Wolf Creek Retired Teachers’ Association (WCRTA) History

The Ponoka County Retired Teachers’ Association was organized Oct. 22, 1975 around the kitchen table of Viola Shomshor. The first president was Twig Taylor and the first branch constitution was adopted Feb. 6, 1976. There were twenty-six charter members that originally joined the branch. Twig Taylor, the first president, attended her first provincial ARTA meeting in October of 1976. Edna Stretch Cerveny was the last living charter member, at 103 years old, when she died Oct. 26, 2012. Edna began her twenty-six year teaching career in 1936 at Mound Red with eighteen students in Grades One to Nine. She was also the janitor, and retired in 1973. The first objectives of the branch were to promote social activities, improve the welfare of members, support fellow retired teachers, promote pension improvements, and have an influence on the provincial association. The minutes indicate that the branch joined the Canadian Pension Committee in 1976 to try to improve pensions for seniors.

Following the amalgamation of Ponoka and Lacombe County school boards in the 1990’s the branch name was changed to Ponoka & District Retired Teachers’ Association. In 2013 the branch was renamed the Wolf Creek Retired Teachers’ Association to more accurately reflect and be inclusive of the current membership.

Members of the branch worked on a project for Alberta’s Centennial in 2005. Markers were placed at the site of each of the former rural schools in what is now Ponoka County. The steel pipe signs show the name, the school district number, and the years of operation. The markers pay tribute to pioneers in this area who were dedicated to providing an education for their children and also to the many graduates who went on to higher education. Many retired teachers worked to complete the project. Laura Wierzba compiled the history of each school district and produced a book, Rural Schools of Ponoka County. Eldred and Margaret Stamp, Harry Bourne, and Harold Dootson arranged contracts, painted signs, and transported them to school sites. Selma Stobbe, Juanita Knight, Dorothy Ungstad, and others collected money for the project. Many others helped to locate school sites and arrange for the erection of the signs.

Wolf Creek retired teachers are active in their communities with volunteering and involvement in various organizations. A number have been recognized for that service to their communities. Some examples are Laura Wierzba who was honoured with the Morna Chorney Heart and Soul Award, Russell Petterson and Velma Hart who received the Rita Scott Community Service Award, and Dorothy Houghton who received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Many Wolf Creek retired teachers have served in a variety of positions with the Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association. Two that have contributed to the association for a number of years are Dorothy Ungstad and Juanita Knight. Among the roles that Dorothy took on was trustee and chair of the Benefit Plan Trust Fund. Among the roles that Juanita took on was vice-president, president, and past-president of the association.

Branch meetings and events have been held in a variety of locations such as restaurants, schools, and rural community halls. In recent years the branch has utilized a seniors’ drop in center. Branch events are always lively with conversation, catching up, and sharing.