Virgil. 125 years of Memories. 1872-1997
As we prepare for our 125th year celebration, the enthusiastic conversations recalling past memories capture our attention. They reflect a community conscious of its heritage, secure in its accomplishments and confident in the future. We are grateful to all of those who have shared a memory so that we could relive the precious moments of your past.
Carlos Wiens . . .Yearbook Cover Artwork
Chris Steen 1922
Harry Dawson 1930
Bruce Stewart 1934
Harold Clement 1938
Mary (Stewart) McMichael 1939
Mary Snider 1939
Helen Wiebe (Matties) 1939
Emmelene Haines Dalgliesh 1940
Ella Dick 1944
Lois Booth 1944
Dave Regier 1946
Susan Berg 1947
Alfred Friesen 1948
Lena VanBergen 1948
Helmut Boldt 1949
Fred Andres 1950
Art Andres 1950
Marlene Fast 1951
Peter Neufeld 1952
Louise Rogalski (Andres) 1952
Herman Neufeld 1958
Buddy Andres 1958
Harvey Ring 1958
Ronald Ring 1962
Bill Radunsky 1965
Cathy MacLeod 1965
Marlene Chepil 1966
Gloria Meyer 1967
Olga Dick 1968
Elfreide Lakeit (Blum) 1970
Jim Dick 1971
Robert Neufeld 1971
Helen Bergmann (Reimer) 1971
Doug Halliday 1975
Vic Durksen 1976
Alex Szockyj 1978
Barbara Heinrichs (Bergmann) 1978
Mary Carroll 1980
Christine Pauls (Kopeschny) 1980
Andrea Koop 1987
Sarah Pallek 1987
Anna Neufeld 1988
Heather Tarnowski 1995
RULES FOR TEACHERS 1872
1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
2. Each teacher will bring a pail of water and a scuttle of coal for the day's session.
3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
4. Men teachers may take one evening per week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
5. Following ten hours in school the teacher may pass the remaining time reading the Bible or similar good books.
6. Women instructors who marry or partake of improper conduct will be dismissed.
7. All instructors should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of their earnings for their benefit during declining years, so they will not become a burden on society.
8. Any teacher who smokes, drinks liquor in any form, visits pool or public halls, or is shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, and honesty.
NOTE: The teacher who performs his labour faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.
[Taken from the Scugog Shores Museum]
Virgil School 1872-1997
The history of Virgil School dates back far before the construction of the existing building. As early as 1829, Mr. Dorland began teaching a day school at the Crossroads.
As early as 1939, land was purchased from the farm of Mr. Lawrence. The early school, located a few hundred yards south of our present site, was built in Lawrenceville, later to be renamed Virgil.
It was named School Section No. 8 because at that time the township of Niagara had been divided into ten separate school sections. School Section No. 8 was originally laid out to include all of the military reserve which lay to the west of School Section No. 1 in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Each school ran its own affairs, and at School Section No. 8 each family paid 250¢ month per student to pay the teacher. This changed in 1870 when taxes were collected from the municipality and school financing was left to the trustees.
By 1872 the need for a new school was realized and a more modern stone school house replaced the frame building.
This room is the original single room of School Section No. 8. Although the entranceway has been changed from the front door, the atmosphere of the original classroom is recreated each year with the ringing of the school bell to mark dismissal of classes for the summer.
By 1922 attendance had increased making a second room necessary. At this time, additional land was acquired to extend the school grounds.
In this diagram we see the floor plan of the structure as it was in the 1920's.
By the mid 30's several additions were completed as groups of people arrived to make Virgil their home. These additions included:
1936 adding one room and washrooms to the south end
1937 adding one room
1938 a new water system and new flush toilets
1939 new classroom teacher's room and kitchen
1943 and 1944 room was needed and basement classrooms were initiated.
By 1947, a 6 room addition was begun. This addition featured Home Economics and an Industrial Arts and Crafts room.
More recent additions include the construction of a Kindergarten in 1967 and gymnasium in 1983.
Since 1970, portable classrooms have been a regular part of the Virgil landscape. At present, there are two but the number has fluctuated between one and three.
The present structure houses 353 students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. We enjoy the luxury of our own shop which has encouraged many design and technology projects. Thanks to the community partnership our gym is a model for the county. Our E.S.L. program gives our new families assistance learning the English language.
We are pleased to be a part of 125 years of experience at Virgil School.
Our staff of 30 full and part-time people include 3 caretaking, a lunchroom supervisor and 2 secretaries.
C. Cookman - Principal
D. Lockyer - Vice Principal
I. Hearn - Grade 8
T. Klassen - Grade 7/8
S. Calcott - Garde 6/7
L. Johnston - Grade 6
S. Wiens - Grade 5
L. McGregor - Grade 4/5
D. Willms - Grade 4
V. Lane - Grade 3
J. Galster - Grade 2/3
K. Durksen - Grade 2
B. Toth - Grade 1
S. Bennett - Grade 1/2
E. Klassen - Grade 1
C. Harder - SK/Grade 1
D. Gallagher - Library/Computers
J. Rempel - LRT
B. Dodge - P.E.
Z. Jonovich - E. S.L.
J. Sward - Family Studies
B. Grove - Design & Tech
C. Pauls - Inst. Assistant
L. Nelson - Custodians
S. Thiessen - Secretaries
C. Bergen - Lunch Supervisor
Do You Remember???
When the Grade 2 class was conducted in a separate building across Creek Road from the rest of the School (1940's)
Being bused to McNab School (corner of McNab and Lakeshore Roads) for Grade 4? Shared with a Grade 4 class from Colonel Butler (1960's)
Mr. Murray Timms, the Music teacher who travelled from school to school and came by once each week?
Before the Virgil Stampede, on Victoria Day fireworks were set off on the Virgil School grounds?
A time capsule placed behind a corner stone during one of the school building additions?
Do you remember when Recess was cancelled on days that there was a funeral in the cemetery?
When the classroom looked like this?
This 1905 photo shows the Virgil School students with their teacher, Mr. A. Ness. Pictured is Alice Mae (Gibson) Knox - the mother of Betty Hunter.
Photo of Virgil Public School (taken 1905)
(pictured left to right)
Mr. A. Ness - Teacher
Back Row: William Gibson, May MacFarlane, Gertrude Anderson, John Knox, Gage Corns, Alice Gibson (Knox), William Stewart, Grace Wood, Walter Cushman
Second Row: (?), George Morris, Hilda Wilkinson, Ernest Gibson, Villa Stewart, Clara Sandham, Effie Anderson, (?), (?), ? Wood, (?)
Third Row: (?), Laura Anderson, Ethel Hutchinson, Roy Sandham, Clara Anderson, Ralph Field, (?), Inez Stewart, (?)
Fourth Row: (?), Stella Niven, Louise Morris, (?), Jesse Anderson, Winnifred Niven, Emma Casselman, Nell Anderson, (?), (?)
Front Row: (?), (?), (?), Harvey Cairns, (?), (?), Lome Clark, Eugene Field, Fred Stevens,
In 1921 the class is shown with their teacher/principal R. P. Dawson
S.S. No. 8 Niagara April 7, 1921
(pictured left to right)
Back Row: Harvey Eyman, Duncan McNeil, Bertha Jackson, Rita ?, Myrtle Stevens, Hazel Shaw, Evelyn Gibson, Noral Bissell, Stella Murray, (?), Elsie Dawson, Audrey Murray, Chrissie Hunter, Alice Ottaway, Bessie Jackson, R.P. Dawson (Principal)
Second Row: Harry Gibson, (?), Lauchlan Watson, Grace Stevens, Genevieve Stevens, Angie Drake, Evelyn Crier, Stafford Lampman, Art Gibson, Ken Hopwell, Bill Hunter, Headley Drake, Esther Jackson, Jean Stevens, Bella Hunter
Third Row: Ruby Hunter, Vera Haines, Euphemia Watson, Gladys Lampman, Freda Stevens, Mae Rogers, Nellie Grier, Violet Coleman, Winnifred Niven, Ruth Slingerland, ? Switzer, Daisy Shred, Elsie Elliot
Front Row: Oliver Bradt, David Crier, Art Wilson, Bill Jackson, ? MacArthur, Hugh Summers, Walter Elliott, George Minnaker, Gerald Rogers, Roy Switzer, Sydney Binks
Virgil Memories by Chris Steen (Hunter)
1914 - 1922
This picture was taken when I was in junior fourth. This is Grade 7 by today's standards as it was the year before I wrote my high school entrance exams.
Pictured with me are my brother, Bill Hunter, and sisters Bella Massie and Rubie Jamieson. We enjoyed school — especially on Friday afternoon when we did activities like spelling and Geography contests. My sister Helen was especially good at adding and no doubt her mathematical logic helped her in her future job as the receptionist for Dr. Rigg Sr.
The classroom desks were single at the front and double at the back. We enjoyed lunch at the school and played games at recess. We had to walk to the corner to get water from Grace Hunter's aunt and brought it back in a bucket. Once a week I left school early to crawl through the hole in the fence as I made my way to Mrs. Brooker's house. Here I took my piano lesson. Sleigh riding down the hill across the road from the school was a favourite winter activity.
Virgil Memories by Harry Dawson
I, Harry Dawson, attended Virgil Public School from 1923-1930. At that time it was a two room school, the second room having been built the previous year.
Miss Monkhouse taught the four junior grades and R. P. Dawson (no relation) taught the four senior grades. Miss Monkhouse boarded with Mrs. Floss Hutchinson at her house and store (now Angelo's Barber Shop) R. P. Dawson had a house on King Street in the old town. Some days he would walk all that distance. Both were dedicated teachers.
In the winter months many students would take their sleighs to school and use them on the hill across the Four Mile Creek Road and ride all the way to the Four Mile Creek. The hill was much steeper than it is now. It is believed that this was the site of the very first school in Virgil, even prior to the oldest room of the present school, which dated back to 1872.
In the spring and fall the favourite sport was baseball.
Some of my classmates are still living in the Niagara area: Bob Haines, Wilfred Haines, Florence (Hope) Strange, Bob Hope, Margaret (Revett) Walsh, Mike Zelewa, and Art Wilson.
Following public school, I attended Niagara High School (1930-1935), which is now part of the Niagara Historical Museum and then spent four years (1935-1939) at Guelph University.
Virgil Memories by Bruce Stewart
1928 - 1934
There were two classrooms at Virgil school. Miss Monkhouse taught the Junior classes and Mr. Baldwin taught the Senior classes. At times everyone in the room was so absorbed in their assignments that the ticking of the wall clock could be heard but, most of the time, Miss Monkhouse or Mr. Baldwin were busy teaching one of their four classes.
Occasionally Miss Monkhouse would wind up the gramophone and put on a record. The favourite was Barnacle Bill The Sailor. The most memorable line was "It's only me from over the sea cried Barnacle Bill the Sailor". Music was taken more seriously in the senior classes. We were instructed by Mr. Hannahson who visited the school several times each year.
The mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks gave us the opportunity to ride on the swings or see-saws and to play baseball or soccer. In the winter we would cross the road and slide down the hill towards the creek. Queen Victoria's birthday was a special holiday. On the 24th of May, the Cayuga (or was it the Chippawa?) would dock at Niagara-on-the-Lake, embark the Niagara Township school children, take us up the river to Lewiston and Queenston and then drop us off at Niagara-on-the-Lake on the way back to Toronto. During the depression, the George Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake was closed but on one occasion, it was opened so that we could hear Jack Miner talk about his bird sanctuary at Kingsville near Leamington.
We tend to remember the more pleasant events in our life but there were two tragedies during these years. One boy was killed in a farm accident. Also Frank Wilson became ill. There was an occasional opportunity to talk with him when he sat in a chair outside of his home in Virgil but it was not long before he died.
I can no longer remember most of the given names, or associate them with a specific class, but I do remember some of the family names: Binks, Bradt, Clement, Cooper, Hope, Hostetter, Hunter, Lambert, Niven, Pewer, Patterson, Snider and Ward. I apologize to those whose names I have omitted or misspelled.
One warm day in June of 1934 at lunch time I sat on the front step of the High School at Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was quiet. There were no theatres and there were no tourists at that time. After lunch I went back into the school to finish writing the High School entrance examinations and after that my public school days were over.
Our first text book was the Primer which started with the story of The Little Red Hen on page 1. The following poem was printed on the opposite page:
Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places —
That was how in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.
R. L. Stevenson
Virgil Memories by Harold Clement
1929 - 1937
My name is Harold Clement. I attended Virgil Public School starting in April of 1929. My father, Norton Clement, started in 1884 and my grandfather was in the first school in 1845.
We lived on the Creek Road in Virgil and had about one mile to walk to school. Everyone carried a lunch, usually soggy sandwiches made from homemade bread and tomatoes or raspberry jam. Our main supply of water came from a pump in front of the school and tasted strongly of sulphur. Outhouses were used. Mainly we played marbles when weather permitted and went sleigh riding in winter.
Classes were from Grades 1-4 and 5-8 and had about 5-7 children in each class. Miss Monkhouse was my teacher in the Junior room. She mothered us all.
Mr. Macra owned an apple orchard across from the school. As kids we watched for him and sneaked across for apples when all was clear.
Once a year, Niagara Township schools held a Fall Fair at Queenston. This was a big event as most of us didn't get much past Virgil.
During World War II over seventy men and women, that had attended Virgil Public School, enlisted in the Armed Forces.
** WORLD WAR II HONOUR ROLL **
Virgil School, which had two rooms in 1939, sent over 60 of its former pupils to serve in the Canadian military during World War II.
"First let us remember those who will not come back; their constancy & courage in battle, their sacrifice and endurance in the face of a merciless enemy; lei us remember the men and women in all the services who have laid down their lives. Next let us salute in proud gratitude the great host of living who have brought us victory." King George VI
DOUGLAS H. ALLISON Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, Craftsman.
ROBERT A. BARREGAR Royal Canadian Air Force, 1940-45, Flying Officer, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Ceylon. Robert, younger brother of William, was attached to the RAF Coastal Command in England. In 1942 he transferred from groundcrew to aircrew and the following year was posted to Ceylon.
WILLIAM H. BARREGAR Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, 1940-45. Lieutenant, served in Canada, United Kingdom. North-West Europe. William went to England in 1940 where he spent three years constructing camps and airfields with the 2nd Battalion. In 1944 he was put in charge of the training school at Chilliwack, B.C. before going overseas again in February 1945.
EARL MILFORD BATEMAN Lorne Scots. 1942-45. Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom.
GEORGE WILLIAM BATEMAN Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. 1942-45. Sapper, served in Canada. United Kingdom, Central Mediterranean. North-West Europe. George was the only Bateman brother to be posted to the Conlinent. He was wounded while serving in Italy but recovered to continue through North-West Europe.
IVAN BATEMAN Canadian Infantry Corps. 1944-46. Private, served in Canada. Ivan was the youngest of the Batemans.
WILMOT JACKSON BATEMAN 2nd 10th Dragoons, 1942-46, Private, served in Canada. Wilmot was posted to camps in Ontario and the Maritimes.
MICHAEL BELESKI Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. 1941-46. Sapper, served in Canada, United Kingdom. Central Mediterranean. North-West Europe. Mike went into Italy with reinforcements for the 1st Division. He was hospitalized at the Gustav Line and later joined the 5th Division in North-West Europe.
EARL GEORGE BRADY Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. 1940-45. Sergeant, served in Canada. United Kingdom. In England, Earl served with the Canadian Tank Corps for four years.
RONALD BRADY Army. 1945. Private, served in Canada.
MARJORIE M. BROOKER Royal Canadian Air Force - Women's Division, 1943-45, Leading Airwoman, served in Canada. Marjorie was a Medical Stores clerk in Toronto and Ottawa.
WALLACE EDWARD BROWN Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. 1940-1947. Sergeant, served in Canada, United Kingdom. North-West Europe.
HARRY CLARK 2nd 10th Dragoons, from 1940.
BENJAMIN ARTHUR CLARKE Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, 1939-45, Rifleman, served in Canada, United Kingdom. North-West Europe. Benjamin received shrapnel and bayonet wounds to his shoulder and leg at Dieppe. After recovering he remained overseas for three years.
HUGH JAMES CLARKE Lome Scots, 1942-46. Privite, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Aleutian Islands, North-West Europe. Hugh trained with anti-aircraft batteries in Canada. Overseas he transferred to the Winnipeg Rifles and was a gunner/driver.
CLAUDE RONALD CLEMENT Royal Canadian Air Force, 1942-45. Leading Aircraftsman, served in Canada. Claude, eldest of the Clement boys who served, was stationed in Ontario and the Maritimes where he did repair work.
DONALD FREDERICK CLEMENT Royal Canadian Air Force, 1942-45. Pilot Officer, served in Canada. United Kingdom. Prisoner of War. Don was an air gunner and had completed twenty-five operational missions when he was shot down over Karlsruhe,Germany in March 1945. He was a prisoner for the duration of the war.
HAROLD CLEMENT Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. 1942-46. Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom. North-West Europe. After wailing offshore for
six days because of bad weather, Harold landed in Normandy with the 45th Company. RCASC. The unit later crossed the Rhine with the British Army. He was selected for Canadian Army sports teams (hockey and soccer) and was presented with the Conn Smythe hockey medal.
ALBERT DIGBY COOPER Royal Canadian Air Force, 1940-44. Pilot Officer, served in Canada, United Kingdom, North Africa. Digby participated in forty-two operational flights over North Africa, including one which ended in a crash landing just inside British lines. He was transferred to England as an instructor and was killed June 16. 1944 while on duty when his plane, passing through a cloud, crashed into a hill near Cumberland.
[Photograph of Digby Cooper]
FREDERICK GASPICH Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, from 1942.
HARRY MAXWELL GIBSON Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. 1941-46. Sergeant, served in Canada. Harry was trained as a pipe fitter and worked on the S.S. Letitia converting it to a hospital ship in Montreal. He then transferred to Toronto where he was a purchasing agent at the C.N.E. Works Department.
ARCHIBALD MURRAY HAINES Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, 1942-46. Sergeant, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Central Mediterranean, North-West Europe. Murray was an instructor for over a year before being posted overseas. He went to Italy with the 1st Corps Signals - Signal Park which supplied radio equipment to the 5th Division.
ROBERT AUBREY HAINES Royal Canadian Air Force, 1943-45, Flying Officer, served in Canada, United Kingdom. Robert was trained as a navigator/bombardier. He flew Sunderlands on coastal duty in the North Atlantic and North Sea searching for submarines and stray ships from convoys.
SIDNEY OLIVER HAINES Royal Canadian Artillery - 40th Field Battery, 11th Field Regiment, 1940-45, Bombardier, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Central Mediterranean. Mentioned in Dispatches. Prisoner of War. Sid was attached to the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards when he was taken prisoner in Italy in December 1944. Two hundred and sixty men went into the attack and only forty-five survived, most of them injured. A few months prior to his capture, Sid was cited for establishing communications for the artillery in Italy.
CATHARINE MARY HISCOTT (PATTERSON) Women's Royal Naval Service, 1943-46, Wren, served in Canada. Kay was a clerk with the Pay Office in Ontario and Halifax.
JAMES ALBERT HOPE Royal Canadian Army Service Corps - 66th Tank Transporter Company, 1941-45, Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom, North-West Europe. Bert went to France twenty-one days after D-Day and was injured in a truck accident there in August 1944.
ROBERT WILLIAM HOPE Royal Canadian Air Force. 1941-45. leading Aircraftsman, served in Canada.
MURRAY HOTSON Royal Canadian Air Force, 1940-45. Leading Aircraftsman, served in Canada. United Kingdom. Murray was stationed at various locations in England and Scotland. He helped organize 7 District Headquarters and travelled to wherever Canadians were stationed to review living conditions.
NORMAN ROSS HOTSON Royal Canadian Air Force. 1940-45, Corporal, served in Canada. Ross, older brother of Murray, spent three years in Montreal on staff at the training school and airport. He served in western Canada and in Nova Scotia in a similar capacity.
DOROTHY MARGARET HOSTETTER (HUMPHREY) Canadian Women's Army Corps. 1943-44, Private, served in Canada. Dorothy, sister of Mildred, was an orderly room clerk in Montreal and at Camp Niagara during her period of service.
MILDRED M. HOSTETTER (ATACK) Royal Canadian Air Force - Women's Division, from 1943, served in Canada, United Kingdom.
EDWARD ALEXANDER HUNTER Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps - 4th Field Ambulance, 1942-46, Sergeant, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Central Mediterranean, North-West Europe. Ed was attached to the 4th Field Ambulance, 1st Division. He remained in Holland with the occupation forces until early 1946.
JOHN DILLS HUNTER Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1943-46, Able Seaman, served in Canada, Far East. Jack spent most of his time in the Navy aboard the anti-aircraft cruiser HMCS Prince Robert in the Far East. After the war with Japan ended, the Prince Robert was sent to Hong Kong to free Canadian POW's. Captain Creery, commander of the ship, signed the armistice with Japan for Canada.
ROBERT GORDON HUNTER Royal Canadian Air Force, 1942-45, Corporal, served in Canada, Newfoundland. Bob, older brother of Jack, was a wireless air operator and went out with convoys on submarine watch in the North Atlantic Command.
JACK LEON HUTCHISON Royal Canadian Air Force, 1940-42, Flight Sergeant, served in Canada, United Kingdom. Jack was reported missing in air operations over Bremen, Germany June 3, 1942. His body was recovered from the sea a few days later. He had flown Wellington bombers in more than thirty air operations over enemy territory and was captain of a crew of five when he was shot down. In recognition of his services, his mother received the Silver Cross and Certificate.
[Photo of Jack L. Hutchison]
DOUGLAS STEWART KNOX Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, 1942-46, Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom, North-West Europe. Doug's unit hauled ammunition, gas, food and clothing to units through Europe.
JIM LAVELL Tank Corps, served in Normandy and North-West Europe.
RAYMOND ELMER ISAAC LAVELL Canadian Infantry Corps, 1944-46. Private, served in Canada. Since "Champ" was too young to go overseas, he was posted to the 18th Infantry Corps Battalion to guard POW's in Ontario and western Canada.
KITCHENER MANN Canadian Army
MARGARET McGINNIS (JENNINGS) Canadian Red Cross Society, 1945, Honourary 2nd Lieutenant, served in Canada, United Kingdom. Margaret trained with the St. Catharines Transport Section of the Canadian Red Cross Society before going overseas as an ambulance driver for the British Red Cross Society.
WILLIAM JAMES MCGINNIS Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. 1939-45, Petty Officer, served in Canada, North Atlantic, Caribbean. William was sent to the East Coast where he escorted the first troop ships overseas. He later sailed to the Caribbean where they captured enemy ships. William served aboard HMCS Saguenay, HMCS Shawinigan, HMCS Husky and HMCS Whitby. He was posted to corvettes for patrol and escort duty and served on anti-submarine watch.
NORMAN CECIL MINAKER Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers - 1st Canadian Field Squadron, 1942-45, Sapper, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Central Mediterranean, North-West Europe. Norman went into the Italian Campaign with the 5th Division.
WALTER MURRAY Canadian Army, served Overseas.
EDWIN NIVEN Royal Canadian Air Force, 1942-45, Lance Corporal, served in Canada, Newfoundland, United Kingdom.
KENNETH G. NIVEN Royal Canadian Air Force
PETER OPEKAN Royal Canadian Air Force, 1943-45, Sergeant, served in Canada. Peter had just completed his pilot training when he was remustered to train as a gunner. The war in Europe ended soon after so he volunteered for the Pacific. By the time his training was complete, the war with Japan had also ended.
ANDREW LORNE PATTERSON Royal Canadian Air Force, 1941-45, Leading Aircraftsman, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Ceylon. Lome was an air frame mechanic. He spent four years overseas including almost three years in Ceylon.
THOMAS E. QUINN Canadian Provost Corps, 1945-46, served in Canada.
CAMERON ROBERTSON Royal Canadian Air Force, served in Canada.
JOSEPH SKUBEL to 1946, Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Overseas.
GEORGE HERMAN SNIDER 2nd 10th Dragoons, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, Royal Canadian Regiment, 1940-45, Corporal, served in Canada, United Kingdom, North-West Europe. George transferred to the Royal Regiment of Canada in 1942. He was wounded in France in July 1944, rejoined the regiment in September and was wounded again in October.
HAROLD LEO (HARRY) STEELE Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, 1942-46. Private, served in Canada. Harry was a physical instructor while in the service.
JAMES A. STEELE Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. 1940-45. Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Central Mediterranean.
EDWARD CHARLES STEWART Royal Canadian Air Force - 39th Reconnaissance Squadron. 1942-45, Leading Aircraftsman, served in Canada, Newfoundland, United Kingdom, North-West Europe. Ed did patrol work on the East Coast before going overseas. He went to France eight days after D-Day with the 1st Airfield and followed the fighting through Europe in Bluebird Spitfires equipped for reconnaissance.
H. BRUCE STEWART Royal Canadian Air Force, 1941-45, Flight Sergeant, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Middle East, North-West Europe. Bruce was trained in radar and soon after arriving in England was sent to Cairo. He was posted to Egypt, Cyprus, Libya and Tunisia to track fighter bombers in support of the 8th British Army. He went to Corsica and France in 1944 after the German surrender in Africa.
JAMES STEWART Canadian Infantry Corps, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. 1942-45, Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom, North-West Europe. Jim served overseas with the Essex Scottish Regiment.
ROBERT B. STEWART
E. STOCK Canadian Army
DON WALTERS Canadian Army. Don was wounded during the landing in Italy.
FREDERICK C. WARREN Royal Canadian Air Force, 1942-45, Corporal, served in Canada.
GEORGE ALBERT WARREN Canadian Infantry Corps, 1944-45, Private, served in Canada.
LACHLAN MCLEAN WATSON Royal Canadian Air Force
WILLIAM J. WATSON Private, served in Canada, United Kingdom, North-West Europe. William was wounded while serving in Holland in 1944.
GEORGE PAY WILSON Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, 1941-45, Corporal, served in Canada, United Kingdom, Central Mediterranean, North-West Europe. In Italy George was a signaller attached to the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
Sources: Harold Clement
"Sixty Years of Remembrance, A History of General Nelles Branch Royal Canadian Legion", C. Macdonald, I. Serafim, S. Swayze, 1987
Compiled by Cathy Macdonald
These 1938 photos are courtesy of D.F. Clement. They show the Classes of K.L. Caughill and B. Honsberger.
Can you identify these faces?
Class of K.L. Caughill
Class of B. Honsberger
Virgil Memories by Mary (Stewart) McMichael
1930 - 1939
When I started school in 1930, Virgil Public School was a two room school. Each room accommodated four classes with approximately thirty to forty students in each room. Possibly another room and inside lavoratories were added before I left. The building appeared to be of concrete and painted white. Double doors were at the front entrance. A bell tower topped with a weather-vane was on the front roof.
The front lawn, on which the students were forbidden to walk, was bordered with chestnut trees. A well with a hand pump was at the front of the lawn. At the rear of the school were two outhouses, swings and teeter-totters. The surrounding grounds provided space for baseball diamonds, two planned and others improvised. There was a flower garden and later under Mr. Honsberger's supervision, a fairly large vegetable garden was planted and cared for by the students.
Our school day was from 9 to 4 o'clock. We had two recesses and a lunch period. Lunch was usually a brown bagger eaten at our desks. If we were lucky we may have had a piece or two of penny candy from Mr. Gibson's corner store.
The bell was rung to start the school day and to call the students who were playing outside back to class from recess or lunch time. We formed lines at the double doors and marched through to our classrooms.
The classrooms were well lighted with a wall of windows. There were blackboards on at least two walls and cloakrooms adjacent to one wall.
There was a library which was used on occasion by a visiting nurse. Basements were used in winter for skipping rope and other games.
Miss Monkhouse was our teacher for the first four years. She guided our classes of Junior I through Senior II with excellent skill. From her, we learned quite early that rules must be followed.
From our "Readers", we learned to read by the phonetic system. From them, we also learned moral values, history, the beauty of poetry and much more.
There was a sand table along the window wall. It was used as a teaching tool. For example, it helped us to learn land formations such as peninsulas and islands.
Miss Monkhouse challenged us with mental arithmetic drills but it was her Art Classes that were my favourite. What fun it was to paint the yellow goldenrod and purple asters in the Fall, to learn how to paint a sky with watercolours and a silhouette in black and white.
Along with teaching great art classes, Miss Monkhouse gave us a fine foundation for our years of education to follow.
The next four years, Junior III through Senior IV were taught by Mr. Robertson and Mr. Honsberger. We continued to read the fine stories and poems from our "Readers". Grammar became a more serious subject. Parsing sentences was a challenge. We were using our arithmetic to solve problems.
Mr. Honsberger provided a very enjoyable part of the day. He would start the day by reading to us from good literature. He also took time to discuss current events. Newspaper articles and pictures were used for this and they would be posted on the bulletin board at the back corner of the room. This activity coincided with events leading up to World War II. Along with the good things happening in our students' lives, some sadness began to creep in.
Mr. Hannahson was our visiting Music teacher. He contributed greatly to our learning and appreciation of music. We owe him gratitude for the joy of participating in concerts of choral groups and a harmonica band. My love of classical music began when he sat down at the piano and played Beethoven s Moonlight Sonata.
Our school library provided many books. It was "The Scarlet Pimpernel" written by Baroness Orczy that inspired me to read further.
Beside the learning that took place in the classrooms, we made field trips to various places. Two that come to mind are a bus trip to Toronto where we visited a museum and Casa Loma and a trip to the Servos Homestead at Palatine Hill on the Four Mile Creek.
Our friendships were nurtured by our school picnics to Queenston Heights and concerts at Virgil Town Hall.
Our recesses and lunch hours were filled with outdoor activities such as swings, skipping rope, sleigh riding, playing tag and playing a lot of baseball. Our girls' baseball team visited other schools in competition.
Childhood diseases disrupted our school days. Scarlet Fever, Chicken Pox, Impetigo, colds and others found their way to us and occasionally school had to close to stop the spread.
In the Fall of the year, following graduation, some of the class would enter High School at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Others of us would begin our High School education at the St. Catharines Collegiate Institute.
Looking back, I would say that Virgil Public School prepared us well for the years to follow as we continued to learn and enjoy life.
Virgil Memories by Emmelene Haines Dalgleish
1931 - 1940
I was six when I started at Virgil School. The school was very small then. There were outhouses - one for boys and one for girls. I remember that because at recess we played cops and robbers and the boys locked the girls in the boys' outhouse. There was an outside lock and we couldn't get out and the boys went into school. Another girl and I lifted up the seat and lifted out the big barrels. We climbed into the hole, kicked open the back flap and climbed out. We checked each other and went in late for school.
The classes were a primary class, junior and senior first, second, third and fourth. That was nine classes in all. "Tom, Nell and Baby" was the first reader. The teachers I remember — Miss Monkhouse who was a very classy lady. She lived at Hutchinson's store (now Angelo's Barbershop). Kathleen (Caughill) Smith became related to me when I married Harvey Dalgleish. It was hard to call her Kay after calling her Miss Caughill at school. She was the girls' Health and Physical Education teacher. Mr. Honsberger we had in the older classes. I remember his curly hair.
I liked all subjects and the ball games at the other schools. We rode bicycles from Virgil up to Niagara Street in St. Catharines near Linwell Street. The girls were bigger than us but we did well against them. After the game we rode back to school, then home. My $2.00 bike did a lot of travelling.
I lived on East & West Line below the hill near Niagara District High School towards the river. The big old fieldstone house I was born in is still there. There were six children there. Bob, Joan, myself and Reg. Two younger boys, Jim and Richard, went to Niagara Public, as did Reg for his last two years.
I remember spelling bees with area schools and also cyphering (math) matches and did quite well. Each fall there was a Fair. We entered essays and our best writing. They really did hard work with reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling.
Other things, years make you forget, but I have met many I knew from Virgil School in local grocery stores and at church bazaars. At Chateau Gardens, where I have been a volunteer over twenty years, I met a lady with an electric wheelchair. She stared at me and said, "I know you from years ago." I told her I went to Virgil School. So did she. At that time she was June Byford and her brother Jack went too. Now she is June Weatherhead.
Three students from Virgil School received the Citizen of the Year Award in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Maybe more. Mary Snider 1982, Leno Mori in 1983 and myself in 1984. In 1984 Jim Binks and I received medals from Bob Welch from the Ontario Government for volunteer work too.
Good luck with your anniversary!
Virgil Memories by Helen Wiebe (Matties)
I must say I had a very good teacher, "Bruce Honsberger". I was in my last year when we moved to Virgil. I think it was March when we moved. When my sister Erna and I arrived in Virgil we discovered that they were studying what we had already studied. It was nice to review but there was so much that we needed to know. I studied hard on a few countries, trying to catch up as best I knew how. On our exams they had questions concerning everything I had studied so I passed.
I also knew Miss Monkhouse. She was a wonderful person. She had a girls' club in the United Church and we were in it. She had a good influence on me. I remember going to St. Catharines and she had made a sheet with the faces cut out and we sang "Jolly Chinese Girls are We" and we also did some other projects. She was so surprised that we could sew as well as we did.
(Some know me as Helen Matties, but I was born a "Falk")
Virgil Memories by Mary Snider (Haines)
1930 - 1939
My name is Mary Snider (nee Haines) and I began attending Virgil School in 1930. My husband is George and he also attended Virgil, as did our three children.
When we attended, Virgil was a two-room school. Another very small room was the library. When the school nurse came, we received our inoculation shots in the library.
Up at the corner was the old Virgil Hall and we put on our school concerts in it. Also our Spelling Bees were in the old hall. These were the highlights of our school year.
We made our own fun. Baseball was the favourite of both boys and girls. We also played Drop The Handkerchief, Red Rover, Hopscotch, Pom Pom Pullaway and enjoyed skipping. Sliding down the hill across the road in winter was great fun.
Miss Monkhouse was the Junior Room teacher and a great favourite with us all. When I arrived at school in the winter after walking two miles and crying from the cold, she would take me on her knee and cuddle me up.
As there were eight grades in two rooms, we knew everyone and they were our friends. These were lifelong friendships and today, sixty five years later, our best friends are the kids we went to Virgil Public School with.
Photograph of Class of 1943 - Clarence W. Sadler
Virgil Memories by Ella Dick
1939 - 1944
Our school was a place of strict academics with simple fun and a teaching of respect towards our superiors. We walked quite a distance to school in the rain or sunshine carrying our lunches filled with homemade goodies and sometimes wrapped up in "newspaper" only to get soggy from the rain or dried out from the sunshine.
In Grade 3 and Grade 4 Miss Elliott was our teacher. She taught us well and had some of us finished Grade 3 and 4 in one year. Tap dancing to music was the cultural extension. Being a Mennonite the tap dancing to the music was not really popular but we loved it. Her stylish clothes were awesome and we made wonderful memories.
Winter sport! down the hill across from the school with cardboard boxes (covered with slippery ice) used as skis or sleds was inexpensive fun. Later joined the boys on the ice playing hockey. In Grade 7 and 8, Mr. Ring led us in Christian devotion along with students participation every morning for 20 minutes. Mr. Art Hannahson taught us the music and had us perform at Festivals which inspired some of us to continue our music skills.
We were fortunate to be taught by Miss Monkhouse, Miss Elliott, Miss Caughill, Mr. Honsberger and Mr. Ring. It was a special time in my life that I am grateful for.
Class of 1943 - Clarence W. Sadler
Class of 1939 - Helen Monkhouse
Virgil Memories by Lois Booth (Walters)
1936 - 1944
What an exciting day it was — our first graduation. Fearless and happy-go-lucky, life seemed full of promise and wonder on that sunny say in June of 1944. We knew that our journey through life was about to take a sharp turn but little thought was given to the fact that we were about to leave behind the familiarity of friends, teachers and classrooms where we had struggled for eight years.
I fondly remember one teacher in particular whose humour, patience, boundless energy and diligence guided us safely through the dangerous waters of English grammar and declination, landing us safely on the shores of entrance to high school. Although I understand that Ivan Ring eventually had a long tenure at Virgil Public School, 1943-44 was his first year and the only year that he was my teacher, but what a year it was. He was one of those special teachers who are an inspiration to their students and will always be fondly remembered.
Another strong memory is that of the war effort of the School during those years when I was a student. Huge piles of scrap were enthusiastically collected (for what purpose I'm not exactly sure); socks were knitted for the soldiers (did they actually fit anyone?) and War Savings Stamps were purchased with our spare pennies.
Speaking of memories, have I got it right?
Back Row (left to right)
Theresa Seccarich, Mary Neufeld, Lois Walters (me), Betty Fast and of course, Mr. Ring
Front Row (left to right)
Heidi ?, Helen Semenuk, Barbara Stevens and Helga Neufeld
If I am mistaken or misspelled any names, please forgive an unreliable memory. I look forward to seeing you at the May 2nd celebration.
This aerial photograph shows the Virgil School as it was in 1947.
Photo courtesy of D. Regier.
The finishing touches are added to the 1947 addition.
Virgil Memories by Dave Regier
1944-1946 (Grade 6-8)
The dominant person in the school was our principal, Ivan Ring. His personality was as big as his stature was small. I have no idea how he interacted with his teaching staff, but as my Grade 8 teacher he was dynamite
Each day, after an opening of the National Anthem, Bible reading, prayer and several hymns, we had 10 oral or mental arithmetic questions. Even now I get a little edgy when I think of that daily challenge.
Another important facet of our education was English grammar, especially the parsing of sentences. How many of us remember the bracketing of various types of clauses and phrases and identifying gerunds and participles, those things which dangle you shouldn't let.
A lingering memory is one of the unorthodoxy of teaching style. I suppose most of the lessons he taught were standard type consisting of Introduction, Presentation, Application, Recapitulation or some variation of this. Every once in a while his presentation departed from the norm. At least once he dictated the Spelling words and sentences while lying on his side on his desk. Also, every so often he would burst into song. Many will also remember how he could freeze a pupil with his piercing glare when the miscreant had demonstrated his need for discipline. I say "his" because my memory holds no instances of girls being disciplined by him, although they probably were.
Since I was an avid reader, far exceeding the 2 fiction books per month we were required to read, the small classroom library was exhausted before year's end. Mr. Ring, recognizing my appetite, invited me into the teachers' room a number of times to borrow books from that resource. Some of the memory work we mastered then is still with me and I am grateful for that.
Mr. Cody officially opens the new primary wing and lower auditorium in 1947.
Virgil Memories by Susan (Rempel) Berg
1939 - 1947
Ah, memories! The people, the places and the things we did during those first years of my childhood, have left wonderful memories. Firstly, the teachers I had, all instilled the work ethic in me, - you know - study and you will succeed. My mother certainly agreed with that teaching!
I remember ...
- walking 3 miles to school and then 3 miles back home, daily.
- Grade 1, with Miss Monkhouse, such a loving teacher.
- Miss Wagg, Grade 3 and 4 teacher, very intimidating
- Miss Caughill, Grade 5 and 6, probably one of the most genuinely caring people I ever met. I always thought that some day I would be like her, tall, slender, immaculately dressed with some of the most beautiful jewellery.
- Mr. Ivan Ring. Grade 7 and 8. What can I say other than what someone else has not already said. He was very strict and demanding, (one stare from him and one would know what to expect!) but extremely fair. When you passed your grade 8, you knew you had learned as much as possible.
- Archie, who sat behind me in Grade 6 and dipped my pigtails into the inkwell and dissected frogs in science class. So what did he become. A surgeon, of course. I used to think he would be a scientist some day.
- Malcolm (Buster) Binks, who, also in Grade 6, used to take pictures with his own camera and later bring in the photos that he himself developed. He later worked in audio/visuals for the Board of Education in St. Catharines.
- The spring months during the beginning of WW II when we all did our thing to help in the war efforts. We not only had to be on food and gas rationing, but also get into farm trucks from the Lambert and Hunter farms and gather milkweed pods, place them in bags and load up the trucks. If I am correct, it was to help make parachutes.
- As a class excursion, going on the Cayuga (THE BOAT!) to Toronto on the May 24th (Victoria Day) weekend. I only got to go once as my Mom could afford very little in those years. She even gave us a whole quarter, so we could purchase some goodies and perhaps a souvenir while on the boat.
- Farm kids had a very short school year. If grades were so good that one did not have to write the final closing exams, those of us on the farm were allowed to stay home as of the beginning of April.
- The friendships that lasted for the whole eight years and some even longer. Some names that come to mind, Lena (Andres) VanBergen, Elly (Andres) Lepp, Hilda (Huebner) Froese, Joe Pohorly, Jean Pohorly, Fanny Nadiuk, Edwin Kosicki, Elfrieda (Janzen) Braun, Pauline DalBianco, Elsie DalBianco, Mary Ellen (Woods) Law, Doris Woods, Edgar Penner, Sophie (Orlik) Cratt, and the list goes on and on.
Virgil Memories by Alfred Friesen
1940 - 1948
I attended Virgil Public School from 1940 to 1948. At that time, the school had four classrooms upstairs and one in the basement.
Grade 1 & 2 - Teacher: Helen Monkhouse; Principal: Mr. Honsberger
I had a very positive introduction to formal education during my first two years because Miss Monkhouse was such a friendly, kind person that you couldn't help but love her and want to work hard to please her. On one rainy day, we were kept inside at recess and we were chasing each other up and down the aisles. Mr. Honsberger came in and was he ever mad! He made us stand across the front of the room and wait for Miss Monkhouse to return to class. We were so ashamed and hurt that we cried, just to see the disappointment on our sweet teacher's face when she saw us culprits lined up at the front.
Grade 3 - Teacher: Hilda Wagg; Principal: Mr Saddler
These were the "War Years" when War Savings Bonds were sold, and tires and paper were collected to be recycled for the war effort. We were so surprised when our teacher resigned at the end of the year to join the WAC, which stood for Women's Army Corp. We thought how awful it would be if she got killed in the war. The teacher sometimes put on the BBC overseas radio broadcast to get an update on the war.
Grade 4 - Teacher: Gladys Field; Principal: Ivan Ring
This was the winter of the "big snow" when school was closed for a few weeks. When the army trucks heading to Camp Niagara finally plowed open Stone Road and Creek Road, the snow banks were nearly up to the telephone wires. We tobogganed down the hill into the valley across the road from the school. I remember when J.R. Lambert lost his eyesight when his sled rammed into a thorn bush in the lower flats near the creek.
My first bicycle was all black because no chrome was available, the pedals were all metal, and the handlegrips were "synthetic leather". Even the tires were "synthetic rubber".
Grade 5 - Teacher: Helen Siebert; Principal: Ivan Ring
Because the school was so overcrowded with the influx of many Mennonite families, the Grade 5 classroom was moved to the auditorium in the basement. This was Miss Siebert s first year of teaching in Ontario, and it was a wonderful year with many new experiences. At the end of that year, our "young" teacher got married and we collected money to buy her a wedding present. I even attended the ceremony in the Vineland M.B. Church. She became Mrs. Peter Dirksen and taught many more years in Lincoln County.
Grade 6 & 7 - Teacher: Kathleen Caughill; Principal: Ivan Ring
Miss Caughill was a veteran school teacher. She had meticulous handwriting skills and filled all the front and side blackboards with math, grammar, and reading questions. She sometimes had difficulty keeping discipline, but the culprits knew that Mr. Ring was just across the hall and would "reward" their pranks with just punishment.
I remember that we had "outdoor toilets" under the chestnut trees just behind the Grade 6 & 7 classroom on the north end.
Grade 8 - Teacher and Principal: Mr. Ring
Mr. Ring was small of stature but he could handle any tough strapping Grade 8 bully. He would often be in the office, away from the classroom so we would be working "on our own". We often "helped" with ringing the bell - the rope came down from the belfry just beside the principal's desk. We conducted our own "opening exercises", taking turns with the reading of the Bible and singing hymns out of the "little red books".
During that year the new 6 room addition was built, and in May 1948 we helped to move the desks into our new classroom. What a change from the 1872, creaky floor, antique schoolroom to a spanking bright new room. But alas, a few weeks later, we graduated.
The Field Day photo from 1949 shows one of the Hutchinson boys high-jumping. The rope made missing a painful experience!
Virgil Memories by Lena (Andres) VanBergen
My memories of Virgil Public School go back to November 1940. Living on Niven Road, we would walk to the school, (3 miles) leaving at 8 a.m. Classes were from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Along the way, we would meet students from Hunter Road and East & West, and since there was not much traffic in those days, we would straddle all over the Niagara Stone Road. Classes began with the opening exercises, singing God Save the King, saluting the flag and reciting the Lord's Prayer. Oral math was the first lesson and the Times Tables were drilled into us until we could memorize them. The word "calculator" was not in our vocabulary. Spelling was a daily subject and spelling bees were exciting. Physical Education consisted of our walking to school, playing marbles, skipping, playing touch tag and baseball, which were played at recess and noon hours. In the winter we would slide or sleigh ride down the hill across the street. Field trips would consist of walking along the creek in Spring, how we enjoyed it.
Whoever heard of school buses? I remember riding on the back of my Father's 3-ton stake truck to go and sing at the Music Festival which was held at Westminster Church in St. Catharines. We were all standing or sitting on boards, supported by farm hampers. What fun we had!
Miss Kathleen Caughill and Mr. Ivan Ring were 2 of the greatest teachers. Mr Ring was a teacher and principal that demanded respect and he was fair. His firm voice and piercing eyes were such that he would sit up, listen and pay attention. Miss Caughill was a gentle and caring teacher, and her Grammar lessons have benefited us all through life. How well we remember her driving to school at 8:00 a.m. and passing us as we walked home at 5:00 p.m. Arthur Hannahson, (the Music teacher) would come once a week to teach us singing. What a humourous and happy fellow he was and he certainly loved to play that piano and sing.
I love to tell my 5 grandchildren who attended Virgil School that Oma also learned to read, write and play baseball at their school. A sense of nostalgia overtakes me whenever I have the privilege of taking them to Virgil School.
Virgil Memories by Helmut Boldt
1943 - 1949
My memories of Virgil School days from 1943 - 1949 are generally positive, with two exceptions. When I arrived from a small prairie village in southern Manitoba, I was supposedly in Grade 2. After some time I was apparently not working at Virgil's standards and my teacher, Miss Monkhouse, had me work with the Grade 1's. I am sure that Miss Monkhouse had just cause, but I remember not being very happy.
It is interesting how war can affect a community. Our family moved into the community in 1943, during the war years. I, being the "new kid on the block", and of German descent, can recall many after school beatings, received for supposedly being a "Nazi". With those exceptions, I have only fond memories of my public school days and teachers, Mrs. Dyck, Miss Field, Miss Eplett, and the principal, Mr. Ring. Discipline, I recall seemed to be much stricter. The strap was always within reach. If, after being spoken to seemed to be of no avail, the strap came into use. Surprising how well one could hear or remember that!
I recall being in Grade 2 in a building across the street from the original building and later moving into a new classroom when the first additions were completed. It was then, as I suppose it is now, that recesses were the most interesting part of the day. Baseball, swings and bouncing marbles off the school wall were common activities at various times of the year. The school yard then included an additional field across the street and behind the present C.I.B.C. building. This gave us a great opportunity to go tobogganing on a hill at the rear of this field, also skating on an outdoor rink, maintained by the Virgil firemen.
I did not fully understand, but recall the joyous atmosphere when word came, "The War Is Over". I recall being transported by stake truck (with side racks but filled to standing room only) to Simcoe Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake for victory speeches. I felt honoured to receive a red, white and blue ribbon with V.E. imprinted in gold letters. I only wish I could find it now.
May Virgil School and this community continue to have a positive influence for generations to come.
Virgil Memories by Fred Andres
1942 - 1950
When I reflect on my years at Virgil Public School (1942-1950) I am reminded of the loving, caring and compassionate teachers who were truly dedicated to their work. Two of them — Helen Dyck in Grade 2 and Ivan Ring in Grade 8 stand out vividly in my mind. Helen Dyck, a soft-spoken motherly type, seemed to take care of her students as a mother hen who puts her young ones under her wings. Mr. Ring demanded perfect grammar, was a strict disciplinarian, but also fun loving, often playing tricks on his students.
Some of my more vivid memories were the trips to and from school. Since there were no school buses in those days and our parents did not have the means to transport us daily to school, the ten of us Niven Road neighbour kids would walk the three miles to Virgil School. That meant getting up at 6:30, helping with the chores in the barn, eating breakfast and leaving at 7:30 for the one hour walk to school. In winter this meant leaving while it was still dark, and arriving home at 5:00 when darkness had already set in.
However, when the weather was bad — rain or snow — our parents would take us to school by car or my father's 3 ton stake truck. How vividly I remember our neighbour Arthur Schmitt, taking us to school after a snow storm because his Model A Ford could get through the snow drifts easier because of its narrow tires and being higher off the ground than the other cars. Bear in mind that we had no snow plows in those days for the rural roads. He would pile all ten of us kids in his car — packed like sardines, no seat belts — and then take runs at the drifts. Much to our disappointment, after a few runs, at the drifts, he always seemed to make it through. So much for a day off from school.
Around the mid forties our parents bought some old used bicycles which we were able to ride to school. I remember how twin brother Art and I, small for our age, would give our younger sisters rides to school, sitting on the crossbars and holding on to our lunch pails and books. For some reason, our sisters would hold too tightly to the steering wheel and consequently many times we found ourselves in a heap in the ditch.
One other incident stands out in my mind as we travelled to school. In those days the grade one class was dismissed at 3:00 p.m. instead of 4:00 p.m. like the rest of the school and so Art and I walked home alone the grade one year. One day while walking home past the present day Niagara District High School, a large truck loaded with 45 gallon drums hit a bump in the road as it passed us and two drums dropped and came rolling toward us.
Highway 55 was quite narrow and rough in those days and when those barrels rolled erratically towards us we had to run for our lives! The driver must have been unaware of what had happened because he never stopped. I am sure our guardian angels were watching over us that day because the barrels narrowly missed us.
I have fond memories of the school and school life and can honestly say I enjoyed "the good old days".
Virgil Memories by Art Andres
1942 - 1950
The 125th year anniversary celebration of Virgil Public School being held this year brought back many fond memories of my association with the staff and fellow students.
I attended the school from 1942-1950, and, living about 3 miles away on Niven Road, travelling to and from the school was always an interesting experience.
Since this was the preschool bus era, travelling to school consisted of either walking the long distance, hitch-hiking, riding our bicycles, or my father taking all of the children from Niven Road on the back of his 3 ton stake truck and driving them to Virgil.
One other form of transportation I recollect quite vividly. When school was out, and we didn't feel like the walk home because of the rain or freezing, cold weather, we would walk the short distance to the corner store in Virgil which was owned by Harry Gibson.
Here we would wait for about half an hour until the St. Catharines Standard delivery van would arrive to deliver newspapers. After he had unloaded his bundle of papers at the Virgil store, the driver urged us into the van with a cheerful, "all aboard!" We scrambled into the van quickly, sitting on top of the papers or wherever else we could find room, sometimes as many as 10 of us.
Then, with never a complaint about the extra inconvenience, he would proceed on his way to Niagara-on-the-Lake, stopping only long enough at the end of Niven Road to let his grateful passengers disembark.
We, the former students from Niven Road, owe this kind gentleman a debt of gratitude for his love and patience with us.
The Virgil playground was worn bare by activities like this 1950 photo of three legged races and the hundred yard dash.
Virgil Memories by Marlene Fast (Boldt)
1942 - 1950
I am Marlene Fast (Boldt). I started school in 1942. Mr Ring was the principal. Some of my teachers were Mr. Guy, Miss Eplet, Miss Cameron, Miss Caughill, Miss Field.
When I was in Grade 7, my brother and I helped the caretaker, Mr. Nickel, clean the school after 4 p.m.
These are the top winners for Field Day in 1950. I remember getting 25¢ for winning four firsts. We also had to have permission to wear slacks to school for special events. Ruth Opresnik (Bogusat)
(left to right) (?) , Agatha Block, Lydia Mucha, Ruth Bogusat
Virgil Memories by Peter Neufeld
1944 - 1953
We were under the iron hand of Ivan A. Ring, short in stature and long on discipline. Those of us who survived the "Red" strap were heroes in the school yard. No man before or since Ivan A. was ever more ingenious in his ability to comprehend and mortify sinners in the ranks.
Discipline began early. Our first grade teacher, Miss Ruth Twamley initiated us to the artistry of the strap for a vast array of offences not the least of which was having your eyes open during the recitation of the Lord's Prayer (I kid you not!) or for laughing enroute to your seat after a thrashing. In second grade (across the street) we had to obtain the instrument of torture from the office first before we were walloped in the classroom much to the delight of all.
A source of great amusement to us was the outburst of a Dutch refugee upon receiving the ultimate in 1946 — "In Holland we have Hitler, in Canada, Mr. Ring" — the latter didn't bat an eye!
School at Virgil was a great deal of fun. I cannot recall organized sports — everything was "pick-up" softball, hockey (outdoor rinks) tobagganing across the street and of course, the sport by which all activities were duly measured in terms of competitiveness and sheer enjoyment — playing marbles! We devised a myriad of games therewith and probably learned more mathematical and social skills than any curriculum would possibly offer — including deviousness, cheating, decetion, etc., which has served us all in very good stead.
Love affairs flourished in February as we examined the message of received Valentines. Christmas gift exchanges informed us clearly of the pecuniary circumstances of families represented in our classrooms. Music Festivals permitted us to show off our melodic genius and pretend we were better than everyone else — which we were!
Doubtless I developed a love of learning and respect for those who are called teacher at Virgil Public School. I may have poked a little fun in this missile, but, believe me, as I recall my teachers, my classmates and my experiences at Virgil Public School tears are welling up. Nostalgia is good for the soul.
Virgil Memories by Louise (Andres) Rogalski
Virgil School has always been close to my heart. It feels like a part of me because I have spent 44 years of my life in and out of those halls, not only as a student, but also as a teacher. I have many fond memories of those years.
One of my earliest recollections of Virgil Public School was the fact that we had no bus service from our home to the school. All the families on Niven Road collectively decided to form their own transportation service. Each family took their turn in rotation, driving us to and from school. These vehicles of transport ranged from cars, farm trucks and trailers which under present standards would be considered condemned for safety deficiencies. It's a miracle that no serious incident ever occurred — safety belts had yet to be invented.
Following are a few insights from each class.
Grade 1 - Miss Twamley - She was the right kind of teacher for Grade 1 — warm, kind-hearted, and very grandmother-like, not only in looks, but in stature. She always wore such lovely perfume.
Grade 2 - Miss Cameron - Due to the lack of space in the main school, we were shipped to a one-room house across the street which later became the residence of our janitor, Mr. Nickel.
Grade 3 - Miss Field - I remember the weekly "spelling bees" with Miss Field - I always felt bad for those who had to sit down first because they never got to enjoy the rest of the game.
Grade 4 - Miss Daball - was a fun-loving teacher. She showed her expertise in her art classes. I never liked art, but she always made me feel good about my work.
Grade 5 - Miss Eplett - We sang a lot of hymns during the opening exercises and I remember some of the favourite songs like "Lead Kindly Light" and "Abide with Me" which we seldom sing today. She loved her music.
Grade 6 - Mr Guy - Had an interesting walk. When going down the halls, he appeared to be walking on the tips of his toes with a bit of a swing. He was a great "guy"! He always challenged us to "climb the ladder of success". That was his favourite quote.
Grade 7 - Miss Caughill - was an English grammar fanatic. I remember walking into her classes and seeing the blackboards covered with analyzing sentences and parts of speech. Many of us owe our grammatical skills to her expertise.
Grade 8 - Mr. Ring - During his era, every student at Virgil Public School will remember the legendary, Ivan Ring. He left a lasting impression on all of us. As a combination teacher and principal, he would often leave the classroom for principal duties. To maintain his usual strict control, he relied on a two-way mirror between the classroom and his office and on many occasions was able to catch the classroom troublemakers. When all went well, he would come running in from the back, dodging the open windows, whistling away or singing "We have no bananas, We have no bananas today". He was a great teacher and we had a lot of respect for him.
In this 1944 class photo wiht Miss Twamley, you can see in the background the future site of the C.I.B.C.
Virgil Memories by Herman Neufeld
1950 - 1956
I'll never forget entering the hallowed halls of Virgil Public School on September 1950. How interesting what sticks in my mind — ferried to school in a 1947 MONARCH together with my niece who's the same age as I am — standing at the front of Miss Twamley's class holding my Lepage's glue firmly in my 6 year old hand. Indelibly etched on my mind is the famous "Rhythm Band" and how envious I was of the guy playing the Triangle while I only had 2 brushes to swish together! My first value lesson — Real life is life in Rhythm Band — it doesn't matter what you play — just play what you've been given to the utmost (your gift/talent) and together when all instruments are playing, there'll be harmony!
Grade 2 - February 6, 1952 stands out. Miss Cameron dutifully and solemnly informed us that King George VI had died and starting that day — we would now change the anthem to "God Save the Queen". Well, after 17 months of singing God Save the King, all of us goofed... all said "King" — it took about 2 weeks to get it right.
Grade 3 - June 2, 1953 was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and I was upset. Only Grade 4's - Grade 8's would march in the giant parade on Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake. First, I couldn't play the triangle — now I couldn't march! Our teacher, Mr Glaves, was famous for his MULTIPLICATION (TIMES TABLE) CONTESTS. I found my forte! There was nobody quicker at getting the right answer all the way to 12 X 12 which is ? Mr. Glaves also had an Aussie bent — we were weaned on "Waltzing Matilda" and "Laugh Kookaburra, Laugh", etc.
Grade 4 class was the "old" room where it says 1872 outside -- where the cloakroom faces Creek Road. Miss Olga Dick impressed "DIVISION" on us, reading and writing skills were honed to perfection. I'll never forget a very traumatic experience — February 1954. I fell through the ice up to my waist on "Nickel's" pond across from the school - in the gully - and then walked home to Wall Road -2 1/2 miles (4 km). Of course, I froze solidly being totally soaked and contracted double pneumonia. I almost died as a result - but what stands out in my mind were the wonderful letters I received from the entire Grade 4 class during the 6 weeks I was recuperating — very Newsy — and encouraging.
In Grade 5, I got the "strap"! I was in love — head over heels in love with a very beautiful Grade 6 girl — it was a split 5/6 — and like the song says "You always hurt the one you love"; to get her attention, I tripped her! Mr. Glaves (of Grade 3 fame) sent me out to see the INVINCIBLE TOWER OF POWER (later I found out he was actually very short) MR. IVAN RING! Terror gripped my heart as I saw the dreaded "instrument of correction". I received 2 on each hand and of course couldn't tell my parents because it would mean another spanking at home! I lost the girl, too! I never tripped up again.
Mr. Andrews was my Grade 6 teacher and I have a veritable flood of memories. All students with an average of over 85% were privileged to go camping with him at Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin Park — it was great. He saw value in his students and disciplined us only to make minor adjustments in our discretionary process. His discipline was UNIQUE (I'd say very unique — but he taught us that you never put an adjective before the word "unique" ~ it stands alone!) I remember! If we needed discipline, he'd send us out into the hall with our ARMS FULLY EXTENDED for an eternity (probably 10 minutes) but man it hurt! He'd always catch us if we tried to lower our arms even momentarily — because we had to stand in his line of vision! When I close my eyes, even today, I can still picture the painting of the "Father of Confederation" that hung there on the wall which I was forced to stare at during my punishment way back in 1956. Its probably why I aced History all through school.
Memories of Virgil stop there regrettably because a brand new school called Colonel John Butler opened in September 1956, and I had to leave Virgil because I lived on Wall Road. I treasure the total dedication of my 6 teachers (including their discipline) because it's helped me to face "real" life head-on with all its' ups and downs and I believe VIRGIL PUBLIC SCHOOL helped to MAKE ME WHO I AM TODAY.
Mr. Brooker - the school Custodian
Virgil Memories by Buddy Andres
1950 - 1958
There is one over riding factor that somehow affected every memory of Virgil Public School during my era (1950-1958), and that is the "Mr. Ivan Ring" factor. I doubt that any principali1 teacher in the history of the Lincoln County Board of Education has ever wielded such rigorous authority and commanded such respect. I would almost suggest that a United States Marine Commander would pale in comparison. All of us, (well, almost all) were absolutely terrified of his administrative and teaching style. In contrast to the open and relaxed teaching methods of today's educational leaders, it is no less a miracle that most of us survived the tyranny of Mr. Ring! Despite the ever present fear, we somehow managed to learn the 3-Rs. When I graduated from Grade 8 in June of 1958, I distinctly remember the feeling of relief in not having to deal with the "Mr. Ring" factor ever again! Nothing in the higher halls of learning would ever compare to the fear that I lived with throughout my public school years!. However, despite this authoritative exterior, I can confirm that Ivan Ring demonstrated a genuine concern for the welfare of each individual student.
The teachers during this time included Miss Twamley, Miss Cameron, Miss Caughill, Miss Field, Miss Olga Dick, Alan Glaves, Al Andrews, Mr. Dyck (the shop teacher), Mr. Timms (the Music teacher), and Miss Goodes (the School Nurse). The periodic visits of Miss Goodes was another frightful situation - her mere presence sent shock waves through the school!
Considering all the pressure I was under as a student, I wonder how I ever survived my eight years at Virgil? All of these dedicated teachers had our utmost respect, and were certainly a major influence over our daily lives during those impressionable years.
One of my fondest memories relates to the basic computer technology used by Miss Dick to help us with our math tables. This low voltage invention (contraption) would reward your correct answer with the lighting of a bulb — oh, how I loved that machine! To this day, most of us from that era, owe our competence with math tables to Miss Olga Dick and her "multiplication machine!" Olga Dick was obviously a teacher ahead of her time.
Who can ever forget Dick and Jane and their dog Spot? Their exploits sure exercised our reading and comprehension skills. I often wonder if today's students can look back and reminisce about such simple pleasures and a Dick and Jane reader? Other fond memories include skating and playing hockey on Nickel's pond across the road, playing marbles against the school wall, and my all time favourite - going to Hutchinson's Store to purchase hockey cards with that bubble gum inside. I can still smell the aroma of that gum on the cards! I still have all those cards to this day, and plan to sustain my retirement years with the proceeds of their sale! My Gordie Howe cards are priceless. Wish me luck.
It was during this time (1952) that we switched from singing God Save the King, to God Save the Queen, following the death of King George VI. Other notable current event highlights of the 1950's included the following: Eisenhower became the 34th President of the United States, Louis St. Laurent was the Prime Minister of Canada, Mount Everest was finally conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary, Castro came to power in Cuba, the Mickey Mouse Club was our favourite TV show, and Elvis Presley rocketed to fame as the "King of rock n roll"! The decade ended with the Soviets winning the race into space, with the successful launch of Sputnik I - the world's first satellite in space!
These reflections are only a brief snapshop of my years at Virgil Public School. Many of us would love to turn back the pages of time, and relive the good old days. However, life marches on, and everyone of us must look to the future, and strive to make this world a better place to live. Virgil Public School and the teachers of that era, equipped us with the basic tools of life. They instilled in us the willingness to be productive, and caring citizens of this great country called Canada, and for that, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
Happy 125th Birthday to Virgil Public School.
Virgil Staff 1957 - 1958
Front: H. Dyck, K. Caughill, M. Alfieri, G. Field, C. Cameron, I. Ring
Back: J. Helson, 0. Dick, W. Dueck, E. VanSiekle, M. Pries
Virgil Memories by Harvey Ring
I attended Virgil Public School from 1951 till 1958. Those were simpler times. Times when you didn't lock your doors, you left a milk bottle on the porch with money in it, the butcher came to your house to cut your Sunday roast from meat in the back of his truck, and the coal truck delivered that messy coal for your furnace.
The school was the heart of our activities. But they were not organized sports. They were pick-up games of baseball, soccer and marbles. We played hockey on the creek. The favourite spot was the pond behind Nickel's. At the end of the pond the water ran swiftly back into the creek, creating a spot that often did not freeze. I remember dipping my arm into the freezing water to try to retrieve a puck, hoping a snapping turtle did not bite me.
The school yard was divided in half. A row of pear trees marked the boundary between the girl's side and the boy's side. At recess, a teacher patrolled to make sure boys did not cross over the line and bother the girls. Of course, the girls skipped rope close to the tree line so the boys would notice them. Sometimes we would climb a tree and do chin-ups or swing on a branch like Tarzan, trying to impress the girls who skipped rope nearby.
After school, we were allowed to play anywhere. The big Horse Chestnut trees near Field Road were a sources of great fun. We would have fights throwing chestnuts at each other. It was one thing to get hit by a skinned chestnut, but it was something else to get hit by one that still had the prickly barbs on it. I used to use lids from my mother's canning pots for a shield. She did not appreciate all the dents I put in them. But you needed a shield to survive. We sometimes hollowed out a chestnut, stuck in a hollow stick, crushed some dry leaves up, and smoked a pipe. Maybe that's why to this day I have never smoked. There was not much flavour in that chestnut pipe.
Virgil School brought my first heartache. I remember the year a new school was built down the road. Some of my friends had to go to this new school, friends that I had known for years. But in particular, one was a girl I had a crush on. How could I live without seeing her at recess? But somehow, I survived. I think this was just fate preparing me for life ahead.
Mr. Dyck was a special teacher. All the boys looked forward to being able to go to "shop". The girls took "home economics" and we got to use tools and make things. Other schools bused classes to Virgil to take the shop class from Mr. Dyck. He had a talent for guiding young hands to make useful articles - lamps, tables, flower pot holders. To this day, I still have a knick-knack shelf in my bedroom that I built in Mr. Dyck's class. It's there not for sentimental reasons, but because it is still a functionally attractive shelf.
Grade Eight was a tough year. I had my father as a teacher. It was not easy having him as principal, how would I ever survive having him for a teacher too? But once I was in the class
I was just another student to him. I had to do the mental arithmetic drills. I had to do my grammar homework. And if I acted up, the mirror he had set up in the small hall between his office and the classroom would catch me. I can still hear him telling someone to turn around, or stop talking while he was out of the classroom, in his office. Our desks faced the front of the room. So we never knew when he was watching us from his office which was behind us. That fear kept us in line.
Dad couldn't be tricked. One day, Miss Dick asked me to stand in the hall. I don't recall what I did to deserve this. But standing in the hall was not my problem. My problems would start if the Principal came down the hallway. Suddenly I saw him leave his office at the end of the hall. Maybe he will go into a classroom. As soon as he noticed me, I walked over to a water fountain. I started to take a drink. He got closer. I drank some more. He stopped. I continued drinking. Finally, I could not drink any more water. I said "Hi". He asked me what I was doing. I told him I was getting a drink. He said, "Well, you've had your drink, why don't you go back to Miss Dick's class?" I was caught. I had to confess I couldn't go back. I never heard about that incident again, not even at home. But I knew that I had disappointed him. I don't think Miss Dick ever had to send me to the hall again.
It is hard to separate Virgil School from Virgil, the village. The school was the heart of activities in those days. Each year there was a big fireworks display. This was the start of the famous Virgil Stampede. It actually started in a field behind our house. Mr. Willms and Mr. Koop started having some fireworks each year. Soon neighbours joined in and hotdogs and hamburgs were served. Then it moved to the school yard and the Boy Scouts organized activities. The volunteer firemen supervised the fireworks. This was a big event in the Virgil calendar. And now it's the Virgil Stampede.
The people of Virgil are very special. They came from all over the world. When I was a boy there were a lot of new Mennonite families moving into the village. I remember having adults in the first grade with me. They were learning English. Here were grown men and women sitting in the same class as first-graders. Only in Virgil would you see something like this. But they learned a lot faster than us. After a few months, these adults would graduate to second grade and third grade. We kids had to stay behind.
My father had a tremendous respect for these new Canadians who had chosen Virgil for their home. As a kid I didn't understand what was happening, but people were always coming to our door with baskets of fruit and vegetables. I don't think my mother ever bought fruit for canning or jam. There was always someone at the door saying thank you to Dad and giving us a flat of strawberries, or a basket of peaches, or a bushel of apples. I didn't know at the time why they did this. But looking back I now remember my Dad helping new people with income tax, spending time helping them with English, or supporting them when they needed help with the 'system' here in Canada. I guess that's why the fruit was always forthcoming. Virgil was a special place. And the new Canadians were wonderful people. As a kid, I remember some people had a derogatory term for new Canadians. My dad would get furious if anyone used that term. I would not want to be
the person to use that term in front of my Dad.
The school yard was like my back yard because we lived beside the school. Before they put up the tall chain-link fence, we just hopped over the fence to go to school. And I went home for lunch while most of my class-mates had their lunch in recycled sugar bags. I remember gobbling down my lunch so I could run back to school for sports. If you didn't get there on time, the teams would already be chosen. Choosing teams could be hurtful at times. It seemed the biggest boys were always team captains. They then chose from the rest of us, picking their team one at a time. It hurt if you were the last one chosen. I was not very big, so I was never the first one chosen, but at least I also wasn't the last one. But I can remember thinking to myself, "pick me, pick me!!", as the teams were chosen. Sports were important. For years I never had a good ball glove. I thought that if I just had a good glove like some of the other kids, maybe I would be a good player too, and get picked sooner. I wanted to get a glove but my father wouldn't buy me one. I had to save my allowance ($0.251 week) and pick strawberries for $0.05 per basket to earn the money. It was not easy to save $25.00 to buy that glove. It meant so much to me that I still have that same glove. I don't use it anymore, but I never parted with it. It meant too much to me. Working hard for a special goal was another value I learned in Virgil.
It feels good to come back and see some things don't change. The school has grown. It has matured. But the 'old school' is still there. There's still MB Foods, Angelo's Barbershop, and Enn's Shoe Store. And after the 125th reunion celebration, the spirit of Virgil School is healthy and well. There will be another 125 years too. I won't be there. But I hope the spirit and lave that has built the school and community carries on.
Closing Prayer on the Occasion of the 125th Anniversary Virgil Public School May 2, 1997
O God, as we gather to-day to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Virgil Public School, may we give thanks for this opportunity to share with one another the many reminiscences of our time here. Let us remember the principals, teachers and students who have passed through this school during the past century and a quarter.
Let us remember especially those who are not with us to-day, because of illness, distance or who have passed from this life.
Specially we give thanks for those whose vision has helped to build this school into the fine institution it is to-day. As our school systems prepare to enter into a new phase of development and integration, guide those who are responsible for leadership so that we may not lose what has taken so long to achieve.
We give thanks for the children of this school to-day and in the future, with their fresh outlook upon life and their wealth of potential resources. Bless them with your presence as they graduate. Grant that they may remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Make them mindful of the meaning which you alone can give to life. Help them to dedicate themselves to noble service and to high ideals. Grant them the satisfaction of genuine success and the joy of real accomplishment in the years ahead.
Finally, we offer prayers for all who have travelled from near and far to this celebration. As they return to their homes, surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey's end.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Virgil Memories by Ronald Ring
Student: September 1955 - June 1962
Teacher: September 1976 - June 1980
When I started to think about my years at Virgil School, I was amazed at how quickly the memories flooded into my mind. As is often the case , many of the memories had little to do with academic pursuits.
One of the earliest was of standing at the foot of our driveway beside the school yard watching all the children playing. Shyness or fear must have rooted me there until I heard the school bell ring. That would trigger a full speed run to the entrance so that I wouldn't be late. Things went a little better after that.
Through most of my years as a student, Mr. Nickel was the caretaker. I vividly recall the day that he hung a dead snapping turtle from the branch of a chestnut tree for all of us to admire. That was the closest that many of us had ever been to one of these fearsome creatures. Mr. Nickel was very popular with all of us kids as he was the one who put spotlights on his house across the road so that we could skate and toboggan in the evening darkness. His property was the playground for most of the village kids. Speaking of skating, I'm sure many will remember the huge skating ring provided by the Virgil firemen when they flooded the back corner of the school yard. There never seemed to be a shortage of fun things to do growing up in Virgil.
One of my teachers at Virgil who will live forever in my memory was Mr. Naylor, my Grade 7 teacher. I recall the thrill of being in his class, feeling as though I had really made it. Mr. Naylor in his own quiet way commanded the greatest respect and affection from all of us. He was the one who coordinated the production of "The Students' Voice" the first ever Virgil Public School yearbook. Mr. Naylor was one of those teachers you could really talk to. I still have a picture of the two of us sitting on the back bumper of his VW bug in the school parking lot. It was a great experience later in life to meet up with him again, this time as a teaching colleague.
One of the things I had to deal with at Virgil was what to do about the principal. Was he to be called Mr. Ring, Sir, Dad? Mostly I tried to stay clear of him at school. It wasn't always easy because I usually ended up facing him in some rather embarrassing situations. Everyone at school knew that children were to sit down when using the slides, but that wasn't much fun. More than once I enjoyed a good head first slide on my stomach. One time I didn't stop fast enough and landed face first in the gravel at the bottom. Boy, did that hurt! Of course that required a visit to the office. I don't know what my father must have thought watching this little miscreant trying to explain what had happened. I suspect he probably thought that justice had been served. One thing I was thankful for was that no matter what happened at school, I didn't hear about it at home. It was as if he was able to separate the roles of principal and father.
Years later when I returned to Virgil School as a teacher, I found myself working alongside my Grade 3 teacher, Miss Cameron, and my Industrial Arts teacher, Mr. Dyck. They, along with the rest of the staff, were a great group of teachers with whom to work.
Virgil School has gone through a lot of changes in its 125 years but through them all it has been a great place to learn, a great place to teach, and a great place to have fun.
Mr. Naylor's Grade 7 class
An excerpt from the 1961 "Student Voice" •
THE STUDENTS' VOICE............1961
To have the opportunity to participate in any "first-time" event is, I believe, an honour which brings much personal satisfaction and pleasure. I know that you, the students of Virgil School, and particularly those who have taken a most active part in the production of the "The Students' Voice", Virgil School's FIRST year book, share with me this feeling.
I have noted with pride the growing feeling of school spirit, the development of self-reliance, and the forgetting of self in the interest of all, which the production of this Year Book has wrought in our school. To Mr. Naylor, our vice-principal, without whose tremendous capacity for work and exception skill in organization of this book could not have been produced, I say sincerely, "Thank you".
In closing I make this wish for those who will be graduating from our school in June:
I wish you a large share of success in your new school and in your pursuit of happiness; may your efforts in the direction of right bring abundant reward. I would not wish your pathway to be over flowers only; God made the rose and the thorn to go to-gether; let us not separate them, but with you may the roses be many and the thorns few.
Ivan A. Ring.
A page from the first Virgil Yearbook, the 1960 "Student Voice"
Where are these people now?
Virgil Memories by Bill Radunsky
1961 - 1967
The spring morning would still be young when I would push on my running shoes — hopefully one of the brands that promised to enhance one's athletic capabilities — and head off to school.
Although the bell wouldn't issue its summons for well over an hour yet, I hurriedly biked or jogged the mile or so. The jogging was all too frequently necessary because I, or one of my brothers, had pushed the bike beyond its mechanical limits.
Books and classes were not what called me at that early hour. Not that academic considerations were totally absent. All too often there was a lingering sense of guilt over some unfinished or hurriedly done homework assignment that nibbled about the edges of my psyche. Fortunately, it was never enough to prevent me from enjoying the anticipation of being one of the first to the playground and a prime spot in the upcoming game of scrub baseball.
By 8 a.m. on those cool, damp mornings with the ground still somewhat water-logged and squishy, there would always be enough of us gathered on the diamond on the boys side of the playground to begin the game in earnest.
Memorizing provincial capitals, dissecting carrots or parsing sentences was still an hour away. Enough time to get muddy and sweaty, but never enough to time of the game or not be surprised by the first warning chime.
As I recall those early mornings of the mid 1960s, I see vividly the faces of many of my peers, not as they would appear to me now if I were to go back as a man in his mid-forties, but as I saw them then. They were faces I had grown up with, was comfortable with. Recalling them, I am inclined to pause and wonder where they are and how they are doing.
With this the 125th anniversary of Virgil Public School, many of us will likely do the same. That's what anniversaries are for, to remember the forgotten and, perhaps, once again smell the mud and hear the laughter of a cool spring morning decades ago.
Of course, my parents would probably have liked it better if it was the smell of chalk dust that arose first in my remembrances. Sorry, but maybe I'll try and dredge that up for the scholastic benefit of my children.
Virgil Memories by Cathy MacLeod
1959 - 1965
At Hallowe'en many students collected for Unicef. We would hear the fire siren at 8:00 p.m. and know that it was time to head to the school to hand in our collected money and to get a free bottle of pop. What a treat!
During the early 60's an attack by Russia was considered a serious threat and the Niagara area was particularly vulnerable because of our close proximity to Niagara Falls hydro-electrical plant. At school we had a bomb drill coded "Test Turtle". The whole school would head for the basement gym and line up in orderly fashion against the walls. It was taken very seriously by staff, and no-one dared to talk or whisper to a friend.
We all enjoyed our weekly music lessons from Mr. Timms. We had only one piano in the school that I can recall, and it was in the gym basement. I can still remember preparing for the choir fest held at Niagara District. All the schools in the area would join together and sing a mass number at the end. It was a long hot walk from Virgil Public School to the high school for an afternoon practice, but we were all so excited at the prospect of showing off our school choir!
The school was getting overcrowded in the early 60's, and we were the Grade 4 class designated to go to McNab Public School for the year. Miss Claire Cameron was our teacher and principal. It was a two room schoolhouse built in the 1800's and we shared it with a Grade 4 class from Colonel John Butler. Every morning we would assemble at Virgil Public School and take a 10 minute bus ride to our "pioneer" school.
In Grade 8, one of the boys in the class, Clifford Sennuck, made taffy apples for the class in the kitchen beside the basement gym. He must have spent most of the day there, and I can remember watching from the doorway and seeing him in his apron stirring large pots of hot taffy — not a teacher or supervisor in sight in those days — nobody worried about law suits back then!
In the winter we were allowed to bring our skates and we would go skating on Nickel's pond which was just across the road. I believe that the pond has since been filled in, but we certainly enjoyed skating there, though I remember that my hands were usually so cold that I had trouble taking off my skates at the end of the lunch hour.
Mr. Ring was the principal while I was there, and although he was small, we certainly respected his authority! He was kind too, and the children would use his backyard as shortcut to Stone Road as he lived just behind the school on Field Road.
There was a line of poplar trees in front of the school and down the side yard. On our way home from school we'd walk down the shady sidewalk and check out the penny candy at Gibson's Variety on the corner. Gumballs were three for a penny and many students would crowd into the tiny store to spend a precious penny or two.
The boys and girls had separate play areas as well as separate doors to enter the school. Teachers used the door at the front. Sometimes we would stand on the dividing line of the playground, one of us would be the designated look-out for the teacher on duty and we would try to catch the attention of the boys!
In our Grade 8 girls-only home economics class, we learned to preserve food, smock, sew an apron or jumper, knit, set a table, and prepare a lunch for the Grade 8 boys. I don't recall the boys making anything for us in shop!
As girls, we were required to wear dresses to school. We looked forward to the warmer weather when we didn't have to wear pants and leotards under our dresses.
The desks were wooden with a sliding drawer under the seat. In Grade 8 we used fountain pens with the ink stored in small jars on the desktop; ballpoint pens were seen as vastly inferior to the fountain pens. We sat in straight rows and began each day with God Save the Queen and a pledge of allegiance to the flag.
November 1963 - We were sitting in our afternoon Science class in Mr. Russell Fleming's Grade 7 class. He must have received a message from someone, because he suddenly left the room and returned with a small radio. We sat in stunned silence listening to the reports of the assassination of John Kennedy. Few of our families had televisions and certainly the school did not have one, but the radio painted grim pictures of this terrible event.
Thanks for the opportunity of sharing these thoughts.
Virgil Memories by Marlene Chepil
as told by: Melody Chepil 1957
Mr. Powell was very funny, even when he was punishing someone he used humour. My mother wrote a two verse poem for the yearbook about Mr. Powell. The first verse went like this: Mr. Powell, oh how he can howl. He can scream and call and throw a ball. She submitted it into the yearbook and got notice that it would be in it. But when the yearbook can out it was not there — it had mysteriously disappeared and no one ever knew where it went. My mother enjoyed Mr. Powell and enjoyed lots of laughs the year she was in his class.
Virgil Memories by Olga Dick
Teacher 1949-1962 & 1964-1968
For sixteen years it was my privilege to teach in the oldest part of the school. That particular classroom still held some of the charm of a one room schoolhouse. The date stone on the outside could be such an inspiration to remind us of previous generations who had learned and prepared for life just as we were doing. It also raised many questions and dreams about the future pupils who would build on such a strong and stable foundation.
Turning back the time clock brings back countless memories. Perhaps most remarkable was my initiation at Virgil School; to manage a Grade 3 and 7 combination. Among the younger pupils were new Canadians who knew no English and some slated to complete the Grade 4 course of studies that year. What a challenge!! The pupils were my concern. Both groups seemed to be shortchanged but we all survived the ordeal in one way or another.
There is no shortage of classroom memories. Many new immigrant children came to my classroom. Usually they were eager to learn and it was a joy to see them progress. They are making a valuable contribution to our society today.
Classroom techniques of the fifties and sixties may seem quite old fashioned today. Flashcards were a very useful tool to learn those multiplication tables. Spelling bees spurred on most of the pupils. Individual nature observations were shared with classmates and increased everyone's awareness of the world around us. Afternoon story times introduced us all to good books. Nature hikes were always exciting and rewarding.
Certainly technology did not play a very large role in those days. Perhaps that is one of the reasons there were more intact families. Most children were blessed with a stable home atmosphere. What a priceless treasure!
Over the years I have met many of my former pupils. Some were easily recognizable but others stumped my completely. It is always a pleasure to encounter them and exchange happenings in our individual lives. Please introduce yourself and excuse me if I cannot put a name to the face. In looks you have changed more than I have. It gives me great satisfaction to have been able to share a very small part of my life with you.
Virgil Memories by Gloria Meyer
1958 - 1967
My name is Gloria Meyer (nee Bogusat) and I attended Virgil School for all of my elementary school years, starting in 1958.
When I attended school, a large number of the students walked to school each day. I lived in the house behind what is now the building that has Virgil Video, Garrison Travel and Sears. I would cross Highway 55 (known then only as Niagara Stone Road) walk between Lincoln Upholstering and Koop's Drug Store (now Virgil Variety), past Mrs. Siemens house, through a vacant field and around the fence behind Mr. Ring's home and through his property. This was probably more for the convenience of Mr. Ring rather than us students.
A lot of us also walked home for lunch and back to school again. In the later grades however, several times a year, we would plan for all of us to bring a lunch and stay at school the entire day.
Virgil Memories by Elfriede Lakeit
1968 (Grades 7 and 8)
I'm Elfriede Lakeit (nee Blum) and I began attending Virgil School in 1968 for Grade 7 and 8.
I came to Virgil School from St. Catharines and found the other classmates and students friendly, which made being a new student easy. Mr. Glintz, my Grade 7 teacher, was also a new teacher in Virgil School. We were sort of in the same boat, having to familiarize ourselves with the other students, teachers and the school.
Day to day activities usually ran smoothly, unless someone misbehaved and Mr. Ring, our principal, got mad. Everyone stayed out of his way. He had a frightening way about him when he got angry. I wouldn't want to be at the receiving end of his wrath. It was on those days that I was grateful I did not have him for a teacher.
I also remember the school being small compared to my previous school in St. Catharines, especially the old gym. The playground was also different because it was divided into two sides, the Girls Side and the Boys Side. I always thought that the girls got the better side because we and Grades K-3 or 4 had the swings, slides and teeter-totters.
Attending Virgil School for 2 years was a small part of my life, but one that affected my life for the better. It was the beginning of a new group of friends and the beginning of my life in a smaller community.
Virgil Memories by Jim Dick
1962 - 1971
I attended Virgil Public School from 1962 - 1971, starting in Kindergarten and finishing in Grade 8. Fortunately, I finished in the standard 9 years, much to the dismay of some of my teachers.
Virgil school has been a very integral part of my family for many years. Having lived in Virgil all of my life, I have many fond memories of the times spent playing out in the school yard as a child as well as an adult. Those big chestnut trees provided lots of props for many activities, sometimes quite painful. I have the privilege of telling people I know that I had the same principal that my mother had when she attended Virgil Public School, Ivan Ring. I actually thought that he owned the school.
Many things have changed over the years. We don't see a school principal living next to the school, nor do we see a man like Elmer Neufeld doing school maintenance, drive the bus, as well as being the school truancy officer. Maybe Mike Harris does not have a new idea! Some things are still the same, like the creaky wood floors leading to the Grade 5 classroom at the far end of the school. The smell of green sweeping compound. (I can still smell it) Balls still end up on the roof. There is still always a big puddle somewhere on the school yard on picture day.
I enjoy the stability that this school has brought to our community, and to my family as my children now attend as well. I hope that as new families move into Virgil they can start to build memories that last as I have. You know as I go about my business around town I still hear familiar voices. Some people like George Heidebrecht or Rick Lakeit you just can't forget — who would want to.
Virgil Memories by Robert Neufeld
1962 - 1971
One of my most vivid memories is when I was in Grade 7 and the school decided to put together a basketball team for the very first time. I enjoyed sports so I tried out. Approximately 10 boys made the team, coached at that time by Mr. Halliday, who seemed to be a die-hard basketball fan. We practiced at the Niagara District gym before school started between 6:30-7:30 in the morning because at that time the school did not have a gym. Our first year we finished with a record of 1 win and 7 losses. Our second season was more successful as we finished with 7 wins and 1 loss.
When I went to Virgil Public School during the 70's sports teams did not exist as they do today. Maybe because there was no facility to practice in or getting volunteers to coach may have been difficult. I really appreciated when this basketball team was started. I believe it brought spirit to the school.
Today it seems our children are involved in all kinds of extra curricular activities. Junior and Senior basketball, volleyball and track teams. As a parent, I think that's great.
Virgil Memories by Helen Reimer Bergmann
First day of school, 1971. This was the year all five Bergmann siblings attended the Virgil Public School.
The youngest would leave home for the unexplored world beyond! What a busy morning, to have all five ready in good time. After kissing the oldest four good-bye, Mother took Harold, not yet five, for Kindergarten registration. Together pictures and books were viewed. Mother left him with an item of interest and went to the teacher's desk to complete the necessary paper-work. Suddenly a terrible howl filled the crowed room! Instantly Mother recognized the tone. The room full of strangers was just too much for the little fellow. Nor would he be comforted! Miss Lees suggested taking him to a child he knew. Yes, there was Anton quietly playing on the floor with a group of children. Mother deposited Harold next to Anton, and fled from the room as fast as her injured ankle permitted. Walking across the schoolyard she could still hear him! What happened the rest of the morning is a mystery.
Despite that shaky beginning, Kindergarten was a very good experience. A year later when in Grade One, he used to ask, "Why can't I go back to Kindergarten?" Such is life. We must go forward!
And go forward he did. On June 19, 1980 thirty Grade Eight students proudly graduated from Virgil Public School. Harold was among the fortunate ones to receive prizes. Nine years of good elementary schooling provided a solid foundation for a promising future.
In 1991 Harold received a diploma with honours from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary, Alberta. Besides being a successful cabinet maker, he recently built a substantial home just outside of Calgary. In Harold's own words, It all started with Mr. Henry Dyck's shop classes. From lathe turning to clocks and chessboards, he was an inspiration to the boys of Virgil Public School."
Ruth, Grade 8
John, Grade 7
Beth, Grade 4
Barbara, Grade 2
Virgil Memories by Vic Durksen
Virgil had never put together a basketball team before but Mr. Halliday thought we should. We couldn't dribble, shoot or pass the ball properly, but we were tall! In fact I think we shocked the other public school teams when we showed up with our entire starting 5 players all close to 6 feet tall! Ron Runge even sported some funny peach fuzz on his face which we all proudly referred to as our big guy with the beard. Some of us tried to pass off our dirt above the lips as mustaches, all in an effort to scare the competition.
Well, we may have looked big, but our basketball was a bust! At least until our coach taught us some basics and we spent many hours practicing. Then we no longer had to count on our guard to score from the centre because no one could handle dribbling the ball all the way in for a closer shot.
Now that outdoor pot-holed basketball court, with the drooping metal rim is history; having made way for the brand new gym. But the memories of that patch of tar remain. It served not only our version of the NBA, but our place for continuous hockey play, and four-square competitions. That piece of tarmac by the school was also the target for the big hitters in baseball. Only the big guys like Randy Friesen or Rob Neufeld could smash that baseball all the way from the outfield diamond (by the graveyard) to the tarmac. Some amazing shots would even make it into the entranceway to the school. We "dreaded" the possibility of there being a teacher on yard duty standing in the entrance when the baseball was hit there.
During Spring, the annual running of laps around the field was very popular. Before school, during recesses, lunch and after school, we would spend countless hours running laps so that we could build points for — who remembers. But it always seemed so easy for those light of foot cross-country runners like Randy Fast and Al Janzen. Surely they really didn't run all those laps. But maybe they were really chasing the girls, or at least showing off to them.
Well sport after sport abused that poor field. Endless soccer, baseball, hockey and other games. Winter fun back then included massive snowforts and snowballs — which my sons tell me now are not allowed. Were they back then? Or did we always have to make sure the teachers weren't looking.
As my three sons, Kyle, Mitchel and Travis play in that same Virgil Public School field, the 5th generation to be involved with the school, I find myself hoping that their children will continue treading on those hallowed grounds.
Principal Derksen is shown with D. Halliday and graduates during a 1980's graduation celebration
Virgil Memories by Doug Halliday
1970 - 1985
I still tell my friends and colleagues about my teaching days at Virgil! I will always say that I had died and gone to Heaven when I was there. Virgil will always have a special place in my heart.
When I think back to those "Virgil" days, many memories come to mind. Included among them are: the great camping trips to Kelso and Wellandport with the Colonel John Butler grade eights; the early morning basketball practices at N.D.S.S. when we didn't have a gym; playing volleyball in the snow as practice for the winter league; the friendly and competitive rivalry among the Niagara-on-the-Lake schools; the long runs with the kids along country roads after school; the tickets to the Sabres and ABA games in Buffalo from Charlie Bullock; the apology to Mrs. Friesen for keeping her daughter out so late; the greatest arm wrestling championship; never breaking up a major fight in eleven years; the guys at the gas station; the ladies in the bank; lunch at the "Dew Drop"; the freshie stand; fruit coming out of my ears; the ripe breezes of Spring (maybe from Herb Watson's barn); and plenty of firewood!
The kids at Virgil were the greatest! Their enthusiasm for learning and being involved were second to none. I couldn't wait to get to school! They were great because they had great parents; caring, loving and supportive. There was always a strong sense of "family" at Virgil.
Lastly, I couldn't have been luckier to work with such great colleagues over the years. We had a lot of fun.
All the best to you, Virgil, in your anniversary celebration! I'll never forget you.
The 1970's and 80's were filled with excellent gymnastics events. Pictured here are a variety of teams with coaches D. MacDonough, L. Pyle, J. Houtby and C. Stevens
Virgil Public School won the B division east regional senior girls gymnastics title for Lincoln County this season. The competition was in four events, vault, bench, floor exercises and tumbling. Team members, front row from the left: Karlene Klassen, Tricia Penney, Alison Walker, Sally Kuijer, Deanna DeBon, Christine VanRijn and Jennifer White.
Back row: coach Christine Stevens, Julie Steele, Charlene Neudorf, Samantha Greaves, Liza Timmerman, Andrea Voth and Lisa Winter.
Virgil Memories by Alex Szockyj
1970 - 1978
My most vivid memory about the building happened when I was in Grade 5, when at the time our class was the oldest classroom in the school.
I had to take something to the office, which was where it now stands and I realized that when I looked down at the old hardwood floor and heard the creaking of the floor as I stepped, that this school, where I'm stepping right now was over 100 years old.
Then I reached the new part with the plastic floors and thought of the difference. It made me feel good about going to a school that was one of the oldest in Canada and still survives today.
One of my favourite teachers was Mr. Durksen. I had him in 1977 as my Grade 7 homeroom teacher. He made the classroom fun with his new ideas. He managed to obtain a stereo for music class. We would sit and listen to albums and sing some of the songs we heard.
Mr. Durksen would play his guitar and we would sing along while he strummed away.
[A newspaper photograph]
No doubt about it the top award Winner at Virgil Public School was Susan Willms shown receiving her awards from principal Reg MacGregor. Susan received the mathematics, English, music, science and family Studies awards as well as the Ivan Ring Award and top girl athlete award.
Virgil Memories by Barbara Heinrichs
Memories. The things we remember can mold our characters and shape our personalities. Two people can share the same childhood experiences and one may remember it in a completely different way than the other. Memories are a part of who we are. Next to our parents, teachers quite possibly have the biggest impact in a child's life, and the memories of our school-days can play a vital role in our lives.
One of my earliest memories from Virgil Public School is the principal, Mr. Ivan Ring. It seemed as though every time I passed him in the hall or saw him walking home, he was whistling or singing! (He lived in the house next to the school on Field Road. The same house we are now living in.) I clearly remember him singing an old Negro Spiritual quite often. "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, nobody knows but Jesus." As a principal, I suppose he had more of a right to sing that than anyone else.
All the teachers at Virgil had some influence in my life but four stand out in a positive way.
The summer before I entered fifth grade, I learned that there would be a new Grade 5 teacher and I would be in his class. I was convinced that he would be a "mean, old man" and voiced my complaints to anyone who seemed even remotely sympathetic. By the first day of school I had worked myself into quite a frenzy over this horrible ogre of a teacher. Imagine my relief when I discovered that Mr. Doug Halliday was neither old nor mean. In fact, his wonderful sense of humour and patient attitude toward his students made that year one of my happiest at Virgil. Along with forgotten lessons of sums and grammar I was taught at the age of ten, a valuable lesson. Never criticize someone until you have walked a mile in his shoes, or at least met him!
Mrs. Barbara Armstrong encouraged all her students to expand their artistic and literary capabilities. In sixth grade I was thrilled when she wrote beside one of my stories, "Someday I hope to see your work in print".
In Grade 7 and 8, the girls and boys were split into what would now be "politically incorrect" groups. The girls went off to learn "Home Economics" with Miss Valerie Lane in her large, cheery classroom. Under her excellent guidance we learned the practical skills of baking, cooking and sewing. Meanwhile, the boys trooped downstairs to that mysterious door marked "Industrial Arts". I never did actually enter that room. On the rare occasion that the door was open when I walked past, I caught a glimpse of power-tools, machinery and saw-dust. The noise alone was enough to make me thankful to be a girl. I much preferred the pleasant hum of sewing machines to the din emerging from there!
My seventh grade teacher, Mr. Ken Durksen, fresh out of Teacher's College, inspired us all with his wonderful gift of music. Many were the times I walked from school singing tunes like "Are you Going to Scarborough Fair" and "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning".
Somehow there is something comforting about taking my own children into the school and hearing that familiar guitar and voice, walking through the same halls and peeking into the same rooms that I sat in as a child.
Teachers play an important role in the lives of children. My own dear father is a retired school-teacher and they all deserve our gratitude and respect. As the years go by and our country and the world around us seem to be falling into greater moral decay, I realize how fortunate we are to have a school where godly values and moral standards are still being taught along with the three R's.
Another Virgil Team Championship coached by Mr. Ron Ring and Mr. Ken Durksen. (Principal Mr. John Derksen joining the celebration)
Virgil Memories by Mary Carroll
Since I spent 22 of the happiest years of my life teaching at Virgil Public School, it is very hard to narrow it down to one or two memories when I have so many.
I couldn't have asked for more wonderful children to work with each day and parents who were so supportive in and out of the classroom. The staff also were a group of dedicated people who always put the needs of the children first.
As Mother's Day rolls around each year I think of how hard my "little dears" worked preparing for our annual Mother's Day Tea. The joy and pride on their faces as they introduced their mom to the class was a rich reward for all our efforts.
How well I remember the day a group of us took crowbars and anything else we could find, to the wall on the stairs leading to the original room of the school. A family of raccoons was trapped inside and the cries of the babies were more than we could bear. Thank goodness for maintenance men who could repair the mess we made!
Then, of course, is the memory of that gloriously happy day in June of 1989, when the staff, parents and students planned a special day to honour me at the time of my retirement. Never will I forget the thrill of being driven out to Virgil in an amazing Antique car. As we rounded the bend on Creek Road and I saw the entire school assembled there on the front lawn, tears of joy and humility flowed freely! All this for me, who had only done what I loved doing best. It was wonderful mingling with the students that afternoon and later being greeted by former students, parents, and fellow teachers. Memories of that day are etched on my heart forever.
Thank you V.P.S. for letting me be part of your history.
Virgil Memories by Christine Kopeschny Pauls
1971 - 1980
When I think of my years at Virgil School I have many fond memories. Memories of good friends, good teachers, and good times.
Many special events contributed to making my time at Virgil a happy one. One such event was the much anticipated "Movie Days" that happened usually twice a year. On the day before the Christmas break and the summer break, the whole school would gather together in the gym (which is now the library) to watch a special movie. Two of the movies that I remember are "That Darn Cat" and "Pippi Longstocking". Most of us did not get the opportunity to go to the movie theatre often, so this was an exciting time for all of us.
The gym was home to many other events at Virgil School - school musicals, speech contests, sports activities and graduation assemblies. All of these events were special to me at one time or another in my school life.
Virgil School provided students with many opportunities. Its' caring, supportive environment was a great place to spend my school years!
Singing Troubadors from 1978 musical "Mirror, Mirror"
Front: Laurene (Klassen) Klassen
Back: (left to right) Karen Penner, Kim Neufeld, Karolyn (Koop) Toews, Christine (Kopeschny) Pauls
Virgil Memories by Andrea Koop
1979 - 1987
I fondly remember Christmas time at Virgil School. Every year, a special day was set aside for Christmas celebration and preparation. Usually, several parent volunteers would come to school for one afternoon, and help us make Christmas Decorations for the school halls and windows. We would use old Christmas Cards, macaroni, gold paint spray ... all kinds of things. It was so much fun!
One year, when I was in one of the senior grades, several of my girlfriends and I were given some free time to decorate the large windows facing out onto Creek Road, in the front foyer. We put on some music and set to work. Sarah Pallek and Sherry Derstine, two of our best artists, took leadership. I think we probably took much longer than we really needed. However, when we were finally done, all the work and effort paid off. We had painted a large manger scene that stayed on the school window throughout the Holiday! The worst part was coming back after Christmas and having to clean our art work off. Christmas was over, and we had to face the challenges of a new year; speech contests and science projects to name a few.
I was always so fearful of the annual speech contest in spring. Everyone in the class had to participate and present a three minute speech in front of the entire class. The speeches could be on almost anything. They usually ranged everywhere from informational reports straight from the pages of an encyclopedia, to those with no real content, but full of imagination, and certainly of real entertainment value! Several of the best speakers were chosen to say their speeches in front of the whole school. Mothers and fathers would come to listen, special judges marked the speeches and awards were given when everyone had finished.
Fortunately, many exciting things eased our turning stomachs and made the new year a lot of fun. When it finally became warm enough, and all the pavement in the school yard had been dried by the sun, outdoor recess took on a whole new meaning. Kids no longer tried to hide in the bathrooms to keep warm. Instead, when the recess bell rang, there was a rush to claim the "courts". I remember playing four squares and jumping-rope to "Christopher Columbus", "High, Low, Medium, Slow..." and "Backwards Sally". Our class liked to play British Bull Dog. Usually, the boys and girls played together for this one.
I'm thankful for the years I spent at Virgil Public School. Sometimes I'd like to experience those days again. I was in the school just the other day, and in some ways it has changed a lot. The hallways are different and the teachers aren't all the same but I still have many good memories of my school days there.
Virgil Memories by Sarah Pallek
It's only been clear to me, after teaching several children's classes myself what an incredible impact a teacher can have. Teaching, I now realize, is not an easy task and now, more than ever, I can fully appreciate several teachers that made my primary years more than "drudgery". I remember my Grade 5 teacher, Mr. Low, who spent one class a week discussing the bible with us and providing spiritual insight. Also, I will never forget the stories that Mrs. Carroll read to us every morning in Grade 2... these things are so dear to me now and though my math skills and my spelling still seems to haunt me (they haven't improved that much!) — the thankfulness I have for all the teachers who truly cared enough to put their hearts on display and provide more than the 3 Rs, will always be there. Thank you, Virgil School.
[A photograph of Paula Thiessen and David Hiebert]
With Canada hosting the 1988 Olympics, who could forget the excitement of the torch run?
[Two photographs of choir and Triple Trio]
In the 90's Virgil School continues its excellence in music under the direction of Mrs. Carol Bell. Here she is shown with her 91/92 choir and triple trio.
1990/1991 Triple Trio
(left to right)
Bottom: Julie Neufeld, Jeanine Warkentin, Sherrie Bangs
Top: Patricia Leboudec, Alisha Kroeker, Julie Thiessen, Angela Borzychowski, Andrea Klassen, Becky Kirkby
Virgil Memories by Anna Neufeld
I'm Anna Neufeld and I began attending Virgil School in 1979.
I really enjoyed going to Virgil School. My classmates were all really nice. We all got along and when I think back, we were all like a family. When we would get to school everyone would say hello. At recess time us girls would go and play four squares, skip rope, play hop scotch or do something else, and the boys would be off doing other things.
The teachers were all very nice, whenever you needed help with something you just needed to ask and they'd help. There wasn't one teacher that I didn't like.
There were definitely some classes I didn't like which were History, Geography and French. My favourite was gym class. I was always participating in baseball, volleyball, basketball, etc.
I also loved singing in the choir and doing plays, mind you I never did a part in the play, I always sang, but it was fun. We would also go to contests with other schools, if I remember correctly we won a lot of times. Mrs. Bell was a terrific choir director and teacher.
I guess that's about it, but Virgil School really is a terrific school and when I have kids I would really like to send them there.
During celebrations to mark the 1987 opening of the new gym, students Kathy Panow and Ian Gibson make a student presentation. Trustee David Wiebe looks on.
Official Opening of the Gymnasium Addition to
Virgil Public School
Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake
Thursday, April 14,1983
THE LINCOLN COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
A Brief History of the Virgil Gymnasium
"While the days of the old-fashioned barn raisings have long been replaced by the needs of a more isolated modern society, co-operation is making a comeback in Niagara-on-the-Lake."
This quote taken from the first newspaper article (June 1977) regarding this project aptly describes the quality of community spirit which has brought about this fine facility. The need for a school gymnasium, the lack of a community centre at Virgil, and the willingness of community groups to become involved in building this shared project served as the impetus. Response by The Lincoln County Board of Education was positive. The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake was open to a presentation of the proposal and agreed to consider the project in its long term recreation plan.
The final decision by The Lincoln County Board of Education to proceed with this project was made on July 7, 1981. The four year interlude is best characterized as a period of communicating the value of the facility for school and community, efforts to find ways of financing, persistence by Mr. Jack Bell, local Board member, the encouragement of the Hon. R. S. K. Welch, M.P.P. to keep the idea alive, meetings of parents, community clubs and organizations, ... and sustained efforts of local citizens and politicians.
Following the Board's decision, Trustees and Board officials met with Council and community representatives to negotiate the joint venture, with an agreement being drawn up in September, 1981. Final financing, provincially and locally was worked out. After funding by Wintario, Community Centres Grants, and local donations by clubs and individuals, the Board assumed 68% of the remaining net cost and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Virgil businessmen 32%. Detailed plans were then drawn up and tenders were called for January 4, 1982.
Construction began in July 1982, and was completed to the point where students could use it the later part of January, 1983 ... an exhilarating experience.
Funding for equipment was raised through provincial, numerous local organizations, fund raising by students and parents, and private donations.
To all a hearty word of appreciation.
John Derksen, Principal
Virgil Memories by Heather Tarnowski
1989 - 1995
I began attending Virgil School in Grade 3, 1989. I graduated from Grade 8 in 1995.
I have many vivid memories of Virgil. They start in Grade 3. I remember having Mr. Durksen. Every day we would sit on the rug and sing. On birthdays, the birthday boy\girl would pick a prize out of the famous "birthday box"; a shoe box in wrapping paper with prizes in it. Of course, there was work.
Then, moving onto Grade 4, with Mrs. Wiens and Miss Lane. In the morning, Mrs. Wiens would assign points to the row which completed their work and behaved. In the afternoon, we would go to rotary classes such as Phys. Ed., French and Music.
Grade 4 passed quickly and onto Grade 5. We had Mr. Gallagher who is now the Librarian. Our class studied many interesting things. In social studies we learned about British Columbia levels of Government and my personal favourite, Ancient Egypt. If work was finished, we were permitted to use the Unisys Icon computers. Then, the technology was new, but it is obsolete now.
Then came Grade 6. One more year until I became an intermediate! My teachers, Mrs. Inglis and Mr. Willms were wonderful. Mrs. Inglis taught us many fascinating aspects of math and Mr. Willms showed us the many applications of science.
Grade 7 went very fast. Mrs. Bell was my teacher. That Year, I also began being a student secretary at lunch hour, so the hard-working Mrs. Trapp could take a break. That year strengthened many friendships. There was a lot more homework, as we were now intermediates.
That year, I also collected coffee money from the teachers. That taught me that I will never work in retail.
In Grade 8, I continued being a student secretary and collecting coffee money. I became great friends with many teachers. That year, I also graduated from Grade 8. Everyone became closer. We had more homework and towards the end of the year, all of us, the Grade 8's, became nostalgic about our time at Virgil. I played volleyball, helped around the school, but most of all, I developed friendships that will last for a long time. I will never forget my Grade 8 graduation. I won the language award and made a valedictorian speech. I have received a great educational foundation from Virgil.
Grads of 2000!
In three more years we will finish grade eight,
From Virgil School we will graduate!
It will be exciting and we'll get there in a hurry, 'Cause school will be awesome in the next century.
Instead of a bus we could "beam" to school,
A trip like that would really be cool!
Pencils and papers are things of the past,
We will use computers and get info fast.
Instead of human beings in front of the class,
The teachers will be robots and we'll have a blast! Walls will surround us when we have a test,
So no-one can copy — that will be the best.
History class is boring for everyone,
If we could travel in time it would be much more fun, Instead of studying science all through the day,
We could glide to other planets on our beam of ray.
The grads of 2000 are in the fifth grade,
Our memories of Virgil will never fade.
The year 2000 will start a new trend
When the 1900's come to an end.
Memories of Grade 8
Steven Epp - helping Mr. Kemp in the garden
Julie Kerber - holding the school bus in Mr. Durksen's 'Whale Show'
Jessica Peters - riding the turtle cars in Kindergarten
Jeff Due - our grade four overnight adventure
Jessica Janzen - winning the county relay championship
Elliott Evans - learning raquetball at White Oaks
Sarah Ewert - the caring helpful friends
Robert Lepp - riding the turtle cars with Mrs. Harder
Daniel Janzen - having court in Mrs. Bosc's class
Nettie Neufeld - the sadness of learning of Mrs. Newton's death
Adam Montgomery - the thrill of winning athlete of the year twice
Leeann Marynissen - Mrs. Bosc naming me Ginger
Jeremy Garrett - Mr. Dodge's weird nicknames
Greg McGarr - riding the Kindergarten turtle
Stacey Smith - to pet a dolphin at Marineland
Kevin Janzen - discipline court in Mrs. Bosc's room
Natalie Hofmann - the Beauty & The Beast trip
Ian McDonald - the creative staff
Lauryn Goerzen - our "Bomb on Bus" sign at Beauty & The Beast
Paula Stechman - having Mr. Dodge teach us football and baseball
Henry Klassen - "Green Machine" routine during Earth Day Celebrations
Tara Malstrom - the warm welcome when I arrived last year
Aaron Mills - no comment
Anna Vail - friendly, helpful classmates when I arrived in Canada in Grade 2
Amy Bator - fainting during the singing of O Canada
Matthew Wortel - running the wrong way in baseball
Tracy Unger - great trips to Toronto and Woodend
James Wiens - the food Mrs. Bosc cooked for us to eat
Aaron Heidebrecht - Hepatitis B and Measles shots
Abram Wall - Mr. Dodge and Virgil's excellent sports
Rosalie Pallek- Kindergarten friends and riding the turtle
Meagen Kulchar- making friendships in grade one
A photograph - Graduates 1996/97
A PLACE WHERE CARING
A photograph of Mrs. Johnston's Grade Six Class
Kindergarten Recipe for Happiness
say something finny to make someone laugh
play for a bit
jump on a trampoline
sing a rainbow song
climb a rainbow
listen to funny music
play with me on a swing set
have a tea party with a china tea pot
ride your bike
go to school with Mrs. Harder
make someone feel good by rubbing his back
stay at home and play
go to Choo Choo Charlies on your birthday
pet a kitten
work on cars
learn something new everyday
We Hope That All Of Your Days Are Filled With
[A group photo]
125 YEARS of Excellence