Plain Valley School No. 2433

Plain Valley School, April, 1930. Back row, standing I. to r: Frank Thurber, Thelma Brower, Edna Vereschogin, Elizabeth Donovan, Ellen Ullery, Stella Brower, Edward Thurber. Centre row, standing I. to r: Helen Meadows, Bernice Stevens, Lois Baker. Kneeling, I. to r: Alvan Bain, Lucille Baker, Eli Vereschagin, Olive Bain, Finlay Kennedy, Margaret Maxwell. Seated, I. to r: Leonard Stevens, John Vereschagin, Stewart Meadows, Clarence Donovan, Charlie Meadows.

Plain Valley School was located SE 25-21-25-W4. At the time of opening, the land was owned by Mr. Frank Thurber, grandfather of Jack and Frank Thurber. Plans for the school were made on March 15, 1911. The school district was established on May 10, 1911. The first trustees were Walter Baker, F. E. Rhoades and Frank Thurber.  Directions from Arrowwood – South 1½ miles on Highway 547, follow curve and head west 6 miles on Highway 547, continue west on Highway 24 for 5 miles, turn west back onto Highway 547 for almost 3 miles; from Mossleigh – West on Highway 24 for 3½ miles, turn West onto Highway 547 for almost 3 miles. Latitude 50.71797, Longitude -113.47534

After several organizational meetings and many opinions, pro and con, it was decided to issue debentures to the sum of $1500.00, for the purpose of building the school house and furnishing it. The dimensions determined upon were as follows: length-28 ft., width-22 ft., ceiling-12 ft., with a vestibule in front in proportion to the building. The school was originally situated on the southeast corner of SW 26-20-26-W4, on a site donated by Mrs. Telora Roberts. It was later moved to the approximate centre of the district, a mile east of there. The contract for building was awarded to a Mr. Bradshaw, and it was completed in 1913.

School opened for the first time in 1913 or 1914 with 14 students: Milo, Leland, Harold and Cleo Brower, Margaret and Charles Baker, Christie, Sadie, Agnes and Fred McBride, Clayton Thurber, Charlie and Albert Mashon. The first teacher was Miss Ethel Mansell.

Howard Thurber was secretary-treasurer for many years. Roy Maxwell and Mickey Donovan were also on the school board for many years.

The McGillis children attended this school for a short time. Mrs. McGillis recalled Mr. McGillis going for the children one day in January, as a snow storm was moving in from the north. Mr. McGillis, wearing a fur coat and over his head a gunny sack with holes cut for his eyes, prepared the horses and sleigh. Away he went to gather the children from school, his own and neighbor children. The roads were just trails, so getting the children to their homes before the storm got too bad was a real chore. This blizzard lasted for two days.

Teachers were:

Miss Ethel Mansell Miss Marjorie Hardy
Miss Kate Thompson Miss S. Giles
Miss Lena Dick Mr. R. Potter
Miss Ellen Addeman Miss Florence Maco (McKeage?)
Miss Ida Wark Mr. Garnet Nelson

In 1925, the Methodist, Congregational and some Presbyterian Churches across Canada united under the name “The United Church of Canada.” Soon after this, Dinton, Gladys and Blackie congregations merged. Services were discontinued at the Dinton Hall, as the rental was considered too high, and were then held for about two years at Plain Valley School. When a well was needed for the rectory, a box social was held in the Plain Valley School, bringing in over $40.00. Other funds were raised for it, as well.

It is evident from the records available, that the various School Boards throughout the years wrestled manfully with the same problems that confront our School Boards of today, only, of course, on a much smaller scale.

In 1939, Plain Valley School, the little white school, bowed to centralization and the big unit system, and went out of existence as an operating school. During its 26 years of operation, it served its people well, mainly as an institution of learning, but occasionally as a social centre for many Christmas concerts, the odd dance, and general meeting house. Later Stan Matlock moved it to Mossleigh to become a grocery store. He moved the Frank Hutton home from the brow of the hill on Highway 24 and attached it to the back for living quarters. This store was purchased by Oscar Swanby who operated it as a Red and White Store. Walter Casselman operated the store until 1952 when it was sold to Roland Kidd, and then in 1954 to Mr. Alexander. Later Harold MacDonald purchased it and lived in the living quarters at the back, while he operated the MacDonald and Son General Store across the street. In 1970, Ken Beacome purchased the building and had it moved to his farm, turning it into a garage.

Swanby’s Store, 1948

More information about Plain Valley School may be found in “Furrows of Time – a history of Arrowwood and Shouldice, Mossleigh and Farrow” and “Gladys-Dinton through the Years”, 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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