Marianne - Author and Historian

An excerpt from A Teacher's Story:
Forest Grove 1951

Image from A Teachers Story

Later that fall, Principal Kyall and I assumed bachelor status in the new teacherage, a small house built by the school board. District 27 pioneered such facilities as a means of recruiting and retaining teachers from urban areas, although I stayed only a year and Dyne two or perhaps three. The teacherage still stands in good shape today, located near the junction of the Forest Grove and Canim Lake Roads, the first house on the left on Eagle Creek Road.

In regard to housekeeping at the teacherage, our division of labour was simple. Week about, one of us would shop, cook and wash up. Though we often ate fresh fish and game, we relied heavily on canned fruit and vegetables, boxed cereals and powdered milk. District 27 supplied cutlery and crockery.

The other would see to everything else, first priority being to maintain a steady supply of dry kindling, paper and matches and to keep the woodbox full. Second in importance was ensuring that the Coleman lamps were never short of fluid or correctly functioning mantles.
We had a cold water supply indoors. But we counted on the stove’s limited reservoir for incidental hot water, which in greater quantities for baths or hand laundry, we heated in cauldrons on the stove top. There was a small space designated as a bathroom but it contained neither bath nor sink nor plumbing of any sort. If you needed a bath you filled two round galvanized iron wash tubs with heated water, sat in one, and placed your feet in the other. In this curious position, you did the best you could with soap and scrubbing brushes. We shaved at the kitchen sink. Instead of an indoor toilet, we used an outhouse and gradually adapted to its winter chills and summer wasp nests.

Our living room was a warm, comfortable space. With our school preparations for the next day and our other responsibilities taken care of, we sometimes read or even practised a few tunes, Dyne on his trumpet or ukulele banjo, I on my harmonica or guitar.

What I most remember, however, were our professional exchanges after supper. Years later I was to write that on these occasions,
“Dyne would respond good-naturedly to my urgent questions about how to teach four grades at once. Or, tobacco pipe aglow, he would reflect on wider professional issues – the need , for instance, to afford each child at the Grove and elsewhere a significant educational chance in life. Dyne loved people, music, laughter and ran a predictable, productive, respectful school with a co-curricular program ahead of its time and location.

In one of his chemistry classes, Mr. Kyall generated hydrogen gas with which he inflated several decorative balloons. The whole school and not a few residents in the neighbourhood turned out to witness their launching. One of the balloons got temporarily snagged in the topmost branches of the tallest tree. But, to the cheers of the audience, it eventually shook loose and with the others, soared away in the direction of Lone Butte.

At these times I saw Mr. Kyall all of a piece. For him in those days, teaching was no mere nine o’clock to three o’clock interlude. It was as David Denton once put it, ‘a mode of being in the world’. What he knew and conveyed, the way he prepared, and the teaching methods he employed were, to be sure, necessary to his accomplishments. Who he was, was pivotal.”

All of the Forest Grove teachers were handsomely treated. We were part of the community, invited to house parties and dances. We teachers would also get together frequently in Williams Lake where Dyne had taught. At the teacherage in Forest Grove, music was always part of the gatherings. Dyne’s trumpet was heard on the main road many a time at 2 a.m.

We were so much part of the community that we were on the “anonymous list”. When it wasn’t quite hunting season, there’d be a knock on the door after dark. A hand would thrust a package at you and disappear. By way of sharing the blame, once in awhile there’d be a warning that would travel from Williams Lake by telegraph to housewives along the way stations of the PGE Railway.


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