Alston School No. 1538

Alston School was located on SW 29-15-25-W4. This is 9 miles west of Champion, 2 miles north and west for 1 1/2 miles.

It was named after a school by that name in England where J. Woods, a ratepayer, had attended. The building was erected in 1906 by Newton Dorman, a local man, as the chief carpenter. The first trustees were Julius Zang, John Patton and Wm. Bowie.

An excerpt from the Nanton News of 1907 says:

“The Alston Board of Trustees have engaged Miss Lorena Patterson as teacher from August 5 to December 24. Miss Patterson had been teaching at Rolling Plains. A very successful concert was held at the opening of the Alston School House on Friday the 26th. Mr. John Kennedy was voted to the Chair. The concert was arranged by the society known as “Masters Volunteers.” Starting at 9:30, the program continued until after 12. The program was bright and varied, consisting of speeches, songs, duets, and recitations. During the interval, a substantial lunch was served. A collection was taken up on behalf of the organ fund and resulted in the splendid sum of $28.40. The school house was packed and everyone seemed pleased.”

Miss Patterson later became Mrs. Grant Mallory, of Kirkcaldy. At Alston School, they employed 19 teachers between 1906 and 1929, averaging almost a new one per year.

In the early years, the student population very often increased in the winter months, as outlying schools were closed, because it was too difficult for the children to get to school in the dangerous cold.

During the First World War, a box social was held at the school to raise money for the Red Cross. Over $500.00 was raised in one evening. Henry Zang paid the highest price of $55.00 for his wife’s box.

Bob Hill started school in 1920, with Miss Maynard as his first teacher. He recalls the old school bell would tip, so that it was unable to ring. Someone would have to climb a ladder and straighten it, so that it could ring again. He did this several times while attending Alston School.

Alston school had a good attendance throughout the years and at the beginning of the war it was made into a three-room school with high school, intermediate and primary classes.

In the late ’30’s, when consolidation of schools took place under the Macleod School Division, the outlying schools were closed permanently. The Hiawatha school was moved to Alston and was used as a high school. In 1940, a junior high school was built. The first van drivers to bus children to these schools were Ray Beingessner, Ivar Ivarson, Nick Ewashen and Mrs. George Hutton.

With a van service in operation, there were at one time forty-five pupils attending. Bad roads in winter and the difficulty of getting teachers reduced it to a one-room school again, with high school students going by van to Vulcan and school attendance dropped to 12 or 15.

In June 1949, further consolidation took place and the Alston school was closed. The children were bussed to Champion, Vulcan, or Parkland schools. The old original school was torn down by the Ewashens.

Today a few caraganas and an old pump are the only reminders of those bygone days.

More information about Alston School may be found in the books, “Alston Echoes – 1906 -1949” and “Cleverville Champion 1905 to 1970”, at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Village of Champion Office, the Champion Pioneer Club and the Vulcan & District Museum.

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