Features of the Area
This is a small community in west-central Alberta between Red Deer and Rocky Mountain House. Children from the surrounding area and from the area surrounding another community, Leslieville, attended David Thompson High School. It was about one and one-half miles south and west of Condor and about five miles south and east from Leslieville. It was located on an acreage along Highway #11. Nearly all of the students travelled to and from school by divisional buses. Mail could be picked up in either Condor or Leslieville. The official post office for David Thompson was at Condor.
The school was built in the mid-1950s. Two brick duplex teacherages were a few meters to the west of the school. The same year that my house was built in Caroline (1962), a duplicate one was built here for the principal and his family. During the summer of 1964, while Pam and I were in Seattle, two pre-fabricated houses were built to the north side of the duplexes. We were able to move into the yellow house about one day before school opened for a new season. To the north of these two houses was a smaller house where the caretaker and his family lived. A lane separated the houses from the school.
We had some interesting times with our house. Inside the front door was a clothes closet that was not against any wall, sitting out like a telephone booth. The ceiling of the livingroom did not appear to be level, having a slight wave to it. There was a beautiful stairway that led down to a small area where the furnace was. One day when the snow had melted and became a pool of water outside the livingroom window, we noticed that it was quickly disappearing. Shortly afterward, we found that water in our tiny basement, high enough to douse the pilot light on the furnace. One winter, we had a problem with our outside doors becoming frozen. We had to call a neighbor to come and push a door open from the outside. One spring, a representative of the builder came to replace a faulty window. It took several weeks for someone to return to complete the job.
This is a farming community: grain and cattle. There are also some oil wells. The highway is also called the David Thompson Highway, running from Red Deer to Banff National Park. When we lived in the school community, the far end of the road was no more than a trail.
Although the weather was similar to that of Caroline, about twenty-five miles to the southwest, there seemed to be a difference after crossing a stream between the two places. Fewer Chinooks reached David Thompson. In December 1964, we experienced a few days of very cold weather with frigid temperatures and a wind. The wind chill calculation worked out to be -76°C (-105°F). No buses arrived at school for two days. However, all teachers had to attend because the board would lose grant money at that time if a school were closed. I could not start my car to drive to the elementary school in Leslieville. Within a week as soon as the Christmas vacation had begun, Pam and I set out for Williston, North Dakota, via Montana, to visit her parents. During much of the 770 miles, it was snowing and visibility at times was not good. The return trip via Saskatchewan was much better.
Advantages of living in this community were that one could walk to and from school in a couple of minutes and that car pooling was possible for those of us who took university evening credit courses in Red Deer. The disadvantages were that it was necessary to drive a distance for food and other necessary purchases and services and that privacy was limited because of close proximity of neighbours and classes.
In Leslieville, food could be obtained at Politt’s Grocery. In Condor, it could be obtained at Bayer’s Grocery or at the highway at Poffenroth’s Grocery. Most other shopping had to be done in Rocky Mountain House (to the west) or Red Deer (to the east).
Canadian National Railways— There was weekly freight service, but no passenger service, at Leslieville.
Canadian Pacific Railway – There was weekly freight service, but no passenger service, at Condor.
There was a west wing, an east wing, and a central area. To the immediate west of the building lay the staff residences. The west wing housed the senior high classes, with classrooms, industrial arts room, laboratory, home economics room, and typing room. The east wing housed the junior high classes, with classrooms and a library. In the centre were the principal’s office, staff room, workroom, supplies room, and gymnasium.
Although I ordered some books for the library through the school board office, most books were supplied by Parkland Regional Library. Since the library was also used as a study hall, I had supervisory duties in addition to my library duties. When I was teaching a class, another teacher was assigned to this study hall. Discipline was very good in this school. The principal ruled firmly, but fairly.
The first year that I was there, my physical education colleague, Lois Farrington, and I hosted the divisional track meet. I coached senior boys’ volleyball, basketball, and track and field. Because my players lived at great distances from the school, it was very difficult holding the usual evening practices once a week for inter-school sports. The girls seemed to find it easier to attend their practices.
One day, after completing a physical education class in the gym, I went to the staff room for a free period. It did not seem right to be there at the time. Thus, I went to the library in the east wing. Another teacher was already there to supervise. That was not my place. Then, I realized that I had a psychology class with grade 11 students in the west wing. When I walked into the room, a student was at the front conducting the scheduled review. I let the student continue until the assigned questions had been answered. I did not tell them what had happened. They probably thought that I had been unexpectedly delayed in arriving at the class.
One year at the graduand banquet, I was assigned to introduce the guest speaker. He was Gordon Taylor, the provincial Minister of Highways. I had heard it said of him that he was familiar with every road in the province that was under his jurisdiction.
The last year that I was at David Thompson, I and a student teacher were assigned to accompany two groups of junior high students on successive Saturdays for their field trip. For some reason, the regular teachers were not available. The first stop on the tour was the international airport just south of Edmonton, the provincial capital. The second stop was the Queen Elizabeth Observatory where we saw an astronomy presentation. The third stop was the provincial legislature building. The final stop was Al Oeming’s game farm south of Edmonton. It was about a twelve-hour trip with about one hundred miles lying between David Thompson High School and Edmonton. On both mornings, we left the school at about 6:00 a.m. The bus seated about fifty-four students and accompanying parents. The student teacher drove his car, carrying a few adults.
The first trip went smoothly all the way. The second trip did also until we were about forty miles south of Edmonton on the newly opened freeway. Then, the driver sensed a problem on a wheel. He stopped the bus and he and I checked the wheels, but could find nothing amiss. Shortly after resuming the trip, a tire blew. The driver had difficulty in holding the bus from swerving or upsetting, but he was successful in bringing the vehicle to a safe stop. He then tried to remove the wheel to put on another. However, the lug nuts were so tight that they would not budge. We were now in trouble. Our accompanying car had gone ahead to the Juniper Lodge Restaurant where we were going to stop for supper. That was another thirty miles farther from here. A pickup truck from Alaska stopped and offered to take me to the restaurant. When I arrived, I phoned Pamela, my wife, to alert parents who would be waiting at the school. Then, I phoned a service station in the nearby town of Lacombe. The person who answered suggested it might be better if I contact a place in the town of Ponoka, which was closer to where the bus was. My colleague then drove me there. A repairman accompanied us in his tow truck to the site of our breakdown. Since our bus had a flat front, he did not want to tow the bus for fear that the winch would break through the windshield. Therefore, after having the bus removed off the road, he took the wheel and the bus driver back to his shop to make repairs. Again, everyone waited patiently. Eventually, they returned and placed the wheel back onto the bus. We could now proceed back to the school. Although we did not see a police car, we know that they knew of us, as they received some anxious telephone calls. We arrived back at the school at 2:00 a.m. the next morning. It had been a long day.
There were many pleasant experiences with the children in the elementary schools in Leslieville and Condor. However, there is one that I particularly cherish. After I would finish reading a story to the grade one children at Leslieville, one boy would always raise his hand. When I answered him, he would always say, “That was a nice story.” On one occasion, I stopped partway through a story for some reason. Up went his hand. I checked to see what he wanted. He replied, “That was a nice story.”
I taught psychology twice; and physical education, sociology, and geography once,and was senior boys coach once. I was also librarian at David Thompson, plus two mornings a week the first year at Condor and Leslieville Elementary Schools. Thus, I was in contact with all the students in these schools. There are too many names to be remembered. Thus, they are not included.
Staff and Associates
- Virindar Anand
- Frances Anderson
- Barry Bourne
- June Crawford
- Duane Duff
- John Emerson
- Lois Farrington
- Doug Hall (Principal)
- Ab Hardy
- Jack Hunt
- Marilyn Hunt
- Vern King (Vice-Principal 1964-1965)
- Don Lockwood
- Heather Loomer (Teacher 1964-1966, Secretary 1966-1967)
- Gordon Mackey
- Edna Oborn
- Wally Priden (Vice-Principal 1965-1967)
- Mrs.?? Ross
- Bob Smith
- Alma Sunde
- Audrey Sunde
- Lorna Tink
- Pamela Duff (Secretary 1964-1965)
- Dorothy Emerson (Secretary 1965-1966)
- Irving Hastings (Divisional Superintendent 1964-1966)
- Mr. Baker (Divisional Superintendent 1966-1967)
- Ensio Schroderus (Caretaker)
- Leona Hall
- Julie Hardy
- Elaine King
- Alice Mackey
- Boyd Oborn
- Verle Tink
- Phyllis Schroderus
- Allan and Nanette Marshall (Principal and Librarian, Condor School)
- Gordon Gibson (Principal, Leslieville School)
- Gust and Else Siegle
- Mrs. Poffenroth (local grocer)
(If you were one of my students, I would like to hear from you.)
(This page was updated in October 2012.)