In 1957, I joined the staff at Quesnel Secondary School as the second agriculture teacher. In 1959, Frank Dolman joined the same staff. Both of us had just come out of the woods into teaching. Neither of us was trained to teach but the depressed forest industry led us into education.
Frank was born in Nakusp, in the Kootenays to a logging family, moving as the work required to several places and eventually the Cariboo. Frank worked at the plywood plant of Weldwood of Canada and seemed destined for management. Psychological testing, common in the large developing industries, indicated a different career – thus his appearance at QSS – a fortuitous move as he was, in my opinion, one of the best teachers I knew.
He and I attended summer school for several years at UBC where we boarded together at religious dormitories on the edge of campus. A fellow teacher, Frank Robinson (an ex-RAF on Wellington bombers) joined us and as Frank had a Morris Mini Cooper S, we made good time on the road. One time, climbing the long hill north out of Spence’s Bridge, a Buick tried to pass. Our driver loved being challenged and as the larger powerful car came alongside, he floored the throttle and left the challenger with a surprised look as we, three men and a very large dog plus our suitcases, climbed away. Frank Robinson played with the Buick, falling back and then racing past again and again. We thought our driver should have flown Spitfires in his earlier years.
School District 28 entered Adult Education and Frank Dolman was hired as the director. He shone there as he developed courses to meet student’s needs in many fields with few formal facilities to use.
In 1969 Frank competed with 8,000 others for a job in Trinidad, under the external aids program of two years duration. He taught mathematics.
A former Quesnel paper, The Tab, gave a full page story of his experience on Thursday, July 3, 1969.
It took two years of interviews and forms (one question was what is your mother-in-law’s age? But the lady refused the information so Frank guessed. He said later I sure hoped I was right) before he was selected.
On his return he became Adult Education director for Abbotsford area and then with others became a founder of the Fraser Valley College, a job he held until retirement.
I admired Frank’s ability to lead people in thought, as he never answered a question with an answer, but asked his questions – what do you think the answer could be, have you considered all the options?
He was always leading groups of people in discussions such as one gathering of Quesnel leaders in a weekly meeting. At UBC he instinctively found visiting lecturers and would return to our college room full of inspiration.
Gone from Quesnel, but not forgotten. Frank died Aug. 18 in Abbotsford where he had lived for several years.
Andy Motherwell is an amateur historian and regular Observer columnist.