Yale School No. 1749

By Ula (Ficht) Tindall and daughter, Marion (Tindall) Matlock:

Yale School - taken in 1940.

The school district Yale No. 1749 was organized and the school built in 1909 on two acres of land. One acre was donated by Mr. Al Kellogg and one by Mr. Alex McLaughlin, from the adjoining corners of their two homesteads. Established on January 10, 1908, it was built on SW 18-15-22-W4. Directions from Champion – East 5½ miles on Highway 529. Latitude 50.25206, Longitude -113.01783

This school was not opened until March 1, 1910, for lack of a teacher. Most of the teachers at that time came from outside provinces. Some of the pupils had been out of school for three years or more, so classes were oddly assorted as to size and age.

The first teacher was Mr. Charles Galbraith, who was teaching as a means to a medical course. There was further difficulty in securing teachers, owing to only holding school 8 months of the year. The local board thought it best to take January and February as holiday months as well as July and August. Some children had four miles to come, and clothing was not always suitable for winter travel, and the type of transportation or the lack of it. Mr. Donald Patterson, Mrs. Kate E. Steeves, Miss Hethcote  and Mr. George D. Martin were the next teachers. The following year the 10-month school year was adopted.

The early heating system was a large heater in the center of the room. The firing and janitor work was done by one of the older pupils. The door was never locked, so whoever arrived there first could start a fire with the fuel at hand, if for some reason the regular janitor was unable to be there. There was no vandalism during those years.

Miss Elsie Skerry, Miss Georgina Attabury and Mr. Gilbert Patterson came to teach. So did Bessie Phillips, Mr. Holden, Margaret Paterson, Helen Beaubier, Miss Hulbert, Mr. Wilson, Miss Jean Williams, Mr. Reeves, Miss Boose, Miss Pendergast, Miss Robinson, Miss E. McNaughton, Miss E. McDougall, Miss G. Anderson, Miss V. Neis, Miss I. Miller, Miss Jean McKeage, Miss M. Odegard.

In the very cold weather, the cloak rooms were so cold our lunches froze solid, so we were allowed to set our lunch pails under the edge of this jacket. We then had only one side frozen, the one furthest from the fire. I am not exaggerating, when I mention frostbitten feet from sitting in that cold classroom.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the bathroom facilities out back. Yes, one was marked boys and one was marked girls as is now, but there the similarity stops. After a snowstorm, the first one there, got the shovel and broom, and proceeded to get the walks shoveled off, and the three-holed toilet seats swept clean. Toilet paper was an unheard of commodity, and many an Eaton catalogue and Free Press Prairie Farmer weekly paper found their final resting place in the little house out back.

In the main entry way of the schoolhouse, we had a communal set up, as to drinking water and washing of hands. There was one enamel pail and a dipper for drinking water, the water being carried from a well across the road. There was one wash basin, and mostly one towel shared by us all. The cold water was well used before the basin was emptied.

Our recreation facilities couldn’t hold a candle to those in present day schools. We had a library of probably 200 books, average for a country school at that time. Our “gym” was our schoolyard – muddy, dusty, and frozen by turn. We played the old games of “hide and seek”, “red light”, “pom pom pull away” or ones we invented. After a fresh fall of snow in the winter, we played “fox and geese”. In the spring we were given a bat and one outseam softball for playing “knock out flies” or “work up”.

The following is a list of the original residents with families in the Yale district: Orr, Cooper, Barker, Denno, Wise, Beaubier, Groves, Fleetwood, Kellogg, McRobert, Miller, Fitch, Patterson, Tindall, Anderson.

Dora (Tindall) Schmeelke was always extremely intrigued with the fence around Yale’s two-acre yard. It was made of sturdy woven wire and was topped by heavy metal maple leaves, which were spaced about three to four feet apart all along the fence. She certainly wished she could have had one of those leaves as a souvenir.

The Yale school was closed at the end of the 1943-44 term. The students were then vanned to the Harmony school for a number of years, this being the first step in the centralization of schools.

The schoolhouse stood empty for several years. In 1952, the building was purchased by the Evangelical Church of Vulcan, where it served as a church for ten years. In 1962, it was so badly damaged by fire, that the congregation tore down the remains, and built a new church.

I always thought, and I’m sure many agree, that the Yale school bell, was one of the most melodious-toned bells in the area. As nearly as I can ascertain, it was purchased by a Hutterite colony, possibly in Saskatchewan, and now calls their members to meetings, as it called so many youngsters to class during the Yale school days.

More information about Yale School may be found in “Cleverville Champion 1905 to 1970 “ and “Champion and District School Reunion 1906-1961,” 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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