Saskatchewan Gen Web Project - SASKATCHEWAN AND ITS PEOPLE by JOHN HAWKES Vol 1I 1924



The Peopling of Saskatchewan.


We have said that the mature immigrant, as far as his nationality is concerned, will die as he was born and raised, a Teuton or a Slav as the case may be. But by this it is by no means intended to convey the idea that contact with Canadian civilization leaves him untouched. He is a man of intelligence and feeling; and, speaking generally, adapts himself as well as he is able; and, what is more important, he is quite sympathetic towards the Canadianising of his children. He is proud to hear his chil- dren speak the "good English," and when his girl working out comes home he looks with a kindly eye on the flamboyant hat which is such a giddy contrast to the dark close fitting cloth which hides her mother's hair from the public view in the same way, and originally for the same object that the Turkish woman wears or used to wear a veil.

His attitude toward education is most important, and although the fact that, poor as he might be he had to pay hard cash for the support of schools, militated against any too eager acceptance of the school system, yet on the whole he has been anxious to see his children educated and Canadianised. The foreign immigrant who stands in the forefront in his love for education is the Finn. There is a Finn settlement north of Whitewood on the south bank of the Qu'Appelle River, or rather on the bank of the valley. This settlement will be referred to later on. It was a long narrow strip of ten or twelve miles long and the position in the early years was that a central school would leave the two ends unserved, and the district could not support two schools. So for some years there was no school, but notwithstanding this, what did the writer find? He found that every child of six or seven in that settlement could read and write. In amazement he asked Jacob Lakki, his informant, the question, "But who teaches them?" The reply was "Fader and mudder." We give the information for what it is worth but Lakki stated that in Finland a man who could not read or write was looked upon as so ignorant as to be irresponsible and was debarred from the privileges of citizenship. If he committed murder he was not executed, as through his ignorance, he was assumed not to be conscious of the heinousness of his crime.

When the first school in the colony was established the writer visited the schoolhouse. It was built of logs by the Finns themselves, a very com- fortable though small building. Close to it was a neat shack also built of logs, and comfortably plastered with mud. This was the schoolmaster's residence. The teacher was an educated Canadian named McCauley, who was preparing for his final examination as a doctor. This extremely fine man was socially buried, as it were in his task of teaching those Finn children, and what a task! for when he commenced he did not know a word of Finnish and the children knew no English. He put the children through their exercises and the result was amazing. Mr. McCauley in- formed me that the Finns insisted on having an English-speaking teacher and that his instructions were to teach the children three things, and noth- ing else mattered. These things were to read, write and speak Englisb,and do arithmetic. It is not difficult to see what was in the minds of these Bibliography follows:

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