The Early Years: 1970 - 1979 & 1980-1983

A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Part Two: In the Beginning…

The Early Years: 1970 - 1979

On June 3, 1970, only two years after the Provincial Head Office of STO (Superannuated Teachers of Ontario) was established, a small group of superannuated (retired) teachers from Kenora and Dryden met in Kenora with Mr. & Mrs. T. McKee, from Thunder Bay, and formed an STO group to represent Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Dryden. The first Chair was Sybil Willard of Dryden, Vice Chair Marie Lacombe of Kenora and Secretary Myrtle Heard of Dryden. At this point, everyone from Thunder Bay west to the Manitoba border was designated Area 1

On May 1, 1971 the second Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in Dryden and the third AGM was held in Kenora on September, 11, 1973. The members were informed that northwestern Ontario was divided into two Districts with Kenora and Fort Frances (Rainy River) forming one district [District 1], and Dryden and Thunder Bay forming the other district [District 2].

At the AGM in Kenora on June 28, 1974 it was decided that the Fort Frances (Rainy River) Unit Executive would represent the district for the first two years and the Kenora Unit Executive would represent the district for the following two years. However, concerns were expressed about the difficulties encountered in trying to hold meetings which would be representative of both areas. At the annual general meeting in May, 1975 it was recommended to the Provincial Executive that the District be split into two districts (with each district organizing two or more Units within the district): Fort Frances/Rainy River would remain District 1 and Kenora/Dryden would become District 26. This request was communicated to the Provincial Office in May of 1975 and enacted on June 26, 1975. District 1 (Fort Frances/Rainy River) and District 26 (Kenora/Dryden) took their seats at the appropriate tables at the fall Senate. This arrangement continued for the next five years, when it became apparent that the distance between Kenora and Dryden made that arrangement untenable.

The First Three Years of the Dryden Unit 1980-1983

Prior to 1980 teachers in the Dryden area who retired, could join the Provincial organization of retired teachers known as the Superannuated Teachers of Ontario (STO). The province was divided into districts and District 26, which served the Dryden area, was based in Kenora.

1980 In December, eight STO members from the Dryden area gathered in the Dryden Athletic and Recreation Commission (DARC) meeting room at the Recreation Complex to discuss the possibility of organizing a Dryden Unit of STO They included Sybil Willard, Glen Hamilton, Vera Lavallee, Isabelle Salter, Gordon Wood, Myrtle Heard and Bert Dunlop. The Kenora Unit would encompass west of Vermilion Bay to the Manitoba Border and the Dryden Unit would encompass Vermilion Bay, north to Red Lake and east to Dryden, Sioux Lookout and Ignace. Annual fees would be $2.00.

1981 At a meeting of District 26 held on January 25, 1981 in Kenora, it was agreed to establish two Units and the Provincial Executive was informed. The annual grant from the province for District 26 amounted to a total of $ 700.00, of which $ 200 was allocated to the District Executive and $ 250 to each of the Unit executives. Each Unit would prepare a Financial & Activity report in September for the District Executive and the combined report would be sent to the Provincial Executive District 26 would send a member to the Annual Provincial STO Senate in Toronto. The Dryden (Unit 2) Executive consisted of President: Sybil Willard, Secretary: Glen Hamilton, Treasurer: Isabelle Salter, Goodwill Chair: Mildred Armstrong, and Social Committee: Harry McMaster, Ry Wing, Vera Lavallee and Velma Beyette.

The District 26 Executive would consist of the combined executives of Units 1 and 2. Out-of-town travel expenses on STO business would be reimbursed for the cost of gasoline. At this time the STO Group Health Insurance Plan was provided by Co-Op Health Services of Ontario (CHSO) who issued booklets outlining coverage. However, according to the report on the 20th Senate meeting in Toronto held at the Park Plaza hotel, submitted by Mr. J.M. Forbes, the District 26 Senator, the “charges which were laid in connection with the misappropriation of funds which caused the collapse of CHSO” were to be tried in July, and as a result, Confederation Life was chosen to take over as of Feb. 1st, 1981, as the Health Benefits Insurance provider for STO members, with new booklets to be issued.

It is interesting to note that in this same report, a reference was made to the fact that Confederation Life did not offer Travel Insurance and STO members were advised to apply for such insurance through other companies such as Blue Cross. Furthermore, it was noted that STO members were asked to “please remind your doctor to prescribe generic drugs which will be paid for by the provincial government. Drug claims on our STO Extended Health Care plan are still VERY HIGH.” The financial statement presented at this Senate “showed total assets of $ 238,269. The sum of $ 155,255 had been received from the Superannuation Commission, this being the amount of STO fees deducted from monthly cheques of superannuated teachers.”

A change in the venue of future Senate meetings was made when the Park Plaza required a guarantee of 100 rooms for the Senate delegates and STO could only guarantee 30 to 40 rooms. The Chelsea Inn was chosen as the new venue for the fall Senate and for the two Senates in 1982. “In 1979 O.T.F [the Ontario Teachers Federation] initiated a programme of workshops for Personal Planning. One of these was to be held in Kenora on May 15th, 1982 and another one would be held in Dryden on May 14th, 1983.”

In the minutes of a luncheon meeting of the Dryden Unit of STO, held at the Best Western on May 25th, 1981, the following were in attendance: Sybil & Frank Willard, Glen & Eunice Hamilton, Ry Wing, Enid & Gordon Wood, Marguerite Adis, Eva Latimer, Anne Groves, Mona Clark, Bobbi Gardiner, Mildred Armstrong, Eva Dunlop, Olive Reany and Denise Andersen. At the September, 1981 Dryden Unit meeting the names of Hank Parks and Muriel Reany appeared as attendees. On November 24, 1981 the first edition of the District 26 newsletter was printed with Jim Forbes as editor. Denise Andersen was the Dryden Unit reporter.

A Draft of a Motion by North York (District 23) of STO, to be presented at the Fall 1981 Senate, referred to the need to fully index the STO pensions to the Cost of Living Index, in order to make them comparable to teacher pensions in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec and the long time practice of fully indexed pensions for Old Age Pensioners, Civil Servants, the Army, and retired Members of Parliament. Since 1974 the annual increase had been capped at a rate of approximately 8%. Since 1974 the Cost of Living Index had steadily risen above 8% and was expected to continue at a high level well beyond 8%. The proposed motion would request that the STO Senate ask the Minister of Education to amend the Teachers Superannuation Adjustment Act so that Indexing coincided with the increase in the Cost of Living. Any increase was to be payable to all superannuated teachers effective Jan. 1st, 1982.

New names appearing at the October meeting of the Dryden Unit of District 26 STO included Betty Hawke, and Hazel Woodring.

1983 The minutes of the June, meeting included Laura Howe as an attendee. Senator Sybil Willard reported on the District meeting and read a letter from the Provincial STO concerning “Project Overseas” which asked for volunteers to assist in training teachers in the African Republic of Gambia. The letter head for the District 26 Newsletter contained the motto “Service.To.Others”.

New names appearing in the minutes of the Dryden Unit September, 1983 meeting included Pansy Howell, Art Gillespie, Marj Hill, Rhoda Gamble, Barbara Hampe,and Andy Sinclair. By this time three other positions for the Dryden Unit had been established, in addition to the standard President, Vice-President, Secretary & Treasurer, which were Social Convenor (Harry McMaster and his committee members Velma Beyette, Marguerite Adis and Mildred Cadario), Goodwill  (Mildred Armstrong) and a phoning committee.

During these first three years a number of Provincial Executive members, such as Clare Perry, Secretary-Treasurer, attended the Dryden Unit luncheon meetings to inform members about changes and developments. In the future the Social Committee would arrange for other guest speakers to make presentations on various topics of interest. Opportunities for members to participate in area outings and trips to Winnipeg were also part of the Unit’s activities during its first three years of operation.