Union Jack School No. 1865

Union Jack - 1911-12. Back: Wm. Marshall, Mrs. O'Neil's relative, Dorothy Dean, Teressa Kuhn, Geo. Kuhn, Miss Belle Oldfield, Beatrice Ward, ?, Rose . Kuhn, ?. Front: Bill Burgess, Owen Fleming, Anna Estes, Kate Kuhn, Mae Ryan, Grace Marshall, Neoma, Mary Fleming, Walter Ward, Angus Sinclair.

Union Jack School was organized on July 24, 1908. It was situated twelve miles north and three miles east of Vulcan on the hard top to Milo.  Directions from Vulcan – North 12 miles on Highway 23, turn east onto Highway 542 for 3 miles; Milo – West on Highway 542 for 13 miles. Latitude 50.57228, Longitude -113.18910

The area was very loyal to Britain, and had a British Israel Society. The flag, the Union Jack, waved proudly in this area.

The school, with Wm. Durstan as contractor and the help of Herbert Doane, Oscar Grissom and Roy Dean, was built in 1909. The total cost of the material and the labor is recorded as $1243.56.

The first school board consisted of Messrs. Herbert Doane, Oscar Grissom and Roy Dean. Mr. Dean acted as the secretary·treasurer. The first teacher was Herbert Campbell who now, in his eighties, resides in a nursing home in Dundalk, Ontario. The average teacher’s salary at that time was $65.00 a month. School taxes were fourteen dollars a quarter section. The government grant the first year was $70.00. Joe Marshall was the first janitor, earning a salary of $8.00 a month.

School opened in the fall of 1909 with the following pupils; George Kuhn, Teressa Kuhn, Kate Kuhn, Casper Kuhn, Dorothy Dean, Anna Estes, Ole Estes, Beatrice Ward, Tom Bolt, Bob McMullen, Billy McMullen, Billy Marshall, Joe Marshall, Lola McMullen, Dora Kehr, Mae Leahy.

The second teacher at Union Jack School was Belle Oldfield. She was loved by all the pupils, but she could be firm when the occasion arose. As always, the children were to go home after school, but some of them were inclined to play on the way and the east bunch used to play in the coulee just north of McMullens. With chores waiting for them at home, they were not supposed to dally. Miss Oldfield discovered them one day. She scolded them and made them stay in after school for a month.

Throughout the years the pupils and teachers rode horseback or walked or came with a horse and buggy. The ones who rode or drove a horse brought oats or a few sheaves. Later some of the teachers had cars to drive.

A few times in winter a blizzard came up and the pupils had to stay in the school all night. On one occasion when they had to stay, Mrs. Lent made a big kettle of stew and sent it to the school and Frank checked on the kids and teacher, Miss Wallace, at night to see if all was well.

Christmas concerts, dances, and plays were our entertainment in those days. We got to see the more distant neighbors and visit after the concert and there were always treats, a bag of candy and nuts with a fat orange for all the kids. Usually there was a dance after.

In the winter time, plays were put on by the school children and by the adults in the district. Another fun event, the last day of school was looked forward to by young and old. Entertainment, races and games, followed by a good lunch. And besides all the rest of the goodies, a freezer of home made ice cream. In the spring there was always a cleanup day. Rakes were brought to school to rake the yard and some potatoes were washed and taken on that day so they could roast them in the bonfire. Marshmallows were roasted too.

A list of the teachers’ names who taught Union Jack through the years, maybe not complete or in rotation:

Herb Campbell, Belle Oldfield, Olga Hagen, Mr. East, Connie McFarland, Mrs. Summers, Miss Cain, Miss Smith, Miss Ruth Claxton, Miss Bourne, Mrs. Bellamy, Agnes Sterling, Beulah Kopas, Alberta Bennett, Kathleen Wallace, Olive Hilton, Hazel Fisher, Ethel Campbell, Marjorie Irving, Helen Christie, Miss Spicer, Mr. Newton, Pearl McFarland, Mrs. Norman McLeod and Miss Grey. I believe Hazel Fisher (Mrs. Angus McCune) taught the longest of any of our teachers, from 1929 to December 1934. Alberta Bennett (Mrs. Billy Burgess), Helen Christie (Mrs. Buck Cockwill) and Beulah Kopas (Mrs. Norman Gateman) still live not too far away.

The last year school was held was September of 1942, with a Miss Grey teaching for only a month. There were only six pupils, Neoma McMullen in high school, Patricia McMullen, Melvin Burgess, Corwin and Donna Hall, and Marjorie McMullen in public school. School had started, but we weren’t too happy when we didn’t get an experienced teacher, so the school representative told us we could, if we wished, call a meeting and close the school. The new school units were just being formed and they were happy to close the school, as it was expensive to run a school for only six pupils. A meeting was called and the school was closed and the pupils were vanned to Mossleigh. Children are still being vanned to the larger centres throughout the county.

Union Jack Hall

The school building was used by the community or many years as the Union Jack Hall. Eventually it was no longer in use. A local man bought it and moved it across the road to his farm. He proposed moving it and making it into a private residence, but the County would not give permission for this.

More information about Union Jack School may be found in “Wheat Country – a history of Vulcan and District”  and “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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