The challenge before the educational system in the North-West Territories was excaberated with an rapidly increasing rise in the population of immigrants who did not speak English, but who were uni-lingual in a foreign language. "It should never be expected that the older people will become 'true Canadians' and no attempt should be made to do what is an impossibility. It is possible, of course," wrote J.T.M. Anderson, Inspector of Schools, " ...to assist them in gaining a knowledge of our language, laws and government; but it will be practically impossible to wean them away from many of the habits and customs of their native lands; but there is an important duty to perform in seeing that the children of these newcomers are given every opportunity to receive proper training for intelligent citizenship. They, along with those who enter our country while still quite young, are the material upon which Canadian as nation-buildres must work."|
Paul Hjartson summarizes the Laurier-Greenway Agreement of 1897, "a bilingual system of education was made mandatory if requested by the parents of ten pupils in a school who spoke French or any language other than English. " In Saskatchewan, the last period of the school day between three and four o'clock, could be allocated to teach another language such as French, or a foreign language such as Ruthenian. It was up to the school inspector to find a teacher who could fulfil this requirement if a community requested it. An innovative approach to educating students who spoke a foreign language was realized by the Saskatchewan "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities." This training school educated foreign speaking students with an educational curriculum to prepare them in "Scholarship" and the "Art of Teaching" to become a teacher in a one room school house.
One Room School pupil to teacher ratio varied from 6 pupils to one teacher to one teacher for 50 students at times even up to 79 children (as was the case in Cudworth 1918-1919). These one room schools would address a mix of students at primary and secondary course levels. This alone was a challenge for a single teacher, however, it was multiplied, if a uni-lingual teacher who spoke only English had a school with only foreign speaking children, and the teacher boarded and resided in a community with only foreign speaking parents.
The prevalent thought held that a teacher who spoke the same language as the majority of the student population could handle the problems which arose with greater efficiency. Imagine, being a uni-lingual English speaking teacher, arriving out of Normal School at the first teaching position, in a rural setting, the school house set in the middle of a field. One teacher says there were 51 children in grade one alone, and the community and students could not speak English, they were Ukrainian, Russian, Romanian and Galician. Gratefully, the teacher acknowledged that students above grade three had picked up some English. Or imagine if you, as a teacher, arrive, and amongst the school student population, there were seven new arrivals to the district, of whom six spoke only a foreign language. In this case, the teacher may neglect the other grades to get the beginners on track with English. Some teachers were thrown into a school setting where eighteen of the pupils could not speak a word of English. The uni-lingual English speaking teacher related that the only way to communicate with these students was with hand signals, and picture signs. Teachers did not receive training for teaching non-English speaking students in Normal School. Nor were they prepared for their first assignment when, on arrival at the train station, that the community, students and parents could not speak any English.
Generally speaking, the men who immigrated learned English as a necessity for commerce, selling agricultural commodities, acquiring household, communicating with homestead agents and farming goods and equipment. The women and children settlers, tended to be isolated on the farm speaking the language of the "old country" at home. Harvesting during this era was a community affair, settlers farmed in ethnic bloc and family settlements, one helping the other during this season to get the crop off. By speaking the same language, these tasks, and spiritual communion in the settlement reduced the feeling of isolation. However these social circles did not establish English into these rather segregated islands of ethnic parishes and communities. The education of the children in the community school, provided an opportunity for the family to absorb English together.
Marjorie P. Kohl's research places 10,000 Ukrainians in Canada by the end of 1898. The Canadian immigration scheme worked well, and by 1912, there were "between 130,000 and 150,000 Ukrainian Catholic settlers in Canada" according to Myroslaw Tataryn. Saskatchewan's population in 1906 is close to 258,000, and in 1916, the population soars to about 648,000. Of this provincial population, 27,500 are classified as Ruthenian, which at that time includes Ukraninians, Ruthenians proper, Galicians and Bukowinians, or just over 4% of the provincial population.
In Saskatchewan the majority of the Ruthenian ethnic bloc settlements were in the areas in and around Prince Albert, Fish Creek and Yorkton. This area north of the established settlements was encouraged as well by Government immigration officials, who would provide advice to the pioneers. Some communities with a higher distribution are: Meath Park, Edenbridge, Crooked Lake, Wakaw, Lemberg, Canora, Bukovyna, Onipro, Star City, Cudworth.
When an immigrant stepped off the boat in Halifax or New York in the late 1800s and early 1900s most knew very little English, perhaps a dozen or so words. They carried their belongings, and from their port of arrival needed to catch a train, riding it to the "end of the rails" and walking the requisite miles necessary to arrive at their destination. If they arrived after 1908, then three years of residence are required before the foreigner can become "naturalized", and earn Canadian citizenship. "It matters not whether he can utter a single word of the English language. It matters not what are his ideas of the Canadian system of government. He must become a 'citizen' before he can get a patent for his homestead, and thousands have eagerly signed their 'crosses' in order to obtain patents for their quarter sections." so writes J.T.M. Anderson.
The settler must then acquire farming implements, a horse or oxen, locate land in the west they wanted to homestead. After finding the surveyed land they wished to lay claim to, they again needed to travel to the nearest land titles office to fill out an application form. Once they built a shelter on their newly applied for homestead, they might send word back home for the rest of the family to meet them in the new land. All this the newly landed immigrant did with only a smattering of English in North America where the main language of service personnel and trades people was English and the second language of the Dominion was French.
Savings were spent on travelling to the "Next Best West", paying the $10 filing fee for a homestead, and purchasing oxen or horse, farming equipment, building a house, and making improvements to the land to be granted land patent title in 3 years. There was no extra money for taxes, clothing, shoes, no English for forms and the process of applying for a school district.
Before the North-West Territory School Ordinance of 1884, children were educated at home, at missions established by various religious interests, by the Hudson Bay Company, or in privately run schools. After 1884 public school districts rose across the west. However, large regions of the province between 1875 and 1901 had not established a school district..."Ignorance of the law, and lack of capable men within the district; local disagreements; inability to speak the English language; apathy on the part of the residents; fear that through the organization of school districts, all language and religious privileges would disappear; lack of understanding of the responsibilities of democratic citizenship; all these factors made impossible the operation of local control in some foreign speaking communities." In such areas, school districts were established by school inspectors.
Pioneers with a foreign language background were keen to assimilate English, yet they also had a desire to retain their own languages from their home countries. J.T.M. Anderson reflects that "he is in thorough sympathy with this desire to retain their maternal tongue, so long as it can be done without interfering with their children's education in English. The only satisfactory way in which qualified Ruthenian teachers can be secured for these settlements - teachers who can teach both languages - will be to educate the children at present in the schools for the teaching profession.
No matter what language was spoken in the community by the majority of settlers, it was realized that providing children with an education would offer to them a better and brighter future. With education, hurdles, and hardships faced by the parents could be overcome, if their children could attend school."
Immigrants with farming backgrounds became teachers providing education in the language of the community in many of these colonization areas. Education was seen as improving the community, and a settler would apply for a provisional certificate which would last one year. Agricultural farmers - not educated teachers - made up the massive immigration surge, and there were no training schools initially. Oft times the settler who taught for one year would return to proving up his land, and another farmer would teach the following year.
Duncan P. McColl, B. A. was Principal of the Normal School in 1902, became Deputy Commissioner of Education 1905-1912, Deputy Commissioner Education 1905-1909, and Registrar University of Saskatchewan in 1907. McColl, in his letters wrote that some school board members, ie of the Ruthenian community, were employing teachers who were not certified from a Normal School, and not approved by the Department of Education.
"Rev. R.E. Welsh, M.A., general secretary of the Canadian Bible Society, who has just returned from a western tour...," recorded the St. John Daily in 1905, "Every twelfth man through the Northwest, he said, is a Galician, between 60,000 and 70,000 being found there, chiefly beside the Saskatchewan... A most interesting movement he noted is that among the Galicians making for a new religious organization, the independent Greek Church, which is returning to the primitive type of the Greek Church. This new church now has about 25,000 Galicians under its influence."
The North-West Territories experienced a shortage of teachers during the first part of the twentieth century, and many of the teachers were of non-Ukrainian heritage. The province of Saskatchewan was created from the North-West Territories in 1905. In 1906, there were 1,190 school districts, and of these 873 had established a school building. There were 1,298 teachers for 31,275 students, which meant an average one room school size of 24 children.
The curriculum used was very similar to that used in the Saskatchewan Normal Schools and Union Schools around the province. In similar fashion to the Normal Schools, teachers were accepted in the one room school houses with a third class certificate when there weren't any teachers available to be hired. Whenever a crisis in finding eligible teachers arose, the school inspector could conscript a citizen for teaching duties. As the shortage of teachers was severe in different time periods, in like manner, a principal of a normal school, or a principal of the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" could recommend a teacher trainee to become a one room school teacher, even before a formal teaching certificate was issued. In the majority of cases, these students returned for follow up terms, until their teaching certification was completed.
The province of Saskatchewan initiated training facilities to provide teachers for the burgeoning population. A drastic lack of teachers meant that schools closed. Becoming a teacher in this era meant attending a "Normal School". Grade school students could learn by correspondence or by attending a neighbouring one room school house.
Permanent Normal Schools were established in Regina, Saskatoon, and Moose Jaw, with classes held in any Union School where demand warranted a special session. A Union School was a common designation to set apart schools of a certain standard in which teachers could be trained in the absence of any other training facility, university or Normal College. Moosomin and Moose Jaw Union Schools offer teacher training in 1889; Regina Normal School began in 1893; the Saskatoon Normal School, was opened in 1923; Moose Jaw Normal School was opened in 1927.
In 1907, at the Ukrainian-Ruthenian Teachers convention, which was held in Winnipeg, it was decided to establish a Ukrainian newspaper. Wasyl Kudryk was instrumental in setting up the Ukrainian Publishing Company of Canada in Winnipeg.
Kudryk became the editor of the new " Ukrainskyi holos" Ukrainian Voice Newspaper, publishing news articles on Ukrainian culture and life, as well as Canadian citizenship. The Ukrainian Voice Newspaper (1910), and the Ruthenian (Ukrainian) Teachers' Association (1906) encouraged a bilingual education system in the public schools, and spoke to the need that students should learn their cultural history and literature alongside their language.
It was the graduates of the Ruthenian Training School in Winnipeg which initially provided leadership to the growing Ukrainian Canadian settlements. In 1907, the school relocated to Brandon, Manitoba, and became known as the Ukrainian Teachers' Seminary.
Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities 1914
Featuring Sam Axenty ancestor of Tommy Henrich
Image submitted by Tommy Henrich
Click on image for larger size.
Saskatchewan quickly followed suit and established in Regina, the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" opened in 1909 under the principal, Joseph Greer. The Training School occupied the former Legislative Building on Dewdney Avenue. Alberta, as well opened their "English School for Foreigners" in 1913.
It was expected that the student enrolment would accept only those between sixteen and twenty year old pupils, however the training school also provided classes to students twenty five to thirty five years of age. These applicants were to possess a Grade IV standing in their own language for the subjects taught in the public schools; Arithmetic, Composition, Geography, Reading, Spelling, and Writing. As well, teacher trainees were to have the ability to converse in English. Ironically the training school was to instruct bi-lingual foreign-speaking teacher trainees to become teachers so they were possessed with the bi-lingual ability to maintain discipline and confer upon the students a knowledge of English so they could learn the entire curriculum of the school, however Greer and teachers of the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" themselves were uni-lingual, and spoke only English.
The curriculum at the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" set out classes in both "Scholarship" and the "Art of Teaching" Scholarship subjects included Algebra, Arithmetic and Menusration, Botany and Agriculture, Reading, Composition and Rhetoric, Geometry, Grammar, Physical Science, Reading, and Spelling. Whereas at the end of the term, courses included Class Management, Discipline, Duties of Teachers, Trustees and Pupils, School Hygiene and Sanitation. Teacher trainees were to observe a teacher in a school setting and submit a report. Students at the Training School were to teach about four classes under supervision of the Principal, or Training School teacher.
M.P. Toombs summarized the inaugural class results. Out of approximately 21 students enrolled in the first year, 19 were granted a permit to teach in between school sessions though no one was awarded their Grade VIII nor a first, second or third class teaching certificate. In the second year, 20 of the students returned for classes, and there were 16 new students. Of these five pupils achieved their Grade VII certificate. Out of about 36 students in the 1910-1911 school year, 29 taught after term. The next year, 1911-1912, fifteen pupils returned for their third year of training, there were about twenty seven second year students, and the new enrolment was at six pupils. This year saw four students acquire their Grade VIII and 7 were awarded the third class training certificate. Out of the 48 attending the school, 40 went on to teach in the schools.
The Normal schools were established for the purpose of turning out qualified teachers with teaching certificates. The Training School was tasked with raising the student's level of education to enable them to pass Grade VIII exams, in order to advance the pupil to high school and thence to Normal School for a third class teaching certificate. "The third class normal students obtain a ten weeks' course of training." J.T.M. Anderson relates in a report report by Dr. J.A. Snell, principal of Saskatoon Normal School, "the session for first and second class teachers covers a period of about sixteen weeks." To compare the pioneer teaching certificates to contemporary schooling; the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan clarifies this early system of teaching certificates, a third class teacher finished 'Standard VI' equivalent to Grade 9 schooling, second-class teachers had completed their 'Standard VII' or Grade 10, and first class teachers had finished 'Standard VIII' or Grade 11. The Salaries of Teachers in English Canada, 1900-1940: A Reappraisal states that a third class certificate was less than a complete high school education, a second class certificate was equivalent to grades XI or XII or junior matriculation and the first class certificate was equal to senior matriculation completing Grade XII or XIII.
Evolution of Education records that the first high school grade was referred to as Standard VI. A junior or Class 3 provincial certificate or Standard X: Middle, Class 2 or Standard XII: Senior, Class 1 Standard XII. A one year's provincial certificate or Class 3 Standard was needed to teach until the 1920's. However, a teaching certificate was held in good standing of higher education in prairie homestead communities, where children and adults alike do not feel the need to acquire higher than a grade four education in the general populous. That was all that was considered a necessity in a time, when crops and livestock needed tending to prove up the homestead.
Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities 1914
Featuring Sam and John Axenty ancestors of Tommy Henrich
Image submitted by Tommy Henrich
Click on image for larger size.
The Training School initially operated between September and April allowing a term of six months. The School suffered under this short training term, and did not have the time available to provide the full Course of Study. As students also had the role of agricultural and homestead duties at home, the school accepted late comers in the fall, and saw teacher trainees leave early in the spring. After the first term of study, teacher trainees also had the added responsibility of attending to the teaching duties in their one room school house.
Rural One Room School Houses were generally open as "Summer Schools" Those rural schools with smaller attendance would open only for the summer term (spring to fall) which compromised the children's educational progress as compared to those children in attendance for a full years term. Any school with 15 children living within 1-1/2 miles (which were usually inside town) would be open all year 210 days. Winter terms were hard to attend in rural areas: children had to share winter clothing to attend winter school, roads (actually trails) were terrible, snow and cold made both roads impassable and school houses too cold, families had limited finances to afford horses etc for transportation. Approximately 1/4 of one room school houses were open less than 150 days per year at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Reporting to D.P. McColl, Greer started as both principal and the sole teacher between for the first two years that the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" was in operation. Greer, aged 43 when appointed to the post at the Training School had arrived in the North-West Territories eleven years earlier from Ontario, becoming principal at the Fort Au'Appelle school.
For the 1911 and 1912 school year, J. McDermid joined him as assistant teacher. By graduation, C.V. Statia and M. Platsko were the assistant teachers for the 1911-1912 school term. During 1913 and 1914 S.M. Johnson was Greer's assistant. In 1911, the Training School fell under the jurisdiction of the Normal School, and Greer was to seek guidance from the Principal there. Though the Training School was initially conceived as a boy's residential school, as a Training School, there was still the work of managing the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" as a boarding school, and ensuring that food and supplies were on hand in addition to the education, examination, bookkeeping and disciplinary tasks.
1913 saw the publication of "English for the Non-English " by Norman F. Black which put forward the determination that English is best assimilated by immersion in the classroom to that language, and that this was presented as the best way to educate immigrant children. It was considered that a teacher who only spoke English induced the children to learn the language faster in a type of immersion classroom than a bi-lingual teacher who translated how to speak English by using Ruthenian as a descriptor.
The Manitoba Ruthenian-English Readers was a set of two books published for primary schools in 1913 to assist with education of non-English-speaking immigrants. Teachers put before the Manitoba Department of Education a request for the bi-lingual readers. School textbooks from the Ukraine were not satisfactory on their own, and the English only readers, also did not quite suffice. Teachers found a bi-lingual reader very helpful, and much easier to start a pupil reading if they did not understand English to begin with These bi-lingual readers complemented the efforst put forward by the bi-lingual teachers coming out of the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities".
The Yorkton Enterprise ran an article in June of 1914 regarding a large gathering of Ruthenian pupils in Wroxton, and the August edition of the same year reported on the Ruthenian Teachers Convention. The inaugural union field day of the province of Saskatchewan was held in Wroxton, featuring parades, and competitions, parents and children travelling lengths of seventeen miles to attend, a long journey by horse and cart.
The topic of teaching English to foreign students was the main topic of the 1914 Ruthenian teacher's convention. The method of teaching English focused on the Berlitz method or the bilingual system of conveying the English language to students.
"The Berlitz Method" pioneered the direct method and focuses on using language as a tool for communication. The direct method, as opposed to the traditional grammar translation method, advocates teaching through the target language only - the rationale being that students will be able to work out grammatical rules from the input language provided, without necessarily being able to explain the rules overtly. Today, there are a variety of derivative methods and theories which find their beginnings in the natural and communicative elements that were pioneered by Berlitz."1
As mentioned earlier, the majority of the schools of this era operated as rural "summer schools" as there was not any asphalt highway, nor means of snow ploughing the trails to enable transportation access to the school through the snows of the winter months. In ethnic bloc settlements, the specialty schools which trained Ruthenian teachers meant that 57% of summer schools were able to employ Ruthenian teachers. However, that being said, though the Ruthenian communities were clamouring for "foreign" teachers; teachers of Ukrainian extraction had a challenge before them to find employment. Senator Paul Yuzyk on graduation from Normal School put out 77 applications for employment before obtaining a post near Hafford in a Ukrainian community.
The school itself was under pressure from the Ruthenian community who wanted a teacher of foreign extraction, and desired the Training School to be for Ruthenian students only. Due to immense problems at the school, the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" was closed February 1914, five years after it opened and Greer resigned. After this date, "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" became attached to the Normal School, and Mr. W.E. Stevenson and Mr. H.A. Everts, two former school inspectors were put in charge.
The shortage of teachers in the first two decades of the twentieth century was compounded by World War I (1914-1918) and the absence of local personnel due to enlistment.
In 1915, Edmund H. Oliver thought there were 60,000 Ruthenians residing in Saskatchewan or 8% of the population. Oliver states, that "there are 200 schools in which the Ruthenians form the majority, and of these between 75 and 80 are taught by Ruthenians" themselves." From the efforts of the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" 80% of the Ruthenian teachers are trained in Regina.
"Saskatchewan Public Education League - Why it was Formed - What it is - What it is for - Your place in the work- About thirty persons from various parts of the province met at luncheon at the King's hotel, Regina, on July 27, 1915, to consider whether action might be taken to arouse and organise public opinion in regard to public education. Dr. Norman F. Black, as an educator familiar with existing conditions and suggested reforms, was asked to outline the present school system with special reference to those aspects of it that seemed defective." The Saskatchewan Public Education League (SPEL) encouraged local organisation of SPEL branches at ratepayers meetings, community picnics, homemakers clubs, school boards. One of the "Problems for the People" brought forward was "Training of Teachers. Specialisation in rural school methods. Special preparation for teaching non-English speaking beginners. ...What suggestions have you to offer towards increasing the efficiency of the training given to foreign speaking students to serve as teachers in districts where special conditions necessitate their services?" The SPEL hoped that legislature could study, and learn the wishes and needs of the general populace.|
The number of school districts rose to 3,878 in 1916, with 3,608 established schools. By 1916, 5,677 teachers were available to teach 125,590 pupils (one teacher for every 22 students approximately). Every day in each year over this decade, (excepting Sundays) a school district was created.
The Winnipeg Ruthenian Training School which had opened in 1905 was shut down in 1916, along with the Vegreville, "English School for Foreigners." The Manitoba Ruthenian-English Readers were destroyed summarily the same year when the Brandon school closed its doors.
On April 1917, the Department of Education terminated the special classes, at Regina's "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" advising that students could continue in regular high schools and Collegiate Institutes. These "special" schools which trained bilingual teachers were no longer looked upon with favour. That being said, the Regina school did educate John Diefenbaker, who became Prime Minister of Canada; June 21, 1957 - April 22, 1963. The school also educated Demetro Lewontiuk, John Lewontiuk, John Axenty , and Sam Axenty ancestors of the photo submitter, Tommy Henrich.
J.T.M. Anderson, Director of Education in Saskatchewan (1920), "appealed to the public to support the attempt to distribute English-speaking teachers among the foreign settlers of northwestern Canada. He expressed the opinion that compulsory education in English, which is in force in many of the settlements, should be extended throughout the whole of Canada.".
Although the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" closed its doors, it served a unique and invaluable purpose enabling students to receive an education in course work and subjects, but additionally it served the community teaching English. In many cases adults in community night classes came to understand, speak, read and write English. Before "English as a second language" courses were formalized, the province had achieved a break-through in reaching students by establishing the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities."
Where the challenge set before an uni-lingual teacher was daunting, and very time consuming, the teachers who graduated from the "Training School for Teachers in Foreign Speaking Communities" provided an invaluable link to ethnic bloc communities, and were able to present the language of the community in the last class of the day as well. "The teacher is one of the most important - if not the most important - element in racial assimilation," J.T.M. Anderson writes in 1918. He continues, "The writer strongly urges that a special course be instituted in the provincial normal schools of the Western Provinces looking to the preparation of teachers for the work of teaching in the non-English communities. ..teachers-in-training should be provided with an opportunity of meeting with non-English children. Classes of 'foreign' pupils should be found in the model schools...Would it not be the logical method of acquainting students with the problem of teaching English to 'foreign' children, if one room in the model school were set aside forbeginners in the study of our language?" Additionally he felt that "any movement to bring together the people of adjoining districts or settlements will result in an increased interest in each other."