Pioneer Days at Tumbler Ridge Elementary

On Monday, June 27th, the young students at Tumbler Ridge Elementary (TRE) came to school prepared to go back in time. Beverley Kellow, who is the teacher for grades 2 and 3, had decided to resurrect an activity she had enjoyed doing in the past, when she taught kindergarten in Edmonton. She and co-teacher Erica Sieber joined forces to make it happen in Tumbler Ridge.

The event was based on learning, working and behaving as the pioneers did. The children were encouraged to dress as authentically as they could and brought a boxed lunch. There were four rooms in the school used as a one-room schoolhouse, a kitchen, sewing/ washing room and a room for candle making.

Amongst the long skirts, aprons and bonnets, there were some cowboys and one Indian girl. Some students chose not to wear costume but all of them participated in the chores and baking that were expected of them.

In the one room schoolhouse, the teacher explained the way the children of yesteryear would come in at the sound of a large bell and sit at their desks. They wrote on slates, which we know as chalkboards. When answering a question for the teacher, students would stand beside their desk until the teacher called on them.

In the candle room, wax was melted over a heat source and then formed into a candle with a wick in the middle. It was then cooled in cold water. There were two kinds of candles, standard and beeswax, which gives a waffled appearance. Each student made their own candle.

In the kitchen, the students took turns in the making of scones and butter. There was a poem read as they shook the cream in a sealer quart until it thickened and became butter. The excess buttermilk from that was used in the scones. Mrs. Kellow had prepared some home-made jelly to have with the scones and butter in the afternoon following the event.

The chore room had a table with a basket full of socks with holes in them, ready for mending. A hard wooden ball was placed inside the sock to prevent poking a needle into the mender?s finger. There was yarn to be balled and knitting lessons, as well as a scrub board in a tub of water where the students had to run a bar of soap across the board, then wash the clothes on it and rinse. Bluing was added to the final rinse to make clothes brighter. In those days, clothes were hung on tree branches and rocks to dry and get bleach by the sun. Said one less than enthralled chore boy, ?But boys didn?t have to do this? he said cautiously. The room supervisor, quick on her feet replied, ?They did when they were at home with their mother.? The boy looked frazzled.

The kids enjoyed their adventure back in time and learned things they might not have known about that era. It was a great project lead by Beverley Kellow and co-teacher Erica Sieber and Pioneer day was topped off my a horse and buggy ride across the field at Tumbler Ridge Elementary, courtesy of the Doonan family.