I really do. You find out the most amazing things, about some of the most amazing people, some of whom may even be related to you – or in this particular case are you!
As many of you know, I’m currently unfit for work. It just hurts too damned much for me to be effective. I am either so much pain that I cannot think straight, or I’m so stoned from the medication that I cannot think straight. I have an MRI scheduled for March 2010, and hopefully it will give the doctors the information that they need to go ahead with surgery. In the meantime, I’m spending far too much time surfing the net, and arguing with people (Hi Barry).
So, I have a new project. I’m writing a book. A history book to be precise, and I am in it.
At this point most people are probably wondering what great historical event I took part in, and know from my age (53) that I wasn’t at Pearl Harbor, or on the HMCS Haida when she blew up a train during the Korean conflict. Truth is, like most of us, I didn’t take part in any great historical events.
But one thing that I’ve learned is that history doesn’t have to be about great historical events – it is also about the daily life of people like ourselves. The things that we do, and the places that we do them. My thanks to Tony Robinson and the rest of the folks on Time Team for giving me a better understanding of history (Time Team is shown in Canada on TVOntario).
So I’m writing a book about the Schools and Students of the Township of Markham, with the assistance of several delightful ladies who went to school with me.
Why do I think that this will be interesting? To most people it probably won’t be. But to us, well it is the basis of what our lives have become today. A bunch of farm kids, going to school in the last of the historical one room school houses, many of which had undergone some expansion – one that I attended had been expanded to have FIVE classrooms.
To us farm kids, it was freaking huge!
It was a different time, and a different world in many ways. Just think – in September 1963 I started Grade 2 at a one room school house, which had a portable classroom added for more space. There I meet a really cute little redheaded girl and her twin brother. The school, the main part of which had been built in 1902, was on land donated by their great-grandfather. Their father, and grandfather had both attended that school. The cute little redheaded girl that I meet on that day in 1963 is now a doting grandmother. I hadn’t talked to her in over 20 years when I found her on Facebook last fall. Yes, Shirley, to a large extent this is your fault!
Just before Christmas, Shirley, Linda, Debbie, Joyce, and I started trading memories of school, after I uploaded scans of some of our class pictures. This got me thinking. The Township doesn’t exist anymore as a political entity – it disappeared during the reorganization of municipalities in the Province of Ontario which occurred in 1971. Parts of the Township of Markham were absorbed by the Town of Markham, the Town of Richmond Hill, and the Town of Whitchurch-Stoufville.
The Township school board doesn’t exist any more either, it was absorbed into the York Region District School Board). None of us knew how many schools the Township ran, or even where all of them were. Some of the buildings still exist – for that matter SS#4 is still in use by the York Region Board. SS#5 is in use too, as a historical classroom. SS#8 is now a restaurant. SS#10 was removed from it’s foundations, and moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village. We knew that SS#6 had to exist, and Debbie found a reference to it being classified as a historical building. I’m driving by it today to take a look. SS#7 still exists, but it is boarded up, and I’m not sure who owns the land, or if the building (built in 1902) has been declared historical. Hell, if it hasn’t, I’m going to make damned good and sure that it will be.
This may not be as exciting as a war. But it means a lot to me, and my friends. Much of what we are, was formed in those little schools. They educated generations of farm kids, and their story deserves to be told.
And yes, I’ve volunteered.
Oh, and if anyone knows all the verses of the SS#4 theme song, which we sang on bus trips to drive the teachers crazy, please email what you have to me. I want to record it, and yes, I have the equipment 🙂