Friday, October 25, 2013

Prairie Country Schools

       I have driven by this site for may years. Five years ago this sign was erected so I knew what was formerly at this location...a country school.

       Alberta and Saskatchewan were settled in the late 1890' and early 1900's. Since families came to settle the land schools were needed . A system of country schools was set up. Each country school was set up to serve an area that was convenient for children to travel to the institution. The schools were numbered and run by a local school board. They collected taxes and hired teachers. The school yard was a standard two acres. A number of plans were available for school boards to choose from.

     These little buildings were notoriously cold.  They were poorly built and had no insulation. They were heated with a large coal and wood stove. The fire went out over night and had to be relit every morning. It would take until noon until the building warmed up.
      This site is completely overgrown with trees. As you see from the sign it was Outlet school which was built in 1902 and closed in 1949. So it's been closed for 64 years. The school number was 599 which means that it was the 599th school built in Alberta.

      So if there were any grade ones in this school in 1949 , they would now be 70. The memory of these schools and school districts is fast coming to an end.

     When I think of these country schools I cannot help but wonder about the people who attended. For 47 years an assortment of students gathered at this site and received some education. Boys, girls, big, small, all kinds of people went through the program. There were many teachers who worked in this school. Who were they. The district was supported by a dozen or more families and it became their community center. There were other uses for these schools. Church services were conducted in many of them. Community meetings , dances and socials were organized in these little buildings.

     So I finally stopped the other day at the Outlet school site. I walked in and in the center there was  clearing where the school stood. Other than that nature had reclaimed the site. A picture of the school shows no trees around it.

This is the outer view of the site.
This weedy clearing looks like where the school sat.

       I attended a country school from gr. one to nine. My first year of teaching was in a country school. 

       A few years ago it was decided to mark the location of all the country schools. A marker was set up where my school was located. The memory of these schools may fade but the locations will still be noted.

This is where I went to school. The school site is behind the sign and it is now a grain field.

Ten former students. Two of them are my brothers and they attended the last year the school was open. One brother 5 th from the left and second brother 8 th from the left.

Two former teachers unveiled the sign.
A 1947 photo of school students in front of Hiawatha School. My Dad's shadow is on the right as he took the picture. I am first left in the middle row.

 I used this photo the other day but, today I want you to notice the large stove in the corner.

      So now you can put two and two together and see where the name of my blog came from.