Wednesday, September 30, 2020


      I will include years 6 & 7 together as yes, I had the same teacher for those two years. Also remember, that my gr 6 and 7 happened in 1950 to 1952. Most of you weren't running around at that time.

     First, I will cover something that applies to all years of my education...outdoor play. Playing was for most , the very best part of school . When I think back I am surprised at how much we did and how much fun we had. The peak enrolment when I was in the school was 17,  from gr 1 to 9. We had recesses of 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon. We had an hour at lunch time. Sometimes lunches were eaten very quickly so that we could resume play.

    All play was organized by the students. The older kids did the most of the organizing.

     The main activity was ball. One side was always short one player as you need 18 players. Not to worry. The little guys were the fielders or ball getters. They were like a dog and ran and got the ball and brought it back. Arrangements were made so that every hit wasn't a home run. You only got one base on an infield ball. Two bases if the ball landed in the oufield.  There were variations that were played. Scub! There were many names for this game. Students were placed in an order...first batter, then catcher, pitcher , first base. The idea was to hit and run to first base and back. You stayed at bat as long as you could do this. If you went out you went to the bottom of the numbers and the catcher became the batter and everybody moved up one place. 

     Another version was 500. A batter would hit the ball into a group of players. If you caught a fly ball you got 100 points. A grounder 50 points . The first person who got 500 points became the batter. 

   This certainly added variety to our playing.

   In the winter we played Fox and Goose, prisoner's base, soccer and built snow houses and made tunnels in the snow. The prairies were open . The wind blew the snow for days on end. The blowing snow formed many snow banks. The snow was quite hard as you could always walk over it.

   Anty I Over was enjoyed in the summer. 

   Also for gr 6, we got a brand new school building. No more wind moaning through the building.. It was a treat. We had oil heating so the room stayed the same temperature all day and night. 

   The new school had one tiny room as a library and more books than the old school. As I said before I finished my work as fast as possible so I could go in the little library and read. There was a very old set of encyclopedias which I spent a lot of time reading. My favorite book was Planes for Bob and Andy. So I really wanted to be a pilot. I did get my pilot's license when I was 25. I also remember reading Smokie and Black Beauty. 

    Again, I was the only student in my grade. I worked hard so that I could have free time and avoid the teacher. The teacher had to spend the most time with the little guys. I bragged about being first in my class but Yorkshire Pudding also reminded me that I was last as well!

     The teacher was pretty good with music and she worked hard. Our work was marked which is more than some of the other teachers did. She made the mistake of praising everything about the previous school she taught in. Very soon she had lost our report. We did not like her .

    I have no pictures from this time as the teacher did not organize photos. She took photos for herself but they were not distributed to the students.

Monday, September 28, 2020


      This Saturday we spent 2 hours at a location called Three Mile Bend. It's an area along the Red Deer River that was mined for gravel and was not reclaimed. Most of it has been left for 50 years so there is a combination of ponds and forested areas in various stages of recovery.

     It can be an excellent birding area in June when there are many warblers along the banks of the river. This Saturday was poor as it's an off leash dog park so there were too many dogs and people for good birding.

   We did see 14 species.

    Freestyle skiing had been very active here for a long time. This is the practice facility. This is the top of the ramp . Water runs on the ramp surface and they can ski down the ramp. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020


      I will put years 3,4 and 5 together simply because I had the same teacher for those years. 

     First to cover something I should have mentioned in a previous post. When I started grade one in 1945 there was one other student in grade one with me. At the end of Grade 3 she went to another school so I was the only one in the grade. So I was top in my class from gr 4 to 9. Ha! Ha!

    Now the teacher I had for these three grades had almost ten years experience. She obviously liked teaching and she was good at it. In fact, she was a way ahead of her time when it came to teaching strategy. She had field trips. Who else had field trips at that time. We would take our lunch and spend the whole day wondering through the nearby trees, fields, grasslands and wetlands. We had our lunch out in the field which was cool. We each came back with a collection. The collection might include, leaves branches, flowers and insects. The next few days at school we did many different things with our collections. We traced and did art projects. In science we learned the names of some of the things we brought back. We also had to write or draw about our observations.

    This teacher was also exceptional at music. We did much singing and had a few rhythm bands. We also all bought small coping saws and made fancy designs in wood which we would paint and take home to our Moms. My Mom still had one of mine when she died.

    We also went to other schools to play ball. We also had some picnics. 

    In these schools we all ate lunch in the classroom including the teacher. This teacher had her own little house on the school yard and she would go to her house to have lunch and leave us to eat our lunch in the classroom. Well, one day some little guy threw a chalk brush and instantly bedlam broke out. Chalk brushes flew. Many hit the walls so there were chalk brush marks all over the room. Dust? Lots of chalk dust.  We were so involved in this activity that we forgot all about the teacher. She came in the room and stood for a minute before we knew she was there. She had ample time to see who the culprits were. To say the least she was upset and we got the strap.

    Lunch was an important part of a one room school day. Most of the time we ate in the classroom. But if it was nice we ate outside. Kids would pick a favorite place to eat with their friends. Sometimes it was in the shelter of deep grass. sometimes it was in a sunny location. I remember one of these lunches eating the biggest juiciest pear ever. We traded lunch all the time.

    We always had to say grace before we ate. The grace we said or sung depended on the teacher we had. So sometimes it was "Come Lord Jesus be our guest" Sometimes it was "God is good. God is great." And sometimes we sang "Be present at our table Lord."

    I didn't take a horse to school but some kids did. That meant that they had to feed their horse at noon.

   This teacher was on the go all the time . Lessons were taught even though they were brief. 

   I was on my own for gr 4 and 5. I liked being told what to do and then go and do it. I liked to be by myself. If I finished my work I could read. 

    This teacher made sure that pictures were taken and that she got copies for each of us. Somehow she found a commercial photography who would take a school picture. No other school had this. So this photo was done by a special photographer.

    You've seen these photos on another post.


Sunday, September 20, 2020


      So this Saturday we went to a location called Mackenzie trails. It's a park made up of heavy old growth forest, meadow and wetlands. All of this is along the river. Much of the area has had gravel taken out of it. There are many great trails for walking and cycling. This also makes it easy to bird. On occasion we do go off the trails. There is also a pond of 5 acres.

     So it makes it an excellent place to go birding. Yesterday the visibility was very poor because of the smoke. However we did see 23 species. We were surprised to see quite a few warblers here. We identified the yellow rumps but there were two other species and we couldn't get a good look at them to make an identification.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


      Well, it's taken me awhile to get in a classroom for more or less formal education. 

     I will unfortunately be looking at this from under a few different hats. Some of it will be through the eyes of a little boy. Some of it will be from and adult and some of it from a teacher's point of view. We all think back to our school days and remember when we were children. Things change as we gradually grow older. Sometimes what my brother and I remember are very different. The adult point of view comes from us and our view of children. I taught for 37 years. That's enough to skew any memory. I also did some teacher supervision and evaluation. Did I mention that I had many student teachers over the years. That really changes what's under the hat.

    The typical one room school had students in each grade from one to eight or even nine and ten.  The highest enrolment in my school was 17. When I left there were only six kids left in the school. The school closed the next year.

     In the one room schools the teaching strategy was to tell each class what to do in that period of time. That may have taken two or three minutes.The kids would read a chapter of whatever it was and then answer some questions. Math lessons were very brief and then get to work and do a page or two of arithmetic questions. The good teachers would have activities that involved the whole school at one time. An example would be music. The teacher spent the most time with the younger students as they were not independent.

     The good teachers arranged things so that kids worked together. Kids are very good at teaching each other.

    I started school in 1945. We had two teachers that year. A  very quiet lady took us to Christmas break and then left to get married. I don't remember much about her except that she was very quiet. A young guy came after Christmas to finish the year. He had just finished high school. I remember having a lot of fun when he was there. However, I did learn to read well. It was the year that the Dick and Jane series was introduced to our school so we had the old reading series as well as Dick and Jane.

    For gr. two my brother started school. We had a very  quiet introverted lady for our teacher. Again , I don't remember much. We probably didn't do anything much. I remember we got into trouble a few times as we forgot we were in school and acted like brothers who fooled around.

   There were some major events that took place each year. One was the Christmas concert. Much of December was taken to practice putting together the program. There would be songs by the whole group and then music from smaller groups. REcitations were a favorite. Small skits were put on. And yes if the school was any good at all they had a rhythm band. One thing that I'll never forget is that I got kicked out of the rhythm band. I probably couldn't keep the rhythm but the problem was that I was playing sticks and my brother and I decided to hit each other. Needless to say, the battle got carried away 

    Now life out of school was still going on. What we learned in school helped us to learn more from our daily experience.

    So I did finish grade two. And I promise that my next post will take me to Gr. 3.

Saturday, September 12, 2020


     We had another good morning of birding. We went to Hazlett Lake which is a small local lake on the edge of town. It's private property but one of the favorite places the group likes to go.

     Today there were very few birds on the water. It's still a little early for the main migration of waterfowl. We saw 18 species today and that's without a lot of water birds.

    The family that owns the property has had their own golf course for many years. No one else plays this course.

    Estelle is making her way from the shore. the riparian area has been taken over by canary reed grass. Most native riparian plants have disappeared.

      Bertha makes her way from the shore.

     I found a tree that had recently been damaged by lightening. 

    A field of canola that has been swathed and ready for harvest.

     The original family home.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020


     So at about 6 years of age I  began the institutional part of my education. Bur don't forget that alongside the institution life experience and learning went on.

      The system I was going into was very different from other systems because of the territory. The Canadian prairies are huge and were sparsely populated. The Canadian prairies were settled around 1900. There were few railroads . Travel and freighting were done with horses. So schools had to be planned so that kids didn't have to travel too far to get to school. The plan was that kids shouldn't have to travel more than 4 miles. I was lucky. I only had to travel one mile and most of the time I walked.

     The school building was built in 1908 and was called Hiawatha. Ever hear the name Hiawatha used somewhere?. It was not insulated and was built with green lumber. As a result the lumber shrunk and left spaces the wind could blow through. The prairies are a very windy place. I remember the wind moaning around and through some of the building. The building also moved slightly in the wind so you always heard the creaking of nails and wood. So some days you listened to the wind song all day. 

     For some reason or other the little kids who were going to start school in September attended school in May and June.  It was a bit like a kindergarten. 

    The good citizens of the prairies were always very proud of their schools. The schools acted as a community center. Many times churches used the schools. 

   So before I actually get to school let me tell you that the education they provided was somewhat limited. Supplies of materials like books were limited. There was an initial purchase of books and not much after that. Teachers had very limited training. Some had not completed high school. Sometimes the school was closed for a while because they could not hire a teacher. Some teachers were very good and some very inept.

   This is the only photo I have of the building. I'm the little fellow in the middle row first left.

Sunday, September 6, 2020


      Saturday six of us visited gaetz lake for a couple of hours of biding.We saw 25 species of birds.

     Gaetz lake is a 230 acre property right in the city now. Half of the property is old growth forest.

     There are two small ox bow lakes. A long time ago the river bed was where to two lakes are.  They have made an excellent wetlands. 

Friday, September 4, 2020


    My last two posts were a disaster.  As hard as I tried I couldn't get the font or size of print I wanted. I couldn't indent paragraphs. I thought I couldn't get photos but then I found them.

     I knew something was wrong but not what or how to correct it. There were red , green and blue words. there was code between the words.  I tried everything and searched as hard as I could search. 

    So go to young people for a solution. I checked with my kids. They couldn't come up with anything. They're not kids any more...48 and 50. They're too old to help me.

    My daughter did give me one hint that it sounded like html. 

    So I looked to see where I may have accidentally clicked on a html icon. I accidentally found it. It's in the upper left hand corner of the blog. There is compose and html. I had accidentally clicked on html. So I clicked on compose and I was back in business.

    I did much cussing and search to find a solution. I won't forget that for a while. 

   So my apologies for some very poor posts.

     So there it is. The pencil stands for compose and the triangle is html

Tuesday, September 1, 2020


     When I did my first prairie boy post I thought I had said everything. When I contemplated the post and looked at your comments I knew I had something else to say. 

     There was more education before starting my education in an institution. 

     In my preschool years I had contact with grandparents. Yes, all of you grandparents know how much you influence and teach your grandkids. My paternal grandparents lived about 8 or nine miles from us. We visited then about 6 or 7 times a year. 8 or 9 miles in the early 40's was a long trip for us. With horses we could not make the trip both ways. Okay, my paternal grandparents were German immigrants who came from Russia. Apparently they spoke very little English but that didn't matter to a little boy who didn't speak German. We chattered to each other all day to the extent that I had to be told later in life that they didn't talk English. Grandma was a great story teller and told stories of wolves and foxes that chased people. The people always got away in her stories. So we were exposed to a different culture. I remember staying with Grandma a few times. The food was different. They were independent for almost everything. They produced most of their own food and it was different. They received support from the Mennonites in Manitoba , Canada when they first came here.   

     My maternal grandparents were English and came here for the same reason as the paternal grandparent...economics. The maternal grandparent could not make a living in England. My grandfather was a butcher and went to farms when they wanted something butchered. My maternal grandparents lived about 500 miles away so we saw them only once a year. I remember visiting them twice. They lived in a town of 10000 and I thought it as a city. This was a huge place with all kinds of shops. These grandparents were supported by the church for a few years until they became established. So my Grandparents were like most grandparents and taught their grandkids about a different way of life. They also urged us to practice good behavior. 

      Children learn from other children. We had children living close to our farm so played with other kids all the time. Kids have to play with others to learn how to get along. Sometimes kids have a very effective way of getting their point across...they sometimes use hitting. 

     Many of the things you learn as a preschooler pop up later in your life to add meaning to what is going on. The stories my parents and grandparents told made things have more sense as life went on. I was my grandparents first grandson so there was a special photo . My paternal grandparents in front of their retirement home. My maternal grandparents are on the left. I'm on the far right .