The following text and images have been extracted from the exhibit: “Anna Fulton Cail: Vernon’s Grande Dame.” The exhibit was assembled at the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives in the fall of 2008. The official opening of the exhibit took place in January of 2009.
Funding for the exhibit was provided by the province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Community Services and with the assistance of the British Columbia Museums Association.
ANNA FULTON CAIL: VERNON'S GRANDE DAME
Compiled and written by Ron Candy,
Greater Vernon Museum & Archives
Anna (Fulton) Cail was born in Vernon on April 17th, 1911 to Clarence Fulton and Thekla Reinhard. She grew up on her parent’s 20-acre farm located on Vernon’s East Hill and attended elementary school at the newly constructed Central (Beairsto) School where her father was both teacher and principal. Following in her father’s career choice, Anna graduated from UBC in 1934 and returned to the Okanagan to teach both English and physical education, eventually retiring in 1976.
Over the years, Anna Cail has taught thousands of children in the North and Central Okanagan and has always been the epitome of hard work and dedication. Her involvement in education, politics, the peace movement, the preservation of our built heritage, and many other causes has been an inspiration to many. As well, her grandfather, father, and husband all contributed immensely to the spirit of education and higher learning; pursuits that have led to a much better quality of life for all those living in the region.
While this exhibit attempts to honour a truly remarkable individual, Anna Cail’s story would not be complete if it didn’t include extensive information on both her father, Clarence Fulton, a teacher in Vernon for over 35 years, and the beginnings of Vernon’s public schools in the late 19th century. As well, we hope this exhibit not only illuminates the life of Anna Cail, but also pays tribute to all those who dedicate their lives to teaching.
SCHOOLING COMES TO PRIEST’S VALLEY
The Priest’s Valley School District was established on May 23rd 1883. The trustees were E.J. Tronson, Alfred McNeil and, in the position of chairman, Price Ellison.
In the fall of 1884, Priest’s Valley (Vernon) opened its first school. Local contractor, Angus McDonald, built the new school at a cost of $625.00. Thirteen students occupied the small one-room wooden structure along with their teacher, twenty-seven year old Miss Sophie Johnson. A newcomer to the region, Miss Johnson had no formal training as a teacher. However, she was educated and had a well-rounded knowledge of the arts, literature, and music. Price Ellison had approached Miss Johnson with a plea that she take the position as there was no one else in the area capable.
As fate would have it, the school burned to the ground only months after its completion. Maria Houghton, a student at the school, later recalled in 1935…
“…We were not to enjoy for long our new schoolhouse, of which we were rather proud; it was burnt down the following March. The students were all inside at the time, busy with their lessons. George Tronson was the first to notice it…flames did not show below the ceiling and at first we did not believe him, but we soon found out it was only too true. The children were not panicky but went to work and quickly carried everything moveable outside to a place of safety. Then the elder boys removed the sashes from the four windows and saved them as well. They tried to get the door off its hinges but failed, so it went up in smoke.”
Until a new schoolhouse was built, lessons were held in the town lock-up. It was a rather small building as Marie Houghton recalls…
“…The room in the lock-up was too small and we were cramped, but our liking for our teacher did much to make us forget the discomfort of our surroundings. We were very fond of her; she was very painstaking, kind and sympathetic and we made good progress with our studies. Those were happy days for me.”
Local contractor, E.L. Morand, built a second schoolhouse in 1885 at a cost of $500.00. Receipts from this time period show school supplies ordered from a supplier in Victoria consisted of slates, lead and slate pencils, grammar books, and primers. Meanwhile, Sophie Johnson had married school trustee and local blacksmith, Price Ellison. At the time, it was frowned upon for married women to hold a teaching position. Consequently, Sophie had to offer her resignation in June of 1885. Her replacement was Mr. R.S. Hanna who had previously been teaching south at the Okanagan School (established in 1874) at the Mission (Kelowna area).
As was the case with most rural schools, the Priest’s Valley School was also used as on Sundays as a church and for social gatherings on weekdays and in the evenings. Marie Houghton again recalls…
“More people were coming into the country all the time and the new schoolhouse proved to be a great boon to the community. Nearly every Sunday some of the Protestant ministers, Rev. Mr. Sheldrick, Rev. Mr. Jaffray or Rev. Mr. Langill, held service in it, and during the week it was often the scene of a social gathering of some sort.”
According to the Inland Sentinel newspaper in Kamloops, the school’s teacher, R.S. Hanna, contracted “mountain fever” (a bacterial disease caused by a tick bite) in November of 1888 and was hospitalized for over a month in Kamloops. A year later, Hanna left the school altogether and was succeeded by William Sievwright. A proficient teacher, Sievwright went on to work at the Coldstream Valley School in 1892.
THE RURAL SCHOOLS
Under the terms of the 1872 Public School Act, the B.C. provincial government was obliged to pay the costs for building and furnishing schoolhouses in all authorized school districts. Twelve years later, the districts were divided into two categories: municipal and rural. The municipal districts were then required to assume a portion of capital costs (by the turn of the century, municipal school boards were responsible for the entire cost of school construction). Meanwhile, the rural districts continued to receive full government funding for erecting and equipping schoolhouses.
However, many small one-room rural schools, with enrolment that numbered less than 20, fell into yet another category. Designated as "assisted schools" they were often located in remote areas. While teachers in assisted schools were paid by the Education Department, local residents were still responsible for building and equipping the schools.
The two schools built at Priest’s Valley in 1884 and 1885 were designated as assisted schools and the costs associated with their construction as well as supplies and equipment were born out by the residents. But, the real difficulty for many remote regions wasn’t so much the building of a school but in securing someone who could teach.
According to UBC Library,
“The average teacher's salary in British Columbia in 1875 was $66.02 per month for men and $56.11 for women; an average salary of $61.07. This was at a time when board and lodging might run as high as forty dollars monthly in the Interior, and when farm hands could earn as much as fifty dollars per month, plus board, "thus clearing as much again as the educated school teacher."
From 1874 to 1879 teachers in the Interior received an extra ten dollars per month as compensation for the higher cost of living there, but then this bonus was cut off. The Superintendent of Education, while admitting that teachers' wages compared unfavourably with those of artisans andskilled labourers, argued that because of the sure pay, holidays, short hours, and ‘consequent many opportunities for mental improvement’, the teachers were actually well off. Prospective teachers were evidently persuaded by these arguments…they continued to accept the poor conditions as the years went by. Indeed, by 1890 the average salary had declined to $59.61 per month.”
What level of salary Sophie Johnson (Ellison) received in 1884/85 as teacher at Priest’s Valley School isn’t known. However, at the time, there were four grades of teachers' certificates, in descending order of qualification and pay: First Class, Second Class, Third Class and the Temporary Certificate, which was issued to teachers who had not passed the examination but were needed to fill empty posts. In 1880, six of the nine teachers in the Interior had no more than temporary certificates. It is almost certain Sophie Johnson (Ellison) held a temporary certificate. As such, her wages would have been extremely low.
Dr. Harold Putnam (Senior Inspector of Schools, Ottawa) and Dr. George Weir (a professor of Education at the University of British Columbia) carried out a survey of public schools in British Columbia in 1924. With regards to the appearance of many rural schools, the authors of the report observed…
“Some have ideal surroundings, but the school buildings themselves are primitive and very small. Many are built of logs. Some are not larger than 15 by 18 feet with a ceiling just above your head. Some have attractive grounds, some have bare and unattractive yards, and some are built on rocks... Some of these buildings are tidy and clean inside and some sadly in need of paint, whitewash, and soap.”
A NEW SCHOOL FOR A NEW TOWN
The name “Priest’s Valley” was changed to Vernon on November 1st, 1887. The suggestion for the new name came from Sophie Ellison, the town’s first schoolteacher, who thought it appropriate that the settlement be named in honour of Forbes George Vernon, one of the region’s early settlers (arriving in 1863) and, at the time, a member of the B.C. Legislature representing the Yale District. In 1892, the town of Vernon was incorporated.
Along with a new name came a new school. The second school building, built in 1885, was sold and moved off the property in 1893. In its place a brand new two-story brick school was built. Costing $5,087.00, the construction of the new school was contracted out by the province to T.E. Crowell of Vernon. The completed building had four classrooms, fifty hardwood and iron school desks, blackboards, plaster walls with wainscoting, a metal roof, and tongue and groove flooring throughout.
The new Public School opened on January 11th, 1894. However, before the first student walked through its doors, the facility was already too small. The Vernon News reported…
“On Monday last the public school opened in the new schoolhouse and it was apparent from the start that the two rooms furnished with desks will not be sufficient to contain the number of pupils who will be in attendance this term.”
Indeed, nearly 100 students were on the register when the new school opened and only fifty desks were on hand. Two teachers had been hired and a janitor was still to be found. By February, a third teacher position was being advertised. A fourth position appeared by July of 1897. Attendance at the school in February of 1898 numbered 97 boys and 86 girls. Less than 14 years previous, attendance was a mere 13 children in total.
VERNON HIGH SCHOOL
As students from the elementary grades got older, a need for senior grade classes was becoming apparent. On October 17th, 1901, the Vernon News reported…
“A well attended meeting was held on Tuesday evening in Cameron’s Hall to discuss the high school question. The matter has excited considerable interest in the city, and a number of leading citizens spoke strongly in favour of the project. A resolution was passed authorizing the trustees, the city council, and Mr. Price Ellison, M.P.P., to take all necessary steps toward securing a high school for the city. It is probable that arrangements to this end will be made before the close of the year.”
In 1902, a makeshift high school was organized and given space in the upstairs of the Vernon News building off Whetham (31st Street). The class later moved to rooms over Cameron’s Store. On January 23rd, 1902, the Vernon News reported…
“Our high school has started out with about 20 pupils…they (the school) also draw a government grant of $20.00 for each pupil and $300.00 for the teacher.”
In addition to the provincial grants the two schools were receiving, the town contributed an additional $1,049.00 to assist with operating costs. The first classes at the high school were operated under R.W. Suter who initially taught at the elementary school. Suter was at the high school for only a few months before leaving in July of 1902 for a teaching position in Vancouver. The man who replaced Suter was Clarence Fulton.
In December of 1903, the high school moved out of its rented temporary premises and into a new building the following month. In July of 1904, the Special Illustrated Edition of the Vernon News reported…
“Until the first of the present year, work was conducted under rather unfavourable circumstances as there was no High School building…In the first part of January, however, the new building was ready for use and the school is now provided with every facility for the proper teaching of the various subjects. The High School building contains four large class-rooms, well lighted and ventilated and heated by hot air furnaces…There is also a library which furnishes good supplementary reading on historical and other subjects, as well as some volumes of standard fiction.”
HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Clarence Fulton was born April 21st, 1873 at Middle Stewiacke, Colchester County, Nova Scotia. His ancestors had originally come to Nova Scotia from Northern Ireland in 1760.
Clarence Fulton attended high school in Halifax, 44 miles from his home. This distance required him to board out during the week and come home on weekends. It was a difficult arrangement for a young lad but it resulted in him becoming self-sufficient and confident at an early age. So much so, that after only two years of high school, he qualified for a Class D Teaching Certificate and, at the age of 17, was offered a teaching position at Ship’s Harbour, 45 miles east of Halifax.
In January of 1891, the young Fulton accepted the teaching position in Ship’s Harbour and agreed to a salary of $116.00 for six months of teaching. Room and board would cost him $3.00 per week; an amount he was later able to reduce to $1.50. Near the end of the term for that year, a school inspector dropped by and wrote in his register: “Present 26 – school orderly and attentive.”
Fulton took the comment made by the inspector as a very favourable remark and a vote of confidence for his abilities. He then decided to move on to bigger and better things. The following term found him employed at another school just outside of Truro and later at a school in Clifton where he was given a class of 45 pupils. While his reputation as an exceptional teacher grew, he decided that it would be best if he returned to high school and completed his own education.
Thus, by January of 1892, he was back in Halifax. After graduation, he went on to obtain his B.A. from Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Clarence Fulton paid his own way through university, working the summer months in Boston where he laboured at hauling and delivering ice and working part time at a hospital. Boston was a centre for arts and culture and while he was there, Fulton spent much of his spare time visiting the city’s libraries, museums, art galleries, and theatres; places that served to influence the formation of his strong cultural values.
Fulton graduated from Dalhousie in 1899 and then returned to Truro to attend Normal School (a school designed exclusively to train graduates for the teaching profession). He graduated from Truro in June of 1901 with a First Class Teaching Certificate.
The following year, Fulton came out to British Columbia and landed a teaching position in New Westminster. Shortly after, in July of 1902, he obtained a B.C. Teaching Certificate. It was about this time that he heard of a teaching position at a new high school in Vernon, B.C. Fulton applied and got the job.
On September 25, 1902, the Vernon News reported…
“After fully considering some 35 applications for the position of teacher of the high school, made vacant by the resignation of R.W. Suter, the trustees decided to give it to Clarence Fulton, of New Westminster, B.A., of Dalhousie University, who comes very highly recommended, and will commence his duties on the first of the month.”
Clarence Fulton arrived in Vernon on the evening train on September 30th, 1902. The next day, he assumed his duties at the high school.
Fulton proved to be a caring and inspiring teacher and gave his students plenty of encouragement when it came to their studies. However, he also advocated the need for recreational time. In an article written by H.D. Pritchard and Clarence Fulton in the 1951 edition of the Okanagan Historical Society Report the following was written…
“Although this group worked hard (students), they had fun too. The whole school played basketball on lots now occupied by the Canadian National Railways building and adjacent stores. The cheers and jolly cries of the players rang from end to end of Barnard Avenue. During the winter of 1903, Kalamalka Lake had a long spell of skating. For about two weeks, Mr. Ellison sent his team (horses and wagon) to take the whole school skating every afternoon. George and Percy French also brought their team to give the school many a gay sleighing party. The group sang all the old songs with an enthusiasm possible only to the young and happy. The crowning triumph of the winter came when the school team defeated the second town team at hockey. The game was followed by a riotous march-out and drinks (lemonade) at the Coldstream Hotel.”
In January of 1904, the high school moved into a new three-roomed brick building on Mason Street (a second floor was added in 1907). The building was constructed through provincial funds secured by Price Ellison M.P.P. In spring, nine of the boys in the class assisted with landscaping around the school. The Okanagan Historical Society Report for 1951 continues…
“They (the boys) dug out the school park and planted maple trees around the grounds.”
At this point in time, the high school (still only one class) had put together a seven-piece orchestra, a male quartette, a literary society, a tennis club, and a baseball team.
While the students at the high school excelled in their studies, they also did well in sports, music, drama, and other pursuits. For the most part, their enthusiasm for such activities was credited to their teacher: Clarence Fulton. Ellen (Ellison) Sovereign (1887-1977), a former student, recalled…
“The school was Mr. Fulton. There wouldn’t have been a school without him. He built up the school, made things grow. Coming from the east with its background of culture, he was the one who got things started here. He made school so much fun we couldn’t help learning; we didn’t want to miss anything.”
In 1908, Clarence Fulton married Thekla Reinhard, the daughter of a local physician, Dr. William Reinhard, who came to Vernon with his family in 1892. Clarence and Thekla had three children: William (born in 1909) Anna (born in 1911) and Clarence (born in 1913).
Shortly after Anna was born, Fulton experienced a serious setback to his teaching career. A second teacher had been hired at the high school in February of 1910. However, the new teacher, Mr. H. Dana Hunting, was inexperienced and had a difficult time teaching Latin. As a result, his class wasn’t learning the language. Fulton, who had an excellent grasp of Latin, offered to switch classes with Hunting. Unfortunately, the switch took place shortly before a visit from a school inspector. The inspector, a Latin scholar himself, took the struggling Latin class to be a result of Fulton’s inept teaching and wrote a scathing and unfavourable report on Fulton. The trustees then felt they had no choice but to dismiss Fulton. On June 1st, 1911, the Vernon News reported…
“Taking many things into consideration, and discussing the situation from a fair and purely impartial standpoint, the Board in the first place decided…that the secretary be instructed to write Principal Fulton of the high school, that the Board will not require his services after the end of the present term…The Board (trustees) had before them the report of High School Inspector Gordon which was not altogether satisfactory, and was more favourable to Mr. Hunting than Mr. Fulton, and it was this report that largely determined their action.”
Interestingly, the principal at the elementary school, J.F. Smith, and another teacher, W.H. Matheson had both handed in their resignations prior to the Board meeting. At the Board meeting itself, it was decided that, due to decreased attendance, a “one-room” high school would be all that was needed once the new term commenced. Some Board members recommended giving Mr. Hunting a chance to his capabilities. However, Board member, Joe Harwood, “would be satisfied with nothing but a clean sweep.” Consequently, along with principal Fulton, Mr. Hunting was also given notice. The Board then advertised for five positions in the Vancouver Daily Province, Manitoba Free Press, and the Toronto Globe. Commencing salaries were advertised as follows: Principal at the high school, $125.00 per month, Principal at the public (elementary) school, $115.00 per month, Assistant Principal at the public school, $80.00 per month, and two intermediate teachers at $60.00 per month.
Fulton quickly secured another teaching position in Kelowna. A.R. Lord, school principal in Kelowna from 1910 to 1914 later wrote…
“He (Fulton) came to Kelowna to apply for a vacant position on our staff. I told him, ‘It is a Junior Third Class and the salary is $65.00 a month.’ His reply, ‘I don’t care what it is. I want to show them I can make good.’ He was with us for a year and a half to our interest, satisfaction, and occasional amazement…His family continued to live in Vernon. In the early spring for some special reason…he wished to spend a weekend athome (This may have taken place in March, or shortly after, when his third child, Clarence, was born).
Vernon was thirty-seven miles over a rough road and in 1913 there was only one way to go. He left the school at four o’clock Friday afternoon, fortified with two hard boiled eggs in his pocket and walked home in ten hours.” The next term, Clarence Fulton was back in Vernon and teaching at Central School.
By 1908, the four-room public school was no longer capable of housing the fast-growing number of students and a new and larger elementary school was needed. Central School (now named Beairsto) was a large ten-room brick building with an auditorium. It was constructed in 1909 at a cost of $45,000.00 and opened in 1910.
In 1918, the principal of Central School left for Nelson, B.C. and Clarence Fulton was given the job. He was awarded a salary of $150.00 per month.
After his second child, Anna, was born in the spring of 1911 and certainly in light of the stress he experienced by having lost his position at the high school just a few months later, Clarence Fulton thought more about his family’s future and how he and Thekla would be able to retire comfortably. He decided he needed to supplement his teacher’s salary by starting a business. So, he planted an apple orchard.
While farming was in Fulton’s blood, many would argue that growing fruit was no way to make a fortune. Nevertheless, Fulton secured a 20-acre parcel of land where Silver Star Elementary School now stands, and began his new venture, teaching school during the day in Kelowna and working on the orchard during the rest of his time.
During the winter of 1915/16 a disastrous cold spell killed most of the trees in Fulton’s orchard. Undaunted, he diversified and planted hay amongst the surviving trees and bought a couple of milk cows. He was now in the dairy business. By this point in time, Fulton had also brought out his parents from Nova Scotia who helped with chores around the dairy.
Lakeview Dairy, as it was called, evolved into a family business. Fulton Sr. delivered the milk around town while Fulton Jr. did all of the milking. Clarence got up each day at 6:00 a.m. to milk the 10 cows on the farm. He then taught school during the day, milked the cows again in the evening, and was in bed shortly after supper.
Unfortunately, disease later wiped out Fulton’s dairy herd. He then turned his attention to raising chickens, a venture that was downsized in 1929 when his financial situation left him little choice but to end his mortgage commitments by selling his property for $1.00.
While Fulton struggled as a farmer, he was held in high regard as a teacher by many of his students. In an interview conducted in about 1973, former student, Helen Mutrie recalls…
“He always made his lessons so interesting. He wouldn’t just read a story (in literature) he would act it out, taking all the parts himself. He was tough on the boys; he wouldn’t tolerate insolence or disobedience, but he always encouraged them when they did well.”
Fulton’s daughter, Anna (Fulton) Cail, also recalled…
“I had just passed my entrance exam (high school) and Dad was trying to persuade me to take a year off to study music and read great works of literature. He didn’t believe in children startingthings too young. He thought they should be mature enough to appreciate them. So, I spent a year playing the piano and reading the works of Sir Walter Scott. We also had all the George Eliot books, but Dad felt they were too racy, so I couldn’t read them that year, although I eventually did my B.A. thesis on George Eliot.”
Good friend and fellow teacher, William Seaton Sr., remembered Fulton by saying…
“He had a friendly, open nature; he would talk to anyone, anywhere, anytime, on any topic. He had an enquiring mind and would wonder about everything…He was a stern disciplinarian who felt a whacking was good physiotherapy. Kids bore him no grudges for they knew he would not tolerate disobedience and dishonesty…He was a man with a wonderful sense of humour. His boisterous laugh and a hearty clout on the back were my first recollections of him when I came here to teach…He had a great love of literature…and he brought literature to life in the classroom.”
In 1925, despite his reputation as a respected teacher with his colleagues and students, Clarence Fulton once again found himself on the wrong side of a school inspector. Inspector T.R. Hall found Fulton’s laissez faire approach to filing and record-keeping, coupled with his propensity to ignore the importance of I.Q. tests, reason to file another unsatisfactory report to the Board of Trustees. By September, the trustees installed H.K. Beairsto as principal of Central School and Fulton was offered a lower level teaching position. Not surprisingly, Fulton declined the offer to stay, and moved back to teaching at the High School. It now occupied the old elementary school.
Meanwhile, a new high school was constructed on the edge of Polson Park in 1937. Built at a cost of $156,375.00 ($112,275.00 came from the city and 45,000.00 came from the province) the new Vernon High School included grades seven to thirteen. Five hundred and sixty-seven students were in attendance when the school opened in December of 1937. Clarence Fulton was in charge of a class of 30 grade eleven students.
Clarence Fulton officially retired in 1938 when he turned 65. However, he was pressed back into service during World War II during the teacher shortage. Fulton was named Good Citizen of the Year in 1954. After his death in 1960, the city renamed Vernon High School, calling it Clarence Fulton Junior Senior High School in 1964, finally giving him the honour and respect he so long deserved.
ANNA (FULTON) CAIL
Anna was born in April of 1911. It was a time when Vernon, as a community, was experiencing tremendous change. The city was preparing to celebrate its 19th year of incorporation; the contract to build Vernon’s magnificent stone courthouse was awarded in 1911; a telegraph line between Vernon and Sicamous was nearing completion; the Y.M.C.A. had just moved into the old High School on Mason Street, and the city’s namesake, Forbes George Vernon, had just passed away in London.
In other parts of the world, George V was crowned King; the Mexican Revolution was underway; Chevrolet officially entered the automobile market to compete with Ford’s Model T; Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole, and the world’s first National Park Service, Parks Canada, was established.
Anna began her life living on her parent’s 20-acre farm and orchard on Vernon’s East Hill. At this point in time, the East Hill consisted of open fields; there were few trees and even fewer buildings. The farm was located in an area now occupied by Silver Star Elementary School.
As a child, Anna had fond memories of growing up in Vernon. Picnics and swimming at Kal Lake were often a part of Anna’s summer routine, along with walks to nearby Black Rock and strolls through fields of wildflowers and tall grass to her maternal grandparent’s house, the Reinhard’s, further down the East Hill on what is now 23rd Street.
The Reinhard home, built in 1907, is still standing and, until only recently, had been owned and occupied by Anna.
Anna’s paternal grandparents, Rupert and Mary Fulton, both helped out on the Fulton farm (Lakeview Dairy). Rupert assisted his son Clarence with the dairy operation and delivered milk around town while Mary helped out with everything from gardening to domestic chores.
In 1994, Anna recalled her grandmother Fulton as a being a hard-working woman with a giving spirit…
“Grandma Fulton was a great woman…she really helped people. She would go out and help people clean their homes, make clothes for their kids and so on. We as children, we lived just across from the store on 32nd Avenue where the Baptist Church is now. We had a little cottage which is gone now, the chestnut trees are still there. Grandma Fulton was not too popular with us. Because on Saturday mornings she would have jobs for us; picking up apples or helping pull the weeds or whatever; clean the chicken house! My brothers always hated this. If they saw Grandma Fulton coming they moved out of the way. She was a hard worker and wasn’t afraid of work herself.”
Many of Anna’s most vivid memories were to do with her schooling. She started elementary school in 1917 at Central School (Beairsto). At that time the school was still relatively new, having opened its doors only seven years previously. Her father was appointed principal in 1918 and Anna recalls a measure of discipline was enforced at the school…
“We lined up in front of the school in fours and at attention. Mr. Seaton was usually playing the piano and we had to listen to the beat and we had to get our left foot in time with the beat. It always bothers me when you see people in a parade and they don’t know enough to get the left foot on the beat. Well, we learned this in elementary school, and then in we marched to Mr. Seaton’s music up the stairs to our rooms. If you talked during this moment, you might get thumped or shaken.”
Of course school wasn’t always serious. There were many times when laughter prevailed…
“Then there was the time when Joe Harwood got stuck in a heating grill at Central School (Beairsto) when he was coming to play Santa for the children. I remember there was an air vent in the northeast room. There was a little flag that blew in the breeze all the time. Suddenly, we were expecting nothing, there is a noise and the vent comes off and here appears Joe Harwood. He was a Trustee and he was built like Santa Clause so he didn’t need any padding. Here was Santa coming through the vent. But, I heard afterwards from my Dad that he and Bill English, who was the head maintenance man, were behind and he (Harwood) was stuck.”
It should also be remembered that Anna and other children were attending elementary school at a time when World War I was taking place. As such, Anna recalled her class singing patriotic songs like, “We’ll Never Let the Old Flag Fall” and “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” However, as Anna points out in an interview in 1982, there were times when the words to some of the songs didn’t make sense to young minds.
“We were singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (a British patriotic song) and the words of the second verse were…
Land of hope and glory, mother of the free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set.
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
I thought this was an actual mother and these were thy ‘bones’ and I couldn’t understand these bones being set (wide apart)…this was Grade I.”
Anna’s maternal grandfather was Dr. William Reinhard. Born in Melsungen, Germany in 1851, Reinhard came to the United States sometime in the early 1880’s and practiced medicine in New Holstein, Wisconsin. In 1883, he married an old acquaintance, Marie Buchbinder, a recent immigrant from Liepzig, Germany. The couple had five children: Oscar, Anna, Thekla, Gustave, and William.
In 1886, Marie’s younger sister, Caroline (Lina), joined the family to help Marie with her growing family. In 1888, the family moved to Canada and Ladner’s Landing (Ladner) in British Columbia. A few years later, in 1891, Marie died at the age of 31. Marie’s youngest child, William, was only seven months old at the time. Lina then took on the task of looking after all five of her sister’s children on her own.
In the spring of 1892, Reinhard arrived in Vernon with his five children and his sister-in-law, Lina, and set-up practice. However, Reinhard felt it improper to be living with an un-married woman, so leaving Lina with the children in Vernon, Reinhard moved to Barkerville for a year as house physician in the local hospital. Later, in 1893, he returned to Vernon and married Lina.
Reinhard then built an office and residence on Railway Avenue (29th Street) across from the Vernon railway station. In 1895, he added living quarters to the building. In 1907, Reinhard built a pre-fabricated house on 14th Street (23rd Street). The house was later occupied by his granddaughter, Anna (Fulton) Cail, and is still standing.
In 1990, Anna remembering her grandmother, Lina, wrote…
“Gramma Reinhard, as we children called her, although she was really our grandaunt, was a marvelous person. She worked hard, seldom complained, and was greatly loved by us all. My brother, Clarence, cannot remember that she ever punished us. She was always giving us treats and shielding us from trouble.
I remember Christmas when the tree was shining with candles, and we sang ‘O Tannenbaum’ as we entered the room. My dolls would have new clothes, or the old ones washed and pressed, and always a new doll. She must have worked nearly all night.
I believe some of her happiest times came when the children were in their teens and she took them camping and skating.”
Apart from outings with her Gramma Reinhard, Anna also spent a lot of time in the outdoors with her CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training) group where she “learned crafts, did exercises and skits, and treasured the quiet meditation and Bible reading time.” She later earned her lifeguard certificate and, beginning in 1930, was employed a number of years by the Vernon Rotary Club as a swimming instructor on Kalamalka Lake during the summer months.
Winter skiing was also one of Anna’s passions. She was among the pioneer skiers who organized the formation of the Silver Star Ski Club in 1938. Carl Wylie, the club’s first president, later recalled…
“More often than not, we used home-made skis made from spruce boards shaped in a back-yard steam box. Leather toe straps served as bindings. Back in the 1930’s there was no distinction between downhill and cross-country. You just strapped on your skis and slid around.”
Despite the rudimentary beginnings, Anna went on to compete and do well in a number of women’s ski competitions held in the Okanagan Valley.
In a 2001 newspaper interview, Anna recalled…
“My father was perfectly sure that the best time of your life was university and he wanted all his children to go to university. He valued education and kept me out of school for a year after Grade 7 to read the classics with me and for me to concentrate on music lessons.”
Anna entered the University of British Columbia and graduated in 1934 with an honours B.A. in English and literature and a minor in history. However, it was the Depression and, as Anna alluded to in a 1994 presentation to the Friends of History, jobs of any type were difficult to secure and sometimes one had to be willing to do anything to get employment…
“When I finished at UBC I applied for a job at a Kelowna school. Jobs were hard to get, so I got all dressed up. I charged up to the Hudson’s Bay to ladies wear and I bought a pink creped dress with a white collar and jacket and white linen hat. Marvelous outfit! I couldn’t afford shoes and all I had were a pair of pumps, satin or silk, and they were worn out. In those days we danced. We didn’t just stand and shake the way they do now. Anyway, I tore what was left of the silk off the shoes and slathered them with white shoe polish, so they looked fine.
I went off to Kelowna to see Mr. Fredrickson, the principal, dressed in this outfit. I really thought I was something. I entered his living room that had a polished dark floor and we had our interview. When I rose to leave, guess what was all over the dark floor? White shoe polish. I thought I lost the job for sure.
It was the Depression and to get a job, you had to say you could teach anything…I thought I was hired to teach English in Kelowna but it was physical education. So, I bought one of these tunics like the private school girls wore…The only proper P.E. teachers at that time in the early 30’s were from Margaret Eaton in Toronto and McGill. So, I had these long black stockings and this tunic and pranced around and tried to look like a P.E. teacher. But, I was really an English teacher. I had majored in English and that was my subject. It took me quite a while to get through to anybody that I wanted to teach English.”
In 1936, Anna moved back to Vernon and landed a teaching position at the old Vernon High School. The following year, at the newly constructed school on the edge of Polson Park, Anna began teaching English along with being the coach of the girl’s basketball and football (soccer) teams.
Anna also became involved in the school’s Dramatic Club as both director and stage player in a number of performances.
Coming to VHS also meant Anna was able to teach at the same school as her well-known and respected father, Clarence Fulton. The Vernon High School Annual for 1938 (the first annual published at the school’s new location) included a dedication to Anna’s father.
When war broke out in 1939, Anna and other local women joined the B.C. Women’s Service Corps, later re-forming into the Red Cross Corps (Voluntary Aid Detachment) and trained at the Vernon Army Camp. Should they be sent overseas, the women not only needed to know advanced first aid, but other skills, including the ability to drive heavy trucks.
“We thought we would go to Italy but we were posted to the Vernon hospital to tend children with typhoid fever. Later, I was sent to train as a physiotherapist’s helper in Quebec City and worked with wounded soldiers returning from Italy. So that was as close as I got to Italy.”
Anna not only assisted with the medical needs of wounded soldiers, but she also put her teaching skills to use by helping soldiers who needed to improve their proficiency in English, in order that they could complete Grade 12.
After the war, in 1947, Anna received a scholarship to attend University in London, England. On June 26th, 1947 the Vernon News reported…
“Miss Anna C. Fulton, Vernon high school teacher, received word on Tuesday that she had been awarded a $1,400.00 scholarship from the British Council for a year’s graduate or professional study at the University of London, Institute of Education. The award carries transportation expenses to England and Miss Fulton expects to commence her studies this fall…
The scholarship is awarded to several Canadians on the basis of applicants’ scholastic and professional records and their plans for post-graduate studies.”
When Anna returned from England in 1948, she became romantically involved with Robert Cail, a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia and a former grade-12 student of Anna’s at Vernon High School.
On July 25th, 1946 the Vernon News reported…
“Robert E. Cail of Vernon, a student at the University of British Columbia, has been awarded the first prize of $25.00 in the essay competition sponsored by the British Columbia Historical Association in conjunction with the celebration of the centenary of the signing of the Oregon Boundary Treaty of June 15th, 1846... Aged 25, he has returned to U.B.C. following discharge from the R.C.A.F., in which he served two years. At the end of the U.B.C. winter session, Mr. Cail won two history scholarships, one sponsored by the Vancouver branch, Women’s Canadian Club... Mr. Cail was a teacher prior to enlisting.”
Robert Cail was born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba in 1920. A short time later, he moved with his parents to Armstrong, B.C. In order to attend school in Vernon, Cail moved in with his grandparents, Mr. And Mrs. R.H. Urquhart of Vernon, when he was about 12 years of age. It was about this time when he first met Anna Fulton.
Later, when Anna began teaching at Vernon High School, Bob Cail was in her grade-12 class. After completing high school, he enrolled at the University of British Columbia.
Cail’s studies were interrupted with the outbreak of World War II when he served two years with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigator instructor. After the war, he moved back to Vancouver and continued at U.B.C. completing his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees in 1947. He then returned to Vernon to teach.
In 1948, after Anna Fulton had returned from a scholarship in London, She and Bob Cail began seeing each other and were eventually married in 1951. The couple moved for a short while to teach in Castlegar and then on to West Vancouver in order that Bob could complete his Ph.D.
Bob Cail’s monumental thesis was titled: Disposal of Crown Lands in British Columbia 1871-1913. It consisted of 526 pages and was submitted by Cail to the Department of History at the University of British Columbia in partial fulfillment for receiving a degree of Master of Arts. By this point in time, Cail had already earned his Bachelor of Arts and his Bachelor of Education degrees (both in 1947).
As Cail points out in his Abstract at the beginning of the work…
“The history of the disposal of crown lands in British Columbia is, in reality, the history of the economic development of the province. It covers the progress of British Columbia from its days as a hunting and trading preserve of the Hudson’s Bay Company through its brief colonial period and formative years as a province down to its years of rapid settlement and development in the decades before 1913. Once the colonial period had passed, the attack upon the natural resources began in earnest. So rich and abundant did those resources of land, mine, forest, and water prove that British Columbia found itself launched into an industrial era almost before adequate legislation had been framed to deal with its land and resources.”
Cail’s thesis proved so insightful, UBC Press, through recommendations made by Dr. Margaret Ormsby and with the assistance of Anna (Fulton) Cail, published the thesis in 1974 under the title, “Land, Man, and the Law.”
In 1958, Bob and Anna were living in Minneapolis and Bob was working at the University of Minnesota as a teaching assistant while continuing his Ph.D. studies. Tragedy struck on July 18th, 1958 when Bob was killed in a motor vehicle accident outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. Anna was pregnant at the time of the accident and later gave birth to Robert Cail Jr. in 1959. A short time later, Anna returned to teaching at Vernon High School. Anna never re-married.
Anna continued to be an inspiration and mentor to school students in Vernon for many years to come. When Anna retired in 1976, the school annual for that year summed up the deep appreciation students held for her in a dedication…
MRS. CAIL, WE’LL MISS YOU!
“It is with great pleasure that this year’s annual is dedicated to Mrs. Anna (Fulton) Cail.
Mrs. Cail is a native to Vernon, being born and educated here. She attended U.B.C., graduating with a B.A. (Honours) in 1933. Her majors were English and History. During her university holidays she was the first swimming teacher and lifeguard hired by the Rotary Club for Kalamalka Beach.
Mrs. Cail taught in Kelowna for two years before coming to Vernon in 1936 (40 years ago). She taught at the old High School (now destroyed) and at the Clarence Fulton Junior Secondary School when it was the Vernon Senior Secondary. She taught Physical Education and English.
During her forty years of teaching she has left Vernon High School several times, but always returned. Mrs. Cail’s love for our school has been demonstrated by her deep devotion to the Graduation Committee. Through her tireless efforts, such things as the Dating Committee, the Dancing Classes and above all the Graduation Grand March, have become tradition at Vernon Senior Secondary School. We, the future grads, are going to miss you Mrs. Cail. So, for past and future grads, may we say a big thank you.”
After Anna retired, she continued to be actively involved with a number of issues and concerns in the community. Her first love was the preservation of the region’s natural and human history. She was one of the original members of the city’s Heritage Advisory Committee and was instrumental in the compilation of Vernon’s heritage building inventory. Considered by many as Vernon’s heritage watchdog, the City of Vernon awarded Anna a Certificate of Appreciation in 2001 for her many years of service on the Heritage Advisory Committee.
Anna was also very active in the peace movement and took part in a number of peace rallies in the city and abroad. She continues to be an active member of the Vernon and District Heritage Society and the Friends of History, an oral history group in which she was a founding member.
In 1989, former Friends of History Chairperson, Edna Oram, wrote…
“Anna is a born organizer and leader who has for many years worked unstintingly in a number of local organizations. Projects in which she is involved succeed because she checks and re-checks every detail to make sure nothing has been overlooked. She is a tireless worker.
Anna is also a very concerned person. She visits those in Restholm and other care facilities. She generously picks up the housebound to take them to community events. She is always there to express concern when they are ill or depressed. She is a real ‘people’ person.
On March 28th, 2009, Anna Caroline Cail passed away. Fortunately, she lived to view the exhibit on her life at the Vernon Museum and participate in celebrations honouring her long career as an educator, peace activist, and historian. She will remain an inspiration to all who knew her and be remembered by many for her wonderful spirit and caring heart.