J. Gordon (Gord) Farrlow
was born in Guelph but actually raised in Milton when it had a
population of 1800 compared to today’s population of 80,000. His
home was near Rattlesnake Point. Although he was raised on a farm
his father often worked “out.” He had a painting business.
Gord attended high school in Milton and normal school in Hamilton.
He took winter and summer courses from Western to complete his
degree. He began his teaching career in a one room school in the
Simcoe area before accepting a position in a rural one room school
called Kertch in the Wyoming area where the Farlows lived. After
two years there, Gord moved on to Goderich for a two year teaching
stint. In this era, pages and pages of teaching jobs were
advertised in the Globe and Mail. Next came jobs with the Sarnia
Board. After being appointed principal, Gord worked in three
schools, Brooke Central, Petrolia Queen Elizabeth and Errol
Village. Brooke was unique in that public and Catholic students
both attended the same school. In Petrolia Doug Dew, another RTO
member, worked as vice principal with Gord. He retired after
thirty-five years in the profession.
Gord and his wife Bella have two sons, a retired policeman and a
retired fireman. The policeman has a son who is a policeman and
the fireman has a son who is a fireman. The Farlows feel lucky to
have both their sons living in the city. One granddaughter has
followed in her grandfather’s footsteps. She teaches high school
Gord and Bella say that a successful retirement involves “keeping
busy.” Gord enjoyed gardening. In earlier retirement he played a
lot of golf.
He says “travel if possible.” They travelled from coast to coast.
Gord drove the Alaska Highway twice and has the certificates. He
found the drive easy. They stopped at restaurants along the way
and talked to people, all nice. They saw all kinds of animals
along the way. Even their dog had two great road trips. They
recall the special sites like the west coast, the Qu’Appelle
Valley, the Bay of Fundy and in Cape Breton, Rita McNeil’s Tea
Sarnia and their home suit Farlows well. Sarnia is just the right
size. Their front porch is a great spot for meeting neighbours
both canine and human. Many stop by for a visit. They enjoy their
daily trips to Tim Hortons where they read their newspaper. Gord
has always enjoyed reading especially nonfiction.
They have four grandsons and two granddaughters. They have four
great grandsons and two great granddaughters as well as a grand
The Farlow family celebrated with a special birthday party for
Gord. RTO joins with the family in wishing Gord all the best.
Spivey was born and raised with two brothers on a farm near
Brussels, Ontario. He attended high school in Brussels about
fifteen miles from the farm. He walked or skied into town on
Monday mornings and then back home on Fridays after school. During
the week he stayed with his great aunt. He was fortunate on the
Mondays when his father was taking grain into Brussels to be
chopped at the mill and when he was picking up the chopped grain
on Fridays. Then Wilfred had a ride home with his dad and the team
In 1949 after grade thirteen Wilfred attended Stratford Normal
School. His class continues to meet in a Stratford restaurant for
an anniversary dinner every May. After one year of Normal School
Wilfred began his teaching career in a rural one room school in
Morris township with twenty two pupil in grades one to eight. He
also taught in Ashfield township.
His starting salary was $1400 per year. By 1954 when Wilfred and
his wife, Georgina, moved south to Point Edward his salary
increased to $2800. He taught at Edward Street School, located
near the current Point Edward fire hall, then at the new
Bridgeview for twenty years when five hundred children attended.
Local people may remember Georgina from her long career in the
restaurant business at Gateway Steakhouse and the Chipican. She
worked mostly nights so she and Wilfred passed each other at the
front door as she left for work when he returned from school.
Except for the evenings when he went to night school in Windsor
they did not need a babysitter. During the school year Wilfred
commuted to Windsor with a group of Sarnia teachers for night
school classes then took two courses every summer while staying in
Windsor. Thus he earned his degree.
For most of his career in Lambton, Wilfred was a vice principal
but always worked in classrooms and enjoys being remembered by
former students. His thirty-four years of teaching included four
years at Lansdowne and four at Murray Street in Corunna, from
which he retired as vice principal.
The Spiveys continue to enjoy their home and recently celebrated
with thirty four family members there. They are fortunate that
three of their four children live in Point Edward and Sarnia as do
some of their nine grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren.
Others live in the Kitchener Waterloo area. One daughter is like
her father, a retired teacher. She finished her career as
principal in Wyoming. He also has a grandson who is a supply
teacher with the Lambton Kent Board.
If the weather is reasonable Wilfred walks from Point Edward to
the main gates of Canatara Park. He recommends staying active even
if it means walking inside the house in poor weather and gardening
in fine weather. He has easy access to the trails which are former
railway tracks in Point Edward.
Wilfred retired after thirty four years of teaching. He retired on
a Friday and on Sunday his former principal Don Williams
encouraged him to sign on as a starter at Huron Oaks Golf Club.
That lead to about sixteen summers on the course.
Best wishes, Wilfred! KEEP ON WALKING! The Spiveys say keep
active. That is surely working for them!
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.
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 it.
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
Emily has spent countless hours
doing church work including seasonal decorating, making turkey
pies, recruiting kitchen volunteers, ushering and teaching
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.
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
William (Bill) Danylchuk grew up in Toronto. He fondly recalls playing
baseball at Christie Pits and football for the University of Toronto
Blues First Team in 1948. A highlight was being named All Star half
back in 1949. When he and Betty, now his wife, were in grade thirteen
they began having dinner and going to a movie every Friday night. They
have continued to do that for more than seventy years.
Bill began his work life at the age of nine. As a youngster he had
many jobs including delivery boy for a drugstore. During the war he
worked in a factory that made Lancaster bombers.
Upon graduation from university Bill was hired by the Sarnia Board of
Education to teach at SCITS but he had a summer job teaching and
caring for a child with cerebral palsy. This was a dream job with a
wealthy family in Costa Rica. The father sent Bill to New York for a
week to meet with the boy’s doctors. Then Bill proceeded to Costa
Rica where the boy attended school during the day. Bill had freedom
then to enjoy the outdoors, golf and play tennis with folks from the
Embassy. Bill and Betty had planned to marry. The employer convinced
them to marry in Costa Rica. Bill arranged for wedding attendants, a
church and flowers while the employer provided a reception. Betty
travel alone from Toronto and stayed in hotels along the way. Planes
did not travel such long distances in those days so overnights stays
were necessary. After a stressful, exhausting trip via New York,
Miami, Havana, and San Jose, Betty was marrying...within an hour of
landing. The employer wanted the Danylchuks to stay on in September
but teachers were in such high demand that Sarnia would not release
Bill from his contract. Bette and Bill decided to come to Sarnia and
stay until the new year when Bill could legally resign without
spoiling his reputation in case he ever wished to return to Canada.
However, by Christmas the Danylchuks were enjoying Sarnia. They liked
its location by the water. They had spent many happy hours at the
beach and dancing at Sunnyside when they lived in Toronto; so Sarnia,
a Great Lakes city felt like home. Bill taught geography at SCITS and
had began coaching. In addition to coaching the SCITS football team,
Bill was the assistant coach of the Sarnia Imperials that famous
footnote in Sarnia history. Later Bill was a physical education
teacher and then department head at Northern Collegiate. At the time
the physical education teachers were expected to coach almost
everything. Bill coached championship teams in basketball, football,
volleyball and track while at SCITS and Northern. The Danylchuks never
returned to Costa Rica until years later when they visited on a
Bill retired as a vice principal at LCCVI. He continued to return
there for a number of years after retirement to serve as the starter
with the pistol at Petrolia’s annual track meets. He has spent many
hours on the golf course and he and Betty are world travellers. To
celebrate his birthday this year Bill, Betty and their two daughters
have travelled to Calgary, Banff and Jasper areas. Here is hoping
Bill does not talk Betty into tenting this year. Years ago, their
first and last tenting experience involved Betty’s encounter with a
The Danylchuk family enjoyed years as Riding Club members. Their girls
took tennis and swimming lessons and always had summer jobs. Bill and
Betty have travelled to eighty countries and islands...sometimes with
Bill says, “The world is a book. If you haven’t travelled, you’ve only
read a page.”
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).
RECOGNITION FOR 100TH 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
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 100 in August
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
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
also have Joan’s story who taught from the sixties to the nineties.
Eva was born in Hants County in Nova Scotia and was an only child in a
farming family. On the other hand her husband was from a family of
thirteen children. Eva attended Truro Normal College before beginning
her career in Windsor Junction. Eva’s husband was “temporarily”
transferred to Procor in Ontario. Eva supply taught for a year before
landing a job at Murray Street School in Corunna where she taught for
many years. Recently, Eva and some of her former coworkers continued
their tradition of getting together by meeting at her current home,
Fiddicks in Petrolia. Every summer Eva and her husband made the trek
back to Nova Scotia to visit their parents and other relatives. Her
older son lives in Nova Scotia. He has four daughters and some of them
have children, Eva’s great grandchildren. Eva’s daughter studied
nursing in Montreal and continues to work in her field in Richmond,
BC. Eva’s younger son and his wife live in Sarnia. They have two
daughters. One hopes to follow Eva’s career path and become a teacher.
Eva lived in Corunna including some time in her apartment in Thompson
Gardens before moving to Petrolia. She has always enjoyed reading and
activities at her church, Corunna United, which has been very good to
her. Eva has lots of visitors including a recent good visit with her
Best Wishes from RTO to Eva on her special
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.
Bergeron, a New Year’s baby, was born in Moonbeam, Ontario. He
was one of five sons in a family of eight children. His dad
was a carpenter. Elie moved to Kapuskasing, a one industry
town, to work in the paper mill along with two of his
brothers. At the time the mill made Kleenex and newsprint for
the New York Times. Even before the mill was plagued by a
strike and a major accident involving loss of lives, Elie had
moved south with his wife and children. They felt they would
find more opportunities and a better climate.
He says, “My
kids are grateful.”
After the move to this banana belt,
Elie worked as a carpenter for a number of years in Michigan
before finishing his career in Sarnia. His late wife, Jeanne,
taught in the north and will be remembered by colleagues who
taught at St. Thomas Aquinas and Bright’s Grove. Jeanne and
Elie enjoyed more than seventy years of marriage and Eli has
the greetings from the Queen and Prime Minister Trudeau to
prove it. They raised four children, two daughters and two
sons. Three granddaughters and a grandson live in Ontario and
twin grandsons live in Michigan. One granddaughter is a French
teacher like her grandmother.
Elie has shared his talents
over the years with the Knights of Columbus which he joined in
1951. He attends mass regularly.
Today, he enjoys visits
with his family and friends, and musical performances at
Vision Rest Home where he resides. Elie is a joyful guy with a
great sense of humour. He is a “people” person and a wonderful
story teller. His stories are illustrated with a roomful of
Best Wishes, Elie!
Celebrates 100th Birthday
At the age of 100
years and two days, Marion joined a daughter and son-in-law in
a new adventure in their new home in the Lighthouse Cove area
by Lake St. Clair. In recent years Marion has lived at
London’s Masonville Manor near another daughter and her
Marion was born in Dresden and part way through
Grade Nine moved to Ridgetown.
Later as newly weds during
World War II, Marion and her husband Bob worked in ammunitions
factories in Montreal. Then they had their family of two
daughters and two sons.
Marion says, “ I had two children
in the 1940s and later two in the 1950s. I knew little of
raising children and followed Dr. Spock’s book with good
results for the first two children. The book was useless for
raising children in the sixties!” By then Marion had
abandoned Spock and still had equally good outcomes with her
younger children. Marion has a great sense of humour! The
attached birthday photos of Marion attest to that!
good factory jobs but hated them. Finally, a fellow member of
a club in Chatham suggested teaching. Bob found his niche and
enjoyed that career even though the pay was not as good as his
factory work. His first teaching job was in a one room rural
school called Maple Leaf
School in Tilbury East. In 1951 he
earned $2000 a year with an extra $350 for janitor work.
In 1954 he switched to Tilbury District High School. He often
attended night school. He received his BA from Assumption
(Windsor) which at that time was affiliated with Western
University. From 1959 to 1965 he taught in his home town of
Blenheim. Bob then moved to Wallaceburg (WDSS) high school. At
that time the Mummerys made their home in Lambton, first in
Port Lambton and in 1988 moved to Grand Bend. In 1982 Bob had
retired after thirty-two years of teaching. He and Marion
spent twenty winters in Florida.
Marion and Bob were active
in political life. She continues her interest. She has seen
many changes in 100 years, not all good, she says. Today she
wonders about what is happening to unions. She appreciates all
the support she has had from the teachers’ groups.
everywhere Marion has lived she has played bridge and enjoyed
teaching bridge. She and Bob were also avid golfers until
their nineties. They had golf memberships at Oakwood Golf
Course for many years while living at Grand Cove Estates in
Church has always played a big part in
Marions’s life since christening, Sunday School and youth
group. She and Bob served as ushers and greeters at the
Anglican church in Grand Bend, St. John’s by the Lake.
RTO wishes Marion all the best as she enters her 101st year in
the her new home!
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.
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 95TH
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
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!!
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!
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
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.
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.
The Goodwill Committee will be
including a business card inside each birthday card for those turning 80. This card has contact
names, telephone numbers and email addresses for all our committee
members. These cards will also be available at the No-Bells breakfast,
Executive meetings, the General meetings in December and June, or by
Please contact a committee member
when sending a card would be appropriate for you or another RTO member.
(e.g. special anniversary, illness, marriage, hospitalization, thinking of
you, death of a family member, special milestone-becoming a first-time
Birthday cards sent to people in their 80's and
Dorothy Acton, Marie Aicken, Melba Alexander,
George Allan, Janet Allen, Carolyn Arnold, Janice Baker, Evelyn Ball, June Bannister,
Ellie Bergeron, Doreen Blake, Helen Cassidy, John Clarke, George Bice, Bill Blake, Pauline
Bourassa, Al Breakevelt,
Ivan Glen Brooks,
Helen Cassidy, Patricia Charpentier, John Choy, Eval
Dalrymple, Bill Danylchuk, Edward Davies, Joanne DeGurse, Nadyne Dell, Ken Dennis, Douglas Dew, Lois Dixon,
Doolittle, Marion Douey, Joan Downie, Karen Duchene, Mary Edgar, Lorraine Erickson,
Lloyd Eyer, Barbara Feaver, Caroline Fera, Margaret Fera, Phyllis Ferguson,
Betty Fitchett, Ivan Ford, Rome Forgues, Eleanor Forsyth, Alice Francis,
Warner French, Emily Gaborko, Marilyn Garrett, Mary Helen Garvie, David Gilham, Corinne
Gill, Alexia Gladdy, John Gormley, Eugene Graham, Jocelyn Griffiths, Jean
Haggitt, Tom Hamilton, James Hardy, Frances
Catherine Hefferman, Patrick Heisler, Sherry Hext, Irene Hill, Joan Hinch,
Gladys Howarth, Virginia Hunt, John Hunter,
Christie Johnston, Vera Johnston,
Phyllis Johnston, James Kaempf, Gladys Kells,
Joan Kerwin, Glen Kinna, John Knackstedt, Jacqueline Krech, Barbara Lampman, Gladys Lang,
Stella Marie Lannon, Ada Laurene, Evelyn Lecky,
Nathley Leitch, Germaine Lepage,
Bonnie Lester, Jules Levesque, Frances Lewis, Linda Lewis, John Lewis, Joshua Lipszyc, Arthur Lloyd, Thelma Loosemore, Wilma Love,
Robert Machan, Joan MacDonald, Margaret MacDonald, Joan MacDonald, Margaret MacDonald,
Doris McArthur, Jim McArthur, Mary Jane McArthur, Bob
McCarthy, Shirley McFarlane, Shirley MacMillan,
Gene McCaffrey, Ben McCall,
Monica McCall, William McCordic, Louise McQueen, James McVicar, Marilyn Maderey, Lois Marley, Joe Matz,
Howard Maw, Murray
Metcalfe, James Miller, Mary Anne Miller, Barb Moore, Ronald Morphew, Fred Moss, Marion Mummery, Robert Mummery,
Mutton, Fred Meyers, Lois O'Harare, Florence Park, Eilene Patterson,
Arnold Pole, Wilfred Pole, Barbara Porter, Sara Puthuvelil,
Denise Raiche, Eleanor Ritchie,
Elsie Robbins, Doris Robinson, Marie Rutledge, James Savage, Donald Sawyer, Elsie
Scott, Lawrence Scully, Melvin Seward, Ada Laurene
Thomas Shaw, Dorothy Shea, Geraldine Sheppard, Joyce Skuce, Wilf Spivey, Ross Stephenson, John Stewart,
Phyllis Sutherland, Marlyn Swan, Julius Szabo, Terry Taylor, Esther Tebbens, Elizabeth Tighe, Shirley Thompson, Sar
Townsend, Elizabeth Vanderhoeden, Eleanor Vargo, June Verbeem, Dorothy Vogt, Dorothea Vokes,
Bob Volland, Mary Wade,
Audrey Wagner, Emmy Wassenaar, Shirley Wilton, Glenda Welsh, Barb White, Mary Williamson, Doris Withernshaw, Maria Wolff,