Prissy rules for school marms  

Shalts and shalt-nots in 1915:

Drawing of school teacher, seated
Drawing by Ruth Millar

They mustn’t marry during the term of their contracts.

They had to be home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. except if they were attending school-related functions.

They must not “keep company” with men.

They mustn’t loiter at the ice cream parlours downtown.

They needed permission from the school board chairman to go beyond city limits.

They couldn’t ride in a carriage or auto with any man except their fathers or brothers.

They couldn’t smoke anything, or chew snuff.

They couldn’t dress in bright colours.

They must not dye their hair.

They had to wear at least two petticoats.

Dresses couldn’t be shorter than two inches above the ankle.

They had to build a fire at 7 a.m., sweep the floor daily, scour it weekly, and clean blackboards every day.


School daze

Life in a typical one-room school in the 1940s

Former students in schools in the Hepburn area reported peculiar hassles

The furnace spewed out smoke but little heat, because the chimney assembly was flawed.

With no electricity in the schools and teacherage, kerosene lamps provided meagre light on dark, dreary winter days.

Candle-lit Christmas trees were always perilous. The clothes of one careless Santa Claus were set aflame as he hovered near the tree handing out presents.

Once the stage collapsed with all the class assembled on it. Luckily, there were no casualties.

A horrid odour was traced to a sewage leak.

A fire escape in the shape of a metal cylinder offered engaging playtime possibilities, predating by decades waterslides in modern swimming pools.

A pond sprang up in a corner of a schoolyard during the spring thaw, leading to “disastrous rafting expeditions.” One teacher’s Model T got stuck in the pond.

Speaking German was verboten for Mennonite children. The penalty was to be kept after school and write “I will speak English only” two hundred times on the blackboard.

And of course, outhouses were a favourite target for Halloween pranksters.

High school then and now

Things baby boomers who graduated from high school in the late 1960s might notice in public high schools today:

Students now use lap tops, multiple-app iPads and smart phones in place of the ball-point pens, ring binders and pocket calculators used in the 1960s, while teachers nowadays mostly use whiteboards, felt markers, and online instructional videos, instead of blackboards-plus-chalk and 16 mm. film and overhead projectors then used as instructional aids.

Digital data processing has replaced manual arranging and typing of reports, while clear, readable handouts and assignments–reproduced on photocopiers—have, thankfully, replaced the faded purple ones commonly run off on messy spirit duplicators.

Individual and group projects have replaced class lectures and teacher-led discussions as the main ways to learn, while continuous evaluation by teachers has largely replaced final standard exams as the chief way to assess student progress.

Printed sources and the internet have generally replaced prescribed text books and cumbersome encyclopedias as go-to resources, while some high schools have since specialized in areas such as fine arts, applied sciences or a particular sport, for which extra materials, facilities and instruction are provided.

The curriculum now emphasizes First Nations culture and issues, recognizing a need to provide more EAL (English as an Additional Language) classes for recent immigrant children—rather than to offer more French (as a second language) classes.

Required courses now focus on moulding responsible world citizens and stewards of the environment, and shaping students into productive, contributing Canadians.

No-no’s such as passing notes and chewing gum have been eclipsed by bans on cell phones and texting in class, while issues such as baseball caps in class have superseded rules forbidding long Beatle haircuts or shirts without collars.

More serious concerns now are the escalating use of street drugs and on-line bullying by students, as opposed to smoking and crude language on the school grounds. 

The internet and photocopiers have now – unfortunately – led to more cases of plagiarism and of teachers violating copyright laws, than in the old days.

Questions on accommodating gender diversity (i.e. by providing gender-neutral washrooms) have now largely replaced ticklish ones such as whether sex education was a public school responsibility.

If upheld, a recent court decision to disallow proportional government funding for non-Catholic students transferring to Catholic separate schools will significantly affect future public and separate school systems.

Sis-boom-ba!

Largest high schools in Saskatchewan

(Ranking based on 2018-19 SHSAA enrolment projections)

1. Campbell Collegiate, Regina                                   

2. Carlton Comprehensive, Prince Albert                

3. Holy Cross High School, Saskatoon                       

4. Walter Murray Collegiate, Saskatoon                

5. St. Mary High School, Prince Albert                   

6. Bethlehem High School, Saskatoon

7. St. Joseph High School, Saskatoon                         

8. Swift Current Comprehensive, Swift Current    

9. Aden Bowman Collegiate, Saskatoon    

10. Miller Comprehensive, Regina                            

11.Archbishop M. C. O’Neil, Regina 

12. Tommy Douglas Collegiate, Saskatoon

13. Winston Knoll Collegiate, Regina

14. Evan Hardy Collegiate, Saskatoon

15. Dr. M. LeBoldus High School, Regina

16. North Battleford Comprehensive, North Battleford

17. Yorkton Regional

18. Thom Collegiate, Regina      

19. Weyburn Comprehensive

20. Martin Collegiate, Regina

21. Holy Rosary High School Comprehensive, Lloydminster

Outstanding teachers

Recipients of the annual Arbos Award for Contributions to Education and the Teaching Profession, the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation’s highest honours.

[There were no 2007 or 2018 nominees]

2000 Eileen Hartman (Leader).               2010 Ken Marland (Saskatoon).

2001 Joanne Schnurr (Grenfell).             2011 Phyllis Fowler (Saskatoon).

2002 Elaine Hanson (Outlook)                2012 Joyce Hoffman (Waldeck

2003 Sharon Armstrong (Wynyard.)      2013 Darren Cannell (Saskatoon).

2004 Shirley Dyck (Neville).                    2014 Jack Seel (Saskatoon).     

2005 Earle Robertson (Saskatoon).        2015 Starla Grebinski (Regina).

2006 Al Kessler (Assiniboia).                   2016 Charlene Rudderham, Regina  

2008 Joyce Vandall (Regina).                   2017 Joan Hill (Lloydminster).

2009 Norm Stonehouse (Saskatoon)

Colleges and universities

Universities – scientific and educational dynamos

Head receiving ideas - illustration by Ruth Millar for saskpotpourri.com
Illustration by Ruth Millar

Our universities are a sparkplug for educational, cultural, scientific and even social activity. They host musical concerts and theatre, art exhibitions, open houses, conventions and international conferences, and rousing talks by guest lecturers.  Many of these events are open to all.

University libraries are treasure troves, and even those who are not grads have access to their resources through inter-library loan. Historically the U of S promoted adult education and lifelong learning through its Extension Division, now defunct.

Universities create an atmosphere of cultural and intellectual ferment. We have three of them: The University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the University of Regina, and the First Nations University based in Regina.

Nowadays Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning offers a vast smorgasbord of inexpensive courses – sans exams, sans term papers, sans theses. The instructors tend to be professors and grad students who revel in the enthusiasm of senior students. Some of the grey-haired SSCL “students” are profs themselves, some are just plain folks who never had the luxury of a university education.

Other forms of post-secondary education are more geographically accessible (see below).

Some U of S alumni statistics (2016)

150,000 alumni around the world

111,413 live in Canada

3,192 live in the U.S.

2,528 live in other countries

40 percent of university grads living in Saskatchewan are U of S alumni

69 USask students, faculty and students died in W.W. I

The College of Arts and Science has the most alumni of all colleges on campus

[Green &White fall 2016]

Milestones

University of Saskatchewan

1907: Enabling act to establish the university was passed by the provincial government April 3.

1909: First classes in Arts and Science began with seventy students September 28, on the top floor of Drinkle Building No. 1 in downtown Saskatoon.

Education building at U of S campus
Education building at U of S campus. Photo by Ruth Millar.

1910: Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier laid the cornerstone for the College of Agriculture Building, launching construction on the new campus. It was later named the Administration Building. Today an enormous glass building on campus houses the College of Agriculture.

1910 on: Architects Vallance and Brown of Montreal designed the campus proper, and the first buildings on it.

1912 on: Other early faculties in the teen years were agriculture in 1912, engineering 1912, law 1913, pharmacy 1914, and commerce 1917.

1920: The university newspaper, the Sheaf, began to publish weekly.

1925: The Engineering Building was razed by fire.

1928: The Memorial Gates were dedicated to the sixty-nine faculty and students who perished in World War I (of 345 who served in that war.)

1934: Regina College became part of the university as a junior college.

1935: Henry Taube, the only U of S graduate to receive a Nobel laureate (1987) received his B. Sc., and two years later his M. Sc. He was rubbing shoulders with greatness: his thesis advisor was John Spinks and he studied with guest professor Gerhard Herzberg, who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in chemistry. 

1936: St. Thomas More College took shape, providing arts classes to Roman Catholic students. 

1932: The Broadway Bridge opened in Saskatoon, the brainchild of engineering dean C.J. Mackenzie, later president of the National Research Council, and the first president of Atomic Energy of Canada in Ottawa.

1939-45: 2,500 U of S students enlisted in World War II; 202 of them died in the war.

1952: The university conferred its first PhD degree.

1955: Tommy Douglas laid the cornerstone for the new University Hospital (later renamed the Royal University Hospital).

1963: The Western College of Veterinary Medicine was launched.

1964: In early years teachers were trained at “normal schools”; in 1927 the College of Education was formed; in 1964 the two teachers’ colleges shifted to the university campuses in Saskatoon and Regina.

1968: Classes began at the new College of Dentistry.

1970: The new Education Building officially opened, featuring a swimming pool, library, gym and two 100-seat classrooms.

1990, 1996, 1998: The Huskie football team won three national Vanier Cup championships.

1991: The imposing new glass-faced College of Agriculture Building opened. It took three years to build.

2016: The Gordon Oakes Red Bear Centre for Indigenous students, designed by Douglas Cardinal, opened on campus. 

[Spinks, 214-18 citing university calendar of 1974; issues of the Green & White]

Milestones

University of Regina

1911: Regina College was founded by the Methodist Church, with just twenty-seven students.

1925: Regina College became a “junior college” when it affiliated with the U of S, and offered arts and science courses.

1931: The College was “disaffiliated” from church auspices to those of the U of S.

1961: Regina College became University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus with full degree-granting status.

1963: Sod was turned for the first buildings at Wascana Centre.

1964: Campion College became a federated arts college of the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus. Originally formed in 1917 as Regina’s Catholic college, it offered undergraduate arts courses in arts, sciences and fine arts.

1968: Luther College, affiliated with the Lutheran Church, federated with the U of S, Regina Campus. Construction on a new building began that year.

1973: A Royal Commission under Justice Emmett Hall studied the possibility of splitting the U of S and its Regina campus into two separate entities.   

1974: University of Regina was formed as an independent university. It included faculties of arts, sciences, engineering, social work, administration, journalism, graduate studies, human justice, and others.

1976:  Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (SIFC) was born, independent although its standards had to meet those of the university. Later renamed, it is the only “Indian-controlled academic institution in Canada.”

2003: SIFC became the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC). Though it is independent, it functions as a federated college.

Some firsts at our universities

The University of Saskatchewan started with the College of Agriculture, the first university in Canada to do so.

Ellis Hall, near the Royal University Hospital, was the first building on campus named after a woman.

The Drama Department, with Emrys Jones at the helm, was launched at the U of S, the first in Canada to grant degrees in drama.

The U of S appointed Canada’s first full-time cancer physicist, Harold Johns in 1945.

The first Betatron in Canada was installed, in 1948.

Royal University Hospital at the U of S was Canada’s first teaching hospital to offer a psychiatric ward for psychotics, where patients were not restrained.

The first Aboriginal person to graduate from the U of S law school was probably William Wuttunee.

The Native Law centre, opened at U of S in 1976, was the first in the country.

The first Doukhobor to graduate in law was Peter G. Makaroff, QC.

The first native woman to graduate from the U of S is said to be Annie Maude (Nan) McKay, in 1915.

Dr. Lillian Dyck, academic and senator. Photo from University of Saskatchewan Archives.

U of S alumna Lillian Dyck was the first Chinese-First Nations woman to be appointed to the Canadian Senate.  

Provincial Archives Saskatoon office was the first one located on a university campus. As of December 2018, it was relocated to Regina, much to the chagrin of researchers.

The University of Saskatchewan was the first of fifteen research universities to be awarded two Canada First Research Excellent Funds (CFREFs). Based on the number of research chairs, the U of S is one of the UI5 Group of Canadian Research Universities, the fifteen most research-intensive universities in Canada.

The Canadian Light Source Synchrotron on the U of S campus in 2004 was Canada’s first and only. It was called the “largest science project ever undertaken in Canada,” and is still a mecca for researchers.

[Houston; https:library.usask.ca/archives/campus-history ….;www.narcity.ca/sk]

Other paths to learning  

Post-secondary institutions

Other educational institutions teach a wide spectrum of courses in the trades, adult basic education, and even university level:

Federated college programs are integrated with those of our two universities but the colleges are legally and financially independent. They include Campion (U of R), Luther (U of R), St. Thomas More (U of S), and First Nations University of Canada (FNUC or FNUniv) (U of R).

Affiliated colleges are connected to universities but their academic menus differ: St. Peter’s College, Muenster; Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport; College of Emmanuel & St. Chad, Saskatoon; Horizon College & Seminary, Saskatoon; Lutheran Theological Seminary, Saskatoon; St. Andrew’s College (Saskatoon).

“Regional colleges” are scattered around the province. The 2011 Regional College Review lists seven of them in Saskatchewan: Carlton Trail, Northland, Great Plains, Cumberland, Parkland, Northwest and Southeast — plus an agreement for Saskies in the Lloydminster area to attend Lakeland Regional College in Alberta.

Indigenous education colleges other than FNUC (formerly Saskatchewan Indian Federated College) include: Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, Gabriel Dumont Institute Training & Employment Inc.

Saskatchewan Polytech has campuses at Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon, plus distance education programs. It has historically been called by several acronyms such as SIAST and KIAST.

Career colleges (private vocational training programs) train students for jobs in a rainbow of fields: business, broadcasting, massage therapy, spas, theatre, recording arts, animal grooming, fashion, and some generalized ones. Two time-tested ones are Saskatoon Business College, and the RCMP Training Academy.