Blusson School No. 1787

From Champion, go East 4 miles on Highway 529, turn north on Range Rd 232 for 4 miles, turn east onto Township Rd 160 (Coalmine Rd) for 1/2 mile. Latitude 50.31023, Longitude -113.06296, to arrive at the site of Blusson School. This school was established on April 13, 1908. It was located on the SE quarter of 2-16-23-W4.

The school was named after Joe Blusson, who homesteaded across the road from the school. He was a coal miner and owner of the Blusson mine. The first chairman of the board was W. S. Philpott and the first secretary-treasurer was Harry McNaughton. $1800 was borrowed for building and equipment. Jim R. Jones placed a bid of $1440 for building the school and fencing the site, to be completed by October, 1908. The tax levy for that year was set at $8 per quarter. The bill from E. N. Moyer Co. Ltd. came to $326.00 and included three sizes of double desks to accommodate 26 pupils, teacher’s desk and chair, blackboards, erasers and chalk, dictionary and stand, desk bell, thermometer, eight day clock, globe, school bell, ($59.00 for this item alone) – map of Canada, set of ten other maps and other items.

The first teacher was Mrs. Grace Chappel, who signed an agreement to teach for forty days. Among the students under Mrs. Chappel that November day 1908, the following can be remembered; Elzora and Henry Philpott, Albert, Wade, Retha and Bose (Alfred) Matlock, Clarence Galloway and his two sisters; Ed, Margaret, Norman and Ted Carlson, and some others.  Other early teachers were Miss Lorena Patterson (later Mrs. Mallory of Kirkcaldy), Miss Moore, Mrs. Newman, Miss Hicks and in 1912 Miss Thain.

An early decision the board faced was whether to allow dancing in the school. After being put to a vote, nine were in favor and four were against. In a 1909 meeting, the purchase was made of wire netting to protect the windows from hail. A school library was planned in 1911, but because the school board was in debt, it was postponed until 1912.

In 1930 the windows were all moved to the east side of the building, making the lighting better. The dust storms in the “dirty thirties” brought work for the children and the teacher. They would have to spend an hour in the morning sweeping up literally pails of dust before they could go to work. It was useless to clean the building after school, as the winds often blew all night. Oilcloth was pasted over all the cracks around the windows, and many other ideas were tried, but the dirt came in anyway. A plague of Army worms also had to be endured.

For many years the Blusson school was used for the services of the Blusson United Church.

Some of the school inspectors were H. C. Sweet, Col. MacGregor, D. M. Sullivan, X. P. Crispo, and Owen Williams. For the first few years school did not run full terms; so it was not possible to finish a grade each year. When new teachers came they enquired about your progress and then generally started you out at the beginning of the reader and arithmetic again. This resulted in the pupils having the first parts of their books memorized, and seldom reaching the end. Boys often left school early in the spring to help with the farm work at home.

One game enjoyed by most players was “Kick the Can” – a can was placed in front of the barn, someone was “It”. The can was kicked and everyone hid. The “It” person then tried to catch everyone. The catch to the game was if anyone could beat you to the can; they could kick it and you started all over. It was not a fun game when you were “It”, but when you weren’t, you were as mean as the others had been. In the winter they used jam tins and made their own curling rocks.

One story is told of a famous horse race held about 1919 – an impromptu affair which resulted in a broken foot for one of the poor animals, and some severe reprimanding from the presiding teacher, Mrs. Cain. The principal participants in this unscheduled affair were Ted Carlson, rider of Queen, and Allie Howerton, rider of Pet. They were, no doubt, being aided and abetted by some of their classmates, while they endured the disapproval of others, especially Allie’s twin sister “Pinky,” who made it known what her opinion was of the whole affair. The children rode their horses to McRae’s to water them during the noon hour. The race took place on the return trip to the school. New rules were immediately introduced.

At Christmas time in 1929, the children of local rural schools each received a beautiful box of chocolates from Mr. Ed Latiff who had just recently opened the Champion Groceteria. These boxes were about fifteen inches long and were in the shape of a Santa Claus, beautifully colored. The children were really delighted to receive such a lovely gift.

The big iron stove was useful for an array of matters, from the making of cocoa for the noon meal to the thawing of ink in the mornings.

Some of the student families were Ashmore, Blusson, Campbell, Carlson, Castator, Chambers, Ellis, Galloway, Howerton, Lundgren, Matlock, McNaughton, Pasolli, Philpott, Popovitch, Schmeelke, Vaage, Versluys and Williamson.

Blusson School, 1914

In June 1943, the school was closed. The children were vanned to Harmony School, and later to Champion. Blusson had had to give way to the larger school districts. The building was moved to the County yard to be used for storage.

More information about Blusson School may be found in “Cleverville Champion 1905 – 1970,”and “Champion and District School Reunion 1906-1961,” 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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