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Districts Part - Five

West Cowan

Excerpts from Timber Trails
with additions.

West Cowan, as the name implies, is the farming community on the west side of Cowan Lake. In the earlier logging days, Camp Two was also a part of this district, and to this day, parts of the "Dinkey Road" are still visible and most of it has been restored for use in the Cross Canada snowmobile trail.

West Cowan was and still is a mixed farming area. Being situated between muskegs, farmers have learned not to rely on 'just grain' for making a living; a good herd of cattle is usually kept to compensate for early frosts damaging the crops. One farmer reminisces one year when frost came really early . . . July 17th. Everything froze black. Most of it came back again, but not to the fullness it would have been. Short growing crops were usually seeded.

Wheat, a few years ago, was a very risky crop. Now that the land has been opened, enlarging the farms, the frost doesn't seem to come quite so hard.

Cattle seemed to bring a good price and pasture was plentiful, in the muskegs and on the reserve. This wasn't allowed but most people, even the older D.N.R. officers, didn't seem to mind. The cattle compensated for killing the few trees they rubbed on... by keeping the grass down, thus helping `Smokey the Bear' keep down the forest fires. This practice was tightened up in the '60s and '70s, several attempts have been made to organize a pasture on the west side of the district to utilize the grass, but our arguments fall on deaf ears.

In 1946, one followed cow trails to visit your neighbours. A few years later, after many meetings with the L.I.D., etc., roads soon came into view to accommodate the school buses. Before that, the children drove their own conveyances to school in town. Horse and cart in the summer and horse and caboose in the winter. They had lots of fun.

Roads in the earlier days of West Cowan were strictly for the birds. Not too many farmers had a truck... if they had, they would have needed the ever-ready horses to pull them through the mud and mire. The main Grid was built along with the secondary roads so access was much improved. Then with the coming of Weyerhaeuser, the main access to the west of the community gave good reliable roads to all areas of the district.

The West Cowan Story.

It took nothing, no excuse at all, for all the farming families of the community to get together for a Sunday afternoon of fun and games. While the Dads all played ball with the kids...the moms had already invaded the chosen kitchen to prepare an early pot luck supper, of chickens, meats, salads, pickles, cakes and cookies, and the ever-loving cups of tea and coffee and soft drink for the kids. After eating to the full, everyone went home to their evening chores.

Trucks and cars have helped in lots of ways to lighten the farmers loads, but certainly, have not helped the friendly 'get-togethers' we used to have. But in times of need, the neighbours are there to call upon.

At Breker's, July 25, 1954 - Picnic.
At Breker's, July 25, 1954 - Picnic.

With the provincial forest pretty well surrounding the area the opportunity to expand the land base for farming operations is limited. Therefore Cowan is the base for several diverse businesses. We have cattle, bison, grain, honey, trucking, welding, carpenters, boarding kennels, greenhouse and a resort. Our forefathers would be amazed at the differences in the neighbourhood and proud of what is being accomplished. West Cowan was and still is, a good place to live, to work, and to raise a family.

Berry Picking and Picnic.
Mrs. John Hoehn and baby, Len Impey, Granny Warriner, and baby, Sarah Teer,
Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Teer and Connie Warriner - Berry Picking and Picnic.

West residents that have lived in West Cowan:

Hoehn, Mr and Mrs John

Warriner, Mr and Mrs Tom

Warriner, Mr and Mrs Dick

Lueken, Mr and Mrs Herb

Bittman, Mr and Mrs Chris

Lueken, Mr Ralph

Lueken, Mr and Mrs Leonard

Haas Mrs and Fred

Swanson, Mr and Mrs Eric

Breker, Mr and Mrs John

Thibeault, Mr George

Ethier, Mr and Mrs Ernest

Sandry, Mr and Mrs John

Ziegler, Mr and Mrs Eddie

Teer, Mr and Mrs Jack

Teer, Mr and Mrs James

Klitch, Mr and Mrs Mike

Hiebert, Mr and Mrs John

Clay, Mr Jim

Giles, Mr Tom

Warriner, Mrs E and Olive

Fritz, Mr Julius

Lineman, Mr and Mrs

Gunderson, Mr and Mrs Roy

Miller, Mr and Mrs Jake

Wilson, Mr and Mrs William

Bechtel, Mr and Mrs William

Benedictsen, Mr and Mrs G

Lamberton, Mrs Jessie

Ritter, Mr and Mrs Jake

Olafson, Mr and Mrs Walter

Sawyer, Mr Joe

Fortine, Mr and Mrs

Riome, Mr and Mrs

Croteau, Mr Mike

Croteau, Mr Romeo

Bradley, Mr and Mrs Faye

Rainville Mr and Mrs

Langford, Mr and Mrs Jim

Hansen, Ralph - Korean Tyler,

Rosteski, D. - McMahon N.

Wilson, Barry and Simone

Only four of the original settlers are left in the neighbourhood; these are Gordon Bechtel, Jennie Lueken, John Sandry, Dorothy Breker. The descendants of the original homesteading families still living in the district: are offspring of Richard Warriner, Herb Lueken, John Breker, Stuart Breker, Jim Teer, Roy Gunderson, John Sandry, Milo Kilbreath and Ernest Ethier and Darbyshires. Additional people living in West Cowan are the Morgans, Dycks, Sharps, Neufeld's, Andersons, Price, Croshaw, Shepard, Prosofsky, Campeau, Hegland, and Carters.

Winter Lake District

Excerpts from Timber Trails
with additions.

The need for a schoolhouse in the Winter Lake district became apparent in early 1929. A letter written to the Department of Education in Regina by a Mrs D. Smith of Dumble stated that there were fourteen children of school age. The residents would be responsible for the construction of the building. The nearest school was Bodmin, at least five miles away, which was too far for young children to have to travel. Mrs Smith felt that it was the lack of school facilities that kept settlers from coming into the Winter Lake district. Also, as of yet, there were no main roads.

In August 1937, Mr Ferris, Superintendent of Schools, visited this area. He too, saw the need for a school since there were nearly thirty children of school age.

The first school meeting was held in July 1937. The elected committee consisted of F. Barone, T. Smith and R.M. Isbister.

By November 7, 1941, a schoolhouse still had not been erected. Mr R. H. Ferris tried doggedly time and time again to get financial aid for the settlers. At one time he suggested that a teacher come around periodically and aid the children in correspondence. Mr Ferris was very concerned with the fact that the people of Winter Lake were unable to pay high taxes.

In the fall of 1942, the residents got together and prepared logs with to build the schoolhouse. The logs were immediately seized by the D.N.R. The residents were paying high taxes on a school that didn't exist and taxes and tuition fees for the education their children were receiving from other schools. The settlers began to get very upset, many refusing to pay.

Winter Lake School #5178.
Winter Lake School #5178.

Winter Lake School students.
Back Row:
Marlin Barrone, Charlie Schmidt, June Banman, Ralph Isbister, Louie Schmidt,
Frank Smith, Florence (Tootsie) Anderson, Pansy Isbister, Lenora Meyers, Olaf Anderson.

Middle Row:
Dennis Isbister, Harriet Vandal, unknown, Louise Vandal,
unknown, Lorraine Morin, Doris Barrone.

Front Row:
Carl Anderson, Lorne Meyers, Eugene Klyne, Earl Meyers,
Willie Morin, Ralph Morin.

Finally, in 1946, the schoolhouse was built. The first teacher was Miss Wyman of Erinferry. By January 11, 1947, the school remained closed, as there was no teacher available. In May of the same year, Miss Young began teaching at Winter Lake and continued until 1949. Mrs MacDonald took over teaching in the winter of 1950. Doris Speerbrecker taught in 1951, Frank Zawada in 1952, W. Boddy in 1953, Mrs Ellis in 1954, Mrs Rusk in 1955, Mrs Dow Giberson (Murphy) in 1957, Mr Goller in 1960 and Mrs Martel in 1961 to 1966.

The Winter Lake School was not reopened in the year of 1967. Most of the students who attended this school continued their education in Big River.

The Community and its Residents

Winter Lake lies mainly in a fairly remote area consisting of about 20 sections of land in the Local Improvement District No.525. The neighbouring areas are Wrixon to the west, Jackson Lake to the southwest, Lake Four to the east and Big River to the north. In this district, there is a fairly large lake, known as Winter Lake, which had whitefish and jackfish abounding in it.

Fourteen families were living in the area in the late 1940s and early '50s. The family took their cream, to be shipped to the dairies in Prince Albert, to Dumble, which was a railway siding close to Wrixon.

Mr Pederson was the first settler in this district. In 1921, he homesteaded on the southeast and northeast quarter of section 25. Fred Schuler and Floyd Barrone later bought this land. Mr Pederson grew large crops of grain and raised cattle.

Mr Louis Morin came from Prince Albert in 1922. His parents were Raphael and Marianne (Landry) Morin. He was born on August 31, 1896. When he was around 25 years old, he had rheumatic fever. His mother cared for him while he was ill which lasted almost two years. He lived in Section 35. Later, he married Edith Smith and raised a family of eight children: Lorraine, Ralph, Willie, Joe, Meada, Louella, Tom, and Chuck. The land has been farmed by Chuck and Jeremy Morin.

Mr John Anderson originally came from Sweden. He lived on section 35. (See his personal family history.)

Mrs Clara Klyne came from Eldred in 1944 and lived in Section 27. She had three children: Robert (Maggie), Lawrence (Eve) and Mary Jane (Bill Potts).

Mr Jake Banman came from Laird in 1934 and settled on Section 34.

Mr John Schmidt came from Big River in 1942 and settled on section 35. He gave an acre of his land to the community to build a chapel.

Mr Norbe came from Norway and settled on section 13.

H. Gruben also settled in this district, residing on section 12.

Joe Meyers and his wife, Tina raised a large family of nine: Lorne, Vern, Earl, Gerald, Lenora, Eileen, Carol, Marlene and Darryl. They resided on section 13.

Tom and Mary (Eshelby) Smith came from England and lived on section 36. They raised a large family: Lewis, Albert, Edith, Alice, Ernest, Linda, Bill, Bob, Richard and Frank. Edith recalls that she was able to complete only grade four. With a large family, she was needed at home to help out. It also was a long walk to the Winter Lake School.

Other settlers included Myles Isbister and Bill Vandal. Myles Isbister later moved into the Bodmin area. Bill Vandal and his wife, Elizabeth, raised a large family: Ernest (Evelyn Isbister). Joe, Harriet, Louise, Roy, Jean, Therese, Helen and Mary.

Jimmy Simpson was a Scottish man who loved to sing and dance. He was a friend and neighbour to everyone in the Winter Lake area.

The main occupation of the residents in the area was farming. They raised cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys and geese. There was also some grain farming. One can never forget the threshing crews that would travel from farm to farm harvesting the grain.

A trip to town was always exciting. Mr J. Harvey and Mrs Harry South were the merchants in Bodmin. Mr Poirier was the postmaster.

Some of the families who lived in the Winter Lake area are listed here:

John Anderson

Tom Smith

Pete Hildebrand

Fred Schuler

M Peterson


Joe Meyers

Louis Morin

Robert Klyne

Clara Klyne

Jeremy Morin

Chuck Morin

Floyd Barrone

Leonard Smith

Roy Gilbert

Joe Watier

J. Banman

Jimmy Simpson

Willie Buckingham


Joe Pfunder

Bill Vandal



John Schmidt

Gary Pickard

Ken Fonos

David Renaud

Pat Schwenk

John Schloegel

D Porter

J Davies

Doug McLean

Frank Watier

Don Millikin

Laurie Mitchell

Mark Oldfield

Ron Connoly

Mark Thompson

Cindy McLean

Alex Fontaine

And the Whites

The Clearwater Lake Mission built in 1947.
The Clearwater Lake Mission built in 1947.

The Clearwater Lake Mission

The Clearwater Lake Mission was located on NW 35-54-7-W 3. John Schmidt donated the acre of land that it was located on to the community. It was a 20-foot by 22-foot log building that was built in 1947 by the families in the area. Father Paquette was the first priest that served mass in this mission. Fifteen Catholic families attended mass on Sundays. Nuns came to teach Catechism to the children every summer. Father Auclair was another priest that held mass in this mission.

According to church records, the following couples were married in the chapel: Gerald Lepage and Lorraine Morin, Hubert Babin and Rose Marie Tardiff, Ernest Vandale and Evelyn Isbister and Lawrence Klyne and Eva Campbell.

In 1952, Father Auclair made this entry in the church books: "There are now only two families and they both have cars."

June Martel bought the log chapel and property from the church in 1960. June and her children, Joe and Elaine, lived in this building until the late 1960s. The property was later sold to Willy Buckingham in 1976. The log chapel burned down in 1977.

Reverend Leonidas Auclair.
Reverend Leonidas Auclair.

Wrixon District

Submitted by George and Donna Dodd

Wrixon got its name from a roadmaster on the CNR crew who built the railroad to Big River. The first settlers moved into the district in the late twenties and early thirties. The land was very wet, with sloughs and small lakes everywhere. The people from the prairies said they came from the land of the drought to the land of the drowned.

The land on the West Side of the river was almost surrounded by water. There was the river on the east, the creek, pronounced and always referred to as "The Crick" on the north, Deep Lake and Mineral Lake on the west and Keg Lake and numerous small lakes and sloughs on the south side. The early settlers referred to the land across the river as "the island". The river was much wider than it is today.

The Bridge

Old Bridge 1948.
Old Bridge 1948.

The first means of crossing the river was a ferry, quite large and made of logs. Later a log bridge was The made by the local men about 500 meters north of where it is today. In 1948, the first treated wood bridge was built by the Local Improvement District. Since then two more bridges have been built by the municipality.

Sweeney and Rocky Lloyd in front of the store.
Sweeney and Rocky Lloyd in front of the store.

The Store and Post Office

The first store was moved into the district by Ira Hobbs and Erchil Nordby in 1936. They applied for a post office that same year. Previously the mail was picked up at Eldred. The mail came on the train and was dropped off and picked up at Wrixon station about 72 a kilometre north of the store. When you heard the train whistles the postmaster, or usually the hired girl, would sprint down to the station for the mailbags. You could not keep the train waiting. In the winter the train would often be late. At Christmas time the store would be full of people waiting for the train to get in to pick up their Christmas letters and parcels from Eaton's and Simpson's.

In 1936, the Post Office requested that the name Wrixon be changed because the mail was being mixed up with Wroxton, Saskatchewan. A community meeting was held and the name Erinferry was chosen after the many Irish settlers and the original ferry crossing. The name was accepted and used by the Post Office in 1936 but was not made official until October of 1957.

The school and station remained Wrixon. Mail was often addressed to Erinferry Post Office, Wrixon Saskatchewan.

The store was sold to Myrtle and Leo Lloyd in 1941. It was the hub of the community, and Leo was generous with credit and tried to help where he could.

In 1951 the store was sold to Betty and Urgel Brunet. Betty was the postmistress and also the unpaid social secretary for the community. Dances, good-bye parties and showers were all discussed and planned at the store. If money was to be raised for a funeral wreath or a goodbye present, Betty did it. Urgel ran the store, drove the school bus and bought pulp and cordwood. In 1957 a new highway was built so Betty and Urgel moved the store to the new location.

They sold the store in 1965 to Leonce and Terry April, and a year later it was sold again to Jerome and Aline Lafreniere. They operated the store and post office until 1980 when they sold it to Clifford and Violet Tisdale. The store burned down in 1985.

Wrixon Train Station.
Wrixon Train Station.

The Station

The station was a boxcar left by the CNR tracks, where the mail was picked up and dropped off. The cream was also shipped from the station.

The CNR named it Wrixon.

Jack's Swimming Hole

Jack's swimming hole was about a kilometre north of the bridge. It was named after Jack Rusk.

Mineral and Deep Lake

Mineral and Deep Lake are about a half mile apart. Mineral Lake was the swimming lake and Deep Lake was the fishing lake. Community picnics were held in the summer. The women and children would stay at Mineral Lake to swim and visit while the men went to Deep Lake to catch the fish for supper. Everyone brought salads and desserts. After the fish fry, the ball games would start. In the late forties, Bob and Katie Hooker had a small store at Deep Lake and Leo Lloyd ran a booth at Mineral Lake on the weekends.

The School Bus

The first school bus was Leo Lloyd. He drove it from September 1950 until December 30th, 1950. Leo bought a limousine for a bus. It was stylish but very crowded. The children from grade one to grade three were dropped off at Bodmin School where Mrs Lauren was the teacher. Urgel Brunet took over the bus route in January 1951 and drove until 1965. Urgel had only one rule. There would be no fighting on the bus. We asked if we could sing and Urgel said "yes, as long as you don't sing "Goodnight Irene". So, of course, we sang it often just for him. Betty Brunet began driving the younger kids to Bodmin in 1956 in a station wagon, as there were too many kids for one small bus.

Leonce April took over the bus route in 1965, and then Jerome Lafreniere drove until 1996 with Rolf Pfunder and Debbie Roteski as relief drivers. Now Debbie Roteski has the route. She picks up 38 children between Deep Lake and Big River.

Old school with Frances Schmitt (Stearns).
Old school with Frances Schmitt (Stearns).

Wrixon School District #5129

There were many school-aged children in the Wrixon district by 1936. Mrs Doucet was teaching about six students in the Dolmage's house but a school was desperately needed for the rest. A meeting was held and the first school board was elected with trustees E. Miller who acted as chairman, J. Dolmage and B. Stearns. The secretary was G. Dodd.

A petition was sent to the Department of Education on November 13, 1936, requesting a school be built. In July of 1937, an application was sent for a building grant and was approved. Logs were cut and the school was built on the NW 8-547-3, just east of the bridge.

School started in the fall of 1937 with Wilma Doucet as the first teacher. She had 20 students, 12 in grade one, one in grade two, three in grade four, three in grade five and one in grade eight. She taught for two years. She was followed by Mrs McIntosh, Mrs Grogan, Miss Gartner, Mrs Duvall, Mrs O'Neill, Miss Chadick, Mr Cooper, Mrs Fletcher and Mrs Becker. In 1949 it was becoming very difficult to keep a teacher. We had three teachers that same year Mrs M.E. Gerow, Mr Potter and Mr Kindrachuck.

Most of the students walked to school. One family came with a horse and cutter, another girl had a horse and toboggan and one small girl had a dog sled pulled by one dog. She could travel quite fast.

The school was heated with a big barrel heater. The students who sat close to the heater were hot and sleepy while the ones close to the blackboards froze. The teacher's desk was the coldest spot. One of the last teachers, Mr Potter, was an elderly man. On the coldest days, he would wear his overcoat, overshoes, and sometimes gloves while he taught. One of the older students had the job of janitor. They had to split and carry in wood, haul drinking and washing water, light the fire early in the morning and keep the school clean. They were paid .50 cents a week.

A small teacherage stood about 200 feet east of the school. Wood and water had to be carried in by the teacher after school and the outhouse was down a chilly path.

In 1950, a decision was made to bus the students to Big River. The school was used as a hall for dances, Christmas Concerts, meetings and church until 1965. The last event held at the school was a good-bye party for the Brunet family in 1965.

My school experiences as a former student.

Submitted by Isobel Gallagher (Stevenson).

On my first day of school in grade one, I was asked to tell my teacher my full name - Isobel Moyra Jean Stevenson and to write it on the blackboard. Other grades one students had to do the same while our teacher; Miss Evelyn Chadwick got the other grades two - eight busy.

Miss Chadwick was a very impressive lady who was kind, gentle and encouraging. She impressed me so that I wanted to become a teacher.

Our class had an old-style desk of various sizes. Some had metal frames with flip-up seats all connected in-groups of three or four on what resembled two x four bases. They had a hole or ink well, which held an inkbottle and a shelf to hold books, pencils, etc. The other desks were homemade of lumber and could hold two-three small children. This is what I shared with my friend, Roberta Hooker. The front of the class was covered with real slate blackboards.

As I surveyed my surroundings and got paper and pencil ready for our next assignment, I heard older students read a story aloud, taking turns. We printed our "a, b, c's: and counted to 100, then wrote numbers as high as we could. To end a busy day drawing a family portrait and colouring it with those new wax crayons, being careful not to break them.

After school, my sister, Olive and I walked home with our cousins and friends who went the same direction. I was "forced" to take a "Puff' on a hand-rolled cigarette. (Each had to, so you couldn't tattle to parents). I still have a vivid picture of our schoolroom with the chimney cupboard, which held lard, honey or syrup pails containing our lunches. It also held cups so we could have drinks of fresh cold water from the school well. The water was in a galvanized pail and, in later years, a crockery-fountain with a lid and shiny chrome taps were used.

On each side of the school door, were hooks for jackets, caps scarves, etc. A cupboard, which held the water pail and washbasins, was beside the chimney cupboard near the back window (on North wall). In the NE corner, a small cupboard served as a library for the few books we had. In later years a "travelling library" a wooden box with nice new books came about every two weeks. We cherished its arrival and older students read every book before it left.

The east wall was mainly a big window, which provided light and a view of the great outdoors. They could be raised to let in the fresh air.

The teacher's desk was a dark, ominous fixture at the front of the room with a roomy wooden chair.

The big barrel heater (homemade) was connected to the brick chimney by metal stovepipes.

The school itself was a log building with mud-plaster filling the cracks. The inside was painted a pastel peach or ivory shade. It had a cottage roof with shingles. A lumber porch helped to prevent wind gusts when someone left or entered. This served as a place to "cool off' when the teacher wanted you to re - think some inappropriate behaviour or, at dances, for young couples to snuggle during intermission.

I recall a boy who wrote his spelling words on the logs so when dictation came he copied them to avoid having to write each incorrect word 10 times at the board. He finally got caught.

One day my sister and a cousin put rubber eraser pieces on the hot heater which smelled horrid so - everyone got the strap, no one confessed. Even the grade ones, myself included took the punishment. No one wanted to be called a tattletale or be beaten by an older sister!

Larger boys played a unique game of catch. My friend and I were often the "objects" tossed back and forth and we loved it."

Softball, marbles, tag, hide and seek and Auntie - I -Over were summer pleasures. In winter we would sleigh-ride down the big hill or very dangerously, pile as many people as we could on the big pair of skis my cousins had. When the skis were loaded, (with one big person with feet in leather straps, some in front and others on the back), we would plunge down the hill, hanging onto each other, screaming and laughing all the way until we fell with the odd nose-bled or tears in a squirming heap at the bottom. None of us became Olympic skiers and our technique hasn't been adapted in Olympic Sports either.

When heavy snows fell, we dug big "rooms" in the banks, which blew off Cameron's field. The floors were "carpeted" with old cardboard boxes. Apple boxes served as cupboards and tables and logs were seats.

The wood on the north side of the school, (across the road - off school grounds) became the site for treehouses in the summer, which had the same fashionable furniture.

Dad worked at Waite Fisheries in Big River, building boats during the winter months when I was in grade one and two, so Olive and I attended school there. We lived in a small house the first winter and in one of Waite's apartments the 2nd year. Mrs Grogan was my grade one teacher there and Miss Pat McNabb. (She later became Mrs Leo Olson) She was my second inspiring teacher.

I loved school and it all seemed to whiz by too quickly with Mr Joe Cooper - Grade Two, Mrs Bernice Fletcher grade three, Mrs Jean Becker - grade four and five. Then grade six brought three teachers all in the same year with Miss Mary Body (our neighbour's daughter, who later became Mrs Lloyd Gerow). Then after Christmas Mr Potter until Easter, ending the year with Mr Wesley Kindrachuck. With such an unsettling year, our school board settled the conflict of where the proposed new school would be built by closing the school and sending us on a bus to Big River. So ended an era of our little district. Things were never the same there but the little log school rang with laughter and song for a couple of years yet as my mother, and Katie Fraser coached us for Christmas Concerts which had always been a binding element and pleasurable entertainment. Mr George Dodd Sr. was often "Santa Claus" and how the fiddle of Alex Isbister, Bud Barone's guitar and Percy Isbister's accordion set toes tapping and "beaus" begging for the supper waltz or the last dance. Yes, many celebrations, school picnics, Halloween parties, wedding dances or even funerals were held in the warm log arms of Wrixon School. If its wall could talk, what secrets would they reveal? Would they tell the names of the two young soldiers who went "absent without leave" and hid in the attic? We didn't reveal them to the Warrant Officers who came that day when we all knew they were there. After all, put the desks back in place? Not an eye glanced at that closed attic door behind which sat the fugitives among stored Christmas Concert costumes and decorations. Their capture depended on us keeping our secret code of silence. Later, they turned themselves in, took their punishment and thankfully World War 11 ended.

There were few resources for teachers and nothing very convenient. No teacher's aid secretary, etc. as there are now. No typewriters or laser copy machines and computer print outs either. Only an old jelly-filled mimeograph copies for exams or designs for seasonal decorations and what a messy thing it was. You didn't want that purple stuff on your hands or clothes. Questions were often written on the board for each grade level.

I recall punching holes with a straight pin to outline a design which would be held up against the board and patted with a felt chalk filled brush. The chalk penetrated the holes and displayed the design on the blackboard. It was then coloured carefully with coloured chalk. Often designs were traced at the windows onto a clean, white sheet of paper.

With grades, one to eight or nine, the teacher had no spare time. They had books to correct, lessons to prepare and to teach, questions to write on the board and students who required special guidance and instructions.

There were no modern conveniences in the teacherage where they lived either. The"outhouse" was a chilly walk on winter days. Water had to be carried from the well. They had to keep the woodstove going to keep warm at night and there was no R-12 insulation in that building! They were a brave and dedicated lot who ventured into a strange community with a mottled crew of students from Metis, Irish Scottish, English or French descent. What a culture shock!

Students travelled to school on foot, rode horseback or drove a pony and a buggy in summer or an open sleigh called a "cutter" in winter. Parents drove children sometimes and neighbours would climb on the sleigh or wagon. "Thanks for the ride"; they'd call as they continued on their way.

My older sister Olive and I did janitor work the last few years we attended school. This job usually fell to older students and younger siblings helped. Floors were swept each night after classes. Fires were lit early so the school would be warm. Water was carried for drinking and hand washing. Floors were washed once weekly, before and after dances. Windows were cleaned as deemed necessary. Ashes were taken out regularly.

The school served as a community centre until it fell into disrepair. Gone but fondly remembered.

Early memories of Erinferry School.

Submitted by: Mike Lebiszezak.

I came to Dumble as a young lad of about five in about 1937 with my mother and dad during the Great depression. Dad worked for CNR as a section-man and was assigned to Dumble as his first steady job.

Erinferry School was about 21/2 miles from Dumble, so I had to walk that distance for my grade one and two in 1939 and 1940.

I don't recall much at all about what I took in school, however, I did disrupt the class occasionally by calling to Gertie Dodd and hollering "Draw me a picture".

In spring and fall, we would play hide and seek, or pum-pum pull away, or Anti-I-over, over the school. In winter we would slide-toboggan or sleigh down the hill from the teacherage. The teacher was Mrs McIntosh.

There was a Durston boy who liked to climb trees, and once he fell to the ground and was sure he was hurting plenty. I recall a couple of the larger kids dragged him home by his arms.

The school was a log structure and one cold winter; some of the chinking was missing next to my desk. It was pretty cold when the wind blew.

The schoolroom was heated with a big gas drum heater and once someone threw in a .22 shell. There was quite a commotion when the shell exploded. No one ever admitted to the deed.

Winters were the worst. Walking back home after school with George and Gertie Dodd was fine until I got nicely passed their place on the old highway where there was a slough next to the road. At the back of the slough were dark spruce trees and it looked pretty spooky? I could always envision bears and wolves in there so I always ran by this spot glancing over my shoulders should some wild creature be after me.

After grade two, Dad was transferred first to Clouston where I took my grade three, again in a one-room country school, then finally to Duck Lake where I took my grades four to twelve.

Memories of a Wrixon schoolteacher.

Submitted by Jean Becker.

When I was approached to reflect my memories of the Wrixon School District, I started to recall the teaching experience I had from 1948. It is hard to believe, as I sit back that I will be 80 years old next July. It seems like only yesterday when I taught school in that one-room log schoolhouse.

Wrixon was a very unique school, as it was one of a few log schools in Saskatchewan. The school consisted of children from grades one to eight. The majority of children were at the primary level as at the higher-grade level the children would be busy assisting to the needs of the farm.

I have many fond memories of teaching at Wrixon School, this story I still share with family and friends. This story is as follows. One day, the supervisor of education, (which is now known as the Director of Education), came to visit. This was a huge deal to the other students, and one boy was so amazed by seeing the inspector drive up in a car, that he walked backwards, opened mouth and slammed himself right into the back of the school. It was quite a sight to see, and it still makes me smile today.

Not only was I the teacher, but I also provided the community with many social events. The other students would help with dances to raise money for the school.

Looking back I think the Christmas concert was the biggest event of the year. The parents would bring rough planks for the stage and sheets would be used as curtains.

In late spring the children would look forward to the yearly track and field meet. Children from Big River and Debden would also compete. The year I taught we were proud to bring home the banner.

This was a huge accomplishment as we were a 30 students classroom and the other school districts had approximately 200 students.

I have many positive memories of teaching in my one-room schoolhouse and enjoy sharing stories from time to time with the local people of Big River.

Erinferry Store (1951-1965).

Submitted by Betty (Brunet) Monsebroten.

We took possession of Erinferry Store and Post Office and opened for business that day. Urgel and I had exchanged our home in Debden as the down payment. We purchased the store from Leo and Sweeney Lloyd. I understand they had bought the store from Ira Hobbs some years earlier. I recall having to borrow twenty dollars from Grandma Burnet for change in the till. Judy was five months old at that time.

Urgel drove the school bus for thirteen years to Big River; this included driving thirteen miles west towards Deep Lake. There was no gravel on this thirteen miles stretch and no snow plowing in the winter, only what the local people did.

There was no power and no running water. We had a lighting plant until approximately 1954 when Saskatchewan Power arrived. The mail was brought in by train and picked up by us at Wrixon Siding until such time that it was delivered by truck.

I recall loading up in the school bus with the Stevenson family and going to Prince Albert for Prince Albert Minto games. We sang on the trip and the main song was "I ate the Bologna" an old favourite of Margaret and Fred Stevenson.

Ladder Valley School children.
Regina Legouffe, Philomene, Rudolph, Marcel Lamothe.
Day on the beach at Ladder Lake (1925).

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Author: Webmaster -
"Date Modified: March 21, 2024"

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