Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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The first register available would indicate that Norman S.D. No. 484, was formed in 1887. The school was established on one acre of land on S.E.

27-12-17, which was donated by Mr. Henderson for this purpose. It is believed that Mr. A. Johnston was the first teacher, and a total of 90 days were marked for the first term. Twenty-eight names were recorded in the register from May 26 to September.

Mr. A W. Churchill who was one of the earliest pupils and to whom I am indebted for much of this information, told me that classes were held during the summer months, and discontinued for the winter. Many pupils came long distances so at that time it seemed practical that the three R''s be taught only during the warmer months. Not all pupils attended classes regularly. An interesting observa· tion from the first register shows that Thos. Carswell, age 21, and Bella Henderson, age 19, were the oldest pupils. The remaining pupils were from five to 15 years of age, with the exception of little Hattie Geddes who was the tender age of four.

The earliest register had the pioneer names of: Henderson, Curie, Wannop, Jardine, Payne, Brandon, Churchill, Lamb, Clegg, McLean, L~)Ve, Nichol, Mitchell, McNeil, Smith, Brandt, Thistlewaite, Gray, Ford, Allen, Hoey, Swallow, Walker, Fergusson, Dunlop, Ames and Hunter. A short time later the names Seaberry, Dunseith and Gillespie appear.

Miss Anne Sutherland, who taught in 1889, gives the first record of wage received. It was the fabulous sum of $35 per month. Others who taught at the old Norman School, to name a few were: Miss Walton, Miss White, Mr. Tingley, Miss Hayward, Miss Rogers and Miss I. Armstrong. Teachers had from two and one half to four months of teacher training.

The first known secretary was Mr. Richard Brandon. Names of the first trustees were: Messrs.

Wannop, Clegg, McLean, Hoey, Churchill, and Amor.

During the first years of school there was no playground. (An additional acre was bought some time later for this purpose). The children played across the road from the school. Slates and pencils were the classroom equipment. A box stove heated the school room when classes were extended to colder weather. The older boys cut the wood, and one of them lit the fire in the cold weather for 5<):a day. Water was obtained from the Henderson property.

In the early 1900''s, winter became the time for school and study. It was here where the picnics, church, and Christmas concerts were held. As early as 1900, a flag was purchased and flown. At this time there were very few trees in the district due to prairie fires. Fire guards were plowed around the buildings. There was also a great deal of foggy weather, and parents worried about the children getting lost on their way to and from school because there were no fences or roads as we have now. Mr.

Daniel Jardine plowed a furrow from his place to the school, a distance of about two and one quarter miles across country, for his children to follow.

The teachers boarded at homes in the district, and came to school by sleigh, cutter, buggy or wagon. One teacher came four miles on horse back.

Mr. Fletcher was the first inspector mentioned, and he came from Brandon by horse and buggy.

Later came Mr. Hatcher. Inspectors were feared by teachers and pupils alike.

In 1926 the need for a new school became apparent, and two school board members, Mr. Cliff Hoey and Mr. AW. Churchill, made the motion that a new school be built. The sum of $4500 was borrowed from Mr. Fred Brandt and the new building was opened for classes at the beginning of January term 1927. The first teacher was Miss Gladys Hamilton. The new school was quite modern with full basement, furnace, and indoor sanitation.

Electricity was installed later.

Small enrolment at one time threatened the continuation of the school, but more children came and the school carried on until 1963. The last teacher was Mrs. Kirk Gillespie.

Teachers in the new Norman School were: G.

Hamilton, A. Loney, M. Wiles, J. Gunn, O.

Delbridge, S. Hoey, J. Casselman, I. Northcott, M.

Clark, C. Willmott, M. Wilson, A Dunlop, D.

Douglas, O. Sigfusson, P. Muirhead, M. Gillespie, E. Spears, Mrs. R. Jardine, Mrs. A Pickford, Martha Loewen, Miss Zink, Mae Chudley, Mrs.

Tedlie, Mrs. Outhwaite, and Mrs. K. Gillespie.

The trustee serving the longest term was Mr.

A W. Churchill. The secretary serving the longest was Mr. Fred Brandt.

Teachers had grades from one to eight; in 1926 grade nine was added.

After its closing in 1963, Norman School was used for a community centre for several years. It was finally torn down in 1985. On the site there is now a mobile home, the residence of the minister of the Justice Mennonite Brethren Church.

During the summer of 1985 a cairn to mark the existence of Norman School was built north of the school location on the same site as the Creeford Church cairn, the northeast corner of 27·12·17.

The cairn is to be topped with a replica of Norman School. It is being made by Cassan Monumental Co. The cairn is to be dedicated July 6, 1986 at 2:00 p.m.


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