A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Jan 30, 2023

A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Written by Bob Hamilton

Part One: Ontario Teachers’ Pensions Prior to 1986

This summary is based on the information provided in Robert L. Lamb’s 1989 publication, “The First Generation: The Superannuated Teachers of Ontario [1968-1988]” which is a history of the creation and development of the Superannuated [Retired] Teachers of Ontario  [STO] and the Ontario Teachers’ Superannuation [Pension] Fund.

1853 – 1908 We can go all the way back to 1853 in Upper Canada [Ontario] when Edgerton Ryerson created the “Ryerson Pension Fund” which provided 500 pounds sterling [$ 2000] per annum  from the government to provide support for the “worn out Common School Teachers of Upper Canada”, an amount which was later doubled and then tripled. By 1860 the average pension amounted to $ 26.54. Working teachers were expected to contribute $ 4 per annum. The new plan of 1871 incorporated many of the criteria which are still in place today: service time, age, disability, refunds and survivor benefits. Linking pension benefits to quality of certification or kind of teaching post is now reflected in the greater salaries for teachers who have advanced academic qualifications (e.g. M.A.’s) and/or who hold positions of responsibility (e.g. Department or Program Heads, Principals, etc.). In 1885 the Fund was closed to all teachers except those who were already members. Teachers new to the profession from 1885 to 1917 had no access to the Fund, although individual school boards might have some sort of fund of its own.

1908 – 1965 However, efforts continued to develop a scheme to replace the “Ryerson Pension Fund” and an actuarial study was undertaken in 1908, but delays prevented realization until the Teachers’ Alliance (and others) brought sufficient pressure to bear on the Provincial Government for the Minister to appoint Prof. M.A. MacKenzie (Commission Actuary 1917-44) to prepare a plan acceptable to teachers and government. This plan proved to be very popular with teachers but it was still some time before all the needed signatures were in place and the “Teachers’ and Inspectors’ Superannuation Act” implemented in April, 1917. Teacher contributions of 2.5% of salary (raised to 3% in 1936 and to 4% later) were to be matched by the Treasurer of Ontario. The minimum pension would be $ 500 (increased to $ 1,200 in 1967 and $ 2,100 in 1970) and the maximum would be $ 1500 per annum, based on entire career average salary. The maximum limit was removed in 1953 and in 1954 the calculation was based on a person’s best 10 years, and in 1966 on the best 7 years.

1965 – 1970 In 1965 the Federal Government introduced the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). Premier Robarts decided that the CPP should be “integrated into” rather than “stacked upon” the Teachers’ Pension Plan, i.e. that the amount of teacher pension, received by a teacher, would be reduced by the amount that the teacher received from the CPP when the CPP kicked in (i.e. at age 65). To sweeten the deal and have it be ratified by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF), the Premier implemented the “Best of 5” basis for pension calculation. When the Secretary of OTF, Marion Tyrrel, asked what could be done to improve the lot of teachers already on pension, and was told “nothing”, she suggested to Art McAdam [an OTF Governor from Toronto], that the retired teachers should get organized and together with OTF could apply pressure on the government.

McAdam, together with Norman McLeod [1st President of OTF, 1944], struck a committee of 10 retired teachers (2 from each affiliate) and in 1967 produced a report of the “Interim Committee for the Superannuated Teachers of Ontario” and on March 14, 1968 the first election of 20 Senators (4 from the retired teachers of each of the 5 affiliates) was held, establishing the organization known as the Superannuated Teachers of Ontario (STO). The first Senate was held in April and the executive positions elected with Art McAdam (President), Norman McLeod (Vice), and Marion Tyrrell (Secretary-Treasurer). A constitution was written which lasted substantially until 1973

1970 – 1984 In 1970 the “90 Factor” (age plus service) was introduced. Murdoch McIver wrote a new STO constitution in 1973 which allowed for the formation of districts and the power of those districts to elect one of their members (usually the District President) to the Senate, which was held twice yearly (spring and fall).In December, 1973, headed by Geoff Wilkinson of OTF, the teachers of Ontario staged a mass walkout [As a new “probationary” teacher at Dryden High School, who was not protected by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), until I received my permanent Ontario Teacher’s Certificate – usually after two years of teaching experience, I was quite nervous about repercussions if I participated, but I did walk out and joined my colleagues for a “study session” at the Legion Hall.] In 1975 the “Superannuation Adjustment Fund” was introduced to provide for escalation based on the cost of living (with a cap of 8%). In 1984 the “Best 5 Years” became the basis and retirement became possible for a limited time without age penalty for those lacking the “90 Factor” who were aged 55 and also for those who had 35 years of service.

1984 – 1986 In 1979 there were 29 Districts in STO and 12 Units and in 1987 there were 39 Districts. STO played a small part in the successful opposition raised by seniors to Brian Mulroney’s intention to scale down the benefits of seniors, in an effort to effect a balanced budge. The November 12, 1986 Newsletter of STO contained a synopsis of STO President Orser’s report to the STO Senate in which he acknowledged that STO members “have the best health care plan, the best travel plan, and the best pension plan in Canada”. In 1987 a window was opened until 1990 “to allow any teacher with 35 service years to retire without penalty despite not reaching the “90 Factor”. Other changes also made retirement more desirable, such as increasing the time in various categories which may be counted as “service” (such as maternity), job sharing, and four over five plans.

However, concern was expressed about the transfer of control of the actuarial valuation of the Fund from the Superannuation Commission to the Treasurer of Ontario. [As this was explained to me, for each real dollar that a working teacher contributed to the Pension Fund, the Provincial Government contributed a dollar (but only on paper) and the Provincial Treasurer could use this fund to build highways and overpasses in southern Ontario, i.e. the government contributed “funny money” and we contributed “real money” which was used for purposes other than that for which it was intended. Does this smack of “misappropriation of funds” to you? I believe this is why we fought so hard to gain control of our own Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund].


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.


A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Part Three: 1984 – 1987


1984 – In the February minutes, the names of John Pringle and Winnie Coutts  appear in the list of members who enjoyed the slide show and talk by Brian Kenny on his trip to Nicaragua . The March meeting referenced Wilmer and Evelyn McKen as attendees and a committee was formed to determine how the Unit could assist in Nicaragua. At the April meeting, Bob Jackson spoke about the D.H.S. Co-op Program. Grace Pollock was a new attendee at the August meeting. In her remarks to the Dryden Unit at the August meeting, outgoing President, Betty Hawke acknowledged that “although the Superannuated Teachers of Ontario is not a political force to be reckoned with, we should be prepared to speak up.” Betty described her recent tour of Europe. A Christmas social completed the year.

Suggestions for guest speakers for 1984 included Vera Kameda on “Participaction” and a representative from Aries Travel Agency. One of the hot topics under discussion this year was the “85 Factor” and efforts were undertaken to encourage retired teachers who were not STO members to join the group. A reference was made to collecting, counting and wrapping pennies from the schools for UNICEF.

1985 – Following Hallowe’en in 1985, a report indicated that $ 3000+ was collected by elementary students in the area for UNICEF. Peggy Varga was to present a talk on the Adult Education “Teaching English as a Second Language” Program. A Christmas social finished off the activities for the year.

1986 – Tom Barclay, the Bank of Montreal manager, was a guest speaker at the April 1986 meeting on investment income for the retirement years in order to determine retirement needs and monies available to satisfy those needs. Winnie Coutts’ report on the District 26 meeting mentioned the recommendation that District 26 be divided into a Kenora District and a Dryden District. At the May 1986 Senate the Dryden Unit became District 35. There was also a recommendation from the November 1986 District 35 meeting that any teacher who retired prior to 1984 have their Teacher’s Pension determined on the basis of that person’s average of their “Best 5 Years” instead of the current basis of “Best 7 Years”. Plans for a Christmas social were made and a District newsletter was proposed, to inform members about S.T.O. activities and to report on the spring and fall Senates, as well as other information coming from the Provincial Executive. There were approximately 37,000 STO members province wide. The first edition of the District 35 Newsletter, prepared by Evelyn McKen with the assistance of Harry McMaster and Secretary Denise Andersen, was distributed at the Christmas social held Dec. 2nd in St. Luke’s Parish Hall. In addition to the usual newsletter contents of committee reports, it included a poem by Mabelle Clempson titled, “I’m Fine”, and a short article from B.C. by Ellen Shand.

1987 – At the January Executive Meeting, Harry McMaster reported on the Fall Senate and he recommended that the District Constitution model be adapted to our own particular needs. Start-up funds for a “new district,” were received from the Provincial Office in the amount of $ 200. The Dryden Board office donated the paper and duplicating of the District 35 Newsletter. Olive Moline volunteered her time to do the typing. It was also noted in the minutes of this Executive Meeting that if a member does not honour their commitment to attend a luncheon meeting, they pay for the meal if they cancel.

At the February luncheon meeting at the Best Western, a minute of silence was observed as a tribute to deceased members. New retiree Larry Guenther attended. Committee reports were presented. A Personal Planning workshop was scheduled for May. Harry McMaster reported on the progress of the “Best of 5” campaign and John Pringle reported on the Confederation Life Health Plan. Laura Howe was chosen to sit on the Provincial Newsletter Committee. After the luncheon Elsie and Keith Humphrey presented a talk and slide show about their trip to Thailand (while modeling attractive, cool cotton clothes).

At the April Executive Meeting it was decided that, since District 35 STO was not a money making organization, charitable donations would be made individually. This was in response to a request from the Cancer Society for a contribution. The District 35 Newsletter would be issued twice a year (late spring and late fall) to coincide with the District business meetings following the provincial spring and fall Senates. Amy Howell agreed to be the Membership Chair. Harry McMaster was chosen to be the District 35 Senator for the spring Senate in Ottawa and Winnie Coutts would go as an Observer. The June District meeting was held at Linnea’s Tearoom, with two new members, Rev. John Hyndman and Yvonne Hastings, in attendance. Pansy Howell reported that there were 44 STO members and 11 non-members (such as spouses).

Harry McMaster and Winnie Coutts reported on the spring Senate: Fees would increase, Goodwill was essential to help members-in-need and London Life would offer a dental plan. According to information shared with members at the spring Senate, various “Project Overseas” initiatives were helping in 23 countries. Discussion also took place concerning the Education Minister’s policies A more positive approach was recommended for “Retirement Counseling”. The District 35 Executive continued their discussions regarding requests for donations of financial assistance. Betty Hawke suggested that such assistance be restricted to educational endeavours, that preference be given to family members of STO members, that a budget of $ 300 be allocated annually and that a limit of $ 50 per request be established. Work continued on constructing a District Constitution appropriate for District 35. It was suggested that Lou Bottos, Counselor for Community and Social Services, be contacted to enquire about the establishment of a local office of the Ontario Community Information Centre [now Service Ontario] because the nearest one to Dryden area STO members was in Thunder Bay. However, the Provincial Government decided that Dryden was equipped to handle most problems through the existing Community Services

The District 35 constitution was printed in July, 1987 and adopted at the September general meeting. Its goal “shall be to promote the interests of persons receiving pensions under the Ontario Teachers Superannuation Act who reside in District 35”. A twelve member executive was established. In addition to preparing the twice yearly newsletter, the Newsletter Editor was to “act as archivist”. A discussion regarding mileage for members travelling from Red Lake and Ignace also took place and it was suggested that a flat rate for a full load, round trip from Red Lake would be $ 25 and from Ignace $ 12. The slate of officers proposed in June included Fran Pringle and Bea Siska. At the September meeting plans were made for the Christmas social and discussions ensued regarding the proposal by Johnson Insurance to provide the Health Benefits Insurance package.” It was suggested that the typing of the District 35 STO Newsletter could be done by a D.H.S. typing class. Glen Hamilton provided a slide show and talk on a recent trip to Arizona. Barbara Hampe’s article on her trip to Eskimo Point (NWT) and Anne Groves’ article on “The Shallow Lake School”, as well as Yvonne Hastings’ poem, “The Children Are Always With Me,” were printed in the June newsletter. Jessie Isberg’s article on “The School Fair” and Denise Andersen’s “Iron Bound” appeared in the November edition.


A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Part Four: 1988-1989


1988 – The minutes of the Provincial Budget Committee of STO indicated that there were some grave concerns with respect to the fact that the Superannuation Adjustment Fund not being fully funded on an actuarially sound basis, namely that “an actuarial valuation would reveal an unfunded liability of about $ 2.6 billion and it is forecast that the fund will be exhausted by the year 2008.” As a result of this investigation, it was recommended that the Teachers’ Superannuation Adjustment Benefits Fund (SABA) be amalgamated with the basic Teachers’ Superannuation Fund without delay to avoid further increases in liabilities. The existing surplus in the Teachers’ Superannuation Fund was approximately $ 742 million as of December 1986. The costs for the newly amalgamated fund would be shared equally between the provincial government and the contributing members. This would amount to an increase in contribution of between 9.2% and 11.24% for each member.” Another recommendation issuing from this committee referred to the allocation of funds to “Project Overseas”. This committee had its budget for the allocation for International Assistance reduced from $ 15,000 to $ 10,000 in the 86-87 to 87-88 budget. Amongst other things, it was pointed out that STO was the only retired teachers’ organization that contributes a grant to “Project Overseas” and that this money was matched dollar for dollar by CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). As a result the budget allocation of $ 15,000 for “Project Overseas” was reinstated for 1987-88.

Executive meeting minutes for January indicated that Paul Hampton was an STO member. It was also confirmed that the cost for each member to attend a luncheon meeting was still $ 6. Betty Hawke was appointed to the Provincial Budget Committee. Monthly luncheons for members (except in January, July and August) were inaugurated.

Twenty three STO members attended the February luncheon meeting at the Best Western. Anne Groves had an article and Yvonne Hastings had a poem published in the Provincial STO newsletter. STO members continued to advocate for the change from “Best 7” to “Best 5” in terms of pension calculations and a meeting was scheduled with MPP Frank Miclash. Confederation Life confirmed that they did not cover the cost of “extended care beds”. Following the lunch, Jeff McCanna, a representative from Johnson’s Insurance made a presentation on what they could deliver in the way of health care benefits.

Mrs. Edye’s name was mentioned in the April Executive Meeting minutes. Mr. & Jessie Isberg of Ignace and Joan Hatch were welcomed as new STO members at the June luncheon at St. Luke’s (cost $ 7.25 per plate). Total STO District 35 memberships had now reached 50. Information was requested about a refresher driving course for seniors. Proposals for future activities included a visit to the Dryden Museum followed by a luncheon at the new Seniors’ Activity Centre. Discussions involved the implementation of an out-of-province out-of-country health care plan (as an alternative to Blue Cross) through the existing STO health care plan. The only requirement would be a phone call to let them know when you were leaving (and when you were expected to return).

At the September Executive Meeting it was announced that a history of our local STO would be started. The visit to the Museum and lunch following was very successful. An article on the STO meeting appeared in the Local Express and it became the responsibility of the First Vice President to promote publicity for the organization. In future the installation of officers would take place in June rather than September. STO “members with Extended Health Care Coverage would be able to buy out-of-country insurance at a rate of $ 1 per month single and $ 2 per month double.” More information on this would be forthcoming in the next provincial newsletter. Extended Health Care coverage to include out-of-country travel would have to be purchased within three months of retiring in order to avoid the need for a medical to qualify. No information about a “Driver Refresher Courses for Seniors” was available from the Canada Safety Council (no such course existed although one was offered years later in 1995-96).Les McPherson became the Goodwill Committee Chair in the slate of officers for 1988-89. He also served on the Provincial Pension Committee. Plans were well underway for the annual Christmas Social.

Proposed activities for the spring included a visit to Egli’s Sheep Farm and a presentation by Eric Johnston on the Alternative Education Program at D.H.S. Stuart Calvert seconded the motion to accept the budget report. Ralph McNaughton seconded the motion to adjourn the September general meeting. [I believe that Mary McNaughton retired at the same time as her husband].

In addition to the members already mentioned, the following names appeared in the membership list for 1988: Lois Beck, Lorna Bruchkowski, George Capar, Bob Clarke, Bob Conner, Olivia Florence, Mary Gustin, Dorothy Hoey,Isabel Maclean, Ken Macleod, Agatha Pateman, Nick Perchaliuk, Erma Pierson, Isabelle Salter, Jean Scott, Steve Sipos, Elias Siska, Evelyn Stawarski, Louis Toussaint, Birdie Watt, and Averie Wells.

1989 – Based on the minutes of the February meeting, which included a report by Isabel Maclean, it would appear that Johnsons Insurance had been selected to provide STO Health Care Services. All of the affiliate teachers’ federations supported the request to change the teacher pension from “Best of 7” to “Best of 5” but the provincial government refused to accept arbitration on this matter. All teachers and retired teachers were (justifiably) concerned about the “safety” of the Teachers Pension Plan under government acuity.

At the June business meeting it was announced that the provincial grant to District 35 was set at $ 800 (up from $ 500) and was received in two installments of $ 400. The “Best of 5” question had still not been resolved. A discussion regarding the cost of health care coverage revealed that STO coverage was better and about half the cost of the plan offered by O.T.I.P. (Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan). The September meeting was scheduled for St. Andrew’s Church in Sioux Lookout – the first time that a District 35 meeting would take place out of the Dryden attendance area.

Members were informed that a provincial Ad Hoc committee had been formed to establish a Medical Research Fund to study aging, and the government was being urged to establish a full Ministry of Senior Affairs. Increases in Health Care coverage were announced: Semi-private $ 45 to $ 50 per day, Drug benefits from $ 750 to $ 1,000 per year, and Vision Care from $ 100 to $ 125 per two years. O.T.F. would continue to advocate, through the Biennial Review Committee for “Best of 5” or an increase of $ 1,000 in pension. Lydia Carlbom enquired about the proposed District 

A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Part Five: 1989 -1998


1989-1990 – John Pringle was elected District 35 President for 1989/90. An outing for lunch at the Country Kitchen in Kenora and stops at the Blue Heron and an art store were enjoyed by a dozen members in May. An outing to Sioux Lookout for lunch had taken place the previous fall. New retirees included Wilmer Errington, Bill Salonen, Herb Lindsay, Ruth Moore and Velma Neill. Condolences were sent to the family of Olive Reany, who passed away December 28, 1989. Total membership for District 35 was 39 (including 4 Associate Members).

1990-1991 – Keith Humphrey became the District 35 President for 1990/91. Total membership for District 35 stood at 53 (including 3 Associate Members). Six luncheons were held over the course of the year with an average attendance of 20 members. Venues included Kuppers, the Riverview Lodge, the Anglican Church, the Best Western and Ho Ho’s. Some members travelled to Kenora for lunch with Kenora STO/RTO/ERO members at Casey’s.

1991-1992 – Wilmer Errington was the President for District 35 for 1991/92. A letter from the Provincial Office dated October 23rd confirmed the appointment of Les McPherson to a two-year term as a member of the Provincial Standing Committee for Pension Concerns. In response to a request from Betty Hawke, a number of members submitted stories and anecdotes about school Christmas concerts and these were printed in the District 35 December newsletter.

1992-1993 – Wilmer Errington continued as the District 35 President for 1992/93. Monthly luncheons were held in various locations including a May luncheon at Huber’s. Total membership for District 35 remained at 50. Provincial STO/RTO/ERO President Mae Hill and her husband attended the June luncheon meeting. The December District 35 newsletter contained a number of articles about memories that members had of Christmases past.

1993-1994 – Betty Hawke took on the duties of President for 1993/94 as well as Newsletter Editor.

1994-1995 – Frances Pringle took over as President of District 35 STO/RTO.The June edition of the District 35 newsletter contained a number of members’ reminiscences of playground games and singing songs such as “Red Rover” and “Mother May I?” An article in the June newsletter was reprinted from the Kenora Miner and News about STO/RTO/ERO member Helen Stemerowicz winning a million dollars in the Western Canada Lottery. A large number of recently retired teachers became District 35 STO/RTO members, including Ray Nielsen, Brian Davidson, Diane Mason, Arlene Hyslop, Bernice Ferguson, Irene Sachowski, Rudy Hulina, Ellyn Bernier, Allan Best, Sharon McGregor, Bob Clark, Dave Benham, Rita Szabo, Bev Kondra, Yvette LaFleche, Hal Wilmering and Helen Semeniuk. Condolences were sent to the families of Rhoda Gamble, Harvey Woodring (husband of Hazel Woodring) who passed away in 1994 and Gordon Wood When Betty Hawke “retired” as newsletter editor with her last publication the December 1994 newsletter, Wilmer and Shirley Errington stepped up to the plate. The District 35 newsletter was christened “The Thirty 5th Estate” in June.

1995-1996 – Joan Hatch became the District 35 President. After years of trying to arrange a Safe Driving seminar for seniors, Winnie Coutts was able to have one take place, sponsored by the Canada Safety Council. Sybil Willard was recognized for her 25 years of dedication to STO/RTO, and Hank Parks was honoured for his 55 years in amateur wrestling by being presented with the Certificate of Merit in Sports by the Government of Canada and the Certificate of Sports Achievement by the Government of Ontario. In October he was inducted into the Northwestern Sports Hall of Fame in Thunder Bay in the “Builders’ Category”. New retirees welcomed into District 35 STO/RTO were Gerald Gannon, Gary Sobchuk, Mary Bortolot, Marlene Naylor, Dave Smith, Joanne Kohuch, Lorna Brownlee Liddle, Gayle Thompson, Marg Gill, Linda Lampshire, Garry Case and Randi Nielsen. Sybil Willard attended the 25th Birthday of the establishment of the Kenora (District 26) STO/RTO in September. Following the Christmas luncheon at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, monthly luncheons were slated for Riverview Lodge, Kuppers, Ho Ho’s, the Dryden Golf and Curling Club and Linnea’s Tea Room. Sybil Willard became the first member of District 35 to reach the age of 90 years on December 28th, 1995, after having taught from 1924 to 1930 and from 1948 to 1968 at Albert Street School. Rose Blair, Placement Co-ordination Service Manager, who is responsible for the waiting lists for 7 long term care facilities west of Thunder Bay, spoke at the April 1996 luncheon.

1996-1997 – Roy McComb took over the position of President for District 35 STO/RTO. New retirees joining District 35 STO/RTO included Rino Moretti, Donna Kennedy, Sally Rowat, Al Gill and John Borst. The formation of the Ontario College of Teachers meant that many retired teachers holding an Ontario Teacher’s Certificate were required to register with the College if they wished to retain their credentials for the purpose of supply teaching. By June of 1996, District 35 membership stood at 97, almost double what it was just six years previously. This number included new retirees in June 1997 of Gary Bates, Dave Hamilton and Jill Wilmering. Life Members of District 35 STO/RTO (those who had attained the age of 80 years) included Evelyn McKen, Grace Pollock, Anne Groves, Olivia Florence, Mona Clark, Hank Parks, Denise Andersen, Sybil Willard and Laura Howe. Travelling to Atikokan in April, 1997, to attend the inaugural meeting of District 1 Unit 2 were Roy McComb, Sharon McGregor and Velma Neill.

1997-1998 – Wayne McCallum became President of District 35 STO/RTO. Brian Davidson had an article printed in the June, 1997 edition of the District 35 newsletter about his involvement with the provincial Community Policing Committee, which is a volunteer committee that works directly with the O.P.P. and the R.C.M.P. on such projects as Neighbourhood Watch, Crimestoppers and the Rural Numbering System (for 911 call locations). He described his involvement in “Project Phonebusters” which targets those unscrupulous phoners (scam artists) who try to defraud seniors over the phone by offering “prizes” in exchange for money. Barbara Hampe joined the ranks of District 35 Life Members. During the course of the year, protests surrounding Bill 160 engaged many members in support of the teachers and the “85 Factor” became a permanent reality. Luncheon meetings with interesting guest speakers such as John Lyottier from Avenor, Dave Ward from the D.H.S. International Travel Group, Andrew Skene from the Dryden District Hospital Administration, Dr. Barry Armstrong from the Dryden District Hospital Surgical Staff and William Courtney Provincial STO/RTO President, drew many members – at times as many as 55 (almost half of the District 35 membership).

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.

A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Part Seven: 2002 – 2006

2002-2003 – Keith Sveinson from the Dryden Literacy Association was the guest speaker at the September Luncheon at the Oxdrift Hall and Ron Poste from the Provincial Office addressed members of District 35 RTO/ERO at the October luncheon in Waldhof. A breakfast gathering in January, with no guest speaker, was planned for the New Year. These breakfasts in January became a regular feature of District 35 RTO/ERO social activities. As well, “door prizes” at monthly luncheon meetings became a popular feature including such items as RTO/ERO sweatshirts, golf shirts, umbrellas, golf balls, note pads, etc. Winners of the golf and sweat shirts were encouraged to wear them whenever they were engaged in volunteer activities in the community. This would help to raise the profile of the Dryden RTO/ERO in the community. Each month District 35 RTO/ERO members brought non-perishable food items to meetings and make cash donations which were delivered to the Dryden Food Bank. A cash donation was also made to the Dryden Health Services Foundation.

2003-2004 – The highly anticipated District 35 RTO/ERO golf tournament organized by Frank Clarke became a reality in June of 2003 and was well attended. Bill Salonen received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal from Kenora-Rainy River MPP Howard Hampton in March for his years of dedication to the community of Dryden as a teacher, coach, referee, town councillor and mayor. New retirees welcomed to District 35 RTO/ERO included Ron Oke, Rosalie Hemsworth and Tom Veal. Guest speakers at the monthly luncheon meetings included Optometrist Dr. Lisa Turcotte, MPP Howard Hampton, Lawyer Will Vermeer on “Estate Planning”, and RTO/ERO Executive Director Terry Lynch from the Provincial Office. Carmene Hampe and June Finch joined the phoning committee under Chair Lynne Euler. Condolences were sent to the family of Barbara Hampe. Brian Kenny became the new District 35 President. Lapel buttons which said “Retired Teacher Volunteer” were purchased and members were encouraged to wear them when they volunteered in the community. Following a request to the Provincial Office, District 35 received a flag in RTO/ERO colours, with the name and logo, which could be displayed at all District 35 events. New retirees included Bev Hall, Judith and Bob Hamilton, Len Pateman, Irene Skene and Pat Watt. Condolences were sent to the family of long time District 35 member Evelyn McKen who passed away in Toronto. A brief biography of founding member of the District 26 Dryden Unit and District 35 STO/RTO, Sybil Willard, was printed in the November, 2003 edition of “The Thirty 5th Estate”.

2004-2005 –It was decided that the elections for District Executive positions would be held every two years rather than annually. This was done for a number of reasons: it would allow the person new to the position to learn what was involved over a full year and to operate even more effectively in the second year. It would also reduce the anxiety of those responsible for annually recruiting for nominations. Continuity would also be enhanced. Henceforth it would be expected that the 2nd Vice would regularly move up to the 1st Vice position, who would then move into the President’s position. Brian Kenny became the President of District 35 RTO/ERO for a two year term. Bob Bourre became the President of District 35 RTO/ERO when Brian Kenny was elected to the Provincial Executive at the fall Senate. Bob met with MPP Howard Hampton to discuss membership concerns about the provincial government’s position in various areas such as the deficit, health care, long term care, seniors, education, energy, the environment, pension protection and children’s services. New retirees joining the ranks of District 35 RTO/ERO included Susan Andrusco, Charron Donaldson, Linda Pilipishen, Doreen Roulston and Mary Hermanovics, which brought our total to 160 including 9 Associate Members in Dryden, and 10 Full Members and 1 Associate Member in Red Lake. Guest speakers for the monthly luncheons included Adrienne Bradick and Barry Shepherd speaking on. Canadian Taxpayers, Linda Calbeck speaking about Hospital Volunteers, Dick Schoneville of the Alzheimer Society and Helen Biales 1st Vice from the Provincial STO/RTO Executive. After attending a training workshop in Toronto in November, Bob Bourre and Judith Hamilton led a retirement workshop for prospective area retirees. They were assisted by Mark Tinkess, Randi Nielsen and Ray Nielsen, with materials and support provided by the staff from the provincial office of RTO/ERO. At the October monthly meeting Michelene Garnier of the Ontario Ombudsman Office addressed the membership. Irene Skene took over the responsibility of producing “The 35th Estate” with the November 2004 edition

[Unfortunately the November 2004 edition of the District 35 newsletter is missing from our archives.]

2005-2006 – Bob Bourre repeated as District 35 RTO/ERO President. John Borst took over in the fall as Webmaster from Frank Clarke. The March guest speaker was fitness instructor Angela Gilles and in April Kathy Kuhlmann from Johnson Insurance spoke about the Health Benefits available to members. Provincial 1st Vice Arnold Hull addressed the District 35 RTO/ERO members at the May luncheon meeting. Dennis Gushulak repeated his term as President of the Red Lake Unit. As a result of successfully applying for a $ 4000 grant for “Service to Others”, the Red Lake Unit was kept busy with furnishing tables and chairs for the new Red Lake Cultural Centre for use in community and school educational programs. June saw many members participate in the District 35 golf tournament and lunch at Evergreen Golf Course. By the end of March 2005 our District 35 membership totaled 165 (including 14 in the Red Lake Unit). A retirement workshop was held in May hosted by Bob Bourre and Judith Hamilton and attended by 32 teachers, 12 of whom planned to retire in June. New retirees in June included Marilyn Tinkess, Robin Kunza, Marg Ogilvie, Charron Sippola, Linda-Joy Smith, Janet Kushner, Elizabeth Russell, Fran White, Rick Victor and Surindar Anand. The Chair of the Phoning Committee, Isabel McLean, thanked her members for their assistance: Shirley Wilson, Carolyn Stratford, Stuart Calvert, June Finch, Velma Neill, Linda Salonen, Fran Pringle, Roberta Grebstad and Mary Case. Condolences were sent to the families of Hazel Woodring, Shirley Errington and Wayne Brown.These members spend hours on the phone each month contacting members to remind them of the particulars of the up-coming luncheons and to determine if these members were planning to attend. Guest speakers at the monthly luncheons in the fall included Karen Ingebritson of the CCAC (Community Care Access Center) and David Schwartz of the Ontario Pharmacists’ Association. Guest speakers in the spring included Diane Harder of the O.P.P., and Barb Buffet on “Best Start”, Ontario’s childcare and early learning initiative. Harold Braithwaite, RTO/ERO Executive Director from the provincial office addressed the membership at the May luncheon. Condolences were sent to the families of John Pringle, Denise Andersen, and Sybil Willard.

2006 –  Bob Bourre continued as District 35 President and the previous year’s executive members agreed to continue as well, with the exception of the Phoning Chair which was filled by Lynne Euler (Isabel MacLean had decided to do more travelling). Marilyn Tinkess took over the position of Political Action (vacated by Brian Kenny). A retirement workshop in Dryden in March was hosted by Bob Bourre, Mark Tinkess, and Randi and Ray Nielsen. Bob Bourre and Mark Tinkess also hosted one in Ear Falls in May. The June golf tournament, a very popular annual activity organized by Frank and Susan Clarke, was well attended. New retirees joining the Red Lake Unit included Ron Cooke, Sandra MacDonald, and Susan Sheridan. Total membership in District 35 RTO/ERO stood at 156 (a number of our members had moved to other parts of the province and country). Dennis Gushulak joined the Provincial Audit Committee and Andrea Winik joined the Provincial Member Services Committee. Many new retirees (and prospective District 35 members) were identified, including Else-Carine Risberg, Diane Irish, Gayle Withers, Jacqueline Neall, Mardi-Lee Plomp, Susan Sheridan, Hammond LacSeul and Blair Costello all from the Elementary Panel, as well as Jim Black, David Erb, Perry Ferns, Ron Cooke, Chris Zappitelli, Earle Wilson and Pat Norman from the Secondary Panel. An extensive article, complete with photographs, was printed in the June 2006 edition of “The 35th Estate” about a trip to Myanmar (Burma) taken by Randi and Ray Nielsen. An explanation about the (seemingly) high cost of the meals ($ 15) at the monthly luncheons was given. Caterers are required to charge GST/PST (now HST) for each meal. When this amount is deducted, along with the gratuity, coffee and dessert, the cost of the main course is around $ 9 – $ 10. This is considerably cheaper than most comparable lunches in a local restaurant. May marked the 20th anniversary of the formation of the District 35 RTO/ERO. Following Sybil Willard [1980-83] and Betty Hawke and Winnie Coutts [1983-86] as Dryden Unit 2 Presidents, the Presidents of District 35 have been as follows: Harry McMaster [1986-88], John Pringle [1988-90], Keith Humphrey [1990-91], Amy Howell and Les McPherson [1991-92], Wilmer Errington [1992-93], Betty Hawke [1993-94], Frances Pringle [1994-95], Joan Hatch [1995-96], Roy McComb [1996-97], Wayne McCallum [1997-98], Sharon McGregor [1998-99], Bill Salonen [1999-2001], Randi Nielsen [2001-03], Brian Kenny [2003 – Nov., 2004], Bob Bourre [Nov., 2004 – 2006]. Brian Kenny was elected to the position of 1st Vice on the Provincial Executive. New retirees this year included Carolyn Callan, Donna Dykalski, Geraldine Savian and Ginette Spence. Guest speakers for the fall of 2006 included a representative from the Ontario Securities Commission on “investment fraud”, a representative from MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Commission) on assessed value of property for taxation purposes, and Randi Nielsen made a presentation on Safe International Travel for Seniors.

A Brief History of the Dryden STO/RTO/ERO

Part Eight: 2007 – 2010


2007 – Once again District 35 RTO/ERO hosted the January Birthday Party at the Patricia Gardens seniors’ complex and a Retirement Workshop in March organized by Bob Bourre, Judith Hamilton and Mark Tinkess with the Pension Benefits Officer, Tony Sawinski, from the Provincial Office, and Lori MacDonald-Blunden from Johnson’s Insurance. When Shirley Roberts relinquished her position as the Membership Services Chair in December, Linda Salonen and Sandra Bourre stepped in to help out. Newly retired Wanda Towns joined the Red Lake Unit of District 35 RTO/ERO. One other member of the Red Lake Unit, who has not been mentioned before, is Linda Aucoin who has moved away but still retains her Unit 2 membership in District 35 RTO/ERO. New retirees Linda Anderson and Allan Kusano joined District 35 RTO/ERO. As this was an election year, District 35 PAC Chair, Marilyn Tinkess, met with a number of politicians and political candidates including Roger Valley, Howard Hampton and Stephane Dion. Condolences were sent to the family of Mona Clarke. Guest speakers at the monthly luncheons included Genefer Latter, a local massage therapist, Sharon McGillivary of “Communities in Bloom”, M.P. Roger Valley, and Provincial RTO/ERO President Ron Poste.Also, Julie Apland spoke on the role of Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Karen Ingebrigtsen spoke on Planning Integration and Community Engagement of the Northwest Local Health Integration Network (LHINS) The annual golf tournament concluded activities before the summer break. At the fall Senate District 35’s Brian Kenny was elected President of the Retired Teachers of Ontario.

2008 – Betty Lyle took over the reins as District 35 RTO/ERO President. When Lynne Euler “retired” from her position as Social/Phoning Chair, Julie Dzeoba volunteered to take over. District 35 members hosted the January birthdays celebration at the Patricia Gardens Residence for Seniors and a retirement workshop in March which led to an increase of 11 % in our membership (first in the province wide recruitment competition) and as a result Ray Nielsen was invited to speak to approximately 100 people at the recruitment workshop in Toronto. Our total membership for District 35 at this point was 198 (including 19 in Unit 2 Red Lake). In May we received notice that our application for a “Service to Others” grant had been approved and $ 3500 would be put towards enhancing the Dryden Museum grounds with a walkway and flower beds. The new District 35 Website came on line and the annual golf tournament in June was as popular as usual thanks to Frank and Susan Clarke. New retirees Anne Silander, Sandra Hall and Gord Brooks joined the Red Lake Unit . Dennis Gushulak continued as President of this Unit, assisted by Janet Duncan (Vice), Margaret Gall (Secretary), Ethel Dodd (Treasurer) and Donna Gushulak (Goodwill). Guest speakers at the monthly luncheons included Warner Bloomfield, Editor of the Dryden Observer, Alison Dove speaking about “living off the grid” and D.H.S. science teacher Kathy Boone speaking about her experience taking part in the Teacher Science and Technology Outreach Program sponsored by the Ministry of Research and Innovation. At the fall Senate, Brian Kenny was re-elected Provincial President of RTO (for a precedent setting second consecutive term). Mark Tinkess joined the Provincial Health Services and Insurance Committee. Condolences were sent to the family of Stuart Calvert. Guest speakers planned for the fall, 2008 luncheons included Irene and Andrew Skene on their mission to Kilema, Tanzania. Further possibilities under consideration were: “The Challenges of Being a Young Female Doctor,” “The Advantages of Physiotherapy as We Age,” “The Role of a City’s Economic Development Officer” and “The New Role of the Dryden Hospital Auxiliary”.

2009 – Judith Hamilton became District 35 President in June. The positions of 2nd Vice and Secretary were not filled in June. The May luncheon welcomed Provincial 1st Vice Marg Couture as the guest speaker. New retirees joining the Unit 2 Red Lake Unit were Jerry and Cathy Kaczmarek and Cathy Nord. The Executive of the Red Lake Unit, in addition to Dennis Gushulak as President, included Sandra Hall (Secretary), Wanda Towns (Treasurer) and Donna Gushulak (Goodwill). The District 35 membership topped the 200 mark with 206 members (171 regular members, 11 associate members and 21 Red Lake members). Wendy Wiedenhoeft organized the annual January birthday party at Patricia Gardens and Joan Hatch played the piano for the Sing-A-Long. Condolences were sent to the families of Rolande Nault and Martha Murray. Brenda McGogy was a guest speaker at the February Luncheon and a representative from the Dryden Area Cultural Planning Committee spoke in March. In April Andrew Skene spoke about his experience assisting with the administration of the hospital in Kilema, Tanzania. In Red Lake Russell Smart made a presentation on “Estate Planning and Power of Attorney” at the December Red Lake Unit 2 luncheon. New retirees joining the Red Lake Unit included Adele Briscoe and Cheri Carroll (Associate).

2010 – Judith Hamilton continued in June as District 35 President in this, Dryden’s Centennial Year. New this year was the monthly “Birthday Poster” where each member, who has a birthday during that month, is recognized and their names placed on a poster which is displayed at the monthly luncheon.  Judith Hamilton attended the annual RTO/ERO President’s Workshop in Toronto in April. Lynne Dingwall and in March Donna Gushulak attended the first ever “Goodwill Workshop” (now known as Member Services) in Toronto. Speakers at the monthly luncheons included Saralyn Semeniuk and Roberta Lappage from the Northwestern Health Unit on the “Thrive Program” for youth. Donald Ames, Manager of the Chamber of Commerce Board, updated us on changes and plans for the future. Thelma and Barry Sampson had an article (complete with photos) printed in the May District 35 Newsletter on their trip to Cambodia. It was originally published in the November 2007 edition of the Travel Society magazine. Dryden hosted another well-attended Retirement Planning Workshop which saw representatives from Southern Ontario make presentations: Roger Regimbal, Lori Macdonald-Blunden from Johnson Inc. on the Health Plan and Richard Arbic on Financial Services. New retirees joining the ranks of District 35 included Pat MacKenzie, Gerry Powell, Ward Cockriell, Lucille Ayers, Bill Hovi and Donna Gereben. World travellers Thelma and Barry Sampson had an illustrated article printed in the November District 35 Newsletter about their trip to Ireland.

Part Nine: 2011-2013

2011 – Last fall John Borst made a presentation to the District Executive about the Amarok Society, a group founded by the Munro family to help mothers in the slums of the capital of Bangladesh to improve their lot in life by learning English He made the presentation to the membership at the February Luncheon. In partnership with the Dryden Rotary, a dinner was arranged for the Dryden Cultural and Training Centre where Mr. Munro spoke and showed slides. The event was well attended and well supported ($ 2,000 was raised) and a provincial Project Service to Others Grant was received to the tune of $ 4,000 for this project. John Borst approached the Webkinz Foundation and secured an additional $ 5,000. In total the amount raised was equivalent to 1.5 Amarok “Mothers” schools. The new President of District 35 RTO/ERO was Marilyn Tinkess. Unit 2 (Red Lake) President Dennis Gushulak welcomed new retiree Angela McLaren to the fold. A number of new retirees joined the ranks of District 35 RTO/ERO this year including Doug Bergman, Max Bernauer, Leanna Bullock, Susan Kobelka, Beverly Kupper, Angela McLaren, Althea McMonagle, Kaylene Rourk, Lise Turbide Bibeau and Valerie Spoozak. Guest speaker at the March Luncheon was Allyson Coogin, Executive Director of Hoshizaki House, who told us about the short and long term programs offered to the women and children experiencing domestic abuse. When John Borst learned that the plush toy given to each child when they arrived at Hoshizaki House was usually taken with them when they left and that it costs Hoshizaki House a considerable sum to replace these plush toys (on average 200 toys a year), John contacted GANZ, the maker of the Webkinz plush pets, and he was able to acquire, at no cost, 216 such toys for Hoshizaki House (retail value$ 2,500). With warmer temperatures in April it was appropriate that Anne Sikkema, former Vice Chair of the National Award winning Dryden Communities in Bloom Committee, was the guest speaker on “Container Gardening”. A damp golf tournament in June did not deter members from participating in the game and lunch organized by Frank & Susan Clarke at the Evergreen Golf Course. Thelma and Barry Sampson, District 35’s “World Travellers,” had their “Destinations” illustrated article on their “Explorations in France” reprinted in the May District 35 Newsletter. Gordon Cressy, Director of Advancement and Fundraising for RTO/ERO Charitable Foundation [to create a Chair of Geriatric Research at the University of Toronto] presented a very interesting talk on why we should support a research chair which is designed and intended to help seniors. Guest speakers in the fall included Stephanie Cran, Health Educator at the Northwestern Health Unit speaking on the “Locavore” intitiative (eating food grown and produced in the local area) at the September luncheon. Judith Hamilton spoke about the Dryden Area Cultural Partnership at the October Luncheon, Bill Hovi, Chair of the Dryden Youth Justice Committee, spoke on that committee’s role and John Borst talked about social media networking. This year we tied for second place in the Member Recruitment competition. The retirement Planning Workshop in October drew 25 participants. Condolences were sent to the families of Suzanne Borst, Larry Guenther, Paul Hampton and Johanna Burgstahler.

2012 – Marilyn Tinkess continued as District 35 President. When Marg Ogilvie moved out of the area the position of 2nd Vice remained vacant, as did the position of Political Advocacy when Geraldine Savian moved to the Member Services position. John Borst volunteered to take on the newly created District 35 executive position of Charitable Foundations. Donna Gereben volunteered to take photos at the luncheons for the Website. New members this year included Alana Bartlett, Ada Carlucci, Suzanne Chartier-White, Cliff Fuerst, Marian Furkalo, Joan Henderson, Shelley Jordbro, Micheline Lovenuk, Gordon Lundmark, Jeannie McMaster, Elaine Morris, Brenda Patterson, Janice Radburn, Margot Saari, Christine Scime, and in Red Lake, Dale Untucht and Margaret Vermette. The annual District 35 Golf tournament organized by Frank and Susan Clarke was well-attended as usual. Former D.H.S. Vice Principal, Harry McMaster, was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his years of dedication to the Dryden High School Athletics Program. The October Retirement Planning Workshop drew 28 participants. Robyn Kunza was a new voice with the Dryden Phoning Committee. Guest speakers at the fall District 35 RTO/ERO luncheons included Carrie Rafter of the Red Cross speaking on “Personal Disaster Preparedness” and Olga Sampara on “After Care” by the Patricia Regional Senior Services. District 35 RTO/ERO membership had reached 223. The province boasted 67,066 members. Condolences were sent to the families of Herb Lindsay, Helen Semeniuk, Gerry Hayden, Winnifred Coutts, Diane Chappell, Dennis Bloomfield and Bob Conner (of Red Lake).

2013 – Peter Andrusco became the District 35 President this year. A change in Executive positions occurred after Christmas, 2012, when Julie Dzeoba stepped down after many years as the Phoning Committee Chair and Luncheons’ Chair. Past President, Judith Hamilton, stepped in to take over this responsibility, assisted by Elaine Morris. New members welcomed to the Dryden District 35 RTO/ERO included Judy Benham, Alice Bloomfield, Carol Favot, Gail Goldrup, Loretta Hayden, Sheryl Hoshizaki, Mary Mennell, Eugene Palko, Pat Ross, Susan Sheridan, and Michele Wyndels. Numbers at the fall Retirement Workshop were down this year – perhaps there were fewer people coming up to retirement. Peter Andrusco delivered a “Wellness Workshop” power point presentation at the Dryden Seniors’ Centre in October. The annual District 35 RTO/ERO Christmas luncheon was held at the Dryden Cultural Centre. Live music with a Christmas theme was enjoyed by the members. In the past, performers have included Tom Veal, Paul Hampton and the Denby’s. Beautiful centre pieces created by a group of very talented ladies including Shirley Cole, Lucille Ayers, Judy Thorley, Pat Donahue, Gerry Powell, Lea Bullock, Trish Cook and Judith Hamilton were given out as door prizes at the conclusion of the meal. At the annual Patricia Gardens birthday party for residents having birthdays in January, Sharon Allan-Riives played the piano while other District 35 RTO/ERO members joined in the Sing-A-Long. Condolences were sent to the families of Doug Bergman, Alan Best, Dave Benham and Hank Parks.

Since 1968, The Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO/ERO) has provided excellent programs and services for teachers, school and board administrators, educational support staff and college and university faculty in retirement. For over 50 years, RTO/ERO continues to provide service to members.We also welcome college and university faculty and educational support staff from schools and school boards.

The Retired Teachers of Ontario, District 35 is a local chapter of the Retired Teachers of Ontario situated in Northwestern Ontario.

District 35 is composed of two units, one in Dryden, Ontario and one in Red Lake. The Dryden Unit draws members from the communities of Machin (Vermillion Bay), Minnitaki, Oxdrift, Dryden, Wabigoon, Dinorwic, Sioux Lookout-Hudson and Ignace. The Red Lake Unit serves the communities of Red Lake, Balmertown, Madsen, Couchner and Ear Falls.  

 The distance from Dryden to Red Lake is 215 km, from Dryden to Sioux Lookout 98 km, and from Dryden to Ignace 107 km.