From Fall of 1973 to the Summer of 1977 I taught in a one room elementary school in an isolated lumber mill camp near Takla Lake, in the middle of British Columbia. There were no roads into the place and Joan and I had to fly in and could only leave at the breaks for Christmas and Spring. I had a little group of students (enrollment varied between 5-14) and one big section of the students was made up of a First Nations family that lived down beside Takla Lake.
One of the things I enjoyed most about the job was introducing the Native kids to things that I had always considered fun when I was growing up. Among those things was Halloween, which because of the isolation, was not on the Indian children’s radar. Of course like most elementary schools, I exploited Halloween, like most other holidays, by using it for art projects, activities like carving jack-o’-lanterns, and generally generating excitement.
As a result my students were really primed when Halloween day actually rolled around. At 2:15, I dismissed the class from school, allowing them to get into their costumes, while Joan and I decorated the classroom for a Halloween party. We draped the jack-o’-lanterns with sheets, brought out the snacks, and then darkened the room. When 2:30 arrived we opened the door to the group of short scary characters who had gathered outside the school building and allowing them to rush inside.
They bobbed for apples in a tub of icy water, ate popcorn, candy, and cake, and played group games (musical chairs, and an old family favorite “Ring on a String”) It was a big event for the kids, and when school was dismissed for the day, the classroom was littered with crumbs and popcorn, giving testament to the fun that had occurred.
The kids had planned to Trick or Treat at the camp during the evening, so at 7:00 I borrowed one of the camp pickups (we had no vehicle of our own in camp) and I drove down to Takla Lake to pick up my Native students and bring them up to the camp to Trick or Treat. When I got down to their house, they weren’t there-- they had been so excited about Trick or Treating that they came up to the camp on their own.
Once back in the camp, Joan and I joined the Trick or Treaters and then we all gathered behind the school house for a bonfire and some fireworks that had been bought by one of the families. It was a memorable event that happened out in the middle of nowhere in the vast wilderness of British Columbia.
You can view my photo-realistic paintings at: www.davidmarchant.ca