Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Remembering the Farm: Starting School in Leipzig

Fifty years ago this week, I started Gr. 8 at Leipzig, as small town about 7 miles from our farm.  I was one month short of 13.

That June the Wilkie School Unit closed all the remaining one room schools, including Cavell.  Six schools in the Leipzig District were closed and we were bussed to Leipzig where a new school had been built.  From one room with 16 kids in 8 grades to four rooms (Gr. 5 to 12) with 25 to 30 kids in each grade.  Two more rooms were added the next summer and Gr. 1-4 who had been temporarily taught in the convent joined us.

Leipzig was on the eastern edge of St Joseph's Colony, a settlement of German Catholics, established in 1905.  The school was staffed primarily by School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Saskatchewan Motherhouse of which was located in Leipzig.  Leipzig was a Catholic School in a Public School District because the vast majority of the students were Catholic.  The few of us heathens left at 3:00 while the remainder had 30 minutes of Religious Studies.  We were ably babysat by Sister Martina over at the Convent where we pretended to do homework.

My teachers included:
  • Sister Raymond (Grade 8) - she despaired with me but survived the ordeal.
  • Sister Marie LeClaire (Grades 9 and 10) - a wonderful teacher, much humour and a long yardstick to keep order. Worth a blog on her own someday. 
  • Sister Annella (Grades 11 and 12) - loved literature, especially poetry; we kept in touch over the years; recently deceased, age 88.

My dad, who was going on 39, drove the new 36 passenger GMC school bus.  A real job, bringing about $125 in real cash money on a monthly basis to our family.  We could stop milking cows and shipping cream.  Freedom is no more cows to milk.

We left every morning at precisely 8:10 and arrived at the school at about 8:45 to 8:50.  Picked up at 3:30 we were home by 4:00.  No waiting for late risers on the return trip. Families in order of pickup in the morning:
  • Hingston
  • Huber
  • Frey
  • Frey
  • Watt
  • Frey
  • Ulrich
  • Herle
  • Schmidt
  • Kolonosky
  • Miller
  • Delainey
  • Gaertner
Rode the bus for six years until graduation in 1965.  Went back in 2005 to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the parish and saw many of my classmates whom I hadn't seen in 40 years.

Expect some of my readers, including my brother and sister, to fill in some memory gaps here.


  1. Doesn't seem to be many gaps to fill. Excellent trip down memory lane sir.

  2. I never rode a bus to a one room school....but it sounds like it could be great fun.....thanks for the memories.

  3. That could have been my school experience, it is so similar. Happened a few years later (we lived in the sticks so everything was later). 42 years ago, bussed to Debden school, which was Catholic run and publicly funded. A little culture shock at first, transitioning from 25 or so in one room, Gr 1-8 to 200+, K-12. Best thing was the library was bigger.

  4. This blog really brings back memories! Can't believe you dad was only 39, then. Of course everyone seems old when you are in grade 3.

  5. Comments from two new readers.
    Thanks Tammy and "DonnyK", I didn't know you were readers. Yes, my dad was really young then, we just didn't know it at the time.

    MCM, my brother will remember lots that I have missed as he still lives close enough and is young enough that it is not all distant fog.

    Sonja, You had a big school at PV, all cousins of course ;-). Debden was Catholic area? French?

  6. You survived catholic school? You have my condolences.

  7. Actually, no cousins in those days. Just neighbours. My brother was in the last gr.1 class, the cousins all came later. Debden is/was a small French-speaking community, predominately Catholic. I don't ever remember seeing any other church there. We had nuns as our teachers in Jr and High School. As the years went on, there were more regular teachers. When I started there, girls were required to wear skirts, until the 'bus' students convinced the principal that it was not safe in the winter.

  8. Dad, this was great.

    Sonja, I love how they convinced him! Sneaky.


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