Going to High School in the 1920’s

How many of you remember …?

by Bessie B. Billings

Do the 1920’s sound too remote for reminiscences called forth by B.C.I.’s 50th Celebrations We hope not, for many boys and girls who attended the old school, burned down in 1929, are now the white haired men and women who share the pleasures of the 1980 Reunion.

From Lyn and the neighbouring country-side the daily journey to school was first made by horses, generations of horses, we suppose. Horses who grew so wise about the gateways to stop at, that, if the teenager holding the reins was absent minded, they continued to halt there long after the passenger had graduated. The early morning drive through the woods on the Lyn Road, or, for a change the Howard Road, and the more relaxed return trip between four o’clock and six must have trained eyes and hearts to an appreciation of the seasons as they turned. We noted trillium’s in the spring, the best orchard, for a few stolen apples, beechnuts in season, the purple asters and red leaves of autumn, and the beauty and brilliance of frosty February mornings.

Of course, there was a lot of fun and some practical jokes to entertain us on our daily drives home. A favourite punishment was to push someone off the sleigh to walk a mile or two. Sometimes passengers craftily exchanged seats so that young sweethearts could ride together. Certain drivers pitted their horses against other horses in a brief race, although no horse on his school route was ever intended to be run! Even the deep pitch holes dug out in the snow and ice early in the winter, no paved roads then, provided us with laughs! One load of boys and girls became a secret society called “The Naughty Nine”, had a club pin, and enjoyed occasional Friday evening parties at members’ houses.

The school year demanded stamina, patience, and faithfulness to the task of getting an education; it also demonstrated the importance country parents placed on education for their children. Fathers who supervised the daily departure at 7:30 in the morning, mothers who placed a hearty lunch in our hands…….Years later, we thank them again for their encouragement.

The Principal we remember with great respect and affection from those early years is the late A.J. Husband, a firm, kindly, and cultured gentleman whose invariable morning greeting to us from the country, on very cold days, was, “Make sure you are good and warm before you go into your class.” He was an excellent teacher of English, French, German and Ancient History. Other names come to mind – Miss Giles, Miss McCormack, Mr. Somerville, Mr. Butcher (beloved by his Latin students), Mr. Thompson, Mr. L.S. Beattie, Miss Marjorie Lewis and Miss Mabel Roberts. Each old girl and boy will add to that list The school curriculum was perhaps too rigidly academic, discouraging indeed to those who found Latin a chore and needed a practical course of study. The hour’s drive home prevented any participation in sports and games. After eating a cold, if not frozen lunch in a classroom left open for us, we had little recreation except two noon hours a week in the gymnasium for the girls, (the boys had three), and a stolen few minutes of dancing, if the door was left unlocked. But in that generation we did not know we had rights to be pressed for; we knew only that we had duties and responsibilities. What a meek lot we must have been! Probably our worst misdemeanour was to leave school at noon one day in early September to attend the Rural School Fair at Tincap!

Those who remember going to B.C.I. in the 1920’s will have their own stories to tell. Good times with good friends, we like to recall them.

(this story was written for the 50th B.C.I. Celebration in 1980. It was published in the “Reunion Edition” of the B.C.I. 1980 Yearbook “The Boomerang”)

Off to B.C.I in 1925: L-R: Margaret Fodry; Jack Clow; Vada Clow; Gladys Latimer

BCI 1925 Graduates