.....The Hutchisons were Saskatchewan pioneers and teachers. Some of the fourth and fifth generation descendants of John Franklin Hutchison have continued the tradition he and his daughter started.
..... John Franklin Hutchison, known as Frank Hutchison, was born on a farm near Columbus, Ontario on September 12, 1865 to Canadian parents, William Hutchison and Sarah Vickery. He was the eldest of their three children. The Hutchisons moved to a new farm in Meaford, Grey County, Ontario in 1875 when Frank was still a boy. He went to high school in Owen Sound and presumably took some of his Normal School training there before becoming a teacher around 1885.
..... Frank’s predecessor E. B. Hutcherson has an entry in the online book Pioneers and Prominent People of Saskatchewan, 1924 publication date in which it says "During the early days of his inspectorate in the Territories, his field was a wide one, embracing all the territory that lay between Medicine Hat and Broadview, Prince Albert west to Lloydminster and east to Star City; fifty-three school districts."(p. 202)
..... Frank Hutchison’s granddaughter, Wilda Henderson, who wrote a family history for the East Central School Area History Committee’s 1998 publication Chances, Challenges and Cherished Memories: Colleston, Cecil, Birson, Fanford, Steep Creek, Sask Forks recalled there:
My grandfather Hutchison was a school inspector. His territory spread from Battleford in the West to the Manitoba border in the East, and, for a short time later, to La Ronge in the North. This area he covered for some years by horse and buggy, or “cutter" as the weather decreed.
Some younger people will not believe that but it was the only transportation then. He told of occasions when he “lost the trail" enroute to a destination, after dark. He then praised a faithful mare, let her take over, and got back onto the right track, usually. Once, however, he had to stop and “make camp" until daylight when he was then able to get his bearings. Later, as trails improved to be dirt roads, he got a touring car and gradually no longer had to use horse and buggy. (p.197 of CCCM)
..... For a general description of the life of a school inspector in these times see the blog entitled Saskatchewan Inspection of the One Room Schoolhouse
..... The only document I have been able to find so far about J. Frank Hutchison during his time as a School Inspector in Prince Albert District is this July 18, 1906 Saskatoon Star Phoenix article in the Google News Archive which has him representing the Department of Education for a survey of Saskatoon about high schools.
..... Sometime between 1911 and 1916 the Hutchisons moved to Kinistino where Frank became the Inspector for Inspectorate #32. He is not mentioned by name in Harold W. Foght’s A Survey of Education in the Province of Saskatchewan Canada A Report to the Government of the Province of Saskatchewan. Online at: Regina, 1918. Chapter 5 – School Inspection and Professional Supervision.
..... But you can find out a lot of information about the experience of the inspector of Inspectorate #32 in 1917 in the chart described as Table 3 and also see where his area was in Map 4 of Chapter 5. Frank had 2 years of high school and 4 years of University (B.A.) and nine months of Normal School training. In 1917 he had 12 1/2 years experience teaching elementary school and 7 years experience teaching high school. His territory was just over 4, 000 square miles, and he had covered 3,000 miles of it that year. The district included 13. 5 municipalities. His annual salary was $2,000
..... Rachel Hutchison was the only one of my husband’s ancestors who maintained a photo collection to pass on to her daughter Orma. Surprisingly, the photo portrait from the 1890s is the one photo she had which shows Frank’s face clearly. Either he wasn’t home much or the Hutchison males were camera shy. There is no portrait of his father, either.
..... My husband, Frank’s great grandson, met J.T. Tomlinson, a later School Inspector in Prince Albert in the 1960s. The retired Mr. Tomlinson remembered Frank Hutchison as a “stern and serious" man. Perhaps this was a requirement for School Inspectors because I remember that it was a big deal when the School Inspector came to my classrooms in primary school in the late 1950s. We were always told by the teacher to be on our best behaviour.
..... This is a copy of that early contract for Colleston School which was published in the local history book. It is most helpful as the list of Colleston teachers on p. 667 has a gap in it between 1904-1913.
P664. Chances, Challenges, & Cherished Memories: Colleston, Cecil, Birson, Fanford, Steep Creek, Sask Forks, Prince Albert
..... Orma appears on the teacher’s list for Stanleyville School district in 1912, 1913 and 1914. ( p.33-34 SSSR). On page 31 of this local history book, there is a brief history of the Stanleyville Public School District No. 385 – first log school erected in 1895 on Twshp 47, Sec. 32, Range 24, W2nd meridian. Peter Byrne was one of the earliest trustees in 1895. Charles Byrne was a trustee in 1905. Charles Byrne settled in Stanleyville in 1887 and had a family of seven children so that is likely where Orma boarded while teaching there. (p.3. SSSR)
..... That leaves a gap of two early years teaching not accounted for and it is likely that she taught at ROZILEE School District #2473, LILY PLAIN SD #501 and BRIAR LEA SD #3103 in those years. These were small communities west of Prince Albert in the Shellbrook area. I don’t have any access to their local histories, which might shed light on what happened in the school districts there. Colleston and Stanleyville are rural districts immediately east and south of Prince Albert in a fertile belt between the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers.
..... This gap in the record will be resolved for me when the Inactive Teachers Registers 1905 to 1938 are finished being digitized and go online at FamilySearch.org. These are wonderful resources for people researching pioneer teachers. Unfortunately, I live in B.C. and cannot just zip over to the Saskatchewan Archives in Regina to look at them. The registers record every contract and inspection that teachers had in Saskatchewan. I was fortunate to be able to see copies of the ones concerning Gordon Snelgrove, Saskatchewan’s art historian, who taught in the province’s one room school houses before attending University. Some of these registers were on display at the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery at the U of S in January and may be reproduced in a catalogue about his career scheduled to be published in 2015.
..... The Neilson family were pioneers of the Colleston district. John Fisher Neilson Sr. and his wife Jane McDonald, both born in Ontario, homesteaded in the district in 1881. They had come from Rockwood, Manitoba where their parents had homesteaded in the 1870s. J.F. Neilson Sr. had joined the Ontario Rifles and came west with the Red River Expedition in 1870 to quell the initial Riel uprising in Winnipeg. His service was rewarded with a land warrant in Rockwood, which he appears to have signed over to his parents Francis R. Neilson and Elizabeth Hayes before leaving for Saskatchewan. J.F. Sr. was also a member of the Prince Albert Irregulars in the 1885 Riel Rebellion.
..... The Neilson homestead was very close to the first school in Colleston, a log building constructed in 1895, which was soon replaced by a newer building in a slightly different location in 1902. Photos taken in 1955 of both abandoned schools.
a) Log school house
..... b) Frame school house
..... John Fisher Neilson Jr. was born on the homestead in 1882, one of nine children and the first one to be born in Saskatchewan. By the time he met Orma Hutchison, he was homesteading himself on a piece of
..... Apparently, moving to the new house was quite memorable because Orma had her third and last child the same day. She spent most of the 1920s and 1930s doing farm work and raising her children. But she also worked on her teaching career. Her eldest daughter remembered that her mother had gone to work at Cecil School, about 4 miles east from their home, when her brother was still young. He had spent 3 months in Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert with appendicitis and peritonitis and the family owed a large hospital bill. The Cecil School roster of teachers shows Orma Neilson teaching there in 1926 and 1927.( p. 659 of CCCM)
..... Wilda continued:
There were many students at Cecil school who were very musical, so mother started getting piano lessons on Saturdays, from one of the Noble girls in Prince Albert, so that she could teach that lesson to many of the students at the school. She taught there for two years, until the bill was paid. When she finished there, parents came to see if she would consider carrying on with music lessons for their children on Saturdays. This she did, lessons were 25 cents each. ..
From this grew a very nice girl’s choir, the reason being, to sing at the Sunday services, in Colleston United Church, during the summers. There was no church during the winters, as most preachers were students, making this their summer occupation. The choir won first place in the Prince Albert Music Festival one year and Mrs. Neilson’s piano students often entered the festival competition. (p 199 CCCM)
..... Mrs. Orma Neilson appears on the Cecil School teachers list for 1926 and 1927. (p.659 CCCM) There is no listing for 1928 but in 1929, to my surprise, Miss Catherine Parr Traill is shown as the teacher until 1934. She was actually related to the historical Catherine, but born a century later in Meskenaw, Sk. See this website for a genealogy. Her grandfather Walter Traill was the original Catherine Parr Traill’s son.
..... In World War II, her daughters away being educated as nurses and her son in the army, Orma Neilson re-started her teaching career by taking a contract at Saskatchewan Forks School for one year in 1941. According to p.686 of CCCM, Saskatchewan Forks S.D. #364 was formed by NWT government but a school was not erected there until 1915. It was located on the south east corner of the SW 16-49-22- W2 meridian ( p.690 CCCM) This was an area near to where the North and South Saskatchewan rivers went their separate ways. The school closed in 1953 when East Central School began operation. The building was moved and it became the Steep Creek Community Hall for many years before it was demolished. (p.689 CCCM) There is a large section on Saskatchewan Forks School in the book with recollections of it by many former students.
..... A reminiscence of the look of the school was written by author Ken MacDonald:
The schoolyard had an ice house, a barn, two outdoor toilets and a large woodpile which the students usually piled in such a way as to make a series of hiding places. Ball diamonds were on all sides with the largest diamond taking up most of the northwest corner of the yard.
The school had a large sign over the door – Saskatchewan Forks School District #364. Inside were two cloakrooms for boys and girls, and each was jealously guarded by the opposite gender. A huge Waterbury heater sat in one corner, surrounded by a protective cover. The blackboards and the teacher’s desk were graduated in size from the very small for the beginners to the large double desks for the high school students doing their correspondence classes. (p.689 CCCM)
..... The teacher who followed Orma, Florence Gowen, taught there for several years and she recalled that there were about 55 students in 1942, necessitating the division of the one room by partition for a junior and senior section. By 1944 there were two teachers at the school. P.691
..... Another former student Ivy Phelps MacDonald wrote a recollection about her school days which included this:
Mrs. Neilson was my teacher in Grade 4. Mrs. Neilson was good at teaching songs. The war had just started, and she made us very patriotic with songs like “Tommy was a soldier" and “We are the men of the North." We lined up to salute the flag every morning. (p. 711 CCCM)
Chances, Challenges, & Cherished Memories: Colleston, Cecil, Birson, Fanford, Steep Creek, Sask Forks, Prince Albert p669
..... In 1942, Orma Neilson returned to teach in the one room schoolhouse she had first taught in when it was relatively new, the school that her own children had attended while she worked on the farm. Colleston School District #9 was set up in 1885 and the first school building was erected in 1887. It was used as a stable after the new school was built. ( p.662 CCCM) The second school building was erected in 1901or1902 and ceased use in 1953 because the students were sent to East Central School. (p. 666 CCCM). Orma was the last teacher on the teachers list for Colleston School and when East Central School opened, she transferred there. One reminiscence about the school contains mention of Mrs. Neilson:
As I (Priscilla McCloy) did not come to the district until the spring of 1945, my first time inside the Colleston school was for the 1948 Christmas Concert. Colleston was well known for its Christmas Concerts. I don’t think another person could have been squeezed into the school. It was very hot but as usual the concert was exceptional. Mrs. Neilson assisted by her daughter in law Lucille Neilson had put a tremendous amount of work into the concert. Two things I remember are:
Betty Spademan, who was at the age of where children are missing their two front teeth, sang All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth. This was a real crowd pleaser. The last item as always was the appearance of Santa Claus. As soon as Santa spoke, one of the children said, “that isn’t Santa, That is----“ I can’t remember the gentleman’s name but it was a man, who at the time, worked for Doug Buchanan and the children recognized his voice. ( p.669 CCCM).
..... It wasn’t only Orma’s daughter in law who got enlisted to help at the school. My husband remembers that his dad, Jim Henderson, a diesel mechanic at the CNR, obtained permission from his employer to use the Roundhouse to make the metal frames for some playground equipment for Colleston School in the late 1940s.
..... The school building is no longer located on its original site, but it was still standing on the other side of the road, not far from it, the last time we were in the area. It was delapidated and being used for storage.
..... Colleston School, like many of the other small rural one room schoolhouses enumerated here,
..... Orma Hutchison was a dedicated teacher and a great supporter of the community where she lived. Known as a tireless worker for the Colleston United Church, where she conducted Sunday School classes and also directed the choir or played organ. She was a woman of many talents, who wove fabric from sheep’s wool, made quilts and sewed clothes. She grew an enormous garden and had a chicken, egg and butter home business in the 1930s. The Neilson home had one of the larger single rooms in the Colleston area and was often the setting for impromptu dances in those times, accompanied by Orma’s piano stylings.
..... She lives on in the memories of her surviving 95 year old youngest daughter and 9 grandchildren.
..... (Click on above images for larger size.)
Lisa G. Henderson will offer to do look up in the two books,
Information about Prince Albert East Central Schools From The Above Books
Three images have been used above in the article from the book Chances, Challenges, & Cherished Memories: Colleston, Cecil, Birson, Fanford, Steep Creek, Sask Forks, Prince Albert (CCCM p662, p664 CCCM and p669 CCCM) and one image from Settlers between the mighty Saskatchewans: Stanleyville and Russelville. Prince Albert (p32 Settlers Between). The local history book committees have been contacted in this regard. The images are online in this investigative report about a pioneer teacher and school inspector for research, private study and educational purposes only. It is with a sincere wish to use the images only with the permissible purposes of fair dealing and to promote and encourage the interested web site visitor to contact the East Central School District History Committee or Stanleyville-Russelville History Book Committee respectively to delve further into the history of the district, the schools and pioneers, and in this way the creator of the books may obtain a just reward. These images represent a miniscule preview of the works contained in these local history books.
In depicting the changes to the school districts of Colleston, Cecil, Birson, Fanford, Steep Creek, Sask Forks, Prince Albert, the East Central School District History Committee, in the local history book, Chances, Challenges, & Cherished Memories: Colleston, Cecil, Birson, Fanford, Steep Creek, Sask Forks, Prince Albert, demonstrate their capability and pride in portraying the history and evolution of the district, and honour the memories of the early pioneers and their families. In like manner the Stanleyville-Russelville History Book Committee, in compiling the local history book, Settlers between the mighty Saskatchewans: Stanleyville and Russelville. Prince Albert, have pieced together mysteries, and present to the reader a journey, nay an odyssey to their home and a glimpse into the community of the early pioneer and the emerging contemporary area nestled between the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers. These committees manage to distill and disseminate a rich era of history and growth told from the perspective of local historians and researchers. The books are indeed the product of active and intensive engagement with life of the early settlers and their descendants. Compassionate and eloquent is their portrayal of this rural society through interviews, biographies, maps, library and archival research.
The remainder of the images in this illustrated biographical account are digitized from the private collection of the submitter Lisa G. Henderson. Copyright, all rights reserved.
It is the intention of this site to make Saskatchewan local history in regards to this biographical account available to persons with a personal historical or family genealogical interest in this area around Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. There are no service charges or fees for use of this information, and use of this site constitutes your acceptance of these Conditions of Use. This page is dedicated to the free sharing of this Saskatchewan historical information. Any further use of these images or biographical account would require permission from the copyright holders, and submitter Lisa G. Henderson as per copyright laws in Canada.
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From: Lisa G. Henderson author of Early Saskatchewan Art in the News and on the Internet and submitter of Souvenir . Normal School. Regina. Spring 1908. and A story about a Pioneer Saskatchewan School Inspector and his One Room School House teacher daughter. J.Frank Hutchison (1865-1935) and Orma V. Neilson (1890-1967)
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