Pioneer School No. 1828

Pioneer School and teacherage with Miss Hepsy Giberson in doorway, prior to 1918.

Pioneer School District came into existence on June 12, 1908 and on June 27, 1908, received the authorization of an $1800 debenture to purchase land and build and equip the school. The loan was to be repaid in ten equal, annual payments, interest 8%. First trustees of the School Board entrusted with the official business and erection of the school were George Hoerle, John Glambeck and Anthony Beggs. To cover an estimated annual expense of $950, the ratepayers were to be assessed a tax of 8¢ per acre. It was located on the SE quarter of 22-19-21-W4. Directions from Milo – East 1 mile on Highway 542, turn north on Highway 842 for 4 miles, turn east on Township Road 194 for 1 mile, turn south on Range Rd 212 for ½ mile. Latitude 50.62308, Longitude -112.82118

Bill Osler and two other carpenters who homesteaded in the area, Gordon Stuart and Ernie Gower, built a number of buildings, including the Pioneer School. Bill served as a trustee for the Pioneer School for several years. Bill and his wife, Nettie, had three children: Bill, Janetta and Kathleen. They all attended Pioneer School. Andrew and Isabel Osler had three girls: Jackie, Jessie and Georgie.

First classes in the new school located on northeast corner of SE 22-19-21 were held in 1909. The enrollment in 1910 showed 27 pupils and the salary paid at that time was $600. During the years, the salary varied up and down, being $1100 in 1929, $750 in 1935, $950 in 1936 and back to $650 in 1938 and nowhere do we read of a strike for higher wages. Janitor was paid $5 a month. Lawrence Monner was water boy for a number of years and carried a pail of water to school every day until in May 1918, when they bought a water barrel.

Mrs. Margaret McCabe was the first teacher at Pioneer School and for a few years, was secretary-treasurer of the school board. She and her husband, Joe, had one son, Bill. She is remembered for her hearty laugh and good-natured ways and for always having an open door. It has been said how good she was to the teachers who came to the district in the pioneer days. (During the years of acute teacher shortage, Mrs. McCabe, while in her seventies, returned to teaching and taught for a number of years at the Hutterite Colony at Wrentham.)

A young teacher, Miss Lettie Lobb, from Niagara Township, Ontario, found the road from Gleichen in 1912  “such a muddy road; pulled my storm-rubbers off in mid crossing.” She taught at Pioneer School for three years. She rode horseback to school and on many other outings which she described “was really delightful.”

In 1915 an organ was purchased for the school at a cost of $70. A new furnace was purchased in 1916 for $175. During the annual meeting in 1917, the meeting was interrupted when the stove pipes fell down; they were repaired and the meeting continued. This was the year they decided to build a school teacherage and furnish it with stove, bed, table, 2 chairs and a dresser. Trees were planted around the school in 1918. The Women’s Institute offered to do the work involved with preparing the ground.

School days were different in those days and they had many happy memories. School house dances were regular entertainment in the winter and the Christmas Concert was looked forward to all during the early months of winter. It involved a lot of work, but I don’t remember people complaining, they just accepted it and did as much as they were able. There were always those green net candy bags under the tree with the gifts and the popcorn balls. With the end of the term in June, everyone enjoyed the school picnic and no wonder the lemonade was good, with 5 dozen lemons and 20 pounds of sugar! Then there was 400 cones and 5 gallons of ice cream and much more homemade ice cream, plus bars and peanuts and always a sunny day to add joy to the occasion.

Not to be overlooked were the hot lunches brought to the school by the parents during the winter months and once during each winter we had a special treat when Mrs. Monner sent down a full course turkey dinner-and was it good!

Some of the teachers who passed through the doors of Pioneer School were: Mrs. Margaret McCabe, Mr. Peter McLean, Miss Gillis, Mrs. Forde, Floyd MacInnis, Miss Lobb, Miss Viola Giberson, Grace Stewart, Louise McIvor, Carlyle Sutton, Dagmar Glambeck, Elsie Watson, Dolena McIver, Emma Casey, L. A. Baker, Marian Lebeau, Ethel Burns, Hazel Barlow and Marjorie (Carmen) Hellevang. Dolena (McIvor) Burk taught at Pioneer School and boarded with the Pearl Williams’ family.

Myrtle Monner notes that Pioneer School, built in 1909, was a busy place. Church, Sunday School, meeting place for the good old U.F.A. and Juniors (which are no more) were all part of the activities carried on there. Children in the Monner family were Lawrence, Winnie, Wilbur, Wayne, Frances and James.

With smaller enrollment and the progress of changing times, the little country schools were closed and the students vanned to their nearest larger centre, Milo or Queenstown. The closing of Pioneer School led to it being moved into Milo in 1944-45 to become a part of their school, a fourth room. It was then used as a storage shed for county road machinery.

More information about Pioneer School may be found in “Snake Valley I & II- a history of Lake McGregor and Area” at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Milo Village Office, the Milo Municipal Library and the Vulcan & District Museum.

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