Allan Robert Johnston
The Sash Our Forefathers Wore
Allan Robert Johnston of Big Valley, Alberta, died February 16th at the age of 85 years. He was born and raised in Big Valley, completing all of his schooling there except for an extra high school year he did in Stettler for Latin and French. Allan took a one year Jr. E. & I. Teacher-training course in Calgary. His first position was teaching grades 1-9 in Scollard’s one room school. Next, Allan taught grade 5 in Big Valley and he went on to complete a university degree (B.Ed in Industrial Arts).
Subsequently, Allan accepted the ‘Shop Teacher’ position at the brand new Waverly School in Stettler (1955) teaching County students from Waverly, Erskine, Botha, and Gadsby as well as commuting once a week to Donalda and Big Valley schools to provide ‘shop’ there. He continued to teach ‘shop’ after the county and town amalgamated the industrial arts programs. Allan ended his teaching career in 1985 teaching elementary grades in Big Valley.
Allan married Florence Brockel in 1956 and they had four children: Elaine, David, Daryl and Dale. They lived in Stettler until 1973, when they built a house on their farmland 2 ½ miles from Big Valley.
Allan was conversant on almost any topic and he was skilled in many areas. He was a hobby farmer, taught Driver’s Education and Defensive driving for several years, earned his ‘Ham’ (amateur radio) license in 1963 (on the Amateur Radio league of Alberta executive for many year, active member of Amateur Radio Emergency Services and ran a weekly ‘Wee Net’), took up flying at the age of fifty-two (was awarded a life membership in the Stettler Flying Club) and had a keen interest in antique vehicles (member of antique car clubs in central Alberta).
Allan has been involved with various organizations and groups over the years. In his teens, he was a star pitcher for the Big Valley baseball team. He was a Master of Big Valley Orange Lodge #3237 for one session and Master of the Big Valley Masonic Lodge for two sessions. In addition, he was Chairman of the Big Valley United Church Board for many years. Allan was passionate about preserving the heritage of Big Valley. He, along with his wife, Florence, was among the founding members of a group named “The Big Valley Museum” which evolved into the “Big Valley Historical Society”’. He was president of this organization until his death.
Allan designed trade dollars as fund raisers for Big Valley’s Homecoming events. The village used one of his trade dollar designs as their logo.
Allan’s efforts to preserve, restore and display artifacts and buildings in Big Valley and to record the history of the early settlers has been recognized by his community. He received various awards over the years for his work. He was awarded the County of Stettler Barb Morley Memorial award in 1993 for cultural arts. Most recently, he was presented with the Governor General’s ‘Caring Canadian Award by Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Ethell for his tireless contributions to his community.
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