Salt Spring Island Archives

Donate Now Through!


Florence Hepburn

Speaking on Her Teaching Experience

Accession Number Interviewer
Date Location
Media Audio CD
ID Duration




Unknown Speaker 0:00
I'd like him to Saltspring to teach in 1933. And that was a time was very difficult for teachers to get a position and I was employed by Mr. Bill Crawford. He was the school board for the one particular school and there were seven or eight schools and each had their own trustee. So each school was quite independent. And I found a boarding place on the Ganges hill just above your place, and would walk up the road and across the old divide Road, which was the original road coming down to Beaufort. And it would take me far was too much to love, I guess. And I would walk that to school. I would the winter time we had school from half past nine until three. And in the summertime, I'd have to be at school and we would start probably half by stage and we would continue on fourth makeup at the time we lost in the in the winter. And the school was one room, oil floor. moveable desks, and the old pot bellied stove in the middle of the room. The teacher being a very important person. She had her desk on a little Dyess about 16. And many a time I've tripped over that thing. We had one block of Blackboard. That would be Oh, I guess two by three feet on one side and then Blackboard across the front. The teacher was allowed one brush per year, one box of chalk per year. You were given a bar of soap, some matches and firewood. And if you didn't have enough firewood to go keep the fire going well, you wouldn't be young at all went out and had an hour of gathering wood to keep the fire going. The youngsters walk four miles from the top of the cranberry all the way down, they come down in the summertime bare feet. Coming down to the to the school. We had a great old bell that I need to grow the ring and let them know when they come from all over down by the lake and move through the trees and around and the trees were right up tight to the school. There's no grounds at all for them to play off. It built on a shared bank and you entered into the cloakroom. And there were there was a hook and a cup reach towel, a wash basin and a towel soap. And with one give you one child each morning to go and get a bucket of water it would last us until lunchtime. And then in the school I've gotten to how many I had it first probably 14 Students with the eighth grades in the one classroom at a time. We did have the paper and pencil pens but we did find under the school and we got to the ground was tidying the place up the old sleeps that had been used in that building previous to my arrival and hence we got school organized we decided that we must have some sort of a program that's all there is to it. So I went to the trustee and asked him it would he mind if we cleared out the brush. No, he didn't mind at all. So 14 It was set to and we made the school grounds there. And then there was Mr. West here he gave us more cars he gave us some rope. We made swings and generally tidy the place up we planted bowls and flowers and children took a great pride in that building. Then we said well, nice we could play baseball and they made the gravel road out in the front there. So we play baseball on this gravel road and then great gal occasionally invited school from the north end to come down and play there for a game we had but it was just I think about one of the first inter school games we've ever played on the island here. And wintertime, snow and they come to school, thought nothing of walking these miles. And I'd have a pop on the store could warm suit for them. Anything cuts bruises, I had to be the nurse for them. Eventually there was a doctor who came around and examined the children once a year and if there's anything very wrong with them why they were looked after the inspector arrived once a year and you could hear his walk forward coming clickety clackety clack we we always say Well here comes the inspector general behavior. When he arrived him say all day long, nine o'clock in the morning and before and then it was my treat to be driven back again to use him for one day of the year I didn't have to walk. Summertime it will get so hot in that building was on there that we would take our lessons on work down towards the the lake underneath some of the trees that were there we had parties. And it was a great thing to have the school concert so the teachers on the island arrange will all have mine tonight. You have yours tomorrow. And so it was entertainment for a whole week, every night. And we just take the desks and put them all outside or around the edge of the local band. Anyone that could play played an instrument helped policeman came as Santa Claus we had a big tree and a small gift for each child concert was given and they danced and we boiled the coffee outside and prepared a little booze doesn't matter what the weather was everything's fine and little ones were put to sleep in desk on this normal chairs and around and everyone had pretty good and glorious time. And then it was always sort of the thing that you were invited to the homes of our parents you look forward to to these visits and I climbed up under the crown briefly. John Bennett's home I thoroughly enjoyed that visited the Damascus saw his inventions then invited to the Crawfords and that was a way down there going on towards the better southern division down there no road at all. So I had to strike up over the mountain through the slough and off down I got took me some time to get there but I eventually got through all Adam down where do you think now there's a road than where the horse was live now there was no road along there. It was just a trail along there and I went a trail along there and into Barkos place so it was really really living right in the in the woods. I can't children are oh yes, they wanted to learn. That's the one thing I think they came and they were so anxious to help and they helped each other and I can remember the time that one of the little Connery girls fell, broke her arm and all the children being upset and two of them coming along and one holding or at least one holding here one holding there so the arm was all right. And I think I did I forget I took my blouse I believe and wrap this up and they carried the two miles into Genji so with that could be sad. If someone was hungry, they just shared lunches. There was no one took anything from anyone else. They helped each other in school if they if I were busy teaching grade eight and grade four could hear the grade one reading why they thought nothing about the toilet was just a common thing to help. Everybody worked and they swept the floors, they cleaned the windows they got the bar would they lit the fire. They empty to the ashes. They tended the garden spent though. Well there were so delightful that I would spend Saturdays and Sundays with them. And sometimes with I'd have a party and Ganges and they will come down and I remember some of them never had spaghetti or macaroni or weeds like that. And I would try to do something that was different for them. Then we'd in the winter months we climbed a mountain max for whole class, snow and all and John Bennett can tell you about your time you pyramidal form from Natalie. Now this is horrible can tell you the time she climbed the barbed wire fence and ripped her leg open up there. Another one tell you how they carried one of Mrs. Trump recipes cakes up to the top of the mountain with all which sticky icing on the top. We used to have perfectly wonderful guys we traveled a mountain up and down and around and

Unknown Speaker 9:55
party had a glorious time. The same as it is now, just the same, there's no difference at all except just in the hours and then sometimes those day night hours were cut down completely because we have no light at all. Didn't even have a gas lamp. So that by one o'clock and two o'clock in the trees there, it was very dark in school. So then you had your singing lessons or your education. But you've never left the school three o'clock this book, no matter how dark it was only some activator was used. After grade eight, some of them have gone on, done wonderful things. One one now is studying to be a captain on the local Berry. Others have moved to California, we have one that was for a while it was a matron of hospital in Montreal. We have the construction then we have building contractors and people that are really well up in the world, doing very, very well but no one went to university in those days. Solomon's consolidated school that happened in started in 1940, when they started the school of Medina and Ganges and in 1941. But not all of these little districts joined at that time, there were one or two that remained independent from the consolidated school. And then when the war started, married women were allowed to go back teaching again. And the Burgoyne school classroom the little church down here was still independent beaver point was independent. And the Isabella point school was independent. So they didn't join until organ in the late 40s 50s. Oh, yes, absolutely. Because that was a great excitement here and all the men and women and children gave their free labor time donations, had parties and so on to those foods and then when the men were working there, we would supply the tea the coffee, then keep on going which to happen did the plumbing on the on the finishing for Mr. Graham I taught his two boys he was the overseer for to see that everything was done he was so interested in. And one of his boys now is a teacher woman a very famous doctor. Little burger in school, we have a famous mark of two schools

Unknown Speaker 13:16
that was at the

Unknown Speaker 13:17
divide school until 1936. And then they required a second teacher in the high school in the Ganges center and I was offered that position. And that was just a wonderful job to have. Because I worked with Mr. Booster. And the salary made me a millionaire. Those days, I got $85 a month for the first five and it gradually increased math up. But the building that we worked in was shiplap inside two rooms. And Mr. Food was to teach in the morning and one end of the building and I would have the other end for the morning and then we would interchange in the afternoon. And the interchange was necessary because I taught the chemistry and the physics and in the back of the room there was a big bit chest and you opened up the top of this thing and your cabinets go around and physical equipment was in that you lifted that out and put down the lid and then you worked in this big box around this big box. School was delightful. The building when it was torn down revealed a great many secrets of the place because the knot holes in it had been filled with all the orange peel and all the odd notes notes and things that have been dropped down into there. And some of them I kept for a long, long time because they were such revealing little things pieces of information that one popped in there that they quite delightful. The students there were all of the real dive bars and anxious to learn if they thought the subject still is today, if they thought it's going to be useful. And then the games were played out on the agricultural field. We have a grass hockey team. And Mrs. Byron came down and assisted with the assistant coach with the girls grass hockey team. And she and I used to run up and down that field with these girls and have a glorious time we took them over to play over me. Victoria Saanich areas and we did quite well for Salt Spring with our grass hockey team. The boys all belong to the local militia does not yes, and the day that war was declared, I remember that half of the boys just disappeared. They've gone off to off to war. I can remember parents voting saying seven so won't be at school tomorrow morning. He's gone. And we were very, very proud of that. Those boys. seems horrible to me without the methylene watch from the window see me in training out on. On the field. Harry Nichols was their leader. I still have pictures of them all in the uniform outside the schools they going off those days. And I stayed there until 1939. And during that time, we had this graduation party, which was a great success. We had our banquet in one of the classrooms. One of the two and then we had a dance and the other one was a very, very nice party just for those who are leaving us and those boys were in and the girls that were in that class. Some of them are really famous today.