Vulcan School No. 1902

Excerpts from Don Jantzie’s article in “Wheat Country I – A history of Vulcan and District”

The school that began its time as Ferrodale School No. 1902 in 1908 changed its name to Vulcan School in 1917. The changing of the name of the school district from Ferrodale No. 1902 to Vulcan No. 1902 was a very controversial issue of the day. The change became official on June 21, 1917. The school was originally named after Tom Farrand, an early settler. The school was located in the town of Vulcan, so maybe one of the reasons for the name change was to avoid confusion.

Vulcan School, brick building completed in 1927.

In 1927, plans for the new brick school were finalized. The building was completed in that year. Teachers on staff in the twenties, in addition to several mentioned above were Miss Adelaide Cook (a former student now living in Victoria), Miss Gilhooley (Mrs. Oldfield, now residing in Calgary), Miss Hazel Cameron (deceased), Miss Angela Bantin (Mrs. Alex Smith, now living in Lethbridge), Miss Katherine Smith (Mrs. Grey), Mr. White, Miss King, Miss Sestrap, Mr. MacGregor, Principal, and Mr. W. L. Irvine (later Principal for 17 years.

During the thirties, while the staff remained nearly the same, the school population continued to rise until in 1937 the Cottage School was completed, housing the grade eight and nine rooms. Student population during this period reached 300 pupils in the three schools with 10 teachers administering to their individual needs.

While the depression years undoubtedly had a restraining effect on the schools, nevertheless school spirit and extracurricular activities remained strong. Hockey, baseball and rugby football were the three main sports of the school.

Pranks and tricks were also a part of the school routine in those days. Many will recall the episode which saw Wolfe’s cow stabled in the Grade Twelve room overnight one Halloween and the resulting aromas that blended poorly with the other chemicals of the chemistry lab.

While the endless procession of students continued through the grades the notable contributions (and dedication of several of the staff members) will always be remembered. These teachers devoted a great deal of their lives to the students of the Vulcan School. Paramount on the list were two wonderful ladies, Miss Lucy Fair and Miss Hazel Cameron who toiled diligently for thirty and thirty-three years respectively and who retired from the profession here in Vulcan. Another well-known and respected teacher who taught in the schools from the early 1920’s until the 1940’s was Miss Smith (later Mrs. Grey). A strict disciplinarian and an excellent teacher, she was the Grade 8 specialist for many years. Miss Angela Bantin (later Mrs. Alex Smith) now retired in Lethbridge was another excellent and highly respected teacher who rendered a great service to the community. Finally, we would like to record the service of a highly respected and loved principal, Mr. W. L. Irvine who toiled in the school system from 1928 to 1944. A strict disciplinarian and an outstanding teacher, he contributed immeasurably to the excellence of the schools during his teaching career in Vulcan.

Since 1940 many changes have occurred in the educational environment of the schools.

The incorporation of the county system during the early 1950’s brought expansion to student numbers, facilities and staff. The new County Central High School employing 28 teachers and additions to the elementary school (renamed Hazel Cameron Elementary School in honor of our dearly loved “Cam”) which has had as many as 14 teachers on staff indicates the increasing school population that developed following World War II.

When another history of the district is chronicled, the contributions of recent teachers, students and administrators will undoubtedly have a similar significant impact upon the community, as in the past. In any case, the growth and development of the school system in Vulcan that closely parallels the growth of the town of Vulcan, attests to the diligence and foresight of our pioneer families and teachers.

Mr. Irvine notes that when he first came to Vulcan in 1928, he saw the white shack which was used as a high school, and was told a new building was planned for the following year. That same building was being used when he left in 1944. Even a lightning strike one summer failed to do anything more than give the fire brigade a little practice.

Overcrowding sometimes made it necessary to use makeshift accommodation away from the regular school buildings. Students and teachers had to put up with less than ideal situations.

A large number of students, both boys and girls, left school to serve in the armed forces during the war years. Several of our most promising students made the supreme sacrifice.

In 2010, schools in Vulcan are now a part of Palliser Regional School Division. Hazel Cameron Elementary School was demolished and a new elementary school, Prairieview, was built in the same location. The high school students still go to County Central High School.

More information about Vulcan School may be found in “Wheat Country I – A history of Vulcan and District” at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Vulcan & District Museum.

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