Gladys (Yates) Locken




Life and Work

On June 28, 1914, Gladys was born in the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary to Edith and William Yates who had come from England to make their home in Canada. While her father was overseas in WWI, Gladys and her mother lived in Glenbow, southwest of Calgary. After the war, the Yates moved to a farm where the Bearspaw Dam is now. In 1921, a younger sister, Edna joined the family.

Gladys enjoyed her studies and reading was her greatest pleasure. She soon devoured everything in the school's book cupboard, Anne of Green Gables being her favourite book. Her love of reading continues to this day. She likes authors Phyllis Whitney and Agatha Christie but not Danielle Steel or Stephen King.

Although Gladys had always dreamed of being a nurse, she seized the opportunity to become a teacher, when a family friend loaned her $450, which paid her room and board in Calgary for three years at $15 per month. She entered Normal School, located in what is now Heritage Hall on the SAIT campus. The Berrydale School Board paid her tuition because she was the first person from the district to enter the teaching profession. Gladys graduated in 1935, but had to wait a year for her first teaching job due to a teacher surplus brought about by affordable training and readily available financial help.

Gladys accepted her first teaching assignment in 1936 at Esther, north of Sibbald, on the eastern side of Alberta in a school called Rush Centre. She did get frustrated with the School Inspectors, who visited twice a year and expected her to teach every child, even those who couldn't learn, the same thing.

In 1937, Gladys came to teach in Bearberry. Hans Locken's sister, Gerta Wayant, who had moved to the farm next to the Yates in Berrydale, thought Gladys would be a good teacher for Bearberry. Without ever meeting her, she asked the Bearberry school trustees to send Gladys an application. When she was hired, her friends were aghast that she was going to a place where there was nothing but "jackpine and savages."

While teaching in Bearberry, Gladys lived in a comfortable teacherage close to the store which she felt very lucky to have, since her friend Margaret lived in a drafty old granary full of mice. Gladys met Hans Locken two years after she came to Bearberry. She went to a dance with him in January and he proposed on February 14, Valentine's Day. They were married on July 11, 1940 in Olds and moved into their first home on a farm near Cremona. Six children, Denise (Bredin), Raymond, Karen (Leacock) John, Joan and Earl were born to Gladys and Hans. They raised five children, since Raymond died when he was 5 1/2 years old from asthma which was misdiagnosed as diphtheria.

After a few years of working for different farmers in the Cremona area, the Lockens bought the quarter-section in Bearberry where Gladys lives now, for $500.

Today, she spends much of her time reading, visiting with family, keeping up with her grand- and great-grandchildren's lives, and attending family get-togethers for birthdays and Christmas celebrations.


Letter of Appreciation by Pinky Birney

Gladys Yates was just a young lady when she was posted to teach at Bearberry. This was her second posting, shy but willing to do her very best. She enjoyed all the children under her stewardship, teaching Grades 1 to 9. There were rules and regulations she had to adhere by, such as not calling any child by his or her nickname.

She lived in a two-room teacherage next to the school. Coal oil lamps, wood stoves and water from a hand pump not far away. Her sister Edna stayed with her for awhile. If Gladys was to visit any other pupils' parents she would have to walk many miles - sometimes having to walk home in the dark, which was frightening at times.

Gladys taught for three years 1937-1939. One time all the school children, if they wanted to, were allowed to go to Calgary to see King George VI and Queen Elizabeth travelling in the back of Ernie Pearce's stock truck. A section along Banff Trail was sectioned off for different schools for viewing the Royal couple passing by in a convertible limousine. This trip was a highlight for the children as well as the adults. Gladys will say she thoroughly enjoyed her teaching while in Bearberry.

In 1940, she married a local fellow, named Hans Locken. They moved away for awhile but came back to Bearberry to raise their family, after living in several different places in the valley before buying a quarter of land. Having to build a home for the family, Hans worked at different jobs while raising cattle, horses and sawmilling.

During later years the Bearberry ladies would get together and have a surprise birthday with cake and gifts visiting over a cup of coffee which she always enjoyed so much.

They raised all their children in Bearberry and they got the first years of education in the same schoolhouse that their mother had taught in years ago. Most other family members live in and around the Bearberry area.

We citizens of Bearberry admire and are proud to have lived as neighbours to such wonderful people as Hans and Gladys Locken. Gladys was always a charming and gracious hostess when ever anyone visited. Hans never had a bad word for anyone and always had a big smile.

Memoirs of Gladys Locken by Edna Bakken


Childhood was a pleasant time for Gladys. She and her friends played outdoors most of the time. Her mother's best friend's daughter, Margaret McNeil, became a lifelong best friend to Gladys. They often entertained themselves by playing school or house. When they played school, Margaret was the teacher, since Gladys was interested in being a nurse not a teacher. Their school desks and seats were hummocks of slough grass. At other times, Gladys and four of her friends rode an old horse that wandered around the neighbourhood. "The trick was not to be the last one on because the one on the tail end always fell off." Gladys liked to skate but she never learned to swim because she became frightened of the water when she got caught under a log while playing with friends in the river.

Her Favourite Teacher

"Mrs. Pearson taught me in Grades 3 and 4 at Bearspaw School and was my best teacher." She was sorry to say good-bye to her favourite teacher when the family moved to Olds in 1925, but much to her surprise and delight, on the first day in Berrydale school, there was Mrs. Pearson. Over the next three years, she completed Grade 10 on her own with the help of Vidah Vauthrin (now Lindner)


Her father teased that, "All the eligible young men would rush to the centre to check out the new teacher." At Rush Centre, Gladys taught over 20 children in eight grades. Being a calm person who did not get upset at the usual pranks and mischief children do, Gladys had no discipline problems with her large class. Nor did she get upset at her first Christmas concert when the beautiful balloons that decorated the hall began to pop as the wood stoves got hot.

Gladys taught in the second Bearberry school which was built in 1935 after the first school burned down. Her school, located near the store, had a cloakroom, a shelf for the water bucket, a wood stove and one shelf of books. The larger student desks were at the back and the smaller ones near the front, close to the blackboard and the teacher's desk. Gladys liked having Grades 1 to 9 in the same room because the younger ones listened to and learned from the older children's lessons as well as their own. One of the highlights during her three years of teaching in Bearberry was a field trip to Calgary to see the King and Queen. The students, a parent or two and Gladys made the trip to Calgary in the back of a truck driven by Stan Pearce. For some of the children, the visit was their first experience in a city. Gladys enjoyed teaching and is very proud that her granddaughter, a teacher in Olds, has followed in her footsteps.

Her Children

Gladys remembers taking them all berry picking almost every good day during the summer. She, her good friend, Daisy McNab and their children pulled a little wagon full of lunches, water, berry pails and sometimes a tired child across the road to the quarter west of Locken's. The children played while the women picked cranberries or blueberries. "They never seemed to tire of going." Gladys says. Greta Malhof, another very good friend, and Gladys were often together. Since each had children with red hair, they were often complimented on their "little red heads" no matter which mother happened to be with the children. Gladys likes belonging to a large family that includes her "wonderful bunch" of eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. She would like to pass on her deep faith and belief in the Bible that has sustained her through all of life's troubles and triumphs to the younger members of her family, but she doesn't push it.

-Written by Edna Bakken from an interview with Gladys Locken