Violet: Saskatchewan experiences (teaching school).
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Saskatchewan Experiences

full account



This file contains text plus 5 thumbnail photographs which total 65 kb.


Excerpts from this file were published in Saskatchewan History
(Winter 1984; Volume XXXVll No.1; pages 32 to 34)
under the title "Stockholm's First Teacher."

edited by Brian M. Brown
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
first posted February 1999
then transfered to on Jan. 10/01



Traveling West on an Excursion Train.


Stockholm, June 30, 1905 entires.

We were very much rushed the last few days we were in F’ton . . . we had rough time of it till we got to Montreal. There was a crowd of men in the upper berths. They sang an Italian song. One of them in getting off the berth gave me a kick on the back of the ear. Of course it did not hurt.

At Montreal it was fun to see how hurt Evan looked when "Colonists" were ordered to make way for "Tourists". It takes going out west to take some of the aristocratic notions out of people . . . .

The first night we were very uncomfortable. Four had to do with the space intended for two. A very nice English lady was with us. The heat was unbearable, but after that we suffered form the cold. We met with a nice family from Nova Scotia. Eva and I swiped some ice at the stations. Minnie and Emma left us at Winnipeg . . . .



Getting settled.

When we got to Regina we asked for Y.W.C.A. rooms, but found there were none. Then we asked for hotels. I asked if there were anywhere we could take a room and board ourselves. The man who we found to be the Immigration Officer said there was nowhere but the Immigration Hall, so there we went, and the five of us piled into one room. We made tea in the kitchen and ate our lunch in our room.

We went to church morning and evening and to S.[unday] School in the afternoon . . . . The mud in Regina was simply dreadful. Monday morning Eva and Isabel and I went downtown. I registered in the Teachers Agency. Then we hustled to get our things to the station and get on the 10 A.M. train. Papa was at Lumsden to meet us. We got dinner at Steele’s and drove out to Verna. I was surprised to find so many trees and hills. I had thought all prairie was level . . . . On Friday I made butter and it was excellent, though I had made none for over nine years.


the town of Earl Gray - photo from Violet's collection - 113 kb
click to enlarge (113 kb)

This is another small town in Saskatchewan.
This is Earl Gray on Saturday afternoon in 1907;
a postcard photo that Violet received in the mail.

That evening I got letters from the Agency offering me Stockholm school. The letter had been to F[redric]ton and had been chasing me around so long that we went to Lumsden on Saturday to find out by telegraph whether the position was still open or not. The answer came "Position is open. Get there as soon as possible" . . . .

Monday was not pleasant. Papa and I went to Lumsden and took the 4:40 train for Regina, arrived there, got my tea in a restaurant went to League and spent the night in the waiting room . . . .

It was about 11 A.M. when we arrived at Elkhorn . . . . The train left at 6 A.M. We got breakfast at Kirkella and dinner at Esterhazy . . . .

I went to Mr. Lamont’s first and stayed till after tea then came to the Boarding House. They are Germans. It is a nice clean place and the board is excellent. I have the honor to be the first teacher of the Stockholm School. There is no schoolhouse yet and we must use the church. There are Swedes, Hungarians, Germans, Bohemians and what not to come to school.

Monday, July 3. Saturday being Dominion Day there was a celebration here, a picnic and football games, etc. in the afternoon and in the evening an entertainment and dance which lasted till two or three o’clock on Sunday morning, a disgrace to a Protestant village. I went out early in the afternoon and came in just before a heavy shower and stayed in the rest of the day.


[This is from her 1955 writings. It describes experiences
covered in her July 3 entry above.]

The next day being Dominion Day, was a holiday. There was a small hotel in the town where I boarded for the first few weeks. It had a saloon in connection with it. I spent most of the holiday in my room, scared stiff by the celebrations that were going on. Sometimes when it rained, I would pile my cloths on the bed, and put up my umbrella over them to keep the rain off them, and sometimes I used it to keep the rain off myself. They were a Galician family who kept the hotel. They had an organ which I enjoyed playing in my spare time.]

Yesterday afternoon I went to S[unday] School. There were ten children and no teachers or superintendent so I took charge of them. They were very easy to interest. I went to church in the evening. There were not many there but it was a good service. Mr. Bompas [Presbyterian missionary] and Lillian Lamont and I went for a walk afterwards.



School begins

Today was the first day of school. There were 11 children present. We had boards supported by boxes for desks . . . .

Tuesday, July 5, 1905. . . . After tea I went to a meeting of the Trustees to tell them what I needed for school. Today Reggie Lamont asked to get a drink of water and when he got to the door he went out and got his finger in a gopher trap. I hope that will cure him.

Wednesday, July 12, 1905. Last Saturday I did my washing. There is a nice little room in the barn with a stove to heat the water on and very convenience for washing. In the evening Mr. Bompas took me for a drive . . . .

Monday, July 31, 1905. Last Tuesday the Inspector arrived. He said I had the pupils classified properly. Last Wednesday I went to Round Lake. It is beautiful down there in the Qu’Appelle Valley. We had lunch by the shore of the lake. I skipped stones for half an hour, then we went to Mr. McKay’s. I hope to go down to see the Indian children in school.

Thursday, August 10, 1905. This has been a remarkable day. There was to have been a marriage in Church this morning at 9 A.M. Last evening I swept the church and polished the stove and got the children to clean up around the outside of the church and plant poplar trees at the door. This morning I went over early and the children carried house plants and got wild flowers and flags and we fixed up as nicely as we could. About 9:30 the bridal party arrived but no clergyman. Mr. McKay appeared about 11 A.M only to discover that they had no license. They had to go to Dubuc for it, so it was about 3 P.M. when the wedding took place. The bride thanked me several times for the trouble I had taken and I know she had appreciated my work . . . .

This evening I heard one of my pupils informing one of the men of the place that "there’s poison in that cigarette" . . . In one lesson the word ballad occurred, also the word damsel. I explained them as best I could, but one little girl got them mixed and when asked to write sentences she wrote "the ballad went for the cows." . . .


Dec. 4, 1905. On Thursday, Nov. 2, after school, the Rev. John Brown came into school and introduced himself to me. On that day I "met my fate", though I did not know it. The next Saturday he took me for a drive, and each Saturday since, we went out to Gale’s. The first time, I was to show him the way, and we went about 1 ˝ miles out of our way.

On Thursday, November 30, we became engaged. May God bless us, and help me to be a faithful wife. This is very much out of all my plans, but firmly believe it is in God’s plan for us both, and if so, it must be the very best thing for us. I love him more and more every day.

Jan. 23. I went home the Friday before Christmas . . . . Most of the children were at the Station at Stockholm to see me off . . . . Mrs. Stenberg gave me a nice box of handkerchiefs, and Tekla gave me a fancy box, Willie Person gave me a box of chocolates. Mr. Brown gave me a sable muff. He also gave me a stick pen on my birthday. He helped me pack my trunks and roped them . . . . For Christmas dinner we had prairie chickens that Mr. Brown shot near Stockholm and gave me to take home.

. . . . Mr. Brown was there to meet me. He took me to the hotel to dinner then drove me out here. I had only five pupils for a few days, but now have eleven . . . .

After Church we started for Haversons. It was a fine night, but the trail was drifted up, and before we found out where we were, we were back at Dubac. I slept with Miss. More at the Hotel . . . . Mr. Brown brought me out in the morning to school . . . .

Mr. Brown came for me the evening before and we went to Mrs. Burnie’s to tea, then we went to Grayson. I stayed all night at Burnie’s. Mrs. Burnie’s sister, Miss. Abel was there. Mr. Brown took us both for a drive the next afternoon. Then he and I went to Mrs. Bobier’s to tea . . . .

Mr. Brown was preaching in Broadview on both Sundays.


[end of diary]


We were married on July 4, 1906 . . . .






1955 Summary of Experiences

covering 1890 to 1907


1890 - 1898     . . . . Then to Souris, Vernon River Bridge and Alberton, staying three years at each place. That was the rule then, to move every three years. It was later increased to four years. We had housekeepers for about ten years. One of them, Miss Charlotte Stewart, was a real mother to us. She took care of Oliver during this long illness, and loved him as if he were her own. She died of cancer of the breast soon after she left us. When we move to Alberton and I was fifteen, Aunt Maggie came to live with us.

. . . . . to Prince of Wales College in 1898 . . . . I spent the next two years at Charlottetown . . . .

[This is the period in which she made entries in her diary.

Her diary covers this period, from 1900 to 1905.]

In 1900 we moved to Bathurst, N.B. where we lived for four years. The first year I stayed home as there was sickness in the family, and I had no certificate to teach . . . I did teach on a permit during November and December at Carroll’s Crossing, Northumberland Co. [county]

In the summer of 1901, my Aunt and I went to Britain . . . . That fall I went to the Provincial Normal School at Fredericton . . . . The next year I taught . . . a two roomed school a mile outside of Bathurst. It was a French district. The following year I went to the University of New Brunswick at Fredericton. My diploma from the Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown, counted two years on an Arts Course . . . . and graduated in 1905.

In the summer of 1904 we moved to Harcourt, N.B. and were not there long till my father decided to move to Western Canada . . . I held the scholarship for Gloucester Co. [county] . . . . It was worth $60.00, so that took care of the two years tuition. I wrote to Dr. Scott . . . I had been in his classes in Physics and Chemistry for a year. I stated my problem . . . . He replied, suggesting that we live with them . . . . we [she might be referring to Mabel and herself] did it between us, and both received room and board . . . . journey to the west.

We came out on a harvest excursion, leaving on June 14 . . . . My father was in Lumsden to meet us, and after a good hot dinner at a boarding house, we drove to the homestead. My father had built the house, with some help from the neighbors.

I arrived at Stockholm on June 30. The next day being Dominion Day, was a holiday. There was a small hotel in the town where I boarded for the first few weeks. It had a saloon in connection with it. I spent most of the holiday in my room, scared stiff by the celebrations that were going on. Sometimes when it rained, I would pile my cloths on the bed, and put up my umbrella over them to keep the rain off them, and sometimes I used it to keep the rain off myself. They were a Galician family who kept the hotel. They had an organ which I enjoyed playing in my pare time.

Semans, Main Street 95 kb
click to enlarge (95 kb)

This is Main Street, Semans,

From Violet's collection of post cards.


Queen Square 87 kb
click to enlarge (87 kb)

This is Queen Square, St. John, N.B.
From Violet's collection of post cards.
The writing at the top says:
"I hope this will be slightly more familiar to you
than the West. Yours lovingly Mrs. R. G. W."

The prairie reminded me of the ocean. There seemed to be always a strong wind blowing. I was wearing my winter coat in July part of the time, it was so cold . . . .

There was also a Bohemian settlement south of Esterhazy . . . . There was a school . . . . These people were invited to the Communion service at Esterhazy on Easter Sunday morning, and one of their countrymen came from Winnipeg to help with it. The Church was packed with people. It was one of the thrills of my life to play the organ, while half the congregation sang the old familiar hymns in English and the other half in Bohemian at the same time. That was my first Easter in the west, and one I shall never forget.

In October, 1905, a new minister, Rev. John Brown, came to Esterhazy . . . . We were married on July 4, 1906, at my home at Verna, by Rev. James Gilchrist, assisted by my father. We drove to Lumsden and took the train for Regina. That evening, we met a young man, George Fallis . . . where John had been . . . . and they had been great friends . . . . He conducted us all around Regina. Next day we went to Winnipeg where we spent a few days.


Violet and John's wedding 
photo - 37 kb
click to enlarge (37 kb)

Wedding Photo.

We arrived at Yellow Grass . . . . planned to move . . . to a place where an ordained married minister was needed . . . . Soon after we went to Yellow Grass we were invited to a meeting of the Ladies’ Aid at one of the finest country homes in the district. It seemed like the whole congregation was there.

After a lovely chicken supper, the ladies held a business meeting at which the President resigned, and I was elected President. I had hoped she would finish her year, but she would not hear of it. She never attended another meeting, evidently thinking she had enough . . . .


a group of ladies 35 kb
click to enlarge (35 kb)

This is probably a typical ladies group
on the prairie at that time.
This photo is from Violet's collection. It did not
have any information to help identify it.


We were having our regular meeting in the Church when a heavy rain storm came on suddenly. No one had come prepared for rain. I was wearing a pair of new shoes. It was a quiet corner where there was little traffic. I took one look at the mud, then removed my shoes and stockings, and walked across the street to the manse in my bare feet. Some of the ladies were quite shocked.

The plaster had started to fall off the ceiling of the church. There was a big bare spot at the back that was an eye sore to me, and plaster kept falling. I was wicked enough to wish that a little chunk would fall and hit some of the Managers on the head, not to hurt them, but just to wake them up, so they would have it fixed. In the fall, we decided to move to Alberta.




DETAILED ACCOUNT of Diary and Memoirs

To Part 1: full school diary (64 kb).

To Part 2: Saskatchewan teaching, marriage, and overall summary (21 kb).

To Part 3: moving to Alberta and their homesteading experiences (49 kb).


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Since January 10, 2001 .