Community Memories from Faye Hansen

Faye Hansen's parents, George and Marg Samuels, were early citizens of Thompson, coming here in 1959.  Faye was away attending school at the time. When she came to visit her parents in 1960, she was in for a bit of a shock.

Faye’s first reaction was that Thompson was a very small place, and very isolated.  She had been on the train for hours and hours.

She and her husband Guy moved to Thompson in 1968. Faye came to be director of libraries for the School District of Mystery Lake and Guy came to teach.  Thompson got snow that September, and she thought, "Thank Heavens I only promised to come for one year."  Their first year, they lived in the pink apartments. "We were in the McKenzie block.  The Library Service Centre was in Juniper School."  Faye had to walk because they only had one vehicle, and Guy was on shift.  In January the temperature went down to -60 F and stayed like that for three solid weeks.  Faye was more determined than ever that she didn't want to stay in Thompson.  However they did, and have been here ever since.

At first, the Library Centre was in a classroom because everything was under construction, so conditions were not ideal. Faye was kept very busy cataloguing the library books in all the schools.  When the Hansens' sons were born, Faye chose to be at home with them, so left her job for several years to raise their family.

The high school saw several additions and renovations over the years. Guy was teaching science and math, and because of the construction going on, he worked a shift from 7 am to 12 noon until Christmas, then from 1 to 5 after Christmas.  Often, the dust was so thick that classes had to be cancelled.

Even though Thompson was not "new" in 1968, Faye said there was still a "pioneer" feeling. Faye remembers that people were coming and going. The schools usually lost half of the teachers every year so they were always working with new teachers. "As for vacations, you didn't just pick up and go. The roads were really bad. Number 6 highway wasn't in existence then. Your peers became your family. You got to know your neighbours because everyone had young children. When you would go out for a walk, you would stop and meet people, and compare how your children were doing. It was a very friendly town." Faye felt there were some unexpected benefits to living here. Because it was a new community, they tended to try things you wouldn't normally try elsewhere.  For example, Faye taught some university courses.  The school district tried many new programs, so it was an interesting place for Faye and Guy to work.

Faye remembers her father talking about the fires in '62 that threatened the town. She was in Saskatoon at the time and was very concerned about her parents' safety.  Faye does remember the 1989 fire, though.  Her son was home from university and working for the School District.  A lot of people who had been evacuated were staying in school gyms, and he had to help look after them.

As for entertainment, Faye said there was plenty to do. They had a concert committee that brought in outside entertainment. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra came up a few times. They worked hard to bring in theatre and encouraged local groups. A drama group got together and put on musicales. Faye belonged to a choir.

Another advantage was the closeness to lakes and rivers. The nearby wooded areas and hills encouraged outdoor activities. Guy enjoyed fishing and hunting.  A friend of Faye’s once said, “If teachers could resign in March, we would probably leave, but resignations had to be turned in on May 30. By that time, the fishing would be really good, and the men would decide to stay.”  Guy also did a lot of snowmobiling.  As the children got older, Faye and the boys would go too.  They also did snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing.

Faye missed seeing her family but never felt lonely. There were always a lot of things to become involved in as the town grew.  Faye and Guy’s sons were both involved in a diving program at the pool and were coached by a British diver. Their son Leslie traveled all over the world, including to the World Juniors.  Like many others, Faye felt that one of the advantages of living in this community was that you could get anywhere in 5 minutes.

Faye remembers some stories her parents told her about the early days.  Her father supervised the Monarch Lumber Co. When the warehouse building was finished, and before any lumber was put into it, the building was used for Thompson's first public dance, an event which made her dad feel very proud. Another example of typical neighborliness was when Faye's sister was getting married and wanted her mom to make a wedding cake. Since The Bay had a limited supply of fruit, several family friends rummaged through their cupboards and came up with enough fruit for the cake.

Faye also recalls an incident that happened during what was known as the "cold war period."  Faye's brother was operating a camera for the University of Saskatchewan, taking pictures of the Aurora Borealis when it was decided by the powers-that-be that the Communists could enter Canada through a northern route.  The camera was mounted on the roof of the Monarch building.  Her brother's job was to check it daily and change the film.

Faye thought that salaries were generous in Thompson and people could afford a good lifestyle.  Women enjoyed equal opportunity for the most part, and the population has become much more stable.  She has no regrets about her years in Thompson.