Rocky Buttes School No. 4020

Moving the Queenstown Bank to be used as Rocky Butte School.

Surrounding a small plot of ground on the south side of the main road about six miles east of Milo are a few caraganas and maple trees, which mark the boundaries of the old Rocky Butte school yard. They were planted by the pupils on the first Arbour Day after the school’s opening in 1922, under the capable supervision of the teacher, Mr. Vic. Bertrand. Little did the pupils know that they were setting the foundation for the school’s system of punishment, as any misbehavior on the part of a pupil after that meant a stretch on the end of the hoe-handle out amongst the trees. The Vooys children, Raymond and Gilbert, must have been ‘teachers pets’ or the ‘evil ones’, as they spent many an hour after school with the cultivator.

The school district was established on March 21, 1921, with the school located on NW 31-18-20-W4. Directions from Milo – East 1 mile on Highway 542, continue east on Township Rd 190 (Milo Rd) for 4½ miles. Latitude 50.57206, Longitude -112.74210

The name was suggested at a meeting.  It was considered appropriate because the land is rolling and a considerable amount of stones had to be dug before the land could be broken.

The school was named by Mr. Albert Bushell, and its colors were purple and white. Some of the first pupils were Jack, Dorothy and Lena Bushell, Lee Francis, Louise and Celia Hellevang, Forrest Hostettler, Johnny Hoffman, Louise and Meta Bertschy, and Winnie, Flo and Nora Wainwright.

In order for the school to be built at Rocky Buttes, the Wainwright girls’, Winnie, Florence and Nora, attendance was necessary, as the enrollment was not large enough without them. Sister, Lily, was born later.

Rhoda Gooch came from Chicago in 1919 to live with her brothers, Phil and Marshall. She was the second teacher at Rocky Butte school. She married Archie Alston. Rhoda was very talented in piano, singing and dancing and gave lessons in all of them. The concerts she put on will always be remembered by the old timers of the community.

Winnie Wainwright completed her education and became a teacher, spending the first year at Berrywater and then four years at Rocky Buttes School.

Nearly every Friday night, during the winter months, there would be a dance at one of the country schools. Most of them were held at Liberty, or Pioneer, but on occasion they would use East Majorville, Giffin, Corbie Hill or Rocky Butte. Jack Shield, who was pretty handy with a fiddle, supplied the music for these dances, with his wife, Bertha, accompanying him on the piano or organ, whichever the case may be. Frank Durston was usually there with the drums. They always had a floor manager to call out the dances, and two men who filled this position quite ably were Sam Gailey and Pearl Williams. During the course of the evening, they would go through a succession of dances, which in those days included fox-trots, one-steps, two-steps, waltzes, polkas, schottisches and always a few square dances. Mr. and Mrs. Hellevang often played for dances, traveling as far as Reid Hill. These affairs often went on until 4 a.m. or later, probably because no one relished the thought of going out in the below zero weather to hitch up the horses for the long drive home. The small children, who would accompany their parents on these occasions, would sit on the side line to watch the merriment, until one by one, they would drop off to sleep, and be carried out to the teacherage to spend the rest of the evening. Sometimes there would be as many as eight children in the teacher’s bed, and it must have been instinct more than anything else, that enabled the parents to pick out their own, when it was time to leave.

Rocky Buttes school was always a keen competitor in the School Fairs, and it was a happy day for them when they won the cup and a shield. And always most rewarding for the boys when they could beat the girls in the baking of biscuits, pies or cakes.

For Meta and Louise Bertschy, the highlight of the school year for the children was the Christmas programme. Candy bags were a real treat, and over the years their parents, Fred and Tillie, made endless pounds of popped corn into balls to add as a special treat.

Shortly before Christmas in 1935, the school house burned down, taking with it their trophies as well as their beautiful collection of butterflies and insects. After that, school was held in the Jimmy White house (which was across the road from Heathers), until another building could be brought in. This was the old Bank building from Queenstown, but it never held the fond memories that the first one did. Rocky Butte was finally closed down in the summer of 1941, at which time it was made into a teacherage and moved to the East Majorville school.

Former Rocky Butte school teachers at the Reunion: Winnie Wainwright, Ruth Ferngren, Mildred Peterson, Jean Ralston, and the first teacher, Vic Bertrand.

The remaining teachers included: Miss Mildred Peterson, Ruth and Jean Ralston, Kay Lang, Molly Berry, Miss Gilhooley and Winnie Wainwright.

Some pioneer settlers were: Paul Leavell, Harry Baker, George & Alf Heather, Chris Hellevang, A. Alston, Aleck Penn, Geo. Wainwright, Vic Bertrend, Edward Bushell, Albert Bushell, Miles Clemmons, J. Shield.

More information about Rocky Buttes 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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