Emerson School No. 1283 – Emerson School No. 1201

Emerson School 1283 marker

Emerson School was established on May 6, 1905. It was located on the SE quarter of 18-18-26-W4. Directions to the school marker are: from Vulcan – West 10 miles on Highway 534, turn North on Highway 804 for 8 miles, turn West on Township Road 182 into Brant for 2 miles Latitude 50.51389 Longitude -113.55274

Eva McKay recalls:

“My grandparents and 9 of their children came to Canada in 1902 from Nebraska, and to this area in April of 1904. They were able to put a small down payment on a large acreage of land, which left them $40.00 to live on until they harvested their first crop. They had six children of school age and educating them was of prime importance to my grandma. They found they had two neighbors whose children had not been to school for sometime, one family by the name of Campbell, and the other one, a Bulgarian family whose name I couldn’t find. Between them all they had enough children to form a school district. They sent a petition to the government in Regina.”

In the winter of 1905 and 1906 the Emerson school district No. 1283 was built two miles west of the present location of Brant school by Mr. Barker of Cayley, assisted by Jim Campbell and Roy Green. Emerson School was named after George Emerson who had come into the Territories in 1868. He was the original owner of the Bar V Ranch and did much to develop this country. While the school was being built, the parents found some desks and school was held in Campbell’s kitchen. The first teacher was Miss Hattie Fulton followed by Miss Houston.

In the summer of 1910, the railway was built through where the town of Brant is now situated, about three miles south and one mile west of where Old Brant stood. With the coming of the railroad and the consequent relocation of the town of Brant, a rearrangement of school districts followed. The Emerson School building was moved to New Brant in 1912 by Warren Shultz with his horses, and an exchange of school district names took place. The name was changed from Emerson School District #1283 to Brant School District #1283, situated on the northeast corner of 9-18-26 W4. This school building was used until 1916, when, according to Louise St. Clair in a student essay written in 1921, it had become too small to accommodate so many children. A larger new school opened in 1916. The former Emerson School building was bought by the Ladies Aid and used as the Methodist church, subsequently the United Church. The Sharon School No. 1065 which was built in l904, was moved and added to the church in the early 1950’s.

Emerson No. 1201, the renamed school from Old Brant, was located on NE 27-18-26-W4. As such, it operated until 1937.

The Auld family came to the Brant area in 1907. Mary, William R. and Edward Auld took their early schooling in the Emerson, Wilderman and Brant schools. Edward has fond memories of those early days. They drove the mules to school at first. Then they drove a horse or a team on a buggy, or a sleigh in the winter. Later their dad bought an old milk delivery wagon in which they put a stove and so travelled for a few years in comfort. Many winter mornings they held classes around the old potbellied stove until the school would warm up enough for them to take their seats. He often thinks that his kids having many comforts that he did not, missed so much. A fast-stepping team on a bob sleigh on a cold, frosty night with a set of sleigh bells ringing out going to a Christmas concert, or a cold winter evening at home after the chores were done and the old coal oil lamp turned high, and the old home comfort stove banked with coal and someone reading a story before bedtime – truly memories they will never know.

Ed Lane, when not farming his homestead, painted the new schools in the district. He met Harriet (Hattie) Fulton and they were married in 1906. Hattie had come to Alberta to teach. She taught at Emerson School and Mossleigh School.

Margaret McKay, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George McKay, taught at Emerson School (Old Brant) for two years and then moved to Nanton for the rest of her teaching career.

In 1908, the High River Choral Society were practicing for their presentation of “The Daughters of Jarius” in the Southern Alberta Music Festival. The Times paper refers to happenings at Emerson School, where Clare Matheson was teacher.

During the consolidation of schools into “Big Units”, many of the rural schools were closed and the pupils were vanned into Brant. Among these rural schools were Emerson, Sharon, Peace, Wilderman, Richmond Hill and Derry.

Directions to the second site, Emerson 1201, NE 27-18-26-W4 are from Vulcan – West 10 miles on Highway 534, turn North on Highway 804 for 10 miles, turn East on Township Road 184 for 1 mile, turn North on Range Road 262 for 1/2 mile. Latitude 50.55019, Longitude -113.48399

Emerson School 1201 marker

More information about Emerson School may be found in the books “Wheat Country I and II – A history of Vulcan and District,” at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Vulcan and District Museum.

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