Cherry Ridge School District 4405
SW16 51 15 W2.
White Fox / Nipawin, SK, CA
The School House
By Helen Brown
Jeff Cissna got the contract to build a one-room school for $295.00. The first trustees were Chairman Alfred Wood, Secretary R.J. Brown and trustee Hugh Church.
The first day the school opened,
For the first three or four years after it opened the interior was unfinished. The ceiling was two by sixes with boards laid on top of them. In the morning before the teacher came it was great sport to climb up the shelves where our lunch pails were stored and get onto these ceiling boards, walk around and yell. We always left someone to watch and warn us “Teacher’s coming”. One morning we got caught and that was the end of our climbing up there. Now I wonder why we thought it was such fun.
The roads to school were just trails through the bush that looped around sloughs or old beaver dams. These dams were very old and some of them were very high. There was no sign of the beavers that built them, but at one time there must have been a very large number of beaver in this area. Numerous creeks and sloughs had been dammed but for some reason there was no sign of dams along the White Fox River. But in the 1940s, when the beaver came back, that was where they built dams.
Neil Sinclair’s quarter joined the quarter the school was built on. On the last half of Neil’s land the road made a big loop into the bush to avoid two beaver dams that were 300 yards apart and too high to cross with a team and wagon. We soon had a well-worn footpath straight across dams and meadow to join the road at the corner of the schoolyard.
There was enough land cleared around the school for a well, two biffies and a ball diamond. Roger’s land to the south had 15 or 20 acres cleared for a pasture. To the west, north and east were tall black and white poplars and underbrush except for a meadow and slough we played hockey on in winter and had a raft on in summer.
The second year of school a bush fire came close to the school. Bits of bark and coals lit in the grass in the schoolyard. The teacher and all of us kids filled our lunch pails with water and poured it on the small fires to put them out until a few men saw the smoke and came with shovels and rakes. Then we could go home.
The first two or three years in our unfinished school were cold. Our sandwiches froze on the shelves between the cloakrooms where the lunch pails were kept. The big barrel heater in the centre of the room roasted those who sat near it and four feet away, the others were cold. The first year the school was closed all through January on account of minus 40 to 50 degree temperatures.
From the time the school was built, it became the centre of activity for the district. A dance was held as soon as it was built and an election soon after. It was the first election when women could vote. George King and Johnny Johnson picked Ma and me up. I don’t know if they were Liberal or Conservative, but they spent the two miles to the school explaining over and over where to put the “X”.
I have vague memories of the first dance. The only clear memory is about a family named Matten “two daughters one who later married George Evans” and their parents sang “Everybody Works But Father”.
There were several dances and card parties before the school was finished and the base studding made a good sport for dancers to park their chews of gum. They were well loaded after every dance. The teachers warned us not to pick them off and chew them because there were germs on them and we would get sick. A few of the kids paid no attention to this. They had never seen a germ, so didn’t believe there were such things. So the non-believers had gum and those of us who were believers chewed vile tasting spruce gum.
The big event of the year was the Christmas concert. The plays, recitations and singing Christmas carols, and last and best, Santa Clause and the candy bags. All of us got some little present: a book, comb, picture frame or string of beads and a Christmas orange, often the only orange we had all year.
No actor in
Another big event was the holiday on the 24th
of May. We used to call it Victoria Day or the Queen’s Birthday. We would meet
at the school, and then walk four and a half miles to Waterview to a field day.
We ran races, high and broad jumps, and played baseball.
After running races, jumping and playing ball, we were tired and hoarse from exchanging insults and our school yells: “Keena keena wah wah, Keena Keena tah, White Fox, White Fox, Rah, Rah, Rah!” and “When you’re up you’re up, When you’re down you’re down, When you’re up against Waterview, You’re upside down!”
When everything was all over we would eat the last of our lunch and walk home. Some of the children had eight miles to walk. When I tell my grandchildren about our field days, the standard remark is “Grandma, you must have been crazy.” This from a generation that doesn’t even walk across the room to turn the T.V. on!
Some of us won races or high jumps. But we
never won a ball game. I was 70 years old when I last saw Byron Bulmer. He
The years went by and brought many changes to our little school. The inside was finished and it was made 12 or 15 feet larger. This pleased my father. He had wanted to make it bigger in the first place, but the other board members laughed and said they would never need a bigger school.
In 1925 more pupils came: McKibbon’s four children, Terry’s four, Watland’s two and Olsen’s one. Three Krehbiels, two Rempels and four Hendricks added to the number of pupils, but in the next near, four Gaffney’s and four Terry’s left.
During the late 1920s and early ‘30s when the prairies to the south became a dust bowl, the number of students rose and fell while families were moving around. Some came and stayed a few months and moved on. A few bought land and remained.
I can remember some of their names, but not the exact order in which they arrived. Two Ben Rempel kids, two Van Oene’s, two Bill Rempel’s, two Walls, three Evans, three Smiths, four Paterson’s, one Nivens Prescott, two Coombs, one Brand and three Chartier’s, Viola Tait and Jim Brown, the Ranger’s boy, and for a short time, two Lloyds, one Vickers and three Stringfellow’s.
As the years went by, there were many changes in the schoolyard. The forests became wheat fields. Roads ran in straight lines. They no longer curved and looped around sloughs or mud holes. The old slough we used for a hockey rink and had a raft on in the summer dried up and became part of a field.
Most roads by this time were graded. Then the Second World War started and many of the early years’ students joined the Army, Navy or Air Force and were scattered over the world. Most of them returned, but a few will sleep forever in a strange land.
Some returned with war brides who made
themselves at home in
After the war, two students who both attended Cherry Ridge, Richard Krehbiel and Yvonne Smith were married and started farming on his father’s farm in the district. Others married and farmed in surrounding districts. Some like me married and never moved.
School buses now carry the children to
schools in nearby towns. The little country schools were closed and sold. Ours
was given to the
During the war years a curling rink and a skating rink were built on the school grounds and many people from surrounding districts came to curl and skate. The old school yard was the centre of much activity.
In the curling rink light was supplied by gas lanterns, then by a motor driven light plant and then by Sask Power. After the school was moved the old waiting room at the curling rink was replaced by a larger building that became our community centre. The Centre is still being used for dances, showers and various other meetings but there has been no curling for two years.
The days of the little country schoolhouse are gone forever. To the early settlers they played a very important part, not only in education. It was a meeting place to socialize, play cards and dance. Also political meetings and public meetings concerning the district were held there.
In the early years, the prizes at the bridge and whist drives were often donated. A quart of jam, pickles or fruit, a dozen eggs or a pound of butter, a homemade pair of embroidered pillow cases, dish towels or pot holders.
Lunch was always served at , sandwiches, cake with coffee made in a wash boiler. The dances followed the same pattern: dance until , then an hour off for lunch and visiting and listening to several perform some songs or recite. Kenny Wadell’s specialty was “Sinking of the Titanic”. Joe Humphrey either shot “Dan McGrew” or cremated “Sam McGee”. Mary Dow would do Scottish dances while her husband Bob would play the bagpipes. There was always much applause for these people. Otis Watland’s rendition of “Ivan Skavinsky Skvar” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” always brought the house down.
Freddy Bourlette’s “Underneath the Old Umbrella” and Jake Jacobson’s “Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me”, and Fred MacDonald’s “Finnegan’s Ball” were crowd pleasers and often called for encores.
Another use for the schoolhouse was in election years when it was a place for politicians to give speeches promising rosy futures for everybody if their party was elected.
At a time when radios and TVs had not yet been invented, these functions made life a lot brighter for hardworking settlers.
for Cherry Ridge, School District 4405 located on SW16 51 15 W2.
This school opened in 1924 and operated continuously until 1962 when it was
closed and students were bussed to White Fox and Nipawin. It then served as
a community hall, and has now been relocated to the museum complex in Nipawin
where I took the attached photo in August 2001. The cairn in the second photo
sits on the original site. There is a local history compiled of the district
entitled "Between Two Rivers", ISBN 0-88925-881-3.
I have attached a brief and poignant history of the school written by Helen Brown
Scarf, who is still living and was a student in the first class in 1924. I have
transcribed her handwritten histories over a number of years, and have made no
editorial changes to her work.
I attended Cherry Ridge from 1956 - 1962, so greatly appreciate your efforts to
preserve this very important part of our heritage. I hope these are useful
contributions and thanks very much.
Prince George, British Columbia
|The School House
by Helen Brown Scarf
Thank you for stopping by # 1597
Web Page title: CherryRidgeSchoolHouse.html
Copyright © Web Publish Date: Sunday, 07-May-2006 19:45:18 MDTAll Rights Reserved
E-mail Webmaster ... Important Notice - Submitter
Cherry Ridge School pictures submitted by photographer:
Rick Krehbiel and family
Date: October 15, 2005