Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Education of Agnes

Randy's maternal grandmother Agnes Coburn arrived in Canada from Maybole, Scotland at the age of 4 in 1907.  She grew up on a farm that her Uncle Bill rented just south and west of Crandall. Her family was recently written about in this post.  Agnes went to school in Crandall and she was found in the following pictures taken from the local history book written in 1971 called The Chronicles of Crandall

The bell on the tower in the first picture is part of the monument below to the school and pioneers in what is left of Crandall today.  The town was named for the Crandell family who homesteaded nearby but someone took liberty with the spelling of their name!

The grade 11 class of 1920 below seems to be decidedly female and each seems to be holding a gift, perhaps from the principal in the middle of the photo.  His name may be Willard Ervin Rife as found on the Manitoba Historical Society website here

She then attended the Portage La Prairie Normal School for 4 months from Nov 1920-Feb 1921.  I have not been able to find much about this school online but it seems it was held in Central School. (Picture from Manitoba Historical Society website)  She had an Aunt Bella (nee Coburn) and Uncle David Peden living in Portage so that's likely why she attended there. 
The following class picture includes 4 staff members, 3 males and 29 female teachers. The four month course prepared the candidates to finish the term as the green certificate below explains.  

The green certificate signed on March 21, 1921 above says:
This certifies that Agnes Coburn attended the Portage La Prairie Session of the Local Normal School commencing November 1920 and ending February 1921.  
1.That she received a satisfactory report on Conduct and Practical Teaching from the Principal.
2.  That she passed the Professional Examinations held at the close of the Session.
3.  That she having completed with all the required conditions is hereby licensed to teach until the thirtieth day of June 1921.  

Teacher certification records from Russell found records for me that confirm she taught at Jeffrey School (pictured below) near Willen in April of 1922 when the school inspector - W.R.B. said she was "Doing fair work".  Comments that September say "Methods somewhat original".  

On the 1921 Canadian Census, 18 year old Agnes Coburn was a lodger at the farm home of Thomas and Lavinia Caldwell at 22-13-28 in the RM of Archie with her occupation listed as teacher. Her future husband 18 year old Russell Cassel (pictured above with a horse) was listed a few miles away at 23-14-28 as an employee of farmer Alex Clayton Stewart and his wife Mabel Ann and family.

Agnes might have had to complete further studies or perhaps pass a school inspector's evaluation to receive the above Professional Third-Class Teacher's Certificate.  Department records show that in August 1923 she began teaching at Hesselwood School #913 just southeast of Oak Lake Beach.   Her file's comment at the end of that year dated May 9, 1924 says "Doing excellent work here.  Progress excellent."

It is hereby certified that Agnes Coburn has presented satisfactory evidence to the Advisory Board for the Province of Manitoba
1.  That she possesses a Grade XI Entrance to Normal Standing ("Diploma" crossed out)
2.  That she received the Professional Training required by the Regulations of the Board for a Third Class Certificate.
3.  That she is a person of good moral standard 
She is accordingly awarded this Professional Third Class Certificate which shall be valid as a license to teach until June 30, 1924 in any Public School District in Manitoba NOT receiving grants under the regulations governing Secondary Schools. 
(Crossed out - This Certificate is renewable for two years on the recommendation of the Inspector, providing the Reading Course Regulations have been complied with) 
Signed Andrew Moore registrar - Department of Education August 27, 1924.

This gorgeous photo of Agnes was in a cardboard frame that indicates it was taken at Weeks Studio in Brandon.  Education was obviously important to Agnes and to her family as well.  It was likely something that would have never been available to her in Scotland but one of the many benefits of making Canada her new home.  June 1924 seems to be the end of her formal teaching career but her next one as a wife, mother and grandmother was waiting for her.  

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