Monday, 12 September 2016

Back to School in 1945 - Rose Lea School

Until this summer, I assumed that Merle Cassell began and ended her teaching career with the Kinloss School as detailed in this previous blog post. After finding another teaching contract and her diary this summer, I was led to new discoveries about her life before (and after) she married Edwin Boulton.  

Permit teachers in Manitoba at that time often underwent a six week summer course after their Grade 12 year and were then "permitted" to teach for a year before going to Normal School for a year's training.  With the shortage of teachers everywhere but especially in the rural one room schoolhouses, there were no doubt exceptions to this rule.  Merle may have had intentions to complete Normal School but the distance and expense of schooling in Winnipeg would have surely been an obstacle.  Meeting and falling in love with Edwin while at Kinloss was probably a bigger one!   

The above letter dated August 24, 1945 from A.A. Macdonald from the Department of Education in Winnipeg says:
We are enclosing herewith contract forms in triplicate covering the engagement between yourself and the Rose Lea School Board, on a salary basis of Nine Hundred and Fifty Dollars per annum.  Kindly complete these forms and have the secretary and chairman of your board sign them.  The secretary will give you a copy after they are completed by the board.
We have asked Mrs. C.H. Sheane, secretary of Rose Lea School, to let you know the opening date of school.  However, if you wish to contact her in this respect her address is Willen, Manitoba.  
The contact indicates Merle is teaching on a Permit with Grade XII S.C. (Special Certificate?) It was signed by John Sheane as chair and Mrs. Alice Sheane as secretary.  Alice's husband, Charles Henry (Sonny), was the witness on the document.

Merle kept a diary for a few months during this time and her entry for Thursday, September 27, 1945 includes:
Found out convention on 4th and 5th.  That means a lot for Ed & I.  Bought fruit from Em for Wedding Cake.  Sure have community humming now.
That last phrase makes me chuckle!  I can just imagine the news spreading about the new teacher planning her wedding.  It seems that she would take the cream truck home to Elkhorn on the weekends and her Dad drove her back to Willen (where she would have been boarding with a local family) on Sunday nights. Max White was Edwin's cousin Ida's husband and a teacher as well so that may be the Max mentioned below. 

Thursday October 4 - 
Max and I went to Virden on train to convention 11:15 to 12:30.  Met Edwin at noon and had dinner together...

(Merle and Edwin were married Saturday, October 6th in Virden.  They spent a few days in Brandon afterward and visited relatives and celebrated.  Details from those pages of her diary will be material for a future blog post!) 

Monday October 15 - 

Ed brought me out to Willen.  Both of us felt darn blue. Handed in my resignation.  They didn't like it any too well...
The next two weeks must have passed slowly for the young couple and I have to admire her for sticking with her commitment to teach at Rose Lea until a replacement could be found. 

Tuesday October 30 - 

Miss Longmuir came...  
Wednesday October 31 - 
Through school for good.  Ed & Dad came about 6 o'clock...  

Randy and I took a drive north of Elkhorn and east of McAuley this summer and found the site of the former Rose Lea School and a few miles south, the former townsite of Willen. It is also just north of Jeffrey School where Merle's mother Agnes Coburn taught from 1920-1922 where she would have met Russell Cassell. Maybe Randy was destined to marry a teacher too - one who loves digging up family history...

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