Heritage Committee Interview of
Clare La Voie and Margaret Clark
November 25, 2003
Interviewers: Clare Willis and Jeanne Anderson
Clare: I am Clare Willis, a member of the Heritage Committee of the Prince George Branch of the B.C. Retired Teachers’ Association and a member of the Prince George Oral History group. Jeanne Anderson, a fellow member, and I are here on November 25, 2003, to interview two B.C. teachers who’ve spent most of their careers as teachers and administrators in School District #57. I would like to welcome Miss Clare La Voie, better known as Kelly, and Margaret Clark, whom we all know as Marg. Welcome to you both. We’d like to begin with each of you telling us first just a little about your childhood and early schooling. Kelly, would you like to begin? Kelly, you come from Onoway, Alberta, I understand.
Can you tell us a little bit about the school you went to there?
Kelly: I was born May 25, 1930, in the little Onoway hospital.
Clare: And is that a pretty small community?
Kelly: Oh, yes, it’s just a little village, a little farming community, [about] five miles northwest of Edmonton.
Clare: And you had a late start going to school, we understand?
Kelly: Mm-hmm. I didn’t start school until I was eight. At that time you could start at age seven in Onoway School, but I started at age eight for a couple of reasons. We lived three miles out in the country away from the school, and I was the only one who would be travelling on this particular road, so my parents wanted me to be older before I took that trek on my own.
Clare: So how did you find that school? What was it like?
Kelly: The Onoway School was composed of three rooms, actually, two rooms in the main brick building, grades one, two, and three in one room known as the ‘little room’, and grades four to seven in the second room, known as the ‘big room’ until the year that I got to grade seven, when, because of crowding, the grade sevens were moved over to the third room which was just an annex room on the Onoway Community Hall.
Clare: What was the experience like? Did you enjoy school?
Kelly: Yes, I enjoyed school. How do I describe my first year? I guess my first was a bit of a year of awe, watching and listening to all the activities of the other students. I did manage to do a bit of learning on my own as well. But from there on in, I always enjoyed school, and I think it’s a ‘hats off’ also to the teachers in that day and age. They seemed to put a lot of time into everything to seeing that we got what we needed at the time.
Clare: And was Onoway School a community school, like so many of the rural ones were, where other things went on?
Kelly: Oh, yes.
Clare: Now, travelling to school, I understand that you had more than one means of getting there.
Kelly: Yes, in the spring and the fall I went to school on horseback, and in the wintertime I walked. There were reasons for this. In the winter, my folks didn’t want me to be on a horse for several reasons, one being that I would be holding onto the reins, with the possibility of hands freezing, and also the possibility of feet freezing, whereas if you’re walking, you work up a head of steam, I guess, and keep yourself warm.
Jeanne: Tell how you had to handle your horse when you got to school, and how you got on the horse.
Kelly: Our farmstead was between a quarter- and a half- mile from the road. Usually my Dad would boost me up on the horse when I left home, so I would get out to the road, get off the horse, open the gate, walk the horse through, shut the gate, but then my little short legs couldn’t reach up into the stirrups to get up onto the horse again, so my Dad built little step-ladders, one on each side of the gate. So what would happen would be that I’d get the horse lined up beside the step-ladder, climb up on the ladder. Then I would be tall enough to get a foot into the stirrup, get up on the horse, and carry on. The whole thing would be done in reverse on the way home. I’d use the step-ladder on the other side of the gate.
Jeanne: Was there some reason for the gate having to be closed all the time?
Kelly: Oh, yes, you didn’t want wandering cattle, and there were cattle and horses wandering around on the roads; you didn’t want them coming into your farm and wandering around through your crops and spreading weeds, and all these sorts of things, so very definitely it was important that the gate be closed. Then when I got to school, I kept my horse in a little barn in the back of the blacksmith’s shop, so there I didn’t have to have the little ladder. There was a huge, huge stump there, so I’d climb up on the stump, get a foot in the stirrup, get up on the horse, and head out home. So I rode horseback in spring and fall until Grade Four, when I got a bike... in Grade Four. I walked in the winter still, but rode the bike spring and fall. That was an interesting thing, too. When you get a good rainstorm in Northern Alberta, you get a little gumbo, and so I know a couple of times I started out from home with my bike and it wasn’t long before the gumbo was so packed in between the wheel of the bike and the mudguard that I couldn’t push the bike any longer, never mind riding it. I couldn’t push it, so I had to hide the bike in the bush, and go off home. Then my Dad came with the truck later on. I had to come with him to show him where the bike was hidden. We got the bike loaded in the truck and taken home that way. So then I learned that if there was probably going to be a good rain storm, you just left your bike in Onoway, and you walked home.
Clare: Oh, right, this is on the return trip.
Jeanne: Well, it certainly shows that school is important, doesn’t it, that students of that age would do that sort of thing. Nowadays, if they had a rainstorm, they’d want to stay home for the day or something like that.
Marg: Or their parents would drive them.
Clare: So were there any highlights in the school there, like plays or anything that went on that really turned you on when you were in elementary school?
Kelly: The Christmas Concert was always a big item, as it is in most country schools, I think. You were always pleased to have your part, well... everybody always had a part in the Christmas Concert, and to put on your programme for your parents and friends and so on. Each year there was the Christmas Concert, and there was the Music Festival in the spring, and you usually took part in that.
Clare: Then apparently in Grade Seven you moved to the big city.
Kelly: At the end of Grade 7.
Clare: At the end of Grade Seven. Oh.
Kelly: We moved to Victoria at the end of Grade 7.
Clare: Was that a big shock for you?
Kelly: Yes, it was. I went from a class of seven in Grade 7 to classes totalling 93 in Grade 8 but I didn’t have to walk to school. Life became very simple at that time because I took the school bus, rode to school and rode home.
Clare: This was a change for your family, then, from living on a farm in Alberta to Victoria.
Kelly: We had five acres when we first moved to Victoria, so we had a very small farm.
Clare: And you were still able to do a little horseback riding, is that right?
Kelly: Yes, we didn’t have a horse ourselves, but kitty-corner across the road was a dairy farm, and the owners of the farm had a horse that they kept for a grandson who came out on summer holidays and sometimes for the weekend, so I was invited to ride Peter the horse to just keep him in practice and to keep him from getting too frisky and so on, so I got to do a bit of horseback riding. I no longer needed a stump to climb up on, and ladders to climb up on to get on the horse!
Clare: What school was that then that you first attended in Victoria?
Kelly: I went to Lampson Street School.
Clare: That was the end of Grade 7. You were actually in that school to finish Grade 7?
Clare: Then you were in Grade 8?
Clare: And was [your next school] a Junior High? A Senior High?
Kelly: It was a nine to twelve, Esquimalt High School.
Clare: All right. Then after the first year, you managed to feel comfortable in Victoria, did you?
Clare: Anything about your high school that was particularly memorable?
Kelly: I need to back track, I guess, to Grade 8. I don’t know if I should be mentioning this or not, anyway, I think it’s mostly a credit to the teachers I had had in the little school in Onoway, at the end of Grade 8, I won the Esquimalt Women’s Institute Gold Medal for the highest rank in Grade 8.
Clare: Oh, well, you certainly should mention that.
Kelly: So I was pleased about that, of course. I still have that stashed in my trunk at home somewhere.
Jeanne: Well, we should get it out and take a picture of it.
Kelly: I do think that was a credit to the teachers in small schools that a kid is able to do that.
Clare: After your Grade 7 in Onoway, then, you said there were seven in Grade 7. Did you have a teacher to yourself then, those seven students?
Kelly: Oh, no, there were Grades 7 to Grade 10. The Grade 7 and 8’s had fairly regular lessons. The 9’s were on correspondence, but they did have a few lessons. The 10’s were on correspondence, but the teacher would help them whenever they got stuck or she had a few minutes or whatever. That teacher was the same as I had had in Grades 2 and 3. She was now principal of the school and was teaching the high school. I’m trying to think whether she became Mrs. Dixon before I left or after. She’s Margaret Dixon now, but she was probably Margaret King all the time I was in elementary school.
Clare: All right, we’ll get back to Victoria. So high school, then... did you say your High School went to Grade 12, and then you went to Victoria College. And how was that then? Was that a smooth move from high school to Victoria College?
Kelly: How do I answer that?
Clare: Well, I just mean did it cause you a lot of anxiety or anything to be going to the college as a first...
Kelly: I don’t know that there was a lot of anxiety.
Clare: So Victoria College, then, that was before it became a university, right? So do you want to say a little bit about that? It was one year?
Kelly: Yes, I was there one year, and then I went to Victoria Normal School. The college was in one end of the building and the Normal School in the other end of the building on Lansdowne Road.
Clare: So you were in the same building?
Clare: Well, Kelly, we’ll let you have a little breather for the moment, and let Marg give us something of her early years, and get back to you when we get to Normal School.
Clare: So Marg, you’re a B.C. girl, right?
Marg: Yes. Born in Vancouver September 23, 1932, in Vancouver General Hospital. We lived in Vancouver until I was two weeks into Grade 2.
Clare: All right.
Marg: I went to Lord Tennyson for Grade 1 and had a fabulous teacher, Miss Shorney, I remember, and I loved school. I walked to school; I can’t remember how many blocks. We lived on 5th Avenue in Vancouver, Kitsilano area. I can’t remember how many blocks.
Clare or Jeanne: How long did it take you?
Marg: I went with an older girl; I didn’t go by myself. Oh, I don’t know. You know, when you’re that age time doesn’t mean that much. It was a fair walk.
Clare: So, would six be the age to go to school in Vancouver?
Marg: I think you had to be six by December, if I’m not mistaken. I think I probably turned six in September, I started when I was just about six in Grade 1, then turned six on the 23rd.
Clare: So you had a wonderful start then. But that was just to the beginning of Grade 2; then what happened?
Marg: I have to backtrack here, too. It was during the depression and before the war, and jobs were difficult, if not impossible, to get, and my father wasn’t working. Mom, who had been a primary supervisor in the Vancouver area, (but in those days, you couldn’t be married and teach so she taught in a private school) and we used to get on the street car and go to this private school, and I was in the kindergarten room for the morning, and then in the afternoon I would have to go and have my nap. Then, when Mom was finished teaching, we’d get on the streetcar and go home again, so times were tough. In the beginning of September of 1939... no, I guess it was August, my father got a job in Victoria in the Pilotage Authority, so he moved to Victoria. And at the beginning of September, I guess it was, Mom got a job as teacher at William Head, which at that time was a quarantine station and that was where all the ships that came through the Juan de Fuca Strait had to be checked for smallpox and any other dread diseases that were going around. There were three doctors, I think, at that time when we first moved to William Head and they would go by launch, one at a time, of course, to meet the ships that came in. The doctor would check whatever they checked... I guess the papers... on the ship. When it was all cleared, the ship was allowed to continue on its way. If not, then the ship was quarantined, and the officers and the crew would be placed in one of the three hospitals at William Head, and that would be for smallpox. We used to have vaccinations quite regularly for smallpox all the while we were there. But when we lived there, there were never any smallpox epidemics. There had been one, I think, a few years just before we moved to William Head.
Jeanne: And these would be ships coming in from …..?
Marg: The Orient, very often, Orient and parts unknown.
Clare: Were there children on some of these ships?
Marg: Oh, no. These were mainly freighters, things like that.
Jeanne: So the children at the school…..?
Marg: The children at the school belonged to the people who lived at William Head... the doctors, and all the people that were there to run the place. And, at that time, when we first moved there, I think there would be about fifteen, and in Grade 1 through to Grade 10. My mother was there to prepare lessons for all of us.
Clare: It was an extended rural school.
Marg: And it was sort of the centre of the little community. The Christmas Concert was a great big thing and socials, movies, and so on would be held at the school. We lived at one end of the school in a... oh, I guess there was a dining room/kitchen, and a bedroom and a bathroom downstairs, and I slept upstairs in a balcony that overlooked the school classroom.
Clare: The building was built to be a school, then?
Marg: Oh, yes, this was a teacherage built onto the school, and then the stage was at the other end, and it had a fire place which was really nice on cold days. We would all gather round the fireplace, and Mom was a great reader and she used to read to us a lot.
Clare: The fireplace was in the school?
Marg: Oh, yes.
Clare: Oh, wonderful. So it was a very comfortable continuation of your education?
Marg: Oh, yes. William Head was a very exciting place to be, because during the war, there were two search lights on what we called The Point, the tip of the peninsula, and Mary Hill, which is now Pearson College, had a big gun up there, and it was a training ground for a lot of the army and the navy. The navy trained there, and they used the hospital as quarters for the men. The army had their own camp at The Point, but the navy used the hospital.
Clare: So we’re into wartime here.
Marg: Mm-hmm. The war broke out in September of ‘39, wasn’t it, and that’s when we moved to William Head.
Clare: Did you feel affected by the war, being in such a strategic location?
Marg: I shouldn’t say it, but it was exciting. The blackouts, we had blackout curtains, and the cars with the headlights were all covered, except for little slits, and we used to have to go through several Army checkpoints when you went to Victoria by road. Another way to get into Victoria was by boat. There was a fairly large launch, and it would go on Saturday mornings and I think, Wednesday. It would take about an hour to get into Victoria, then it would leave about three-thirty to go home.
Clare: Tight security, then.
Marg: Not so much on the launch, no, but on the road, yes.
Clare: All right. It sounds like a wonderful school experience, though.
Marg: Yes, yes it was.
Clare: And no problems with your mother being the teacher?
Marg: She used to tell me it was very difficult to have a daughter in the classroom. Because I never talked back to my mother, I used to think it was much harder to be a daughter of the teacher.
Clare: She’d have to be pretty hard on you to prove that she wasn’t playing favourites.
Marg: She was. I understand that now, but at the time I didn’t. And, of course, the kids would complain to me about her.
Clare: Yes, it’s a tricky situation, but it can work, and I guess it did.
Marg: Mm-hmm. I was one of the younger ones, and, of course, the other families grew up and moved away, because the kids would be going to Junior High or high school, and because there were no more quarantines, or ships coming in that needed to be quarantined. I guess the people that were working there gradually moved away, so before we left there, there were just two of us in school. I think that it must have been a government-run school, but I remember one time, the school inspector from Victoria came out, so I don’t know ... But Mom was very artistic, very dramatic, and really into plays and all kinds of things. She did a lot for the kids.
Clare: Was she Canadian?
Marg: She was born in Scotland, but she was Canadian. She came out when she was very young. Oh, I also learned to ride horses. One of the girls there had horses, and she taught me to ride. You know, I had my share of falling off horses and falling out of trees, too, and falling off a dock onto a float, and that’s probably why people say she’s not quite right because she’s hit her head so often, but it was a great healthy place to grow up. But, yes, you’re right; there was a great shock when I went into Grade 9. Because there were only two of us at the school, and we knew we would be moving into Victoria and I would be going to a high school, Mom thought it would be a good idea to send me off to private school, so I went to Strathcona Lodge, which is, or at that time was a girls’ private school at Shawnigan Lake, up island, near Duncan. And it was very good for me, because I was an only child, an "only brat", and they put me in a dorm with seven other girls, so I was in a big dorm with girls older than I was and that was very good for me. We had to learn to share and all kinds of things, and the Grade 9 class was fairly small. I think there were probably about fifteen - eighteen girls in my class. We did a lot of sports. That’s where I learned to play grass hockey and badminton... canoe. I played basketball but the private schools played "girls’ rules", so I learned "girls’ rules"... and you never hear about "girls’ rules" now. Quite a different game than the regular basketball. But anyway, it was a good year. I was very home-sick but I would get home, of course, on holidays, and friends and Mom would come and visit on weekends, some weekends, not every weekend, because it was a long way, in those days, forty miles on the island was a long way to go. There wasn’t rationing then but there had been... gas rationing. You could only have so much gas to get around. The Malahat was always a challenge. Anyway, after I went to Grade 9 at Strathcona, we moved to Victoria, Glendenning Road, which is off Mount Douglas Crossroads, at the foot of Mount Douglas and I registered at Mount Douglas High School, which was a very small school. There was one class of Grade 10’s, one class of Grade 11’s, and one class of Grade 12’s. I think the year before there had been a class of Grade 9’s, but they had gone, I think, to S. J. Willis, which I think opened the year I started Grade 10. Anyway, it was quite traumatic because it was a large class, and there were boys in the class, and they looked so old and big, and the girls looked so sophisticated and it took me a little while to adjust.
Clare: But you survived it.
Marg: Yes, I survived it... but the first month or two were pretty hard. I rode my bike to school every day, there and back. Then, as I got to know everybody, it was fine. Actually I became quite bratty, I think, in 11 and 12. I was pretty hard on substitutes, I know that... if they weren’t very good.
Clare: Well, there’s that little vindictive feeling about someone who’s incompetent.
Marg: I continued with the sports there, too.
Clare: Well, you had a good background with sports, anyway. Did you adjust your basketball playing?
Marg: I tried. I played basketball, and it took me a little while. I never was a very good regular basketball player, because I had played guard in girls’ basketball, so I hadn’t practiced the shooting, but, I played a lot of badminton and grass hockey, or field hockey, as it’s called now, and a lot of track. I got a few ribbons for that.
Clare: Good. And then you two went to Victoria College.
Marg: Yes, I went to Victoria College I graduated [from High School] in ‘49, and went on to Victoria College for two years, and I rode my bike to Vic. College, too, for two years. I had a good time at College. I wasn’t the best student in the world at college because I was just beginning to have some fun. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but then I decided during the second year that I was at College... ‘yes, I think I’ll go to Normal School,’ so I decided to go to Normal School. That was the year after Kelly.
Clare: So that’s it. [Now, Kelly, you also had decided on Normal School.]
Kelly: Why I wanted to go to Normal School, I don’t know.
Jeanne: Did someone suggest that you go, or did you like the thoughts of being a teacher?
Kelly: Yes, I thought I would be interested in working with little kids, so I guess that’s probably why I decided I’d like to go to Normal. Actually, I had considered going into nursing, but, as the time drew closer and closer, this idea of working with kids rather than with sick people became more and more appealing so I guess that’s why I ended up deciding to go to Normal School.
Clare: Of course, in those days, a year’s training would have you self-sufficient, too. You’d be employable.
Clare: So, looking first at the Normal School as a training system, how did you find that? Did it do for you what you had hoped... to prepare you?
Kelly: Overall, I think it was quite good. There are some things that only experience really can equip you for some of the roles, but I think Normal School did provide quite a good background for starting out in the teaching business.
Clare: And where were your practice teaching experiences? Were they in Victoria?
Kelly: My first one was back at Lampson Street School, where I had gone in Grade 8 myself. I had a Grade 1 class there. My second one was at Margaret Jenkins School in Victoria, and I had a six/seven class there, and my final one was at Langford, and I had a split two/three there.
Clare: And how long were those practicums?
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Kelly: I thought it was longer.
Clare: It just seemed longer, maybe.
Kelly: Okay, that would be it then.
Marg: It might have been a month or longer. But I know the first two you worked with a partner, and you divvied things up.
Clare: So you didn’t have to do the whole day by yourself.
Kelly: No, although I guess both the first times, it was suggested to us that we do take a day each and do everything on our day.
Clare: Were you still sharing, then, for the final one?
Kelly: No, it was on your own there.
Clare: And your sponsor teachers were helpful?
Kelly: Mm-hmm. Yes, now when we got to my final one, that sponsor teacher was just returning to teaching after having been off for several years, so I guess it was a fairly new thing to her, too, at that point, getting back into teaching herself as well as having a fledgling there.
Jeanne: Did Victoria Normal School have an ungraded class room?
Kelly: No, I don’t think so.
Jeanne: Vancouver Normal School had a separate building on the campus where you had an ungraded [one room] school, and you had to spend a certain amount of time, not a length of time, but certain days we had to go to the ungraded, which I found was very, very helpful. But they didn’t have one in Victoria?
Kelly: No, no.
Clare: So do you, Marg, have anything particularly outstanding about Normal School from your experience?
Marg: I thought it was a good training. I think it was pretty thorough. You learned to deal with primary, and you had to deal with intermediate, because, of course, when you finished, you never knew where you were going to be. I think, by and large, the teachers at the Normal School were good. I think they gave us a good grounding in everything. We did go out and observe in other classrooms before practicums and between practicums. Was it half a day, Kelly, that we used to go out and observe in various classrooms in the city?
Kelly: I think so, yes.
Marg: So we saw a variety of situations, and I think it’s good to go out with a partner, particularly your first practicum. You usually chose a good friend who was understanding of your mistakes, and I think I told you about the music class that I had with a cuckoo song. Well, the first practicum I went out with my girlfriend Betty, who was very musical. I enjoy music, but I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. The first week, Betty did all music, and then of course we switched around, and in the second week I had the music, and this was a Grade One Class at Doncaster Elementary, which was fairly close to the Normal School. I was to teach a cuckoo song. So there I was teaching the cuckoo song, and I was singing “cuckoo, cuckoo” and I looked at the back of the room (Betty and I used to get the giggles a lot) and tears were just streaming down Betty's face; she was just collapsed, then I looked around at the kids, and half of them were laughing, so that was it. No more cuckoo song. That was kind of a horrible experience!
Clare: So how did you find the experience going into schools? In the schools I went to, there was a separate staff room for student teachers.
Marg: Oh, yes, at Doncaster, student teachers had to go to the boiler room to eat our lunch. We weren’t allowed in the staff room. I think we could use the staff washroom, but, maybe we used the kids’ washroom; I can’t remember, it was so long ago. Oh, no, and then, when I did my second practicum at, oh dear, I forget the name of the school. Miss Ledingham was our sponsor teacher. She was wonderful. We were allowed in the staff room sometimes, but you had to be very careful that you didn’t take a regular teacher’s chair. There were certain places that you did not sit because that belonged to the regular teachers. It was a grade five, and then the final practicum was out in Happy Valley near Metchosin and that was a rural school, so it was grades one and two. With the jelly pad for duplicating.
Clare: Tell us about a jelly pad. I think people would be interested in knowing how things used to be.
Marg: Well, it was a sort of jelly that was melted and put in a little tray, and there was a kind of purple thing to write on. You wrote on the white part, and there was purple underneath, And that picked up whatever you were doing, your picture or your printing, or writing. Then you put the purple print or picture on the jelly pad with a little roller. You rolled it, and then you picked up the paper one sheet at a time.
Kelly: And you hoped you didn’t pull a chunk of jelly out with it. That sometimes happened. so you would melt it all down and start over again.
Clare: So you’d take one copy at a time?
Marg: One copy at a time.
Clare: But you had a stencil of some kind.
Marg: Like indelible ink. Messy. I think that's where, certainly, I got to use the blackboard a lot, rather than messing around with a jelly pad, but we learned to make use of the blackboard, and, in those days, there were lots of blackboards in the classrooms. They were along the front and along the sides, there was even an easel that you could use, as well. So my boards were always full. And I’d often put more up in the afternoon. I’d go in at noon, erase what was on there in the morning, and put something up for the afternoon.
Jeanne: Do you remember if you made the jelly pads, or did they come made?
Marg: Well, they were in the school, but I think you could make them. I have a dim recollection...
Jeanne: If you got the ingredients…..
Kelly: Oh, sure, I made mine. I got the ingredients.
Marg: When we were at William Head, Mom made a jelly pad, but I think she preferred to use the blackboard, too. The jelly pad was so fiddly.
Jeanne: I was just wondering if we had any in the archives.
Marg: I’ve never seen any. I’ve never seen a jelly pad [in the archives].
Jeanne: I still have some material that was made on a jelly pad.
Marg: The paper that you used was something like the old Gestetner, wasn’t it? It was purple. Was that the Gestetner, or was that before the Gestetner?
Clare: The Gestetners were the ones that had the holes punched in them?
Marg: One was black. Maybe that was the Gestetner. The fluid, yes. You poured alcohol into the drum. Then you cranked it. You put your master copy on the drum, and it was fed by alcohol, and then you had your paper in this thing....
Clare: Then you’d hang up the stencils in the filing cabinet, right?
Marg: Yes, you kept them.
Clare: But I mean you didn’t lay them down and put them in a file.
Jeanne: I would guess at this point you’d ????????? an ink jet printer.
Clare: Anyway, what about getting jobs then? Interviews? Were jobs easily come by when coming out of Normal School at that point?
Kelly: Yes, if you had a reasonable track record in Normal School, you could get a job almost anywhere.
Marg: When we graduated, Betty (my girlfriend) and I were called into Mr. H.O. English's office. He was the principal of the Normal School, and we were told to go down to Craigdarroch Castle, which was the Board Office in Victoria at that time, for an interview with J. F. K. English for a job in Victoria. So Betty went in first, and then I went in, and sat down, and he just stared at me. I wiggled around a bit. He said a few words, that was all, and Betty and I both got jobs, but Betty (who was much more forward than I) said he did the same with her; he stared at her, and she said to him, “What’s the matter, is something wrong?” But, anyway, we both got jobs in Victoria, and I was very grateful, because I didn’t really want to go out of Victoria; I wanted to stay.
Clare: It sounds as if the interview was really different from now.
Marg: Oh, sure it was.
Clare: They were going on your track record.
Marg: Your track record... yes.
Kelly: I remember Mr. English, when I went in to see him, asking about Onoway. And I was telling him about how many grain elevators there were, and so on and so forth, and ever after that, any time I met him, oh, yes, I was the one from the town in Alberta with the four elevators, etc. etc.
Marg: Was this J. F. K. or H. O. [English]?
Kelly: J. F. K.
Marg: Oh, the Superintendent... or the Inspector, as he was called in those days.
Clare: The inspectors that actually went into classrooms. Because that certainly has changed in recent years. You couldn’t get into every classroom.
Marg: Well, in Victoria, and Kelly probably will agree with this, there were a lot of so-called helping supervisors. We had a primary, we had a music, we had phys. Ed., oh, who else? There were a lot of people from the Board Office who would pop in.
Kelly: Well, there were the two superintendents, J. F. K. and John Gough.
Marg: John Gough, yes. John Gough was the one who came to my class. And the reports were about six lines. They talked about the lighting and the heating, and whether the rows were straight. And of course, whether the class was under control. But they certainly were not detailed the way reports are now. I think they saw everything, but they just didn’t put it in writing.
Clare: Well, now reports can only say it’s satisfactory. In those days they could praise you a little more, could they not? Now it’s satisfactory or not, right, in the current teacher report.
Marg: I don’t know. I don’t know where my reports are.
Clare: All right. Now, Kelly, we understand your aim was to travel and teach in the areas of B. C., so you were first in Victoria... for how long was that?
Kelly: That was the aim of many of the young teachers in that time, to teach two or three years in an area, move on to another area, teach a couple of years there, and move on, gradually working their way around the province, usually starting, though, from the north and the interior and gradually working south and towards the coast was the general pattern. So, I decided that I would like to do the same thing; I would try to travel around the province, so I planned on being two years in each area. I did things a bit differently, though; I started with the coast then moved to the interior and moved North. I was going to be two years in Victoria; I was three years there, so I wasn’t too far away from my plan. Then I went to Kamloops for my two years and I was four and a half years in Kamloops, with the other half year spent travelling around in Europe, and then I came to Prince George for my two years, and I’m still here all these years later. I retired here twenty-nine years later, and still living whatever number of years later. My mother used to always say that she expected to hear that I was going to Tuktoyuktuk, or Old Crow, on my way north. I did have plans to go to Whitehorse. That was to be my next move from Prince George, but I never left Prince George.
Jeanne: Where did you teach in Kamloops?
Kelly: My first year there I taught at Lloyd George, and then I was consultant in Kamloops, helping teacher, and then, when I came back from our six month safari in Europe, I taught... I guess you’d call it an almost special class... at John Todd, on the North Shore. It was a grade one, two, and three with a few tag ends of grade four, and some who were more or less kindergarten. Some of them had emotional problems. There was a little bit of everything in the class.
Jeanne: Was it designated a special class?
Kelly: No, it was just a class.
Clare: And it was Quadra Primary School in Victoria? And that was three years, in Victoria?
Kelly: Yes, three years there.
Clare: So, the primary consultant role in Kamloops came out of your special interest in primary.
Kelly: Yes, it was called consultant and helping teacher.
Clare: So were you the only one doing that in Kamloops? So you just covered the district?
Kelly: A lot of them were rural one-room schools, visiting the schools. As everywhere else in the province, a lot of beginning teachers, plus there were a number of teachers, particularly women, who were returning to teaching after having been off raising families, so the organization etc. at that time was new to them, too. It was a matter of getting to these schools, and helping them organize their timetables and their classes and help them sort their books out as to what was used with whatever group or whatever child, etc.
Clare: So at that time the restriction on married women teaching was no longer in effect.
Kelly: No, no.
Clare: So they could come back and you could give them a refresher and get them going again. And this interesting trip to Europe, was that to travel all over?
Kelly: There were four of us who taught in all different areas of Kamloops, but were friends. Anyway, we decided that we would go to Europe, and we would go to youth hostels; which we did; we travelled around to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, Italy, Monaco, and back to London again.
Jeanne: All in six months?
Clare: You didn’t encounter a place that you would just like to stay there forever?
Kelly: Oh, lots of those, yes. When we travelled through Switzerland, we never saw a bit of it. The clouds were hanging at roof height the whole while. Alice Box and I were back eleven or twelve years later, glorious sunshine, so I wandered around, looking at Switzerland. ???? (Something missing here). Likely a question about travelling to rural schools in the Kamloops area.
Kelly: Some of the back roads were quite interesting. They were narrow, sharp corners, steep, travelled by logging trucks, so it was a regular happening before I set off for a school that Mr. Marriot, the District Superintendent in Kamloops, would call me in and give me a little background on the road that I was travelling to the school or schools, and give me some suggestions as to how to proceed, and I remember he used to talk about the road leading up from Pritchard up onto the plateau above the highway, travelling along the back country and coming out at Paul Lake. He used to say “Now, when you cross the river, just after you get off the bridge, pull over to the side, shut your motor off, get out of your car and listen very carefully. If you don’t hear any logging trucks, get in your car and drive like mad. Get up that hill and around that corner, but, if you do hear a logging truck somewhere in the area, don’t move. Stay right where you are 'til the truck comes down and passes, because if you proceed and you meet that truck up the hill or on the corner, he probably can’t stop anyway, and he has no intention of stopping and he’ll just push you off the road,” so I used to take all these stories to heart before I headed out to the various country schools round and about.
Clare: You didn’t ever have an encounter with a logging truck that scared you?
Kelly: Well, yes, I did have a few frights, but I never had any major problem. I luckily was never in an accident or got pushed off the road.
Jeanne: You mentioned Pozzobon, was that the ……..?
Kelly: The logging contractor, yes. The Pozzobon boys would push you off the road.
Clare: So, after a nerve-wracking life in Kamloops, you decided to try out Prince George.
Kelly: Nerve-wracking life there too.
Clare: So your first school here was KGV [King George the Fifth], is that right?
Kelly: Yes. I taught my first year here at KGV, yes.
Clare: All right, let’s leave you for a moment and let Marg tell her route up to Prince George... from our interview in Craigdarroch Castle [in Victoria] there.
Marg: O.K., my first school was View Royal, and I taught there for four years, I believe it was grades two/three, three/four... One of the teachers down the hall was my mentor. I never would have made it without her. I think every new teacher needs someone down the hall that will come in and give hints and a pat on the back, dry their tears, and that sort of thing. Then I met Maurice; he was teaching at View Royal, and in those days in Victoria you couldn’t have a husband and wife teaching on the same staff. We were married the summer of ‘54, so I transferred to Frank Hobbs Elementary and had a three/four there, and also taught grades five and six science. Maurice didn’t like Victoria. He said we were leaving... didn’t know where we were going, but we were leaving, so we went for an interview during spring break. Mr. Johnson, who was the Superintendent in Prince George interviewed Maurice and offered him a job at Prince George Junior High teaching Phys. Ed., and said that he didn’t know where I would be teaching, but that it would be a primary school somewhere in the city. We finished the year off in Victoria, packed up our things but first of all we went to Kamloops where Maurice’s parents... During the summer Maurice bought a trailer and brought it up to the Fraser Bridge Trailer Park; then we moved up, and I went to the Board Office and found out where I was teaching. I was teaching at Central Fort [George], and, in those days, it was the old school, with the road right through. It wasn’t... now what road was it? Harper... yes, Harper went right through. I had a Grade two/three there. Gordon Payton, who was the principal at the Junior High, asked me to come and teach a special class the next year at Prince George Junior [Secondary], and I had a special class. In those days, they had Grade 7, 8, and 9 in the Junior High, and they went in order of A, B, C, D and so on, with A being the brightest kids. I had 7K.
Clare: Oh... well into the alphabet!
Marg: But they were neat kids. It was a very small class. They ranged in age from one girl who should have been in Grade 6 to a boy who should have been in Grade 10, and everything in between. Some of the kids were attitude problems, they just didn’t want to learn; they just stayed in school because they had to. Others had some learning difficulties, and others had emotional problems or a combination, so I had one year teaching Grade 7K (it was known as the "K" class). In addition to that, since Maurice was teaching Phys. Ed; Gordon thought I could teach girls’ Phys. Ed. classes which I did. I can’t remember whether it was that year or the next year that I had the 7F’s. I had one class of Grade 7’s made up of three divisions which made 63 kids in the gym.
Clare: At one time?
Marg: At one time! But, that was the way it was.
Clare: And this is co-educational P.E.?
Marg: No, no, no, strictly girls P.E. I had said to Gordon at the end of the first year that I didn’t want to teach Phys. Ed. again, because I really wasn’t trained for it, and, I got a lot of help from Maurice, but it wasn’t the same, so I said I didn’t want to, and he said ‘fine’, he’d find me something else to teach, but in the summer I got a letter from him saying ‘Marg, would you help us out? We can’t find a girls’ Phys. Ed. Teacher.’ What do you say? I had a second year of girls’ Phys. Ed., which I really didn’t enjoy all that much. Grade 7’s were fine, Grade 8’s were O.K. until about Christmas time, and then they didn’t like to change, they didn’t want to do this, they didn’t want to do that, and Grade 9’s were the same. You were fighting an attitude. We had a good time, but sometimes it was a little frustrating.
Clare: And such a huge group!
Marg: Well, that was the largest group, but they still were very big classes then. At the end of that year, or before the end of that year, I was pregnant, so I decided I was going to resign, withdraw my pension, stay home and be the perfect mother and homemaker. That was fine until Deb was born in December, and then by February I was climbing the walls, so Maurice sent me home to Victoria for a while with Deb. When I came back there was a job posting for a Primary Consultant, and Maurice said, ‘Why don’t you apply for it?’ He wanted me out of the house. So I did, and lo and behold, I came across Kelly again. I had known who she was in Victoria. I guess I would be in second year College when you were in first... no, that didn’t work... no we were both in first year College together, then you went to Normal School and I went to College a second year, and then I followed you through the Normal School. Anyway, that’s how we met again, and that was 1960.
Clare: Oh, right, I had early ‘60’s here. And both of you then became Primary Consultants?
Jeanne: Did you have to go back for your certificate at that time?
Marg: I went back and got my EA, when I was teaching at the Junior High, and, by the way, there were a number of people with no teacher training teaching at the Junior High. Then, as we worked through and realized that we needed our degrees, we went to summer school, with kids in tow, and good old Fort Camp at UBC!
Clare: With a shortage of teachers, the expectations of certification were certainly …
Marg: In those days, an EA was pretty good. I think the only person that had a degree would be the principal and the vice-principal.
Clare: Even in the high school?
Clare: Oh, that’s interesting. Had there been Primary Consultants in the District prior to you two taking on that role? Did you ever know any of them or know of any of them?
Marg: Wasn’t there something to do with during the war you couldn’t get tires, and she had to borrow somebody’s car to go to some of these schools. Was it the Superintendent’s car, because he had tires that weren’t worn out? I remember hearing that.
Clare: She visited Jeanne out there in Giscome, right?
Jeanne: She used to travel the train from Prince George and stop off at Giscome, and she’d go to Penny and the rest of them there. I have a picture of her.
Marg: I have a picture of her with Kelly and myself, I think it’s in Squamish... isn’t it, Kelly. She drove us up there one day. Oh, no... it’s Britannia.
Jeanne: She was off from here to Burnaby, Primary Supervisor in Burnaby.
Kelly: Many years in Burnaby.
Jeanne: Which books was she associated with... primary?
Kelly: No. no.
Marg: She did the workbooks. Jolly Numbers?
Jeanne: No, she did some reading series.
Marg: She was a wonderful person.
Clare: How did you know her then? If she took you to Britannia?
Marg: I guess it would be a supervisors’ conference. She kind of took us under her wing. She was just a real sweetheart.
Jeanne: She was such a dynamic personality.
Marg: When you grew up, you wanted to be like Kay Collins.
Clare: So there had been at least one…
Marg: No, Verda Darling had been one, and when I was at Central there was another one, what as her name? Ellen…., she married Jack McMillan and became Ellen McMillan, but I can’t remember what her maiden name was. But she was a consultant. I think she only did it for a year.
Kelly: She lives next door to Mary and Vic in Kamloops.
Marg: Oh, does she? Is Jack still alive? Maybe not, I think he was quite a bit older than she.
Clare: So, there was Kay Collins and these others, but when you did it they needed two people.
Marg: The district was growing very rapidly. And there were a lot of brand new teachers, some with training, some without, and a lot of teachers coming from other countries.
Clare: So did one of you get rural, and one get town?
Kelly: I had the south and east and half of the city.
Marg: I had the north and west and half of the city.
Jeanne: Did you both start the same year? What year was that then?
Clare: How did you like that?
Marg: It was exciting. I wasn’t really used to winter driving, but I certainly got used to it. And in those days we had schools, Telachick, Isle Pierre, Mud River, Baldy Hughes.
Clare: Haldi Road?
Marg: No, no, Haldi Road wasn’t there then. Tay, going north, Kerry Lake, Bear Lake, Summit Lake, McLeod Lake, of course, and that was before Mackenzie came into the picture.
Clare: You went south then?
Kelly: Strathnaver was our farthest south school at that time.
Clare: Stone Creek, was there a school there?
Kelly: Yes, there was Buckhorn and Pineview and Red Rock and Stone Creek, Hixon and Strathnaver. Then to the east…
Marg: I think I had the airport. One room [school] at the airport.
Kelly: East there was Blackburn, Bonnet Hill, Willow River, and this wild place called Giscome…….
Marg: With Jeanne Anderson there.
Kelly: And Aleza Lake, Upper Fraser, Sinclair Mills, Longworth and Penny. We didn’t go beyond Penny at that point.
Jeanne: That was before amalgamation.
Marg: And Tete Jaune, Dunster.
Clare: This was after amalgamation? When was amalgamation?
Marg: I don’t remember.
Clare: Were you still consultants at that time?
Marg: We were consultants for two years, then supervisors after that.
Clare: Once you were supervisors, then you took on the primary/intermediate role?
Marg: Kelly was Primary, I was Intermediate.
Clare: So then did you cover the whole territory, instead of going your separate ways?
Marg: We travelled together. I know I travelled with Kelly out to the east.
Kelly: Sometimes, and sometimes we were on our own.
Marg: Yes, it just depended where the need was. If there was a new intermediate [teacher], I would go out with Kelly while she was doing the primary. We took the train a few times, didn’t we, Kelly?
Kelly: There was no other way of getting to some of those schools on the east run. You couldn’t drive.
Jeanne: The schools followed the railroad. The new highway did not follow the railroad.
Marg: Sinclair Mills was the last school that you could drive into.
Kelly: You couldn’t even drive into Sinclair Mills.
Marg: Not at first. You took a little ferry when the water was open, and when it was frozen you were supposed to cross an ice bridge, which I never would do. They planked the rail bridge so you could travel the rail bridge.
Kelly: You would go out and blow your horn madly and eventually somebody would arrive.
Marg: That’s when the water was open.
Kelly: They’d bring the ferry across. You’d drive your car onto the ferry and they’d sail you across the river.
Kelly: Going out to Sinclair and beyond, we would get the Monday morning freight train from here that left at five in the morning, the way freight…….
Marg: With all the drunk loggers.
Kelly: Usually either Marg and I, or I would be on my own. Maybe the public health nurse, but we would be the only women on the train and so all these guys would be heading back to the various mills after their wild weekend in Prince George. The beer bottles would roll up and down the aisle and they would sit and wonder where we were going, and we would sit and wonder where they had been.
Marg: And when were they going to get off, please. Didn’t it have a pot-bellied stove?
Kelly: Oh, yes. On the way freight.
Jeanne: You didn’t mention, when you were mentioning the schools, covering the lakes district... Ness Lake and Chief Lake and in there.
Marg: Yes, that was mine.
Jeanne: What schools were in there, then?
Marg: There was Nukko Lake, Reed Lake, Sylvan Glade for a little while, and I guess that was it.
Clare: How were you received by the teachers in the schools?
Kelly: They were usually pretty glad to see us. Very often we had samples or even enough seatwork for their various groups, and we very often had stuff with us that they could use right away. Every once in a while there would be a renegade that didn’t want to see anybody.
Marg: Two of the teachers at Aleza Lake School were Mrs. Kit Hellenius and Mary Perrault.
Kelly: When we went out to Sinclair Mills, we worked the day there, usually, and usually I stayed overnight with the Anderson family, then caught the wayfreight on the Tuesday afternoon back into town, and that was the meat train from Edmonton, so they stopped at every single blade of grass on the way into town, dropping meat off, and, if they missed a blade of grass, they backed up. You never knew when you were going to get into town. It might be seven in the evening before you got into town. You had the choice of doing it that way or you could spend your day, coming out Monday morning on the train, you could spend the day working at the school and then you could catch the train back home that came through Sinclair at two in the morning. What you did was go down to the train station and, when you hear the train coming, you took a lantern that was hanging inside the cupboard area, lit the lantern and went out and waved it up and down. Nobody was around, so the train would stop. You’d blow out the light, hang it up, get on the train, and come in that way. You had your choices; you could either do that or come in on the meat train.
Jeanne: That was the regular weekly passenger train that went up one day and back another day.
Kelly: When I very first came to town, Prince George, I lived at Mrs. Anderson’s house on Alward Street. There was a secretary for the RCMP, there was a public health nurse, and there was a teacher. We lived at Mrs. Anderson’s. She worked at the hospital as a cook. On her days off, she often made supper for us. Mrs. Anderson’s oldest son was Ivan Anderson, who was a bookkeeper at Sinclair Mills. When the men went out to Sinclair, they could stay at the bunk house, but there was nowhere for women to stay, so I used to stay at the Anderson’s. Anyway, the Andersons had three kids, Keith and Ethel and Gordie. I see Keith three or four times a week at Grama’s Inn [restaurant]; he comes in for lunch. Gordie comes in once in a while. Anyway, Keith was probably about seven, I think, at the time, and the oldest in his family. It was his job to see that I got safely to school, and to help me carry anything that needed carrying etc. I was just mentioning that I see Keith now probably about three times a week. I very often go over to Grama’s for lunch and Keith comes in and has lunch at Grama’s. He runs Lakeland Mills, I think it is. He’s certainly still in the lumber business around town. Brother Gordie was working in the lumber business out in the Vanderhoof area. He and Dad Ivan come into Grama’s once in a while, too, so I see them.
Clare: So Ivan is still around here then?
Kelly: Yes, yes.
Jeanne: Just as a matter of curiosity, how did the Board manage your expenses on these trips?
Kelly: We used to get mileage for the car, and how………
Marg: I think we paid for the tickets and the meals, and then we’d submit our expenses and they would reimburse us.
Jeanne: So you were out of pocket to begin with. You didn’t have the benefits they have now.
Marg: There were times when you wouldn’t submit something, you know.
Clare: From Supervisors it moved to become ‘Supervisors of Instruction’, so how many years did you have two separate labels, roughly speaking?
Kelly: We were always Supervisors of Instruction.
Clare: The K to 7 Supervisors of Instruction.
Marg: Oh, and then K to 12. I think it was K to 7 up until another reorganization, and then we went into School Operations. Wasn’t that how it worked?
Kelly: Don Bosnich was there when we went K to 7.
Clare: That must have been the early seventies because he was the one that left me sitting in the chair at the School Board Office for an interview because he had to go to Mackenzie, I guess. But you were still essentially doing the same thing; it was just really a case of different labels?
Marg: That’s all it was. We were basically there to help teachers, and we never wrote reports. How did that come about? Was it during those years?
Kelly: How did that come about? I was asked to ……..how did that go?
Marg: We had readiness first. That was Barb Naef’s baby, wasn’t it? She came in and started the readiness classes, which preceded kindergarten.
Kelly: But readiness and kindergarten really were separated. Yes, I can’t think just how that went. I was to do a little study or a proposal or something or other, and we were to start with twelve, I think it was. How did that go now? Bill Mains, I know, was involved.
Marg: Is that when he was principal at Highglen?
Kelly: Yes. Anyway, I was able to make use of a number of the lists of equipment and supplies that I had seen in various daycare centres. Now, Alice Box and I had gone to Europe on an early childhood education tour, a seven week one. We visited kindergartens and nursery schools and day-care centres and summer camps, orphanages. Anyway, a number of supplies and equipment lists I had seen in these various European set-ups, I had brought back and had used as a suggested basis for starting out supplies and equipment for these kindergarten classes. It seems to me we were to think in terms of twelve, but it was seven or eight that we actually started with, if I’m remembering correctly. It was sort of, as there was a space in a school and gradually we were kind of getting started. It was no longer the thing, or it was not yet the thing, that every district must provide kindergarten education for their students. It was kind of a little prior lead-in to that.
Clare: Before it became compulsory to have that service. So when would that have been? Would Alice [Box] have been at Highglen then?
Marg: Yes, wouldn’t she, or was she in the office with Don?
Kelly: No, she wasn’t in the office.
Clare: I think the readiness thing was really a programme for Grade One students, wasn’t it, so that they came in, and if there was a feeling that they needed...
Marg: A little more preparation before they really started Grade One, and it was Barb Naef that did that.
Clare: Is she still around?
Marg: She’s retired. She went down to the Fraser Valley. She was in Mission for a while, and then I think it was Burnaby. She was one of the superintendents in Burnaby. They had divided the District up into superintendencies. It would be an assistant superintendent. And then I think she retired from that position.
Clare: So the kindergarten thing started out as a small, optional programme. Did parents request their children to go into it or did you just …
Kelly: Yes, they, now how did we do that? Yes, there were many more people wanting to be in the programme than we could accommodate initially, I remember.
Marg: Didn’t you start with just one or two kindergarten teachers, Kelly?
Kelly: Oh, no, there were more than that. There were seven or eight, at least. As I say, twelve sticks in my mind as a sort of suggested starting number, but I know we didn’t start with twelve because we didn’t have the space and all of that, but it was about seven or eight.
Marg: Wasn’t Sharon Dezell one of the first kindergarten teachers?
Kelly: Yes, she was one of the first people.
Clare: Would Wilma Hartnagel be one of the first?
Kelly: No, no, Wilma wasn’t.
Marg: Sharon might remember the day.
Kelly: Yes, she probably would.
Marg: Dezell. Cliff Dezell's wife.
Clare: Anyway, it’s certainly well underway now as an expectation. Do you think it was a good move?
Kelly: Oh, yes, absolutely.
Clare: So what were your feelings about the K/1 classes, because at times the numbers weren’t up for K’s, so they had K/1 combinations? Was that a lot of compromise?
Kelly: Yes, I think it was kind of hard on the teachers, particularly initially.
Clare: It was a nice situation for the grade ones in the sense that they were a very small group for half the day, but you still had to bring them along. Now, the helping teachers….Now at what time did you start being in charge of a group of other helping teachers?
Marg: We were still in the old board office, the annex, when the helping teachers first came in.
Clare: So that would be early. How many would you have started with initially, two?
Marg: Yes, one intermediate, one primary.
Clare: And this as an extension of yourselves.
Marg: Because the district was pretty big. Kelly and I didn’t really have the time to spend day after day with one teacher, whereas the helping teachers could.
Clare: Right. You still had to take the broader view, and they could zero in on somebody who needed the extra support and whatnot?
Marg: And probably they weren’t quite as intimidating, perhaps, as we might have been, although we shouldn’t have been. Some teachers felt a little more comfortable with the helping teacher.
Clare: They could come in and take over a class for a lesson or something, with a little more time.
Marg: Which we would do at times, too, but we just didn’t have the time to do it as much as the helping teachers.
Clare: In recent years there doesn’t seem to be that kind of support.
Marg: There’s support in other areas, but there doesn’t seem to be support for beginning teachers or teachers that are perhaps having some difficulties. Principals, for one, I guess, give the help.
Clare: He’s the one that writes the report, so that could be intimidating, too, if you needed assistance. Well, they had specialist helpers, like the French.
Marg: Yes, and that came after the helping teachers. I guess we had a French advisor and we had a Music advisor.
Clare: Which you had years before in Victoria, really.
Marg: Yes, except they were called supervisors in Victoria, and advisors here. But that came after the helping teacher role seemed to disappear. So these were more specialist areas and learning assistants. Priorities seemed to change. There was a different focus. Rather than the generalist there was more focus on specialists..
Clare: Perhaps as the requirements to get a teacher’s certificate increased, they thought there wasn’t quite as much need for aid there for somebody stumbling. Is that something you might want to say something about?
Marg: Not on record.
Clare: Do you have anything to say about the different teacher training organizations, like the SFU programme, or UBC with the shorter practicum?
Marg: We always thought that the U.Vic teachers were the best prepared, and then UBC. We found that Simon Fraser, before we had the local programme, did not have the kind of training we felt we needed and we wouldn’t hire them.
Kelly: Finally it began to sink in why nobody would hire these people, so when they came down to earth a bit…
Clare: So there were problems with SFU because it was so unstructured.
Marg: A long time ago. Yes, very unstructured. It was difficult to work with them, because they wouldn’t take any suggestions at all. It was just unreal. Then John Smith came and supervised a local U.Vic programme.
Clare: John Smith? And he was local?
Marg: No, he was from the University of Victoria but he stayed up here with the students from the programme. That was an excellent programme. When Simon Fraser decided to have a campus here, then, of course, they were being trained in the district by our own teachers, and supervised by our own teachers, so that helped.
Clare: It always seemed that when they shape themselves into the teaching, and do it a bit at a time, that was a good thing. They could then become familiar with the subjects and gradually expand what they had to do, whereas with two weeks (for UBC students), you had to be in there by the second day. So UBC didn’t even set up specifically in the district but U.Vic did?
Marg: I think, was it two years, Kelly, or just one year? The teacher training programme with John. I think it was just one year, wasn’t it, or was it two?
Kelly: I’m not sure.
Marg: You know, Beryl Botham was in one from the first U.Vic programmes. She would have some information on that.
Clare: Kelly, you had a short little spell with School Operations? How was that?
Marg: What a waste of talent.
Kelly: But, as I said later, I did have to admit that a number of the things that I learned while in School Operations I certainly could put to use as a principal of a school. Although I fussed and fumed and hated every minute of the School Operations work, it did set some background as principal.
Clare: And what was that work? I mean, what did it involve?
Kelly: I worked with Don Bosnich. Oh, it had to do with supplies, bus routes, reorganizing, re-planning for old schools, a little bit of work planning what new schools might look like physically.
Clare: After they built the open area schools and had to adjust. Was that part of it?
Kelly: If you were purchasing for a school or a school district, various budgets, where they were situated ... a provincial thing.... a local thing... a combination.... Sort of anything that nobody else wanted to do got thrown into School Operations.
Clare: How did you happen to get into it?
Kelly: I got stuck in it.
Clare: Somebody just twisted your arm and said they needed someone here?
Kelly: No, I didn’t even get the arm twisted; I just got thrown into it.
Marg: That was one of the many reorganizations.
Clare: I hate to ask her who the Superintendent might have been.
Kelly: Well, ?????? was the problem behind the whole thing... I kicked him in the shins a couple of times, so I guess he decided he was going to kick back, and that was his way of doing it. Mind you, he deserved to be kicked in the shins initially.
Marg: He didn’t like anybody standing up to him.
Clare: You retreated from School Operations and went into a school as a principal. Is that right?
Kelly: Yes, Springwood.
Clare: And how was Springwood?
Kelly: Good. I enjoyed it there, and managed to get a number of good things done.
Clare: How big a school was Springwood?
Kelly: Eight classes, I think.
Clare: And how long were you there?
Kelly: Eight years, nine years.
Marg: You went into the new school after it was built. You were in the old school initially,weren’t you?
Kelly: That was one thing. I got to do a little planning for the new school, where I had actually learned a couple of things in School Operations. I grudgingly had to admit there were a couple of things. I got to equip the new school, all the furniture and equipment and so on, and I remember saying at the Board Office, “For somebody who can’t keep track of the grocery money from one end of the week to the other, what am I supposed to do with all these thousands of dollars?” I could have had a field day.
Clare: So your experience paid off, anyway. You would know what not to buy. Then you did come into town, did you?
Kelly: Yes, when I left Springwood, I came into Meadow for one year, basically to get used to the idea of cutting my time down, so I was six-tenths. I was principal assistant at Meadow. I used to say that it was a full-time job, but at least I could do it during the working hours, I didn’t have to do half of it at night like I used to have to do.
Clare: That’s it with a part-time job sometimes.
Marg: You’re still working full time, though.
Kelly: But it was good, too.
Clare: It was a comfortable way to step out of the field, was it?
Kelly: Yes, it cut my time down so I could get used to the idea.
Clare: And not so much travel because you’re in town?
Kelly: Oh, yes, I was practically there. It was kind of interesting; Meadow, the physical plant, was an older version, really, of Springwood from whence I had come.
Clare: Marg, you moved out of the supervisory role into personnel?
Marg: No, there was another department and I can’t remember what it was called. I worked with Gordon Ballantyne for a few years and with Hank Bugara and John Stevens for a few years. We weren’t called Personnel, or Human Resources. It wasn’t until Dave McMurray came in that the Personnel Department was formed.
Clare: So what kind of a role was it?
Marg: I was Assistant Personnel Officer. I had so many titles. A lot of different jobs. Interviewing was one of them. We called it recruiting in those days.
Clare: This was prior to being in the Personnel Department?
Kelly: When we were supervisors we used to go on some recruiting sessions.
Marg: Finally they let us go. For a while they wouldn’t let us, but then we complained so much. We were the ones working with the teachers that they hired, so we wanted to be part of the hiring.
Clare: Also, you’d know more what you were looking for. Especially if you were going to send them out into rural schools.
Marg: You know the men didn’t seem to be quite as [astute] as we were.
Kelly: We used to say that we were more interested in what applicants could do as far as teaching rather than in the flashing eyes and the ????? [other attributes] and the short skirts, so they finally decided to let us go.
Marg: I became responsible for the substitute teachers and I was responsible for setting up the recognition of service when that was very small. We still had it in the Board Room.
Clare: Where you give out the pins for five years, ten years?
Marg: Yes, before it became a big thing. You name it and I was doing it. Interviewing substitutes, of course, and doing in-service. I used to do in-service once a month for the new subs. Upgrading the handbook that was given out all the time. Doing a lot of interviewing.
Clare: You were certainly wearing a lot of hats. Did you like it?
Marg: Yes, I did. I really enjoyed it.
Clare: There must have been a lot of variety.
Marg: I really enjoyed the interviewing, then following up to see how they were doing. Of course, I worked very closely with the principals at that time, because we would interview a whole group of teachers, and if a principal needed a teacher, they would come in and say, “Marg, who do you have?”, and I’d hand them the files of all the teachers we had interviewed for that particular area, and very often they would say “What do you think?” and I would say “Here’s what I think, for what it’s worth, it’s up to you”.
Clare: Because you had more personal knowledge.
Marg: Yes, and I think sometimes you go with your gut instinct, too. Of course, when it came to the end of the year, transfer of teachers and all that kind of stuff; I was involved in that as well.
Clare: Any random thoughts from either of you about what you found rewarding or challenging or... whatever, in teaching?
Marg: Well, as I said before, probably seeing teachers coming along, and, in many ways, working with teachers is like working with kids in your classroom. You see improvement and it’s very rewarding. I feel very fortunate to have worked with so many, how would I put it, real educators. I learned so much from so many of them. You know, we had a lot of very, very fine people with us for many years in this district, so I think we were lucky to be in the district when we were. It was a good time. I really enjoyed, again, the interviews, seeing people that I’d interviewed being hired and doing well. It was just a good, how many years? When did I retire, 1999? From 1960 to when I retired. Many, many changes!
Clare: A lot more changes than just a jelly pad.
Marg: Most very positive, and some... I’m not so sure.
Clare: Do you have worries then about the way the teaching’s going?
Marg. Yes, I think so. I was once called an old fuddy-duddy because I wanted some semblance of organization in teaching. I don’t know whether I’m maybe past my time and times have changed, but kids are kids. They’re certainly more difficult to deal with now because of circumstances. But if you can cut through all that, they’re still kids. Teaching is much harder than it ever used to be.
Clare: Certainly much more challenging.
Marg: Oh, absolutely. I’m not sure that teachers, some teachers, have the dedication that used to be there. Most of them do, I’m not saying that, but times change.
Clare: Do you have anything to say, looking backwards, to about what you found to be the best in your system?
Kelly: Most rewarding….. Well, I guess working with kids and teachers. Well, that sounds silly, but that is it, basically, working with the kids and teachers and the administrators.
Marg: And we’ve had some excellent ones.
Clare: Do you have any worries about the trends that are developing?
Kelly: ???? (Unclear)
Clare: Well, we’d like to thank you both for sharing your experiences with us, and there will be researchers down the road who will doubtless find this interesting. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Jeanne: I’m not even supposed to be in on this. I’m just the technical inexpert. It’s been very interesting. I’ve learned some things about the district that I didn’t know.