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Mountain View, Alberta

by William Webster
"Chief Mountain Country" pages 68 - 70

Beautiful Mountain View is situated about 14 miles west and south of Cardston. In 1890 this district was called "Fish Creek", appropriately named because of the abundance of fish in the creek at that time.

In 1893 Mr. John Biddle suggested the name be changed to Mountain View so, until l905, Mountain View of the North West Territories was the mailing address (via Cardston, Canada).

The earliest mention of education is an account of Mr. John Biddle, a non-professional teacher, who taught small groups of children in his home. This was before a school was built.

The first school was a one room log building, built in the early 1890's, and stood where the present day school (1977) is situated. Mr. Edmunds was one of the first teachers. He taught in 1896-97. He was followed by a Mr. J. B. Faull, who had as many as 80 pupils from grades I through VIII in 1900-1901. Other teachers at this time were Mr. Adams, and Miss Holt.The teachers salary at this time was $40.00 per month. Instead of "Grades" the term used was "Standards".

Those who went to school in 1900-1901 who are still living at this time (1977) are: Merle Burrows Reed, Carrie Burrows Peterson, Delance Strate, May Davidson Webster, Hazel Tippetes Walburger, Joice Rich Harker, May Earl Meeks, and Henry Walburger.

Early in the 1900's the school was enlarged by a west end addition, which also had an upstairs for recreation and later used as a school room. Rulon Hicken taught in the big room and William Webster, who started to teach in 1921, had the first five grades with 56 pupils. With a total of 42 years of teaching, Mr. Webster taught 27 of them in Mountain View.

Recreation in the early days was often carried on with simple home-made equipment. Balls were made of string which was wound round and round and through and through and tied to make them more secure. These balls provided many happy hours for the little folk-however, a real ballgame was a bit different-after a few innings the string gradually unravelled and that was the end of that game! The bats were shaped from pine poles which were brought down from the mountains. This "job" furnished the men and boys with many hours of "useful whittling". However, everyone was ingenious and many games, in summer and winter, provided hours of enjoyment for both old and young alike-another proof that the "generation gap" was not so wide in those days!

Students were anxious for education and walked or rode horseback from three to five miles to school. A potbellied stove stoked with wood by hand was the heating system, and in winter time teacher and students warmed up first front and then back. For the first years water was carried from the creek in a bucket and all used the one dipper for drinking. Later on a well was drilled by the school .

Mrs. Mostyn kept order in her room with the aid of a "shampock" a rhinoceros hide strap. Some of the earliest trained teachers were from Eastern Canada. Bessie Oland Caldwell came West to teach school for the high wages. She received the admirable sum of $300.00 a year-a considerable raise from the $180.00 a year in Nova Scotia. George Parker, Mary Smith, and John Payne were the first trained teachers from Mountain View.

School fairs became an annual and exciting event to look forward to. Everyone participated contributing colorful and interesting displays of art, penmanship, composition, vegetables, flowers, seeds, handicrafts, fowl, livestock, etc. With the help of Hillspring and Glenwood joining in these were fairs worthy of honourable mention.

About 1926 or 27 the old school was torn down and a four-room structure was built. While being erected, school was held in rooms of private homes. About 1955 two large rooms were added to the west of the present building with indoor plumbing for the first time.

Clifford Neville drove the first school van starting in 1943 with a horse drawn one, later switching to motor vans. He drove 27 years without an accident.

From Mountain View S. D. No. 281 of the N.W.T. (1900) to Mountain View consolidated School of the Cardston School Division (1977) there has been ap- proximately 97 different teachers with Mrs. Iretta Thompson leading with a total of about 40 teaching years.

A goodly number of former students with a certain amount of claim to fame had their humble beginnings in Mountain View School. This school is still in operation serving the needs of the elementary and junior high school students. High school students attend school in Cardston .

The book "Mountain View Remembers", written by Julia M. Nelson, furnishes one with much additional factual material on the history of Mountain View. It is a valuable and interesting source of information concerning the early settlers of the community, their children, and the many teachers who guided and influenced their lives.

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Mary Tollestrup