Past teacher, Cathy Palmer and students, Roy Herold and Michelle Sudds, gathered with the Fox Creek Historical Association (FCHS) and Terry and Yvonne Slemko, from the Onoway and Distric Historic Guild, in the unveiling of a new sign. Also in attendance was Councillor Sheila Beloin, Vice-Principal Dwayne Mytrunec, School Trustee Jim Hailes and a few members of the community stood nearby for the ceremony.
The landmark sign signifies the location of Fox Creek’s first school, located on the east side of Kaybob Drive, just before the Ranger Station.
The FCHA, with the support of Slemko, worked together to make the ceremony possible. Of the 68 one room schoolhouses in Lac St. Anne County, 66 have now been marked.
“Today we know where these sites are. There is an urgency. We need to mark our history,” said Slemko. “Towns are built with many firsts: a church, cemetery, town hall; but most important – is schools. I commend the FCHA for taking on this project.”
School Trustee, Jim Hailes, shared the history of Iosegun School from Iosegun Reflections – A History of Fox Creek; but only after yelling out “Class!” with a wide smile on his face.
“In 1958, there was a sufficient number of school children to warrant a school. The Iosegun School District #5093, named after the lake North of the settlement, was established on August 5, 1958. J.C. Watt of Whitecourt, Alberta was appointed official trustee. The first school, a portable unit, was located on NE 29-62-19-W5, where the Forestry Station is located today. Anne Lawes was the first teacher. On August 14, 1959, Rudolph Rothermal was appointed official trustee.
On August 14, 1961, Iosegun School District was included in the East Smoky School Division. Roughnecks, operators working for California Standard (Chevron Resources) and Pacific Petroleum (Petro Can) in the North Kaybob field, and construction crews were living in the community.
The increase in school population made it necessary for the East Smoky School Division to find another classroom immediately. The Junior Chamber of Commerce had bought the former Edson Trail School in 1962. This building, the first community hall, was rented by the School Division for $50 a month. The hall was used for grades four to seven, beginning October 21, 1963. The following July, a portable classroom from Tarzan was moved to the school site.
In the fall of 1965, a school bus began transporting junior and senior high school students to Valleyview. As the students were Roman Catholic, they attended St. Stephen’s Catholic School. Neither of the portables being used for class rooms in Fox Creek had indoor plumbing. On December 7, 1965, a school with washroom facilities was moved from Swan Hills to the Iosegun School District and one of the other portables was moved out.
In 1968, the newly formed New Town of Fox Creek had a rapid growth of population. Amoco Big Stone and Hudson’s Bay Oil & Gas #1 plants were on stream. Because of the lack of classroom space, two teacherages on the school site were converted into temporary classrooms.” The current Fox Creek School opened it’s doors in 1969.
Everyone met for coffee and snacks at the Senior Center afterwards to visit and share stories.
Cathy Palmer recalled the classes being quite crowded. She said, “Grade 1-3 was in one portable and Grade 4-6 was in the other. We couldn’t have recess. Because there wasn’t a town dump, we used an incinerator which attracted bears. There was no money for musical instruments, so I bought a plastic recorder for each student. That’s how I taught music.” Those were the best years she ever had. She added, “They were a beautiful bunch of kids!”
A question was asked of Roy and Michelle, “What did you like about having Mrs. Palmer for a teacher?”
Immediately Mrs. Palmer piped up, “I’m grouchy!”
Roy said ”She was consistent.”
Michelle agreed, “You could always count on her being grouchy.”
“Told you!” Cathy piped up again.
Everyone had a good chuckle over that one. Slemko thanked Mrs. Palmer for “doing what you did for those kids.”
Linda Horyn, Treasurer of the FCHA, extended her appreciation and said “I would like to thank the staff of the Sustainable Resource Development Department in Fox Creek and the Town of Fox Creek for allowing us to install the sign. We appreciate Smoky Welding (creator of the sign) for donating their services.”
‘Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.’ – Gilbert K. Chesterton
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