Black Spring Ridge No. 1404

Black Spring Ridge School was located at NE 9-13-22-W4. It was three miles south of Carmangay and seven miles east. The site for the school was donated by Jacob Bakkila from a corner of his homestead. It was about an acre and a half of land. The school was built with volunteer labor.

The geographical feature on which the school’s name was based, Black Spring Ridge, got its name from the Blackfoot Indian word “sicehkicon”, meaning “black spring water”. The ground turns black where the water comes from the ground. The word “ridge” was added later. The ridge extends in a north-south direction. It is a hilly, rolling prairie with an elevation of 3500 feet above sea level, which is one of its unique features.

The second teacher, a Mr. Palmer, a homesteader from England, gave his services until a more qualified teacher could be found. Among the teachers following were: Miss Hazel Bradley, Mr. C. J. Bradley, Miss Emma Una, Mr. H. Lever or Lesseran (accomplished musician), Mr. Houghton and Miss Jessie Swanson, Mrs. Elwood Craig, Mrs. Vilas Teskey, Mrs. H. Nelson and Mr. Bond.

Jonas Untinen served for years on the local school board. Henry A. (Harry) Frank was the secretary-treasurer for years, also.

Lydia, Saina, Senia (Florence) and Martha Bakkila, trudged to school each day, carrying their lunch in a syrup or lard pail. Lunch consisted of bread and syrup sandwiches. Many of the children used to walk four miles, or more, to school each day, but in winter they were always warmly dressed with long stockings, long underwear, etc. It was many years before some of them began to ride a horse to school, or drive with a horse and buggy.

Some of the family names of those who attended Black Spring Ridge School were Swerdferger, Craig, Shearer, Untinen, Ross, Laczo, Swanson, Row, Rova, Sippola.

Henry Hannila, a bachelor, came from Astoria, Oregon in 1906 or 1907. He sent for his bride to Finland. The wedding took place in the Black Spring Ridge School the sumer of 1910.

During those early years, community gatherings were the only entertainment. Basket socials, surprise parties in the home, school picnics and Christmas programs were enjoyed by one and all. In the summer months, church and Sunday school conducted by student ministers were held in the schools.

The school was the center for all community affairs until many of these were transferred to the newly built Finn Hall in 1917-1918.

Joe Teskey and Charles Bradley would drive together to the polling booth at Black Spring Ridge School, knowing they would “kill” each other’s vote, but no dispute would they enter into, for fear of injuring their friendship. But a sense of duty to their nation or province would not let them stay at home, and the prospect of enjoying some political patronage did not influence them.

The school burned down in 1927 and was replaced by a more modern building.

In 1943, the school was centralized with Barons and Carmangay. In 1944, Black Spring Ridge School was moved in to Carmangay to accommodate the primary grades. When it was no longer needed for a classroom, it was sold to the Masons for a lodge room in Barons. It was moved into Barons in 1953 and placed on a poured concrete foundation. The windows were closed in on the front and sides. The interior was plastered, a new concrete chimney was put in and the solid wood frame building continued on as a local community center.

In 2009, the building is no longer the Masonic Lodge. It is now a private residence. Windows have been once again added, with the bank of them on the side giving the building the definite look of a school.

2010 shows that extensive renovations have been done.

More information about Black Spring Ridge School may be found in the books, “Bridging the Years – Carmangay and District” and “Wheat Heart of the West – A History of  Barons and District” and from the Vulcan and District Archives. School directories (maps and directions to the school markers) are available at the Carmangay Community Center and the Vulcan & District Museum.

One Comment

  1. avatar cody.shearer
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    My grandpa went to this school, thanks for the well written article Norma. I’m sure he will appreciate to read it, and maybe have some stories to add.

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