1-room schools fondly remembered by former students – Manitoba

Seniors from the Libau, Man. area remembered the good old days Saturday at a reunion for the eight one-room schools in the area. 

Thousands of hours of work went into getting the 250 former students together. 

And some of those gathered at South Beach Casino for the eight-school Libau and Area Schools Reunion hadn’t laid eyes on each other for 70 years, co-organizer Dennis Anderson told CBC News. 

The idea to reunite the former students and teachers had been percolating for some time, but it wasn’t until last fall the decision to go ahead was reached. 

Anderson, now in his 70s, went to Sheffield School, which was west of Libau, from 1949 to 1958. 

Libau School (no date). ( J. E. S. Dunlop/Archives of Manitoba mhs.ca)

His biggest class had 35 students in it. The intermingling of the grades enriched the learning experience, he said. 

“The older students got involved in teaching the younger students, there was no way one person could do all the teaching of all of those grades and those numbers,” Anderson remembered. 

“It’s typical of one-room country schools that a 17-year-old would come out, having taken Grade 10 or 11 somewhere, then spent six weeks in teacher training to get their permit to teach,” he said. 

Manitoba once had as many as 1,400 one-room country schools, Anderson said, but most closed in the late 1960s. 

In the Libau area, about 80 kilometres north of Winnipeg along Highway 59, there were Libau West, Libau East, Sheffield, Poplar Park, Brookside, Hoey West, Hoey East and Arnhold schools.

Teachers sometimes boarded with their students’ parents. In Poplar Park, there was an adjacent ‘teacherage.’ ( J. E. S. Dunlop/Archives of Manitoba, mhs.ca)

Anderson said the reunion will leave behind two legacies: marker signs at the sites where each school was located, as well as a roughly 300-page commemorative book he hopes will be a resource for today’s teachers and their students. 

“We’ve dug through archives,…

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