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Page Index of Forest to Field Volume One

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sections from Tales and additional territory from the Soldier's Settlement in what had been the forest reserve. Here the matter rested until about ten years later when meetings were again held petitioning for land for the Otter Lake and Onanole Districts. The boundaries of Tales changed from time to time. About 1920, section seven was transferred to Erickson. Four sections were added across the top, one from T. 18, R. 19, and three from T. 18, R. 18. In July of 1935, a by-law detached sections nine, ten, fifteen and S.E. 16 for formation of Otter Lake S.D. In December 1935, under the Public Schools Act, sections thirty-six of Harrison and the west half of thirty-one in Clanwilliam were transferred to the new school district of Onanole. In 1961 the S. W. 1/4 of thirty-one went back to Tales and in 1962 section 12-18- 19 became part of the Erickson district. All these tran­ sactions never did do much for the children in the nor­ thwest part of the district. It was dissolved by an award of arbitrators, dated October 15, 1964, and all its lands transferred to the Consolidated School District of Erickson, No. 2405, effective January 1, 1965. The last teacher was Leona Mackedenski, 1962-1963, and there was an enrollment of ten pupils.

Although fifty-one teachers served the school, very few remaining more than one year. The one exception was Leonard Neva who carne for the opening of the fall term in 1927 and remained for fourteen years. However, all teachers whether their stay was brief or otherwise, leave their imprint on the lives of their pupils. The first decades very few children passed beyond the Grade 8 level, many leaving school earlier, as help was so often needed at horne. Going to the Erickson High School to write those formidable "entrance exams", a requirement for a Grade 8 certificate, was anticipated with both dread and as a first goal to be achieved. No doubt the teacher's ability was also judged by how many pupils successfully finished Grade 8. Those last weeks prior to the exams were filled with extra classes and assignments, all of which the younger children watched with awe. In the summer of 1930 the annual meeting decided to include Grade 9 in the school. This introduced high school to many pupils who would otherwise have dropped out. Gradually Grade 12 became the ultimate goal, Grade 8 today being only a beginning.

Tales School was not the entertainment centre of the district as were so many schools in the early days as much of the social life was within the church three-quarters of a mile away. Christmas concerts, however, were the highlight of the year. One can't really describe the ex­ citement and thrill of those concerts. From the day the teacher first brought out dialogue and program books to the final last day of practising, decorating and per­ forming, there was an element of excitement which even the "Christmas exams" couldn't dull. Only in the shining eyes and memory of a child is there a fit description. The Tales Santa Claus didn't wear a full red suit, at least not in the earlier years. He appeared in a farmer's fur coat, but the red hat, the face and the snowy white hair and beard were genuine - from Eaton's Catalogue. No one cared, Santa had arrived and those parcels and treats under the tree were soon in the hands of eager children.

In rural schools older children watched over the

younger ones, helped with scarves and buttons, and taught them the codes of the day. Clothing designers may think they introduced the "layered look" in the early 70's, but they are mistaken as any child who braved Manitoba's winters can tell you. From long underwear, fleece-lined bloomers, underwaists, petticoats, dresses or skirts, and sweaters, and at least two pairs of long woollen stockings - these were for girls. Shirts or pullovers and two pairs of pants of which at least one was bib overalls were outer covering for boys. Mocassins with felt insoles and extra socks were the favourite footwear, and that was for indoors. In a room where the ink froze overnight, one didn't get too warm by day. Then when starting for horne, a sweater, coat, toque, scarf and two pairs of mitts were added. Boys wore mackinaw coats with turn-up collars, and peaked fabric caps with fur­ lined ear laps. No self-respecting bigger boy was ever sissy enough to wear a scarf. Of course, when the tem­ perature plummeted to 40 degrees below only the children living near the school attended, but the teacher was there every day. To be the first to start shedding this clothing in the spring was a distinction respected by all. When they could finally go barefooted the release from this winter coccoon was tremendous. In autumn when rich ripe chokecherries hung in clusters along the roads the children arrived horne puckered and brown from gorging on them. One of the fallacies at Tales School was that drinking milk after eating chokecherries was poison. How could a hungry farm child not drink his milk for supper? Of course they did, and nothing happened.

The Tales schoolyard was one of the more attractive in the province because in 1898, the teacher, Maxwell Wallace, had his pupils plant evergreens around most of the yard. Nearly forty years later he and his wife visited the school as he wanted to see how the trees were doing. He was well pleased with their appearance. Mr. Wallace had gone on to graduate from the Manitoba Medical College. The large double tree that grew in the southeast corner was planted by the late Mrs. G.P. Stone (Jane Tales). By a strange coincidence, the year of Mrs. Stone's death a wind storm broke the tree and destroyed one section. Fred Wetteland had planted the majestic tree to the left side of the school gate. Those once stately trees show their age now, just as the teachers and pupils do. During Leonard Neva's earlier teaching years an attempt was made to finish the border of trees around the west end of the yard. The hot dry summers of that period apparently fouled up that effort. How grateful suc­ ceeding generations have been for those trees! Many a group of little girls played house under the sheltering branches while elsewhere boys played "cops and rob­ bers". There was no shortage of hiding places for the active game of "Hide and Seek". Of course, the big boys had a wonderful opportunity to show their daring by climbing to the uppermost branches. For the favourite summer sport of baseball however the yard was too small and the "big kids" spilled over into the pasture beside the yard. The Tales ball team was a worthy foe at district Field Days and many of Erickson's best ball players carne from there. In 1934 Tales School won the Strathcona Trust trophy for the annual inter-school competition at that Field Day.