By Duane Crandall
DTHS Class of 64
This month, the graduating class of David Thompson Secondary School an excited group of mostly eighteen year olds will leave DTSS for the last time. Along with those eighteen year olds, there is also a group of mostly sixty-eight year olds who did the same thing in 1964 50 years ago. The school then was called David Thompson High School. They, too, thought the world was their oyster and didnt yet care about mortgage rates or pension deductions. Now, instead of counting the days until school is over, they are counting grandchildren!
In 1964, DTHS was located at the top of the hill across from the present museum, where much of the building still remains. Then, it was the new high school, having just opened in 1956. It had succeeded the previous Invermere High School which was located, along with the elementary school, on the Sobeys store property across the road to the west. Although the school opened in 1956, only the front bank of classrooms had been built by that point. Construction of the gym, Industrial Arts shop, Home Ec room, Band Room and more classrooms didnt get underway until 1958, with completion a year or so later. Until then, students walked downtown to the Community Hall for P.E. classes.
The school had a great teaching staff and an excellent and fun principal in George Eacrett. It also had a special teacher named Dot Worsley (who became Mrs. Roger Smith) to whom the 1964 school yearbook, the Akiskinook, was dedicated. Yet that isnt what the class will remember her for. Miss Worsley was a great teacher in the classroom and helped with many extra-curricular activities but, in addition to these most important qualities of being a teacher, the Class of 64 will always remember her for driving one of the hottest cars in the valley a brand new Ford Mustang. Any high school student would be proud to drive a Mustang in 2014. Just imagine what it was like to have one on the school grounds in the spring of 64!
The Class of 64 was made up of 12 girls and eight boys from Invermere and the surrounding communities of Athalmer, Radium, Windermere and Wilmer. At the time, there were still high schools in Edgewater and Canal Flats. All the members of the Class of 64 are still living, but have never been together again since their graduation. Ray Taft and Neil Berrington are the only class members who still live in the Invermere area. Sandra Hackler is in Ontario, Paul Dean and Wynanne Ede live in Calgary, and the rest all live in southern B.C. They havent strayed too far from home.
There are also still several members of the high school teaching staff of that day living in the valley and are known by most residents. Again, Dot Worsley Smith stands out. She was not only the homeroom teacher of several of the 64 class in 1958 when they were just starting high school, in Grade 7. Even earlier than that, she had taught some when they were in Grade 4, in 55-56. Miss Worsley, as she was known to the Class of 64, has been a contributing part of the fabric of the Columbia Valley for a very long time, and she was very special to that class. In addition, Bob Campsall and Tony Kraavanger were on the teaching staff of the school at the time, as was the late George Lechuk, who just passed away in the last few years.
Two school buses made up the full fleet of buses in 64. One transported the Radium students on one trip before and after school, then made second trips to Windermere. The other two routes, also handled by one bus, were Wilmer and the West Road south of Invermere.
Most of the Class of 64 have lived reasonably ordinary lives, but one did become famous. Paul Dean had played his guitar at many high school functions and developed that talent much further after leaving school. He became a member of the very well known and still active rock band Loverboy, a group whose music has entertained many in its own generation, but is also known to many people much younger than the Class of 64.
Fifty years has not only changed the twenty members of that class, but has also changed much of the valley. Panorama Ski Resort had not yet been started in 64, and the only golf course in the valley was the original nine-hole course at Radium. Some landmarks are no longer here, such as the Mile Hill, the National Park Hotel and the Drive-In theatre at Radium, and the Mineral King Mine up Toby Creek. The Coronation Hotel, Purkis Garage and Ronachers planer in Athalmer are also gone, as is the Invermere Hotel and Svendsons Magazine Shop in Invermere. There were two stores in Wilmer at the time, along with the Rio Lynn and Clements Store in Windermere, all now gone. The only business in the area that was called the Crossroads (although it was really just a T then) was the Esso Service Station. And the Fall Fair was a landmark at the Crossroads as well, along with being a major event on the valley calendar every year.
A similar list could be made of landmarks that have survived these fifty years and which we still appreciate, but rather than a long list let me highlight only one. Of all the businesses that provide products and services to the valley perhaps restaurants are ones that stick in the minds of young people because of the good times they had there. The members of the Class of 64 all remember the Brite Spot (the building which now houses the Artym Gallery) because it made french fries and had a juke box (what more could anyone want?). But there was a time in the 63-64 era when there was no restaurant in Invermere. Not one! The only place that would serve you anything to eat, if there happened to be someone there, was the Curling Rink. The Brite Spot had closed, the Invermere Hotel had burned down and a restaurant that didnt last very long, the Tartan Inn (located across from the Toby Theatre), had also closed.
There is one restaurant in the area, however, that has always been there, since before the Class of 64 and will undoubtedly be there after the Class of 14, and that is the Skookum Inn at Windermere. It would seem like that should be some kind of record in the area!
The DTHS Class of 64 salutes the DTSS Class of 14 and hopes that your ride over the next fifty years is as good as theirs has been!
Editors note: Duane Crandall was the last Social Credit MLA from 1986 to 1991. He lived in Wilmer from 1956 to 1964 and currently resides in Golden. He is also a former publisher of the Golden Star newspaper.