LaSalle School No. 4362

LaSalle School 1st horse - Marie Jemioff, John Fofonoff. 2nd horse - Freddie Kalmohoff, Pete Sherstabetoff, Helen Sherstabetoff· 3rd horse -Irene Brubaker Alex Podmoroff, Mary Podmoroff, Vivian Brubaker. 4th Horse - Elsie Jemioff, Nick Fofonoff, Elsie Kalmohoff, Annie Kalmohoff, Annie Fofonoff.

One of the later school districts to be organized, LaSalle School District No. 4362 was established on September 15, 1928. It was located on the SE quarter of 29-21-24-W4. Directions from Arrowwood – South 1 1/2 miles on Highway 547, follow curve and head west 6 miles on Highway 547, turn north on Range Road 244 (Western Feedlot Road) for 6 miles; Mossleigh – East on Highway 24 for 1 1/2 miles, turn East onto Highway 547 for 1/2 mile, turn North on Range Road 244 (Western Feedlot Road) for 6 miles. Latitude 50.80537, Longitude -113.28162

The origin of the name LaSalle is not known. The school building was originally the Trego School and was located on Mr. Trego’s land southeast of the Thorssen farm. It was moved in 1929 or 1930 to SE 29-21-24-W4. The land for the school (about two acres) was loaned by Mr. Colin Park.

Miss Pearl Melendy (Olson) was the first teacher when the school opened on May 31, 1929. In the Mossleigh/Arrowwood history book, she wrote:

The LaSalle School was a medium-sized rectangular building moved from somewhere and placed near the corner of a ploughed field. It had a cloakroom for outer gear, a potbellied stove in the back of the room, rows of desks with aisles in between (old school desks and bells are collectors’ items now) and a teacher’s desk. Two outhouses were built fairly far apart out in the yard, one for the boys and one for girls. It was probably no worse, and certainly no better, than most of the country schools of that era.

This particular school decided to open on May 31, 1929 and I was the first teacher, fresh out of Normal School.

Most of the students were Doukhobors: Jemioffs, Sherstabetoffs and Podmoroffs. They had not been to any school before. At least one of them was 12 years old. They could speak very little English and everything in the school room had its English name fastened to it. They were clever little tykes and it didn’t take them long to catch on.

A family came from California. The Burrises moved into a house across the road and their children came to school. I remember them showing me a letter they had received from somebody in California. It was addressed to them at Arrowwood, Alberta, British Columbia.

The teacher tried to seat the pupils in some sort of order of behavior, the paper wad throwers, the elastic snappers, the note passers, and the pigtail dippers near the front where she could keep her eagle eye on them. Fifty years ago we did not have the same kind of pens we have now. The desks all had an inkwell in them and the pens had nibs which had to be dipped in the ink before you could write. Most of the little girls wore their hair long and braided into two pigtails. The boys sitting behind them dearly loved to dip the end into the inkwell without them even knowing it.

The country school teacher was required to teach all the grades up to and including grade 10, if there was anyone in those grades. There were always missing grades and sometimes, only one in a grade, but the teacher’s time was always at a premium.

At Christmas time the teacher was required to put on a concert that included all the pupils. Everybody worked hard and long hours for weeks before, to put on entertainment for the parents and other residents of the district. Fifty years ago it didn’t take so much to entertain people. Life was more carefree and much less complicated, and everything that went on in the district was an event to which everyone looked forward eagerly.

It seemed much colder in the winter and a lot more snow than now. Everybody walked to school all bundled up and wore those high, two, three or four-buckled overshoes that fitted over our shoes, and took up so much room and were so hard to put on that the teacher always had to help. This school closed at Christmas time for holidays and opened on March 1 to avoid some of the cold winter days.

It was also during this time that the horrible dust storms started. Many farms changed hands. The dirt drifted across the road and piled up to the top of the fences. Wilbur, my brother, broke a spring on the car going through a drift on his way over to pick me up on a Friday night. We ate and breathed a lot of dust going to and from school, and there were days when I would dismiss the children early because I couldn’t see them in the back of the room, and everything was so dirty, it was impossible do any work.

I boarded at Colin Park’s and Jean Park was quarantined for scarlet fever for a month. I had to stay with Burrises. They asked me if I drank tea. I said yes. They made green tea just for me. They didn’t drink it and I didn’t like it, but I never said a word. I drank green tea for a month.

I must mention the school inspector. Once the rumor got around that he was in the district, all the teachers and the pupils got a little uptight, not knowing when he was going to walk in the door and take over. He filled out a report on conduct, attitude, ability and other things, and it was this report that you used for recommendation for any school.

For all of this I received One Hundred Dollars a month for 10 months, and on this salary could live pretty well and even save some money. So much for progress.

In 1939 the school closed its door and the building was moved away. It was moved into Mossleigh, beside the hotel, to become a cafe. It had several owners, including Elmer Jones. Gordon Low was about to reopen it for business when it burned with the hotel on February 9, 1970.

More information about LaSalle School may be found in “Furrows of Time” a history of Arrowwood and Shouldice, Mossleigh and Farrow,”, at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at Aspen Crossing, Mossleigh, the Arrowwood Museum, the Arrowwood Post Office and the Vulcan & District Museum.

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