WEYBURN - Roland and Lois Olson have been an integral part of the community of the hamlet of North Weyburn since moving there 52 years ago, and on Friday they were honoured with the renaming of a street.
Members of the hamlet board gathered along with the RM councillor for Division 5, Josh Mainil, and their family and friends to see Industrial Avenue renamed now as Olson Avenue.
As board member Lowell Peterson explained, the name “Industrial Avenue” is no longer applicable, and the board wanted to pay tribute to this couple who have been a big part of hamlet life for over half a century now.
He pointed out that Roland has done many practical things to help out, including trimming trees, cutting grass, and flooding of the hamlet’s outdoor rink in winter, which he helped get established after Western Christian College left.
The Olsons initially arrived in 1969 as Roland was invited to teach at the college, and he did that for the next two decades, teaching math and science, and then art. When the college left, he and Lois decided they would stay in their North Weyburn home.
Roland noted he taught for two years in Clavet, near Saskatoon, for two years before he was invited to come teach at Western Christian College.
“It was a big move. We were quite comfortable in Saskatoon, and Clavet was just 16 minutes outside of Saskatoon, and it worked pretty well,” he said.
Later, when the college moved out of North Weyburn to Dauphin, Man., he decided not to teach any more, although he was asked to fill in for a semester for art teacher Eltje Degenhart.
“That worked out well. The wage for half the year there was as much as a full year out here,” he said.
The art program at WCC developed in 1973 when the college wanted to have an art class available for the students. He had taken art at university, and had taken a summer art class at Emma Lake, so he took on this class, teaching it until the college moved in 1989.
The couple continued with their art, with Roland doing wood-working and Lois doing pottery and painting, and daughter Sharon is a painter as well.
“I love drawing. At the refinery, I had to draw the pipelines and structures, more line drawings. Lois is a lot better with colour than I am,” he said. “It worked out very well for us.”
The outdoor rink came about as Roland was involved with caring for the college’s rink, which was indoors in the former drill hall. When the college moved, the building became the RM of Weyburn’s property, and they didn’t want the rink in there. They gave the boards to Roland, and he was able to set up the rink for use by the hamlet’s families. At one point, the Young Fellows Club gave them a donation of $1,600 towards the rink, and that helped in getting new boards for it.
Asked what he loves about living in North Weyburn, he replied, “There’s lots of friendships and a lot of people work to make a go of it.”
Roland noted the hamlet board in particular help to make the community better, and he had served on the hamlet board for a number of years.