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Shanks Lake School District No. 3329

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and Surrounding Districts,
Pages 154 - 155

The large lake in T.1-R-21-W4th was named Shanks Lake after Thomas Shanks, D.L.S. (1869-1926). He was Director General of Surveys from 1914 to 1924.

On January 4, 1916 the Shanks Lake School District No. 3329 was established comprising the following lands: West halves of Section 30 and 31, in Township 1, Range 20; Sections 25-29 and 32-36 in Township 1, Range 21; Sections 1, 2, 11, 12 and those portions of Sections 3-5, 10, 13, and 14 lying south of the north branch of Milk River in Township 2, Range 21; the west halves of Sections 6 and 7 and that portion of the west half of Section 18 lying south of the said river in Township 2, Range 20, West of the Fourth Meridian.

Official Trustee at the time was Albert Fisher of Del Bonita, Alberta. The Committee responsible for establishment included W. L. Baxter, Roy Winters, and H. E Munday.

On May 22, 1918 the following lands were added: Sections 5 and 8, the west halves of Sections 4 and 9, and the east halves of Sections 6 and 7, in Township 2, Range 20, and Sections 29 and 32, the west halves of Sections 28 and 33 and the east halves of Sections 30 and 31 in Township 1, Range 20, West of the Fourth Meridian.

The school was located north of Shanks Lake. W. L. Baxter and a few other local men built the school and barn. The lumber was hauled from Magrath.

Mr. Thomas Roycroft was the first teacher. There were eighteen pupils: Pearl and Ruth Helgeson, Ruby Greep, Gerald, Mabel, and Tommy Lanoway, Maybel, Richard, Floyd, and Alberta Smith, Estella and Louis Winters, Thomas and Maureen Roycroft, Norah Guthrie, Gladys Fisher, Russel and Irene Baxter, and for a short time, their aunt, Ellen Aldrich.

Other official trustees were J. Morgan of Lethbridge, appointed February 23, 1918; G. R. Dolan of Cardston, appointed March 1, 1919; 0. Williams of Cardston appointed October 23, 1919, and J. Scoffield of Foremost, appointed June 12, 1923. Many local people served on the school board.

During the 20's the school was closed for a few years because enrollment was low. The children of school age rode horseback to the Del Bonita School. On October 3, 1936 the Shanks Lake School District No. 3329 was included in subdivision No. 3 of the St. Mary's River School Division No. 2.

In 1939 Shanks Lake School was included in the centralized school system at Del Bonita. The building was moved to the site and used for a class room in 1939-40. Then it became a teacherage. It was purchased by W. S. Clifton in 1949 and moved to his land where it was converted into a home.

Some of the students of Shanks Lake School recall the fun they had swinging on the barn rafters, or playing softball. The journey home often included a race to see who had the fastest horse.

When Miss Hominuke was teaching at Shanks Lake School, every day each family brought one thing to put in the community soup pot that simmered on the stove all morning. What a delicious smell! By noon everyone was ready to eat.

The stove was a big pot bellied heater. Each family took turns as custodian of the school for a certain period of time. The fire had to be lit early to have the school warm when the children arrived.

Most of the children walked to school, a distance of two or three miles. Winter clothing was hard to get. At times the children wrapped their feet in gunny sacks to keep them warm and dry. The teacher helped them to unwrap their feet, and dried the sacks by the big heater.

Some of the teachers in Shanks Lake School were Thomas Roycroft, Mr. Ora Neilson, Marion Bingham, Arvid Larson, Sadie Hominuke, and Leah Sheffield.

The Shanks Lake School was closed for several years during the 20's because there weren't enough pupils to warrant keeping it open. Those pupils of school age rode horseback to the Del Bonita School and were given a small allowance for each day they attended.

Shanks Lake School re-opened in June, 1929. School was held through the summer that year.

When Arvid Larson taught grade ten at the Shanks Lake School, the class included Earl Weiss, Verda Weiss, and Glen Powlesland from the Del Bonita district, Ethel Robinson from Twin River, and June Swanson and Anton Bryant from Shanks Lake.

In 1937 Andrew Kolasko was hired to van the students from Hillmer to Shanks Lake school around by the bridge at Swallow's. Herman Hillmer succeeded him. Pay for this was $3.00 per day.

1938-39 was the last year Shanks Lake school operated. Grade nine was taught there that year.

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Mary Tollestrup