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Pine Coulee School District 1905-1930

Taken from the Stavely and District
School reunion Book 1904 - 1957 pages 65-68

Information on families, teachers and trustees during
the years from 1905 to 1930.
Compiled by: Lozina M. Campbell.

The first schoolhouse was built in 1905 located on the south border of the southeast quarter of Sec. 2, Twp. 14, R. 28, W4. It was larger than most country School buildings but more space was needed and in 1914 more was added on the west end which gave more floor space and a stage for the many programs that were held by the school and the community. The two outdoor toilets with a room for wood and coal between them was built in the northwest comer of the spacious schoolyard. The barn, to house students' ponies, was built in the northeast corner. In later years, about 1917 a water well was drilled. This ended the carrying of water and the water fountain in the hallway of the school. This building served the district until 1940 when a new school was built about one-half a mile west of the old site. This new one served the district until 1945 when the Pine Coulee district was consolidated into the Stavely district.

The following are some of the teachers who taught in the school from 1905 to 1930: Miss Ferris, Miss Jennie Nelson, Mr. Ward, Miss Annie Broomfield (1911), Miss Mabel Richardson (1912), Miss Hazel Evans (1914-15), Miss Clara Meniece, Mr. Lorenzo Harch (1916), Mr. Hines, Miss Daley, Miss Humes, Miss Mary MacDonald (1918), Miss Elsie Bird (1919-20), Miss Gonagol (1920), Mr. W. J. M. Macleod (1921), Mr. Frank Priestley, Mrs. Purcell, Miss Emsley, Mrs. W. Husted, Miss Nettie Hellier, Miss Marg Lancaster, Miss Rose Leader(1926), Miss Hanrahan, Mrs. Nettie (Hellier) Smith, Miss Desie Marie Breton, Miss Seibert, Mrs. Ethel Jenkins (1930).

The following are a few of the trustees who served during those years: Thomas Stanford, J. S. Brown, Ralph Bartlett, James H. Oliver, Ed Webster, Mrs. Susan Lucas, Manson Campbell, Mrs. Blanche Brown.

Pine Coulee School Days Comments by Lozina "Oliver" Campbell

Every student that attended the Old Pine Coulee School will have different memories and different impressions of those days and events. I hope that through this report, to revive some of your almost forgotten memories and help to recall some forgotten happenings, experiences and people.

Pine Coulee School was a pleasing name. The district got the name from a coulee that ran west of the school. There were no pines near the school, they were found at the head of the coulee some miles north. The school was white and tall with one classroom. It faced the east about half way along the south border of the southeast quarter of 2-14-28-4. The schoolyard was enclosed by a page-wire fence, which stood up surprisingly well during the years. The red barn was in the northeast corner of the yard, the coal shed and two toilets were in the northwest corner, the school building near the southwest corner. This left a large space for the playing of games for the school children.

A part of the families had horses for the children to ride to school. The less fortunate ones walked, some of them for two and three miles. The barn was considered the boys' territory, out of bounds for the girls. The boys were displeased when the teachers refused to let them eat their lunches there.

The school room seemed to have plenty of windows but on dull stormy days the room was dark for reading and there was no other light. The high ceiling made the school reasonably cool in summer and verv difficult to heat in the winter. There were days when lunches would freeze unless they were placed near the heating stove. Often we wore our coats until noon and our hands would be almost too cold to write. Many types of heating stoves were tried. Finally a furnace type with an outer circulating jacket was tried. This proved more satisfactory but if it wasn't banked properly at night the school would be very cold in the morning. The janitor was usually one of the students and would not be at the school much ahead of the other children.

In this school there were eight grades, one teacher and on an average of twenty-five students. There was little time for frills and what there were ended with grade two. We were given a good basic training in material and how to study it. The following is an example of grades 5 and 6. The class began the day by repeating, after the teacher, The Lord's Prayer. Arithmetic came first with a study period followed by oral exercises. Spelling with a short study period, then spelling exercises and dictation from the teacher. Reading and memory work with each student reading aloud before the class. There would be a fifteen minute penmanship exercise for the whole school. Grammar, language and composition period was taken, part in silent study and part in oral participation. History, Canadian and English was given on alternate days with Geography, each having a time for study followed by questions on the blackboard. Art took many forms and was given on Friday afternoons. We had a monthly examination on each subject. Exercise books were corrected and textbooks were inspected for neatness when marks were given. The day was broken up with 2 fifteen minute recesses and a one hour noon break.

A visit from the school Inspector came twice a year and was feared by the teacher and a certain amount by the students. We were always glad when the visits were over.

Punishment for wrong-doing was given in several ways; standing in a comer, writing from one to a thousand, after school. Some students learned to use two pencils and shortened the time, until caught doing it. Memorizing some poetry, staying in at recess or after school. There was the strap. This was rarely used and only for serious offenses.

We had segregation in some things. There was a main entrance to the school into a long hall, the girls used the south end and the boys the north. At each end was a door entering the classroom. A long shelf at each end held lunch ails, gloves, mitts, etc. The long wall had hooks for hanging coats, it was divided in the centre, half for the girls and half for the boys. These rules were well respected. Boys and girls were not allowed to use the same double desk. There was no segregation in the schoolyard.

This was one of the few schools that used double desks. They were liked by most of the students. It was great fun choosing a seat-mate at the beginning of each new term of school. If there was too much talking and whispering, seat-mates were separated, for punishment.

School materials were not too plentiful in those early days. Beginners with a slate and slate pencil followed later with a lead pencil and rough strawpaper exercise books. Slates were cleaned with a damp cloth. Mistakes during work were usually rubbed out with spit on the end of the finger, even though the teacher protested. Many of the students owned a pencil box which would hold pencils, erasers, pens and nibs. Sometimes our only means for sharpening pencils was by using a pocket-knife borrowed from an older boy. The blackboards weren't always the best. We managed in spite of the light glare on them.

Games the students played were of their own making since there were no facilities. Most of the time the balls we played we played with were homemade from string and our bat was a piece of board with a shaped handgrip. There were times when the ball fell apart or the bat would break, ending the balI game. Some of the games played by the whole school were, Run-sheep-run, Follow-the-leader, Fox-and geese, when there was snow on the ground. And Lion. Smaller children played, Drop-the-handkerchief, London-bridge-is-falling-down, and hop-scotch. A large slough just west of the school furnished skating in the winter time for those fortunate to have skates. Others had fun just sliding around. Spring and summer the slough was usually out of bounds for us because children did fall through the ice and got wet and in summer too many came back to school with wet feet and clothing.

It was the practice in the Pine Coulee School in early years to spend the last period of school on Friday afternoons by having a program or a spelling match. Impromptu affairs with all of the students taking part. It was fun and at the same time the teachers made it a part of our education.

The school was the centre of the community's social events. The annual Christmas concert was, perhaps, the highlight of the year. There was usually enough students to make a good program and teachers and students worked hard, if not always willingly, to make it a success. It usually began in October with the planning and the hard and extra work building up with the excitement. In the early years our concert was held on Christmas Eve with a huge tree and real candies! The school was packed with parents and friends of the students. The excitement effected everyone and reached its peak when bells were heard and Santa came bounding into the room! None of it was lost, not even on those who knew all about Christmas and Santa Claus.

Dancing was popular and during the winter' months there would be a dance nearly every Friday night. The music might be a fiddle and piano, sometimes only the piano. While the music left much to be desired it rarely dampened the enthusiasm of the dancers. The whole family often came and when small children went to sleep they were bedded down on benches. Midnight lunch was served and enjoyed as much as the dancing.

In nearly every community one religious sect predominates, in the Pine Coulee district it was the Mormons. They held Sunday School and Church Services every Sunday. These and all of their social events were open to everyone and enjoyed by many. This took some co-operation between school and church. When Friday night came the school students packed their books and belongings in a bag and these were all stored in the school cupboard until Monday morning. The church had a large cupboard in which they stored their books, curtains, used for dividing the room into class places, and all other of their belongings during the week. No one seemed to complain too much about the arrangement. In 1926 the church discontinued having services in the school and all of this was changed.

The old Pine Coulee School was a part of pioneering. It was built by pioneers who knew hardships and how to make the most of them. They raised their families to accept the present while striving for better things. This school went through the horse and buggy age and into the motorized age. Communications reached the time of the telephone and radio. The school's first telephone was installed about the same time as the deep water-well was drilled, about 1917. It was a part of the coal stove and kerosene lamp age. The teachers faced a great challenge. In my opinion, they gave us a good basic education. I pay tribute to their courage.

Pine Coulee was just a country school and it played a large part in the lives of many of us, leaving us many cherished memories.

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Mary Tollestrup