Valley Voices: Memories of Avola’s schoolhouse

An interview at the Avola log schoolhouse with Evelyn Craig McKay on Aug. 4, 2013

Students from Avola School take part in an outing in 1946. Pictured are (back

Eleanor Deckert

The following is an interview at the Avola log schoolhouse with Evelyn Craig McKay on Aug. 4, 2013.

 

ED: What memories come back to you while you are here today in the Avola log schoolhouse?

EM: I loved school. I started school in Avola when I was five years old. We lived close by and I walked on the path home for dinner at noon.

The school district provided exercise books. There was no electricity. The natural light came through these windows. To keep warm the older students fed the wood stove all day.

ED: Do you remember any specific teachers?

EM: Mr. Martin was from Victoria. He was a character, but an excellent teacher. Once he broke his leg. They say he was drunk and fell on the ice in front of the store.

While he was in the hospital in Kamloops he sent us lessons for four months. Then we sent the lessons back to him on the train for his corrections.

Miss Spackman was supervising us. She had been overseas and came directly out of the armed forces.

ED: Did you go on with more schooling after elementary school in Avola?

EvelynEM: I did correspondence in Avola for Grade 9, lived in Kamloops so I could go to Kam High and Saint Ann’s. After marriage and four children, when my youngest son was six years old, I finished Grades 11 and 12.

ED: Did you go to the city?

EM: The first time I ever went to Kamloops I was 12 years old! I didn’t even know how to use a telephone. Other than that we went to the doctor in Blue River by train.

ED: When did your family come to Avola?

EM: My parents, Thomas and Agnes Craig, came to Avola in 1935. Vernetta (1924-1954) born in Vernon, Evelyne (1932) born at Messiter, Molly (1935-2013) born at Cottonwood and Bernice (1937-2012) born at home in Avola. The doctor came by train from Blue River and Mrs. Cederholm was the midwife.

ED: Tell me about your dad?

EM: My dad was Scots and English. He was a trapper at the head of Adams Lake. Dad liked to experiment with grafting apples.

Dad went to the Okanagan for fruit every year. He was a logger and pole cutter at Messiter. Imagine all the telegraph, hydro and telephone poles needed across Canada! He also ran the logging camp above Mike Roddy’s place.

ED: What about your mom?

EM: My mom, Agnes Tronson, was part Native from Vernon. Dinner at noon was the big meal of the day. Supper was the lighter meal in the evening. Mother did lots of canning, even the venison my dad hunted. W

e had goats for milk, chickens for eggs and meat, a pig, and we always had a huge garden including a 1/2 acre of raspberries and 1/2 acre of strawberries. I remember the red crab apple jelly. So much of her work was about preparing food. She did all the baking for the logging camp in Avola. An excellent baker, I still remember her matrimonial cake.

ED: What did people do for fun in Avola?

EM: We went sledding and played baseball. I helped the ladies do their hair for Saturday night dances and whist or cribbage games at the Community Hall. We had Sunday School: Anglican, United Church and Catholic, my parents allowed us to go to whatever was available.

 

Mrs Gibson ran Canadian Girls in Training. Our family listened to radio plays: “I Love a Mystery” was too scary for me and we laughed at “Fibber McGee and Molly.”

 

 

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