Sunday, October 28, 2018


    For most people high school is one of the highlights of their life. For me, high school just about didn't happen.

    World events almost prevented me from a high school education.

    The depression and WW II caused some very tough economic times. I lived in a very rural area. Transportation in general was very poor. Up until 1952 we went to town with horses in the winter. We went at least once a week but sometimes less. We used horses because we didn't have a modern car and clearing roads of snow had not been developed to where it was efficient. A small high school was 5 1/2 miles away but it was impossible to attend. 

   So going through grade school I had no objective to attend high school. It wasn't possible. However, by my gr. 9 year things had started to change. The farmers were clearing snow off roads about once a week. If you were lucky you wouldn't get snow for two weeks or more.

    So all of a sudden at the end of gr. 9 I saw myself attending high school. I carpooled with the neighbor boys. I had an arrangement with a family in town to stay at their place if we couldn't get home. Many times I didn't get to school as the roads were blocked. 

The gr 10 kid!

   However, economic conditions and transportation improved. We had a bus for GR. eleven and twelve. 

    Gr. 10 was a huge challenge. I was used to small school not that this school was large. There was one teacher for gr 10, 11 and 12. There were 26 students from gr ten to twelve.Taking gr nine by correspondence did not give me a good basics for high school. The teacher was good but he intimidated me. However, with some good help I completed gr. 10. 

    For gr eleven I had overcome my concerns about a different school. I had got to know all the other students and it was fun. The teacher had started a six man
 touch football league and I was hooked. It was something that I could succeed at. 

     And surprise , surprise I completed gr 11 and entered gr. 12. We had a different teacher and he gave me lots of confidence. I liked him and he was easy to work with. 

    My Dad tried to encourage me to think about what I should do after high school. I wasn't giving Dad any answers. He suggested nursing? That would have been a big mistake. I would not make a decision. I didn't have much confidence in myself so waited until I got my marks and found out that I had completed high school and then I announced what I wanted to do. I had decided early in the spring to attend Teacher's college but I hadn't told anybody.

    So high school was completed and I enjoyed the experience. High school was something that I had not thought possible and had only thought about being a farmer. 

Eight of us were in the gr 12 class

Thursday, October 25, 2018


     So on a fine September day in 1945 I marched off to the school house to begin my education. There was no crying and hanging on to Mommy. I'd been to the school all my life and knew where I was going. We lived a mile from the school and off I myself. Well it wasn't that bad. There was another farm about 400 m from our farm. There were 4 children going to the school from that farm so I had older kids to go with. In another 500 m we picked up two more kids. So in walking to school I had lots of company. Only about half the land was developed for farming so there were lots of trees and brush to explore. Now a big tree to us was something about 5 -6 meters high.

    In the last post I described how gr. one passed by.

    For gr. two my brother started school. We had a new teacher. She was a very quiet introverted woman. I don't remember much about gr. two so I don't think much happened. This lady stayed connected with the community even though she moved away to teach. She was quite often a guest in our home when she was back for the summer.

    From grades 3 to 5 I had the same teacher. I didn't get along with her as well. However, when I put my teacher evaluation hat on she was an excellent teacher and a way ahead of the time. She made effective use of field trips even if it was through the bush close to the school. We would go out all day and look for plants bugs and birds. We would have a picnic lunch. It was a fun day. She would also take us to other schools for an afternoon to play ball. She was talented in the area of fine arts. So we had lots of music and art projects. Many of the art projects involved producing something to take home. The traditional Christmas concert was a great production with her. There was great variety and good quality. We had good experiences preparing for the Christmas concert.

    My sister started school when I went into gr 3.

    There was a girl who was in my grade so that made a class of two. She moved away at the end of gr. 3 so from gr 4 to 9 I was the only one in the class. These were years when I learned to be independent. I would do my work quickly and quietly so that I could read.

     For gr 6 and 7 I had the same teacher but her talent was limited. She had music ability but didn't make things fun. I don't remember her teaching any lessons. I think her instruction involved telling us to read part of a text and then answer questions. We were comfortable with this strategy but I don't think we learned much. One of the all time memorable stories happened when this lady taught us. One of the boys occasionally came to school with a team of horses. One day as he was preparing to go home , he found that the harness on one horse had slipped over the horse's head . The horse had tramped on the harness all day so things were a big mess. It was very difficult to sort out the harness so that it could be put back on the horse. The teacher noticed that we were in the barn a long time so came to check on us. She stood quietly in the barn door and the rest of us became quiet. The boy didn't know the teacher had arrived and that's when He came out with, " old Frieda should come out. She thinks she knows everything. ." Just after he made his remark, he noticed the teacher. It was too late. She didn't say anything. We wondered when the explosion would take place. The boy immediately said, I apologize and the situation was over.

    For gr. 8 and 9 we had another teacher change. One of the local farmer's wives became the teacher. She had taught in the school and had a record of being very tough. When she took the job she said she had mellowed. We knew this woman well and she was good friends with my parents. This woman knew how to get around things in a one room country school. I remember her as always being in the middle of us. She was a multi tasker. She didn't just send you away to work but was constantly in touch with you as well as other students.

    I took my gr 9 by correspondence. This meant that lessons were sent out to me in the mail. I did the lessons and sent them in to the correspondence school to be evaluated. My Dad was a great help in this as he kept me organized and helped with the lessons. He always went over the corrected lessons so that I could understand why something was wrong.

    So that took care of me for nine years of education.


Monday, October 22, 2018


     A few nights ago my niece posted about attending her daughter's parent teacher interview. Her daughter is in grade nine so it's the first year of high school.

    This made me think back to when I was in grade nine and how different it was. Then I started to think of my public education and how different it is compared to now. It's not only different because of 70 years but because society and technology have changed. 

    So first , the building. I know some fussy pants will say the building has nothing to do with education but the building is the first thing I think about. 

   The one room school I attended was also used as a church. So I became familiar with the building soon after I was born. I attended Sunday school there so had been in the building every week before I started school. The building was built in 1908. It was a wood structure built with green lumber and uninsulated. When the wind blew the building creaked. This is an indication that the building moved in the wind. We had many windy days with  the wind shrieking and building creaking. These sounds will remain with me forever. In the winter the building was very hard to heat. It had a large coal and wood stove in one corner of the room. The fire went out over night. The next morning the room temperature was below freezing.  Who wouldn't forget this old building. 

     There's the big stove in the corner of the room.
This is the only photo of the exterior of the building that I have.

      Ten former students and three former students attended the unveiling of a sign to mark the location of the school.  My one brother is fifth from the left and a second brother 8 th from the left.

    Now before I started grade one I was familiar with the building and most of the kids. I attended Sunday school with the other kids. 

   In gr. one I sat in a double desk which I shared with the only other gr. one student in the school. There were 17 students in the school altogether. The teacher had to have work organized for 9 grades.  Not much time was spent with each grade. So for a little gr oner there was lots of time with nothing to do. Plasticine had been invented by that time. That kept me out of lots of trouble. Now being a curious little fellow I would get out of my desk and go to another student and quietly watch them work. I also listened to every other lesson in the school . Yes everything from gr one to nine. 

   This educational structure kept me busy but I also learned far more than gr one material. 

   I had one teacher who taught us until Christmas. Her boyfriend had just come back from the war so they got married. For the rest of the year we had a 19 year old kid teach us. 

    I'm sure I new how to read before I started school. The Dick and Jane series came in for my gr. one year. American and Canadian systems used these materials so people from other countries may wonder what I'm talking about.

     When I look back at this system I wonder how any student ever learned to read. Many of them didn't learn how to read.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


    Yesterday pot became legal in Canada for recreational use. This process has taken years and many twists and turns.

    The basic argument was that legalization would take the out of the criminal system, keep pot away from young people, control the quality of the substance and the government would make some money from taxation.

     Of course nothing ever runs as smoothly as it should. Laws and regulations proved to be a challenge. We have ten provinces and two territories. They are responsible for the sale and control of cannabis. So each jurisdiction makes up their own rules and guess what they're all different. So as you go from one province to the next , you'd better be sure of the rules. Things get more complicated if you travel out of the country.

    Institutions and businesses have a challenge controlling use by their employees. The army says eight hours after use and you're good to go out and use guns. Some police forces have outright ban the use of cannabis. There's a big debate about when you are impaired and when you are not impaired.

    The challenge is that there are different levels of  potency of pot and each person reacts differently.

    Now the closer we got to legalization day the more frantic were the efforts to get ready.

   Driving while high seemed to be one of the main topics. As of yet, there doesn't seem to be a reliable test for driving high. Telling people where they can and cannot smoke pot was pretty easy.

    So today pot was the number one topic in the media.

   I'm sitting back and thinking that pot smoking has been going on and we only had a law making it illegal. No other regulations were needed.

  Now don't get me wrong. I believe that legalization is the way to go. Regulations are necessary.

   It seems that too  big a fuss is being made  over the issue.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


     Many readers commented about squirrels being agile cute and fast. Many people enjoy watching them as when they run trough the tree branches  as if it was magic. Red squirrels are agile and seem to make those impossible moves look easy.

     Well, I hate to rain on your party. Squirrels may be lightening quick and agile but they do have accidents.

     Scientists studying squirrels find squirrel  bodies that have broken bones. So apparently squirrels fall from heights that cause broken bones. Now I know you've never seen a squirrel fall but I have. I've seen a couple of spectacular crashes.

Image may contain: bird and outdoor

   These crashes were so great that I told my classes the squirrel story for many years.

    Now I called my story The Retarded Squirrel. Yes I know retarded is not an acceptable term.

   So it goes like this. I have a long fence that has a 2 x 4 for a top. In other words the top of this fence is 4 inches wide. There was a squirrel in the area that would fall off the top of the fence. If it had happened once I wouldn't have made an issue out of it. But I did notice this squirrel fall off the top of the fence quite a few times.

   Now the second incident with my retarded squirrel was more interesting to watch. There were trees on each side of an alley that stuck out over the alley. The squirrel wanted to cross the alley by leaping from one tree to the other. This squirrel took a lot of time to consider the jump. It ran up and down and around the tree to find the best place to leap from one tree to the other tree on the other side. Finally, a choice was made and you could see the squirrel saying one,  two, three jump! Well the squirrel did not make it to the other tree across the alley. The squirrel fell about 3 meters into some soft snow. The squirrel shook itself and looked around as if to say, "What am I doing here?"  Then it picked itself up and waded through the snow to a tree.

     This was a story the kids loved and many years later  I was asked if I still had my squirrel.

   A sad note on my last post. This afternoon I found a squirrel that had been run over on the road. So one less competitor in this world.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


      I have had a red squirrel in my neighbor's big spruce tree for 20 years or more. The cones in this old tree are mature so there's lots of good food. Then there's a silly guy who has a bird feeder right beside the big spruce so it's free food. A squirrel has been busy  storing food since mid August. Today it's still gathering cones.

     Now this week I kept noticing a squirrel in the middle of the street. It's been looking my way and comes up to the side walk and then runs back and hides under a car. I was wondering what my squirrel was doing in the middle of the street. I kept saying get off the street or some car will run over you.

    Then one morning I noticed a squirrel in my yard giving the squirrel in the street a dirty look. Squirrels are territorial and very protective of their area. Some poor little squirrel had obviously been forced out of it's home territory and was looking for another home. Usually all the fighting is done by the beginning of July so I was surprised to see this lost squirrel. 

    Now some of the squirrels in my tree were female and had litters. What happens is that the mother squirrel moves after her litter becomes independent. She leaves her territory to a daughter and finds another area for her next year and litter. It's thought that this occurs to let the daughter stay in the  familiar home territory as she would have a higher possibility of surviving and having her own litter. 

   So the little guy I saw was probably the runt of some litter and was having trouble to find it's own territory. Many of these animals perish and do not survive their first year. They have accidents like getting run over on the street. They get diseases. There's also predation. In the wild pine martins catch squirrels almost exclusively. 

    Now I haven't seen the squirrel that was looking for a home for a few days. It's probably moved to try to find another territory.

    There's the 2017 version of the red squirrel. It's enjoying the food from the silly guy's bird feeder.

I am being very carefully watched.

These two photos were taken through my kitchen window.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


    Yes, I'm a sniffler. I told you that before.  There are certain things that bring a little sniffle and tear that does not drop. I'm proud of my kids even thought they are 47 and 49.  When they achieve something and I'm proud of them I sniffle. I sniffle when they get married. 

     Now yesterday I was listening to the noon radio show. It's a talk show and the topic was the North. The hostess had asked  if we'd been in the north and what our experience was. She had 2 northern guests to add to the conversation.

   She had many phone calls, emails and twitter comments. 

    All people emphasized how impressed with the North they were. They mentioned vast open spaces. A feeling of peace and quiet. Discovery. Personal growth. Most people said it had caused a major change in their life that stayed with them.

    Most callers were strongly urging that every southerner should have a trip to the North. One caller suggested that all northern travelers be paid for their trip North.

     When I heard the comments and descriptions , I was brought back to my time in the north. I was influenced by aboriginal culture. Then I was influenced by colleagues who were from many other parts of the country. We had to mix or at least I did. I couldn't help but come away with a different point of view.  Various comments reminded me of different experiences. Flying on bush planes and landing on floats. All night parties when it didn't get dark! The characters who had lived in the north...trappers. 

    I met them all.

    My wife and I talk about the North everyday. We relive experiences . We wonder what would have happened if we'd stayed there.

    So listening to this hour long show brought back many good memories and a sniffle.

Soapstone carvings
 My favorite guy
My 34 pound lake trout from Great bear Lake

    My winter coat ans sealskin

Sunday, October 7, 2018


      I have recommended several blogs over the years. I have a special blog that I'm  going to recommend now.

     My daughter has started a blog and I'm very proud of her and I'm sure she will have a first class blog.

    Let's use the way back machine.

    In 2008 my daughter set up the bare bones on Hiawatha House. She was leaving right away so left me to sort out the details which I did over a few years. From time to time I've asked her for advice. I've had her edit a few posts. She's very critical.

    She's a very good writer and communicator She's been that way since before she started school. So what degree does she take? A BA in communication. Her writing is clear and logical. She also has a sharp wit. She is opinionated but forms her opinions on information. 

    But her new blog is going to be on stuff. Lots of stuff. You'll be surprised.

    She surprised me when she said she was starting a blog and she surprised me when a saw the first posts. 

    So am I proud? You bet I am!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


    We were forecast to get about 10 cm of snow today. It didn't happen . We got about 5 cm (2 in ) of snow.

     From comments yesterday. We can get snow in September but it's not common. We usually get very pleasant fall weather in September.  This is our third dump of snow and we have no warm weather in the forecast.

     The eternal optimist here says we will get lots more nice weather.

Monday, October 1, 2018


     Just for information:

          ... it didn't rain here today.

               ...but it did snow!

     Just for more information:

          ... it's going to snow  tomorrow.

                 ... about 10 cm (4 in).