On the morning of February 4th, Beverly Anne Mathews (nee Horrex) 86, peacefully passed away at her home with children Sheril, Jeannie, and Richard Mathews by her side.
Bev grew up in Enderby B.C., daughter of Nora and Charles Horrex. She attended and completed Normal School in Victoria (1947-48), and took her first teaching job at Von Donop on Cortez Island. After her children were well into their school years, Bev returned to teach at Manson’s Landing (Cortez Island Elem. Junior Sec.).
Read more about Bev’s life from the Campbell River newspaper article pictured here.
Gas lamps, outhouses, lack of drinkable running water, wood heaters, no playground… Bev (Horrex) Mathews faced them all when she began teaching at Von Donop Creek’s “new” school in 1950.
Here is her memoir from teaching on Cortes Island:
Bev Mathews Memories (from Cortes Island Museum’s Exhibit)
My first experience of teaching at Manson’s School was in the early 50’s when I spent a few days as substitute teacher in the grades 4 to 8 classroom. It was quite a change from the one room 9 pupil situation at the school in Von Donop Creek. The students I remember from that time are Judy (Jeffery) Christensen, Jim and Dennis Hansen, the McKim Brothers, Larry and Ron, and the McKenzies.
In the late 60’s Ian Hay asked me to come in as principal’s relief once or twice a week or when he had to be at meetings in Campbell River. I enjoyed being back in the school so I applied for the teaching position in Whaletown which was close to home. The position had been filled but I was offered the Intermediate class in Manson’s which I accepted.
It was a great school to work in with May Freeman and George Gardner as teaching staff and Ernie Guthrie who was the bus driver, capable handy man and “stuff” finder. Of course Pearl Graham, the custodian, always had a cup of tea ready. When she retired Mary Block became our custodian. I could always be guaranteed a visit and a good laugh at the end of each day.
The classroom was large even when enrollment increased to 30+, with high ceilings and one wall of windows making a bright room even on dark days. I was fortunate when I went back to teaching to have Doreen Thompson help with art work. Each month she and her daughters Jan and Debby would produce a theme calendar which would spark ideas for units.
Aside from the large airy classrooms, other special times common only to our school were the opportunities on sunny afternoons to have our story time sitting or lounging under the dogwood tree. What a wonderful way to start the afternoon. In the spring, from May on, at least one PE day a week, weather permitting, we would go down to Hague Lake for swimming. I remember one day when Terry Jackson came out of the water with a leech. I don’t know which of us was more horrified but I calmly bummed a cigarette and burnt the critter off. PE times on rainy days meant trekking up to the Community Hall, which wasn’t much fun but better than Simon says in the classroom. One very cold winter, Ernie Guthrie made us a skating rink on the lower field.
Moving to the new school was exciting as now we had a large indoor gym, showers in the change room, a kitchen, a large open area library, separate washrooms for the teachers and other city school amenities. The rooms were smaller but had lots of windows, cupboards, and a sink—no excuse for leaving the room for a drink.
During Ed Piggot’s time at the school, Cortes Island students were always on the honour roll when they got to Campbell River for high school.
While the physical environment was important to learning some skills unique to island living, the teaching experience was also rewarding. I think our students had a learning advantage from being in multiple grades. As well they had the emotional advantage of being part of a cohesive group of kids who had to get along. In most cases the only time they had to socialize was at school. Smelt Bay was the only real neighbourhood.
I found the students special and fun. Those I still have any contact with are interesting and responsible adults which is no surprise.