Thanks for the memories

Thanks for the memories Re Elaine Hurlburt's story Does it Ring a Bell? in your December 7 Yukon News: The answer is yes. I though you might like some comment from someone who was there. I was the first teacher in the Haines Junction school (in the recre

Re Elaine Hurlburt’s story Does it Ring a Bell? in your December 7 Yukon News:

The answer is yes.

I though you might like some comment from someone who was there.

I was the first teacher in the Haines Junction school (in the recreation hall of the maintenance camps).

My contract was for one year (1949-1950). My wage was $100 a month with a teacherage for living quarters. The wages were for 12 months.

This was quite a jump for wages from Fort St. John (primary grades) which had been $90 a month for 10 months and no lodging.

I arrived on September 1, 1949, as arranged, and stayed at Sally and John Blake’s lodge because the school and the teacherage were not ready.

As I remember (it was 60 years ago), there were no books or school supplies Ð but we did eventually get organized and the children came. As well as those from the maintenance camp, there were some children from the lodge (John and Sally had two daughters), the store, the RCMP and some very shy native children from the experimental farm (12 miles up the highway) Ð Grades 1 to 8.

I wasn’t a city girl. I was raised on a homestead near Fort St. John, BC, Ð I attended a one-room country school, Grades 1 to 8 Ð and between correspondence courses and a one-room high school in Fort St. John. I went to Normal School (teacher’s training) in Vancouver.

After graduating, I came back to Fort St. John and taught primary Grades 1 to 4. This was at the time when the Alaska Highway was being built and the workers brought up their families Ð and came and went.

I had 59 kids on my roll call that year (but not all attending at the same time).

After two years, I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, was a clerk accountant there and, after discharge, came back to Fort St. John to teach Grade 1 (salary was still $90 a month, and no lodging).

I really enjoyed my year at Haines Junction. The parents and kids were wonderful and I hope they learned a little.

I managed to get up and down the Alaska Highway and over the road to Alaska (this is where the Haines (Alaska) and the Junction come from).

When I came up I was engaged to be married to Don Peck (a well-known big game guide and outfitter).

When the end of June came, he drove up the Alaska Highway to get me. We were married in Whitehorse at the Old Log Church and headed down the Alaska Highway to our lodge at Mile 200 Ð a half mile down from the maintenance camp.

After 14 years and four kids later, we moved back to Fort St. John where there would be high school hockey for both the boys and the girls.

Although I’ve been back to the Yukon on a tour, the route didn’t take in Haines Junction.

I’m sorry about that. That year spent up there was a great memory.

Alene Peck

Fort St. John