Years 1998-2002

A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Part Six: 1998 -2002

1998-1999 - The June edition of the District 35 STO/RTO newsletter commended Marg Obee , Principal of Eagle River School and Dave Ward of the Dryden High School Communications Program. Each was selected by the Toronto Sun as a provincial “Teacher of the Year” in the elementary and secondary teacher category respectively. Ten teachers in the province of Ontario are given this award annually. Sharon McGregor became the President of District 35 STO/RTO/ERO in June. A post card campaign was initiated expressing concerns about the Provincial Government’s proposed changes to the Pension Act contained in the April Throne Speech. As a result, 22,000 signed petitions and post cards were presented by Provincial RTO President, Jim Baker, to Dave Johnson, Minister of Education and Training, and to Chris Hodgson, Chair of Management Board. The effectiveness of this action was shown when the Provincial Government stated that they “will also work to ensure that the voice of retired teachers is heard in decisions about the pension plan of which they are beneficiaries.” 1999 was designated the International Year of the Older Person (I.Y.O.P.). To mark this occasion, District 35 STO/RTO members applied for provincial grants and planted a flower bed depicting the I.Y.O.P. logo at the Dryden Chamber of Commerce (now “Naked North Gallery”) complete with a plaque explaining the logo. A Tea was held in conjunction with the sod turning ceremony for our “Home for the Aged,” across from the Library, which would eventually become Patricia Gardens and Princess Court. A picnic outing to Aaron Park for Seniors in the Dryden area was also planned for August. New retirees joining District 35 STO/RTO included Linda Anderson, Muriel Anderson, Bob Bonham, Suzanne Borst, Jeanne Bryan, Lynne Euler, George Florence, Jack Grant, Karl Johnson, Brian Kenny, Richard Kusano, Rolande Nault, Paula Pizziol, Barry Sampson, Carolyn Stratford, John Toft and Del Whiteside. Provincial RTO President Jim Baker attended the September luncheon and Geordie McEwen updated the members on the progress of the construction of the Extended Care Home (Patricia Gardens). Other guest speakers included Dr. Zmiyiwsky speaking on conditions in Panama and Brian Kenny about St Lucia where he travelled under the sponsorship of the Organization for Co-Operation in Overseas Development The December edition of “The Thirty 5th Estate” contained the RTO logo (Retired Teachers of Ontario) for the first time. This is a valuable clarification as I suspect there were many (like myself) who didn’t understand that the term “superannuated” meant “retired”. An article in this edition acknowledged Ruth Moore’s excellence as a pilot, having earned her Private Pilot’s Licence while attending high school in Fort William (Thunder Bay) in 1952, her Commercial Pilot’s Licence in 1954 and her Instructor’s Licence in 1958. She taught school and flew in Kenora where she met Larry Moore who was a member of the Ontario Provincial Police. They married and moved to Red Lake where Ruth continued to teach elementary school, fly a Cessna 180 and teach flying. In December the members in Red Lake applied through District 35 to have a unit established for their area which included Cochenour, Madsen, MacKenzie Island, Ear Falls and Perreault Falls as well as Red Lake. As a result Unit 2 of District 35 was established with the Unit 2 executive comprised of Andrea Winik (President), Janet Duncan (Vice), Anna Lane (Secretary) and Peggy Bourassa (Treasurer).

1999-2000 - Bill Salonen became the new President of District 35 RTO. One of the projects mentioned in the June 1999 newsletter referred to a number of District 35 RTO members who would be working in partnership with the area seniors and the Dryden Museum to develop a pictorial history of Dryden and the surrounding area. Old photographs would be sought and of these, 50 would be selected for enlargement for an exhibition in January and February, 2000. They would then form the basis for a pictorial history booklet for the Millennium Project. New retirees joining District 35 RTO included Dennis Arrowsmith, Maureen Hamilton, Roberta Grebstad, Gaylord (Whitey) Albaugh, Katie Knudsen and Dave Roberts. Province wide, RTO involved 40,000 members who could be mobilized to voice concerns affecting pensioners in general and retired teachers in particular. Sharon McGregor, Bill Salonen, Randi Nielsen and Velma Neill travelled to Balmertown (Red Lake) to attend the inaugural meeting on October 5th of the Red Lake Unit.  It was also noted that the members of District 35 RTO had been invited to provide birthday entertainment annually at Patricia Gardens for the month of January for all of the residents. Birthdays celebrated included Anne Groves, Hilda Jaggi, Yvette Bontaux and Elsie McKenzie. Mary Ann Misner’s history of Albert Street School was reprinted in the June edition of “The Thirty 5th Estate”. Guest speakers at the District 35 RTO luncheons included Thea McMonagle from the Dryden Adult Education Program speaking about computers and the special interest courses available to seniors, Lea Gardner from the Dryden & District Museum speaking about the 50 archival photos that were enlarged and displayed at the museum, Bill Dawes, Vice Chair of the Keewatin Patricia District School Board speaking about the planned Dryden Regional Training and Cultural Centre to be located on the former Albert Street School site, and Althea George, who spoke at the May luncheon in Sioux Lookout about her trip to India where she distributed 532 hand knitted toques provided by the people of Sioux Lookout for children and adults.

2000-2001 - Brian Kenny was appointed Chair of the Provincial Political Action Committee for a three year term, Randi Nielsen continued to serve on the Provincial Project Service to Others Committee, and Keith Humphrey continued as a member of the Provincial Health and Insurance Committee. The Provincial Members Services Committee established that a grant of 40 cents per District member will be given to districts for dispersal through “Goodwill” activities (cards, flowers, Memoriam Donations, etc.). Province wide R.T.O. membership totaled 44,500. As of Sept 1st, 2000, Barry Sampson took on the responsibility as Treasurer of District 35 from Bob Bonham. Guest speaker at the October luncheon was Trudy Griffiths who spoke about her role as the chair of the Ontario Parent Council. At the end of the Millennium year, membership in District 35 RTO stood at 107 active members, 4 associate members and 12 members in the Red Lake Unit. “A Brief History of District 35” was prepared by Harry McMaster, Winnie Coutts and Sybil Willard and printed in the November 2000 edition of “The Thirty 5th Estate”.

2001/2002 - Randi Nielsen became President of District 35 RTO When Frank Clarke offered his services as District 35 Webmaster, Wilmer Errington agreed to resume his post as newsletter editor, and when Sally Rowat returned to work full time and Dave Ward moved to Woodstock, two vacancies were left to fill. The executive of the Red Lake Unit consisted of Andrea Winik (President), Janet Duncan (Vice), Anna Lane (Secretary), Peggy Bourassa (Treasurer), and Ethel Dodd (Membership and Political Action). As a Service to Others’ project, the Red Lake Unit planted and maintained a flower bed at the Recreation Centre in Balmertown. They planned to continue with this project in the summer. Condolences were sent to the families of Bill Aitken and Anne Groves. New retirees welcomed into District 35 RTO included Joy Brown, Mary Case, Frank Clarke, Lynne Dingwall, Bruce Hemsworth, Dianne McFayden, Alda J. McKay, Louis Melanson, Frank Morris and Dave Schultz. Phoning Committee chair, Lynne Euler acknowledged the valuable service provided by members of her committee: Denise Andersen, Mary Bortolot, Shirley Errington, Roberta Grebstad, Velma Neill, Fran Pringle, Dave Roberts, Linda Salonen, Isabelle Salter, Carolyn Stratford, Shirley Wilson and Mary and Gary Case. Instructor Thea McMonagle at the Adult Education and Training Centre of the Keewatin-Patricia Board of Education invited District 35 RTO members to sign up for a “Basic Computers For Seniors” course. The cost would be $ 30 for 2 ½ hour sessions each week for 15 weeks. The United Nations designated 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers. Many members of District 35 contributed countless hours as volunteers each year. The District 35 executive hosted a meeting with RTO/ERO executives from Fort Frances and Kenora. A large number of people joined the ranks of District 35 RTO/ERO this year: Carol Orvis, June Aitken, Donna Hampe, Osvalda Franklin, Eric Johnston, Tannis Williams, Joan Fossey and Elsie Humphrey, Carmene Hampe, Bob Hamilton, Judith Hamilton, Terry Pettapiece, Robbie Pettapiece, Sharon Delong, Dianne Chappell, Betty Lyle, Sandra Bourre, Lorraine Marston, Gail Goldrup, Jim Sims, Mark Tinkess, Faye Besselt, Barbara Bond, Ross Bolton and Dee Tuyl. A number of guest speakers addressed the District 35 RTO/ERO members at their monthly luncheons. These included Fred Van Vogt speaking on the importance of a “Power of Attorney”, Norm Bush on the Dryden Weyerhaeuser Mill operations, Bev Polowy from the Provincial RTO/ERO Executive and Richard Wetelainen who took members on a “Visual Wabigoon Tour”. Condolences were sent to the family of Keith Humphrey.