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The White School History

Water Works Wonders
A History of the White, Wilson, McMahon,
River Junction School Districts
Pages 137 - 167

At the turn of the century, when Alberta was still a part of the North West Territories, the White School District #678 was organized. First of its kind in the Lethbridge district, White School was named after the Baptist minister, the Reverend G. J. Coulter White. The Rev. Mr. White, a Maritimer, with his maritime love for education and his enthusiasm, gave the people of this locality a quick spring to education. In the fulfilling of his desires he was ably assisted by his fellow board members, Reuben Tiffin and A. E. Keffer. This board was responsible for purchasing and financing the school site, building and equipping the schoolhouse, hiring teachers, sending out tax notices and collecting school taxes.

White School, located immediately north and a little west of the present McNally School, is now used as a dwelling. For many years it served the District in which it stands, a district that was bounded on the north by McLean School, on the east by Wilson School, on the south by the Community School, and on the west by the River Junction School.

The school was officially opened in 1902 on its original site, one half mile west of its present site. It was dedicated as a church and church services were held regularly, so for years, dancing was taboo. The school was equipped with a cistern, a pot belly stove, slates, blackboards, chalk and blackboard erasers, yardstick, pointer and strap. The prescribed readers were "The Ontario Reader" (Apples, apples, Big red apples) and "The Alexander Reader".

Janitorial duties were handled by George and Tom Hadlington through the years that White School was open. In the beginning Geroge and Tom shared the work in the winter, with help from the teacher in the spring and fall. Later the care of the school was in the hands of Tom, with help from Mrs. Tom.

Among the first pupils were members of the White, Childs, Furnald, and Fernel Families; Mel Tiffin, Barney Gwatkin; Jack, Nell, Lill, and Charles Parry with Mr. W. L. Hudson as their teacher. James McCaig, M.a., L.L.B., was the first inspector.

Because of the growing population, the school needed to be expanded. New grounds were purchased (15 rods from the nw. corner of N.E. 1/4-12--8-21-4). The White School was moved and a second room was added in 1927. The old grounds were sold to James Thompson Atkinson in 1928. The first staff of the new school were: Miss Jennie Harper and Mr. Simcoe, principal. Generous and capable members of the local school board were: Mr. George Hadlington, Secretary-treasurer from 1924 to 1937; Mrs. C. B. Andrews, Mr. Oxland, Mrs. Marshall and Mr. Tiffin.

In 1940 further centralization brought the Patterson School from the Stirling-Wrentham area. Moved on a rainy day, it was dubbed the 'Mud Hut' from the muddy roads when it was moved.

The Patterson School #4129 operated from 1926-1936. It was built in 1926 on the N.E. corner of the south half 8-7-18-4 near the L.J. Patterson farms from whom the school got its name.

Principal of the three-room school was Mr. L.K. MacKenzie. It was under the principalship of Leonard MacKenzie that the Students' Union was organized. The following year the church was moved to the corner of the school grounds and put into classroom use on weekdays. In the fall of 1941, senior students from McLean and River Junction were being vanned to White School by Lou Bishop and bob Kane. By 1943 White School and the two adjoining classrooms had been filled to overflowing by a student population of approximately 120 pupils. The following year the basement of the school was converted to a classroom. With increasing numbers of students and the need for more space, the McMahon school was moved in on the corner opposite White School to be used as a classroom and later to become the center teacherage. Louis Banack, by this time, had taken over the van routes. In the fall of 1946 the high school students and teachers were transferred to the McLean School while all the elementary classes were held at White. In the fall of 1947 all classes were held in the newly completed McNally School.

A further addition of a shop area was built by the students. The shop area continued in use after classes had transferred to McNally until such time as students were bussed to Coaldale.

Though school bells no longer ring at the old White school, it still stands as a reminder of the value placed on education by the people of the district.

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Copyright © 2000 Mary Tollestrup