Heritage Park
Fort McMurray, Alberta

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Fort McMurray's School Stories




Real Martin and Roy Hawkins
Interview conducted by Irwin Huberman for The Place We Call Home.
November 29, 1999
Audio Clip from F2006.01.47 Disc 2 of 2.

Real Martin "[McTavish University]...the teacher was Mrs. McTavish."
Elva Bussieres "And where was the log building?"
Roy Hawkins "Just uh...let's see now...directly across from..."
Gerry Bussieres "The shopping centre's there now."
Irwin Huberman "Which one?"
Gerry Bussieres "It was across from where the Peter Pond School used to be. East of there."
Roy Hawkins "You know where the Peter Pond cairn is now?"
Elva Bussieres "Yeah."
Roy Hawkins "Well it was almost directly across from there. Then they built the two-room public school across on this side."
Real Martin "It went from the log building...to that thing at the corner on Franklin..."
Roy Hawkins "Yeah, but I mean when they built. They built kitty-corner..."
Irwin Huberman "Do you remember Mrs. McTavish's first name? I just don't want to only have the last names here."
Roy Hawkins "No, all I know is that they came up here..."
Real Martin "Who's that?"
Roy Hawkins "The McTavishes came up..."
Gerry Bussieres "D.C. McTavish."
Roy Hawkins "I'm sure they came back... It seems to me they were here for the 81st?... the reunion in 1981. Maybe I'm wrong..."
Real Martin "She was a teacher."
Elva Bussieres "Was she a good teacher?"
Gerry Bussieres "Cassia! C-A-S-S-I-A. Cassia...McTavish."
Irwin Huberman "Mind you, you just knew her as Mrs. McTavish. Nobody ever knew their teacher's first name."
Roy Hawkins "Well, we never did. In those days, you..."
Elva Bussieres "Was she a good teacher?"
Roy Hawkins "Oh yeah, she was..."
Real Martin "Very strict!"
Elva Bussieres "Did you ever get the strap?"
Real Martin "Once."
Elva Bussieres "What for?"
Real Martin "Well...I was innocent."
Elva Bussieres "Ha! Of course! Ha, ha!"
Irwin Huberman "We know you're innocent!"
Real Martin "You see, the school caught fire. I was happy that day. My brother got married and I got a day off and the school was burning when we went by it. You couldn't ask for anything more than that, eh?"
Irwin Huberman "Ha, ha!"
Real Martin "So we thought, "Now we're going to miss school!" But we had school outside in the lane. You know the little lane there?"
Roy Hawkins "Yeah."
Real Martin "Hughie and I talk about that. There was a little building outside there...the log building, about the same size, and we had school in there. In 1923, I guess. Then in 1924...you know, that building that's in Heritage Park now? The seniors had it for a while - the Golden Years. That was our school."
Elva Bussieres "Okay."
Real Martin "On the corner of Haineault and Franklin."
Irwin Huberman "Right."
Real Martin "Then when I left in '26, that's where the school was. One room, eh?"
Elva Bussieres "But why did you get the strap?"
Real Martin "Well, the guys were fooling around, having lunch, eh? We had to carry our lunch. Some of us went home for dinner... and somebody threw a piece of chalk at somebody, so of course somebody threw one back. First thing I know, they went up and had a big box of chalk. Artie Jacobson and Mortie Gray and all those guys who were much older than us start breaking off the big chunks of chalk and started throwing it at each other. They got a real civil war going on there! There was about three girls and the rest were boys. And all the boys got a strapping. I didn't even throw a chunk of chalk!"
Irwin Huberman "But you were part and parcel..."
Elva Bussieres "They lined you all up."
Irwin Huberman "So you want the book to say that you were innocent?"
Real Martin "Yeah!"
Elva Bussieres "We'll do that!"
Real Martin "I had about two on each hand. It wasn't very hard, but the older boys - they really got a good whacking! Mrs. Embree was the teacher then."
Roy Hawkins "Yeah, Embree."
Real Martin "Her husband worked at the salt plant."
Roy Hawkins "Well Archie, he was quite proud the day that they wrecked the Peter Pond School. He was the one that put the match to it to burn it down."
Elva Bussieres "What?!"
Roy Hawkins "Archie Goodwin. He was a Deputy - my Deputy Fire Chief. And they tore the old public school down, Peter Pond School down. What was left there was burnt."
Elva Bussieres "Controlled burning."
Roy Hawkins "Yeah. Archie got the..."
Elva Bussieres "Honour."
Roy Hawkins "...Honour to go and set fire to it. He said, 'Boy, I've been wanting to do that all my life!'"


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