About RTOERO and Our Past

The inaugural Meeting of the Algoma District branch of the Superannuated Teachers of Ontario was held in the Centennial Room of the Public Library on November 3, 1972. Over seventy (70) teachers came from Blind River, Thessalon, Bruce Mines and Sault Ste. Marie to the meeting chaired by President Weldon Abernathy. It was not until later years that the organization was re-named RTO/ERO, the Retired Teachers of Ontario.

The speakers for the day were Laura Cook Provincial President and Marian Tyrell the Provincial Secretary-Treasurer. They both stressed the efforts to achieve better pensions for retired teachers. 

Mr. Abernathy indicated that the purpose of the organization was to guard the rights of superannuated teachers in matters affecting pensions and health. 

During the meeting of October 1973 newly retired members were introduced. Two of these were Bruce Martin and Gertrude Murray. 

A main point of the meeting involved the calculation of a pension. STO wanted the removal of the 2% raise and the insertion of an escalation clause geared to the cost of living. 

Instead of a guest speaker at the February 1974 General Meeting, twenty members of the group were asked to give a one minute speech on different items of interest in their city, town or village. The members were informed at the fall meeting in 1974 that Mr. Abernathy been appointed to the Provincial Executive of which he would eventually become president in 1977.

Weldon Abernethy

District 3 Algoma    1972-1993

The inaugural meeting of the Algoma District Branch of STO was held in the Centennial Room of the Public Library, Sault Ste. Marie, on Thursday, November 3, 1972. Over 70 superannuated teachers came from Blind River, Thessalon, Bruce Mines, and Sault Ste. Marie. Mr. Weldon Abernethy, who had been instrumental in organizing the meeting, acted as chairman. Guest speaker was Mrs. Laura Cook, provincial president. 

The first Executive was elected that day:  President, Weldon Abernethy, Vice-President, Helen Wood, Secretary, Iola Fountain. Later Glen Payne was chosen as treasurer.

Since then there have been 16 presidents according to the minutes. Some are no longer living, but others are still going strong and some were present for our anniversary luncheon on June 9, 1993.

                             Presidents of District 3

1975-76 Helen Wood

1976-78 Bert Perkin

1978 Gladys White (resigned due to move)

1979-80 Bruce Martin

1980-81 Nora Jeffrey

1981-83 Edna Vail

1983-84 Norma Smith

1984-85 Marion Savela

1985-86 Bruce Ness

1986-87 Fred MacKinnon

1987-88 Cal Haner

1988-89 Jean DuQuesnay

1989-90 Flo McCarthy

1990-91 Orlando Sicoly

1991-92 Mary Kidd

1992-93 Ben Smith

Continuing Concerns through the Years:

Improved pensions, escalation clauses, health insurance and OHIP, extended health care, how to attract more retirees to STO, the work of the Good Will Committee, travel arrangements.

Various Speakers:

Don Nixon (lawyer) on wills; Mr. Bregmen on his trip to Russia for the Canadian-Russian hockey series (1972); Harold Tolley on the Algoma Fall Festival; Mrs. Armstrong on yoga; many travelogues; Fred Wilson on investments; Mr. Biagini on travel tours; Madra Martens on Elderhosteling; talks on nutrition; Peggy Smyth of the Canadian Consumers’ Association; Ralph Thomas on financial matters; Steve Burgess of the John Howard Society; Tym Garside and the “Blue Box” program; Ray Federly of Crime Stoppers; Provincial President, Mary Saad (1992); Ted Nolan, Coach of the Sault Greyhounds; Al Matthews our own Health Convenor; and Mayor Joe Fratesi.

Other Interesting Activities:

Tour of the new Civic Centre and Greetings by Mayor Nick Trbovich; fall colour tours throughout Algoma; longer bus trips to various parts of southern Ontario; entertainment by many choirs, bands, and music ensembles; tour of the Museum; tour of the Forest Pest Management Institute; L.S.S.C. Planetarium; tour of the Air Traffic Control Tower and Weather Station; trip to Elliott Lake and address by Mayer George Farkouh.

Of Further Interest:

In November, 1974, Mr. Abernethy reported that District 3 had a higher than average percentage of retired teachers belonging to STO.  Our first Newsletter was produced in 1981 with Dorothy Burrows as editor. She continued as editor until 1986 when Norma Smith succeeded her. Since 1990 Mary Kidd has been preparing the Newsletter with help from Ben Smith who does the typing.

District 3 adopted its own Constitution. This was revised in 1991.  In 1992-93 we have invited the Presidents of the five Affiliates of OTF to join us for our luncheon meetings, in an effort to improve liaison with teachers in the work force, especially those about to retire.

Prepared by Secretary, Joyce Mertes

June 9, 1993.

Algoma 1993-2021

The inaugural meeting of District 3, Algoma Branch of STO/ERO was held in November 1973. The summary of our first twenty years was submitted in 1993.

District 3, Algoma is a vast geographical district about the size of Great Britain, stretching from Spanish along the north shore of Lake Huron, through Blind River, Iron Bridge, Thessalon, Bruce Mines, Desbarats, Echo Bay and Sault Ste Marie. It continues north to Wawa along Lake Superior then east again through Chapleau and Elliot Lake. Most of our members are in the area from Sault Ste. Marie to Blind River and north to Elliot Lake. The distances make meeting the needs of our members a challenge. Our newsletter, “Accent on Algoma” published 3 times each year, keeps communication current for all our members. An efficient phone tree also keeps our 1150+ members connected.

Presidents after 1993 were:

1993-1994 Charlie Brown

1994-1996 Elta McLeod

1996-1997 Bob Manson

1997-1998 Sam Fera

1998-1999 Mickey Contini

1999-2000 Mary White

2000-2002 Ken Frier

2002-2003 John Fleming

2003-2004 Moyra O’Pallie

2004-2005 Diane Marshall

2005-2006 Anna Cosgrove

2006-2008 Geoff Shaw

2008-2009 Moyra O’Pallie

2009-2010 Gayle Manley

2010-2011 Bill Purnis

2011-2013 Emily Noble

2013-2014 Bob Cole

2014-2015 Rich Prophet

2015-2016 Bernice Whalen

2016-2017 Harry Houston

2017-2018 Rich Prophet

2018-2019 Kathy Greening

2019-2020 Folgo DellaVedova

2020-          Kathy Greening

Our District is one of volunteers. Our members not only volunteer under the RTOERO umbrella, but also with service clubs, hospitals, hospices, churches, cultural organizations, community boards, musical and theatrical organizations, Seniors’ initiatives, and community support groups like Christmas Cheer. 

Volunteers can be found at the local, provincial, national, and international levels.

Our first Project Service to Others- The Festival of Trees, in conjunction with the Lung Association, in 2002-2003, has thrived. This past year over 100 RTOERO members volunteered at the Festival of Trees, organizing volunteers, working the door, selling tickets, and providing auction numbers, over the four days of the event, making this fundraiser so successful.

In another STO Project: Vision Screening, partnered with the Lions Club, District 3 volunteers screen the vision of Kindergarten children within all the Sault Ste. Marie area. After testing the Lions Club provides children in need with glasses.

We just completed an STO project partnered with the Royal Canadian Legion entitled “The Battle of the Books” started in 2005. It encouraged a reading competition for Junior students. Other projects have supported children with learning disabilities, children with physical and intellectual disabilities, children’s after school programs, children and adults with disabilities performing puppetry and acting in plays, and Tumaini Afrika, supporting women and children in Kenya.

Under the RTOERO District 3 umbrella, volunteers support the Davey Home Tuck Shop two weeks in the fall, providing coffee, tea and kind words to the residents of this long term care facility. We initiated scholarships to Sault College and Algoma University in 2010. Money was raised at our Annual General Meeting in 2013, for these scholarships. Our Silent Auction continues to make more than $1000 each year, providing competitive fun over the lunch hour. All the items are useful, consumable or edible, as we retirees don’t need more stuff!

A successful yearly social event is our Christmas Dinner Social, held at the Marconi Hall each November for the past 14 years. Live music and the traditional Italian multi-course dinner makes for a wonderful evening.  Many of our members provide draw prizes for the event.

Since 2010, we have had a Biennial Event called Super Seniors. All our 80+ members are invited to a special luncheon. They receive corsages boutonnieres, enjoy a lovely luncheon prepared by the Legion ladies. A celebratory cake and musical entertainment is provided by local groups (which include many of our RTOERO members). Our fifth Annual Super Seniors Event will be May 1, 2018.

At our 2012 Annual General Meeting, we celebrated our local 40th Anniversary. We recognized many attending Past Presidents. A special cake was shared with the attendees. 

We have had two Provincial Presidents – Weldon Abernathy, 1977-1978 and Mickey Contini, 2002-2003. Mickey shared memories of his time as Provincial President. Over the years, many of our members including Ben Smith, Moyra O’Pallie, Charlie Brown, John Fleming, Bill Purnis, Gayle Manley and Rich Prophet have served on Provincial Committees. Gayle Manley has chaired the HISC for the past four years. Rich Prophet is presently our Provincial First Vice President.

The District 3 Award of Merit was renamed the Mickey Contini Award of Merit in 2013. The thirty recipients of this prestigious award include Barbara Lamb, Jean DuQuesnay, Leona Gallaway, Ben Smith, Orlando Sicoly, Grant Lawson, Jean King, John Jefferson, Mary Kidd, Bill Kidd, Ken Frier, Mickey Contini, John Fleming, Maj-Liisa Donaghue, Marilyn Patterson, Diane Marshall, Leone Hamilton, Pat Fremlin, Bill Purnis, Geoff Shaw, Bonnie Forsell, Moyra O’Pallie, Nancy Sachro, Gary Wills, Gayle Manley, Marie DellaVedova, Bruce Avery, Page Nicolson, Emily Noble, Bernice Whalen, Kathy Greening and Rich Prophet.

Mary Kidd spent almost 30 years as a member of our local executive, many of them as our treasurer.  Moyra O’Pallie has been on our local executive and on several Provincial Committees during the last 30 years. Moyra was recognized in 2013, for her contributions both locally and provincially as a recipient of the

Distinguished Member Award.

Marilyn Patterson, our Goodwill Convener from 2001 until her passing in 2016, was instrumental in the STO projects Vision Screening and The Battle of the Books. Marilyn initiated our relationship with the Royal Canadian Legion. We use their facilities for both general and executive meetings.

Our Political Advocacy Committee has reported regularly at our meetings and in “Accent on Algoma”. Letters have been written to politicians at the provincial and national levels, senior citizen issues have been addressed, surveys have been completed and open public political meetings during election campaigns have been organized.

District 3, Algoma, works hard to support our members and our members work hard to support the many organizations within their communities.  We are a district which is “other focused” continually working together to better the lives of many within our communities.

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