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School CP - September 2005

Corpun file 16546


Edmonton Sun, Alberta, 3 September 2005

History lesson

Heading back to school in the 1880s

By Erik Floren
Edmonton Sun


Attending the one-room schoolhouse more than 120 years ago in Edmonton meant writing on a slateboard quickly and accurately -- to avoid a lash from the willow switch.

"The teacher reigned supreme, and students were not encouraged to think for themselves or to question whatever the teacher said," explained Catherine Luck, supervisor of the Edmonton Public Schools Archives and Museum.

The renovated Edmonton 1881 schoolhouse - Alberta's oldest - sits on the grounds of the historical McKay Avenue School, which is home to the museum.

"And if you had started at McKay Avenue in 1905, you would have used straight pens, which dip into ink. Your textbooks would have had few illustrations, little colour and dealt more with British history than Canadian," said Luck.

"Discipline was certainly stricter that it is now and corporal punishment was in use - the strap. In the schoolhouse, back up until the early 1900s, the willow stick was used."

In these dying days of summer, probably the last thing many of you want to do is head back to school. But McKay Avenue is certainly no ordinary learning centre.

In fact, it's one of the most historically significant buildings in Alberta, playing a huge role in the early social and political development of the province.


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