17 March 1987
Dear Principal and Staff, Maple Green School:
On a recent weekend, my husband and I had the pleasure of walking around the Maple Green Schoolyard. Since I have been an elementary school teacher who received my entire public school education in Surrey, and my husband is currently an elementary school principal, we were both interested in taking a look at the school, and were favourably impressed by the setting and the exterior appearance. However, for myself, the visit held a much deeper meaning, which I feel compelled to share with you.
Since my birth in 1950, until I left home for my first teaching assignment in Terrace in 1971, my home address was 14881 – 84th Avenue, Surrey. My parents, John and Katherine Edwards, in 1949 had purchased the almost seven acres on which Maple Green School now stands, and lived on that land until December 1980. My father had worked for the CNR from 1940 until 1982, at which time the sale of the land allowed him an early retirement. They are currently residing in Langley.
As I walked on the familiar piece of land, there were no tangible remnants of the little white house in which our family of four had lived. I could see no signs of the pump-house and the well which kept us in suspense each summer, threatening to go dry, or the "stump house" which we children built after dragging the scraps of lumber from Scotty's Lumber around the corner on 148th Street. The vegetable and flower gardens were gone, as well as the thick, dark forest that covered most of the property and that had always seemed so vast and mysterious in the mind of a child.
However, even though the place had changed radically, there was something very special which remained intact, totally untouched by the modern development, and it is that which prompts me to write.
In 1956, as a grade one student at Fleetwood Elementary School in Miss Unger's class, I was given a seedling as part of a special forestry program. All grade ones were apparently presented with such seedlings and were asked to take them home, to plant and to nurture them, and to watch them grow. Severe weather, neglect, and poor location were to take their toll on many seedlings, but not on mine! As you may have guessed by now, the magnificent Douglas Fir in the front yard of your school is my little seedling! After having done our share of nurturing, and watching it grow, our family is thrilled that, thirty years later, the tree majestically stands in a school yard where other children may continue to watch it grow.
On the left is the fir tree, on the right is the oak and the walnut at Maple Green
Two other trees which remain, the oak and the walnut, also delight us in their survival. Any passerby might think the property has changed beyond recognition, but for the Edwards family we can quite easily envision the old homestead by using the trees as landmarks.
It is unlikely that the person responsible for the decision to allow "my" Douglas Fir to remain will read this letter. However, in the unlikely event, I would like to extend my gratitude to anyone involved in that decision. We plan to bring our children along to Maple Green next time, so they too can see "Mommy's tree." I must say I will be in total agreement with my seven year old son, if after hearing the tale of the little seedling he responds with his favourite expression "Awesome!"
Yours truly, E.I. (Initials seem clear, but names are too faded to read).
My first recollection of Surrey Centre School was our one and a quarter mile walk from the farm on Bose Road, up Coast Meridian Road, and then onto the Old McClellan Road. Sometimes, we would take a shortcut through our woods lot on the farm, and come out onto the McKinnon Road, past the McKinnon farm. We sometimes stopped at the store at Surrey Centre. This store, and Post Office, was owned by Mr. Oxenham. That is the same store that was owned by my Great Grandfather Mr. Churchland. That store was a General Store, and post office. It was located on the south east corner of 60th Ave. (Old McLennan Rd.), and 168 St. (Coast Meridian Rd).
After the death of Mr. Oxenham, the store was sold to Mr. Don Wilson, who had operated a grocery store in New Westminster. Mr. Wilson was a hard working gentleman, as he also operated a bowling alley in Cloverdale. He met an untimely death however. One night after working the day shift at the grocery, and the night shift at the bowling alley, he ran his car into the ditch, and punctured a lung. He did not survive this accident. When we were at the store, we could look across the road at the old Boothroyd house, which at that time was owned by the Boudreau Family. This was the same home where my mother had boarded, when she was teaching at Surrey Centre School. The final � mile was a short walk, but we would sometimes hitch a ride on the back bumper of a Fordster coupe car. I remember jumping off the back bumper one time, before the car had come to a full stop. We were afraid of getting found out. I think the driver knew all the time that we were doing this, but he allowed it to happen. He was driving his grandson to school every day. The School District Inspector, a Mr. K.B. Woodward, was there inspecting, so he drove me home where I was able to catch a ride to see Dr. Sinclair.
Surrey Centre School 1891 and The School Roger Bose attended
Our school, Surrey Centre, was a one room school situated on the west side of Old McClellan Road, next to the Surrey Centre Cemetery. That was the same school that my Mother, Freda (Hayton) Bose, taught before she married my father Harry Bose 1926. I believe that she taught there for about two years. We had six grades in the school. The grade ones sat on the south side and the grade sixs sat on the north side by the windows. We were always looking forward to the day when we would be grown up, and be able to sit by the windows. In retrospect, it was perhaps just as well, as we probably wouldn't have got as much work done. We did spend a lot of time looking across the room however, watching the grown up grade sixers. Oh my, how good looking some of those girls were to us grade one boys.
Our first teacher was a Mr. Daphney. It seemed that he spent a lot of his time trying to teach us how to play a musical instrument. We had a kazoo, a drum, and a jews harp. We even played the comb. We would wrap a piece of wax paper across a hair comb, and blow on it. That was the easiest instrument to play, except of course the drum. Our academic skills were not always up to par, but somehow, we made it through.
The school was heated by a wood stove which was in the centre of the room. Our coats were hung up at the rear of the classroom, in the cloak room. Students had to take turns doing chores. We had to clean the black Board brushes. This was always done outside, mostly on the staircase. We used to take delight in seeing how much chalk dust we could make when we were banging the brushes together. Sometimes, we would even bang them on the stair railing. I remember, a couple of times, when we would sneak around the side of the school, and bang the brushes on the school wall, trying to make some letters on the side wall of the building. We had to take turns in bringing in water from the well, and wood from the woodshed. If we were lucky, the teacher would ask us to bring a pair of grass clippers from home, and we would cut the long grass that was growing against the school, and fence. I was unfortunately caught one time, throwing a snake down the well. The teacher made me get water from the neighbor Mr. Wills, for about a week after that. Mr. Fred Robinson was our Janitor. He used to come in and sweep out the classroom every afternoon, and then throw Dustbane sweeping compound on the floors. It gave the wood floors a nice oily finish, and it smelled not too bad either.
Mr. Robinson built a grocery store at the north west corner of 60 Ave, and Coast Meridian Road, opposite Mr. Wilson's Store. When we were at the school, we could look across the road to the Surrey Fair Grounds. This was situated, where the old Municipal Hall had been. When they decided to move the Fairgrounds to Cloverdale, I remember seeing them dragging some of those old barns on skids down the road to their new location on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. We eventually moved across the road to the old fair grounds, and into a much larger building.
We had two classrooms, as well as a side room which was used as a staff meeting room, and library. This is where Dr. Fred Sinclair, and Mrs. Sinclair, who was a nurse, would come and give us all a medical test once a year. We were so glad to be in this school. It even had a gymnasium. This was one of the buildings that was left over from the Fair Grounds facilities. Not only was the school twice as big as our old school, it also had real fancy outhouses. These facilities were two holers, whereas the old on at the old school was a one holer. This school even had a basement, and a furnace. The school was on a slight incline, so one end of the school had a lot of stairs. The boys used to take delight in sliding down the banister. On occasion, some of the students had to make a visit down to Cloverdale, to see Dr. Sinclair, after having slid down the banister one too many times. The tell tale evidence was there for all time to tell. Some kids had bragging rights. They would claim to have to have extracted the largest sliver from their backside than any other student in the school. I don't think it was a laughing matter at the time, but afterwards, they used to laugh about it.
Back at the old school, some kids could sneak a big icicle off the roof, and hide it in his desk. When the teacher wasn't looking, they would place the icicle against the thermometer, in hopes that the teacher would send us home for the day. Some kids would distract the teacher's attention, while the other one would go place the icicle on the thermometer. Once the teacher wised up to this though, the game was over. A fun time was when the teacher was sick, and we had a substitute. There was always someone up to some sort of shenanigans.
When we were in about grade four, we used to ride our bicycles to school. This was mostly a fun time if the weather was good. Our trip home was not without some incidents though. There were two places where there were troublesome dogs on our route home. The first place was a large chicken farm on Coast Meridian Road. The owners had a large dog, probably a Doberman Pincher. It used to run along the six foot high wire fence in the chicken enclosure. When the dog reached the end of the chicken run, it used to leap up about five feet in the air, trying to get over the fence. The dog never was able to clear the top of the fence, but it sure scared the heck out of us kids. About another three quarters of a mile down the road, there was another large black dog that would come out and snip at our pants legs. We were sometimes lucky, and the dog was nowhere to be seen. If we saw the dog approaching, we would backtrack, and go an extra quarter mile north, down Coast Meridian Road. We could cut through that property, and proceed home. This was difficult, as there was only a fallen tree across the ravine. We would carry our bikes over this log, across the ravine, and then proceed home through two pasture fields, before we were back on the road on the other side of that troublesome dog. Our time studying at Surrey Centre School was very rewarding, but it was a big change when we moved on to High School at Lord Tweedsmuir High School on 56 Ave. in Cloverdale.
It was 1924 at the one room school at Woodward's Hill, corner of Goldstone Road and New McLellan Road. The Goldstone's chicken farm was north of New McLellan, where they also grew raspberries and gooseberries. There were three Goldstone brothers who attended Woodward's Hill School, which was identical in appearance to the old Anniedale School today. Back in 1925, the teacher was Miss Perrim. There were 8 grades and 25 kids. Johnny Tompson was 10 and his buddies were 9 to 13. The school was heated by a woodstove in the middle of the floor. The students thought it an honour to be asked to put a stick on the fire.
After school one day, they had a softball tournament with Johnston Road School, and they were hyped up to win! Woodward's Hill had never won a game with Johnston Road, as their pitcher was the fearsome Ozzie Loney. He wiped out the Woodward's Hill team every time! They had a great team, including heavy hitters, Jim and Stuart McBeth, of Sullivan. The games were held in Hennessey's hayfield, on Johnston Road, below Colebrook, by the BC Electric Railway crossing. Assembled there were the determined boys from Woodward's Hill: Gilbert Goldstone and Johnny Tompson, who were the same age, brother Wilfred Goldstone, Bob Parsons, Eric Hepper, Eddie Dadson, Dick Ash, Jimmy White, Robert Smith and his brother. They shared balls and gloves and bats, and checked out the equipment. Horrors! There was no bat. Neither team had a bat. What would they do?
Now, Johnny Tompson was very fortunate indeed, to have been given a Lewis baseball bat for his birthday, and he was sharing it with his classmates. It was kept in a corner in the schoolroom. Four boys agreed to rush back up through the bush to the school and hoped the door was open. It wasn't. So Gilbert hoisted Johnny up on his shoulders, Johnny pried open that third window, the one they knew didn't lock. He crawled through, got the bat, and crawled back out within two minutes! They ran as fast as they could to Hennessey's farm. Everyone jumped into position. Ozzie had lots of time to warm up, but pitcher Gilbert was getting tired. Right off the bat, Jim McBeth hit a home run. Bad start! Oh, how hard they tried to hit the spinning ball that sped from Ozzie's hand, but Johnston School won again, as usual. Score: 18 to 3!
That was hard enough to face, the humiliation of the loss, but there was more to come.
The next day, big trouble! A "school break–in" was reported by neighbour Mr. Ash, with the guilty party identified as "John Tompson, along with the Goldstone boys'. Yes, they confessed. Miss Perrim announced the penalty would be a letter required from the fathers of the boys, to be read in class the next morning, then given to the truant officer. A great hush descended upon the classroom that day. They feared to be disciplined by the truant officer and they might even be sent to Magistrate Bose. Scary.
Johnny walked slowly home and confessed his great sin to his father, Henry, who didn't think it so bad, as the bat belonged to his son, he wasn't stealing it. As a matter of fact, he was sharing it, and how could they play a baseball game without the base bat. But he offered an apology for his son entering the school illegally, and it would never happen again.
When the letters were read, the boys shrunk down in their seats, very embarrassed. But Johnny was mortified. His father, from England, knew nothing about baseball, and had written, "base bat." Oh, how terrible, the wrong term, and the letter might get to Magistrate Bose. He hid his head in shame.
The boys remembered the bat each game after that, and they were not visited by Mr. Bose.
That was the major memory of Woodward's Hill School from John Tompson.
Here you see his buddies in the School Photo above. He missed school that day. His sister, Barbara, is the pretty girl in the middle, wearing a dark dress. She became an office clerk, a piano teacher and an artist, and is now 97, living on Salt Spring Island.
Alfred Goldstone was a logger in the Green Timbers in the 1920s; Gilbert Goldstone later worked on the dredge for the Surrey Diking Commission, along with Cec Heppell (who lived on Hall's Prairie Road, and went to Cloverdale School); Wilfred Goldstone stayed on the chicken farm with his father. In the summers and after his schooldays, Johnny Tompson worked at the Thomas Fallowfield Farm in Kensington Prairie. Along with many of the young local men, he planted tree seedlings throughout the logged Green Timbers Forest. He was a machinist during WWII, and right to his death, aged 89, in 2003.
Written by Ellen Edwards (nee Tompson), 2010. Readers, please advise of any corrections to names or facts. In the Archives, there is a recording of this story, in John Tompson's voice, age 89.
A lady who now lives in South Surrey, tells of life in the 1970s, when she attended Cloverdale Junior Secondary. She says those were simpler days, but they had their opinions. They felt it just was not fair that boys could wear jeans and keep warm, but girls had to wear skirts all year. In 1973, about 70 girls had a sit–in. They sat in the hallway and would not go to classes. After that day, girls were allowed to wear dress pants or cords. Later on, they were permitted to wear jeans, just like the boys.
In the Fall of 1971, this girl and many students made a huge protest over the test detonations of nuclear weapons underground on Amchitka Island, off Alaska mainland. These tests were highly controversial and debated at length at the time. The protestors skipped school, made up signs and carried them all the way from Cloverdale to the Peace Arch Border Crossing. They hoped that their parents would not know that they missed classes, but the Surrey Leader published an article about the protest, and yes, there were photos. The teenaged girl was caught again. However, the detonations at that time were the largest, and the last. They learned that protests brought results, so protested several times about important issues.
Some of the kids didn't like school much, so they played hookey. That term was changed now to "skipping out.' Jackie Ryan, the typing teacher, used to look out for these hippy kids when they were being bad, and tried to support them where she could. Mr. Chubb, was this teen's home room teacher, and her favourite teacher. He accepted them the way they were. Mr. Janzen, the History teacher, also seemed to understand this group of hippies, and taught them how to build a log cabin in the courtyard of the Library. They talked about pioneer days, and learned to hand sew a quilt in the way of their grandmothers. Our teen thought they learned a lot more about early Canadian history by working with their teacher, than by merely sitting and listening.
Memories recorded by Ellen Edwards in May 2010.
Newton Elementary was built in 1914.
Picture courtesy of Surrey Archives
School patrol at Newton.
The patrol was made up of grade six boys.
The year was 1951.
Picture courtesy of Surrey Archives
Ah yes. When I was there in the latter 1930's, it was a two room school. Miss Bailey(?) was principal and Mr. Webb was the other teacher. Miss Bailey had the north end room with the stairs on the west side. Mr. Webb had the south end room and there were stairs also on the south end. There was a lacrosse box on the site north of the school. Lacrosse was big. We used to go to other schools to play them. Simon Cunningham was our favorite. The outdoor 'biffy' was north again of the lacrosse box. Mr. Webb was miserable older soul with a thin screwed up face that always looked as if he needed a shave. Now, Miss Bailey had a look that would penetrate right through you. Scared the hades out of me. She didn't have to say anything, just look at me.
From there, it was on to the brand new Queen Elizabeth. It wasn't finished yet so we had to go to an elementary school in Whalley for a few months. It was one day on and one day off. We were in the basement which leaked in rainy weather so we took gum boots to school with us. Can you see that happening today?
Marie Williams in the 1920s walked up Sandy Trail to the Crescent Park School hoping she would not meet a bear.
Jack Berry recalled that Marie Williams lived next door. She was older than I. She started school earlier so there could have been bears in the woods. To get to school from Crescent I had to cross the railway tracks at the south end of the beach then go up through the forest via a path until it met the old wagon road and thence on to the graveled Ocean Park road. The perimeter of the bluff was heavily forested with first growth fir. The trees had bolls many feet thick. Heavy branches would come crashing down in a high wind. The same wind loosened pines cones from the firs around the school which made good ammunition for cone fights. Sometimes in spring I found mushrooms growing beside the path. These I would hide to be gathered on the return. It was always a pleasure to find wild flowers. There was a patch of dogtooth violets, many flowering wild currents bushes, two patches of ladies slippers and one patch of yellow violets that Marie revealed to me. Trilliums could be found most anywhere in the forest. Coming home was all down hill. There were many ways one could take, the steps at the foot of Sunnyside Road and then along the beach, the ravine that came out onto the railway tracks, the regular path down through the forest, Sandy Trail or the long way around by the Crescent Ocean Park Road then down the Tullock Road. It all depended on who one wished to accompany part of the way home. (One was never in a hurry to do the daily chores). Very few pupils had regular lunch buckets. It was either a paper bag or a Rogers' syrup tin and sometimes in a state of exuberance the tins became foot balls. The resulting dents were banged out with rocks. My mother could never understand how a can could get dented from the inside and I never told her.
Crescent Park Elementary in 1948 and Crescent Park Elementary in 2004
Picture courtesy of Surrey Archives
A painting of Crescent Park Annex
Bob Hadden remembers how strict the teachers were at Crescent. He had to stand to answer questions, learned to write using the McLean Method, always walked on the right side of the stairs, played in the boy's basement when it rained. Bob didn't like school, but was good at math. He loved soccer and hot dog days!
Another Hadden memory was getting the strap for jumping out the window the last day of school!
A major memory was being chosen as an escort for the May Queen Suite. Photo: Ocean Park newspage, May 1964. Bob Hadden is the boy on the left.
The may pole dance at Crescent Park was one of the activies at the Crescent Beach Ocean Park May Day celebrations.
Young Bob Hadden was an entry in the May Day parade.
In grade 1 Bob's teacher was Jessie Stewart
In grade 6 Bob Hadden's teacher was the Principal Gordon Jones
In grade 7 Bob Hadden's teacher was Don Goss
I attended Semiahmoo High School from 1951 to 1957. Walking to school was part of my growing up.
I remember that walking to school was a highlight of my senior years at Semiahmoo. I lived in east White Rock, about a mile and a quarter from the school. I preferred to walk to and from school. There was an alternative as the Semiahmoo Bus came along Campbell River Road, up Stayte Road to Buena Vista and the School. My sister took the bus, which cost 5 cents per trip, as well as some of the neighbours.
I carried all my notes in a vinyl, zippered binder that I could also get my pen and pencil and other supplies in it as well as one text book. The vinyl shed the rain so my notes and equipment stayed dry. I would always set off about the same time as it took about 20 to 25 minutes to get to school. I walked up Stevens Street to Columbia Avenue and turned west. As I reached Parker Street I usually met up with Jim Slater, another block we would meet the Howlett boys and sometimes the Lesley girls. As they came out of Lee Street they would look back along Columbia and if they saw me coming within a block or two they would wait for me to catch up.
As we began the assent up Columbia Street, we would meet Sharon Franklin coming up from Victoria Avenue. She always waited for us when she saw us coming up the hill. By the time we reached the school grounds there would to six to twelve of us in the group. It was always a pleasant social walk with those I met and the company made the trip enjoyable.
At Pacific Avenue and Fir Street, many mornings we would meet a gentleman in a black suit, a black fedora, driving a black zephyr. I did not know the gentleman, but many years later he was to become my father-in-law.
At Semiahmoo we would walk up to the top floor and our lockers to put away our coats and supplies. We would then return to sit or lean on the hot water radiator at the top of the main stairs. From this vantage point we could meet and greet the remainder of the students who ascended the stairs to their lockers. This was one of the most social and pleasant times of the day as we greeted our fellow students and swapped stories and described events. We would stay here until the warning bell sounded to tell us to prepare for homeroom class.
At the end of the day, as I left the school, I would pause on the front steps for up to five minutes to wait for anyone who was walking home the same route. There was always one person, but in many instances up to five or six. We left in a small group swapping stories of events of the day, talking about teachers or our mutual friends. The walk home would mean that I chatted with my friends for most of the way, but I always walked the last quarter mile by myself.
Friday nights were special nights as most people went to the local movie at the Park Theatre. The Theatre was the main entertainment in town and Friday night was the night most teenagers attended. I had walked to and from school that day, but my girl friend lived about two blocks north of Semiahmoo. After supper I would walk back up the hill to pick her up. The Park Theatre was about two blocks west of my home, and she and I would walk down the hill to the show. I would then walk her home and return home on my own. Fridays meant six trips up and down the hill. The last trip home was usually dark and cool so I would run the mile and a quarter home.
Walking was a pleasurable part of my life. It provided strong social bonds with my friends and provided plenty of fresh air and exercise.
Diane Johnson transcribed an oral history tape (SA 0326.1–2) of Margaret (Brown) STEWART, daughter of David W. Brown and on it Margaret tells of the beginnings of the Halls Prairie School. Diane is a volunteer at Surrey Archives.
Margaret Stewart's recollections are printed in SurreyHistory.ca with Surrey Archive's permission.
Stewart: Father was trying to get settlers in all the time so we could get a school started. He hated to see the children growing up without a school. And, so in 1885, in the spring of 1885, we got a school started. Father was in Westminster and he met a young man, he was selling books, from Ontario and he was a school teacher. And Father told him, he said,"We're needing a school".
Stewart:"We're needing a school out here very bad." And so he flew around and got in touch with Victoria and so we started. The school was started in the spring in this old log cabin where Heintzes use to live. And then in the fall we moved into a nice new little school built where the Halls Prairie School now stands, on the same site. Dr. Powell had, had bought the prairie by that time, the half section and he donated the land for the school.
Interviewer: What was this first school teacher's name?
Stewart: J.C. McLennan.
Interviewer: Did he stay there long?
Stewart: We had him about two years and then the next teacher we had was a William Mufford from Langley.
Interviewer: William what?
Stewart: Mufford. There's a lot of Muffords around there yet. He was one of the Muffords of Langley. And then we had, we had two lady teachers, a Miss McLellan and Miss Waller.
Interviewer: This, this first teacher, do you remember him quite well?
Stewart: Oh, I remember him quite, quite well.
Interviewer: What was he like?
What sort of man was he, how was he as a school teacher?
How did he work?
How was he, what was he like?
Stewart: Oh, he was, he was a quite a good teacher. He took pride in his, in his scholars. And we took quite a pride in him. And we used to gather wild strawberries (laughs) and give him a bunch at noon and he was very pleased.
Interviewer: The girls, particularly, I suppose.
That's what the girls did I suppose.
Stewart: Well, I remember I did it, too. I was only eight year old.
Interviewer: Was he handsome?
Stewart: Well, not particularly. He wore a moustache, he was clean shaved, only a moustache.
Stewart: And Mr. Mufford, he was only a young fellow, but he wore – he had red whiskers. He wore red sideburns. He shaved his chin. He had a big moustache and red sideburns. (Laughs)
Interviewer: Was he quite young, yeah.
Stewart: He was only a young fellow, too.
Interviewer: And were these people English people, were they English?
Were they Englishmen, these teachers?
Stewart: Well, Mufford, the Muffords are English and McLennan he was half Scotch and half Irish.
This is an excerpt from a tape by George Dinsmore where he describes what school was like when he started school in 1908 or 1909 in the Elgin/Mud Bay area.
This excerpt is provided courtesy of Surrey Archives. It is part of an oral history tape.
Well, when I started school, it was a little one room school and we had from first primer or Grade one to entrance class which was it was known as then.
The Grades are now from one to twelve or thirteen.
Well, we had, in our day, you had first primer and second primer and first reader and you had junior first and senior first and junior second and so on and so forth through the list.
And you ended up in fourth grade which was senior fourth.
Then you wrote a departmental exam to go into high school.
And it was a different set up.
I mean, you started at school whenever you got six years old.
And if you started in the middle of June it was just the same, you could start the middle of June or the first of September or as the spirit moved you.
And you had one teacher for eight or nine grades as the case might be.
Some classes there'd be one, two kids in, other ones there'd be four or five and we probably had thirty to thirty–five kids in the – thirty-five pupils.
Forty was a big class.
And it was all one teacher and you probably go a half an hour supervision or half an hour's instruction from your teacher and the rest of the time you worked on your own under her supervision.
And that's all there was to it.
Diane Johnson is a volunteer researcher with Surrey Archives. She came across this reminiscence by Mr. Dinsmore as part of her volunteer activities.
Queen Elizabeth High School 1965
Queen Elizabeth High School in the 1950's was an article which was written by Annie (Cindrich) Kaps. Annie is a former student at QE and one of the daughters in the Cindrich family. She is very interested in Surrey's history and has written an article about her family that was printed in "Our Canada" magazine last year. This article about Queen Elizabeth High School is one that she is submitting for a Pier 21 project.
1949/50 saw the approximately 450 Grade VII to XII students on shifts (Princess Margaret Junior–Senior High School attending in the afternoon, as their school was still under construction). The school walls were still unpainted and all materials, including foolscap, were rationed. A student's dropping a bottle of mercury onto the wooden floor in the upstairs hall was a call–out for all to herd and collect the tiny droplets.
School text books were rented. Students carried loose–leaf binders; fountain pens and ink bottles were giving way to ball point pens. Four students shared each of the wooden lockers, many of these lockers being in very narrow locker rooms. To dry off and warm up, turns were taken to sit on the hot water heat radiators.
Home Economics'; classes cooked on wood stoves, peddled treadle sewing machines, utilized screened outside coolers, and learned how to do "home preserves" (our mothers called it "canning"). The "electric" sewing machine and stove additions were required curriculum and a novelty for most of the rural community students.
The Industrial Education students used manual tools and their only piece of "electrical" equipment was a "war surplus" hand–crank generator. The majority of typewriters were manual with unlettered keys, some even having hand–moved tabs.
There was a three–mile catchment area, each school's strictly adhered to, with no outside boundary attendance allowed, and the majority of students walked to school. Teachers drove Austins and a half dozen students drove cars. Student drivers' abilities were witness to the weekend do–nut competitions.
Mr. Douglas's Chemistry Lab's disposal system was "out the west window". There was no grass within twenty feet. No toxic waste in the 50's; no fume hoods, either; and, the ceiling bore witness to many a misguided experiment. There were no individual lab stations (they were allowed for all along the west side of the classrooms, but never completed). Most experiments were teacher–performed, the instructor in the Science Room, sitting on a podium.
Surrey had no garbage pickup. The janitorial staff burned refuse in an outside incinerator in accompaniment of the ubiquitous screeching seagulls.
A School Patrol and Students' Court were formed. One–way traffic on the stairs was the rule. On the roads and highway, students were allowed to walk only two–abreast and facing vehicular traffic. The carefully tended grass oval in front of the school was out–of–bounds. Tickets were issued to violators. Classes marched "en masse" from classroom to classroom, to school assemblies and fire drills.
The washroom doors were lopped off top and bottom to expose potential smokers.
The present school logo was designed. "Pete the Penguin" was the mascot.
The track fund was started, having been prompted by the School Board's polling of the Students' Council regarding the disposition of the unutilized south–end property.
Permissible gym attire was white top and navy shorts. For the girls, white bobby socks and boy's high–top black running shoes completed the attire. There were showers in the change rooms; however, they were not hooked up.
For girls, slacks and shorts were prohibited classroom apparel. Boys wore jeans (cuffs rolled up to expose their white socks). The very early 50's, with Dukes and Duchesses, saw the males sporting "drapes". Cool were heads sporting crew cuts, poodle cuts, ducktails, pony tails, the boys with lots of greasy Brycreem ("a little dab will do ya").
Students' footwear saw saddle shoes, penny loafers, moccasins, white bucks and desert boots. For the girls, there were felt poodle skirts and taffeta skirts worn with crinolines, pleated skirts and skirts with kick pleats, kilts with pins, see–through blouses with camisoles, cashmere sweaters and dickies, and to complete the fashion parade, shortie coats. Boys and girls topped off their attire with school sweaters decorated with honour pins, athletic blocks and school pins. Many a hand sported a school ring with the school's logo.
Noon hours were taken up with clubs, inter–house games and the odd sock–hop. Brutally recalled are the floor hockey games of broom sticks (cloth–wound and tape–bound) with garden hose pucks.
A wide assortment of clubs offered varied interest: Hi–Y, Red Cross, MacMillan, Pep, Future Teachers, Newspaper, Annual, Badminton, Ham Radio, Chess, Goodinton (Mr. Muegens' classes adaptation to affordable wooden paddles of expensive badminton racquets), Square Dancing, Curling, Bowling.
A PA system had been installed throughout the school and a radio club was formed to provide noon–hour entertainment and utilize some of the creative play writing skills of the English classes. (Wrinkle up a piece of cellophane paper and it sounds like a fire burning. Take a shoe brush and thump it on the table and you have yourself a marching column.) Then, there were those who didn't need a PA system, since they tapped out messages on the hot water heating rads.
Sport activities consisted of: basketball, volleyball, cross–country, soccer and track.
Air raid sirens had been installed throughout Surrey and student/staff committees attended district meetings to plan evacuations (it is still not known if this triggered the bombing of the school bus shed in back of the school).
No firecracker problems at Halloween in the 50's; not when blasting caps were so much louder!
Penny drives and hamper drives for charity, and the sales of all kinds were held to raise money for school activities (hey guys, what was that infamous "Mickey Mouse Club"?)
There were four annual Friday night Students' Council "theme" mixers with their memorable decorating committees borrowing decorations from Eaton's in New Westminster and their entertainment committees scrounging for rock and roll records. We jived, did the bunny hop and minuet, polkaed, waltzed, schottisched, square danced; and, at formal dances, Mr. and Mrs. Matheson lead the grand march. There were no outside friends of QE students permitted to attend mixers. Staff chaperons had blakey checks at the door.
Friday night basketball games packed the gym (parents, teachers and students vying for a seat along the wall or on the stage). Cheerleaders were assisted by cow bells and noisemakers. (Hey, guys "lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!!!"). Away games on the buses are remembered for repeated rendition of "Ninety–Nine bottles".
Every year there was a Surrey School Teachers' Scholarship Concert, and QE's Spring Concert. The latter well remembered for Mr. Matheson's Senior Choir and their rendition of the current QE adaptation of "Little Liza Jane".
Fraser Valley District Track Meets, held in New Westminster's Queens Park, pitted QE against a wide catchment area; however, it didn't deter QE from showing up well and with coming up with aggregate trophy winners for both boys and girls in 1958 (Mary Cindrich and Norris Andreason). "Davey Crocket" was a popular song in '56 and had been adapted for use at that year's Track Meet ("QE, QE High School, the best in the Western Zone. Our school ain't biggest, but OUR SCHOOL IS BEST…." Winning for the school always precipitated a school assembly and presentation on stage of the team and trophy.
There were school scholastic, citizenship and sports awards: QE pin, QE half–wreathe pin, QE full–wreathe pin, QE ring (spaced out and held back, so that at graduation the ring was presented, no matter when earned); half–blocks, full–blocks, chenille half–blocks and chenille full–blocks.
There were noon hour swims "in" Bear Creek (not "at" Bear Creek), ice skating when Fry's Corner froze over, roller skating at Edmonds, beach parties at White Rock or Crescent Beach.
Remember Mr. Meugens' "board of education", Mr. Longfield'’s Cadet Corps and his "finger push–ups", Mr. Janze'’s yo–yo demonstrations, and Mr. Fetroe's "math problem" punishments?
Students earned money by strawberry, raspberry, bean ($.01/pound) and potato picking. Babysitting was at $.25/hour.
Of course, one could walk into the Surrey Drive–In and sit in the outside shack for $.25, or attend the Cameo Theatre's matinee with its current serial thriller. TV was a coming thing and the "small screen" was really small (6"x6").
As I was walking down the street, little Liza Jane
A QE girl I chanced to meet, little Liza Jane
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
The myths she told had strange appeal, little Liza Jane
But seemed fantastic and unreal, little Liza Jane
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
She said a boy in French felt gay
And Mr. Waters let him play
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
A myth, a myth, it surely be
That Peters came in quietly
H ey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
That less than three weeks after rain
The playing field was dry again
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
Oh me, oh my, oh what a myth
There’s no work sheet from Mr. Smith
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
Here's what Mr. Meugens said,
"Find some lumber: use your head"
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
We gave the gym a festive air
And Annie Cindrich wasn’t there
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
And as the lady turned to go
I said "That’s not the school I know"
Hey little Liza, Oh little Liza, little Liza Jane
Strawberry Hill Elementary approximately 1982
The picture on the left is Merl Larson in grade one. On the right is Merl's Mother's copy of his grade 3 school picture.
I started school in 1951 at Strawberry Hill School. It was located on Scott Road at Chalmers Road. I lived at Burkhart Road and Scott Road about a 2.5 mile walk every day. The original school was built before 1931 as my friend Walter Rushworth's dad had went there in 1931. Harry Rushworth owned Valley Lumber. It was located where the current Rona store is located under Patullo Bridge. My oldest sister Charlotte also attended along with Allan Mclntyre, Gary Allen, Donna Allen, Doug Mclntyre, Benny Bowie, David Bowie, and Mervin Dione. All these students attended between 1945 and 1951.
My first teacher was Miss Fiorenti. I remember just loving having her as my teacher. She made a store in the back of the classroom and we all played store keeper. There was oil rubbed floors that were wooden construction and none of the desks matched. They all had carvings made on them from prior students. We played music on a wind up record player the bell was a hand bell rung by a bell monitor...everyone wanted to be a bell monitor.
When I attended we had indoor washrooms, they were in the basements, and there was a girl's basement and a boy's basement. When my sister and her friend's attended prior to 1948 they had outside toilets and water came from a well. We used to have afternoon films. I think they were brought to us from the National film board, and we all went into the grade 3 class room to watch. We also had a television brought to the school during Queen Elizabeth's coronation. Adults from all over the community came to watch this in Black and White as most did not have television in those days. The school was modified considerably in the 80's and was eventually torn down and replaced on another site.
For Christmas and Halloween we would all walk down Chalmers road to the Chalmers road community center where we would have Christmas concerts and at Christmas and Apple bobbing on Halloween. In grade 1 Walter Rushworth and I were made up as base Drums and performed with others on stage in a Christmas show. Class pictures were taken on the grade 1 and 2 entry stairs and during the year we had individual photos taken and sent home for parents to purchase.
The ceilings were very high, the windows lined one side of the classroom, were double hung and also very high, lots of light came into the rooms. Hanging from the ceiling by dark heavy chains were beautiful original School House light fixtures. People today would love to have and admire. The siding was clap board painted gray with white trim. I was always wondering where Dick and Jane lived and why they had Brick schools.
As there was no room for grade 4 students at Strawberry Hill in 1954,1 along with a few others had to attend Heath Road School. It was new and had two rooms at the time, and Mr. Joslin was the principal and the grade 4 teacher. It was not a big class. The school was located in North Delta. Today the school is under a different name and is much larger. I remember all of the kids being able to run through the trees behind the school down to Cougar Canyon.
I met my friend Robert Havers at this school he was a fun buddy, got into much trouble and once when Mr. Joslin hadn't arrived early enough for Robert, he opened a window climbed into the school and unlocked the doors from the inside. No one went in but, when Mr. Joslin arrived Robert got the strap.
Bose Road School was located near the original Princess Margaret High School. My oldest sister Charlotte attended Princess Margaret and loved going there. She spoke often of the teachers mentioned on the surreyhistory.ca website. I recognized all the names, Banner, Holt, and Granger. My teacher was Miss Ferguson, her father owned a Chevrolet Dealership in Langley and she drove a brand new 1955 Pink and Grey Chevrolet four door sedan.
When I attended there was crowding and we had afternoon and morning shifts. I had afternoon which I did not like and often skipped class. Miss Ferguson was a stickler for writing, and made us use straight pens and ink. We had to draw guide lines on every sheet of paper that we used and we had to learn and write the Mclean's method of writing.
I still know how to write using the Mclean's method but no, longer do as I learned the single gothic stroke method of lettering when I studied engineering. My hand writing is now a combination of writing and lettering which me nor anyone else can read. Miss Ferguson was strict about spelling and I was top of the class in spelling bees.
Mr. Hurt was the teacher for the grade 5 morning shift and I believe he went on to many other things with the Surrey school Board, he was very popular with the students.
This was a new school in 1957 and I attended in grade 6, my younger sister Marilyn attended as well, I think she was in grade 3. I don't remember my grade 6 teacher nor do I have a photo of the class that year. Mr. Taves was my grade 7 teacher and all students liked him very much. Grade 8 was a good year, my teacher was Mr. Aasen. He was very strict and used the pointer often on Bob Milligan, Don Endersby. He was forever smacking it on the desks and if you were slouching he would pull you up by the hair on the back of the neck. Needless to say I was very quiet and never slouched. Mr. Aasen made us give speeches every second Monday. I didn't like doing it, was unable to sleep often on Sunday nights with fear of getting up in front of everyone, and to this day still dislike Sunday nights.
My young sister and I walked to this school, it was quite far but, I am sure the early exercise gave us both good strong bodies and long lives. Marilyn went on to become a grade 3 teacher at Lena Shaw, she taught there for 35 years and enjoys retirement now.
I did like shop classes, they were every Wednesday, a school bus would take us at noon to Princess Margaret where Mr. Abbott taught us Metal work, drafting classes and Wood working. These were my favorite times.
In grade 9 I attended Princess Margaret on Bose Road but, half way through the year my parents moved to North Delta and I finished High School at North Delta, where I was able to meet up with many of my friends from Strawberry Hill and Heath Road School.
I am now 71 years old, own two businesses, have resided in Toronto Ontario since 1979 and have many great memories of my years growing up in Surrey. I attribute the hard working teachers that taught me and the pioneering spirit of the citizens that gave me the strengths that I still enjoy in my late years.
Life was pretty good growing up in Surrey and attending the original schools. People were honest and life was very simple. We all had to work hard and we didn't have color television, cell phones, computers. Water was plentiful and not full of chemicals, people didn't shoot each other. There were only three billion of us on earth. A car could drive all week on two dollars worth of gasoline, some people still had horses and buggies, not many but there were some. There were no box stores or shopping malls. ATMs were unheard of and nothing was open on Sunday. I often wonder what paths my school friends lives took, are they still alive, what did they do during their lives, do they remember going to school in Surrey?
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Memories by Bonnie Hartup
I was a student of the 50s and 60s when subdivisions were developing in the north Surrey area. Without ever moving from our house, we were constantly changing schools. I attended Gr. 1 at David Brankin with Ms. Caesar as my teacher and Mr. Hines was the principal, but for grade two I was sent in the direction of Prince Charles Elementary as it was a newly opened school. We were on shift and I was in the afternoon shift while my sister was in the morning shift for grade 1. Now grade three, I was sent back to David Brankin where I had Ms. Darby for a teacher. Partly through grade four, A.H.P. Matthew opened and we were sent there where I had Mr. Headline for a principal.
I guess it became crowded by my grade 7 year and we were again on the move but not to West Whalley but to Simon Cunningham on King George Hwy. where I had Mr. Van Wow and Mr. Lyle Phillips as teachers. Mr.Headline was principal of this school as well. Grade 8 found us traipsing over to West Whalley, grades 9 and 10 redirected us to William Beagle and grades 11 and 12 to Queen Elizabeth. My sister had the added new school, Senator Reid for her grade 6 and 7 years.
I think of the protests today by parents fighting to not have their child moved out of a certain classroom after the first few days of school and then I think of my parents quietly receiving notice that this particular day or year their child was going to a different school. No protests. Just acceptance. Mum joked that we were the kids that had to break in the muddy fields of each new school. By the time I got to Queen Elizabeth high school I knew most of my peers because somewhere along the way I had attended a feeder school class that they were also in.