|The Goodwill Committee reaches
out by sending birthday cards to members aged 80 and
older, as well as acknowledging bereavements, illness and
other life occasions. Committee members also make phone
calls and, when feasible, in-person visits and interviews,
to mark significant birthdays. For the Holiday season, the
committee arranges the presentation of poinsettias or
other gifts to members in long-term care or retirement
homes and “senior” seniors living independently. Please
let Goodwill Committee members know of any RTO/ERO
-Lambton member whose circumstances have changed.
Kathy Bandla -
Pat Gleason -
Ninety Years, where have they gone?
It all began on a farming community midway between Grand Bend
and Parkhill, Ontario where I was born. I had an older sister
and a younger brother.
As I grew, I realized that rural
life in those days required much manual labour. Every family
member was expected to assist with daily chores which included
milking cows, feeding livestock, chopping firewood, plus many
At age six I began school at a one room
country school that included eight grades, All under the
guidance of one teacher. I was very fortunate to have had
excellent teachers who worked very hard in providing
meaningful educational experiences for all students. During my
last year in this school, I assumed the duties of custodian.
This meant keeping the classroom neat and tidy each day, as
well as lighting the furnace in cool weather and carrying
water from across the road.
High School presented new
challenges for me. Fortunately by this time busses were
provided for transporting students to high school. I was
determined to do well at the secondary level, so I worked hard
but enjoyed the opportunity to learn each day.
point I spent much of my time taking music lessons on the
piano. This led to being convinced to help with the music
program at churcn. I did not realize at tne time that it
would deveop into a life time interest In church music and
eventually some experience in playing pipe organs. Because of
my interest in music, I set a personai goal that I would
continue with this interest in music until I would be ninety
years oid. That goai has been reached at the present time.
With the completion of high school I was forced to decide my
next step. Teaching was one of the possibilities, so I
enrolled in Normal School. (now called Teachers College).
Fortunately I was awarded teaching positions with the Petrolia
Public School Board and later LCCVI secondary school.
During this time I met and fell in love with a Petrolia girl.
Noreen Kells, a nursing student, who later became my wife.
Together we raised a family of four; three daughters and one
son; Janice, Judith, Jill, and Jeff. It gave us great pleasure
watching them grow up and becoming successful citizens
this point I became aware of the need to improve my teaching
qualifications. This meant taking courses after school hours
and during the summer. After much hard work I was awarded a
At retirement time I felt that I needed
another challenge. When the opportunity presented itself; I
accepted a management position with the local branch of the
Canadian Red Cross. I found it refreshing to be involved with
such a large organization that was doing so much good
throughout the world.
And now retirement proper; where I
can take "power naps" whenever I wish.
In fact, I must
close this story now as I feel a nap coming on!
Greidanus Baker was born on April 24, 1933
in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. During the Second
World War and right afterwards, our schooling was
somewhat precarious, to say the least.
In 1950, our family emigrated
to Edmonton, Alberta. Four years later, I
married my sweetheart, Horace Baker. Both of us
became interested in taking more education. I
started taking high school courses by correspondence.
We lived in Edmonton, in Winnipeg for a number
of years and then in Ottawa. In 1972 I
successfully completed Ottawa Teachers College,
persevered in taking many University courses by
correspondence, in the evenings or summer. My
reward was a B.A. from Western in 1985. In the
meantime our family had moved to Sarnia in 1974 which
has been "my sweet home" since then.
I taught at Ottawa Christian,
Wyoming Christian, Sarnia Christian and then 9 years
as FSL teacher at St. Theresa’s and Sacred Heart
My husband, Horace Baker, and
I enjoyed spending time in Quebec in order to fully
immerse ourselves in French culture. In 2006 I
took Gr. 11 and 12 Spanish at St. Pat’s which came in
handy when I volunteered at 2 week Eye Care Clinics in
South American countries. Before going on a trip
somewhere, I try to study its language and culture
for at least 3 months which makes the actual trip much
We have four married children
living in B.C., Alberta and Ontario, 10 grandchildren
and 16 great grandchildren. I am thankful that I
am able to use the computer, and Facetime to keep in
contact with them and other family members.
Weekly, I participate in
a conversational Dutch group via Zoom, with RTOERO in
French and enjoy reading in French or English, having
been an active Book Club member for more than 20
years. Many hours in the past were spent
visiting shut-ins, volunteering at something in
the church, or art events. Before Covid, my life
was enriched so much by taking bus trips with Beyond
Borders, Trafalgar or Great Canadian. Through
borrowing DVDs from the Public Library, I still
“visit” other countries.
By God’s grace I have been able to deal with the challenges in my
life, like the sudden loss of my soul mate in 1996, and
later on getting used to the limitations of mobility. I
really appreciate the flowers I received for my recent 90th
birthday. Such a lovely gesture of friendship which warms my
Dolores (Doyle) Murray
Having had a very full and rewarding
life, I find it hard to believe that I had time to reach 90 years!
But here I am!
I was born at home by Nurse Dubbin, who delivered most of the
babies in our neighbourhood. My arrival thrilled my parents, Bert
and Bell Doyle, who waited 20 years for this to happen. I was
their only child. I was brought up in Whitney Pier, a part of
Sydney, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island. The "Pier", as we
called it, was the first multicultural community in Canada. It was
home to people from Ireland, Scotland, Italy, France, Ukraine,
Hungary, Lebanon, and Greece.
My mother was a very progressive woman, and so I became the first
girl from the Pier to attend St. Francis Xavier University. It was
there that I met my future husband, Robert, from Boston. Shortly
after we graduated, we got married. We lived with my parents and
later rented their upstairs apartment for $30 a month!
We were married for 57 years despite our outward
incompatibilities: he was from a big city, I was from a small
town. He was the youngest of ten, I was an only child. He was an
American, I was a Canadian. He was an introvert, I was an
extrovert. The only common denominator was our Catholic faith. But
as they say, opposites attract. I lost Bob in 2011 and I still
miss him every day.
My first teaching job was in Glace Bay. Because I often missed the
only bus, I would hitchhike, being picked up by the pop truck or
the bread man who I knew because my dad had a variety store. My
next job was in Sydney. My husband taught Junior High math and I
taught Home Economics. I recently met a student of Bob's who said
he was the best math teacher she ever had. I taught sewing and my
best friend, Kay, taught the cooking. (Kay later became head of
Home Economics for the province of Nova Scotia.)
In 1956 Bob was working for less than $2500 a year. By this time
we had 3 children. His friend attracted us to Alberta where Bob
would earn $7000! It was hard to refuse the offer. I only taught
for 3 months at Crescent High School in Calgary. At that time
Ernest Manning High School had closed circuit TV in each class for
supply teachers. The affluence was overwhelming. I could have
taught full time but I was busy raising our family. Because of the
opportunity, it was tempting to stay in Alberta but our hearts
were in the east. We did not want to return to Cape Breton so we
settled in Sarnia, close enough for me to go home to Cape Breton
for summer vacations.
In Sarnia, Bob taught in the elementary system, and was a very
traditional teacher. When the Hall Dennis Report was introduced in
the schools, he left the profession. He switched careers and
worked at the Bluewater Bridge Authority. I returned to teaching
once the children were school aged. I taught Family Studies for 26
years at St. Patrick's High School and I loved it! Because I was
the only Family Studies teacher in the Separate system, I really
appreciated it when the public school teachers included me in
I retired in 1996 and never looked back. Presently, I am enjoying
my life here in Sarnia. With 4 of our 7 children living here, I
have been blessed to be a regular part of their lives and my
grandchildren's and great grandchildren's lives. I continue to see
my old St. Pat's colleagues, enjoying lunches, dinners, and going
to the theatre. I even get back to the "Pier" every year in
October! This Pier Girl is enjoying life and all that it, and my
profession, has offered me!
Bertha-Rose (Annett ) Park
Live in Inwood on Park Street
Born: Dec. 2, 1932. Brooke
Township, Lambton County
Secondary, Normal School, University
Location and dates
Elementary S.S. # 5 Brooke Township , started after Easter Break
2. Secondary Watford District High School 1946-1951
3. London Normal School 1951-1952
4. University of Western
Ontario. B.A. ’72, MEd ’78, M.A.T. ’86 ( Master of Arts In
Teaching - Geography )
5. Numerous Departmental courses
including a specialist certificate
TEACHING EXPERIENCE: schools and
Watford Public 1952-53
Alvinston Public & Brooke
Sabbatical and earned second Masters (U.W.O.)
Brigden Public 1983-87
Wyoming Public 1987-1989
Travelled several years with Field Trip Canada planned by London
assisted by Sheila Rose ( Petrolia teacher ).
Some locations included Northern Ontario, New Brunswick, Yukon
This was at the end of the school year and before summer school
daughters, one son
Husband Marshall Park. ( Deceased ( 2019 )
Diane Park RN retired registered nurse 43.5 years at Toronto
Marilyn McKinlay retired Westover Treatment
Tom Park retired Arlanxeo Sarnia
Michailidis employed at Parkwood Hospital London
Studies Certificate - University of Western Ontario
3. Literary programs at Retirement Homes ( separate
school board )
4.Ontario Senior Games - including swimming
medalist for Ontario at Activist in Ottawa 2000
5. Line Dancing
Instructor - Young At Heart group entertain for 20 years
Clogging with groups in London, Sarnia, Watford, Petrolia
Founding Member of Crown Jewels of Canada ( inception 2008),
Golden Senior (90 years), Queen of Eureka Jewels, Petrolia
member of Sassy Angels - London, Participated in Annual Convention
in Etobicoke, Ontario 2022
Making plans for
Convention in Etobicoke, Ontario 2023
8. Member, queen,
ambassador for the Red Hat Society ( worldwide ) for more than 20
years, Eureka Red Hats Petrolia, Wacky Women - Southern
Ontario Groups in London
9. Member of Boomers (seniors ) at
Petrolia YMCA, Friday Sisters Alvinston, Inwood - Shiloh Church,
Inwood Book Club, Inwood Writing Club
10.TRAVEL Before and
sailed on the Empress of Canada ( ship ) to
England , Scotland, France
Travelled in Canada and U.S.A. by
bus and plane Australia and New Zealand, Hawaii
daughter after we both graduated the same year from Western
University -to England, Mediterranean cruise, Holy Land -
Bethlehem, Jerusalem,, Turkey, Egypt in Cairo and Alexandria
Autumn of 2022 , at a ceremony at U.W.O. received a lapel pin in
recognition of 50 years since I received one one of my degrees.
line dance workshops
Clogging Workshop “Snowdance” in Sarnia
Visiting family in Toronto, Orillia and other
Own a managed woodlot in Euphemia Township -
anticipate a harvest of 1000 trees in winter of 2023
to have family gatherings in this woodlot , and visit “little
people” who live there in hollow stumps.
We never see them but
we think they look like gnomes. Their homes are very fancy with
furniture , and a fireplace inside. They decorate for
Thanksgiving, and Christmas ( battery
operated lights up the
trunk ) They leave notes for visiting children, even candy treats
for Halloween .
When trees are harvested their homes will be
Fitness classes at Petrolia YMCA
Exercise classes and
Social Events - Lambton Elderly Outreach
Jamborees where there
is music and dancing
Drive wherever I want to go
to Marian Douey on her 102nd birthday. Marian celebrated her
special day at her home with family and friends.
like to say thank you our local RTO District 38 for all it has
done, and continues to do, to recognize her throughout the years.
She sincerely appreciates being remembered!
Read a more detailed bio of Marian further down this
With the creation of County School
Boards in 1969 Doug returned to his home county. Born in Petrolia,
raised in Alvinston, attended Alvinston Public School and
Continuation School until it closed in 1946 when all went to
Watford District high School. Off to London Normal School in 1950,
followed by a year of teaching in a one room School at Crumlin, a
year at Manor Park in London before marying Evelyn Bradshaw in
1953. Off to what is now Mississauga to teach Doug then became a
principal in 1957. After 7 years Doug got the opportunity to go to
France as a principal for two years with DND. On their return to
Peel Board of Education as a principal he completed his Med and
qualified as an Ontario Inspector of Schools. Life moved quickly
and in 1969 he returned to his Home County.
Evelyn had two daughters Jill and Pamela, and son Darrin. With a
north Sarnia home location they all enjoyed participating at Grace
United and The Sarnia Riding Club. Jill went off to York and
became a teacher, Pam went to Ottawa and returned to Sarnia where
she worked as a Probatio Officer, married Charles Lutz, had two
children, Alexander and April. Darrin worked in the chemical
valley, married and in 2010 moved to St John NB where he lives
with Ann and two adult
girls. After 18 very enjoyable years as
a school superintendent with the Lambton County Board of Education
he retired in 1987. This was followed by a brief career in Real
Estate. During those next 18 years Ev and Doug played golf at
Greenwood and sailed out of the Sarnia Yacht Club on the Genie B.
Unfortunately life made an
abrupt turn when Ev died suddenlyi n 2005. With the compassion and
caring of Peter and Bev Cassel Doug met Cairn, who had lived in
Corruna when her husband worked at Hydro. In 2012 Doug and Carrin
moved to Simcoe where Cairn’s daughter lived. Her mother at 102
years still lives in Renfrew. Simcoe made it possible to go north
Of all the places Sarnia, on the lake and river is as good as it
gets. For 18 years I enjoyed the teachers and staff of the
schools. The welcome and acceptance of this stranger into your
midst was appreciated daily but change comes in one’s life and
retirement beckoned in 1987. Can you imagine a retirement of 35
years as of now? The trip has been fun but not without some pain
when I lost my wife Evelyn very suddenly in November 2005. Family
and friends gathered round and life goes on. In a short period of
time I met Cairn, a widow, who lived in Corunna when her husband
worked at Hydro. We found similar interests and a move to Simcoe
where are we now live. The highlight of her life and mine is her
mother who turned 102 on February 28. She lives with another
daughter in Renfrew.
As the wheel turns Ev and I had purchased a home in Florida in
1993. We enjoyed our years there as Cairn and I have but Covid
forced us to not go for two years and as the calendar says there
is a time and the sale of the place has been completed. Life has
been wonderful and thank you for letting me share mine.
Mary Jean (Pritchard) Gardiner Happy
Mary Jean was born and raised in
Petrolia. As she says...”A true Hard Oiler”! She attended business
college in Sarnia for a year, and then went into teaching.
Jean taught eighteen students in grades 1 to 8 for two years at
SS21 Sombra. Mary Jean continued her career by teaching junior
grades at George
Perry School in Sarnia for 26 years. She spent
her last seven years in resource at Centennial School.
teaching, Mary Jean obtained several specialist certifications
including special education and many others. She was also involved
in the local and
provincial teachers' unions. Mary Jean is an
honorary life member of FWTAO and RWTO.
Mary Jean married Joe
Gardiner in 1973 and moved to Bright's Grove. She has three
step-children and four grandchildren living in British Columbia,
and Ontario. Mary Jean now resides back in
After retiring at 55 years of age, Mary Jean did a
lot of volunteer work. Some of these activities included story
hour at the library, Alzheimers Society, Lambton
Festival, and nursing home volunteer work. She was very active in
the Presbyterian Church, holding several positions, even leading
After having been retired from
teaching for 35 years, Mary Jean continues to do knitting and
crocheting for the Salvation Army. In 2019, she reached her goal
donating 100 pairs of mittens that year. She had also
donated several lap blankets that she was able to crochet.
Jean stays active at her residence by lending a helpng hand
whenever and wherever help is needed
Anne Wilton: Congratulations on your 90th birthday
Anne attended London Normal School and began her teaching career
in Vercholye, southwest of Ingersol in 1950. There was a general
store, a cheese factory, a church and a school in the small
farming community. Anne taught 40 of the younger students in the
two room school. The senior room
had 35 students. One memory is
the tradition of the daily “hot lunches” prepared by the senior
students. These were served from December to March and really only
consisted of one food item, for example: Monday-tomato soup,
Tuesday-hot potatoes, Wednesday-macaroni/cheese,etc..The problem
was that all children do not like the same foods. Also, the
pudding was often burned by the students making it, and one time,
the boys carrying the pot of boiled potatoes dropped the kettle
and they were all over the floor. Eventually, Anne and the other
teacher convinced the director to get rid of the hot lunches.
After 2 years in the country school, Anne taught the next 4 years
in London. Anne married and spent the rest of her teaching career
in Windsor. She always wanted to teach kindergarten, and since
Windsor did not require piano skills, she taught the rest of her
career in kindergarten. Anne saw the value of early education, and
worked on a committee to help get JK into all schools.
they bought a cottage near Forest. Anne has 2 daughters and enjoys
spending time with her 4 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren
at the cottage and her home in Grand Bend.
include choir singing (was in the rainbow Singers), and playing
Bill was born in Ottawa Civic Hospital
Nov. 1,1931. His mother Annie Moody and father William Stanley
Blake met at Queen’s University. He is brother to Bob, Bettianne
and Heather. He is father to Peter, Cathy and Cyndy and
grandfather to 9 grandchildren. Martin, Kerry, Tracey, Erin, Brad
and Tom are members of his extended family. He is married to
Doreen (Gabriel) Blake.
As a teacher, principal, headmaster and
director, his father moved the family to many places including S.
Porcupine, Port Hope, Bronte, Kingston, Etobicoke and Bermuda. The
location with the most stories about life as a young person was
Bermuda. Bill talks about his days of fishing, spearing lobster
for dinner, surfing and exploring the many caves. In school they
were taught to use guns in case the German submarines surfaced on
the reefs and there was an attack. Each member of the family had
specific tasks and Bill’s was to take home the family cow from the
pasture and look after the dogs. After graduating from high school
in Bronte, Bill worked in Toronto with Canada life. There he met
and married Fran, the mother of his children.
Then, as a
student at Queen’s University, he went on to obtain his degree and
teacher’s certificate. To support his family, he drove a taxi in
the evenings, groomed and showed Afghans for a friend, and worked
as a packer in a grocery store. He certainly enjoyed playing
bridge both at school and university. His teaching career began as
Head of Geography at Lorne Park and then AB Lucas Secondary
School, both in London. Then he was a Geography Consultant with
the Ministry of Education visiting Secondary Schools in Ontario.
He came to live in Sarnia when he was appointed Superintendent of
Program. He specifically worked with special assignment teachers,
a group of 7 educators, to create curriculum for the Elementary
schools. We all remember “the orange crush binders.” He helped to
promote the Young Authors’ program and Annual Conference. 5 years
later he went to Timmins as Director of Education.
As Director, he visited some of the
isolated First Nation communities of Northern Ontario to learn
about their education and development needs. Students from
these communities came to Timmins for their education and he
wanted to know more about their backgrounds.There was a high
rate of school dropout, suicides and a community of low self
esteem. Once he retired as director he was asked by the First
Nation communities for help. He started Norquest Associates
Inc. to do educational consulting and leadership development.
It went far beyond education and involved leadership,
development of the entrepreneurIal spirit and helping them to
become self-sufficient. With his guidance the Attawapiskat
First Nation Education Authority was established. They set out
on a course of reform that included hiring more native and
non-native teachers, implementation of a secondary school
curriculum, introduction of First Nations studies and an
emphasis on technical and skills training. He spearheaded the
opening of $24 million Vezina Secondary School and lobbied for
the funding of a $5 million sports complex. Other communities
started to ask for the same kind of help. He had promised to
work for 2 years but this went on for 9 years. He made more
than 200 flights to the remote communities of Attawapiskat,
Kashechewan and Fort Albany. He built up a trust and
understanding with the First Nation's people over these years.
Bill’s work with the First Nations communities earned him the
Order of Ontario. Many family members, friends and First
Nations community members travelled to Toronto to help him
celebrate. He was honoured with a sweet grass ceremony, a
spiritual event spoken in Cree. He was blessed with a
beautiful dream catcher. Within this award he was also
recognized for his dedication to the Kidney Foundation of
Canada. Bill is a past president of the local chapter, past
president of the Kidney Foundation of Greater Ontario and past
co- chairman of the Foundation’s National Research Council. He
is also on the Mayor’s Honour list in Sarnia, Ontario.
returned to Sarnia 28 years ago when he and Doreen were
married. Now retired from teaching after 35 years in England
(1 year) and Sarnia, Doreen often travelled to the North with
Bill. Then together they created a new company, Norquest
Learning Systems for training and consulting. It was an
extension of their backgrounds as educators and allowed them
to continue to learn new things and take new challenges.They
joined up with Inscape Publishing and became top Canadian
Distributors and the first to achieve the company’s Diamond
Executive Award. Bill developed one of the first websites for
promoting this new business.
The young family enjoyed
summers at his parent’s farm home at Deseronto on the Bay of
Quinte. Exploring Northern Ontario, mostly in the Algonquin
area, became a favourite vacation. Camping, canoeing,
portaging, swimming, tracking wolves and taking photos were
pastimes enjoyed by Bill and his family. A love of wolves
meant a lot of research being done for many years. He always
had a Wolf Calendar on his Christmas list. They enjoyed skiing
from their ski lodge in the beautiful Beaver Valley. Later
with Doreen, visiting his daughter and family in Ghwanzou was
one highlight in his travels. Days were spent walking on the
Great Wall of China, visiting pearl and opal markets, tours
with a guide especially at the many markets, and savouring the
exotic food at the various restaurants.
Visits to Doreen’s
families in Spain, England and Scotland over the years are
still very memorable. With family, Bill’s 70th birthday was
celebrated in a Scottish Castle, on the banks of Loch Lomond.
His dream of being “piped in “ by a piper was realized that
night and the address to the haggis was certainly enjoyed.
Attending Doreen’s godson’s wedding in a glen, in the wilds of
Scotland is certainly remembered. Visiting the many
distilleries in the beautiful areas of Scotland led to a love
of Scotch and more research. Palm Springs, Las Vegas and
Sedona were favourite places to spend time attending
International Training Conferences and enjoying recreational
times. Hundreds of photos of the Red Rocks are in a collection
of photo albums.
Bill’s interests have always been dogs,
playing bridge, tennis and squash. In high school he was an
award winning runner. He has had a number of dogs as
companions. His first one.... given to him by his father when
Bill was only 2 was a terrier named Shag. ..... His last dog
was Max, a majestic Schnauzer. He certainly is a life-long
learner. He has spent many an hour on his computer, learning
new techniques, listening to webinars, creating Blogs, playing
Solitaire and researching topics of interest-The Ring of Fire,
Scotch, The Empire Loyalists, Family Genealogy.
mantra is ”Let each become all that he was capable of being.”
He has always put this into practice in his life, encouraging
many young people, mentoring people including his own family
members. He has always been an advocate for “the underdog.” As
Bill continues on in his 91st year he is wished a peaceful
journey surrounded by family and friends.
During my third year in high school (SCITS) my mother received a
letter from a friend in northern Ontario: “Would Alan be
interested in teaching at our one-room school next year?” I
hastily declined but a seed was planted...
In 1950 a
prospective candidate for Normal School had to have five Grade 13
subjects, including English Literature and English Composition.
Due to my greater interest in sports (high school football and
basketball as well as Senior Lacrosse with the Sarnia Beavers), I
had to repeat Grade 12 English. Without telling Miss Howden, my
English teacher, I applied to the Ministry of Education for
permission to write my Grade 13 English as well as my Grade 12
English. I studied very hard, even secluding myself at an elderly
neighbour’s house so I could not be contacted by school friends. I
passed Grade 13 Literature (B) and for English Composition I
scraped through with a D. London Normal school accepted me!
seems hard to believe now but the three of us, Dick Acton, George
Abell and I, hitchhiked to London every Sunday afternoon and
repeated the adventure every Friday afternoon, back to Sarnia. In
those days, hitchhiking was an acceptable form of travel.
think my parents made a mistake when they chose to name me -
“Frederick Alan McLean.” Harry Moore, chairman of Plympton Area 2
School Board and manager of the Camlachie Wildcats, guaranteed me
a job to teach in the Camlachie area. As pressure mounted, with
fellow students, towards the end of Normal School (“Will I find a
job teaching?)I was quite at ease knowing I faced no employment
problem. However, Hiring Day school officials informed Harry that
they had no record of an “Al McLean.” They did have a “Fred
McLean” but Harry had never heard me called by that name; hence,
no job for me until I clarified with Harry my name dilemma.
1954, I started teaching at S.S.#9 Plympton Area 2 School. I had
28 pupils in Grades 1-8. At that time the curriculum was based on
a small grey book which listed all the subjects to be taught. The
teacher had only one textbook for each subject and grade. There
were not any textbooks for pupils. Twice a day I wrote in chalk on
the blackboards which were at the front and along the east wall.
For seat work, I mastered the gellatin hectograph pads and purple
lead pencil. Gestetner copies and photocopiers were not in the
One of the highlights of small rural schools was
the annual Christmas concert. The whole communitywould finally get
to judge the teacher’s proficiency. Six weeks before Christmas the
pupils started mastering their talents. In November, after recess,
morning and afternoon lines were learned, and songs were practised
with opportunities for everyone to participate. “Casey at the Bat”
would be our masterpiece! Other than arithmetic and oral reading,
all class time was devoted to the show. Parents set up a stage
over the front platform, and assisted with costumes. It was a real
community effort! After three years at S.S. #9, I applied for a
teaching position in the city of Sarnia. Mr. Wm Rogers, Director
of Education, greeted me with these words, “Your father, Jack
McLean, was a wonderful man!” I realised that I had the job. I
taught at Rosedale School for three years, followed by two years
at High Park School.
In 1959, I applied for a
vice-principalship and was assigned to King George VI School.
After five years I was appointed principal at Clark School. After
one year, I became principal at George Perry School. Little did I
relived that it had been selected to have an open plan primary
division. I applied for a sabbatical in 1971-72 to study the
British Open Plan Concept. With my wife, Marian, and our four
children, Jennifer - 13, Joe - 12, Anne - 8 and John - 4, we
sailed to England on the “Empress of Canada.” When CP sold all
passenger ships, we managed to sail home on the “France” (now the
I served as principal at Mooretown School for nine
years. I returned to King George VI School for my last six years,
thus ending 37 unforgettable years in education. I sincerely thank
all of the pupils, teachers and school staff for helping me along
the way. Marian and I are enjoying our 33 years and counting of
retirement, and 63 years in our house! When the pandemic ends we
hope to continue singing in our church choir and playing
bridge/euchre with friends and family.
Jim Cassin B.A., B.Ed.
90 Years and Counting
County has been home for almost all of my 90 years. I was born and
raised in Corunna, which in 1931 boasted a population of about
400. For several years we lived on the bank of the St. Clair River
which was a great place for kids, especially for the family of 9
children of which I was the eldest. There was swimming fun
particularly on Sundays when American passenger boats (lots of
them) would cruise up the channel between Stag Island and
Corunna sending out wonderful waves for us to swim through.
winter there was skating and hockey when the river would ice over
from December through mid-February.
My educational journey
started in a one room school house with my “Mary Jane and Peter”
book in hand. I recall it was published by T. Eaton Co. and cost 4
cents. There were three pupils in grade 1 and perhaps 20 students
in the entire school. Much of the work was assigned and we learned
quite a bit from each other and in paying attention to what was
going on in the higher grades. My desk had a hole in it for an ink
well and the well was refilled from a large bottle of ink which
stood in the corner of the classroom. In grade three we learned to
write with that ink using a pen-nib in a holder. A plaster cast on
the teacher’s desk demonstrated the proper way to hold a writing
instrument and we had a “writing
practice book” to be used to
practice our strokes and “O’s”.
As our family grew in numbers
and size, we moved to a farm in the country and attended S.S.#6
Moore which was again a one room school but with larger classes.
From grade 7 on I attended a large single grade classroom school,
St. Joseph’s Corunna. I remember that our grade 8 graduation class
numbered 42 pupils!
High school was St. Pat’s and I was bussed
from Corunna for the first time in my school experience. Two large
grade 9 classes became a single graduating class by grade 12. It
was a time when many students left school at age 16 to enter the
job market with a grade 10 Intermediate Certificate. This was just
after WWII and there were plenty of jobs for them and even more so
for those who stayed on and graduated from Grade 12. I stayed on
at school through grade 13, and spent my summers gaining job
For several years I worked on the Canadian
Steamship Company’s passenger liner, “Noronic” as a dish washer,
then a porter and finally as a bell-boy. This job ended when
“Noronic” burned in Toronto Harbour during its last cruise of the
season (which I missed) in September 1949, killing at least 118
passengers. Summers after that I found work in steel fabrication
and later, on an Imperial Oil tanker.
Following grade 13, I
went to the University of Western Ontario, but dropped out before
I could finish my degree. In an odd twist of fate, school boards
at that time were unable to meet the demands caused by the “Baby
Boom” expansion of pupils following WWII and they looked to hire
unqualified persons to teach based on “Letters of Permission”.
Definitely unqualified, I was hired to teach grades 9&10 at
St. Patricia’s in Sarnia. Mandatory summer school courses for
teachers such as myself introduced us to lessons in “Pre Printing”
and “Reading Readiness” among other topics.
In 1956, now
married to Valerie, we moved to London so I could finish my
degree. My summers were spent working as a painter on (and under)
the Bluewater Bridge, Point Edward. Imagine sitting on a beam,
under the bridge with a bucket of aluminum paint and a brush…cars
and trucks passing overhead as the steamships and pleasure boats
cruised down below! After graduating from UWO I worked at Dow
chemical for some time, then in 1960, with Valerie and our three
children, I moved to Petrolia and began teaching at the Petrolia
District High School. Later, after several summers of taking extra
credits to earn my Type A Geography Certificate, I became Head of
the Geography Department. Meanwhile, Valerie and I welcomed three
more children who, by nature of having been born in Petrolia, are
our “Hard Oilers”.
The late 1950’s and early 1960’s saw
tremendous changes in Ontario education with the formation of
consolidated central elementary schools, mostly in the rural
areas, followed by expansion of secondary schools under the “Davis
Plan” which introduced “streaming”. One result of the “Davis Plan”
was the expansion of central high schools to provide
industrial/trade focused shops to be staffed with tradespeople who
would then be required to become qualified teachers. This
innovation was very successful at L.C.C.V.I. and other composite
high schools with many graduates being career-ready and in demand
for jobs in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley and beyond.
multiple county Boards of Education were reorganized into one
Board of Education for each county. I was appointed to be one of
two new Vice-Principals at L.C.C.V.I. during a number of
administrative realignments in that year. While still brand new in
the V.P. position in September 1969 I was asked to be Acting
Principal during the illness absence of our Principal. Sadly, our
colleague and Principal passed away and I continued to serve as
Principal of L.C.C.V.I. until 1980. In this role I had the
privilege to work with talented administrators, teachers and
support staff in all areas of education. In addition to seeing my
own 6 children attend L.C.C.V.I. I was fortunate to know so many
wonderful students over the years and I continue to follow their
successes with interest and (admittedly) pride for L.C.C.V.I.! In
1980 I was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Lambton County
and was fortunate to contribute to education in this position
until my retirement in 1992.
As I look back over my 90 years, I
can honestly say that life has been good to me. I have had losses
which are hard to bear at times, but I still have my faith, my
health and an inquisitive mind. I enjoy my long-time friends…some
of whom grew up with me and my late wife Valerie in Corunna, and I
find comfort in our many memories and common values. Reading good
books and sharing ideas with these friends has been an amazing way
to continue learning and staying connected especially through
these long months of Covid-19 isolation. I remember my 80 th
birthday and it doesn’t seem as though it could be 10 years ago
already! So many former students, teaching colleagues and friends
came to the Sarnia Riding Club and shared in the celebration with
me and my family. Though we cannot have a similar event this year,
I appreciate the many folks who do stay in touch by phone or drop
a line now and then to get caught up on news. We are truly a big
family in the world of education! I value the gift of having been
given a good education and being able to pass that gift on during
my formal years of teaching as well as through my volunteer
activities, through mentoring, and in parentingmy own children. I
could say that I was born into the role of being an educator by
being the eldest of 9 children, an experience that did shape me
immensely. A great family and a network of equally great friends
have carried me through the good times and the bad on the long
road to 90. I literally could not have come this far without them
and I can only hope, as I enjoy this milestone birthday and
I will be able to continue to give back at least
as much as I have received!
Bonnie was born on a farm in Biddulph
Township located north of London between Exeter and Lucan.
attended London Normal school to become a teacher. As a student
teacher, she did a lot of practice teaching (unlike in the later
years in her opinion). The student teachers went to a school at
least one half day a week, driven by taxi. For the 3 full weeks of
practice teaching, the got to observe the first day, and then
teach full days, all subjects for the rest of the week.
graduation in 1950, Bonnie was offered a job in Lambton County at
SS 15 Moore. Her job included 47 students in grades 1 to 8. Bonnie
tells of taking her three grade 8 students to Toronto to observe
parliament in action. She contacted the MPP to make some
arrangements. The students were especially amazed at the dining
car on the train for breakfast and the “strange edges” on the
tables. The MPP had said they could join him in the official
dining room for lunch, then tour and observe parliament workings.
Bonnie vividly remembers that upon entering the official dining
room, that it was “like 70 pairs of eyes on her” as if to say “How
dare you come in here, let alone with three kids?” It was then
that she realized she was the only woman in the room. It had never
occured to Bonnie
that there would be no women in parliament.
Her father had always told his children that they could grow to be
whatever they wanted.
Bonnie eventually achieved her BA from
Western in Educatioal Psychology and her Masters of Education in
Reading and Mathematics from Wayne State University.
carreer, Bonnie took time off to look after her ill mother-in-law,
and raised her own son and daughter. During her time off, Bonnie
and her husband were active in the building of Central School in
Brigden. The school board “tormented” her, until she agreed to go
back teaching in Brigden in 1967. One year she had a grades 3, 4,
5, and 6 altogether. She often mentored student teachers in her
classroom. Bonnie loved putting on the Christmas Concerts...they
were very special to her. Bonnie expressed that it is sad to see
that concerts seem to have gone by the wayside. After retiring,
Bonnie and her husband spent 10 years travelling including
spending 3 months in Australia.
Bonnie was married for 56
years, has one son and one daughter 2 grandsons and 4 great
Bonnie lives in her own home, and these days she
does lots of reading.
All the best from RTO to Bonnie on her
was born in the parlour of her family home on the edge of the town
of Owen Sound. Her family had gardens and fruit trees. She
attended London Normal School in 1948-49. Her aunt lived in London
so she had a place to stay when she arrived. Normal School seemed
easy after grade thirteen.
Her first teaching job was in a three
room school in Tobermory. She taught grades one, two and three.
Tobermory in those days gave credence to the expression "there is
nothing to do."
Beth says "there was nothing to do"
except for house parties with kegs of beer. The school had no
phone so Beth had to go to the home of the telephone operator to
answer the call for a teacher in Timmins. All calls went through
Lions Head. When the job offer came in at $2000 a year the phone
operator listening in said, "Get me a job, too!"
In Timmins Beth taught grade one for
three years. After the war Timmins had many displaced persons who
did not speak English. Beth had no experience with English as a
Second Language but she loved teaching the children to speak and
to read English. She used pictures, phonetics and extra time at
recess to allow the children to catch up to their age mates.
After Timmins Beth moved to Sarnia
where she had a friend from Owen Sound. Beth taught at Meadowlea
in Sarnia (later Gord Swan’s audio visual centre, then ABC nursery
and now supportive housing), spent twelve years at Woodland (now a
church) and then at Cathcart for twelve years. She took some time
off when she and her husband Hans, from Holland, had five
children. Once she was back at work, Hans cooked and looked after
the children in the evenings while Beth studied for four years for
a degree in psychology. She had to do well as an example to five
little kids who were interested in her marks. Then she worked on
specialist qualifications in art, physical education, math and
science along with developing novel studies lessons. Later she
explored her passion for art by attending Buckhorn Art School with
a wonderful teacher Edwin Mathews, painting in Newfoundland,
taking classes with such artists as Jack Reid and Ariel Lyons and
becoming good friends with local artist Kathy Rath.
Travel also called to Beth. She and her
husband took bike tours. Their travels included Ireland, Holland,
France, Bulgaria, France and Austria. At March Breaks they would
go on cruises or island holidays. She visited the Galapagos and
Scotland with her mother and her sister. After retirement she and
her sister-in-law took a small ice breaker trip to Antarctica.
Her children have lived across Canada
so she has seen much of the country visiting them.
Hans lived through the occupation of
Holland. He said his life’s goal was to raise good citizens. Beth
feels they accomplished this. They raised three children to be
high school teachers, one a government worker, and another a
forester in Cape Breton.
She feels fortunate to have a grandson,
his wife and two dogs living with her during the pandemic. She
says, "I enjoy life. I walk and I belong to two books club (well,
before the pandemic) and I read all the time."
Marian E. Douey celebrated 100th Birthday
Marian Douey grew up in a farm
family with six children in the Watford area. She had three
brothers and two sisters. Her maiden name was KIDD. She and her
sister, Dorothy, were referred to as the “LITTLE KIDDS.”
The older KIDDS with secrets would say, “Don’t tell the LITTLE
Her grandmother lived in Watford so the KIDD kids
would visit her while the parents went shopping on Saturday
nights. All the KIDD kids were fortunate to stay with their
grandmother while they attended high school because school buses
were not available at that time.
She started her teaching
career in the country. For two years she taught in Fairbanks
School near Alvinston and for one year at Henderson School near
Petrolia. She remembers the days when married women didn’t teach.
She and her husband farmed for a short time before moving to
Windsor. He was transferred to Sarnia by National Grocers.
Marian’s mother-in-law suggested Marian submit her name for supply
teaching. At the time Marian and her family were staying with her
in-laws while her father-in-law was building a home for them on
Cameron Street. One year, Marian’s brother, Victor, the principal
of Queen Elizabeth School called her to work on the second day of
school. A newly hired teacher never arrived and Marian taught at
Queen Elizabeth until the end of June. Her final supply call came
to teach at Parkview and she stayed twenty-two years. Her first
principal was Morley McGregor. Another one was Howard Coleman who
had been Colonel Coleman in the army.
Marian and her
husband raised three children. Now she has five grandchildren
including nineteen year old twins. Her great grandchildren, aged
twelve, ten and eight, each wrote a lovely letter to her in
celebration of her 100th years. A granddaughter prepared a video
of Marian’s 100 years. Her two year old great grandson loved
Marian’s birthday balloons. He has a great sense of where to find
the biscuits at Marian’s and he does not forget! He has a new baby
brother who is 100 years and a few days younger than Marian! She
is grateful to her family for their support and assistance.
Marian reads the London Free Press everyday and does the
puzzles. She also enjoys jig saws. These seem to be common COVID
activities this year.
RTO celebrated Marian Douey 100th
birthday by delivering flowers, balloons and “a party in a bag.”
Also delivered to Marian was her RTO birthday certificate prepared
by Kathy (Doan) Bandla. Marian taught at Parkview when the five
lovely Doan sisters attended that school.
For her 90th birthday
Marian was feted at Patterson Presbyterian. This time during
COVID19 the party was much smaller however RTO sends “big”
birthday wishes for Marian’s special year!
Sara (Sally) Townsend
Sally grew up in Sarnia until high
school, when she moved to the river at Courtright. She was named
"Sara" after her grandmother. When she was in Grade Seven children
teased her about her old fashioned name so she changed it to
"Sally." Now only her elementary school friend calls her "Sara."
All her teaching colleagues remember "Sally." What fun for pupils
of the fifties era "Dick, Jane and Baby Sally" preprimers to know
a teacher named "Sally." She began her teaching career withthe
Moore Township Board. Unlike today’s young teachers she was asked
"what do you want to teach" and "where do you want to teach." She
had many, many choices. The board was very good to its teachers.
They were given anything and everything that they requested. Her
first teaching assignment was in kindergarten at Courtright. At
the time Moore did not have a special education program. She was
asked to go to Colborne Street School in Corunna to set up that
program. After two years she began teaching Remedial Reading in
five schools including Lochiel, Lansdowne and Queen Elizabeth in
Sarnia. Her last years before retirement were spent in the primary
grades at Murray Street School in Corunna. Because she still lives
in Corunna, Sally often meets her old (as in former) kids (as in
students), and their parents. The cleaner and paper person in her
building are former Grade Two and Three students. Reconnecting
brings back great memories as Sally loved teaching and spent lots
of extra hours on the job.
Sally has four children, two retired
teachers and two Polysar employees. She has six grandchildren with
four being teachers. Some family members even married teachers.
She also has eight great grandchildren.
Her advice is, "Stick
to it, don’t ever give up." She feels young teachers today have
more challenges than she had. Sally likes to keep busy. She enjoys
reading, knitting and doing puzzles. These have all been good
pandemic activities along with her quilting.
Best wishes to
Sally and to all members of District 38 as birthdays are
celebrated in new ways, during the unusual years of 2020 and 2021.
Hopefully, as Sally has done, everyone has found entertaining ways
to enjoy these unique times.
Donna McQuillin was born in Kincardine and was raised with her one
brother. Their parents both worked in Malcolms Factory which made
the famous mosquito bomber airplanes. Her father worked in the
lumber yard at Malcolms. Her mom worked at the factory during the
war. Donna attended public school in Millarton, a tiny place about
two miles outside of Kincardine on Highway 9. She attended high
school in Kincardine.
In 1950, teachers
were scarce so immediately after high school she began teaching in
a one room school. She went to teachers colleger in Toronto for
two summers to become qualified. Donna always wanted to be a
teacher. Even as a small child at home she would go upstairs alone
and "teach" her classes.
One of her stories
happened while teaching in a brand new school in Bruce county. The
school inspector paid a visit to check out the new school. It was
winter. He had his coat on and was ready to leave but asked,
"Where is my hat?" Donna was saved from telling him when he
realized his hat was in his hand!
taught in four schools in Bruce County before moving to Sarnia in
1953. By then she had married her truck driver husband. He wanted
a change from Ripley to either Toronto or Sarnia. Although Donna
thought that nobody goes to either place, they moved to Sarnia.
They had two children, a girl and a boy.
Sarnia, Donna taught for eight years at Queen Elizabeth, two years
at Lakeroad and at Hannna at the end of her teaching career. After
teaching she managed a wine store in Lambton Mall for about seven
years. Donna says, "Retirement is a good job to have and I have
enjoyed it all!"
She feels fortunate to have her daughter and
and her two grown children in London. Donna enjoys living in her
apartment near Centennial Park and driving her car for shopping
RTO sends greetings for
Donna’s special birthday!
Helen was born and raised in the mining town, owned by Inco,
called Copper Cliff. It is now part of Sudbury. Helen was one of
eleven children in a French Canadian family. Her parents spoke
French and so did she until she went to elementary school.
Although Sudbury at the time was populated by forty percent
French, Copper Cliff was predominantly English speaking, so she
and her siblings thought speaking French was not cool. She
attended high school in Copper Cliff. In 1947 she left home to
attend the University of Toronto. She took a general arts degree
at the time called Pass Arts. This course was intended to provide
a well rounded education with a smattering of many different
disciplines. She then attended teachers’ college at OCE and was
ready to teach French and Physical Education in Sudbury. While she
was teaching there, Clem Cassidy came on staff. Clem had taught in
Sarnia and wanted to return. The draw for him was the Polysar Glee
Club. They married in 1954 and came to Sarnia when Northern
Collegiate was opening. Clem taught vocal music and English at
Northern and was director of the Polysar Glee Club for some years.
Helen taught at Petrolia High School before giving birth to three
daughters. In those days mothers resigned from the labour force
and stayed at home with their babies. When their youngest daughter
was in grade seven or eight, Helen went back to work as a supply
teacher. Returning to teaching was eye opening. Previously,
students raised their hands to answer a question and when one was
recognized by the teacher, that student would stand up and answer
the question. The classroom was a formal place. When Helen
returned to teaching, discussions were open, no subject was
private and language was colourful. In addition to supply work she
continued to utilize her teaching skills by teaching night school
at SCITS twice a week. She taught gym classes (Slim and Trim) and
volleyball for many years. The facilities at SCITS allowed the
adults to use the swimming pool, too. Helen was also involved
with Girl Guides at Sacred Heart Church.
Today, Helen plays bridge and more bridge. She enjoys duplicate
bridge at the Sardo Club, formerly St. Peter’s Church. She feels
blessed to be able to attend numerous community activities
including the programs at the Art Gallery, films with CineSarnia
and Live at the Met opera at the local theatre. Recently she
celebrated her birthday in Toronto with her three daughters, nine
grandchildren, partners and one little great grandson who now has
a new baby sister. Two of Helen’s daughters are engineers and one
followed her parents into teaching.
Best Wishes, Helen!
Fran is a life long Sarnian. She was born and raised here with
three older sisters and a younger brother. Her sister June
Bannister is also an RTO member. Fran attended a number of
elementary schools including Confederation Street and Wellington
Street. She then attended SCITS for high school where she later
taught for her entire career.
After finishing high school Fran worked at Polymer in the gas lab
for a year in order to save money to attend university at Western.
Then she was back at SCITS to teach English and French.
Fran embraces her family of a son who lives in British Columbia ,
a daughter and a son in law who live north of Toronto as well as
their two lovely daughters.
Johnston has been a Lambton County girl from the beginning. She was
born on a farm on the 8th Line of Moore (now Rokeby Line) and Brigden
Road. She grew up with a brother who later farmed and was also a bulk
carrier truck driver.
After Grade Thirteen in 1949 Vera was in the last class attending
London Normal School. After that a new Teachers’ College was built.
One year at Normal School qualified Vera to teach up to Grade Ten. Her
friend Shirley (Shaw) Johnson, also an Lambton girl, was at Normal
School with Vera. Both girls were hired the same weekend to teach near
Highway 21 (now Oil Heritage Road) near Wyoming. Vera’s school was on
the townline of Plymton and Enniskillen and was identified as SS 2 and
24 Plymton and Enniskillen (later Sunbeam School.) Vera married a
Lambton farmer whose farm was near the school. She and her husband
raised three children, a son and two daughters. While her children
were young she did some supply teaching in rural schools. In 1959
teachers were difficult to find. Vera was asked to teach at Kertch
school on London Road, a one room school with thirty to thirty-five
students. With a one year old at home Vera did not think she could do
that but a school board member convinced her to supply teach for a
month while his wife babysat! For two years she covered maternity
leaves at Oban School on London Road West. For three years she was
principal’s relief for three half days a week. Then she taught Grades
Five and Six for ten years in Wyoming.
In 1979 the Johnstons bought a place in Zephr Hills, Florida. They
actually bought the land their winter home would sit on. Buying a home
where he did not own the land did not sit well with a farmer! Vera
enjoyed the snowbird lifestyle for fifteen years. In Wyoming she
lived for a number of years in the Royaleigh apartments and moved to a
Petrolia retirement home this past year. Still a Lambton girl, on the
day of the RTO Goodwill visit, Vera was driving some of her fellow
residents around the area to see the local changes.
Vera has six granddaughters and one grandson with two teachers among
Maria (Chris) Wolff
Wolff was born and raised in the Dutch East Indies, a Dutch colony,
now known as The Republic of Indonesia. After World War II and after
Indonesia's independence in 1948 all nonnative people had
to repatriate to their countries of origin. Chris and her mother went
to her mother’s country of birth, The Netherlands. There, Chris
trained as a secretary and worked as such until she left for Canada.
She first went to Mount Clements, Michigan, where she had relatives.
Her husband-to-be had left the Netherlands earlier and had secured a
job with the Ontario Research Foundation. He was stationed in Sarnia.
They married in 1957 and had two boys. About ten or twelve
years later the government offered re-education to
individuals interested in becoming French teachers. Chris decided to
give the program a try after taking grade thirteen at Northern
Collegiate. The boys were responsible and fairly independent by this
time. After receiving her diploma in teaching Chris worked for the
Lambton County Roman Catholic School Board. She began her career as an
itinerant French teacher in various locations such as St. Benedict,
St. Joseph, St. Margaret and St. Peter schools.
Later, when the number of classes warranted a full time teacher
she became part of the permanent staff at St Helen School for twelve
years. Her last school was Gregory A. Hogan from where she retired in
Chris' two sons became engineers. One works for Hydro at the
Bruce Generating Station and and other works in the United States for
MFF (Manufacturer of Flavors and Fragrances
Emily Gaborko was born at her Lambton County home in the Inwood area.
Her family lived on a farm on 27 Sideroad near the 6th Line. As a
child she attended Shiloh School and Shiloh United Church.
Emily attended Petrolia High School in an era when no school bus
serviced the area until her last year of high school. Most kids did
not attend high school. The parents of four or five students hired a
taxi to take them to high school. That last year of high school when
an old bus began picking up students in the Shiloh area, Emily recalls
that the bus was known to stall and the kids would jump out and push
After high school Emily attended Toronto Teachers College. Through the
years she took some University of Windsor courses and also took her
primary specialist. Her practice teaching supervisor was Jean Swan who
in later years was an RTO member. Emily’s first school was Weidman
school where Jean had also taught. Another of Emily’s rural schools
was SS 17 Enniskillen. Emily recalls some of her principals; Brian
Boucher, Bob Hext and Mark Gorth. Besides rural schools she taught at
St. Philips, Centennial, Queen Elizabeth Petrolia and South Plympton.
She even taught adults in Petrolia’s Fairbank House. Most were trying
to complete their grade eight perhaps for improved job opportunities.
This teaching assignment was rewarding because for the most part
students were interested in learning except for the challenging days
when some of the men had been “out the night before!” When she retired
she had taught for twenty-seven years.
Emily has spent countless hours doing church work including seasonal
decorating, making turkey pies, recruiting kitchen volunteers,
ushering and teaching Sunday School.
Her advice is, “Make sure you have grandchildren . They keep you
young.” Baking, studying math, playing games and visiting are fun with
grandchildren. She has three daughters and four grandchildren
Fran was born in Blenheim. She grew up in a family of two girls and
three boys. Her father was a local merchant. Her childhood included
many happy summers at the family cottage on the main street into
Fran received her BA from Western and her MA from Windsor. She
describes teacher education at the time as creating “eight week
wonders.” Young teachers would attend summer school for two summers
unlike today when they study for two years following their
Fran’s first year of teaching job was at the Ontario Ladies College,
in Whitby. She went there directly after graduating with the BA from
Western. Teacher training was not required in that private school.
Teachers lived in the same hall as the students and were required to
chaperone the girls wherever they wished to go, which could be to
church or to the movies. Classes were small with as few as six
students in a math class. Fran’s largest class size was thirteen. She
taught grade twelve and thirteen and was glad that all her students
were able to pass the provincial departmental examinations.
Whitby was followed by teaching science and chemistry for two years in
Windsor and four years in Glencoe. In 1965 Fran moved to Sarnia where
she taught math for eleven years at Central. In 1976 she was assigned
to the Lambton board office where she worked as Stan Pate’s assistant
for three years. After that she was happy to be back in the schools
where she spent three years in each of three schools. She was a vice
principal at Northern and at St. Clair then ended her career in 1988
as principal at Watford. She jokes that one should retire early enough
to “get all the money out of the pension” that one puts in.
Fran’s is proud of her two daughters who both have PhDs. She teases
that she told them she wanted two doctors but was thinking of another
kind. One daughter lives in Ottawa and has a consulting business. She
graduated in psychology. The other daughter lives in Connecticut. She
is a professor at a university there. Fran also has two grandsons, two
great granddaughters and one great grandson.
In the early days of her retirement Fran had many opportunities to
travel. Those travels included Venezuela, New Zealand, Norway and
Spain. She travelled often to a Spanish villa and spent parts of five
Today, she has a beautiful suite that overlooks the St. Clair River.
Best Wishes, Fran!
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
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.
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!!
Julius was born in Oradea, Romania but of Hungarian descent. He,
his wife Judith (Judy) and their six year old daughter immigrated
to Canada in December of 1969. They came via Italy from communist
Romania. After waiting five years to leave Romania, Judy’s Jewish
sounding surname provided them with an opportunity to depart. They
chose Canada where Julius had three uncles who were tobacco
farmers in Delhi. By February of 1970 Judy and Julius were in
English as a Second Language classes.
Although Szabos spoke an number of languages, English was not one
of them. By September of that year at the age of forty-two Julius
attending Western University in London for teacher training.
Fortunately, Julius’ education in Romania was recognized by
Western so the next year found him teaching in Barry’s Bay. After
a year back in London working in tobacco Julius returned to
teaching. This time he went to Thornhill to teach geography and
economics in York District High School. He taught there for about
eighteen years while Judy worked as a secretary in the same school
for twenty-six years. Julius retired in 1988 but continued to
supply teach in Thornhill and later in Exeter.
For twenty-five years Julius worked with the Hungarian community
in Toronto by teaching and participating in their travelling
group. The group performed for many Hungarian communities in many
locations including Norway, Sweden, Italy, France, Florida and
Since they had lived in London for a couple of years they knew
Grand Bend and loved it. In 1983 they bought a piece of property
theatre and eventually built a cute cottage and then a retirement
Julius loved to learn and while teaching he earned a masters
degree from York University. He also enjoyed sports such as
skiing, tennis and boxing. The family often spent Christmas break
skiing in Europe. Recently their daughter and her husband moved to
Markdale near a ski hill. Both Judy and Julius did cross country
skiing behind their home in Aurora. Into his eighties Julian
walked six miles a day. At one time, three times a week he would
walk the twelve miles of trails in Exeter.
Now television sports especially tennis are favourites, as well as
their two and a half acres of mostly beautiful flower gardens.
When Szabos married, Julius was a good cook and baker. He taught
his young wife and now she is the family cook. One of her
wonderful specialties is Hungarian coffee cake made with apples
and gooseberries picked by Julius!
The Szabos have two granddaughters.