Milner School, by Jennie Medd

Milner School, by Jennie Medd (nee Estey), quoted from "Growing Up in the Valley," pages 62-3) 

I applied for a school at Milner and got it in November, 1912. It was a one-room school, and I believe it had been rather unruly. One day the chairman of the School Board called on me, and he told me that one of the teachers had become so annoyed, she had taken the slate and smashed it over the youngster's head, then told him to go home with the frame around his neck. He rather admired her for her spirit. But some of the parents didn't like it quite so well. They told me that the lady that had gone just before I arrived was a large woman and a fairly good disciplinarian, but she simply couldn't stand those youngsters, and had refused to stay any longer. When I arrived, they gave me until Christmas to be finished off. But I thought, well, I'm not going to be driven out by a little group of youngsters, no matter how unruly they seem to be. However, after a time I succeeded. I gave one boy a jolly good strapping~I took one of the big ones—and that settled them all.

It was rather a large school of 44 children. They had all the grades from grade one to the entrance class, and at that time they were writing the government examinations, which meant a great deal of work for the senior class. They had thirteen written examinations to take and they had to pass their exams with a good standing or they weren't allowed into high school. And by the way, we had no high school in the place at that time; they had to go either to [New] Westminster or Vancouver, in order to attend high school. 

In a one-roomed school you had to group classes together, and actually it's a very unsatisfactory way to teach them. In those days, you must remember we didn't have the things to work with they have these days, either; no coloured papers, no coloured chalk, nothing like that, that would make life attractive. 

The inside of that school was just about as unattractive as anything you could possibly imagine. The floor was more or less rough, no attempt at paint, and the walls were a sort of drab grey with shiny black blackboards, one at the front, one at the side. The windows were high, so that the light didn't get down to the desks too well. We didn't have electric light. Our water supply consisted of a bucket with the old tin cup. 

And one of the children had to carry it from the neighbouring blacksmith's shop every morning, that was his little job. There was an old stove in the middle of the room, with the long pipes that had challenged these youngsters. At the front of the room there was a platform, and on that stood a table with just one little drawer in it—that was your teacher's desk—one chair and a tiny cupboard for supplies. And the supplies consisted of a box of chalk and some blackboard erasers. That's what you started to work with. However, you tried to make things as interesting as you could, and the children seemed to respond, and we got along very nicely after I settled them, once and for all, with the big boy getting it. They decided, well, that person, she's pretty little but she means business, so they settled down. And the girls were very cooperative. I enjoyed life with them, very much. 

That lasted just a year. And then we moved down into a very nice new school house, two rooms and very attractive. The rooms were bright and the windows lower. The blackboards now were green. And the whole place had an air of refinement that made you quite happy to be in it. It was very modern, and had a basement with running water and toilets with basins, just as the boys and girls have today. And we had a furnace. In a very short time we got an assistant, and then it was much easier. The little ones moved into the other room. They were happier and so was I. 

Back to top 1

 Contact web master © LRTA, December 2013