Welcome to an old Alberta school that is resting near a backroad north of Edmonton. This school is now on private land. The landowner attended this school and wanted to fix it up. He implied that the renovations might not happen because his age is increasing while his motivation is decreasing. I’m going to keep this location to myself in respect to the landowner who was so helpful to us.
Let’s walk a bit closer. This school opened to students in 1913 so it’s well over one hundred years old. It’s in fine shape for the age. I don’t have the date it closed but most of the one room schools in Alberta closed in the 1950s. It may look small but the owner assured me that it was packed full of kids when he went to school here. The kids certainly wouldn’t lack for room to play as long as they didn’t knock their baseball through a school window. There’s a fine bench outside that was probably there since the day it opened. The chimney looks straight and that’s good because it gets cold up here in the winter.
A lot of kids pulled on that door handle to go to school. Or maybe the teacher opened it up once for all the students so that they could stay outside as long as possible before having to sit down. Was one of the grade nine students assigned the task of ensuring the door was securely closed so that the heat stayed in and the mice stayed out?
Let’s go inside. This school building is above average for Alberta because there’s a window on the north side as well as those on the sunny south side. Glass was expensive back in the early 20th century. I forgot to ask if the students had desks because those benches look like they may have come out of an old church. Come on in, brush off some bird droppings and take your seat. The teacher looks like she’s getting ready for some random questions to make sure we are all awake. The teacher is very strict as is fresh out of normal school.
Oh oh, the teacher is pointing at you so you better stand up. “Quickly now, name off the first four provinces of Canada” asks the teacher as she stares directly at you with her probing all knowing eyes. As sweat starts to drip from your forehead you begin to open your mouth but do you really know the right answer?
Well that was a stressful day in class. “Hey little girl, why are you still here?” “School is out for summer!” She looks to me briefly and then looks away and says, “I’m not supposed to speak to strangers”. I think to myself, “who is she calling strange?” I’m concerned as she seems too little to be attending this school. Where did she come from ?
“Do you need help”? “Should I go and look for your mother,” I ask? “No mommy is coming”. “She’s probably just stopped the cart by the creek to water the horse or maybe over at Mr MacTavish’s farm to buy some potatoes for the teacher”. I thought that I best leave well enough alone. Besides – and this is absolutely true – when I drove away I looked back that girl was no longer standing there in her fine dress on the school steps. Her appearance and disappearance is, as Winston Churchill is known to have said, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery“.
So it’s now time to say goodbye to the little schoolhouse on the Alberta prairie. Thank you for joining my on my tour. Oh if you are still wondering what the the answer is to the question the teacher asked you, here it is. The first four provinces in Canada were, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. No the fathers of confederation met in Prince Edward Island but the little island was not one of the first four.