School days of yore a reminder of progress on bullying

Sonja offers some anecdotes from olden times and a special tribute to Don Rosenberg

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

Marla Dallinga (King) who lived up Driftwood Canyon in her high school years and now lives in Creston would love to have a copy of Rubber Boots for Dancing by Nan Bourgon. If anyone has a copy to sell or give away it would be well read.

The headline of the editorial last week “Fight bullying every day” caught my attention. The story of students standing up for the rights of one student brought to mind my days at junior high.

My mom never had an unkind word, thought or deed so when I continually saw a girl standing by herself at her bus stop line-up, I would go over and talk to her.

Her nickname was “Draino.” Someone in our line-up said that I shouldn’t do that, I would get a bad name. But I liked her, I wish I knew her name, she was a gentle soul and I think of her to this day.

Miss Tona Bourgon’s first teaching position was in 1935 at Woodmere. Mrs. Tona Heatherington’s final return as a teacher was at the newly formed alternate school “for students experiencing difficulties in the larger secondary schools.” – From Bulkley Valley School Days.

Tona was a student at Round Lake and then Telkwa. She recollected that she and Evelyn Chapman bit their nails and were the only sinners in the class.

Every Monday morning Mrs. ****** would parade them in front of the class and would say, “Look at these nice girls. What’s the matter with them?”

Everyone would shout, “They bite their nails!” By this time the two girls would be sobbing.

The editorial last week reminds me of how far we have come in recognizing bullying.

But the old stories are full of kindness and grit, the kind that brings strength. Lyle Thompson marveled: “The McLennan boys … used to ride a buckskin horse to school. One morning it dropped dead pinning one of the boys underneath, the brothers got him out and then they all continued on to school, covered in scratches and bruises.”

A special and loving memory of Don Rosenburg who always greeted us with a wonderful smile. The wood trims my mom bought, delivered from Rosie’s mill, kept her warm through a lot of valley winters.

If you have had a special moment of your time in the valley, please call me at 250-847-4414 or email

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