Once our early settlers became established on their homesteads, their next big concern was to build a school for their children. After a series of district meetings the Department of Education was contacted and the wheels were put into motion. Once the settlers received government approval they chose a name for their school and were then given a registered school district number. During the early years, all schools operated independently of one another. A portion of the settlers' taxes were paid to the school secretary and some additional aid was received from the Province of Alberta. This income helped to pay the teacher's wages as well as all other school expenses.
Most of the country schools were similar in design. They were generally constructed of lumber, they had many windows on both outer walls to supply much needed light to the classroom and in most cases they were painted white. Most of the early country schools were one room usually built with volunteer labor. There was nothing fancy about these early schools, however they served their purpose well - that of providing an education for the early settlers' children.
In most country schools, the highest grade attainable was Grade 8. Many children dropped out of school once they reached this level as their parents couldn't afford to send them to a larger centre to complete their education.
Teachers were usually hired for a school term on a contract basis. In many cases it was renewed for a number of years. Some early teachers received as little as $180 to $300 a term. They usually stayed in a nearby teacherage or boarded with a nearby family.
There were many country schools surrounding Elk Point. The school at Mooswa (Lindbergh) was called Moose Creek. To the north of Mooswa was the Fern Chapel School and to the east was Middle Creek School. The Spring Park School was located northeast of Elk Point and the Shamrock Valley School was northwest The Paramount School was situated northwest of Elk Point and the Richland, Swedeboro and Orvilton schools were situated to the west of Elk Point. Other schools in our district were the Lakewood, Pleasant Dale and in later years, Muriel. Schools across the river were named King George, Willow 'Range, Primula, Gideon Lake and Yankee.
Children who attended these country schools either walked, rode a bicycle or were -driven in a one horse buggy or cutter. They all brought their lunch to school in a lard or jam pail or in a Squirrel Peanut Butter tin. Some schools provided a hot drink such as hot chocolate. or cocoa during the winter months. Country schools were small and didnât provide facilities to play indoors, consequently the classroom was cleared during recess and noon hour while the children played outside. One game that was popular with both boys and girls was softball, on many occasions one school competed with another nearby school. Periodically the children of many schools attended a school festival where they competed with other schools in one act plays, dances and recitations.
All country schools operated pretty well under the same conditions. In most vases the coaching standards were generally good and most of the children, who attended these schools came away with a good average education. These country schools had to overcome a lot of problems.
The schools in many cases were heated with spot belly stove which provided uneven
They did not have running water - a -porcelain dispenser supplied the drinking water. With no indoor plumbing, toilets had to be erected outdoors. 'These schools all lacked modern facilities, however one way or another they managed without them.
The country schools operated for many years, all providing the children with an average education. In later years, school divisions were formed throughout the province and one by one, the country schools were closed down. Children were then bussed into larger centres where they were able to get a much better standard of education as well as to complete their high school education.
With the closing of all our country schools, a bit of our local history also vanished with them. These country schools were all sold end moved away. Many were remodelled into homes while others were used as granaries and machine sheds. Today as you drive through the different districts all you see is part of a remaining foundation, nothing else to remind you of these early schools of the past.