Geraldine Sheppard was born in Blenheim. She taught in about twenty
schools beginning in Moore Township
with schools in Bridgen, Courtright and Corunna and then in Sarnia
with schools such as Parkview, Landsowne, London Road, Wawanosh,
George Perry, Blackwell, Brights Grove and Cathcart. As a French
teacher for grades seven and eight, she taught at a number of
schools each year and did lots of driving in all kinds of weather.
She ended her career mostly at Cathcart when French was being taught
in grades three to eight.
Geraldine and her husband enjoyed much travelling. They visited
Russia and England while their son and daughter-in-law worked for
Canadian Press and Associated Press respectively. Finland, Wales,
Paris, Yugoslavia and Majorca were also on their travel agendas. In
later years when Geraldine’s son worked in the United States
Geraldine and another former teacher travelled to Baltimore and
Virginia to visit their families. Geraldine was a golfer as well as
The Sheppards moved into their home sixty-four year ago when it had
an upstairs apartment and they had two children. When a third child
came along they needed the whole house. Geraldine has two sons and a
daughter. One son is a retired high school teacher. She appreciates
the kindness of family members such as rides to appointments and
special treats from Sunripe. Today the family includes seven
grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren. Geraldine looks
forward to their visits when she enjoys their company and good swims
in the pool.
Geraldine’s advice to new retirees is, “Enjoy every day as it
Dorothy Shea was born near Dutton in Dunwich Township. During the
war, in 1944 there was a teacher shortage. Dorothy attended summer
school for six weeks and became a teacher. This was a government
program and the student teachers paid no tuition. The winter of
Dorothy’s first year of teaching there was so much snow that she
returned to her school after Christmas and was not able to go home
until Easter. She and the boys from the home where she boarded
walked two miles to school through that snow. After one year of
teaching the government provided a second six week summer course
which completed Dorothy’s teachers training. She had to get out into
the school to find out what teaching was all about. She taught in
three country schools. One school was in Brooke, one was in Warwick
and the third in Elgin County. Dorothy enjoyed country kids.
She says, “They are true blue. They are great and they stick
She then moved to Warwick Central. There she taught for eight years
before moving to Watford for the next twenty years. During her
career she taught all grades from Kindergarten to Grade Eight
although the middle grades were her preference. This year the day
before her birthday one of her “Grade Four boys” visited with her
and they reminisced for two hours which prompted him to describe
Dorothy as the “Grade four teacher he had for fifty-eight years.”
Dorothy and her husband who worked for the PUC lived in Watford,
where Dorothy still lives at Brookside Retirement Community. There
one of her former students is a nurse and another is a seamstress.
It is a joy to see them regularly.
Dorothy tells the story of country kids who made leaf houses with
leaves from large maple trees in the school yard. Dorothy received a
sealed note from the mother of three kids and wife of a trustee. It
said, “ Get the kids out of the leaf house ‘cause they are smoking
in it!” One boy was in the school for extra help with spelling.
Dorothy asked the boy what he saw out the window.
He said, “Smoke.” The boy thought he had escaped censure because he
was indoors with the teacher but the teacher knew who had provided
the cigarettes! Fortunately, the kids were rousted out of the “leaf
house” before anyone went up in smoke!
Elisabeth was born in Gorrsel, Holland. By the time her father was
in his late twenties he had saved enough to build a home. Mortgages
were not used at that time. The two storey house still stands today
in this lovely community which Elisabeth had an opportunity to visit
in later years. When she was a toddler her father moved his business
to Zuphen. Although electrical and plumbing were part of the
business, the focus was central heating which most homes did not
have at the time. Elisabeth’s mother was a homemaker and later
Elisabeth, too, was a homemaker as was the custom.
During summer holidays, when Elisabeth was a child her family rented
an apartment in Scheveningen, a resort town, near The Hague. She
along with her sister and her mother spent vacations there, with the
father joining them on weekends. The girls spent wonderful days
playing in the North Sea. Years later Elisabeth’s grandchildren
found the Sea salty and that hurt their eyes!
Elisabeth loved every moment of school. Hers was a marvellous
private school. Her schooling at the time included six years of
public school and five years of high school, the first three years
of which lead to a diploma. In the fourth and fifth year students
chose business or science or gymnasium (philosophy, Latin and
Greek). Elisabeth chose science. This school prepared students for
post secondary education. At seventeen just before completing high
school her education came to an end as the fighting of World War II
was all around their home. Behind the house was the family garden,
then a meadow and then a railroad where the Germans stored their
munitions. In front of the house were truck loads of pigs to feed
the German troops. Elizabeth’s father had his two daughters sit on
“look out” in their big bay window and watch for German soldiers
while he listened to news from England on the radio. Eventually, the
English “shot up” the Germans munitions so the family had to leave
their home. The windows of the house were blown out and the curtains
ended up in trees. However, the family was always prepared and
had their suitcases behind the door. They were able to leave and
rent a cottage. Although that was the “last of school” all the
students were given their diplomas.
Meanwhile John, Elisabeth’s future husband, was in the army. He had
his uniform and kit bag, and was ready to leave in the morning when
the announcement came on the radio for Dutch soldiers “not to report
for duty.” That was May 10, 1940. All the bridges over the three
biggest rivers had been blown up. Holland was then occupied until
May 5, 1945 when it was liberated by the Canadians.
After the War Elisabeth’s mother was concerned about the Cold War
and encouraged her family to move to Canada which lead Elisabeth and
John to Ontario. John, by then a teacher, was hired for a teaching
job in Englehart, 250 miles north of North Bay. That was followed by
four years in Belleville before Inspector Johnston encouraged John
to come to
Sarnia where the family settled and Elisabeth still lives.
Life has changed since Elisabeth grew up in Holland and since her
years in Northern Ontario. Drug use and discrimination were not
issues in those days.
Elisabeth and John raised their three children. One daughter is a
retired family studies teacher while another daughter and their son
are both doctors. Elisabeth and John had return trips to Holland
children and grandchildren. They had opportunities to learn to love
the Netherlands and the Dutch traditions such as hanging out a flag
when there is a birthday in the house or setting out a stork when
there is a birth. Elisabeth has seven grandchildren and five little
great babies. Her iPad helps her to keep in regular contact with
For many years Elisabeth was an IODE member. Now in addition to
visiting family, Elisabeth has some locals haunts to recommend. Try
the Dutch Shop for traditional treats, Dashwood’s Turkey Store and
Grand Bend’s Aunt Gussie’s. Elizabeth, also, has a showy collection
Everyone has a story and Joan’s begins in Battle Creek, Michigan on
Wren Street where she was born. Joan has relatives on both sides of
the border after some of her family came to Canada with the United
Empire Loyalists. When her parents married they moved to Michigan
and had a store. Joan came to Canada with her family when she was
She attended school in London, Ontario and became a laboratory
technician. When she married she came to Sarnia to work in a
laboratory in the chemical valley. Later Joan who has dual
citizenship worked at Mueller Brass in Port Huron for ten years. She
then went to teacher’s college in London and had a twenty six year
teaching career. She began at Blackwell School, followed by Hanna
and then a two year stint as a Special Assignment Teacher with Doug
Barber at the board office. She
returned to classroom teaching and was assigned to Bridgeview in
Point Edward. There she enjoyed team teaching with Barb Moore. They
had such fun and activity that their classrooms often included the
hall. Joan say she had good, supportive principals who were not
upset by the learning that spilled into the corridor. She has
wonderful stories about pet fish in the classroom. These tales are
secrets, not for publication!
Joan’s story in education does not end with retirement! She was not
ready to give up teaching so she continued at Bridgeview as a
volunteer. Some time later when Barb retired the two of them taught
in China for two years with visits to Malaysia, Thailand and
Singapore. In the summer holidays they took the slow train from
Beijing and Moscow then backpacked through Europe.Then there was
Australia and New Zealand.
Joan met backpackers and says, “You have to trust! You can’t be
scared.” She teases that RTO member Fred Moss, who often led travel
excursions, would not allow her on his trips because he could not be
responsible for someone as adventurous as Joan.
Joan’s teaching career still had more steam! Another of Joan’s
adventures was helping to build a school in Africa then staying on
to do more teaching. She moved in with the nuns who ran the school.
Travel continued to be on Joan’s agenda when she had a lovely trip
to Cancun with seven members of four generations of her family. This
trip could be nothing but a blast with nine year old twin boys!
Joan has two daughters, one son, six grandchildren and eight great
grandchildren so when she hosts family and spouses there is a big
group in her basement. She could not have been prouder then when her
great grandson was selected as class valedictorian at Northern
Joan was involved with interviews for the provincial RWTO book based
stories of teachers who taught in the nineteen thirties. Now, we
have Joan’s story who taught from the sixties to the nineties.
After teaching in Windsor, Erleine worked at CPRI in London, before
coming to Lambton as principal of New Hope. She and St. Clair
principal, Phil Brown, coordinated the move of New Hope students to
the high school. Then until retirement Erleine was principal at
Erleine and her husband spent many winter holidays in New Symatra,
Florida. About twenty-four years ago a group of Ontario teachers
purchased the condo-hotel, Ocean Trillium, in the sunny south.
We celebrate with Elsie Robbins!
Elsie grew up in St. Thomas and Tillsonburg then attended nursing
school at Memorial Hospital in St. Thomas. She married her husband,
Bill, a World War II veteran and they raised six children. After
running his electrical business in St. Thomas Bill decided to try
teaching instead of trying to collect bills! He enjoyed teaching
electricity at Lowe in Windsor, then when that program ended he taught
elsewhere in Windsor for a year before retirement to a Watford
Elsie did a little part time nursing but was very busy at home with
the children. The family was involved in church in Windsor. She
continues her church associations since her move back to St. Thomas.
Elsie and Bill were square dancers and now Elsie is a clogger. She
is involved with the St. Thomas Seniors Centre and exercises there
three times a week. Her special birthday was hosted by her family and
held at the centre.
Joan Russell grew up in a Canadian Pacific Railway family. While her
elder brother, Ralph Harshaw, was born in Fredericton, New
Brunswick; Joan, her sister and another brother were born in Maine
when their father worked there. Joan returned to Ontario when she
was in Grade Eight. She attended Ontario Ladies College, later
called Trafalgar School, in Whitby which her sister had attended
some years earlier.
Joan’s brother Ralph came to Sarnia to work at Imperial Oil. He
bought a house in Sarnia with their mother and eventually Joan
Joan’s was a reading specialist with the local board. She worked
as an itinerant teacher assisting individuals and small groups with
their reading skills. Errol Road was one of the schools she visited.
She usually had a home school where she taught and "visited other
schools to help where she could."
Joan’s son lives in Michigan.
Mark Gorth’s poor vision disqualified him from the army so what
next? After Grade Thirteen his high school principal in Galt
suggested teaching. He said after five weeks of summer school Mark
could receive a Deferred Interim Second Class Certificate for
teaching. Mark would have to apply to a school on his own and
assistance would be provided by the board. Mark checked with his
father and his father thought the principal’s suggestion sounded
like a good idea. The father’s cousin Mr. Beale was a teacher and
later in charge of the Normal School. Teaching seemed like a good
career and forty years of teaching followed for Mark.
His first school was north of Bobcaygeon, about ten miles from
Fenelon Falls at SS#10 Sommerville.
After a train ride via Toronto, Peterborough and Fenelon Falls, and
a Model A Ford ride north over a settlers road and then west through
a swamp, Mark wondered, “What in the world am I getting into?”
Mark didn’t have a place to stay but with the help of the Model A
driver, a boarding place was found for him with a couple and their
His school was a union school combining East Mudlake, later called
Silver Lake, and Stoney Lonesome, later Fel’s School. He had
nineteen students in grades one to eight. The students brought their
own paper and they had crayons. The school had no supplies except a
“sheet of jelly” for making copies, four coal oil lamps for dull
days and a wood stove with eighteen inch maple blocks for cold days.
Mark grew up in the city of Galt and had never attended a one room
school. Keeping everyone in all grades gainfully employed was
Mark wrote to his Dad, “Don’t be surprised to see me on the CN train
His Dad, a resourceful man, went to the school Mark had attended in
Galt and asked the principal for help. Marks’s former teachers
collected extra Gestetner copies for him. A box of materials was
sent to Mark. To preserve the precious Gestetner copies Mark had the
students trace all the seat work and avoid making a single mark on
the originals so they could be reused.
The following summer Mark took an
additional five weeks of teacher training in Peterborough so he
could receive an Interim First Class Certificate. He was allowed to
close the school for two days so he could write the examinations. He
drove to Peterborough in his Model A Ford Coupe.
Then after ten weeks of training and two years of teaching he was a
fully qualified teacher. Compare that to the four years of
university and two years of teacher training that are required
After two years in the North, Mark moved back south and taught for
five years in rural schools in Waterloo County near Galt. Then came
a move to Windsor where he taught for three years before marrying
Mildred, a Sarnia teacher, and joining her in Sarnia.
At summer school at Western, Mark says, “I got a wife and a degree,
but the wife came first!”
At that time Sarnia was considered an excellent place to teach.
Mildred and Mark were probably the first teaching couple in Sarnia.
They both had assignments at Devine Street School. She gave up her
older grade class to him. She then taught grade four. They enjoyed
working on music festivals together. The principal, Ralph Knox, was
very organized and his ideas encouraged teacher participation. Mark
feels he learned a lot from Ralph.
Then Mark worked at Confederation Street School with Prinipal Benny
Ziegler, followed by one year at High Park with Principal L. Crich.
For about four years Mark was vice principal at Queen Elizabeth
School in Coronation Park where Victor Kidd was the principal.
Parkview School, formally on the site of the current Marshall
Gowland Manor, was Mark’s school for eight years, followed by one
year at Woodland before it closed. It was located on Errol near the
cemetery and is now a church. Finally, Mark served as principal of
South Plympton School for three years, a school where Bob Hext also
This year Mark is celebrating thirty one years of retirement. He and
Mildred continue to enjoy their family camper.
Mildred and Mark have two children, Alan
and Julie, and eight grandchildren. They are honoured that their
granddaughter, Amy, received an RTO bursary.
No picture available.
Wilma grew up on a one hundred acre farm in the Kirkton area, north
St. Marys and London.. Wilma is the middle daughter of the three
of William and Margaret Gilfillan. Their father was proud that they
all became teachers, all attended Western. The other sisters thought
Wilma took the “easy” route. She had been ill in grade thirteen so
completed high school. In 1944 when teachers were in demand,
teachers could be trained in two six week summer courses. A school
board paid for Wilma’s first summer. She began her teaching career
in the school just north of Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend,
in Stephen township. Check to see if the old school pump is still
there! She taught is the rural school for six years and boarded on
the Playhouse property with
relatives of her husband, Mervyn.
After first year at Emmanuel College, Mervyn had joined the Air
Force and was a staff pilot for gunner practice. After the war he
returned to Parkhill to join his brother in a hardware and appliance
store. Later he
returned to complete his education and became a United Church
When the Loves married they moved to a northern settlement with the
United Church. For three years they were north of Bruce Mines at
Rydal Bank, an hour east of Sault Ste. Marie. Finally, they
returned with the
church to southern Ontario. They spent thirteen years in Leamington
and thirteen years in Wyoming. By then they had their two children,
Allan and Carol. When Carol was in grade four, Wilma returned to
teachers were in short supply in Leamington. She taught English and
mathematics in senior public school. When Wilma returned to work she
decided that the family would use the extra money to travel. Their
travels included trips in Canada and to Hawaii, Europe and the
British Isles. Wilma and Mervyn also visited Scandinavia.
Wisely, the family invested in property in the Grand Bend area and
in Florida so they would have places to live in retirement. In those
days United church ministers lived in church owned manses during
Wilma remembers well the day the United Church on Wyoming’s main
street was burned. The family was awakened in the manse next door.
The Loves stayed with the congregation through the loss of their
church and to see the beautiful new church built in the north end of
While living in Wyoming Wilma taught special education at Lakeroad
School for nine and a half years. She had not really planned to work
in Sarnia but a teacher with a
special education certificate was need at
Lakeroad. Later she moved to Bright’s Grove School and taught Grade
Three there for four years before retiring.
Just as with many other RTO members’ families...”the apple doesn’t
fall far from the tree.”
Wilma’s daughter taught special education in Simcoe County and she,
too, has the urge to travel. Her travels have included Florida trips
and excursions to Mongolia, Nepal and India. Carol’s husband is also
Wilma and Merv spent thirteen winters in Florida where they enjoyed
ballroom dancing. She has spent another eight winter in their
Florida home. Lawn bowling and artwork have also been enjoyable
The Loves were active in protecting their part of the Lake Huron
shoreline. They found that “gabians” have been a good solution.
They also used plants and trees. Wilma has also stood up to prevent
changes to one part of the shoreline that could cause erosion in
another area on the lake.
No picture available.
Germaine LePage came to Sarnia from
Montreal to visit her older sister. At that time Germaine’s
husband, Richard (Dick), and a friend came to Sarnia for work. They
were Northern Ontario.
Germaine came to Sarnia two weeks and stayed for three years. The
French people in Sarnia socialized together so Germaine and Richard
met then, although they did not marry for five years. World War II
intervened. Richard was called to the army. When Richard returned
from the front he learned the barbering trade. He operated a barber
shop on Mitton Street for many years.
Germaine says, “We had to wait to marry until he could provide for
When Germaine’s children were in school and university, then
Germaine attended St. Patrick High School, her children’s school,
for Grade 13. The LePages lived across the street from High Park
School where Lawrence Crich was the principal. He knew of the need
for French teachers. Germaine took two summers of teacher training
in Toronto and when she was ready to teach she set out for the mass
interviews in Toronto. Lambton County Board was represented and
Germaine was told to go home and sign a contract. She did that and
High Park became her home school. From there she travelled to about
three schools and taught French to Grades Seven and Eight. Some of
the schools she travelled to were Blackwell, Wawanosh, Lakeroad and
Devine. In addition to Lawrence Crich; Dick Acton, Dwayne McKlinchey
and Doug Farrar were some of the principals in school where she
When French instruction was expanded to include Grades Three to
Eight , Germaine and another teacher taught all the French at High
Park which had a high enrollment at the time. Germaine was no longer
Germaine complimented the good staff at High Park and the good
staffs everywhere she taught during her seventeen year career. She
“enjoyed the work, most of it!” She taught “kids who had nothing and
kids who lacked for nothing. Kids were nice in both places.”
Children in her classrooms were well behaved.
Teaching an oral language full time is very challenging for the
teachers’ voices. She says the first course in training oral
language teachers should be voice lessons to protect and preserve
their vocal cords.
The LePage family trips used to involve travel to music festivals
including ones to Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Dick and their
sons are musicians. All of the LePage children are now retired
teachers. Germaine and Dick are proud of them and their eight
Germaine enjoyed bridge at the Kinsman Centre and has done beautiful
needlework that she has used creatively in decorating the home.
RECOGNITION FOR 90TH
Helen Mutton was born in Campbellford near Belleville. Her father was a
Methodist minister so her family moved a few times during her childhood. She
and her husband were married by their fathers who were both United Church
ministers. The Methodist Church had become part of the United Church in 1925.
During her high school years Helen had attended a number of schools. She spent
her final year at Alberta College, a United Church school in Belleville, which
her mother had attended. There Helen had her first formal education in music.
Her mother was a singer so previously Helen had learned some things from her.
In 1942 Helen graduated from Peterborough Normal School. She was hired at a
county school outside of Peterborough to teach twenty pupils. There was a new
a munitions plant in the area. She arrived at the school at the tender age of
nineteen to met forty five children in eight grades. The oldest boy was
After one year of teaching in the country Helen began teaching in Toronto’s
north end at John Fisher School. This move enabled her to take vocal training
at the conservatory. This was wartime and she fell in love with and married an
air force meteorologist. Because she was married she could no longer teach but
had hoped to follow him. Her husband had only been in Toronto for a crash
course in meteorology. While they were engaged he was in Charlottetown, PEI
and in Gaspe. When they married he went to his next posting and the bride went
home to her parents in Hastings. She did supply work. When he went to Ste.
Hubert she did join him and while there Helen attended George Brown College in
The day the war ended her husband was on the way to Toronto to try to get into
university. He did study chemical engineering and because he had an arts
degree he was able to graduate in three years instead of four. Thus he was in
the job market a year ahead of the other veterans. He had four job offers from
Toronto, Montreal and Sarnia where there were two openings. He chose Polysar.
While the couple were in Toronto the board tried to find work for Helen. She
supervised a day care at Jesse Ketchum School. She supplied for teachers and
secretaries. The business course at George Brown was useful. She spent at year
as Hart House secretary. Then in 1947 Toronto allowed married women to teach
just when Helen learned that the Sarnia board did not accept married women. By
1953 there was a desperate need for teachers and Helen was hired to teach
forty five grade ones. In 1955 married women were formally accepted as
teachers. By 1956 Helen had three children herself. In the early 1960s Helen
did a lot of supply work while a friend kept Helen’s youngest child . After
two long term supply contracts at High Park, Helen served as principals relief
at Woodland for fourteen years. There she taught senior grades and lead trios
After a year off she returned to Woodland then finished her career
at Clarke. Between 1972 and 1978 Helen completed her degree in
English and sociology. She retired in 1985
Helen and her
husband were active in Central United Church. They both sang in the choir. Helen
was in that choir for over sixty years.
They enjoyed travel. Her husband had been stationed in Belgium for a year
troubleshooting for Polysar. Helen spent five weeks there with him. She has been
to Australia twice and travelled to China, Japan, Hong Kong and Greece.
Helen is an active member of RWTO. She served as local president and served as
provincial president in 1993-4.
Helen has three children. Her older son lives in Vancouver. Her second son has
followed in his mother’s footsteps. He teaches high school in Oxbridge and is
also an artist. Helen’s daughter is an accountant with General Motors in St.
After thirty four years of teaching and twenty eight of retirement Helen has
“Continue to make the most of every day. Give back. There is great satisfaction
in that. Enjoy travel. ‘Life is short so every day is a gift. Make the most of
Helen turned 90 in June, 2013
JUNE BANNISTER CELEBRATES
June Banister is a life long Sarnia resident. She grew up in Sarnia’s south end as
one of five children. She attended Confederation Street School, now the Armoury,
and Johnston Memorial School.
After spending years at home with her children June commuted with a Sarnia group
to teachers’ college in London. After a few months of supply work June was hired
in January of the next year to teach home economics at Central for a semester
before going to Alexander McKenzie. Later she taught at LCCVI in Petrolia.
Retirement came after seventeen years of teaching.
June and her husband Bob raised three children, a daughter and two sons. When
Bannisters moved to their north end home in 1952, "Woodland" was truly woods
from Colbourne to Coral Way. Instead of streets and homes the neighbourhood had
sand hills and orchards.
June and one son are "on the cutting edge" for sending solar energy to the grid.
Ask June sometime about squirrels and solar panels!
June does have visual impairment and does have suggestions for resources for
others in similar circumstances. CNIB sends a represntative from London one day
a week to Bayside Mall. CNIB will provide a "DAISY Reader" which holds a dozen
books that can be downloaded using WiFi. The Ontario Government covers part of
the costs. June also says the Mallroad Library staff is helpful in providing
When one son and a granddaughter lived in Singapore June made a couple of visits
and learned to love the "high rise" city. She travelled around the city on the
subway and enjoyed the sights and activities..
June’s travels this year have taken her to the west coast to visit two of her
children, two of her three grandchildren and her two great grandchildren. After
seven weeks in the west she thought winter weather would be over here. We fooled
Currently, in addition to knitting, she is making good use of her new touch
screen computer and loves her ipad. It is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch
with her western relatives.
Happy Birthday from RTO!!
No picture available.
Irene Hill Celebrates
her birthday in September!
Irene Hill was born in England as
was her husband Bill. She began her nursing career in England at the
age of seventeen and completed her work life at the General in
Sarnia. Bill was in the Air Force during the war then taught at St.
Clair when it opened in Sarnia and also taught at Northern and SCITS.
He worked in auto, drafting and electrical shops.
Irene follows her own advice, which is
keep moving, keep busy, busy, busy!
Tia Chia and church activites are her choices. She
recommends "Shine at Home" which will provide
transportation and other services upon request.
Happy Birthday, Irene!
RECOGNITION FOR 90TH
Margaret MacDonald was born to
a Bruce county farm couple ninety years ago. She has two younger
brothers. Her brother Graham MacDonald was a teacher in Petrolia
at the beginning of his career. He went on to be a school
inspector stationed in Watford and then London. After his
retirement from teaching, both he and his wife attended Knox
College to became ministers.
They served in the Burk’s Falls area and have retired there.
Margaret’s sister-in-law sends daily devotions by email to
Margaret’s laptop computer. Margaret’s other brother lives in
Sarnia and was a research chemist at Imperial oil. He and his wife
are helpful to Margaret as she uses her computer.
Besides the use of computers, Margaret commented on all the
changes that had occurred in the last ninety years and speculated
on what the next innovations will be. As a child she was driven
the two and a half miles to school in the mornings. In the
afternoons she and other children made their own way home. The
children were taken to school in horse drawn sleighs, wagons or
buggies. In the afternoons they often found a ride home, too.
"Basically, we were hitch hiking after school," Margaret said.
This was the era before school buses.
The farm work at Margaret’s home was done by Doll and Floss, two
horses. Before sewing machines beautiful clothing was made by
hand. Margaret’s grandmother knit stockings although her
grandchildren did not always appreciate her efforts because other
children did not have hand knit stockings. Baking was hard work. A
wood fire had to be built. Margaret’s grandmother had had to draw
water from a spring before she could begin preparations.
Margaret recalls that hydro came to the family farm 1948 and that
was great! When hydro was new at the farm the family turned on all
the lights in the house and everyone went outside and checked to
see how the house looked! No longer did the battery have to be
removed from the car to operate the radio in the house. What
changes this last ninety years has wrought!
Margaret attended teachers’ college in Toronto where she stayed
with her aunt. Many Bruce County students attended the teachers’
college in Stratford, located across from the present day theatre.
Margaret returned to Bruce county and taught in country schools
for six years and then was hired in Sarnia. The Sarnia board was
expanding its boundaries to take in more schools so more teachers
were hired. A new school seemed to open every year. Margaret’s
career included teaching at Johnson Memorial , Lochiel,
Confederation Street (now used by the military) and Hanna. On a
tour of the former Lochiel Street School, now a community centre,
Margaret was surprised to be offered an elevator ride!
Margaret completed her degree while she was teaching. She would
take one course each winter and two every summer. She was a busy
lady then and continues to be active.
For many years Margaret sang with the Rainbow Singers. She
continues to sing in the St. Andrews choir, she prepares the
program for St. Andrews Seniors as well as the worship and mission
service for St. Andrews Presbyterian Women, she attends
presbytery, and belongs to RTO, RWTO and University Women.
Her advice is "be optimistic" and she recalls a quote from
one of the W studies at her church which is "Don’t worry. Have
Best wishes to you as you celebrate this milestone birthday. Also
congratulations and thank you to you and your church crew for
hosting luncheons and programs twice a month for seniors in our
community. Great work!
turned 90 in October, 2013
Best Wishes to Doris Withenshaw. Doris taught for twelve years.
Her husband was also a teacher but he had another career as a
minister. They came to Sarnia when he was hired at New Horizons
Community Church where Doris is still active. Doris says she was able
to use RTO’s Good will gift of cards and stamps to send thank you
notes for the table full of gifts, cards and flowers she received for
her ninetieth birthday. She and her twin sister were feted by family
CELEBRATES 90th BIRTHDAY 2012
Ella Norton is a Lambton County girl. She was born in Corunna. Both
Ella and her sister, Mabel Young, were teachers and both live at
Marshall Gowland Manor. Mabel had to resign from teaching when she
married but Ella had a twenty-five year career in classrooms. She
was a kindergarten teacher. She taught for ten years in London and
fifteen years in Corunna. Her sister taught at Black Creek, Sombra
Ella married and has two daughters and a son. She was feted for her
birthday by having all her family visit. Her eldest lives in North
Carolina and the other two live in the Ottawa area. Ella has a
sister-in-law and two nieces who live in this area.
Ella wrote about her family in a book called The Porridge Eaters,
a lovely gift to her family. The book required much searching and
travelling to gather the information. All that work was done without
She was also an active volunteer. She spent fifteen years with the
Sarnia Cancer Clinic and twenty years with Moore Museum.
Recently, Ella was honoured by RWTO when she was made a life member.
turned 90 in January, 2012
CERTIFICATE FOR 90TH
Graham Stevens was born in
Scotland and came to Canada in 1924. He lived in Windsor until after
the war. He attended the University of Western Ontario in London and
then the University of Toronto for teachers college. The University
of Toronto Schools provided practical training for teachers at that
Graham began his career in Beaverton, Ontario. His starting salary
was $2400. $200 of that was for a post graduate degree. A bonus for
department heads and assistants was introduced after one board
started the trend. In 1956 Graham came to Sarnia Collegiate
Institute and Technical School as head of history. Central
Collegiate had just opened in January 1956. Northern was due to open
when Graham arrived and SCITS shared the SCITS building with
Northern. SCITS students and teachers used the school in the
mornings while Northern people used it in the afternoons until the
new school opened. Later Graham became a vice-principal at SCITS.
Some of the staff at SCITS were Catherine Wilson, Art Barnes and
Graham moved to Northern as the vice-principal until retirement.
There he worked with Principal Ted Gowinski.
Currently, Graham has a spacious apartment at Fairwinds. Both his
son and his daughter live in this area.Graham turned 90 in
No picture available.
CERTIFICATE FOR 90TH
Marian Douey grew up in the
Watford area and started her teaching career in the country outside
Watford. She taught in Fairbanks School near Alvinston for two years
and for one year at Henderson School. She remembers the days when
married women didn’t teach.
She and her husband, who was from Windsor, farmed for a short time
before moving to Windsor.
He worked for and was transferred to Sarnia by National Grocers while
Marian who had young children did supply work. One year Marian’s
brother Vic, the principal of Queen Elizabeth, called her to come in
the second day of school. A newly hired teacher never arrived and
Marian was at Queen Elizabeth until June. Another year she was called
in February to cover a class at Johnston and, again, she taught until
June. Her final supply call came to teach at Parkview and she stayed
twenty two years. Her first principal was Morley McGregor. Another
principal was Howard Coleman, who had been Colonel Coleman in the
Marian often acts as chauffeur for her older sister and enjoys RWTO
luncheons and her church activities. She has a son and two daughters.
Marian was feted on her special birthday by her family, friends and
fellow church members at Patterson Presbyterian.
Marian turned 90 in November
CERTIFICATE FOR 90TH
Helen Farrar is a Sarnia native
who performed in Sarnia's first music festival. Her forty years
teaching career began in 1937 in her home town with the princely
salary of $4.25 per day. She accompanied every musical activity
from choirs to rhythm bands. When she married she had to resign
however that September an extra teacher was required and Helen
became the first married female teacher in Sarnia. That restriction
was soon forgotten because of teacher shortages during the war. In
1954 kindergarten was introduced and Helen was one of the first
kindergarten teachers in Sarnia and she found that job to be really
fun. She finished her career after nine years of teaching special
Helen's advice is "wear something bright
on a down day" and "keep active". She follows her own advice. She
served as president of the Women Teachers Federation, taught
kindergarten methodology at summer school and has been a member of
the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club for fifty-two years. Although she
no longer curls she does walk for a half hour every day, has
volunteered at the hospital cancer clinic for almost thirty years
and has sung in St. George's choir since the age of fifteen.
Helen has a son who lives in Sarnia.
Helen turned 90 in May
No picture available.
CERTIFICATE FOR 90TH
Edith Davie was born in the
North of Scotland. At the age of eight she and her mother immigrated
to Birch Hill, Saskatchewan. They later moved to Toronto where Edith
completed her schooling. Before her marriage Edith worked as a
laboratory technician for the Ministry of Health. When she "tired of
working with test tubes", she chose "working with humans" in the
teaching profession. She taught at Oakwood "but didn’t get past Grade
3". She also taught at Clarke and Parkview.
When Edith and her husband, a laboratory supervisor, married they
moved to Sarnia where he worked for Polysar. They raised their three
sons in Sarnia where Edith has lived for sixty two years. She is a
life long learner. Edith received her degree in twentieth century
literature and her old age pension in the same year. She also studied
the Byzantine period although she has not been called upon to share
that knowledge! She keeps up her driver’s licence, walks to Northgate
for shopping, participates in Dunlop United Church and RWTO activities
and "is still buying green bananas"!
Edith turned 90 in November
CERTIFICATE FOR 90TH
was born on a farm between Port Hope and Coburg. After business
college, her first job was at Coburg General Hospital. She
later worked at the Port Hope Royal Bank and managed the office of
an electrical store and contracting business. She moved to Sarnia in
1956 with her husband, Lorne, and three children. Another was
born in Sarnia.
Before coming to Sarnia Lorne was in the
Air Force then worked in auto mechanics and carpentry. Lorne taught
in the auto shop at Northern Collegiate then became the
technical director as well as a guidance counsellor.
Lorne and Flo loved Sarnia and Lorne
loved the guys with whom he worked. At school he was involved in
timing for football games, in advising the interdenominational
Christian club and in teaching night school. Flo was at home with
young children until embarking on a twenty year real estate career.
She credits Toast Mistresses as a 'stepping stone' for her career.
While at home she painted and played golf, a game that both she and
Lorne played competitively. They were both involved in the Olivet
For thirty five winters Flo has enjoyed
her place in Florida. There she plays the piano in jam sessions and
writes with a group of seventeen writers. She has written over three
hundred short stories and has produced books of family stories and
of Lorne's one liners.
Flo's son, Arn, has a Bed and Breakfast
at Erieau while the two daughters, Janice and Christine, live in
In addition to making music, dancing,
and writing she follows the stock market the old way, in the daily
Flo turned 90 in July
CERTIFICATE FOR 95TH
Margaret Kuenzig was born in Guelph. When she was six months old her
father, a barber, passed away as the result of the 1918 flu. This left
Margaret’s mother a widow with three children to raise. The family
moved in Margaret maternal grandparents. Longevity must be hereditary.
Margaret says her grandmother was a "long liver" at 101when she
was pictured a Toronto newspaper with the caption "oldest person
When Margaret left school at the age of sixteen she became a
hairdresser. She married John Kuenzig in August of 1940 and John was
sent overseas with the army in December of 1940.
Margaret jokingly says, "We had our separation at the beginning of our
She kept all the letters that he wrote to her while he was overseas.
He always seemed to be "going on vacation or going on a course" while
he was in England. He also served in Italy including Montecassino, and
in Holland. Margaret recalls that everyone sent cigarettes to
soldiers. John had joined the army as a private and retired as
captain’s command. Then he went to teachers’ college.
John has always wanted to teach. He started out as an engineering
instructor at the University of Guelph then had an opportunity to
teach in Sault Ste. Marie before moving to Sarnia where wages were
better. Sarnia was booming in 1953. This was the year before Northern
Collegiate was built. SCITS students attended SCITS in the mornings
while Northern students used the same high school in the afternoons.
John taught for ten years at Northern and retired as technical
director at St. Clair Collegiate in 1976.
The Kuenzigs had found Sault Ste. Marie cold and preferred the climate
in Sarnia. The family had always planned to return to Guelph or at
least change houses.
"However,"says Margaret, "every time we thought of moving John knocked
out a wall," in the house that has been home since 1953!
Margaret worked all the time John was overseas and quit hairdressing
upon his return to Canada.
It total she worked ten years as a hairdresser and then raised five
children. Homemaking was heavy work at that time. Automatic washers,
prepared foods and other conveniences were not readily available.
Margaret and John’s children wanted nothing to do with teaching.
Now, one daughter is a former library technician who worked in the
local school system. She is married to a retired teacher, Ken Winch. A
daughter in London was an early childhood educator and a third
daughter is a school secretary in Michigan. One of Margaret’s sons and
Bert Phills, our Chit Chat editor, are married to twin sisters. Bert’s
wife is a teacher and her twin is a nurse. Educators are
unavoidable!! Margaret does have a son who worked at Nova and a
grandson who is as local optometrist.
In retirement along with his woodworking hobby, John was on the
committee when the Strangway Centre was built. Margaret and John
enjoyed shuffleboard at the new facility. Until recent years when
their church closed, Margaret appreciated the fact that it was located
almost across the street from their home.
Margaret recommends the services of the CCAC. Along with assistance
from family CCAC was helpful to her after a fall last year.
Margaret’s siblings are her sister, who was a nurse, and her brother,
who was a manager with Miracle Mart. Remember that grocery store
chain!! Margaret has eleven grandchildren. She also has three great
Margaret turned 95 in April
RECOGNITION FOR 95TH BIRTHDAY
An early childhood education course and
unpaid work as a Sunday School teacher, as a Girl Guide leader and
as a volunteer in a classroom for children with mental and physical
challenges lead to a teaching career for Evelyn Ball.
After three summers at teachers college
Evelyn was a teacher and she never regretted a day of her chosen
She says, "I taught at New Hope School
and loved every minute of it." She felt really great
about everyday. The children were eager to learn.
Evelyn who was raised in Hamilton and
Toronto now enjoys Sarnia as well as cottage life with her husband.
Their two daughters became teachers. One lives in Ottawa and the
other in Arviat where she is Secondary School Program Coordinator
Grade 7-12 for Nunavut Department of Education.
Recently, Evelyn moved to Twin Lakes Terrace. She has found good
Care-A-Van service to provide transportation to visit Gord at
Trillium Villa. She has enjoyed her family’s summer visits and
especially going out to dinner at Swiss Chalet.
Evelyn turned 95 in August