giscome became your home for a number of years.

JA: Yes. Just before that I want to get in… There was a little saying I picked up in some place…a little card which I still have, which said ‘You are the same person today that you will be five years from today except for the books you read and the people you meet.’ And as I look back on my teaching, beginning teaching in Giscome, I think of that, of two people that I met who greatly added to my enjoyment of teaching. The first was Kathleen (Kay) Collins, a very dynamic lady whom Mr. Williston hired to be the consultant for the rural schools. She came from Alberta, I think, but her job was to visit the schools and to give us a little bit of inspiration and encouragement in the things that we were doing. And being as Giscome was, at that time, the end-of-the-road going east towards Alberta, she had schools like Aleza Lake, Penny, and Sinclair Mills which she had to serve. She used to come out and she’d stay at Giscome because we had more than one teacher. She would stay overnight and then she would catch what we called the way-freight, a freight train which carried one passenger car. She would catch the train and go down to the other schools down the line. But her job was, as I said, to add encouragement. She would come into your class and she would ask, “Oh, would you like me to do this for you today?” She might take a poetry class with Grade 7 and 8 or she might do something else. She circulated around the school. She was very interested in music and any sort of art stuff, fine arts or drama. And that was what she did for me and Giscome. She got us all into preparing to enter the music and drama festival in Prince George.

We had a rhythm band and she also helped make a choir that we had there, and we also produced plays. We did very well. We got some shields and we got some certificates. Choral speaking. Just all of that sort of stuff that she got us into and we were able to carry out with the help of some of the parents and we were quite successful. So that is why I say she changed my teaching enthusiasm. I had been in the rut of just doing the subjects that were there, but she added all the extra-curricular things except sports. We didn’t have any shortage of sports in Giscome because it again was what I would call a semi-isolated community at that time.

You could get into Prince George if you wanted to travel. In the springtime you had a plank road for the first three miles into Prince George. The mill would build the plank road over the swamp that ran from Giscome out almost to Willow River, and from there they had to truck the lumber. Some top employees lived in Prince George so they had to be able to travel the road. We had a plank road while all the frost-boils and whatnot were coming out in the road. But it was exciting.. I mean Giscome was not isolated in that respect, but they did produce a lot of good athletes. We had a ball team which competed with the Prince George ball teams. They also developed junior ball teams. We traveled around to places like Hart Highway because one of our teachers who came to Giscome in the years there, Bill Fisher, became principal of the Hart Highway School. Of course he was familiar with Giscome because he spent one year there. So we took our ball team up there. The community just took them up in their cars. In winter the hockey team played against some of the minor hockey teams in Prince George. Our one male teacher, Bob Patrick, played on the community senior team, the Giscome Hornets. Also, for the inspiration of drama, there was what we called the Giscome Players Club. Howard Webb had organized a group of adults to put on three-act plays in the community hall. I proved myself as a junior drama teacher at school so I got invited to join the senior players’ club. We did some play every year, sometimes two a year, and would take them around to places like Willow River, Aleza Lake, or Hixon.

CW: Drama in-service? [ laughter]

JA: Giscome was a real community in itself. It didn’t depend on anything else…not even, Prince George. We competed, we didn’t join them.The other person that I met whom I think had a lot to do with some of things I did in my life was Rene [Irene] Moss. She was a teacher in the secondary school at that time in Prince George, and I remember well the first teachers’ convention, which was an annual event in the fall. The other teachers in Prince George would billet the outlying teachers. The first convention I remember coming in to, Rene Moss was in charge of the billeting because she had a station wagon at that time [1943]. She had several people to take around, so she said, “Well, seeing as you’re by yourself, you might as well come with me while I deliver these other people and then you can stay with me.” And she was teaching in Prince George, but she lived in South Fort George. She boarded with the Jorgenson family there. So I did that and I think the same thing happened the second year. As well as all her teaching activities, Rene was a high-level Girl Guide Commissioner. She thought maybe it might be a good idea if I started a Girl Guide company out in Giscome, which I did. We had… all the girls from my classroom. … I think you had to be eleven or twelve, with a lot of girls up to Grade 8 anyway. So we formed that company, First Giscome Girl Guides. In the springtime and the summertime, we joined with the Prince George companies. One was the South Fort George Company; I think there was another Prince George Company and we went to Guide camp. One year we had Girl Guide camp out at Eagle Lake, up on the hill, not too far from Newlands. It was quite a camp. We did outdoor things, making things out of willows and stuff. The mothers came along for camp cook and other mothers just for general help.

 One of the things I think that was memorable about that was that at Eagle Lake the cook was very fond of making Spanish rice. We had two girls who didn’t really like Spanish rice. I don’t know what troop they were from. But they decided that they were going to run away; they weren’t going to stay at the camp. Well at that time [1945-47] that was just real bush. The camp was located up around Newlands at the end of Eagle Lake. There wasn’t much habitation in it. But anyway, they decided they were going to go up over the hill and run away. Of course they were missed from the camp. Everybody was a little bit afraid of bears. Rene took this into consideration and she said, “They went that way.” And so she took two or three Guides with her. She went around the hill the other way. Apparently they hid in the bush out there somewhere and when they got close to where the girls were, they started woofing like bears. The searchers never came out…they never came out of the bush. Rene and her search company never came out. The girls came steaming back to the camp and said they had changed their minds. But of course the ones that knew about it just laughed and laughed.

CW: Clever psychology though, eh? [laughter]

JA: That was Guide camp. Then another year, somebody had the bright idea that we should go to Salmon Valley, which was a nice enough place by the river. We had our camp there. It lasted about a week. Same idea, but here I’ve never seen so many mosquitoes in all my life. We had tents, but our tent was just full of mosquitoes. You couldn’t sleep at night. You had to cover your head with blankets to protect yourself. How awful! So that camp was not too popular. And then we had one somewhere in South Fort George. It did give our girls from Giscome a whole new experience. They made a lot of friends with the girls from Prince George. Rene Moss also was active in a lot of community things too.One of these people that I had the privilege of working for or working with was Ray Williston. He had just come out of the air force, I believe, to Prince George after the War to become Principal of the Prince George Secondary School. The area was growing, at that time… I don’t know for what particular reason, but I could guess it probably was becoming more than the Prince George School Board could really visualize and handle… so they took him [Mr. Williston] from that position or… combined it, I’m not sure…but made him Supervising Principal of all the schools in Prince George area. This caused quite a stir in the Prince George district because it was an uncommon position. I don’t know if it had been done in any other school district in the province, but he superseded the principal in every other school and had authority to do or to direct them as he saw fit. Of course he then became supervising principal of the school at Giscome. I don’t remember many upsets there or anything, but he did coordinate the educational policy in the district. We were then considered part of the Prince George school system and we got tests and bulletins and directions about this, that, and the other from Prince George. I think he also had some part in recommending that Giscome become a Superior School, which added Grades 9 and 10. Education, to me, seemed very important. The actual accomplishment of the children was observed by an inspector who came out and looked at your school and watched each class for maybe a third of a day or a half a day. Then they would write you out a report of what they thought. Ray Williston, as far as I know, did not issue reports but he could stir up a directive as he saw fit.

CW: And when would that be…late ‘40s?

JA: It must have been late ‘40s, early ‘50s at that point. I had been married…my son was born in 1950. I decided then, in 1949, that I would stop teaching. We lived at the mill and we had a good living so it wasn’t necessary for me to work. The thing was to ‘stay home with your kid.’ In 1952, one evening we were sitting around the table when Ray Williston came to the door and I thought, “I’m not going to do a school for this time.” But he came in and sat down and explained his problem. He was having some difficulty with one of teachers at the school and in order to carry out his plan, he had to have somebody that would replace the unsatisfactory teacher. I agreed to go back for the remainder of the school year, until June, 1952.

CW: Back into the fray.

JA: Yes. And I…as I say, I think Mr. Williston had probably looked for some room that we had in the building which was then only three rooms, and there were plans made to build a new school. And they did change the school then from being an Elementary school to being a Superior school, which was Grade 1 up to Grade 10.

CW: Now how many rooms did you have?

JA: When he did this, I was classified as ‘unqualified’ for being principal of the Superior School as being Principal of the Superior School, so I was put down to elementary, which was Grades 5 and 6. [She had been Principal when the school was up to Grade 8]

CW: Attitude, right?

JA: 1958. So I then taught Grade 5 and 6 for a number of years. In 1961 my son Bruce was in Grade 6, so we decided that we should think about moving. We’d been in Giscome for quite a number…fifteen years, so we decided I should apply for another district where both he and his sister Wendy, age 5, could be educated without leaving home to go into the Prince George dormitory for High School.

CW: What did you apply for?

JA: By then I had completed my Bachelor of Education, followed by a 5th year diploma in special education, and I also had good comments on my inspector’s report. First place I applied to was Chilliwack. I got a quick response, so bag and baggage, we moved to Chilliwack in 1961. The job in Chilliwack was a very interesting one. I started out at Sardis Elementary. Peter Newman, the principal, had a group of children that weren’t worthy of promotion. These children had been organized by the school board before I got there. They then were bussed into that particular school from all around the central Chilliwack area. I found that I was very much alone in what I was doing except for the Supervisor at the board level who had hired me, Ken Bennett. He was responsible for the class much more than the principal was at that time. So I worked mostly in what I thought was an isolated state, because the children were not particularly from that school and the job I was doing was new to the district so the rest of the teachers there didn’t seem to be interested in it. For my year at Sardis I really only got to know two teachers on staff. One was Mel Folkman, who was the vice-principal at that time, and Godfrey Chadburn, who was a new teacher at the Grade 6 level. The children I had were older.. a number of them were twelve to fourteen years of age because they were a grade or two behind their expected level. They mixed a little bit with the Grade 6/7 students. Other than that, I feel I just seemed to work on my own, do my own thing. It was very good there because I was given an open budget for books, supplies, anything that I wanted. I think it would have been a very successful year because before the year ended the Supervisor came and explained to me what they had thought might be a good idea. That would be that if I would leave that school and go to Vedder Elementary down the road a couple of kilometers or miles and take with me the older students, leave the young ones there. Then they would get another teacher for them. I would go to Vedder Elementary School and they would fill up the class with another group of children. I could start half a new class and have half a leftover class.

CW: Well this is in the early ‘60s, right? Were special classes like this happening all over, do you know, or was this sort of an experiment.

JA: Well I don’t think that they were experimenting… the idea was around about, but I don’t think all schools were doing it. I know Prince George wasn’t doing it at that time. But I think Chilliwack was ahead because they had their Sunshine Drive School, which was a severely handicapped place. I think they had four rooms of students there, students with muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy and such things. But this elementary level special class was new there. I think I got the job because I had just finished doing my fifth year in Special Ed. at UBC.

CW: You moved then to Vedder with the older students, right, and someone else took over the running of the primary group that you had left behind?

JA: Yes. I still had a full range of students at the Vedder one, from Grade ½ level up to the thirteen/fourteen year old group. Grade levels weren’t important because the basis of all special education at that time was you find out where they are and you take them to where you want them to be. To do this, when you take your special education diploma you have to learn to give all the basic IQ tests, aptitude tests and all of this sort of thing. So we classified the students to where they were and moved on from there.

CW: It’s the readiness theory applied to where every individual is.

JA: Yes. This is so different from what happens right now according to what I know about it. In this particular area they’ve taken all children, classed them as being equal and shoved them into an age/grade level. If they’re age ten, they’re in Grade 4 or 5, and if they’re twelve, they’re in Grade 7, and so on. But that was not the theory at that time. [1961 – ‘75]

CW: The idea of the class being segregated from the normal roster of children, was there a problem with that, from the children’s point of view?

JA: No, I don’t think that the children had any views on it because they were just glad to get into a class where the competition and the bullying or whatever it was didn’t exist. It was degrading for the student if their abilities came out. Here they were in groups where everybody was about the same level or grade equivalent, with some variation in age.

CW: And they could be more successful.

JA: Yes. They didn’t have to compete with anybody. They didn’t have to do the things they had been doing, or hadn’t been doing, in regular classes.

CW: So your second year then was at Vedder Elementary with Les Farmer as principal.

JA: Yes.

CW: Vedder?

JA: Vedder, on the Vedder River.

CW: Right. And what caused the move to the third school in the Chilliwack area?

JA: Let’s work on Vedder first. It was quite an interesting camp, a military camp, because Vedder was the base of the very active army camp at that time. Vedder Crossing, was the name people there called it because you crossed the Vedder River to get to Cultis Lake. The children were not children of the armed forces in particular but they were greatly influenced by the ‘military atmosphere’ of the area.

I had twin boys in the class at Vedder who had a problem at lunch-time. I couldn’t understand it. They didn’t have any lunch or they didn’t bring any lunch, and so we inquired into it. We found out that they didn’t want to show their lunch in front of the other children because what they had mostly was cold pancakes with bacon grease on them. The counselor or something for the district came along. We talked to the little fellows, they were about Grade 2 level, and asked them both how is it that you don’t have other things in your lunch? And they said, “Because we get a grocery voucher at Safeway and my dad takes it down to the army camp and sells it for money.” So this was the reason for poor nutrition in the families. But for the little boys things did improve at that point, you know, the social welfare or the counselor investigated and found a remedy for the problem. But the two little fellows were identical. I couldn’t tell one from the other so I said to one one day, “Well how does your mother tell you apart?” “She doesn’t.” “Well,” I said, “how does she handle you?” “She just says, “Hey You!” Whichever one of us she’s looking at, we know it’s us.” They were cute little fellows.

Some of the older girls were quite into crafts and things like that. We did a lot of in-class craft work. The boys did some woodwork and the girls did some embroidery or sewing or art classes.But they did learn, as I said, by taking them back to where they were, whether it happened to be a Grade 2, Grade 4 level and starting them over with brand new materials which didn’t have a grade level mark on, they did learn to read and enjoy themselves, which was the point.

CW: Freed them up to do the rest.

JA: So the same procedure happened again. The Supervisor came and said, “Well, this is going reasonably well. How would you like to move over to Bernard? It’s a brand new school over on the west side of town.” I said, “Well, yes, if that’s what you want me to do, that’s what I should do.” So there again, I took my older boys, some of the same ones as from Sardis, supposedly to the Bernard, but at that time Bernard was not completely finished. So we were put into “Central”, which is Central Chilliwack Elementary School which was a big, old school. We operated out of there. This was quite difficult because of the large size of the school and the students hadn’t been prepared to have a class of, as we classed them, slow-learners in there, so for two months they were harassed by the regular students. It was there that I first met Pat Brady. Pat Brady at that time was very active in the military reserves, I think. He believed in walking in military style for young people, leaving on strict command and when you’re told to do something you do it. The students I had were not really understanding. They had had more lenient treatment, so they had a little bit of a difficult time for a short time but everyone got used to what level they were and how they operated, so that went reasonably well. We were there for six weeks or two months, then we did go into Bernard.

 By that time, the Special Class system was rolling quite well in Chilliwack and they had quite a number of children to come into the program. So they opened up two rooms and I had the senior group and Bessie Knott took over the junior one. It was then a little bit nicer place to work because you had somebody that you could talk to and talk about the same type of thing. And because the classes had been going for quite some time the teachers were aware of what was going on, so I was included more in the staff operation at Bernard School. The principal there was Don Few, who was very friendly and supportive. Very pleasant. He got along very well with the special class students.

One of the difficulties I had was at that time soccer was not a school sport in northern BC, but when you get down to Chilliwack everybody plays soccer about three-quarters of the year. These bigger boys would say, “When are we going to play soccer? When are we going to play soccer?” And I’d say, “Well, I’m sorry, I don’t know very much about soccer. I’ll take you out but I can’t do anything about the game because I don’t know the rules or anything.” And this one big fellow said, “Oh don’t be worried about that, I’ll show you. I’ll tell you what to do and when to do it.” (soccer only)Running up and down the playground, trying to decide what was right to do in soccer and what wasn’t. But the main point was the children had fun at it. They didn’t care too much about having referees or the rules, or what were off sides, or penalty calls.

CW: They felt they were playing soccer.

JA: Well, some of them were, because they won when they did play on the school team. Well, that’s the one that told me he’d tell me what to do.

CW: Well that would be the beginning of their integration then, in the sense that they were not completely segregated.

JA: Yes. And I say, some of them went along with me every time I moved, so by that time they were quite familiar with our expectations. Their self-confidence was much better than when they started out because they had achieved reading skills, skills in math, local geography, and people skills.

CW: And they’d been out of the situation that made them feel inadequate.

JA: Yes. And they were bigger!

CW: A little bit of muscle goes a long way, doesn’t it, when your self-image is growing. So that was 1963 – ‘64, right? So, three years in Chilliwack, and then I understand you thought of coming north again.

JA: Well, my husband had been in the lumber business at Giscome Eagle Lake Sawmills for many years. He was excited about going to Chilliwack but it didn’t work out too well because it was more of a residential community. I think they used to call it a bedroom town, where there weren’t too many jobs. There was one sawmill, out towards Vancouver, but unfortunately it was seasonal. He did get work there but, unfortunately, it burned down in the wintertime. And a lot of it was family and religion-oriented. A lot of the industry there was worked by the farmers and the farmers always shut down everything in the fall to collect the harvest and in the spring to plant the crops. So the whole mill shut down a month or so twice a year. His brother came down from Prince George in the spring. He said they were going to build that big pulp mill up there, Northwood Pulp. He said, “I’m sure you’ll get a job up there”. My husband was a first aid attendant, safety trained and so on. So he went back up with his brother. Of course he went to work the next day. That left me to wonder what I was going to do with my job and the children. I applied to Prince George to see if I could get back there for a teaching job and I was successful in doing that. So we moved back to Prince George in 1964.

CW: And this time you were in the district, not in the outback. You moved into the city itself.

JA: Umm hmm. Well, if you call Blackburn the city. [laughter] Because I had left the district for three years I was considered as a new teacher and so I got out to the suburbs to start with, which was Blackburn Elementary. That was very shortly after the Blackburn School burned down so we had outdoor toilet facilities. I think we had six portables [classrooms]. Blackburn was also a part of what we called the Airport School. The principal, Bill O’Brien, was at Airport. There were two or three classes there and we had six, those in the portables, with outdoor biffies. Blackburn Elementary.

CW: Do a little stepping back in time.

JA: They were building the new elementary school at that time so before the end of the year we moved over into the new building, which is still there.

CW: Now after your year in Blackburn, I understand that you then brought your special education expertise into play again.

JA: I didn’t bring it in. At that time, I think in the ‘64/65 year, there was quite a progressive fellow who had a special class at KGV Elementary, Henry Lunn. He had, I think, then convinced the Board or whoever it was that it was time they started a school for Special Needs children. Before the end of the year at Blackburn, the authorities of the district looked through my resume and decided I had a Special Education diploma, so I was persuaded to move from Blackburn to the new Winton School, which was opening in the fall of ’65.

CW: So then you’d be back in the situation of establishing something new in the special education field? Do you want to go into Winton at all now?

JA: These are my feelings about going there. I was not particularly anxious to go into this type of thing because I'd had the experience in Chilliwack of dealing with a number of slow-learner students. With the one year at Blackburn, I was sort of back to the family atmosphere where you worked with the teachers in the school and felt that you belonged to the teaching staff. That was the regular Grade 4/5 class I had there. So going into Winton was something I was, I guess, persuaded to do. Prior to the opening of Winton School in September of 1965, Henry Lunn had had a special class in KGV Elementary School, which was close by. Apparently he had persuaded or the board had seen that this type of program where you had special classes was beneficial to a certain group of students. So Winton School was formed and it was held in what now is the warehouse on the corner of Edmonton and Ninth Avenue. What conversion they had done I’m not sure because I wasn’t in it before that, but we did not have any PE facilities. It was just a long building with classrooms at one end and on the Ninth Avenue side they had a workshop, which was converted mostly into automotive by a teacher named Trev Sterling.

CW: This is for the students to work in?

JA: Well, he taught Industrial Education: woodwork, metal work and automotive skills. The students were brought in from the immediate district, none past Miworth or Blackburn, and that sort of area. They had been tested by a resident psychologist at the board office and graded out as to the Math and English abilities so that when the school started, Henry spent a lot of time going through the records and organizing them into ability-level classes. The numbers at that time were a maximum of fifteen in a class. These students were classified as being at least two years behind their age grade-level and they were not functioning well in the regular class. The students that we got in were not all of the Special Needs children in the district. It seemed that if the parents had had difficulties or breaks in their education, they were anxious for their children who were not doing too well in the regular classrooms to get another chance at something a little different. It was outlined that we would deal mainly with Mathematics, English, Physical Ed. and Industrial Ed. of some kind – Home Economics for the girls and any types of Industrial Ed. for the boys. In the first few years it turned out to be a lot of work with automotive parts and things like that. For the first part of teaching I was mainly a “secondary” math teacher. Because these students were below grade level, we found that they were working basically at the intermediate level. But in order to reclassify the school and by their age grouping – they were age-group classified for the junior-secondary level, Grade 8, 9 and 10 – so they were called Grade 8, they were classified 9 and 10 and they would spend three years there and graduate.

CW: And you would just modify the curriculum so that it would suit what they required. Well, what they could work.

JA: No. The theory of special education at that time was you find out where they were in their skill levels for Math and English and you start from that point and you take them as far as they can go. And this was the reason for grouping them into skill levels in the basic subjects. In my education of previous experience as an intermediate teacher and Special Ed., I got moved up to the secondary, “quote”, level. We had a wonderful time with material because everything we had was hand picked. Henry seemed to have a lot of knowledge of what was available. Hand picked. There were no grade-level indications in the books so that we could fit the type of exercises and skills to the students. Like the Math textbook. It might be a Grade 6 level math textbook that we were using but it didn’t say Grade 6. It was just the Math text. And it worked very well. The same with readers. We had sets of readers and all sorts of graded material, like the SRA kits.

CW: I was wondering about those.

JA: SRA kits, which were a set of reading things which have a fair-sized card, a 6 by 9 card which has a story on one side and then you have the questions which you answer on that story, and also includes the answer sheet.

CW: Yes, so you didn’t have to read every story.

JA: All you had to do was… You could work with the children that were not exactly at the same level because if you knew which level they started – the red, the blue or the green, or whatever was in the SRA kit. At reading time they could read the card at their level, take the card back, pick up the question sheet and answer the questions, take the questions back, and then go and get the answer sheet. So you could handle quite a number of students in the classroom. But along with that we also taught written work: writing, how to write the answers, how to write a sentence, how to capitalize, all of the composition skills were there. Our objective in this was that they would be able to read the newspaper. They would be able to read most magazines, which are not generally written above a Grade 6 level.

CW: Is that so?

JA: Yes. And also they would be able to fill out application forms for jobs. And we also had women to teach handwriting. This was before the age of computers.

CW: And there was a skill for learning to write by hand?

JA: I think the… They also had an elementary section to the school which dealt with children from the kindergarten age level up to the Grade 7 level, that’s up to twelve years of age. These were also organized according to the skills level that they had. At kindergarten…I’m not very sure about how they handled them, but Emma Russell had had experience teaching slower children before she came to Winton, so she managed quite well with them. They did a lot of activity playing. Things like this which settled them down. In all the school we did not have severely handicapped children or now classified as mentally challenged or physically challenged in any way. They were just students who had not been able to keep up. Sometimes through illness, sometimes through moving around, sometimes through second language difficulties, they had not been able to cope and progress in the normal classroom so that they were separated and put into these groupings where they could work at the level that they were capable of. It was, I think, really a good spot because they were not intimidated by people as not being able to do what everybody else was doing. They were closely enough tested so that they could work together and they were all, generally at that time, working from the same textbook. There might be two different groups in it, like the primary, – the bluebirds and the robins and things. Just those people who were working on multiplication, those people who were working on division. Or some of them into fractions and things like that. So, to me, it was a very pleasant place to teach because you had children generally that were anxious to learn and were very pleased to be able to do what was put in front of them. We did not develop any great behaviour problems, as it seems today that when these children are left in their regular classroom they don’t get any attention for their skills so they get it through developing behaviour problems.

CW: And they weren’t being compared to any of the really intellectually bright that would leave them in the dark.

JA: And I said we didn’t classify them, or name them, as to the grade level. Age put them in Grade 8, 9 and 10. And the primary and elementary were run on the same level, Grade 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, whatever it happened to be.

CW: I was wondering about the work experience part of it. Was that later with their interviews?

JA: The work experience started with some of the older students. I think they had to be fourteen. I’m not sure I want to go into work experience. This was another aspect of the school. We planned on them graduating academically at the Grade 10 level but along with that, we planned that they would have some type of work that they could handle. So it was organized…I think at one time we had sixty businesses or work places in Prince George that we could put these students into and they would go out each school day. The Grade 10 level students, I remember, would be out for one month and then they would be back in school for a month, and then out again, so out of the school year, they spent about five months out on job experience. The provincial regulations said that each experience had to be a new experience, so you couldn’t put them out in a workshop and do the same thing for five months. I think that that, somehow, was bent a little bit because we had boys who showed aptitude for auto-body work. So when they went out on the first part of the work experience they would probably be given masking the part that had to be worked on, on the auto body. Next session out they were not maskers, they were sanders. They would learn the sanding of the project before the paint. And so on. So we did manage to keep some of them in the same type of occupation for several sessions, especially when they got up to the fifteen year age group, which was Grade 10…fifteen and sixteen year olds.

CW: How did you find that transition back into the classroom each time?

JA: It was fine. They were very well prepared for what they’d done because… I know the first year or two I was there I taught most of the Math. When I got into the work experience, then it was my job to go around with my little bundle of papers and see the employer…the trainer/employer…which student was going to come into his shop next and what to expect from that student. The first little deal was that they had to be conditioned to the fact that they had to be there on time and they had to do as they were instructed to do. They didn’t take breaks, etc. It was standard working procedure. We had them in auto body shops; we had them in many businesses in the city. I remember having some up at Zono Filters, which was working with the filters. I didn’t get to know all that they did, but I was in charge of work experience so I would go to all of those places and I could stand around and watch them work. I learned a lot of skills too.

CW: Was any remuneration given to the people who took them or did they do it….

JA: No. This was just something that had been agreed upon, whether it was engineered by Mr. Lunn or whether it was cooperation from the school board that these people took students. Prince George was a little bit smaller and not so industrialized at that time. We did get a few students into the mills but we had a little trouble with unions there because the IWA in particular felt that they were going out there to take jobs. Sawmilling and planer milling being what it is, two people couldn’t do the same station, the same job, so that the student had to watch somebody for a certain length of time, then they got to do a little bit of the labour. But the IWA was not fussy [about having them there] and the Workmen’s Compensation Board wasn’t either because of the danger of them being injured.

CW: Yes, it wouldn’t be as satisfactory.

JA: It was mainly the boys who went into some type of machine shops and sometimes into stores like Canadian Tire where they worked with stock. The girls were a little bit more difficult to deal with because there aren’t too many occupations that they could be placed in. We had some waitressing jobs and some room service, which was interesting enough. I knew nothing about either. But at that time I had to teach. We had a manual from the provincial government. I had to teach waitressing – how to serve from the left and take off from the right, and put all the forks in order of use beside the plate and all knives on the other side in the order that they’re going to be used. My thinking was, “well, you put the smallest next to the largest but that’s not rightYou have to have a salad fork and a soup spoon and so on and so forth.” This was some difficulty for these people to deal with because it was memory work. And room service was even trickier because it wasn’t just vacuuming the floor and making the bed. You had to check the light bulbs. You had to check the towels. You had to check the drawers and the furniture. And you had to look under the bed and all of this sort of thing. We found that the girls had some difficulty, especially when they had to check the light bulbs to see that they all turned on and everything would be perfect for the next person coming into the unit they were working on.

CW: From a written list in the beginning, or was it all memory….

JA: No, they were taught by whoever had the job. The regular room service lady taught them. Supposedly as they went on they were supposed to leave them for a certain length of time. A usual room service lady, I think, does clean up to twenty rooms on her shift. They have to be all ready before lunch or have to be ready from lunch until six o’clock or something like that...

CW: Checkout time at eleven.

JA: Yes. And then they would divide up and send a girl, a student, out to do maybe… [a part of some job]

CW: So the first time you were at Winton, how long were you there again?

JA: I was there for four years, from sixty –five to sixty –nine, doing mostly the same thing all those years. And then I was able to transfer out to Lakewood Junior Secondary, which was a new Junior Secondary which had opened a year before in the Lakewood area. I went back to the regular secondary programme. The only interesting fact was that, having spent the beginning of my career as an intermediate Elementary teacher, by the shift of positions or assignments in the Winton system, I was then classified as a Secondary teacher, not as an Elementary teacher.

CW: Because you had been working with the older groups at Winton?

JA: Well, at what they called the Junior Secondary level. So I guess someplace in the School Board office I left the Elementary Supervisor and went to the Secondary Supervisor and that was how the transfer came about, as near as I can see it ..In charge of the Lakewood School, because it was new and everyone else was practically new on staff, it was back again to the situation where you felt that you belonged more to a team than working in an isolated or particular area by yourself. The Principal at that time was Ted Lea and the Vice-principal was Jim Imrich. We also had a very interesting secretary; Jo [Josephine] Seymour was the only secretary in the office at that time. And at that time we were up to nearly eight hundred students because they were then building D.P.Todd Secondary School. So at one part, we were on shift there .We had to divide the students up and I think we worked alternate two months sessions. The “school” that I was with, we had on mornings for two months, and then we switched over and had afternoons for two months. We worked until one o’clock and the other staff came on at one o’clock... stayed 'til six. So we had an interesting time, but we put in our time because there were no breaks at all. We taught from eight to one and one to six, a straight five hours.

CW: Was that to minimize the affect of a shortened day?

JA: Yes. I think the students enjoyed it. And I know the teachers enjoyed it, because the students, especially in the wintertime when the months of November and December came along there were a lot of outdoor activities such as skiing, and at that time, when we really had winters. (laughter) Skiing, skating and what other things they wanted to do and they could do those in the morning, if they were on afternoon shift. Teachers... the same thing. If you were on morning shift you got off at one o'clock, but puttered around until two, but you had time to go shopping or do other activities or something in the afternoon. I know at that same time Seymour Elementary was on shift which was in the area in which I lived and students and teachers there enjoyed the same things, especially the Intermediate girls or boys. Grade five to seven could go out to the ski hills in the afternoon or they could go to the skating facilities. They really enjoyed it. It always made me think that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for our economic situation to have two shifts going all the time in schools. .

CW: You didn’t see this as a serious disadvantage to their progress?

JA: No, I think it was development for their character.... and they don't seem to have suffered any trauma. The studious ones could do their homework all afternoon or they could do their homework in the morning before they went to school in the afternoon so it made a lot more evening time for students.

CW: There was the incentive to keep on doing... going without the breaks!

JA: I remember my daughter, who was at Seymour Elementary, got very involved in bowling. When they were on morning shift, they had the afternoon to bowl and vice-versa. So, really, I said, it was a broadening of their whole lifestyle, because they had time to go to school and they had time to do what they wanted to do.

CW: Contrary to people’s feeling that we should have a longer day so that they could do more.

JA: Well, I think the ones that were more sensitive were the parents who did not want to get up early early in the morning to get the children off to school and they said it upset their meal times because they couldn’t have lunch at the same time, as the child didn’t get home until one and Daddy got home at twelve. It was the same with dinner. The school didn't get out 'til six and the family wanted to eat before six. But that was a very limited number of parents... But that was on of the so-called "bad" effects...

CW: What time did the morning shift start?

JA: At eight. It was good training for the Secondary students because that got them already to go to the job. (laughter)

CW: So that was... how long at Lakewood then?

JA: How long was I at Lakewood? Three years. It was a very interesting time. I think it was the beginning of when computers were coming into the schools and everybody was providing themselves with an APPLE [computer] and at Lakewood we had a whole lab full of computers and we had two very knowledgeable men, Bruce Irving and Frank Gibbons, who had already started on computers and very kindly held after school sessions for any teachers that were interested in doing that sort of thing. So we all got into a little computer knowledge. I even got so far that I could do a little bit of programming on an Apple computer. Unfortunately Apples went out and PC’s came in.

CW: Though the District has always had two streams of types of computers, haven't they? People who went for Apples... and...

JA: Well, again for economic times, it seems that at that time the schools were better equipped with the equipment that was available than they are at this time. So I ….with those two people and I was working with a lot of other teachers... teachers who had other knowledge and skills. We had Band at Lakewood and we had Choir at Lakewood .We had two up and coming Art teachers, so you got to see a lot of work that the students did in a large school when the opportunity was there.

CW: Are you said that was eight hundred students?

JA: Yes, I don’t know how they managed that on shift programme but it only lasted for one year. David Lindstrom was the Band man and Ernie Block was the Choir man. So I think it was... to me it was a really good time of teaching.

CW: And those were the students that moved on to P.G.S.S., after this?

JA: Yes, Lakewood is still a feeder school to P.G.S.S. but they also have a choice of going to D.P.Todd

CW: Have you any other particularly memorable experiences related to Lakewood?

JA: Yes, I could probably say that it was my introduction to the world of drugs there because at that time I think marijuana was just coming into full circulation. Being close to Spruceland Shopping Centre, we did have some, apparently had drugs around the school. The police came in a couple of times and gave us short seminars... what a joint looked like and what it smelled like and what we should be watching for... especially if a student left the room and came smelling a queer smell., I don't know quite how you would describe it, but it was the smell of marijuana. They [police] had nice little sardine cans that had some marijuana and they would light it up in the seminar room and let us smell it so we could be aware of it. I don’t think the teachers got very involved in this, but quite often we would get a public address system announcement: "NO STUDENT OR ANYONE IS TO LEAVE THE CLASSROOM FOR THE NEXT THIRTY MINUTES. PLEASE OBSERVE THIS... NOT EVEN TO LET THEM GO TO THE WASHROOM." The first one was a warning that something was happening. So we did what we were told and then at the end of the day the staff was all called in to the library and what was explained to us was that the police were on a drug raid. At that time the office kept the full record of the... you had to buy your combination locks from the school. It had to recorded, and your locker number and who was in it. So all the police had to do was to walk in and ask for the locker numbers If they knew what they were looking for, and for whom they were looking, they went about their business. We were never told about the results of any of it, but I know that one or two of the students did make their name in the drug world and served a little time for it. We had these very, very often, but after the first one we didn’t get alarmed; we knew what was happening. We were full of curiosity which did us no good. (chuckle) As I say, it was an introduction to the drug world because at one time it was all over Prince George. I lived across from one of the little city parks and quite often on a summer evening you would get this beautiful smell wafting down on the breezes. You knew what was going on... a little pot party up in the park!

CW: So after you... your little sojourn in Lakewood, you then went back to Winton for a time I understand.

JA: Yes, I am not sure of the reasoning, I think that when I left Winton first, it was considered that I had put in several good years there and they thought a year a few years out would give me a little bit of rest, and to get back after seeing what was happening in the regular classes, I was expected to return to Winton with some new ideas. When I returned to Winton after three or four years at Lakewood, the Administration had changed, the Principal had changed, and staff had changed. Jack Lunden had taken over the Work Experience programme. He was not a teacher, but he had a lot of experience in business, born and raised, I think, and spent most of his life in Prince George so he knew the business community quite well. He had worked at Morrison's Men's' Wear on the corner of Third and George Street for quite a long time.

CW: So your role when you went back to Winton was a little different from when you had left and been looking after the Job Experience. Is that right?

JA: Yes, and my refresher on how to teach teenagers properly was improved, because I was given... mostly the Mathematics programme, which was one of my strengths and as the aspect of Work Experience now included preparation for clerking in stores or being cashiers in small places, the necessity was to teach all of the students who were eligible for Work Experience, to be able to handle a cash register and to make change in the proper fashion. So we were very quickly provided with a cash register and teaching of Mathematics for a few months became making up problems and I guess we planned it as playing store. (laughter) They thought that was quite fun because it was a learning experience for them.

So one student would be the customer, one would be handling the cash register and they would have a set list of little problems which they had to work out. It was quite a demanding thing, because the student had to learn to take a purchase, such as something that cost two dollars and forty-nine cents and the customer would hand you a five dollar bill. They had to be able to... without the help of a calculator or cash register that gave you the answer to the problem, as it does now. All they have to do [now] is punch in the bill and punch in the purchase amount and the machine tells you how much to make up. These people had to work all of that out, which they did basically on paper first, and if the change was two dollars and fifty-one cents. they had to learn to count it out properly so the first thing you do you say is ‘your purchase is two dollars forty-nine cents -and thank goodness we didn’t have seven percent tax to deal with- you had to give them a one cent to make it two dollars and fifty cents, a twenty-five cent piece made it two dollars and seventy-five cents, another twenty-five cent piece made it three dollars and then you had one or two dollar bills, and you had to do it in the smallest number of coins possible, so you gave them a two dollar bill and you count out your change: "two forty-nine... one penny makes two fifty; one twenty-five cents make two seventy-five and another one three dollars. and then the two-dollar bill makes five dollars." and that is the way it had to be done. So it was quite a learning experience. Nowadays I believe .when you go into a store the cash register tells them and all they do is fish in the cash register and drop you a handful of something on the counter. Say, "Your change is two dollars and fifty-one cents." Whether you get it or not is your choice to count it on the counter. And at that time and place these students were supposed to do it.

 Some other things that the student Work Experience programme demanded for girls was waitressing... boys going out to be busboys in the restaurants. And also some of the girls went to room service work in motels and hotels. Also a few tried hairdressing. My educational experience had not contained anything to do with waitressing or room service, not even my own room service. (laughter) And Busboy, I didn’t really understand the term when I started, what it was. But this [job] was for a young fellow who wasn’t a good risk to put out as a waiter. All the busboy does is go along and clean up table, take off the dirty dishes and the tray and take them out to the dishwasher, and to clean off the table, put a clean cloth on and reset the table as you would find... Not too many of the boys were taken with that. It was not really considered to be a masculine thing to be messing around with dishes and suchlike. (chuckle)

Anyway the provincial government supplied manuals for that, so being able to read, I was able to follow through and get most of it across. Not too many of the students were successful at this type of thing because the demands were exacting, they had to be right on. Waitressing they had to put forks, serve from the right, take off from the left, which ever way it went, I have forgotten. The room service work required a long list of things which had to be done. You don’t just go in make the bed or if you do make the bed it has to be made with the corners squared, the pillows... with the bedspread over the pillows in the proper fashion and so on. But they also had to put all the other bathroom things like the toilet tissue, the soap and the samples, shampoo or whatever else they gave out.. Towels... there had so many of each kind if the room was set out for four there had to be four of each kind, hand towels, bath towels, etc. They also had to check all of the services in the unit such as light bulbs, telephones working, radio alarm or alarm clock was working, because hotels were not equipped as well as they are now with automatic dialing for wake up in the morning.

 So they trained a number of steps and the people who were supposedly training them found it took too much of their time to check all the things that were supposed to be checked by a student. To protect their own job, they had to do that, because they were responsible for [the work]. Some of the girls thought they would like to go into hairdressing and several of the shops did take them in and found that they were quite adept at doing the actual hairstyling and the physical parts, haircutting and that sort of thing, but the difficulty arose when they wanted to become a certified hairdresser.... you have very heavy textbooks, about two inches thick, which covered everything from hair problems to skin problems to whatever might come up and they had to be able to write... do a written exam to say that they could give advice on those sort of things. The reading level... it was a college textbook that they were expected to deal with... one that was used in CNC at the time and most of them found [it too difficult] so that we didn't consider that hairdressing was a very acceptable thing for them to work at. Some of them did work at... in a big shop they could take one or two of them in for cleanup...

CW: ... shampooing people?

JA: ... like washing out shampoos and doing shampoos or something but did not go as a full-time employee or a full-fledged employee. I know some of them did stay... I guess you'd classify as cleanup girl.

CW: So these things that you were working with them on.... did you see it as a benefit when they went out into the working world?

JA: Well, I think the "change-making" for the clerical was a good deal for their own lifestyles, so that they learned to handle money well. Some of the other ones went to work in the larger stores like Canadian Tire and Woolco, at the time, and Zellers... not Zellers... Kmart, because there were other things and the places were big enough to put them into jobs like shelf arranging and stocktaking and replenishing the stock as it was required... so that they did work there. We had two girls who went to that type of work in Canadian Tire and I think, to this day, in 2002, they are still there. They have reached the point where they do some customer service and some advice, but they have specific jobs which they are expected to do... not too much with the customers.

CW: And the boys, you said....

JA: The boys went to some of the mechanical... shops like autobody shops, machine shops, tire shops, where they could handle it... I had one boy that was very successful at the autobody shop at Fred Walls... he learned to be a "detail man" and was quite well respected there. He apparently had artistic skills as well as the hand skills where he could do that sort of thing. I don't know where he went when Fred Walls left business.

CW: I understand, too, you had some adults coming back out of the community into Winton School.?

JA: Oh, there was a time, I don't know what prompted it... it probably was the beginning of adult ... or "continuing" education. I'm not sure whose inspiration it was to get this going. Where they got the students... I think they were there by some legal situation, and were forced to attend school. Perhaps because I was one of the more experienced teachers there, it was decided that I should handle this adult section. Over the space of a couple of weeks I managed to bring in three adults. As I say, I don't know exactly where they came from.

 But they also hired a young fellow who just seemed to patrol around... I think he was a ... I would class him as a security man. I don't know for what reason, but probably because there were adults in there and there were children in the school, he had a designated job. Despite humourous... he came in, I was introduced to him and he was wearing jeans and what we classed then as leather-topped boots which were rubber, like ducky boots, at the bottom but a leather top on them that came up to the knee and I think he wore a plaid shirt of some kind. Around his waist he had a heavy belt and on it he had a knife-holder such as for a small hunting knife. As I say, it was quite humourous because I was never sure what he was supposed to do, but one day I was going through the open area, which had come into style in the upper part of the school, which had now moved to what had been Duchess Park and is now the Board Office. We moved from the warehouse situation down on Winnipeg Street up to Duchess Park School... and Duchess Park had moved to the new high school. So... oh, now I've lost myself. ..

CW: So back to your story on the security guard...?

JA: Yes, I was walking through there, and there were a couple of thirteen- or fourteen- year old boys... Open area was open area there... and they wandered around. One was talking to this fellow, which was fine. I don't know what... I was busying myself with something. All at once I see the other fellow standing in front of this security fellow with a hunting knife in his hand, pointing it at the security man. Oh, my goodness, what's going to happen here? And the young fellow was laughing and the security fellow said, "Where'd you get that knife?" "Oh", he said, "I got it out of the holder in the back of your belt." So, that sort of brought about the situation and the security fellow, or whatever he was, had to change his style of dress... and to leave the knife off his ... So he came to look more like a teacher.

CW: Then after a couple more years here... then they started to phase out the Winton program, is that right?

JA: Yes, the Principal changed again and they brought in a fellow from Valemount, Tony Hartnell. I'm not sure... I think he was an import teacher from one of the "Commonwealth" countries and... I don't think he had the real insight into what was going on in the school. He spent most of his time in discipline and that and was not so interested in the Work Experience and what the school was trying to do, so it came up... the question with the School Board and the School Board began to think it was too expensive. We had eleven staff, two hundred-odd students, so they made plans to phase it out. And they started at the secondary level. The plan was to... the thinking was integration.......... I was asked to go back to Lakewood; a portable was put on the grounds next to the IE shop and I was given twelve to fifteen senior boys, which would be between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. It was quite a nice group and they did get them integrated into courses like shop, which was really a good training for that... and also they were able to mix into the PE program... Lakewood was Junior Secondary, eight, nine and ten, so they had thirteen to sixteens and they included them in the PE program. Also, in the Food Section, I think at that time Pat Brady was teaching Food to boys' classes and they found it quite an experience to have a man teacher who could do those things. Pat also taught Typing and various other things which appealed to them. It wasn't for the experience... Work Experience was carried on in some form. I think it was about this time Aim High came into existence.

CW: So, in moving to Lakewood, did most of the students that you'd worked with in Winton come with you to Lakewood, then?

JA: A few of them did, but they were all bused in to Winton, pretty well, and some of them that fitted in the age group and however this class was to be set up, some of them did. But, it was also the feeling of further integration of students because they came from the local... the attendance area of Lakewood School. The parents were never very accepting of the fact that their children had to be bused and be segregated from the others, so they agitated until they got this movement going that they could attend their area school. And this lasted... the Special Class as such with students integrated into the subjects which they could handle, did not last more than a year or two when the system changed again to bring the students in, integrate them into the school, and then the teachers that had had the Special Classes became Learning Assistance Teachers. We were given a large room in the school and the students who had been in the Special Class at the beginning of the next school year became... were registered in the regular class, grade eight or nine, whichever it happened to be, and they handled the subjects that they could do in the regular class and when they came to the highly academic courses, they went to the Learning Assistance Room and we ran the good old reading programs, SRA kits, workbooks and whatever else, because we were able to have them tested out to what reading level they were and things like that. So, we had brought a lot of the equipment... materials came from Winton School.

CW: And this literacy was one of the strong points that had been in Winton, also?

JA: Yes. That was one of the main ideas of "getting them, as I said before, from where they were to where you wanted them to be" so it was an upgrading type of support. And Social Studies, I think, was one of the courses that adapted more to the regional [study] rather than history, more geography and ancient history. We stayed more in the regional area of BC.

CW: So, then, your function was as Learning Assistance Teachers, giving them support.

JA: Yes. It became quite a "fun" deal because, you know, you had them for five blocks A.... so you might have them in there for one or two blocks and then they would be out and another bunch would come in, depending on what the timetable was. And I think the Ministry of Education had gone along with the Learning Assistance idea; the regulation said that for each 300 students there would be one full-time Learning Assistance teacher. At that time, Lakewood had about 450 students, so, to follow the regulations, they added another half-time teacher. Rita Jacobsen came in but at that cut, integrated too. I think maybe she did one or two other things in the school and became full-time Learning Assistance teacher, so we really had two Learning Assistance teachers. (chuckle) That went on for quite some time; as long as I was there it was a Learning Assistance situation. I then retired in 1984 because the Board was offering incentives for getting rid of the older teachers, ones that were on maximum scale, so I took the benefits and retired. I did go back substituting after that and Lakewood had changed to what they called "Tutorial", where you didn't try to do classes... the students brought their work in from a regular classes and you were expected to help them... modify it or whatever else. So you began dealing "one on one", rather than small group instruction. Learning Assistance had been similar, but we could keep two or three students together to keep their interest, in a particular subject like Reading or Math, but the tutorial was basically one on one.

CW: And so you were working with what the teacher had planned for them to do, rather than doing the planning yourself...?

JA: Yes, that was what Tutorial was about... crack tutors! And I know I spent four to five years at that and (laughing) my evaluation of it was that it was the softest job I'd ever had in my life... never expected to have... because Lakewood was not noted for wanting special programs, and so on. It was felt by the administration that it was too high a socio-economic area to have children who need tutorial and special Ed, and so on.

CW: Oh, really? So... so there wasn't a heavy demand for your services as a tutor?

JA: No.

CW: So, Jeanne, you retired in 1984 and... what did you do to celebrate your emancipation from the school system? (chuckle)

JA: Well, my retirement came with a little bonus and my husband decided, we were both the same age, that he should retire from the city of Prince George... and he had a bonus coming because they were allowed fifty percent of their sick leave in pay, if they hadn't used their sick leave. And he had quite a number of days coming, so from there we decided that we would travel a little bit. I wanted to go back to see where my ancestors came from in Ireland... and his came from Norway and Sweden, so we made two trips to Europe, one to the Scandinavian countries and then, a few months later we went back and did the British ones, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Very enjoyable! 'Took the winter months to go to Hawaii and thaw out for a bit. Really had quite a good time! Now the next summer I was bored so as we were travelling locally, we got down to the Okanagan and ran into my old friend, Renee [Irene] Moss, who had also retired from Penticton. While I was there visiting she was very very busy with the Penticton Branch of the retired teachers, so I said to her... she was telling me what they did and all the fun and games they were playing, so I said, "How do you start one?"

JA: "Well", she said, "I'll just give you the phone number and you phone Vancouver and they'll give you, you know, whatever information you need and so on..", so I came home and I thought about it for a few weeks and, seeing all the people I had retired with, started talking a little bit about it and they seemed to be quite anxious to have an organization where they could get together with their colleagues and have a little bit of fun. So I finally... at the end of the summer, I phoned the provincial office of the BC Retired Teachers' Association and I just had my first question for the secretary, who at that time was Doreen McPherson, I said, "How do I go about starting a branch of the retired teachers?" She said, "You do it! You do it! I'll send you some papers, but you have to do it." So I accepted that and got together and by October, I think, I had got the required fifteen members willing to join, so we could get together... discussed it, and they were all in agreement so we sent in our application for a branch ....

CW: So you started out with a bare minimum? Fifteen...

JA: A bare minimum. Yes.

CW: So was it a lengthy process to have them...?

JA: No, it wasn't... a lengthy process because conditions were that you must have your fifteen members and you must agree to abide by the constitution and bylaws of the provincial association... and the two main things branches were formed for was to provide some assistance to retired teachers in your area and to build up a social life so that they could have some "fun and games" out of it, which was very easy. Naturally, I was elected president.

CW: Well, right! (laughter)

JA: And.... our vice-president was Alma Foisy, and our social convener was Betty Hough. We didn't have any committees or suchlike at that point. It worked very well. We established the idea that we would have luncheon meetings every two months and have a... on the other months. So, it worked out very well. We went to different places. We went to Esther's Inn... for fifteen members it was very very easy to find a place to go. We went down to the Prince George Hotel once; we went to Carmel's... we went around and then at the end of that year we decided we would have a barbecue, so Betty, very kindly, being the social convener, said, "You can have the barbecue at my place."

CW: At her place?

JA: Yes... so we had the first one at Betty Hough's and it has become an established event, to have a barbecue at the end of the year. During the nine years that I was president, we travelled around from one place to another with our year-end barbecue and with our luncheons. We had the barbecue at my place once or twice, Emma Russell had them over to her place in Buckhorn a few times, we had some at Betty Hough's...

CW: And did you establish the "first day of school" as the withdrawal for teachers newly retired? Or is that something more recent?

JA: No, we didn't have that... that's a recent development.

CW: So, in those nine years what did you see as the major changes of the organization?

JA: The major change seemed to be, I think, that with the incentive for teachers with long-term being given incentives to retire, we were beginning to get earlier retirees... younger people. I think it went down to... if they were fifty-five years of age and had twenty-five years of teaching experience they could retire and start drawing their pension, plus the bonus or whatever they got from the school district. This was done to allow the School Board to pick up younger inexperienced teachers who weren't on such a high salary scale. So the organization grew from the original fifteen up to, at that point... '94...'95, I don't remember the number, but it must have been well over a hundred teachers that we had as members. And at the current time, 2002, it is over the 200 mark and we are having trouble finding places large enough to hold the luncheons and the current executive has combined the meetings as a pre-lunch deal. I'm not sure this is highly acceptable, but the people, I guess, that are interested do turn out for the meeting... some just come for the luncheon. In 1994-95 we were getting a lot of younger teachers in and they seemed to have more energy and zip than some of us who had been carrying the organization for the first nine years of its existence, so we had an election of officers and Marj Niehaus, a retired librarian from the District Resource Centre, became president and brought a lot of energy and ideas into the organization. Shortly before this point... back in... I'm not sure which year it was... Shirley Cuthbertson of the Royal Museum was going around to the various branches, encouraging them to start what she classed as a Heritage Committee, to do things about collecting text-books, organizing all the artifacts and stuff from school because at this time when [retired] teachers were getting well on in years, so she wanted us to start that and ... a part of that deal, I said, there was... came out different parts of the Heritage Committee... there was the Textbooks, the Artifacts, and also there was the Oral History. She gave us a demonstration of this to show us how we could do interviews with retired teachers, get their life story and experiences in teaching in the "wilds" of British Columbia. (laughter) So then we, after her little meeting with us, we decided it would be nice to have a Heritage group... because we were covering at that time everything north of Kamloops, out to the Alberta border, out to Prince Rupert. There were no other branches of the Retired Teachers' Association.. A few years along the way, Dawson Creek has started one and, I think, Quesnel and Williams Lake... Quesnel does have an established branch. I'm not sure about Williams Lake at this point. Out west... I haven't heard of any branches.

CW: The... another component of that, I believe, was the Newspaper component where they would pull out articles and put them into a part of the Archives to show how education had been reported over the years.

JA: Yes, this was another part of the Heritage Committee, called historic research, I guess, and Bob Wall agreed to do this and they go down to the library with this group and they read the microfiche and whatever else is there about the early newspapers. At one time Prince George had three newspapers, I think... South Fort, maybe Central Fort... and quite a competition ran because each one had their own individual little School Boards and whatnot. So Bob has collected a lot of material and also a lot of the educational ideas of the times have been reflected in that... of how the Chairman could do this and the Chairman could do that and somebody else...and they weren't above making caustic remarks about one thing or another. They are quite humourous to read and Bob has done an excellent job and I'm sure is still continuing with it.

CW: At the initial setting up of this Heritage Committee, was a concrete decision made to make it specifically the Prince George area, or did that come later?

JA: No, I don't think that has ever been established yet, but some people voice a view that we should be just the Prince George area, but with the combining of school districts and the lack of branches in some of these places we thought we were missing quite a bit of good material. So, anyway, to establish this Heritage Committee Yvonne Nelson accepted the idea of being Chairperson of the Heritage Committee. And, I think to start with, we had seven or eight members who were interested. So there we established the different parts of it. At the current time we have a very very active text-book group headed by John and Ellen Norman and Bob Wall was still with his newspaper. I agreed to go along with the oral history section of it because I knew a lot of the teachers that were in the district at that time and shortly after we formed, Clare Willis retired and she joined the Heritage Committee and fortunately I managed to get her as an assistant in the Oral History and she and I have been doing the oral history section ..' have about fifteen oral histories we've done of teachers in this district and also some of the older teachers in the area. I know, I did one... a very very interesting one... on Hazel Huckvale from Williams Lake, because at one time Hazel decided that she wanted to run for president of the provincial organization. She did not succeed, but she carried a lot of (indistinct) weight... very interesting. And those of you that remember Hazel would know that she was a very dominant force. And then we did two or three from Vanderhoof; we had Lil McIntosh, who was a... grew up in Prince George and then went to teach in Vanderhoof and experience in the "wilds of the west"...wild west experiences... (laughter) and also Evelyn Dickson, who started quite early in the thirties... out in what they call the Lakes District now, which is south of Vanderhoof. Most of these can now be found on the Internet for the Prince George Oral History Group, [] to which Clare and I also belong, because it is the community one. We do some interviews that aren't teachers but basically we're sticking to the teachers of the area.

During this time the University of Northern British Columbia has been established as a northern university. They have also established an Education Department and the textbook and archivist people made it a part of their activities to visit any schools that might be closing, such as Upper Fraser, which closed a couple of years ago, to inventory things that have... you know, that were of archival or textbook quality so that we would get them when the school did close. And then they divided into attendance areas... sections where they visited... have visited nearly all the schools in the district to inventory and to, hopefully, preserve things that are of heritage quality so that when anything happens they will be passed on to the Heritage Committee. This Heritage Committee started out with Yvonne Nelson as the first chair, John Stevens then took over for a session, and now Shirley Richter is the Chairperson for the Heritage Committee. The number of textbooks collected has been very heavy and John and Ellen Norman who were doing such a good job, found that they have had storage problems for all of these books and perhaps not the best storage that is recommended for such things, so they got into talks with UNBC and their Educational and whatever Heritage Department they have. They [UNBC] were interested in taking over our collection because they have the.... apparently they have the facilities and the proper temperature, humidity and so on for storing things like this... and also the personnel to do the inventory and data work with them. So the collection has been transferred to UNBC, although the textbook committee is still visiting schools and accepting anything that comes their way.

CW: I think they still have a few gaps they are trying to fill in having a complete collection of textbooks... ones that are older and hard to come by.

JA: I remember back when we first started the Heritage Committee, Shirley Cuthbertson said that... had a booklet that said that, since the beginning of Education in British Columbia there had been 30,000 textbooks and course of studies and things like that that had been published. So, it is a never-ending search to try and fill it... I know that at that time they didn't have too many even at the Royal Museum.

CW: So, uh, the artifacts that have been brought from the schools have gone into the Heritage Committee's possession... and some of them already have been brought away from the schools... right?

JA: Yes. I think I'll turn this one over to Clare because she has been active in entering all this material on the data base and has a little bit better knowledge but for historical reasons we will get her to outline what has been done with the artifacts like old school bells and what they call...

CW: Realia! (laughter)

JA: ... which is school sports trophies and suchlike.

CW: Well... interestingly enough, when these groups come back from their excursions to the schools they then meet on a regular basis and put all of these officially into the record of material that has been accessioned. And so they fill in the information on the sheet about where they came from and who was instrumental in using them and so on. There are many different things: photos, reports, directives of various committees at the School Board Office, and items that schools have preserved for whatever reason. Once these sheets are made up, then the... there's another group of people who have been working at the DRC [District Resource Centre] on a very regular basis to put these into the data base and the data base is accessed through Highland School's Internet [note: no longer Highland, but now (2006) College Heights Elementary] connection, and so all of the things that have been acquired... then there is a record of their existence. And anyone from the general public can go in and look at what's there. You don't see the actual item, but you see that it is there as a part of the Archives and if you needed it for your research you could take the next step and go and have a look at it. Barb Hall has been looking after that for the last two or three years... Marj Niehaus before her had helped set this up so the computer record of what is there is ongoing still. They haven't quite finished visiting all the schools... I think they expect to finish by the end of the year 2002 and in that case then we'll start maybe making more efforts in getting things from individual teachers that have retired, as they might be useful and different from what's still in the schools. So, Jeanne, does that cover the function of the Heritage Committee, do you think?

JA: Something that we should mention is that the collections became so large that the Committee went to the School Board to see if they had any spare space that could be loaned out to the Heritage Committee for storage. The first one was a band room that was above the stage in Highland School. It was a long narrow section and it rapidly became full of charts and files and directives and the things that Clare mentioned that had been collected, so I think they went back to the School Board to see if there was any more space available. And at that time, the Board gave them a full classroom space at Highland, which is now in use... [It has since been moved to Gladstone Elementary School building in College Heights] and has one wall pretty well full of filing boxes and materials. Is there anything else...?

CW: It's also supplied the Committee with a meeting place because, prior to that, we had met... first in people's homes for this committee and later in Ron Brent School's lunch room. And so it is nice to be meeting where the actual materials are, too, so if something comes up someone can dig it out and show it to anyone who's interested. So, that has kept you busy over these years of retirement, Jeanne, and... what do you see happening in your role in the next few years?

JA: Well, I said that I hope to carry on with the oral histories... I have two in progress now, two individual ones: Carl Strom, who is not a teacher but was a pioneer in the Willow River area since 1922, at the age of one year, I think... and also I'm hoping to do one with Emma Russell, who is a representative of a teacher who has worked across the western provinces... Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and came to BC.... worked in the special school, Winton, that we had here at one time... and also worked in some of the tutorial and Special Classes before she retired. Emma joined our organization very early in its beginning and has now been our first active "life member". I think she's been a life member for two or three years now... it's at 85 a person's not paying membership fees, and so on. Emma is still attending our luncheons and so on and is very interested. Another project which we have ongoing now... we are doing an inventory which we call Roll Call which is hoping to cover a brief summary of the activities and names and such-like of all the retired teachers that have been members of our organization since its beginning and we're projecting it up to the year 2005. We do have a number as a start on this one, but it is going to be a lengthy deal because I don't know how many... with 200 active members right now and going through all the ones who have left or moved away we should have double that number, so it is going to be quite a project. [note: 2006 membership is approximately 350] We also are projecting to do one on the Winton School, but we haven't got too much on that one, so I think I can foresee working for quite some time... up to the year 2005

CW: No one's going to let you off the hook yet. (laughter) Well, schools have certainly changed since you started teaching in 1941, Jeanne. When you look at modern day schools do you see any particular difficulties they're facing that you didn't have to worry about?

JA: Yes, I do believe it is so and I said, at this point in time I have two grandchildren in the school system. I find that the student complaints and ... their parents don't complain much because they're not actively involved in it... is this idea that the classes should be all inclusive... that every ten year old should be in a grade four class and every thirteen year old should be in a grade seven class and it has also done away with any Special Needs services, which I see by the public outcry that these are the things that are currently being cut... because class sizes are supposed to be larger and with the all-inclusive.... I've heard of classes who have students in Grade Seven who read at the Grade Two level, whose behaviour is zilch... and so on... and yet the teachers of today are expected to teach a regular curriculum to whatever grade they're specified to have, but they also must have a number of these Individual Education Program [IEP] children in, who are supposed to be working at their own level. I feel that this is over and beyond the human possibilities for one person to handle all this and also to keep the necessary classroom control that is necessary for good teaching.

CW: And they even include the severely handicapped in these classrooms.

JA: Severely physically handicapped, mental handicapped... just anything goes. And I said it's a distraction to the others students, especially when you get a kid with Tourette's [Syndrome] in the class ... a distraction to the student... a distraction to the teacher ... and I feel that sooner or later it's going to have to be examined and have changes made. And I also feel that at this current time we have a lot of parent interest, but the parent interest does not seem to extend too much to supporting the teacher and supporting the system. It seems to have turned the other way around where the system is always at fault, the teacher is always at fault, and children have much more free rein of doing whatever they feel like. Some of it might be due to the type of society we live in where poor parenting, single parenting, and other things which I would not originally have considered as a normal family life.

CW: Well, Jeanne, this has been very interesting... and when you look back over teaching as a career for yourself, do you have anything you would like to say about the way you feel about ... the "job"?

JA: Yes, I would like to say, on the whole.... I guess, my lifetime story, is that when I look back, I remember the very good parts of my small school education in Blue River, the life in the small community there where I learned many many things, then having to be transported to the biggest city in the province, in Vancouver, to attend high school making adjustment from small school to large school... make my way through that. And I feel that the experience at the Provincial Normal School in Vancouver was a very worthwhile experience, because at the time we were there we had to cover everything that you would need in an elementary classroom in British Columbia... the curriculum for each... and... (laugh) as Clare reminded me, even if you couldn't sing or you weren't musical you had to teach music, so you had to be innovative in getting things going... I had not taken part in some sports, but you were forced into supervising, at least, some of the sports. I always remember my experience in Chilliwack where I had never seen soccer played before, but I had to take part in that and supposedly referee. And then the actual teaching career in small schools... Dunster was a real experience and a very rewarding one because of the parent attitudes and the student attitudes... they seemed to see education as a privilege and were very appreciative that a teacher would come to a little place like that and give service. Then to Giscome, again which was an only supported area. They had had a number of teachers who couldn't "stand the guff", (chuckle) I guess, in a company town like that. I found it interesting and rewarding and I still have students from those back years, 1943 to 1960 ... students that live out of town or in town.... every time I meet them, they go back and remind me of when I was their teacher in Giscome, or something like that... come for a visit to catch up on everything that's going on in my life and to tell me all about their life. Also, when I was in the special school at Winton, I had many students who come and speak to me; I don't recognize them because they changed from being young teenagers to be adults... and some of them grandparents! (chuckle) 'Tell me all the reminders of the nice little things and then to give all the gripes about the present system. And then at the end, the easy job I had with the Learning Assistance deal. I am very pleased that we were able to get the retired teachers' branch here because a lot of people all enjoyed it and I think it's been proved very worthwhile... and the implementation of our Heritage Committee which I would class, at this point, as being the most progressive in the province... because you read little bits in the bulletins and things about other places, but I don't think that any other group has gone ahead with the things that we have mentioned here... newspapers and oral histories. There is one little book, I think, was done on the coast called Kindling the Spirit which was short stories of teachers who had gone through the same experiences on the coast. But, all in all, I think I have had a very worthwhile life experience and I hope to continue working on the oral histories of other retired teachers as long as I can. Thank you very much to the students and to the parents who have supported me all through my career.

CW: And "Thank You" to you, Jeanne, for sharing all your memories and opinions with us because I'm sure, down the road in particular, people will be interested to know the way things were [and how our public education has changed in the last sixty-five years]..