1931 Canadian Readers (III, IV & V)(June 2016)

School was an important fact oflife for families in the frontier.  In Dunster, a school was established within a year of the Train Station’s completion.  Community members, particularly men, and perhaps most surprisingly unmarried men, met and determinedthat a school was an essential need within their new community.  In less than a year, these industrious men had built a school, and posted to hire a teacher.  Much of the expense to build a school was incurred by locals who believed in the project.  After all, without a school, it would be harder to attract young families with children.

            Supplies in the schools werescarce in the first few years, which would have required considerable imagination and skill on the part of those early teachers.  The arrival of early teachers was considered a major event in our small towns, particularly for the single men, who would all line up as a new, young teacher would get off the train.  Teachers were almost exclusively young women at this point and stayed for only a few years.  During that time though, they seldom lacked dance partners or invitations to dinner.
Without decent roads or bridges, the commute to school for young children was an ordeal.  Not quite the ordeal that some of our grandparents would have us believe, but certainly more than the students of today experience.   Some children, including Beatrice Blackwood, would ride their horse to school.  While some of the horses would spend the day at the school so that the student’s would have a ride home, Beatrice would slap her horse on the rump and it would trot home on its own.

            Several schools existed within the Robson Valley, including ones at South Croydon, North Croydon, Lee Road, Dunster, McBride, Cresecent Spur, Dome Creek, Lamming Mills and Beaver River.  Even in the earlier years, the number of students would fluctuate and face threats of closure.  At one point the Lee Road School was hurting for numbers, so very young children were recruited. Don McNaughton and Hazel Nicholl were recruited to attend the Lee School in 1924.  Don was born in September of 1920, and was often teased by adults that his lunch pail was bigger than he was.  By the time Don had reached the older grades, he was able to use newly ordered primers.  Don’s Canadian Readers (levels 3,4,5) are on display at the Dunster Station Museum this summer, on loan from Ken and Kim McNuaghton.  They are an interesting comparison to the changes in expectations of students through time.