Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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DOUGLAS AIKENHEAD

I came to Brookdale High School in mid- August, 1928. My sister, Marion, had been a substitute teacher for me for a week while Ifinished lectures at the University of Chicago. I soon discovered that the community and the school board were enthusiastic supporters of the school, and any plans made by the students. Though money was scarce, the school board believed that the students needed proper equipment to play sports safely, and they provided the school with bats, balls, mitts and body pads for the ball games.

Gordon Greenwood, Wes Switzer and Bob Mikkelson would come over to my place after school hours to read the sports section of the Manitoba Free Press. As winter approached they wished that they could have a rink so that they could play hockey. We sent to Toronto for the measurements of their ice and approached the chairman of the school board who was very enthusiastic. The community raised money, the lumber yard sold us the wood for the sides of the rink at a reduced price, several farmers brought in their teams to level the dirt and the sides were built.

The rink was flooded and another farmer hauled in an unused granary for a change house, and a round steel heater was donated and installed. At all the work sessions the mothers were busy providing refreshments and encouragement.

The rink was built on the school grounds and lunches were either gulped, eaten while changing to skates, or while skating. The few who could skate were everywhere teaching others. On Saturdays a number of adults came with the children. After school the hockey team practised. One of the fathers painted a circle four feet in diameter on a large sheet of wood. A smaller circle was painted within the large one, then an innermost circle one inch larger than a puck. Gordon Greenwood was a superb shot. On his first shot he hit the smallest circle. An Irish lad, Joe McWilliams, who was intensely interested, said, "That was just luck." Gord smiled and replied, "Watch." This shot made a hole through the same spot! There was much rivalry between Brookdale and Oberon Schools. They, not to be outdone, built a smaller, covered rink, with a narrow alley for spectators, and had a hockey team too. One Friday night, Lou Mikkelson got out his horse-drawn van on sleighs and packed into it the Brookdale hockey team and some boys and girlswho were enthusiastic supporters, and drove to Oberon for a hockey game. The Oberon rink was jammed! The ~rook~ale team played the three 20-minute penods, Just keeping one goal ahead, with perfect team work..

There was a three-foot high centre heater In Lou''s van with a chimney through the canvas roof, and Lou had kept the heater going during the game.

Allthe folk from Brookdale climbed in, and away we 183 set offfor home. The narrow winter trail had a weak spot and the van lurched, but the wise horses stopped immediately. Now we needed a scoop shovel. Luckily there was a farm house about one quarter of a mile away. Gord. and Iwalked over and knocked a few times with no response. Then we tapped on a darkened window. Finally the farmer opened the door and poured out some profane oaths at having been awakened, and was sure that he would never see his shovel again if he did lend it. I explained that Iwould leave $10 with him and return the shovel as soon as possible. With more profanity he threw out the shovel and, "Keep your so and so $10!" Back at the sleigh, Gord. packed the snow firmly and returned the shovel to the farmer''s door.

Getting back into Lou''s van, the boys and girls asked, "What did he say?" I replied, "He said that he knew Lou well, had a high opinion of Brookdale''s hockey team and wished everyone well." This was too much for Gordon. He laughed all the way home.

I left Brookdale in 1930 to teach in Alberta and have lived here ever since, as a teacher, school superintendent, and finally a professor at the University of Calgary, retiring in 1969. I married a Calgary girl in 1938 and we have two sons, one a lawyer in Vancouver, the other a professor in the University of Saskatoon. Our daughter, who was also a teacher, died in 1968.

Gordon Greenwood and Ihave remained close friends during the years and often reminisce about our days in Brookdale, the enthusiastic, friendly community and the great times that we had.

Brookdale has reason to be proud of the athletic endeavors of her young people. Recently a young person helped to keep Brookdale on the map when she was part of a relay team that won provincial honors in 1982.

Lee Anne older daughter of Gerald and Shirley Chudley had participated in sports while attending elementary school in Brookdale. She competed in the Track and Field events during her high school years in Neepawa, and in grade nine, Lee Anne broke a track record in the 200 meters in 1981. In grade 10 Lee Anne joined Karen Evans, Carol Blahitka and Michelle Angers to make a 4 x 100 junior relay team. This team came first in the Zone 7 meet, then they went on to win the Provincial B competition (an event for rural schools only), setting a record of 52.1 seconds. The next weekend they went back to Winnipeg to compete in the Provincial A Track and Field where they proved to be the best in Manitoba! Lee Anne still enjoys sports and looks forward to playing ball in Brookdale''s annual ball tournament and in neighboring tournaments held throughout the summer.

* * * Fred North and Oscar Swanson brought honors home when they won the billiards tournament held in Brandon for the Westman Winter Games for Seniors, March 1981.

 

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