School Days


I went to a one-room school called Surge Narrows School an elementary school in B.C. School District 72. The school ran from grade one to grade seven. After grade seven, kids could either board in Campbell River, or take correspondence courses. I managed to skip grade two, but I think it was mainly a convenience for the teacher to not have one kid in grade two, and one in grade three.

It has always surprised me that the son of a logger somehow managed to start from a one-room school and end up (well, currently I am) as a C++ programmer for Digital Asset Management (DAM) Software at North Plains Systems. I hope I don't bore you with these details of this 50 year passage.

I went to school with the following people:

If anybody reading this knows the web-abouts or where-abouts of those people, I would appreciate hearing from you. I know where my brothers are, it is the others I wonder about sometimes.

My teacher's were:

Getting to school was half the fun.

While Kenny Lambert was still going to school, he and Sharon would come across the channel from the Lambert's camp on Maurelle Island to pick me up, for the three mile ride to school. When he finished school, Sharon would drive over in their boat, the "Sea Flea", and I would drive us to school. Usually, we picked up and dropped off the Hackett kids. Dick and Dorothy had a small tractor they drove across the island from the Whittington's place in Evan's Bay. The Robinson kids boated to school from down the Island, and the Keeling boys walked from their home near Tipton's Store.

Sharon and I in the Sea Flea on our way to school.

Sea Flea

Being a very rural school, there was a simple monkey bar set, and the island to play on at recess. Kick the can was one of the recess or lunch time activities, as were mammoth snow ball fights in season.

Anti-Eye-Over was another game. The game has many spellings, and an entry on wikipedia so we did not make it up. The school building was likely built from war surplus materials for quonsets huts or from similar simple building materials. Thus, it had a round roof made of metal. Ideal for the game. The class would break into two teams, one team on each side of the school, and the it team would throw the ball over the roof. The other team would catch the ball, run around the school and try to tag a member of the opposing team by chucking the ball at them, while that team tried to escape to the other side without losing a member. A tagged person would join the successful team. If the tag was not made, the ball would go to the other team. More chucking, running, attempted tagging would ensue. Strategy was to catch the ball and split the catching team into two groups, with each team running around opposing ends fo the school. Thus, the other team would not know for sure which group had the ball and which way to run. Confused deer and sheep come to mind. The game continued until either all the people were on one team, or the bell would ring to save us. It was a bell. Hand wrung.

We built a scale model of Read Island as a class project. I forget who the teacher was that got this started, possibly Mr. Gunn. We had a large piece of plywood and a contour map of the island, laid out in 50 or 100 foot contours and a grid. We drew a grid at a larger scale on the plywood and laid out the first layer, the shore line, using some kind of plaster of paris or other modelling material. Then, anouther set of grid lines, draw the next elevation, trowel on the next layer, and voila, soon-ish we have a model of the island. It always looked a bit like the peak was too high, but it was the best model of Read Island anybody had ever made.

One of the highlights of the school year was Sports Day, held together with Cortes Island School This event was held near Manson's Landing on Cortes. There was always a picnic, along with such tests of skill as sack races, wheelbarrow races and softball throwing.

The other highlight of the school year was the Christmas Concert. The whole community was invited, and the pupils put on a show, involving Christmas Carols and a few scenes from plays. I do recall on at least one occassion Dick played himself along with a cat. We didn't set up a raised stage, but did have a curtain. The school had drapes over the windows, and two of these were re-hung on a wire across the width of the schoolroom,at the teachers desk end, to serve as the curtain. There were plenty of loggers around, so rigging the curtains was no problem. The audience, a sympathetic bunch for any nervous actor, sat in the student desks. It was fun, and just a bit scary to be on stage with everyong watching.

We also put on a show at Campbell River High School one year. I have forgotten most of the details as to why we were involved. I do recall we were billeted out with families in Campbell River. Gary and I ended up with some kindly folk who had a couple of kids. The high-(low?)light of the trip for me was watching some TV while we were eating supper, and I started to laugh at the Three Stooges with my mouthful. Peas flew everywhere, and I was embarassed as heck, but, we survive these little incidents.

A former student shared some pics with me. I am working on identifying people in the pictures, but it seems 60-odd years elapsed has an affect on memory.

Life is a precursor to the end that takes us all. Life on the islands and on the water always has some risk at hand, no matter how careful or experienced one is. Tragedy befell the Lambert family long after our family left the Island.

A news item of a memorial of the tragedy.

May 8, 2010, I noticed this while googling:

TANAKA George (Tsutao), 85; born Sept. 7, 1923, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; died July 5, 2009, Port Hardy, British Columbia, Canada. Surviving: wife, Ardys (Lindsay); sons, Don, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; Rick, Port Hardy; daughters, Karen Tanaka and Nancy Roberts, both of Port Hardy; sisters, Raiko Lambert, Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada; Elsie Iwasa, Payette, Idaho; 11 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

Mr. and Mrs. Tanaka, as I knew them then, lived in the same camp as the Lamberts. Raiko was wife to Forrest, and mother to the Lamberts I went to school with. The obit appeared here

It is a small world, even with Google News Archive. Here is Tanaka wedding sharing the same page as a reference to A.J. Elliott school, named for my grandfather's brother.

Sometimes these links no longer work, as it seems google gave up on the newspaper business, or just moved all the links... Just more web page fun.

The Grim Logger comes for us all. I noticed an obituary for Dick Whittington when I was last visiting CR to see my brother.

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