Evelyn Alberta (Johnson) MarFleet
Life and Work
Born near Elk Point, Alberta at the family homestead on September 29, 1914, Evelyn was the second of four children born to Charles and Ella Johnson. Evelyn attended school near Elk Point and went on to St. Paul for Grade 12. She then went to normal school in Edmonton.
Upon receiving her qualifications to teach school she took a job in a one-room school at Frog Lake. She boarded with a local family and rode to school in a buggy drawn by a pair of mules. Her driver was one of the children in the family who was in Grade 12. The older boys in her class were bigger and probably not that much younger than she. Evelyn's next assignment was at Springpark - another one-room school complete with a converted granary that served as a teacherage.
When she moved on to teach in Elk Point her replacement at Springpark was Chris Marfleet. A romance blossomed and they were wed at his parent's home in Marwayne on July 2, 1939. Chris had four younger brothers (all five of them born within 6 years). Chris was the first brother to bring home his future bride and his brothers thought he had brought home an angel. However their admiration didn't prevent them from kidnapping the bride on her wedding day and hiding her away until just before the nuptials were to begin. It was all done in good fun.
Chris and Evelyn continued to teach together as a team in other rural schools near Therien and Namao. A daughter was born in May 1942; and in 1943, her husband enlisted in the air force. Evelyn went back to live with her parents at Elk Point during this time.
After the war, they took advantage of the opportunity offered to veterans to continue his education and moved to Edmonton. Evelyn was busy raising her three children. They later moved to Sundre. The superintendent of schools, Mr. Crispo, asked Evelyn to teach in Sundre. He had been superintendent of the schools she worked in previously, so knew her skills as a teacher.
Evelyn taught school in Sundre for approximately 25 years, mostly Grades 1 and 2 - launching the little ones into their careers at school. As requirements for teaching certification were upgraded, Evelyn took night classes and attended summer school to meet the new standards.
The Royal Purple benefited from her involvement. Evelyn advanced through all the chairs to Honoured Royal Lady and then went on to hold an office at the provincial level. Her musical talents were appreciated in this organization.
After Evelyn retired from teaching, she travelled with her husband to many places and her favourite stop, Las Vegas. With the death of her husband, she moved into the Foothills Lodge in Sundre. During her last years, Evelyn wanted great grandchildren and she was not shy in encouraging her married grandchildren to do this for her.
Letter of Appreciation by Brandi Lee Marfleet
My grandmother was someone whom everyone loved and admired. She was well known all throughout Sundre as a caring, loving and thoughtful person. Evelyn Marfleet was my grandmother and she was someone I admired very much. I admired her not only because she was my grandmother, but because she was a mentor as well.
Grandma was always there for me, and she helped me at any task I presented to her. She helped me write a song to play on my recorder. When I was in Grade 3, she helped me find all the information I needed for a school project. She would tell me anything I asked her about regarding any topic. She helped me find clothes so I could be Mrs. Claus in the school Christmas play.
Grandma came to all my school concerts. She knit me toques and sweaters. She knit clothes for my Barbie dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids and bought me Barbie accessories such as Corvettes. She was a constant throughout the first 18 years of my life, guiding me along the way whenever she thought I needed her. Even now, almost five years after her death, I still think about my actions, and think about what Grandma would say or do in my situation. Grandma had a large impact on my life. I know she will always be with me in my heart.
Memories by Brandi Marfleet
My grandpa had taken the homestead 1912 and subsequently moved his wife and wee daughter Florence from Minnesota to the wilds of Alberta. It didn't take them long to discover that homesteading was not for them. They moved to town and opened a retail outlet that, among other things, sold ice cream. Before spring breakup Grandpa had ice cut and hauled from the river to the store where he packed it in sawdust. Aside from providing a necessary ingredient for the ice cream making process, the sawdust packed ice kept the ice cream frozen through the summer.
I believe she was most effective at teaching reading. She was left-handed and somehow developed a way of teaching writing and the use of scissors to her right-handed students. Mom brought her musical talents into the classroom. She could play just about any tune by ear. She had this uncanny ability to know in an instant how many letters there were in a word. Evelyn claimed this helped her to know how to spell a word and she was a great speller. Many times when I left her a note, upon returning home I would find it in a prominent place with all my spelling errors corrected.
Dad was a great fisher and hunter and we often had a house full of friends or relatives coming to accompany him on his trips out West. Mom always had great meals ready for their return and for the duration of their visit. I think Mom and Dad enjoyed entertaining as there was often someone coming for dinner and/or an evening of card playing. One evening, in his frustration at losing yet another hand of bridge to Mom and her partner, Dad threw the cards on the floor and remarked, "You just can't beat brains and beauty."
When Mom retired, her focus changed to her grandchildren. Mom helped and encouraged them to do well in school and to further their education after graduation. She was a powerful influence in their lives and she loved them all dearly. She taught them about fairness and honesty and encouraged them to develop the talents they were born with. Because they spent so much time together at Grandma's house they remain good friends in their adult years and get together whenever possible.
Mom never drove a car and I believe she enjoyed a sense of independence that she hadn't had before, in that she was able to walk to many of the places she needed to go and not rely of someone else to drive her. Throughout her life Mom always had knitting or crocheting projects on the go. She continued to pursue this hobby in the Lodge, knitting for her loved ones and items to be sold at the Lodge's craft sales. Some of the residents in the Lodge tell how they appreciated her wisdom, intelligence and enthusiasm for the activities going on in the Lodge. They also tell how much she is missed.
Being A Role Model
As a young woman my mother was my role model. I strove to emulate her fine qualities. She was always a source of inspiration and encouragement, not only for her children and grandchildren, but also for her many students within the school system. She was a mentor for many people within her community. Evelyn had a way of encouraging others to develop their strengths and talents. Her friends tell me how much they miss her in their lives. Evelyn lived her life with grace and dignity. Her very presence commanded attention, respect and co-operation. I never once in my life heard her raise her voice I guess she didn't need to.
- Research and Writing: Marjorie Marfleet.