Ellen Ferguson, Clara Ritcey and Hazel Wadlegger all spent happy childhoods in the wilds of Upper Clearwater, near Wells Gray Park.
That was more than 50 years ago, in the days when the road leading north from the village of Clearwater was hardly more than a slightly widened deer trail.
On Sunday, the trio invites the public for tea at the old Upper Clearwater School (now the Wells Gray Education and Research Centre), as the women reminisce about what it was like to attend that one-room school house.
Their presentation is part of the Wells Gray World Heritage series and it begins at 1 p.m. at the Wells Gray Education and Research Station, an old red schoolhouse located 26 kilometres north on Clearwater on the road to Wells Gray Park. Admission is by donation.
Formal schooling arrived in Upper Clearwater in 1938 and continued intermittently until 1964 when the valley’s children began to be bused down to Clearwater.
Teachers had to be “imported” from outside the valley. They boarded with one of the local families or, later, they lived in the small one-room building — a “teacherage” — that still stands next to the old red schoolhouse. Many of these teachers lived alone. Not too surprisingly, few of them stayed in the valley more than a year.
For the students, life was harder than today but in some ways perhaps a little better. Enrolment was low — only about eight or 10 students in the entire school — so the children got more individual attention.
But supplies were scarce in those days.
“We didn’t even have toilet paper for the outhouse,” recalls Ritcey.
“We used mail order catalogues instead.”
Ritcey’s memories and those of Ferguson and Wadlegger will no doubt make for an interesting presentation.