The Poplar Park School District No. 545 was first formed on Aug. 1, 1888. One of the first teachers was the Reverend Patrick Bruce who continued teaching the scholars until the end of June, 1894. Then followed three teachers between 1894 to 1897: Thos. W. Carter, Frederic A. Corbett and James A. Laird.
On May 22, 1897 it appears that Charles Mattson donated some land for the Poplar Park School. The deed was witnessed by W.E. Cline of the Town of Selkirk and prepared by Heap and Heap, Solicitors. Recorded in writing on the Deed were these words: “For the consideration of $1.00 Charles Mattson transfers to the Poplar Park School District one square acre — 288 feet running south from the NE corner of Sec. 32-15-68 which said square acre forms the present public school there”.
Miranda Mattson Woodward writes: The school was situated about 1/4 mile north of the St. James Anglican Church. The school was just one-room with rough siding 0n the outside while the inside walls were covered with tin sheets. The school was heated by a wood stove. Students sat at double desks which had inkwells. Poplar Park taught children attending Grades 1 to 8. The schoolyard was fenced in and had a style rather than a gate, and there were three steps on either side of the fence. Children walked up to and as far as four or five miles, to attend the Poplar Park School.
During the 1913 term a new school was built and the site changed to about I mile south and l/4 mile east of the old school site. The new 2 acre-site was purchased from Sam Aldridge for the sum of $36.00. That year Michael Marko, the Sec. Treas. budgeted for $1,377.00 to meet building costs.
Miranda Woodward (Mattson) recalls “the new school was considered very modern and much larger. It had transit windows, beaver board walls and boasted of two cloak rooms”. Miranda thought it was quite an experience to move from the old school to the new one. She said “the new school wasn’t scheduled to be completed till the fall term, however, it was ready in late May, and we spent the last month of school in the new building. We finished up in style. ”
During that summer the old school, as though it knew it was no longer needed, burned to the ground.
Miranda Mattson Woodward recalls when she was attending the old school, “A Christmas concert and party for the community would be held in the school”. I remember as a small girl I stood on a chair and recited: “Here I stand upon the stage, such a tiny little figure, if the boys don’t like me now, they’ll have to wait till I grow bigger!”
“The whole Christmas tree, usually spruce, would be lit up by candles attached to the branches. Fortunately, there never was a fire. With a lot of candles on the tree, there was little need for many decorations. Santa handed out parcels from the tree. Candy would be bought prior to the concert, in bulk, in huge wooden pails. It would then be put in small bags made out of mesh, similar to onion bags, then distributed at the concert.”
The Selkirk Weekly Record reported that on Dec. 26, 1904, despite bad weather, the Christmas celebration was held at the Poplar Park School which was packed to the
door. School opened on Jan. 3, 1905 with Mr. T. Andrew Anderson, in charge as Teacher.
Miranda remembers with fondness the frequent “spelling matches” which were quite the fashion and really tested your skill. However, she said they also found the time to play fun games such as “Pig in the Hole” for which they used wooden sticks to try and push a tin can (flattened out) into a dug out circle. They also played “Farmers in the Dell”, “Tug-o-War”, “In and Out the Window”, “London Bridge” and many others.
Ola Astrope also has fond memories of the Poplar Park School. She says, “We lived close to the school as Mother’s brother Sam had sold the 2 acres which the school was built on. The students numbered about 50 or 60 in total and the teachers were very dedicated”.
Ola Astrope says, “how can one forget the double desks we often shared with the same friend for many years and the big old round stove that stood in one corner of the room.
The stove really threw a lot of heat, and if you sat near, it was too warm and the far side of the room was always cold. We had “spelling and geography matches” with the other schools. Many of the children walked 3 or 4 miles to school, and when the temperature dipped to -30, many frozen fingers, toes, or noses were common. Families took turns bringing milk and the teacher made hot cocoa at lunchtime. I especially remember the library which contained about five shelves of books, which we were allowed to take home and read.
I read many, but one was special, called “Under the Lilacs” which I read often along with “Black Beauty”. “During my early years in school,” said Ola, “when I was in the first couple of grades, I was always fascinated by the big wall maps that rolled up and down. One year the school board had a Doctor and Nurse visit the school to have tonsils removed. We wanted to have ours out too as most of the children were going to have their tonsils removed. However, our Dad said no there was no need to have ours out as we seldom even had colds or sore throats. We still have our tonsils to this day. ” Ola Astrope concluded by saying, “lifelong friendships were teacherage and students of the Poplar Park School “Planting a gaf made during these school years,”
In 1914, the Poplar Park S.D. boundary was adjusted by detaching Pt. of Sec. 20 and 29 in l5-6E and added it to the Arnhold S.D.
In 1916, a bylaw (No. 119) of the Munc. of St. Clements altered the boundary further when the S I /2 of Sec. 22 was detached from Poplar Park S.D. and added to the Libau S.D. No- 1231
By Sept. 3, 1926, the residents of this school district strongly objected to detaching anymore land from their boundary because it was already considered very small.
On Nov. I, 1926, the Poplar Park S.D. No. 545 boundary consisted of the following lands: E 1/2 of 20, all of 21, the N 1 t2 01 22, all of 25, 26,2’7,28, E I t2 0f 29,SEll4of 32, S I /2 of 33, S 1/2 of 34, S I1/2 of 35, in 15-68.
The boundaries were confirmed again by the Munc. Of St. Clements (bylaw No. 120, on Nov. 14, 1950) to be: Sec: E 1/2 of 20, 21,N 112 of 22,25,26,2’7,28,E I l2 of 29, SE I /4 of 32, S 1/2 of 33, S 1/2of34, S 1/2 of 35, in l5-6E’.
The Poplar Park School burned down during the winter of 1961-62 after the Christmas concert at the beginning of the new year. The students thought they would be getting an extra long holiday, but they were fooled. The trustees arranged to rent a vacant house (Mr. Fill’s old house) and with a little oil heat and a few minor changes they managed to finish off their school term there. So Mr. Fill’s old house became the Poplar Park Schoolhouse for a brief spell.
Then Metro Kowalik, the Sec. Treas. along with Steve Myslawchuk, who knew consolidation was just around the corner, decided it would be foolish to contract indeiJtedness for the building of a new school. Poplar Park S.D. was in sound financial position with no debts and they wanted it keep it that way. Steve Myslawchuk knew
where there was a fairly good school building, that if it could be moved, would fill their need. It was sitting on the Mike Kossack property. They contacted Happy Thought School, negotiated for the school building, buying it for $4000.00 and had it hauled out to Poplar Park and placed on the old school site. It was an excellent building and made the move without mishap. It was the The Maltson home, the white building in centric background is the first Poplar Park school. Cha ie Mallson in force ground. old Hoey East Schoolhouse that became the Poplar Park School house and classes resumed. They paid cash for it and never asked for any funding from the ratepayers of the district-,…
Then the fur hit the fan. The whole arrangement and negotiation had been a “Steve Myslawchuk Special”. The Dept. of Educ. had not been informed, no prior approval or authorization had been given for the disposal of Hoey or the purchase for Poplar Park. So they had to face the music and receive a sound reprimand. After that, they were congratulated on a good bargain and sound investment.
The Poplar Park S.D. No. 545 was dissolved on April l, 1967 and became a part of the Lord Selkirk School Division No. l1 (formed as a division by order-in-council No. 22416’l). The students were then bussed to the Happy Thought School in East Selkirk.
The old Schoolhouse and property were sold by public tender, purchased, and became a private dwelling. lt can still be viewed at the old site and people are living in it part time.
Sec. Treas. over the years were: Gestur Johnson, V,R. Bruce, Michael Marko, John Marko, Albert Jablonski, Steve Myslawchuk and Metro Kowalik.
ln conclusion, we list here most all of the teachers who taught at Poplar Park from 1888 up to the time of consolidation in 1967. A few photographs have been added that should give a tug to the heart.
Patrick Bruce 1888-1894
Thos. W. Carter 1895
Frederic A- Corbett 1895-1896
T.H. Carter 1896
Jas. A. Laird 1896-1897
Thos. H. Carter 1897
R.W. Dunlop 1898
Jean Clendenning 1899-1900
Mary Clelland 1901
T. Andrew Anderson 1901-1905
Geo. G. McCulloch 1905
Thos. A. Anderson 1906
Lillie LaPointe 1906-1907
Gertrude Masow 1907-1908
Helen A. Cormer 1908
Jessaning Carey 1908-1909
Kate Bayliss 1910
Anna Mclean l9l0-t9l I
Janet E. Sinclair 191 I
J. Leslie 1912
H. Powell 1912
Larina McKenzie l9l2
Wilhemina Mclaughlin I 91 2-1 9l 3
John D. Southerland 1913-1914
H.S. Korwecki 1914
Peter Budzinsky l9l4-1916
K.B. Gwordz 19l6-191’7
Stephen Sawala l9l7-1918
Rebecca Knelman 1918-1919
Frances Hriczuk 1919-1920
Helen Zado 1920-1921
Nicholas Bilasz l92l-1922
Elizabeth W. Ehman 1922-1924
Hnar Platsko 1924-1925
Theo. Fred Humeniuk 1925-1928
Catherine F. Morrow 1928-1929
Joseph Anton Lucko 1929- l93l
Olga J. Masciuch l93l-1934
victoria Alexandra Masciuch 1934
Stephen E. Radomsky 1935
Catherine Kissuk 1935-1936
William John Prociuk 1936-1940
John Samuel Evanchuk 1940-1943
Emil Joseph Borsa 1943-1944
Mrs. Lula Squire 1944-1945
Paul N. Kozak 1945-1949
Eveline F. Zegil 1949
Jean Senicie 1950-1952
Mary Bazinet 1952-1955
Ceorge Capar 1955-195’7
Don Leftruk 1957-1960
Mrs. M.L. Feniuk 1960-1962
Mrs. Verna Wusaty 1962-1965
Mrs. M. Feniuk 1966
Metro Lysaichuk 1966
and then consolidation with Happy Thought School.
MYMEMORIES SINCE MY SCHOOL DAYS
submitted by Steve Myslahchuk
I attended Poplar Park School. My first teacher was Stephen Sawula, who’s parents farmed in Poplar Park District. Mr. Sawula left school after Christmas due to sickness and never returned to teach. He took up law and became a brilliant lawyer in Winnipeg.
He still lives at the west coast at the age of about 90. I liked school very much, but the only problem was the roads. We went to school cross-country, walking. When spring came and the snow melted, our winter trails were on a lake, then there was no other choice but to stay home for about 2 weeks. I was lucky, I had only 2 miles to walk to school, some children had to walk 5 miles to school. The grades were from Grade 1 to Grade 8, and if my memory serves me right, the average attendance was 45 students at
Poplar Park School.
Teachers in those days were very dedicated people. Not only were they teachers, they also were community working people. A far cry from today’s teachers.
My father could not read or write, and there was a teacher of Ukrainian descent who had education in Ukrainian. He was willing to teach Saturdays 1/2 days in Ukrainian for free, to those who wanted to learn. My father promptly sent me on Saturdays to learn Ukrainian, and it wasn’t long when I could read Ukrainian, as well as, English. Then, what I had to do, was read the Ukrainian Paper to my father in Ukrainian, once a week
and I enjoyed doing it.
While still going to school in 1917, residents of the district decided to build a community Hall. To raise money they decided to put on a concert, a Ukrainian play (prestavlena). In that play there had to be 2 boy scholars.
They asked me to be one of them, and my friend D. Lysarchuk. The concert was a big success. And since then, 1917 to now, 1982, I am still an active member of the same community Hall.
Submitted by slh.