First Chance No. 2043

Often referred to as Badger Lake School, First Chance School was established on September 24, 1909. The school was built in 1910 on the SE quarter of 19-16-18-W4. Directions from Lomond go East 8 miles on Township Road 162, turn north on Range Road 185 for almost 1½ miles. Latitude 50.36020, Longitude -112.45599

The first meeting was held in Albert Durand’s house in 1909. As the meeting went on, it finally came to where the selection of a name came up. So finally John Shaw, whose land was just across the road from Durand’s, came up with a suggestion. He said that at High River they tried several times to form a district and it was always turned down. So they decided to try once more and sent in the name Last Chance and got their school. Mr. Durand suggested they call their school First Chance, that is how it got its name. Also, First Chance School was the first school operated in this region.

(The name Badger Lake got started because the second teacher they had, a Mr. Williamson, built a building just across the road and a little south of the school and started a store and got a Post Office and called it Badger Lake.)

The year it was built was a drought year and it was followed by 2 more years of drought. The school was built in 1910 by Mr. L. Foisia, whose land the school was built on, and Mr. Fred Bratton, a bachelor who lived north of Badger Lake. Mr. Foisia was on the school board at the beginning when there was considerable controversy over the running of a new school. The first teacher was a Mr. Hoidge.

Jerome Durand recalls that “the first pupils that started and are still alive are as follows: myself, Jerome Durand, Carstairs, Alta., Florence Durand (Hart), Lomond, Cora Durand (Dalton), Vauxhall, Leonard Durand, Oyen, Alta., Alma Durand, (Dalton), Stony Plain, Alta., Ralph Booth, Brooks, Cliff Booth, Lomond and Mabel Booth, (Hunter) 100 Mile House, B.C. I am not sure but Jee Chambers of Brooks and Elmer Thompson of Arrowwood may have started then also.” This was printed in a letter to the editor in the Vulcan Adovcate and reprinted in “From Slates to Cyber” compiled by Judy A. Crawford for the Horizon S.D., 2005.

A. D. Macdonald, was the third teacher of the Badger Lake School. He was also a homesteader. Two other teachers were Zella Calbert and Lola Flood.

Mrs. Martha Trew was postmistress at Badger Lake from 1917 until the post office closed in 1949. She boarded the teachers for 35 years. She also played the pump organ at the school for church services.

When Mary Koch and Jerome Durand were married on Feb. 19, 1917, they had their wedding dance there. Louis La Chance and Fred Bratton played for them. Frank Koch married Esther Louise Durand. She was daughter of a homestead neighbor. Like many others, their wedding and reception were in the bride’s home with a dance in the evening at the First Chance School, better known as Badger Lake now. Two homestead boys, Donald and (Fiddy) Andrew McAlister played the violin and banjo for the dance. The school was filled to capacity and the dance lasted until six o’clock in the morning.

The school served as dance hall, church, and meeting place. There were funerals there. There were always good old Christmas Concerts every year.

Tom and Margaret Teasdale took an active part in all community activities. Tom made the coffee at all the social functions at the Badger Lake School. He was a member on the school board. Mrs. Teasdale sang at all the gatherings. The Teasdales had seven children.

Maude Chambers was 19 when she was hired to teach at First Chance School. Kids liked to play tricks on their teacher, especially in the summer when the snakes came around. They liked to get them on a stick and try to scare her with them.

Harold McNeil finds it hard to explain to his children, who are used to large suburban schools, that the number of students at the school for several years was six, distributed over about as many grades. It was also a problem when choosing up sides for games.

While going to school in grades eight and nine, Clara (Thompson) Bride was the janitor, her first paying job, sweeping, dusting and cleaning blackboards. She was paid four dollars a month. Her brother, Henry married Arline Gipson, a First Chance School teacher, in 1944.

At one time there were 32 children at that school. This school operated continuously until 1944. After that, the building was used as a community center.

First Chance, 1968

More information about First Chance School may be found in “History of Lomond and District,”   and “Lomond and District History,” at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Lomond Village Office, Lomond Grainland Hardware and the Vulcan & District Museum.

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