Thursday 17 February 2022

The last teacher post

The second, and last post, that I will write about a memorable teacher.

I lived in a small town and had Jimmy Vallance for Grade Eleven and Twelve English as well as History. I really disliked school but he was one of the teachers that made it bearable.

Jimmy Vallance was a Scot who moved to Canada many years ago who taught in Sparwood, British Columbia where I lived at the time. Later on he taught down the highway in Fernie where he lived. He has long since retired.

I looked forward to his classes. He was a good teacher, principled, possessed a sharp wit, and was entertaining. I asked him once why he left Scotland for Canada. He told me in Canada he could own land and have his own space, something that would be hard to do in Scotland. He was free to do more here.

Practically all the teachers I had in school have a socialist bent and he was no exception. What was notable is that whenever any kind of political discussion came up he would tell us not to be sheep and decide for ourselves. The subject schedule was a little strange in my school and sometimes on a Friday I would have him for two periods back to back. When pet peeves were requested for the yearbook I, in jest, wrote "Double Vallance on a Friday".  He must have been on the yearbook committee because he stopped me in the hall and proclaimed that "So, you don't like two periods of me on a Friday?" Truth be known I enjoyed his classes and told him I was kidding. Once in an English assignment I used the words "abject penury" together and he walked to my desk and said "You think you have a command of the English language do you?" and walked back to his desk.

My actual last name is a very common Scottish name. Once I asked him if Vallance was actually Scottish since I hardly ran across anyone with the last name Vallance but there were many people that had my last name. He looked at me and said "The Vallances many years ago were working on great things while yours were spending time still up in the trees fornicating and painting their backsides blue. That is why there are more of you." Damn funny the way he said it and totally unexpected.

I once tried to look him up when I was passing through Fernie years ago. I ran out of time trying to track down contact information. The good teachers stay with you.


  1. Sounds like he gave as good as he got!

  2. Yes, you're right that the good teachers stay with you. I can honestly say I didn't have very many good ones, but there were a couple.