Portfolio for Jennifer Windsor

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72 Jack S. Richardson, student: I remember having only one minor dispute with Miss Thorson. Around the first of December she started making plans for the annual Christmas concert. From my early childhood I had absolutely no interest in being any kind of performer and always tried to worm my way out of it. So I approached Miss Thorson and told her I wouldn't be taking part in the concert, as I didn't think it had much to do with the real meaning of Christ- mas. Also I didn't see what it had to do with the three R's of education. Besides, I was fifteen years old, almost a man and shouldn't have to be in some kids' play, right? I soon found out that this was the wrong approach. Among other things, she reminded me that there were so few students that everyone, without excep- tion, would have to take part in the concert. The only way I could get out of it other than by breaking a leg would be to get a note from my parents objecting to my participation on religious grounds. I'm sure you can guess how far I got with that one. Instead of a note, I got another lecture from my parents about my bad attitude, so I decided I had better accept defeat and learn to go with the flow. As it turned out, Miss Thorson had pity on me and gave me a non-speaking part. Joan Watt Lawrence, student: Our school was a beehive of activity before Christmas while we practised for the Christmas concert. Of course everyone (young and old) attended this grand occasion. We had a stage with sheets for curtains, every child was dressed to the nines, we sang, we recited, we did skits, and the highlight of evening was when Santa came with his bag of goodies. My dad was Santa for years—I'm not sure who enjoyed it the most, dad or the chil- dren! Teaching at Entrance, 1957–1958 By Maureen O'Reilly Hanson Gouveia I still remember the Monday afternoon that my Uncle Max and Aunty Bess drove me out to the Athabasca Ranch, which was situated outside of Entrance. I was to board there with Webb family while teaching at the Entrance School. I had just come back from San Francisco, where I had visited my mother and father, Gerald and Kathleen O'Reilly. I had gone there in August after finishing the Emergency Teachers' Training Program at the University of Alberta. While in San Francisco I was contacted by the Edson School Division and told they had a teaching position available for me in Entrance. My Aunt Bessie Powers had taught in one-room schools in McBride, British Columbia, and Niton, Alberta, before marrying my Uncle Max Miller. My aunt had told me tales of her adventures while teaching, and I must admit I had some romantic notions about what it would be like. I packed my stuff in San Francisco and headed on the train to Niton. I ar- rived there a couple of days before school was to start. I repacked my suitcase, including the few things that I had got at the University of Alberta to help me with my teaching assignment. Pete and Mai McCormack, who knew Vic and Pegg y Webb, were also in the car with us when we arrived at the Athabasca Ranch. Everyone visited, and I was shown my bedroom. Then everyone left. I remember suddenly feeling rath- er out of place and lonely. At dinner that night I met the rest of the family. Vic Webb's parents lived on the ranch also and there were the three children: Barry, Bruce and Becky. Barry was going to junior high in Hinton and Becky wasn't old Maureen O'Reilly 73 enough to go to school. Bruce was the only one to attend school at Entrance. We got up early the next morning and had breakfast. Pegg y Webb then drove me to the school in Entrance. When we arrived there was a surprise wait- ing for us—the school had been vandalized during the summer. Windows were broken, the outhouses were turned over and some things in the school had been thrown around. The children were starting to arrive, so Pegg y Webb drove back to the ranch to get some help. I started cleaning up the glass after I found the broom. The parents who dropped their children off were surprised at the mess. I had ten pupils in all. Six were in Grade 1, two in Grade 2, one in Grade 5, one in Grade 6. Lena Plante was in Grade 9 and taking it by correspondence so my job was to supervise her lessons and help if she had any problems. I got everybody registered and tried to figure out what was needed for all the differ- ent grades. There was nothing much in the school for small children, as there hadn't been any children in the primary grades for a few years at the Entrance School. Because over half of the children were in Grades 1 and 2, they would have to be my focus. I decided that everybody needed a toilet break, but the outhouses still weren't standing up, so that was a problem. I decided to send the girls to one side of the school into some brush and the boys to the other side of the school- yard, which was quite hilly. The only playground equipment was a broken swing on a tree at the bottom of one of those hills. We didn't stay out too long because the mosquitoes were so bad. Before lunch the ranch hands had arrived from the Athabasca Ranch and put the outhouses up. When I got back to the ranch after school I phoned the Edson School Division and told them what had happened and that I needed some supplies. It took a few days for the supplies to arrive but they sent a young fellow from the hamlet to measure the broken windows right away. He really startled me when he came to measure the windows. It was after school and I was writing on the blackboard and I felt someone staring at me. I turned around to see a head sticking up in one of the broken windows. He Entrance Memories book (210 pages) Niton Historical Society 56 57 Because Entrance was such a tiny community, it never had an actual church building, and there was only one school, located in two different buildings over the years. Nonetheless, religion and education were just as central to life here as anywhere else. The clergy played a prominent role among both the Native and Métis people living in the surrounding isolated areas and the townspeople. They met a range of spiritual needs and performed the important work of presiding at baptisms, marriages and funerals. The teachers, too, were hugely important to the children and their parents, and to the whole community. These talented and sometimes courageous women not only gave future citizens a good grounding in the three Rs, but also provided essential leadership in many different ways. Interestingly, one of their key roles was to produce the annual Christmas concerts that were a highlight of every long winter for everyone, not just the children. Part 2 Churches and Schools Entrance Memories N I T O N H I S T O R I C A L S O C I E T Y This captivating narrative tells the story of a hamlet called Entrance, Alberta, so named because it was located at the entrance to the Rocky Mountains west of Hinton. Between 1911 and the 1970s, Entrance was a bustling place that owed its existence to the railway and to its status as the headquarters of the Athabasca Forest Reserve. It was also home to several hundred people who lived, toiled, laughed, cried, raised families, raised ruckuses and lived rich and interesting lives. About forty-five people are still living in the Entrance area and enjoying its beautiful setting. Their stories and those of many former residents make up this book, which is both a vivid and fascinating historical document and a deeply personal record of the story of Entrance. Entrance Memories niton historical society 92 trip fare at this time from Vancouver to Jasper is $13.80. One of the things that she really doesn't like to eat is cottage cheese. She loves to have tea parties with her friends. There are lots of cookies and candy sent to Anne from Entrance so she can furnish the occasions with the sweets. In one letter she asks her mother and dad if Entrance is dull without her. "If it is too dull well, I cannot help it," she says. The school seems to keep the children very busy. There are a good many enrichment activities. Anne talks about going to plays, dances and even to the circus. In May 1930 she writes her mother and dad and says she can't wait to get home. She still has exams to finish but she can hardly sleep because she will be coming to Entrance soon. On March 29, 1931, Anne writes about a snowstorm in Vancouver, but the snow just doesn't last like it does in Entrance. After her parents vis- ited Vancouver she writes asking them if they had played any tennis since going home to Entrance. The teachers and Principal S. H. Lawrence write Mr. and Mrs. Bur- rows and let them know how Anne is doing in her studies and also how she is getting along emotionally. She seems to be a favourite with staff at the school. Though she misses her parents and her beloved Entrance she makes a great effort to join in all the school activities and be friendly with the rest of the children. Almost from the start Anne found the letters on the Braille typewriter. The teachers would write a note in her letters saying what part of her letters she had done herself. At the end of her let- ters she often finishes by saying "the think tank is nearly empty so I must quit." She supposes the cold weather must affect it. There are "feasts of good things" coming to school in February 1930 about which Anne writes to parents. They are mostly concerts given by musical clubs. She keeps practising her music and Principal Lawrence says she sings like a night- ingale. Friends and relatives in Vancou- ver who visit Anne take her for car rides and visits to give her a break from the school, and her parents and others send her things that she likes: toys, scarves, and, of course, the candy and cookies. The letters continue to refer to things she misses in Entrance. The "Woodley Swing" comes into her thoughts often because she had some good times on it. However, school concerts seem to really keep her interest. The ladies from the Philharmonic Society and the men from the Lions Club give wonderful concerts for the students. In March 1930, Anne goes to her first talkie movie, Nothing But the Truth. The talking movies must have been a great help for a blind girl. Anne writes about her mother's tomatoes and also about the lilacs, cherry blossoms and pussy willows in Vancouver, and she even sends her mother a box of pussy willows. Unfortunately, Anne has some colds and a few falls as children will, which undoubtedly caused her parents some concern and made Anne wish her parents were closer. Head lice were a bit of a problem at one point, and the head mistress writes a long letter of explanation and apolog y. It seems that when Anne got lonely the sound of music cheered her up. The gramophone playing, concerts given by the various groups visiting the school, singing with her friends and learning to play her piano pieces all brought her out of her loneliness. Anne Burrows, aged 5 TOM BURROWS COLLECTION 93

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