Barry Sale (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake’s Elder College looking for new members as acting president eyes move

There will be an AGM for Elder College on Wednesday, Nov. 24, at 1:30 p.m.

Williams Lake historian and retired teacher Barry Sale has devoted 15 years of his life to Cariboo Chilcotin Elder College.

“My favourite part has been doing tours, and the history part, but also working with the people that have been doing the volunteering for the curriculum committee and the executive,” Sale said. “It’s been very gratifying that we have such a well-accepted elder college.”

Compared to other similar colleges in the province, the local one is doing very well, he added.

“That’s the Williams Lake volunteer mentality. We just get down and do it, and do it as volunteers, and we don’t have to depend on any other institution or other group. That’s a feather in the cap.”

For Sale, the pressure is on to move away to be nearer to family and his four granddaughters living in Alberta.

“I should be closer to them because right now I am just a card that comes in the mail with some money in it every once in awhile.”

Sale, 75, has called the Cariboo home for 53 years.

Born in New Westminster and raised in Naniamo, he graduated from the University of Victoria and moved to the Cariboo to work as a science and math teacher in 1969.

“I then got into administration for about 25 years and was either a principal or vice-principal. I was involved in high schools and then for the last seven years as principal of 150 Mile Elementary School.”

It was his involvement with the 150 Mile Little Red Schoolhouse restoration project that first ‘hooked’ him into history, which he said he has had a passion for ever since.

Sale is presently the acting president and curriculum chair of the Cariboo Chilcotin Elder College of which he’s been a part of for 15 years. He first became involved when he was asked if he would do a session about the little red school house.

“After the talk, the president at the time, Dr. Pat Cullum, stayed behind and asked if I would consider coming out to a curriculum committee meeting, I said ‘OK’. Before I knew it, I was the guy in charge of curriculum, and then in charge of the whole thing.”

Through elder college he started leading local history tours around 2006 and 2007 to places in the Cariboo such as Quesnel Forks and Soda Creek.

Gradually, he built up a number of tours from 100 Mile to Quesnel, following road houses and cemeteries.

“It just kind of grew.”

Elder College is always looking for people to get involved, he added.

“The courses we offer have one, two or three sessions. If someone has an interest in something like beekeeping, crafts or some sort of hobby, history or anything, we encourage them to volunteer to lead a class or two and share with others.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 24, at 1:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s United Church there will be an annual general meeting for Elder College.

Sale encourages people to come out and find out what it is all about.

“I guarantee the meeting will only last an hour,” he said.

Looking back, Sale said he is proud of what Elder College has done in the community in the last 20 years. Before the COVID-19 pandemic the college had 250 members.

“We operate break-even with course fees and memberships pay for everything we do. I think it has really been an advantage for our community to have it here.”

The college is aimed at keeping the minds of older people active and interested in life, he added.

Director Deb Radolla praised Sale for his years of dedication.

“He has poured a lot of heart and soul into elder college over the years,” Radolla said.

“He’s taken on a number of roles to make sure elder college could continue to thrive.”

She said many people have volunteered to be on the executive, but new members are always welcome.

Sale plans to move to Alberta by August 2022.

In 2013 Sale’s beloved historical newspaper columnm first ran in the Cariboo Advisor, then the Tribune.

It has been an extremely popular read ever since.

Readers of Sale’s column can expect them to continue for at least two and a half years after he moves, he said.

He writes them in longhand, and over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic has written 22 columns and plans to complete another eight ‘or so.’

“I have had a wonderful life here and got to know a lot of people,” he said, noting how he coached basketball, track and field and hockey.

“It is now time for me to get involved with my granddaughters’ lives actively.”

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