Albert Laitinen was born February 8, 1898 to Finish immigrants Mary Catherine and Matt Laitinen at Griffin Lake, BC. He moved to Salmon Arm with his family in 1902. Albert attended school with his surviving siblings. When his father Matt was killed following a speeder/train accident on the CPR in 1911, Albert and his two older brothers, Matt and Bill, took over running the family farm.
Albert worked for the Municipality of Salmon Arm in road construction, for Palmers’ and then Turners’ packinghouses, and was frequently busy with seasonal work. According to daughter Lois Cunningham, he did not actively farm his property on Broadview Road.
Albert was active in numerous community groups as a volunteer fireman and ambulance attendant, working also with the Red Cross, CNIB, and Meals on Wheels. Albert won the Canadian Newspaper/Air Canada “Heart of Gold” award for his work with Meals on Wheels.
Albert met Vera Gladys Halpenny, the first teacher to teach at Broadview School when it opened in 1917. Vera was born in Neepawa, Manitoba on January 28, 1899 and came to Salmon Arm after she attended Normal School in Vancouver.
Miss Halpenny was hired to team teach with Miss Helen Cunningham at the North Canoe School for the fall and early winter months of 1917, and then moved to the newly constructed Broadview School. Miss Halpenny taught at the new school from 1918-1920 and returned to teach from 1942-1950.
Vera taught at many schools including Canoe, Broadview, Heffley Creek, Long Lake, White Lake and Tappen. It was at White Lake she took her own children Bud and Yvonne to make up the mandatory 8 students to qualify for teacher funding. The Finnish children in White Lake needed to learn English and Vera’s children were instrumental in their instruction.
Vera married Albert in 1921 and the couple had three children, Yvonne, Stewart (Bud), and Lois. She worked tirelessly as a volunteer to help cancer survivors, the Women’s Institute, Red Cross, United Church Women's Auxiliary and the Broadview Community Club. Vera Laitinen was the first person in Salmon Arm to earn her St. John’s Ambulance Certificate, a copy of which is on display at Broadview School, R.J. Haney Heritage Village.
Both Vera and Albert were active in the United Church.