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Annie Coulter: Pioneer School Teacher


Roxanne Friebohle

One of the first things pioneers think of when they settledown is an education for their children. To educate their childrenthere must be a teacher. Annie Coulter, an early pioneer was one of thosededicated teachers.

Annie Coulter was born in Dominion City, Manitoba, on Decembertwenty second, 1895. She lived there until she married in 1922. Beingthe second oldest of a family of ten didn't make life easy, especially whentheir mother was an invalid. Annie was one of the ones lucky enoughto get an education.

Long before she started school, Annie decided that shewas going to be a school teacher. Annie was naturally left handed, whichwas believed to be a curse in those days. When she started school, the teacherwould hit her on the knuckles with a ruler until she used her right hand.After a lot of practicing Annie was known as ambidextrous. Since she wasgoing to be a teacher she knew she couldn't write left handed on the blackboardanyway.

At the age of eighteen Annie took her first job as a teacherin a small town called Stockport, Manitoba. The school was a four room framebuilding which had grades one through eight. The greatest problems Annieencountered was to make a time table for each class. She had to have someof the classes working while she was teaching other ones. The hours forschool then were from nine to four. As well as teaching all these children,Annie also acted as the school janitor. The only thing she didn't have todo was fix the fire. Her wages from this school were $575 a year, whichwas thought to be a lot at that time.

While teaching at this school, one of the greatest difficultieswas teaching the German students in her class. The German students didn'tspeak English and Annie didn't speak German. For the first six weeks, shetaught them a little English by point to different things and telling themwhat they were. After a while they caught on fast and learned just as fastas the other students.

Another experience Annie had at this school was with aboy that just could not learn. In a spelling test one time, the word waswhite. When she went to correct the papers, he had spelled the word "drese."

After teaching at Stockport for a year and a half, Anniereturned to Dominion City to take her grade eleven. In those days, it wasall right to teach on a grade ten education.

During the fall of 1916, she went to teach at another schoolfourteen miles northeast of Dominion City. The wages at this school were$600 a year which seemed like a big raise to Annie.

At the end of the year, she went back to Normal in Winnipegwhere she went to school for six months and earned her certificate to teachpermanently.

In 1917, she returned to Dominion City to teach. Whileteaching in this school, Annie was faced with a serious influenza epidemic.The school was closed from October 1 to December 9. In January of 1919,the flue epidemic hit Dominion City and the school was closed off and onagain for a month or so. This flu epidemic was all over the world and causedmany deaths. There were no deaths right in Dominion City.

During the year of 1919, the Teacher's Federation was beingformed. This organization was started to help teachers get higher salariesand better working conditions.

In 1922, Annie gave up teaching to get married to KennethCoulter of Morden, Manitoba. They were married in the Vestry of Holy TrinityChurch in Winnipeg on March 22, 1922.

In 1923, she returned to Dominion City to teach for a fewmonths. They then moved to Emerson where they are still living. At thattime there was no school in Emerson.

In all the days of Annie's teaching, there wasn't a dayshe taught without her strap on the side of her desk. In those days, thepupils were punished more harshly than they are now.

Teaching wasn't Annie's only ambition. She also servedas a customs officer for two years. Her main job was to ride the Great Northern,Soo Line, and the Northern Pacific trains from Emerson to Winnipeg. Oneexperience that sticks out in her mind is when she caught a woman wearingfourteen dresses. She thought it was a little odd and decided to look intoit. It turned out that these dresses were silk and she was trying to smugglethem across the border.

Another job of Annie's was acting as the Municipal Secretaryfor the Dominion City County while her Dad was sick. This job included takingcare of all the finances for the county.

During this time, Annie was also raising a family of threeand running a boarding house. Her husband, Ken, was a member of the MountedPolice in Emerson also.

Since 1950, Annie has substituted in the Emerson High School.She teaches mostly Math. She also has tutored a lot of students.

Annie doesn't think much of the modern way of teaching.She says "I liked it better when the children were taught to think."

Annie Coulter is known as a woman of many experiences.She is one of the many people responsible for the settling of the Red RiverValley. The pioneer school teacher plays an important role in the settlingof any place.


Coulter, Annie Interview; February 2, 1971

Coulter, Kenneth Interview; February 2, 1971

Friebohle, Glenice Interview; February 3, 1971

erview; February 2, 1971

Friebohle, Glenice Interview; February 3, 1971