Thigh Hills School No. 1593

Thigh Hill School about 1914. Back Row: Miss Jessie McEwan "teacher", Chauncey Tuttle, Hazel Dole, Inez Dole, Minnie Lundgren, Emma Francis. Second Row: Earl Deal, Elva Tuttle, Lelia Dole, Juanita Tuttle, Ethel Felch, Alex Easton, LaVern Sharrett, Winona Tuttle, Roy Deal in front.

The school district was established as Thigh Hills School District on December 27, 1906. The shape of the two hills on the map of early surveys showed a thigh-shaped formation. It seems that it may have been called Thigh Hill by everyone but the government. Directions from Vulcan – East 5 miles on Highway 534, turn South on Range Road 235 for 1 1/2 miles; Champion – North 9 miles on Highway 23, turn East on Township Road 164 for 4 1/4 miles, turn North on Range Road 235 for 1/2 mile.. Latitude 50.37620, Longitude -113.14293.

In “Wheat Country – a history of Vulcan and District,” Helen Roe told about Thigh Hill School.

Thigh Hill School was built in 1907, location being NE-29-16-23-W4. The first teacher was Ethel Thompson from Parkland. She was followed by Ulysses Diefenbaker, Harry Hill, Miss MacEwan, Miss Carr, Mrs. Mae Todd, Miss Hartley, Miss Penhold, Gail Waterstreet (Mrs. Ross Walker), Mrs. Jones, Paulette Girard and Molly Bastin. These were the teachers from 1907 until the early 1930’s. Leta Roe taught there in 1934-35; Dora McPherson (Mrs. Dora Willard) from 1935-38; Margaret Myers (Mrs. Warren Osness) from 1938-39; Blanche Wheeler (Mrs. Russell Collier) ‘from 1940-42; Mrs. Mae Todd from 1942-43. She was the last teacher. When the school was closed the enrollment was five pupils.

Thigh Hill, like other rural schools, had its annual Christmas program and a school picnic in June. There was great excitement amongst the children and these events were well attended and enjoyed by all.

The older boys in the school looked after the janitor work, which meant keeping a fire going in the good old Waterbury heater by having a supply of wood and coal. A supply of water for the day was brought.

This school, after being closed in 1943, was made into a home by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Clark. The pupils went to Vulcan. However, it now remains vacant, but is a landmark of what was Thigh Hill School. (1973)

More information is found in “Cleverville Champion 1905 to 1970”

After the homesteaders had their homes built, those with families began to build schools. The Thigh Hill school was one of these. It was built in 1907 by George and Jim Robson. Everett McPherson hauled the lumber from Nanton. The first teacher was Harry Hill. Other teachers were Mrs. Mae Todd, Miss Margaret Myers, Miss Leta Roe and Miss Dora McPherson.

Chauncey Tuttle recalls for the first few years, Thigh Hill School was kept open from the first of April to Christmas, with no summer holidays. The teachers were usually girls from Eastern Canada. A Miss Ada Tuttle (no relation), from Wentworth, Nova Scotia, taught there one year. By a strange twist of fate, his wife’s aunt, May Beebe, a nurse, attended Ada’s mother in her last illness.

The Howerton children attended the Thigh Hill school, which was built by M.J. Howerton, M. Clark, Bruce Roe and Mr. Dole.

John and Birdie Dole helped organize the Thigh Hill School District and John served on the Board for some years. The first trustees were: Mr. Clark, Jack Howerton and J. F. Dole. The schoolhouse was built in the fall of 1907 and the official seal still bore the stamp of the North West Territories. The school was the focal point for all community affairs, and Sunday School, church services and social events were held there.

Mr. Diefenbaker was the first teacher, but he only taught for a month. He threatened to throw all the children out the window, so he was dismissed and Miss Ethel Thompson from Stavely was hired. Some of the other teachers were Harry Hill, who had a homestead south of the school, Miss Patrick, Miss Bancroft and Jessie McEwan.

When Thigh Hill school was built in the fall of 1907, John and Birdie’s children, Karl, Elmo, Lois, Hazel and Inez Dole, all went to school there.

Before Vulcan was a town, the Thigh Hill School was the center of all activities – dances, social evenings, get-togethers. Cora McPherson remembers one play they put on, “Saved by the Woodmen”. Another was “Woodmen Lodge” which carried insurance. Husband, Tony, and herself both had parts in that play. Most events went over very well.

Dora and Mabel McPherson rode horseback to Thigh Hill School, where, as Mabel remembers it, their teacher was Miss Hartley. She remembers the horse’s name, too. Mary it was, and many a time they ended up walking home – Mary far ahead of them.

Reinhold Lundgren attended a small country school called Thigh Hill. He rode horseback, almost three miles, to school. His special school chum was Clarence Nelson. Although Clarence lived in Ontario for many years, these two school mates still kept in touch. Other school friends included the Deal children, Howertons, Todds and Kuykendahls. When he was older, Reinhold did janitor work at the school and saved enough money to buy his first pair of long pants!

The old school house has now been converted into a dwelling house on the same site. (1952) The population of the district are mostly the second generation of the early pioneers. The school was closed in 1942 after 35 years of good service to the community. Greatest number of pupils in attendance was 28. In 1942 the attendance was 4.

More information about Thigh Hill School may be found in “Wheat Country – a history of Vulcan and District” and “Cleverville Champion 1905 to 1970,” at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Village of Champion Office, the Champion Pioneer Club and the Vulcan & District Museum.

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