Aileen Frank with friends Aveline and Gord McConnell at her 100th birthday in March 2014.

Former Terrace teacher passes away

Aileen Frank, who turned 100 on March 1, passed away in Port Coquitlam on Sept. 10.

A TEACHER who started her career in the old Kitsumgallum school here in 1934 has passed away.

Aileen Frank, who turned 100 on March 1, passed away in Port Coquitlam on Sept. 10.

Born in Victoria, Aileen Longworth came north in 1934 for her first job, teaching a Grade 1 and 2 class, in the Kitsumgallum school which now serves as an annex to the Coast Mountains School District offices on Kenney St.

“I arrived in Terrace where there was only gravel roads, no electricity, no running water and an outhouse – usually a two-holer, in the back yard,” wrote Frank in a memoir of her early years.

The school had three teachers and one principal, Clarence Michiel, after whom one of the city’s schools is now named.

The teachers were paid $100 a month and the principal $140.

“Teaching school in those days was a far cry from teaching today. We had to deal with every situation and different children, as best as we could. There were children from different home life, immigrant children, not knowing a word of English, the slow learner, or maybe an autistic child,” Frank recalled.

“In the early years of school only pencils were used. Slates and chalk had long gone by the wayside. Up to Grade 6 it was just pencil. About Grade 6 pupils were introduced to pen-nibs and bottles of ink which were placed in an ink well on the school desk. Often the ink got spilled or was frozen in the morning. Then came the fountain pen and finally the ball-point pen,” she wrote.

Aileen Longworth became Aileen Frank after marrying Floyd Frank, a member of an early settler family in the Terrace area who was instrumental in the founding and development of the former Terrace Cooperative Association. Their family home was located on the site of the current Skeena Sawmills property until it was moved to the corner of Lakelse and Clinton in 1991 where it was renovated and is now the offices for All West Trading.

Frank has been credited for being one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Happy Gang Centre for seniors which is located on Kalum St.

“They were all recent retirees and they got together as a group and literally built the centre with pie sales and lunches and convincing people to do a little bit of extra brick work,” said friend Mary Ann Dilley.

“And Aileen was one of the leaders of the whole thing. Having been a school teacher, she knew all of the young strong women and men,” Dilley added of the construction planning. “She was a real go-getter.”

Another friend, Betty Stewart, recalled working with Frank in the early 1980s to first open the adult day centre, now located at Terraceview Lodge, and then advocate for the introduction of the current handyDART service.

“She was a key person and through that, we became friends,” said Stewart.

“She knew a lot of people and I knew a lot of people and between us we were able to do the work,” recalled Stewart of sitting on the organizing committees for both projects with Frank.

Frank was also an active member of Knox United Church and was involved in the early days of Heritage Park.

In all, Frank lived in Terrace for 72 years before moving to the Lower Mainland about a decade ago.