"I did not enjoy my first years at school. I especially didn't enjoy the bitter cold days of winter when it was an ordeal to trudge through the snow to school, only to shiver in the poorly heated schoolhouse until the wood stove finally warmed up the building. Added to this was my fear of Donald Sharp, who was older and bigger than me and used to bully all the younger kids. He used to lie in wait for me and if Ronnie Morrison wasn't with me, he would beat me up. There was one other person I was afraid of - a girl! She was a feisty, black-haired girl named Ruby who would come at you like a wildcat if you did anything to incur her displeasure..."
"When I advanced to grade three, my desire to learn was awakened when a special teacher arrived. His vitality, vivacity, and interest in me changed my outlook entirely. He must have seen my potential and pushed me to achieve. He was a wonderful teacher and I grew to love him. Under Mr. Bean, I seemed to find myself and lapped up everything I could find. He had me skip two grades, from grade three to grade five. I was happy to be promoted but wasn't so sure it was a good thing for me in later years, when I found myself a couple of years younger than my classmates in high school.
"Mr. Bean revolutionized the school system in Fort McMurray. He persuaded the school board to hire another teacher and to separate the lower grades from the higher grades. As a result another building was obtained for grades five to eight - Fred Parker's shack across the street from the United Church building. Parker was a trapper who was always out on his trapline during the winter. The shack was so small and the seats were jammed together so closely that there were no aisles and we had to climb over several seats to get to our own. The old stove also took a long time to heat up the inside of the building, which meant that in winter we usually had to keep our parkas on until it was warm enough to doff them.
"Mr. Bean's powers of persuasion extended beyond the town's school board. He also persuaded the Burton brothers, Gene and Milton, to attend school even though they were in their twenties… It was also Mr. Bean who brought the first movies that most of us had ever seen to Fort McMurray..."