I would like to thank Hazel for sharing her rich and varied life experiences with us. In the depression years she struggled against the financial problems of the era to get her own education and her teaching certification. She found jobs when they were scarce. With the same spirit of determination, she came to British Columbia from her home in Ontario and has established her presence in the education of the Cariboo. In retirement she has worked diligently to improve the life style for seniors in the city of Williams Lake. Thank you, Hazel, for the enjoyable evening I spent at your home while recording your experiences.
Special thanks also to Bev Rein who did the transcript and the final revision of this interview.
Thanks also to Ernie Kaesmodel of the Prince George Oral History Group for his help in producing this transcript. He has provided many instructional courses and samples of the requirements for producing an oral history.
October 24, 1998
Jeanne: Hazel, would you like to tell me a bit about your early childhood?
Hazel: Well, yes to me it's very interesting. I was born to a family
in Glengarry Country, Ontario. And
all the people were Scottish at the time that I was born.Many of them first
generation speaking Gaelic and many of them as my parents were, making
me a good second generation and solidly Canadian, of course. But the language
of Gaelic was very well known to me and was the language in the home. Because
my mother was a teacher our English was perfected to the last . . .what
was the mistakes we used to make anyway to the last adjective I guess we
were quite correct. My home was a farm home and reasonably prosperous,
an attractive big Victorian house on it. It provided a good living until
the Depression of course. And then in the Depression, well it was a good
thing it was just my father and mother left there. There were three of
us all away and trying to be independent because there was certainly no
money to be made in those days. You know when pigs brought in at $15 a
piece and so on it was pretty hard to make ends meet. In fact I was always
paid for my school positions but I did have friend who got his last payment
in 1936 and never got another cent - they ran out of money completely and
he joined the army it was in '39 and in 1945 when he came home there was
a tip waiting for him because the municipality had recovered its financial
situation. To continue about that, the home was a secure one - it was all
farming and we were all of one ethnic background in my childhood. By the
time I went to school there was one French Canadian family had moved in
and shortly after that another family, but it was yet to be two decades
before there would be any French schools. We were two miles from the school.
In those days the settlers and then the previous generation. ... We were
in the same position. We had to walk to school of course and walk home
except in extremely cold weather in winter and then the various farmers
took turns. There were about four houses of ours at our end of the school
section where one of the fathers would usually meet us in one of the old-fashioned
box sleighs. I was especially very happy when our neighbour would meet
us. His name was Mackenzie, Sean Mackenzie and he was straight from Scotland
and he had a wonderful bur to his voice and he sang all the Scottish songs.
He knew every song of Burns and every good Scot who had ever sung anything.
Because we rode sometimes with him and he sung the whole two miles and
how we did love him and his Scottish songs. So that was school. Now
I didn't start to school until I was eight. My birthday was in July 24,
born 1913 and I didn't start until I was eight. In the summer time and
went in September. I don't know, my mother seemed to want to do home teaching
and she did so I could read, write, spell and I mean write. She had beautiful
handwriting. One of those copper script types of late '80's and she taught
me well and when I went to school I was I suppose, the equal of a grade
three I suppose when I went. And everything went along smoothly and at
age 12 in July I passed what was called the Entrance which what would be
the equivalent of grade eight at this time of life. And went then to high
school. There were four regular years of high school which meant that you
finish at what would be the equivalent grade 12 today. And, sad to say,
we had to go ten miles to high school, which in those days, meant we had
to stay away from Monday to Friday. It was quite a lonely time for me.
I don't look back on my high school days as great years of jolly living.
It was quite a lonely time to go away from home every Monday and back on
Friday. Those two days of the weekend were very special. We had an excellent
school. It was called a collegiate institute. It had started as a grammar
school in the days of Ryerson, who is so well known in early education
in Canada and Ontario especially. And it had started as Amish school which
meant that it taught every kind of subject to the teenage level. And certainly
we had French and Latin and excellent English teaching and so on. The very
best. It compared with Lutani High in Regina which was terrifically well
known at the time too as a successor to the old grammar school. At any
rate, it also taught the grade 13 or first year, full first Year University.
There was no doubt about it in those days. It's been watered down a little
bit I think. And so, when I was finished the fourth year of high school
- it was a difficult thing to decide what subjects I should take in a grade
13. We didn't call it grade 13 we called it Fifth Form, of course. And
all the high school grades were called first form, second form, third form,
fourth form and then if you took that, what was considered the first year
university it was fifth form. And so I took everything that was available.
And at the end of the year, I had studied hard that year. I had had my
grade of playing around the year before, so that year I decided to really
work at it and I did so and I got one of the highest marks in the Province
of Ontario. And there was a medal officered for that which was very happy,
I guess. It was a happy thing. And I also won a scholarship to Queen's
University. Unfortunately, the year was now 1930 and I couldn't go. Couldn't
possibly go to university. When they came, when the authorities came to
discuss the scholarship I just shocked them by saying, "I'm not going.
I cannot put my mother and father through this. There is no other money."
And so I didn't go. What did I do? I found a little school in Quebec. I
was seventeen, had grade 13 and I found a little school in Quebec that
didn't have any teacher and I applied for it and I got that job and I was
there for a year. The following year, I went to normal school. I'm going
to backtrack a little to tell you a little bit about the social life of
the time. In our particular part of Ontario, the churches formed the nucleus
or the nuclei of societal life. Everything was geared around what was going
on at the church. And that was very happy. There were just two kinds of
churches in Alancot. There were Presbyterian and there were Roman
Catholic churches. And everybody got along well together and very happy
times. The background of the church was quite compatible with fun as well
as worship. Life was very strict under the Presbyterian Church. Right was
right and wrong was wrong, I can tell you. I guess reaching back to some
of the old theologists who were very strong. And then of course, Ontario
had had a revival - a Christian revival in the '80's. It was a Wesleyan
type of revival and that had an effect of course on the living. We didn't
do very much dancing I can assure you until we were about 15. And were
then believed to be perhaps old enough to maintain dignity and dance a
little bit. What else can I say about it? Other than that, life was plain
but happy I guess. Certainly the friends I had then have been friends all
our lives and as one more passes on to the other side, it seems to leave
an empty spot you know. Knowing what we thought we knew, I, and guess we
still know, that we shall meet again somewhere, some day. It makes it possible.
What games we played? We didn't have any equipment at all in our school.
I don't think any schools had. We had big rubber balls like basketballs;
we had hard balls for playing that type of hard ball, and if we had a softball,
there was one made by some parent that was agile with the material that
made a good ball. We did a lot of skipping. Skipping was quite an art.
In those days of some of the beautiful rhymes - interesting and funny rhymes
come back to me quite easily. Have you, ah, let me see (singing)
On the mountain,
Stands a lady,Hazel: Did you do that one?
Who she is,
I do not know.
Jeanne: No, I didn't do too much of skipping when I went to school. We had too much gravel to work on.
Hazel: Pretty rough was it?
Jeanne: It was.
Hazel: Where did you go to school?
Jeanne: Blue River
Hazel: Well, imagine that. Okay, I'll go on.
We always had a Christmas concert. That was a great event. I guess they're revived and they are great events now but not of course during the war because we did indeed difficulty thinking of what we could be thankful during the war because of so much sorrow-taking place. But, the concerts were revived after the war but before that when I was a small child, born in 1913... and late teens 18 and 19 and into the 1920's and the Christmas concert was just a ... I had a fairly good voice and I know sometimes my mother and father would be surprised the night of the concert that I was singing a solo which was a bit of a shock I guess because I never asked for help. I did tell you didn't I that this weekend was very sacred. It happened to be a Sunday when Sacrament was going to be served. We had to go to church Friday night and Saturday morning to prepare for the Eucharist on Sunday. So that was quite strict. You had to have everything ready for Sunday - nothing, no work was done on Sunday. The big meal of Sunday was already, the shoes were shined, the dishes were all laid out for Sunday. There was no work in a Presbyterian home. And because the Roman Catholics were also brought up Scottish, I think their Sundays were pretty austere too. No work was done. Not at all except milking the cows which was excused because it would give pain and suffering to the cows if they were not milked. But I remember during maple syrup time with the sap running over the top of the buckets that collected, that held the sap. But nobody went out to collect it, not on a Sunday. No, that was sacred. The subjects in school were just about the same as we have today but we did I learn, we did know our English language and we did know arithmetic, believe me. And we did know history. Now how the small heads of the teachers could contain so much, I don't know. But they did impart a great deal of knowledge of our country and our means of living, and I've always been grateful for that.
Jeanne: Would you like to tell us a little bit about what sort of equipment you had in the school as far as learning, text books and paper and all.
Hazel: Yes, that's an interesting aspect of the age in which I was a small child. Perhaps I could present a picture of it by just saying that one of the most wonderful days of the year were, would be the one on which the teacher received a parcel of maybe 10 or 12 library books which would be our set of library books for the year to add to what we had which didn't number very greatly. If we had a couple of dozen books as our library, that would be it. But they were read and re-read. What other books did we have? We had an arithmetic text that was to do with second form, in elementary school they were class, in second class to senior forms. We had what they called the primer which was a primary grade and then you'd get into second class and if you learned pretty well you'd just be one year, or you might be two years in second class, so that made first class primary and the first and otherwise second class, third class and fourth class. Usually you were two years in third class and you might also be two years in fourth class. I would think that I must have skipped along because as I said I was eight when I went to school and I was twelve in July, like I finished in June and passed the entrance to high school. So we had one arithmetic book that did all those years from second class to finishing fourth class to go into high school. I don't how the teachers spun out the work but they did. We had all kinds of things, much more practice for example in percent and other rate than they have now-a-days. And lots of practice in fractions and changing fractions to the equivalent in our rate. And we knew that fractions and rates were not the same thing which some people today don't seem to know. We had a set of maps. That was a wonderful thing to have, a set of maps. Maps of every continent in the world, and which we could peer and point our fingers at some romantic place so far away. We had a globe. We had a history book in the third class and the fourth class. I presume she must of divided the work and the teacher must, of necessity, known all the history, because most of it had to come out of her head to stretch over the two years or maybe three years of the third class and fourth class. Um, we had a writing book. That's very important, a writing book. Some teachers saved money by letting us have a writing book but causing us to do the writing on something else that we had on which to work. We didn't, of course, have many exercise books. I remember I might have two or three in the whole year and we wrote on slates. Nice squeaky slates with slate pencil and when you were finished what you had to write for the teacher, that was erased and so on. Let me see now, we had history and we had arithmetic. Geography. Oh yeah, we had geography. Geography was important because you can't understand history unless you know the geography of a country and we had geography. We were very fortunate. Mind you the geography didn't change in all the years I was in school. It was the same Geography. And I must have been in what we called public school which is really elementary school. Must have been in it four years and we just had the same geography all the time. There again, the teacher would have to be well versed in the geographical mysteries of the world. And I know my teachers were, we were very lucky, very, yes indeed. Now, what else about books. Well, I'll tell you, with art, art you could just get all kinds of paper now if you want to do some art and do all kinds of interesting things. We had one little art book that had to do us the whole year which our parents paid. It was a book of removable pages and it was about six inches by ten inches. And then, talking about inches, of course, we had a yardstick. We had a set of geometry things that were wooden, an arc, a half circle in other words, marked off in degrees and we had an angle, Oh yes, it was an acute angle, wooden acute angle and we had the yard stick. Oh, we had a thing to make circles, a wooden compass. Great big compass that you put a piece of chalk in and it would draw a lovely big circles with which the teacher could illustrate the size of the angles that were measurable around the centre of the circle. Not of course down to almost zero, but you know we could see the quarter circle, halves and so on. Oh and readers. Every class had a reader. The primary, primer, had probably two I think. So you graduated from one to another and the rest had one reader for each year. Or if you were two years in that class, then you have the reader all over again. We had a speller. And miracle though it is that speller contained all the words that are commonly used by the English speaking races of the world. I think, but I could be wrong, memory could be tricking me, but I think there could be ten thousand words in that speller, but maybe not that many. And by golly, you had to be able to spell them. There was no if, ands and buts. You didn't sluff on it, whatever you wrote had to be spelled correctly.
Jeanne: As you were going through your education, did you have to write any government exams or any district or any kind of exams like that?
Hazel: Yes, we had district exams for what was called the public school. Now that's a terminology known just to eastern Canada, perhaps to Ontario. The public school, was, but is now, the elementary school and to leave it at the end of fourth class which equivalent of grade seven today, we had to pass a district exam. It was called the entrance exam. And there were exams in all the subjects including art. I couldn't draw anything. I couldn't draw you know, I just did not have any artistic ability. However, I passed. I guess they interrupted it as being my interpretation of whatever they were seeking. But otherwise, well, I got the highest mark in the county. At that age, I was 12, and I was finished the fourth class. But otherwise we had to know a lot. We had, I felt, a stiff, compared to now a days, quite a stiff arithmetic exam. And we certainly had a very firm grammar exam. It was a separate examination, the grammar. And then we had literature. And we had history, various levels of history. And we had geography. There were good exams. They did test what we should have been taught. The unfortunate part is that some people might have teachers who weren't very learned and perhaps weren't able to teach as well as they should have. But we were blessed in our little school. We were never more that 25 or so in a school in all the grades remember, and we were very fortunate. We had some excellent teachers and I can't remember a poor one of any kind who didn't either have the answer to what we needed to know or she could find it. Remembering that there were no radios, no televisions, no daily paper. There was no where a teacher could go except to herself in the quiet of the evening to think about what she had learned about that subject. However, the local doctor and local minister or priest were always great helpers for the teachers. If there was something that she couldn't quite remember. Thinking about this, you know, she, that teach, usually a female, would have to know every battle and every act of parliament that had been passed in the age about which she was teaching to any particular group. You talk about being a jack of all trades, they had to really work at it. So when a teacher arrives in September in the school section into which the province is divided, she would have a trunk and she would have all kinds of books in that trunk something to help her along the way. As we went through secondary school, of course, we had exams to pass or fail at every level. And that was first form, second form, third form, fourth form and a few of the privileged when on to the fifth form to take senior matriculation which was a very equivalent to first year university. So we had exams, yes and they were supposedly based on the curricula which were being taught by the teachers and there again, some teachers, some schools, some classes were blessed because the teach was well educated. Now in high school, the secondary school, I had not one teacher in all those five years, not one teacher, who had anything less than a honours degree.
Jeanne: Could you tell us a little bit about your living conditions and your social life in your first teaching job down in Quebec?
Hazel: Um, um, yes, I certainly can. I
look back on those years as really very special. I was just 17, I was 17
in July, and I went to teach at a little place called Waltham, Quebec on
the first of October. They hadn't had any teacher all September and I was
quite happy to help father with the fall work. But then I got in touch
with this little village and I was hired. Now it's situated up the Ottawa,
about 80 miles from Ottawa, I would say. A lovely little rural village.
I have about 13, 14 in that area of children. I think it went up as high
as 18 in the year. Delightful children. Grateful for learning. I think
of their shining faces and was very happy. It was a good thing I'd had
good teachers all my time of attending school because I had to remember
everything those teachers had covered with me. And, it was quite a challenge.
I hope I did them justice. For the entertainment - I had a good voice.
My salary, by the way, was $50 a month and I paid
a month for
room and board. It was excellent. Our boarder was a senior lady who was
an excellent cook. Oh, the good feed that I had there - just wonderful.
I understand that $15 was more than adequate. It was Depression, remember.
The very flattest of Depression in 1930, 31. What was my entertainment?
There was no, absolutely no entertainment. There wasn't a single concert
the whole year except the school concert and the church put on a play near
the end of June. That was the only thing. We didn't have a radio. Of course
nobody had radios in 1931. Only those very rich people. No television,
there was not a telephone in the house or anywhere near the house at all.
It was a small village where we had daily mail which was a big item in
the day to come home wondering if there would be some mail you know. And
what else did we do. Well, up until dark, you know, one or more of the
senior girls that hadn't been able to get work and were still at home,
finished school, but at home, away we'd go for a walk, maybe to the far
end of the village to the railway station and back. It wasn't done or proper
for us to be out after dark, so that was about it. We might have a game
of checkers or what other games, crokinol was another game we had. There
was another one, rook, which was a card game. Never seen it in the west
at all but it was very popular there. The river there, the Ottawa River
was wide, very wide there and it had no bridge. Across from the little
village was a town called Pembrooke and I know that they had things like
shows and stuff, but that was across the river where we couldn't even see
the lights of Pembrooke across the river. So that gives you an answer.
It was a rare happy occasion that someone came in selling something and
arranged an evening of a type of show. They had to light a lamp in this
thing. It wasn't exactly a moving picture, I think it had to be moved with
a handle or something, but it was a kind of urn... there would be story
to it and it was kind of an attraction because it was something to go to.
And we had church on Sunday. Our minister came and that was some entertainment.
And another thing, the parents of the children always invited the teacher
to go for a meal, an evening meal usually. Now we had, in that particular
place, we had an enjoyable weekend often. There was a very, very nice retired
couple who had been in the Ottawa beaucratic society. They had a very good
job in the civil service. And they had retired just down river a bit from
Waltham. And she liked, well they both did, liked to see young people and
very often we went there on a Saturday and she would teach us crafts, we'd
call them now-a-days. She would teach us how to do some things. Might be
a special little dish or some little item of sewing that she taught us
to do. Might be knitting, crocheting, but it was a very happy thing. It
was her way of making young people, giving young people an extra opportunity.
She had grown up in a priviledged level of society so she had lots of things
to share. And she had travel experiences to tell us about. Her views and
Well I guess you'd be wondering what happened to me after that year in Quebec. I couldn't go on being as a teacher, I should say being a teacher, without having the training for it. So, in the next year, that would be the fall of 1931, I went to Ottawa Normal School. Having you remember, refused to take a scholarship to university because of the fact that my father and mother would have too much burden. There was just no money. No one had any money. I don't know who went to university - there certainly not many able to go. So I took teaching training which was the first step to get a teacher's certificate. And I, because I had one year of what they called university, although it was taken in the local high school, I was given a first class teacher's certificate at the end of the year. Now it had the word "interim" on it, which meant that somewhere along the line you'd have to do something more to get it made permanent. Eventually a regulation came out from Toronto, the Minister of Education for Ontario, stating that in order to get a certificate made permanent, one had to take second year general arts, university and you had to have a Phys Ed certificate. I was fortunate. I had taken an extra class which was offered on Saturdays when I was at normal school which was physical education. So I had a certificate to teach Phys Ed which proved a bit of a weight later on in life. But I did have to get second year university. And so I did not take a year off from work because what in earth would one eat? This was Depression. So I got a teaching job of course. That would be the fall of 1932 and I was teaching in way back in the central part of Ontario in what we'd call the backwoods. You know, snobbishly. But um, anyway we taught in a place, my cousin and I went to a place called Bancroft, Ontario. And it was really a very hospitable place. It was a year that I liked very much. Didn't want to stay there because it was a bit awkward to arrive there. One had to go there by train, no highways in those days. Ontario had one highway all straight across it, but other than that, there were no great roads. Most of them were gravel otherwise. And so, that was that year. Now to get this second year university. We all went to summer school. All the teachers went to summer school every summer. The week after school was finished, off we'd go to summer school. And so I liked going and I liked the university work so much that I just kept on going every summer forever. I think, almost ever. I sometimes, where I was teaching, when I was teaching on the edge of Ottawa and in Ottawa, I did get job there, I was right there where I could go to Ottawa University where they had both day and night school. Night classes for those who had a job and wanted to keep it and day classes for those who had not jobs and wanted a place to be warm or cool, one or the other. So I went to these classes at Ottawa University and I arrived at a Bachelor of Arts with fairly good marks. But then I was so happy studying that I went on and studied a little more and then, eventually I got married and we moved to British Columbia because my husband, who had always wanted to live in the central part of British Columbia, called Cariboo. And I quite agreed that we would come here before we were married. I agreed that that would be' fine. So we were married and we came to the Cariboo. Came to a little place called Lone Butte as a matter of fact. Now I had excellent experience behind me in Ontario. And a .... degree. But British Columbia was British Columbia. I had to take some more education here, so I'd be able to get a British Columbia certificate. And most people listening to this will understand, especially, if they're over seventy, they'll understand what it was like to go to summer school. So the summer school era started over again and I had to go to summer school and take the equivalent of a year of arts. Now, why did I have to take Bachelor of Arts subjects? Well, it makes good sense when you look back at it. At Ottawa U it was a classical university and then they taught Latin for all four years, they taught French for all four years. They taught philosophy for all four years. Now UBC had a hard job swallowing those very classical subjects. But, agreed that I would replace the philosophies that I could have a Bachelor of Arts from UBC. So there I was busily going to summer school replacing the philosophies with geography and history which I loved so much. And, eventually I got another degree, Bachelor of Arts from UBC. Well, I had by that time, had so many subjects lying around that some nice professor said to me, Dr. Robertson, I know, he said, and I think he called me by my first name, the only thing you can do now is take a Masters. So I registered for the Masters Degree at UBC. And I got that in 1962. I was capped. Just imagine all those years that I had gone to school. But I liked it, I like all of them. So, I had hoped that I would get a doctorate before I was called to my eternal home but I'm sure. I'm doing a few subjects occasionally but that's in the future. Now then1 when we came to British Columbia, I didn't expect that much right in to a job you know. We arrived on the first day of August with my husband having stated that he did not want to be in the permanent army, he wished to go into private life. So he was going to be demobilized. My service to the military was in the militia, so there was no severance to take place at all. All I had to do was notify them that I was no longer able to participate in the militia. Did we call it militia then or did we call it... It seems to me there was another name for it but anyway, they call it the militia now a days I think. In other words, you're just a part time soldier with a job. Another job that sustains you. Anyway, so we arrived at Lone Butte and, in a few days, I had a letter from the official trustee, there was no school board there, asking me if I would open a school. They hadn't had a teacher for the year that was finishing. So I said that I didn't really plan right now on going on, you know, we have to collect ourselves and see what our lives are going to be from now on with war over and our future to anticipate. But I agreed to do it and stay at least a year with them. Well I stayed 43 I think it was, or something. I don't know, I guess it was 43 with what I had done in Ontario and the year in Quebec. But it has been very rewarding. When I taught there at Lone Butte, I learned so much. The people there had been there since the Depression. Many of them had moved from some other place during the Depression. And they were so practical and so neighbourly. They knew how to use the climate to the best advantage. And I knew nothing. I couldn't have been more ignorant. Coming from the City of Ottawa at that time where I was teaching to - I couldn't have been more ignorant if I were new born. But I learned a great deal from those wonderful people. The children whom I received in school, who were already started, you know, in one of the grades, were brilliant some of them, because they had been on correspondence with parents home teaching that cared about it and wanted their kids to have the education and saw to it that they spent the same hours as if they were in school. Library books from Ontario, their library books would come every two weeks as regular as a clock. I tell you, there were some children there who were blessed by excellent situations at home. And I was blessed in that they were all ahead of their age because of the type of education they had been doing. And I look back on some of those people and think how much I owe them in learning about life. I never would have survived in the Cariboo, you know if it hadn't been for some of those fine people who shared their experiences. For example, I thought I was a good housekeeper, good baker. I couldn't get anything to turn out right because of the difference in altitude which I had always lived about 1200 feet above sea level and Lone Butte is almost 4000, but I didn't know how to cope with that. As for a wood stove, having lived in Ottawa, to get used to having a gas stove or something, I wasn't very handy, I think is the word, is it? And other little things that were interesting as in the mail. You know, mail is important to me having come almost 3000 miles from my own personal loved ones and I would long for the mail. And the mail would come twice a week, Tuesday and Saturday. We had provided a home for ourselves about ten miles away from the school, but that was alright, there was a teacherage at the school that I used from Monday to Friday. And I'd be longing for the mail. I remember times when I didn't get what I thought would be coming that day and I remember the first time this happened, I said to Mr. Flaherty, the mailman, I was expecting something from mother from home. Oh say, I couldn't bring everything today, don't worry, you'll get it on Tuesday, I'll be here on Tuesday. He said he couldn't bring everything because I have all the liquour for the dance at Bridge Lake you know, and I didn't have room for anything else. So that was another step of learning, you know. I have come, of course, where religion and Sunday were so important and there, everyone had to work whatever day it was if there was work to be done and a little money to be earned they worked. So, haying, I've never seen haying go on into September and October, which it does in the Cariboo. And, they'd be working in the fields, Sunday, Monday and always, anyday. I remember asking one nice young lad one day, "Don't you take any day off?" "Oh sure, we take a day off whenever its raining or something" he said. And I said, "Golly, you know Moses said that you shoulnít work on Sunday." "Ha", he said, "Moses didn't know about the Cariboo jobs." So that was a good answer. And that young man grew up to be a very fine rancher. I'm afraid he's dead now. He had two very nice boys. They're going strong. But I always remember him, not lippy, wasn't lippy at all, it was just natural. Moses didn't know about the Cariboo jobs. Well that sure, as we talk, that you are wondering how we got to Williams Lake. We were very, very happy on that rural place on Horse Lake. My husband Jim and I built about seven cabins and a house. He had moved a house along with someone who helped do so, and house which was a school. And it was a school that had been closed. It was the first Willowford School. And they had taken it down log by log. He numerated the logs, I swear and then put them up that way again. Made a dandy little house for ourselves. It had two bedrooms and a dining room and a living room and a kitchen. Quite comfortable and pleasant. And then he built these cabins for people passing by who needed overnight bed and breakfast type of thing. Although bed and breakfast was an unknown thing back in the late forties and fifties. And we had that home for seven years which we enjoyed and loved very much, but it came to us that we would not be able to make living for a family there apart from my teaching and of course, my Jim wanted to make sure he that was making a living and security for the future. So, the superintendent of the day, I think we stilled called them inspectors, he was leaving, a Mr. Mowatt. He said, I think if you're going to have to move in the next couple of years, you should do it now while I'm here so that you don't have to depend on a new person presenting you to a new school situation. So we decided then we would sell the place that we loved very much and re-settle in Williams Lake proper. We did that in 1953, the fall of 1953. So of course, I was never out of a job. I went straight from there, at Lone Butte, to a position here. There, my school had grown to a three room school and I was considered the principal. So, I moved into Williams Lake with the promise that I would be a principal when an equivalent school came open, which wasn't very long actually. It was, I guess, perhaps seven years. Yes, it was seven years. And then Glendale school was built and I was asked to be principal. I was there until 1978. And it was a delightful experience. And yes, you were mentioning this, I was one of two female principals in the province at the time, which was rather interesting. What can I say about it? I started with three rooms, the next year I had four, the year I finished, I had 368 pupils.
Jeanne: You had 368 pupils?
Hazel: Yes, it was a big school.
Jeanne: You stayed there until you retired?
Hazel: And I retired from there.
Jeanne: From Glendale.
Hazel: And I enjoyed every bit of it. I established very high aims and goals for the school. We had a school choir, and we had music throughout the school. Then I had privilege of going along with then school area, attendancy area, to have it, have them organize to a community school. And they had an organization called the Glendale Community School Recreation Society. And they registered their society. So I had the backing of that society as they raised money so that the school had every facility you could possibly have. Everything and everything. It was a very happy situation. Excellent parents. Backed the school 100%. So we could aim for very high standard and they did have privileges that perhaps some schools might not have because this Community School Society raised the money, you know. And so they went along being a community school and we had therefore our own night school. We taught English as a Second Language when it became necessary in that school at night. And other subjects that parents might be interested in taking. We had outdoor school for the month of July every year. So, for ten years we had that. For the last ten years I was there. Now I'm not telling you this to brag, I'm just showing you what people can do if they work together and like doing it and did come to a later year after I was retired that the principal of the school could not carry out the responsibilities of the community school because of the I can't believe that there's so many seniors that arrive at age 60 or 65 and they don't know where to get help and they don't know, they just don't know. Otherwise, I've found that there were dozens of lonely out there. Right there, right out there. You can almost reach them if you look. And they're very lonely and they just don't know how to fill their hours and they need people and they need a councilor. And when you get somebody who will carry out the job of councilor with all their heart and soul, or his heart and soul, it is good. So it's a good work. One must never confuse seniors' councilors with that council that the Minister of Health has. The Ministry of Health has nothing to do with services with seniors which is under their Ministry of Human Resources, which is not tied with anything else.
Jeanne: Could you just give me a few examples, not by name, but of people that you know, and as you say, their lonely people and how you've helped them.
Hazel: Well, there's lonely people. I tell you, I'll just give you one example. This lady I'll leave her name, Liz phoned me one day and she said "Somebody's told me about you." And I said "Oh." And she said, "I'm so lonely that I'm sick. My daughter wanted me to come here to live because she wanted to keep an eye on me, and I came. I see her once a week at the very most I have nothing to do in between and I'm sick." And she said that when she lived in Regina for years and years right up to the day I left I was part of a large group of seniors and we had all kinds of things going on. Now I have nothing. So I said, "You meet me at the seniors centre." I told her where it was. And I said, I'll have you so busy in two weeks, you won t know whether you should have phoned me or not. And so off we went, and I met her there and in no time she was busy with lots of things. She could volunteer for this, that and the other thing. And she soon got happy and is okay. Now that's one type. There'll be others as in a lady who phoned me and said "My daughter goes to work every morning, and she doesn't want me to go out during the day and she locks the door. What should I do? I would like to at least to walk around in the yard." So I said, "Well, I'll have to take that to somebody else, but I'll look after it." And so, of course, I talked to human resources and that is, what would you say, misuse, misusage, abuse of a senior. And in no time I had her involved in some of the things in the seniors society. And everything was better for her daughter too because she did feel badly. She didn't know what to do with her mother. So the best thing she could do was to lock her in so she would be safe.
Jeanne: What are some of your contributions to the Seniors Centre here. I know that you do ... I know that when I was there you were busy with your choir.
Hazel: Oh yes, yes, in fact in 1984 another retired teacher and I started the Seniors Choir. And neither of us was very good at it. I was good with my children's choir. I traveled with them, you know, through, maybe as far as Dawson Creek and then down through Calgary, Edmonton, and so on. And I always promised them a trip every year. But it was children. They weren't as perfected as they would have been in the hands of someone with better training. But I did know something. You know, I have grade eight music, so I - anyway we started a choir in 1984 and ... and I. We had quite a time. First of all we just sang. You know, and I said to myself, well it was more to the choir than this, we've got to, I'd been in a church choir and I knew what we should be doing, so then we had to look around for someone who knew a little more and we did get somebody. And we flourished. We grew in numbers. We started with eight of us and we grew I think there must be around thirty. However, we were very fortunate in 1988 or 89 maybe, we did get the services of a real choir director who fortunately got old and was in her seventies and was very happy to be our leader and we still have her. And so, we who tried to start it, are very happy. Very, very happy. I was twelve years on the board of the Senior Citizens Activity Centre. I was on it, started, in fact it was a motion by a lady and I seconded it, that we would look for a suitable home for the seniors in Williams Lake, knowing that there wasn't any, you know. But we went to all the church basements, and everything to see if there was place that would be suitable for a permanent home, but there wasn't. So then, we came back with a recommendation to the old age pensioners that we found no place in Williams Lake suitable and we'd have to build our own building. And that started in 1984 and I was twelve years on that board in various positions. We had, wonderful, the people you gather. We had such good people on that board. You never can do anything by yourself. No. We had wonderful membership. And we have a seniors centre, totally paid for, quite a bit of money in the bank, you know, enough to operate it, say for two or three years without any help. Wonderful, isn't it. We have a good kitchen and we are able to do other things to help the community. With the help of some very good people we were able to start meals on wheels out of the centre, we have life line out of the centre, we have an office there and then last year we brought the cancer society in, because a lot of people who have cancer are old. And so, you get them in there and they get involved in some of things. And the mind is taken off their problems, you know. And the councilor has a nice little office' in there. I was in a nice little office there and when I retired, of course, the office passed on to the next one. And I share it as an honorary councilor. I find that quite a few people still contact me. I don't keep many of them. I pass most of them along to the present incumbent. But there are a few, once in while that I think I should help. And so, that's good. But my biggest thing that I want to brag about - I love bragging about this one. And that is our handy dart bus. That goes back 14 years, 1984, about that time. I was approached by a group of seniors to ask if I would start, or get into the business of the bus. Now I should go back a bit. The senior counseling bit, when I was first appointed, I thought what on earth am I going to do, you know. Because I knew that the chappy before had been very ill before he died and therefore the work of the councilor had lapsed - sort of gone down hill a bit because he couldn't do it. And he wasn't given any helper. So I thought, what am I going to do? So I called a public meeting in the civic hall, I called a public meeting of seniors anyone over 50 could come, would be most welcome with their ideas, and anyone younger than that who had a senior above them who had some concerns and we had 96 people attended the meeting. I was so pleased. And they made a list at that meeting, of things that the seniors of Williams Lake needed. And then they listed them in priority from one. Number one was a seniors centre. And the last one on the list was a bus for seniors. So when I started to get the bus going, that was that last thing on that particular list. I think we're about ready to call another public meeting, you know, to see what's needed. And so I had to do this. And so, I had to get together a group of people, who would help to organize a society and register it to provide transportation for seniors and handicapped. And we did it! It was called the Williams Lake and District Gold Bus Society. Now why did we decide Gold Bus instead of HandiDart because Victoria said that HandiDart was used so much by the official transit authority that we couldn't use it so we called it the Gold Bus. And the Gold Bus never looked back. We happen to get, well at first I joked about the three old ladies and a school bus, because I went and bought one of the busses from the school district for a dollar. And we had a bus and the three of us that were President, Secretary and Treasurer, but whom else. Well we never looked back. I'm just so pleased with it. And I'll tell you how well they've done. They've had the best ridership for handicap and seniors who need transportation in the province per capita. That is comparing us with Prince George, and Vancouver, Kamloops, you know, the bigger places, we stand out very well. So I'm very pleased. And itís all on account of the courage the three of us had to start that. That's why we're proud of it. But, the fact that we were able to get excellent managers. Always females, bless their hears, too. So I'm very proud of it. Now, the last mark of progression with that Gold Bus Society was the fact that the transit authority of British Columbia wanted to come in here with bus service and they got the City to contract with our little society to run the transit. So when you see the big busses going around Williams Lake, itís our little office of one employee that looks after it. So that's a good story. It just shows you what people can do when they work together. And anybody who is a nosy person like I am, has to know the one principle, nothing is going to work unless you get somebody else with you. And I always looked around for someone who has the talent to do that particular thing. And then get it going and then leave them alone to get ahead with it. It was just lovely, really wonderful. But now I'm enjoying old age and I'm belong to the quilt... And I'm learning to quilt. Can you imagine? An Ontario girl who had never done much quilting? It's disgusting and I'm just terrible at it. And I hope nobody sees my stitches, you know. Oh, but I'll learn.
Jeanne: Well I certainly realize now why Hazel Huckvale's name is a household name in the Cariboo and even up as far as Prince George. I can remember so well admiring you when you were holding forth, I guess you would say. I've always listened to you and I'm still listening to you so I congratulate you on your contribution to teachers and to the whole community and everywhere that youíve been.
Hazel: Well I'll really like hearing you say that. I think it's so generous of you because you too are the same type of person, and I think it generous and kindly and I will look back on all the good people one comes in contact with in life. Good and useful and expansive, aren't they?