Sunday, November 22, 2009

Remembering the Farm: Cavell School 1953-1960 Grades 1-7

My father and I attended the same one room school Grades 1 to 8 in Cavell, the little village two miles north of the farm where I grew up.  My father, specializing in trouble and recess, fell out of a tree while collecting magpie eggs (on which there was a 5 cent bounty), breaking his arm and thus missed writing his grade 8 exams.  The teacher offered to give him his grade if he promised never to go to school again. Grades were never my problem.

My mother could not wait to send me to school as I was making her crazy at home.  However once I got to school and learned to read she never heard froom me again except at meal time.  One benefit of a multi-grade classroom is that you automatically learn what the older kids are learning.  By Grade 3, I was reading all the library books of the higher grades and couldn't wait for the new box of books to come from the school office each month.  With 8 grades to teach and all subjects, we were left to work on our own most of the time, which suited me anyhow.

Dad drove us by car or team and sleigh until I was old enough to handle our own horses. I was in about grade 4 and my brother Ross in Grade 2 when we started riding a pair of old horses to school.  In grade 6, we bought brand new CCM 3 speed bikes with our own hard earned money which we rode in summer.  We drove the old team and sleigh in winter. Two other families also came by horse. In winter we hung out in the barn sometimes as it was warm and and it was not inside the school.

Rules were different in those days.  Recesses and noon hours were unsupervised.  All the boys carried jack-knives.  When I was 10, I bought a genuine Stockman 3 blade knife that today would be over $100. We played "Stretch" quite a bit and no feet were stabbed.  If there were enough kids we played softball with teams and if not enough we played "Scrub", everyone supposedly getting a turn to bat of the noon hour.  The school had a high pitched roof and we played a game called "Anti-I-Over".in which two teams one on each side of the school would throw a soccer ball over the school and hope the other tean never caught it.  You couldn't cheat because you could hear it bounce.

Every school has its bullies and this one was no exception.  My grandfather fought on the School Board with their grandfather; their father and uncle made my father's life miserable and the two brothers made my life hell.  They were athletes and I was anything but, therefore easily beaten upon.  Although in a sports day event in Grade Three, I won a third prize in high jump, proving that at least young elephants can jump.

Of course we had a Christmas concert every year just before Christmas Holidays.  Early in Dec our fathers would show up and set up the stage against the windows while we crowded our desks to the other side of the room.  We practiced plays and drills and songs enough to more or less get them down pat. The year we did a Teddy Bear's Picnic marching drill and all our masks fell down so we couldn't see, the effect was far more entertaining than the teacher had hoped for.  Santa always came at the end of the concert and brought all the students bags of Christmas candy and oranges. The students drew names and exchanged gifts also.

Winters were cold in the school. There was a big coal and wood furnace in the basement but there were mornings the school was so cold we would all huddle around the big square register in the floor.  Once in a while a rubber eraser would get dropped down the register "accidentally" on top of the furnace and we would have to flee the room until the smoke died down. We all packed lunches (and somewhere is my black metal lunch box that I carried for 12 years, still in good condition).  In winter we would bring a jar of stew or soup or something and at recess we would put the jars in a boiler with a couple inches of water on the register and by noon they would be hot.  Thermos bottles had glass liners and were short lived so never used.

All rural schools in our area were closed in 1960 and we were bussed to a larger school.  Six rooms and twelve grades.  That is another story.

This cairn marks the spot where the school once stood

Classes of 1956.  That is me (Grade 3) far right seated and Ross (Grade 1) far left front row in love with Linda Watt also Grade 1. The following is a list of students in the picture.  There are 23 visible and two hidden students so obviously I am missing a couple of people.

Students I remember

Bleier - Georgina, Eileen, Leonard
Galbraith – Jack, Tom
Hingston – Allen, Ross
Huber – Fred
Kamer – Joe
Krause – Vince, Carol, Barbara
Thomas – Elton, Willie, Mike
Uland – Alma, Donna, Betty
Ward – Ralph, Elaine
Watt – Gary, Donald
Watt - Linda


Ed Bitz (Gr 1)
Arelene Jeffries (Gr 2)
Irene (Veit) Bleier (Gr3-5)
Hilda Ulrich (sub end Gr 5)
Mrs. Smith (Gr 6)
Mrs Barr (Gr 7)


  1. You have a better memory than I. I'm lucky to remember a couple of college profs.

  2. Grae has your lunch pail. It's still in great shape.

    Also, you totally made it sound like you and Grandpa went to the same school at the same time. Nice.

  3. D - I could likely list off at least half or more of my college professors. I had about 30 profs, I think, over 4 years.

    May-B - I know. I read it over and thought I'd just leave it and see who picked it up and commented.

  4. Very interesting stories. I was also interested in your previous post about Cavell church. I heard a lot of about both places from my Mother. When the school was moved to Wilkie as part of their museum my Mother was there on some occasions to answer questions for the museum visitors.

  5. Sometimes, you're so much like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  6. LynnieC - it's the braids and freckles, don't you think?


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