June 23, 2005
Yesterday we hung a very special picture on the living room wall of our new home. It is a print by Royce Simpson of Creighton Mine Public School which my husband purchased for me several years ago. I had it framed for our new dwelling and it was beautifully done. In fact it takes my breath away as wonderful memories keep pouring in as I gaze at the picture. Memories of friends, teachers and colleagues. Friends, like Jeannie (Palys) Rouleau, Joan Villeneuve, Wendy and Penny Drennan, Judi Massey, Frances Peacock, Mae Kierans, Shirley Ingraham, Sheila Quinn, just to name a few. Interestingly enough, I have been in touch with most of the above either by seeing them, through this wonderful website, or by snail mail. I remember the Drennan girls, Judi Massey, and Sheila Quinn coming to play with us at what later became known as the Conservation Club, but was Ranta’s farm when we lived there in 1952-3. The cold did not stop them from taking that long walk and we were most happy to have playmates. My brothers, Ronald, Willy and I walked to school from there every day and mom used to tell us that none of us were sick one day that year! At school we were met by kindness and warmth both physical and emotional. Miss Black couldn’t do enough to make us feel welcome and part of the wonderful community that was Creighton Mine Public School. We were so fortunate to have her as our principal! Of course we loved her! Didn’t everyone? My teacher was Mr. MacNaughton that year and he also went out of his way to help me learn English grammar and spelling and taught me a great deal as to what a good teacher should be. I think the desire to become a teacher was planted in me by him. I have thanked him mentally often for that spark.
When I graduated from North Bay Teachers’ College in 1962, there was no doubt as to where I wanted to start my teaching career. Mr. Gordon Whalen hired me and I couldn’t wait for school to start that September! My salary for that first year was the princely sum of $3200.
As I walked up to the school that first day, I wondered how long it would take Mr. Whalen to discover that I really had no idea how to start my day. What was I doing at the front of this class of 32 trusting 8 and 9 year-olds? Fear as well as excitement were my overwhelming emotions that day!
I lived at the Teachers’ Residence with two other first year teachers, Helen Hughes and Barbara Fraser as well as veterans, Eileen Mulligan, Jim Kaay, Muriel Bertrand, Hugh Imerson and Lois Cramm. What fun we had! Hallowe’en parties, Christmas parties, sometimes parties for no reason at all! We new teachers also learned a great deal from our experienced colleagues.
Amazing what hanging a meaningful picture on the wall can do to one’s mind. I will treasure it and the memories for the rest of my days!