Ann Tatoosh volunteers at the store at Abbeyfield House, one of Port Alberni’s seniors facilities. ORLANDO DELANO PHOTO

VALLEY SENIORS: Ann Tatoosh crosses the ocean to make a life in Port Alberni

Ann Tatoosh looks at the ticket that she has held onto for nearly 60 years, turning the bright yellow and red chit in her hands.

Canadian Pacific: Westbound Ocean Ticket is printed prominently on the front.

“Look, this is the boat ticket that brought us all the way from Liverpool to Montreal,” says Tatoosh, who was born in Tottenham and is now a resident at Abbeyfield House in Port Alberni. She was 18 years old when, on July 27, 1960, she, her two sisters and their parents left England.

Once on Canadian soil, the family then travelled for three days by train to Vancouver and soon after to Port Alberni, where her father, Mr. John Watkin, had been offered a job as a school teacher.

The family settled in the Alberni Valley where Ann found her first job at the Royal Bank of Canada on Third Avenue.

In 1964 she moved to Nanaimo and enrolled in the Vocational School to become a practical nurse. With a diploma in her hands, in 1965 she went to Vancouver to work at the St. Paul Hospital (in the ear/nose/throat unit, better known as the ENT floor).

Soon after she moved to the United States and got married. She lived there for nine years. Unfortunately, her husband passed away and she was left with three young children.

The family then moved to Port Alberni in 1974 and Ann became a stay-at-home mom while her two sons and one daughter did their schooling.

It is interesting to note that Ann’s great-great uncle, Sir Edward Watkin, was a well-known businessman and member of the British Parliament, who was sent to Canada in the 1800s to connect the newly established railway through CPR and later becoming the president of Grand Trunk Railway of Canada.

Since her arrival back in Port Alberni, Ann was busy assisting with her children’s involvement in sport and social activities, which sometimes included driving them to events out of town.

At the same time, this busy mother was helping community individuals and organizations as a volunteer.

She gave her time to the Port Alberni Gymnastics Academy, where her youngest son John was involved for a number of years, excelling as an athlete. In fact, at the age of 15 he moved to Vancouver to train in the sport which led him to participate in many provincial competitions as well as in other provinces. He won gold at one competition in Ontario.

Ann’s interest in working with children took her to enroll in night courses on Early Child Education in the old North Island College building on Eighth Avenue in 1989. Following her successful completion of this course, she got work with the Stepping Stones II, a job she held for a short while.

At the same time she decided to get involved with the Special Olympics organization by taking a coaching course to train athletes with special needs. She volunteered with the organization for 20 years.

“I am proud of my involvement with this organization,” she says, while displaying her 20-year pin she received from them.

She also volunteered at the Bread of Life; joined the Beta Sigma Phi sorority and has remained a member for 25 years.

In 2002 Ann married Earl Tatoosh (they had met in 1998). The couple enjoyed many outings together such as camping excursions, annual bowling competitions in Osoyoos and longer trips to Nashville, Hawaii, etc.

Earl passed away in 2017.

Today Ann continues giving her time to the community by volunteering at the Hospital Auxiliary in the “Attic” store as well as with the Lawn Bowling Club. She lives a meaningful life in Abbeyfield.

“I am happy here because this home has a pleasant atmosphere. No doubt that this is a nice place to live,” she states.

“I also volunteer twice a week in our small store.”

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