Gwyn Sproule’s first home in Canada was an old dynamite shack in a town called Likely in Northern B.C.
In the 1970s, as a young woman new to the country from her native England, Sproule and a friend were at the town bar where they found work planting trees.
Thus began a second career which lasted about two decades. Her first was teaching Grade 1 in Sheffield, England.
After her time in Likely, Sproule worked in the Canim Lake area near 100 Mile House where she met her husband Jamie, who was the camp cook. The couple later moved to Cumberland. For several years they ran a lodge near Forbidden Plateau until it burned down in 1982.
A member of Cumberland council, Sproule eventually returned to the classroom. She works as a substitute teacher from kindergarten to Grade 12.
“I prefer to be a teacher on call,” said Sproule, a mother of two daughters who appreciates the flexibility of on-call work. “It’s fun. I’ve seen all these kids growing up.
“It’s a job I’ll probably do until I’m 100,” she adds with a laugh.
She teaches French and Spanish, which “obliges” her to visit a Latin American country each year. She has been to Peru three times and Cuba twice.
“It’s a really useful language,” she said of Spanish. “Very poetic.”
Sproule’s adventurous spirit had awoken before she came to Canada. She had lived in the wilderness in Wales, and also thumbed her way to the former Yugoslavia in 1969.
“It was still behind the Iron Curtain. Nobody had cars. Sometimes busloads of holiday-making Yugoslavians would pick us up.”
Sproule is an avid hiker — “I’ve been all the way to the West Coast, basically, from the Comox Valley” — and a music lover. She saw Bob Marley perform in 1976 in her hometown of Leeds. She also saw Eric Clapton and Cream.
Sproule is also skilled with the pen. She has nearly finished writing a book — Historic Sites and Trails of Cumberland — a combination history/guide book.
With the help of a printing company, last year she and three friends published a book, Cumberland Collieries’ Railway.
“We gave it as a gift to the museum. My passion is the history of the mines and the railways.”
Sproule is not the only politician in her family. Her sister, Barbara Price, is a member of Comox council. The sisters both represent their towns on the Comox Valley Regional District board.