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Ruby McBeth: Retracing pioner school journeys

Consolidation of rural schools couldn’t happen before the roads were made all-weather roads. When teachers and school buses couldn’t be sure they’d get to school, there had to be neighbourhood schools with teacherages.
alces-school-FSJNPMuseum-Archives-I984.51.17.
Black and white photograph of a group of children choosing books outside of Alces School, Oct. 31, 1963. Fort St. John North Peace Museum Archives I984.51.17.

Consolidation of rural schools couldn’t happen before the roads were made all-weather roads. When teachers and school buses couldn’t be sure they’d get to school, there had to be neighbourhood schools with teacherages.

Many teachers got their start in small rural schools. Laurie (Davidson) Hunter first taught at Alces near Clayhurst, and Sam and Mildred Fenimore taught at Flatrock before working at Bert Bowes. When the roads were improved, schools like Clearview opened.

Don Perry, who was principal of Clearview in 1996, tells in the Cecil Lake history book ‘A Community Remembers’ that problems with roads could still happen:

“The first spring 1997 that the new road was open we were surprised to be notified early one morning that there had been a slide and the road was blocked. Six Clearview teachers who were commuting from FSJ at that time left town extra early, thinking that they would be able to get to school by travelling north through the Doig and back down the Siphon Creek road.

“It was rough and muddy but we thought that we were doing well- until we got to a bad stretch which had a grader stuck in the middle of the road. There was no alternative but to turn around and go back to Fort St. John. We then drove south to Farmington and cut across to Rolla (via Sweetwater Road) and then north to Clayhurst, Flatrock and School.”

Because of the Sunday drives Lorne and I have made in the past few months, I am able to follow Don’s story easily.

Farewell Jennifer Dodd

Jennifer (Jenny) Dodd came to Fort St. John to teach science at Bert Bowes in the fall of 1968. After years of successful teaching Jenny went to Memorial University in Newfoundland for a doctorate in education.

In retirement Jenny took up singing in choirs and when she returned to Fort St. John to be near her son, she joined the Fort St. John Community choir.

Our condolences go out to Jenny’s family and friends.

COVID-19 update

Yippee, the vaccines are here and coming soon to seniors over 80. Information on how to apply should be out soon.

Chalk Guy is back

Maxine Bennett long-time Two Rivers resident now living in Oliver shared another Chalk Guy video. Google “Chalk Guy is back” to see incredible 3-D chalk drawings.

Quote of the Week

“Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgiveable.” - Joe Biden

Ruby McBeth is a community columnist and lives in Fort St. John.