Bini Fuhrmann

I moved to Banff in 1952 from Kelowna, B.C. I started working in the Banff Springs Hotel as a chambermaid. At this time, positions here were frequently under contract, and one was expected to stay for a certain duration. However, another opportunity of which I had been aware before moving to Banff became available. So I went to work for Noble’s Photography and China Shop. This was pleasing to me as I had previous experience in photography. This change in jobs, however, warranted me a severe tongue-lashing from the head person because I had broken contract. This included blacklisting from the hotel. Banff in those days was very quiet in the winter months. Several of the shops shut down. Then I met Bruno Engler who took a group of us on our first climb up Mt. Edith. After that some of us took to the mountains with a vengeance. I have climbed a lot of mountains around Banff, Lake Louise and on our first trip to Mt. Assiniboine, I met Lizzie Rummel who became a good friend.

Then in 1959 I got married but before that I wanted to go to Europe. In order to get enough money to get there, I had about three jobs: working at the photo lab, folding towels and bathing suits for the laundry, ushering at the local theatre and doing housework. I got to Europe: England, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Then I came back and got married. I kept working at the photo lab, building a house at Harvie Heights by hand, and had our first child, Roland, in 1962. Our second child, Rolfe, came in 1963. I stayed home with the children. I got divorced in 1971.

As a single mom, I really needed a job. My field of expertise to this time was working in a photo lab. To expand my marketability I taught myself to ‘type’ and, with the help of a friend, was able to apply for a job. I got a position at the then Canmore Elementary School, later called Lawrence Grassi School. The principal, Mr. Macenko, was very understanding.

All my free time was given to my children; I raised them, I took them places, we did what we could afford to do. The children attended school in Banff until they were in grades eleven and twelve, then completed their high school in Canmore. It was a lot of hard work bringing up two boys but it was well worth it. The boys are now both in Vancouver.

I was able to stay at the school until retirement in 1991. I loved being at the school. Secretaries had many duties, some of which were supplying the bandaids for kids, letting them use the phone, checking to see if they really needed that new pencil, etc. That went for the teachers as well.

Now I occupy my time the way I want and do the things I want to do when I want to do them. I enjoy gardening. I shovel the snow. I can be lazy when I want to be.

In Canmore Seniors at the Summit, ed. Canmore Seniors Association, 2000, p. 92-93

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Canmore Museum

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