Each of these markers show where one of the pioneer schools was built.
In the early 1900’s, there were over 120 small school districts in the area covered by Vulcan County today. Some schools were one-room, some were two-room, some began as larger consolidated schools (four rooms). All were the hub of their approximately four miles square communities. The schools provided not only for the education of the young in the area, but served as a social center for the entire population. They were often used for dances, showers and church meetings.
The small schools were closed and their dwindling school population transferred to other larger schools. The buildings were sold or moved to other sites and the school land, once ringing with the sound of children laughing while playing a game of tag, became silent. As time passed, even the memories became limited to only the few remaining former students, teachers or van drivers.
Milo Lions Club decided to take on a project for the Milo area. They would place a school marker at each of the school sites in their area. The marker would tell the name and number of the school district, the years it was in operation and the land location of the site.
The idea was brought to the County of Vulcan Council in 2000. The Council decided to carry on the placing of markers throughout other areas of the County. A Historical School Sign Committee was formed with a representative from each district: Carmangay, Len Fraser; Champion, Racille Ellis; Vulcan, Marge Weber; Brant, Henry Hansen; Arrowwood, Susan Schalin; Mossleigh, Jackie Fraser and Milo, Dave Deitz and Grant Lahd.
Funding for the project came from a variety of sources: Community Lottery Board Grant Program, Alberta Gaming, Vulcan County, Milo Lions Club, Milo and District Agricultural Society, Lomond Lions Club, Vulcan Lions Club, Vulcan and District Agricultural Society, Champion Historical Society, Arrowwood Historical Society, Ensign Local of Unifarm, Herronton Community Club, Bowville Community Club, Berrywater Community Club & Berrywater Women, Claresholm Casting and many interested individuals.
Over the next two years the community representatives completed the major job of finding the information for all the schools, ensuring there was adequate funding, getting the markers made and erected. Some areas had dedication ceremonies for the markers of their schools.
Lomond already had the schools remembered on a heritage rock in the town of Lomond, so they chose to not be a part of the project in the beginning. Later the Lomond Lions Club decided to put up markers at their school sites, as well.
There are two styles of markers. The majority of the County has a brass-lettered plaque attached to a black schoolhouse-shaped marker, as seen above. Lomond has a cut out letter style on an all black school-house shaped marker.
So if you are driving through the countryside in Vulcan County and see this marker on top of a post, know that once there was a school there that served a vital purpose in the settlement of the region.
More information about each of the schools can be found in local history books. The Vulcan and District Archives also has a collection of information about each school. There are school directories for each area that contain a map of the school districts and driving instructions to get you to the markers. These will be appearing in each community in the near future.