Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Rural Pioneer Schools Southern Alberta

 ©Stuart Somerville aka @Stuthefarmer 
There are a number of informative twitterstorians online and one that I'd like to bring to your attention is Stuart Somerville. His posts are particularly agricultural in nature, however, that is his livelihood and his passion. Although I am an 'ex-townie' I feel a connection to rural Alberta in his posts and once in a while local history nuggets pop up.

This article gives a brief review of two photos of abandoned schools he took in 2016 while travelling in Alberta. If you are looking for records of the school your ancestor attended, I leave it to you to discover more from the resources provided!

Springwater School - located in the Drumheller area, Starland County. The Springwater Homestead Foundation maintains the school and this history is on Wikipedia: "Built by a local stonemason, the school was built with all local stones. There were only ten students when the school originally opened. In addition to being a school, the building also hosted many community events, even after closing as a school. In April, 1952, the school was sold to the Majestic Farrell Lake Women's Institute. It was sold for $200 and remained as a community hall. The 1988 movie Bye Bye Blues was filmed in the area, and the Springwater School was used as a set."

Springwater school
 ©Stuart Somerville aka @Stuthefarmer 
On Peel's Prairie Provinces webpage, there is a reference to Springwater School in the government report: Department of Agriculture : Winners of Scholarship Short Course. This is a great resource for finding information out about students in rural Alberta. For Springwater School the winners were Howard SLOAN and Alice MORRISON (ca1928).

The Scholarship Short Course is explained as:
"As a reward for effort and success in school fair work, one boy and one girl at each fair centre are awarded a scholarship entitling them to spend a week at the School of Agriculture at the expense of the Government. Regular class work, organized sports and a variety of entertainment go to make the week's course very popular. The competition is very keen, thus making the short course a great factor in increasing general interest in the school fair." p.89

On pages 10 & 11, I found a mention of 'Home Children' - "[...] arrangements have been made with the Overseas Settlement board whereby 200 British boys and 200 British girls will be trained at the Schools of Agriculture during the months of April, May, June and July."

Reference: Peel 9534.23: Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture of the Province of Alberta for the year 1928.
Summerhill school
 ©Stuart Somerville aka @Stuthefarmer 
Summerhill school - named after a district in Scotland by Edward Donald, Sr. homesteader in 1908. First teacher: Mr. Simon Luther, an Irishman.
    Reference: “Pioneering with a piece of chalk : the one-room country schools of Alberta, 1885-1982” - This 'ebook' is one that I used in university for a Canadian studies unit on heritage and is considered an important vital text for rural Canadian history. It is available online via Our Roots. It gives a brief history of schools organized alphabetically including the legal description. Sometimes mentions teachers names and names of people in the community.

As well, in the context of rural schools I should mention Chris & Connie Biggar Doer. The Doers are two enthusiasts who regularly spend their weekends wandering the back roads of Alberta.They have a great report on Rural Schools in Alberta on their blog 'Off The Beaten Path' and have highlighted: Roland School They are also on Twitter @ChrisBIGDoer

Jonathan Koch is also very well known in Alberta for his work in promoting the history of Alberta. This is a link to one of his posts about One Room Schools - Imperial Colony School - you need to scroll down the page for the article.  On his website he invites you to send tips and suggestions pertaining to Alberta History. His email is:  forgottenalberta@gmail.com and he is also on Twitter @4gotten_alberta 

My articles Rural Alberta Towns and Rural Schools Vulcan County Alberta  give resources for starting research in rural Alberta.

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