by Margie Robbins and Marion Pettinger

This will be a short history of school life in Elgin from 1884 1986. A school reunion is being planned for July 1, 2 and 3, 1988 in the community where old friendships will be renewed with memories of former days. Invitations have been sent to all those associated with the school over the years.

How Elgin originated...

The town of Elgin was established in 1889 follow- ing the arrival of the Great Northern Railway, now the Canadian National. The town was named by the railway after James Bruce Elgin, 8th Earl of Elgin who became the Governor General of Canada in 1847.

First School

Settlers had arrived in the district in 1882 and one of the first priorities for them was the building of churches and schools. The first school was organized in 1884 and built on 31-5-21, given the name of Alice school, but known to many as McKeller, as it was located on Mrs. McKeller’s land.

In 1900 the school equipment was moved to the Orange Hall in Elgin and the building moved to 3rd Street and used as a post office.

In 1903 the first storey of the brick school was built at the north end of 3rd Street with two rooms. In 1906 the upper storey was built. In 1912 another room was furnished in the basement, making five rooms. In 1913 the school was consolidated. At this time there were six van drivers, the first being Mr. Cook, Mr. Spratt, Mr. Ross, Mr. Hudson, Mr. H. Robertson and Mr. T. Johnston. In 1912 a school report shows fifty-two pupils in room one, forty—one pupils in room two, twenty— seven in room three, and seventeen in grades nine, ten and eleven.

Annual salary to four teachers was $3,150.00. The country schools taken in to the Alice School District which now became Elgin Consolidated School were Maguire, Millerway and Gilead.

By 1929 ten vans were bringing rural children to school. The attendance given for this time was around 250 children. Crown School closing in 1930 added five more sections to Elgin school district.


School Fair and Field Day

The Elgin School Fair was a popular event during the early 1920’s. It held competitions for all pupils, from schoolwork to animal shows, to garden products. In 1925 on June 3, a School Field Day was held at Elgin. Participating were schools from Souris, Hartney, Lauder, Deloraine, Whitewater, Boissevain, Regent, Minto, Fairfax and all adjacent country schools. Program attractions were the School parade, speeches and music, and drill exhibitions, senior and junior boys races, including boot races and three-legged races, also long jump and high jump. The girls had races as well as senior and junior baseball games. For the boys were senior, junior and juvenile baseball. Through the years competition has been strong between schools in the division, with winners going on to compete in Zone and the Provincial playdowns. Music and drama also have played an important role with students taking part in Festivals.

New School

In 1951 a new school was built on the SW. quarter 5-6-21 and opened by the Minister of Education, Hon. W.C. Miller. This ceremony took place on Monday, August 27. Mr. John Whitten, chairman on the school board, welcomed the guests. Mr. J.O. Argue, M.L.A. was chairman for the program held in the auditorium. Mr. M.R. Mouritsen was principal of the school. He was instrumental in the format of the grade twelve Graduation Exercises.

The old school was sold to Ray Maguire for $1,003.00 and torn down shortly after the new school opened.

Regent School closed in 1959 and some of the pupils began attending Elgin School until 1966 when their district consolidated with Deloraine.

In 1962 the Fairfax pupils came to Elgin for their high school education. During Christmas holidays of 1964 the Fairfax School was destroyed by fire and the remaining pupils were transferred to Elgin, Minto and Boissevain.

In 1966, a kindergarten was started in the school. There were 14 four and five year olds attending with the parents paying a fee of $20.00 per child. Mrs. Janice More was the teacher and the term ran from the end of January to the end of March. In 1968 the division took over the payment of the teacher’s salary.