Features of the Area
This is a village just east of the Rocky Mountains and about sixty miles southwest of the city of Red Deer. From here, the foothills can be seen. This is parkland country, as opposed to being prairie. Trees are numerous, with brilliant yellow leaves being seen in the autumn, especially to the west. About six miles west of the village is the Clearwater River, a tributary of the North Saskatchewan River. About one mile south of the village is the small Raven River, whose waters eventually reach the South Saskatchewan River. Thus, a separation of watersheds exists in the general area of the village.
This is farming country – mainly grain and cattle. There were some oil wells when I lived here. It is also on the edge of hunting country. The annual rodeo, held just past the Clearwater River, gave evidence of the ranching industry. The community was founded in about 1908.
All roads were gravelled. About 1959, Highway #54 was paved about halfway to Caroline from Innisfail. By the following year, pavement had reached the village and on west as far as the Clearwater River.
Drinking water for the home in which I lived from 1958 to 1962 came from an artesian well just east of the village. Mr. Axtell would take milk cans there to fill. In 1962, the streets were torn up for the purpose of laying lines for the water and sewage system.
The summers are usually very pleasant, but the growing season is not long. The winters can be cold and snowy. Winter relief comes with the arrival of a Chinook wind. Its coming can be seen with the presence of an arch in the southwest sky. Temperature rises are dramatic, causing snow to melt quickly. This phenomenon is more common farther south in the province. Hail is a menace to grain farmers in some parts of the area.
The general store, including groceries and hardware sections, was operated by the Brauchts. In 1963 or 1964, the Drummond store was moved in from a neighbouring community and set next to the hotel. The hotel stood on one corner of the main intersection. For automobile repairs, there were the Clare Russell Garage and the Ervin Kanten Garage. For gasoline, there was a choice of Esso, Purity 99, and Redhead. About 1963, Les Rhodes and his son Wilf brought in a sporting goods store and Shell Oil outlet. Murray Brothers operated a sawmill. The Lundgren family operated the telephone office. After the Stewarts left the Purity 99 station, they built an ice cream drive-in at the east entrance to the village.
South of the main intersection was the post office. Mail arrived twice a week from Innisfail for the first two years. Eventually, there was mail six days a week. To the east of there was the idle pole yard, which at one time had been a thriving business.
The Steens operated a small branch of the Treasury Branch (a government financial firm) at their house. Later, a mobile building was brought in and placed almost across the street from the Braucht store. Just west of Brauchts, Harry Norton had a barbershop and pool hall.
The Nazarene church was located just south of the post office. It was eventually replaced by a larger building. In 1960, the Anglican church purchased a school building that was no longer going to be used and moved it to a lot a little west of the post office. The Catholic church was located just outside of the village to the west. The Reorganized Latter Day Saints church was located just north of the Crammond School.
There was no railway or bus service, although Mr. St. Denys operated a form of bus service for a short time during my first year in Caroline. Thus, personal transportation was necessary.
The school is located two blocks south of the main intersection. When I started work there, three buildings were being used. On the corner was the building that housed the junior and senior high school classes. Outside the back door was another building with one classroom upstairs and one downstairs for grades five and six. To the west of the high school was the newest building. It housed grades one to four, a nurse’s room, washrooms, and a small gymnasium with a stage.
In 1960, the old building at the back was removed and became the Anglican church. Where it had sat, a four-room addition, with staff room, was built, being attached to the high school. This became the home of grades six, seven, and eight. That year, we had two grade eights and a large grade seven. Three of us taught subject areas to the three classes. My area was general science and social studies. A library was created and placed in the basement beneath the northeast classroom. As librarian, I purchased some of the books. However, most of the books were supplied by the Parkland Regional Library, which served a large area of Central Alberta.
In 1963, an addition was built on the west side of the primary school. The primary grades were moved to the other building, and the junior and senior high grades to the new building. This new section had, in addition to more classrooms, a larger library and a principal’s office. During my tenure, Chedderville and Clear Creek Schools, to the north, were closed and the students were bussed to the Caroline School. Students graduating from those schools before they closed and from Crammond School came to Caroline School to attend the higher grades.
When I arrived in 1958, there was a house for the principal and his family a little to the west of the school buildings. Beyond that, there were two two-room teacherages. In 1959, a small house was moved in to a location just west of the two small teacherages. In 1962, the board had two houses built across the street from the west school building. I was allotted one of these. In 1963, to make way for the addition, the large house was moved across the street in the next block west.
I was responsible for organizing the local track meets. After a couple of years, Bryn Thomas became division coordinator of athletics and, for one year, physical education teacher in our school. His help in all aspects of sports was very much appreciated. I also was responsible for noon intramurals of volleyball, basketball, and badminton. From 1959 on, I was in charge of inter-school sports for our school. Gradually, other teachers relieved me of the junior teams, and, in my final year, of the senior boys’ teams. Our girls won the regional volleyball championship twice and were runners-up in two other years. The year after, when there were provincials, the girls competed there. In my last year, our boys, who were coached by my colleague, won the regional championship. Thus, that year, both of our senior teams, who represented the smallest school in the tournament, were victorious. Our school competed with the two other high schools of our school division in volleyball, basketball, badminton, and track and field. We were also involved in the regional track and field meets. Despite my limited coaching abilities, our students accomplished much in sports.
The small gymnasium was a problem with sports, whether within our school or with other schools. During one year, our inspector suggested that I have a rotating schedule for the large class of grades seven and eight boys to allow participation of all without overcrowding. In a later year, I really had to improvise during badminton season in order to keep all of a physical education class of twenty-four grades ten, eleven, and twelve boys busy.
In the first two years that I was at the school, one of the subjects to be taught was Drama. This was something new for me, although I had directed a play a few years earlier. One area within the course was a radio play. In 1952, I had been on a conducted tour in the NBC studios in New York City. Here I picked up much information, which I put to use in my classes. During the second year, we put on a performance at a Home and School meeting with a larger than normal attendance. One of the boys was interested in sound systems. He set up the microphone and the amplifier. Some students backstage presented the sound effects. Other students were performers, who read their parts in front of the microphone. One student read the commercial. The presentation was a success. I had it recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder.
Two unusual events occurred in my science classes in the second year. In the first one, I had borrowed a Bunsen burner from the science lab for an experiment. I held the jar while one of the boys lit the wick. Suddenly, the jar was blown out of my hand and landed a few feet away near another student. On checking the contents, I discovered that the alcohol used as fuel had been replaced by turpentine. Fortunately, no damage was done. In the second one, I was holding a live bat by its wings to demonstrate its appearance for my class. Suddenly, it flew out of my hands and circled around the room. One girl was so terrified that she ran out of the room and hid in the girls’ washroom. The bat appeared to dive toward another girl, who let out a scream. Eventually, the creature settled at the top of the room above the front blackboard. The boys thought the event was very amusing. After the class was gone, I took a broom and allowed the bat to cling to it. Then, I carefully took it outside and let it fly away. I did not seem to be bothered by the fact that the bat could have bitten me when I was holding it.
Shortly after the library was created and there were still a small number of books, one little girl thought that she was doing me a favour by placing the books in order by size. I had to tell her kindly that books are not arranged that way. In later years elsewhere, older students did such things to be annoying. Story time with the grade one students could be interesting. Someone would tell an experience based on something that was read. Then, most of the children would raise their hands and wanted to continue with their experiences.
After the first year that I was in Caroline, I taught subject areas, was librarian, and was sports coach. Thus, I eventually was in contact with every student in the school. For these reasons, I am not listing the names of all the students, although I do remember many. Since there is reference to the sports teams, I shall mention the team captains: John Anger, Clayton Haney, Frances Wren, Irene Thompson, Mary Miller, and Donna Wales. I cannot recall all of the assistant captains, but these were some of them: John Houlton, Irene Stang, Mary Miller, Donna Wales, and Florie Tose. One year, Jeannette Godkin coached a girls’ cheerleader team.
Staff and Associates
- Kathy Alstott
- Howie Barber
- Mrs. ? Boyer
- Sylvia Bryant
- Art Buchanan
- Louise Bystrom
- Mary Christian
- Stella Clay *
- Ann Demeniuk (Vice-Principal 1958-1963) *
- Duane Duff *
- George Farewell
- Garry Gillespie
- Jeannette Godkin
- Frank Gurak
- Alice Harper
- Terry Holmgren
- Hugh Horne
- Roy Hoven
- Andy Klar
- Bruce Larson
- Terry McLiskey
- Campbell Moore (Principal 1959-1963)
- Ken Oliphant
- Mrs. ? Oliver
- Charlotte Peterson *
- Paul Ponich (Vice-Principal 1963-1964)
- Mrs. ? Ryber
- Charlotte Rulka
- Kazimir Rulka (Principal 1963-1964)
- Mary Stacey
- Steve Stacey (Principal 1958-1959)
- Bryn Thomas
- Don Van Kleek
- Alma Vandermeer *
- Elsie White
- Leonard White
- Wally Woytuck
- Betty Wren
- Maureen Campbell (Office Receptionist)
- Louis Wren (Caretaker 1958-1959)
- Hank Stainbrook (Caretaker 1959-1963)
- Mr. ? Weiss (Caretaker 1963-1964)
- Fred Burletoff (Bus Driver for Sports Teams)
- Jerry Vandermeer (Bus Driver for Sports Teams)
- Harold Hall (Department of Education Inspector 1958-1960)
- Irving Hastings (Divisional Superintendent 1960-1964)* Teachers who were on staff every year from 1958 to 1964.
- Willard and Mabel Axtell (my landlord and landlady)
- Harvey and Carley Cole (Harvey area veterinarian)
- Ivan and Anita Graham
- Vern and Viola Larsen
- Ralph and Ruth Johnson
- Wallace and Bessie Reese (village councillor and secretary-treasurer, respectively)
- George MacNutt
- Don and Hazel Runham
- Cecil and Doris Wales
- Hugh and Audrey Oliver (Hugh local school board member)
- Vance and Dorothy Braucht
- Bobby and Darlene Evans
- Mike and Muriel Steen
- Doug and Elsie Stewart
- Leonard and Mrs. Kanten
- Donald and Mrs. Bowden
- Harry Norton (my barber)
- Toni Schlamp (postmistress)
- Bill Smith (principal for part of the period at Crammond)
(If you were one of my students, I would like to hear from you.)
(This page was updated in October 2012.)