Radville Summer School
When Frances Black (now Mrs. George Clarke) and I visited at Lake Alma during the 1931 Easter week, I learned that Dad did not want me to attend Harding College in the fall. As the depression was becoming more evident and there were already many unemployed teachers, Dad reasoned that it might be difficult for me to get another school if I left Wawota for a year. Bitterly disappointed, yet realizing too well the good sense of his argument, I reluctantly gave up my cherished plan.
While Frances and I strolled over the Lake Alma hills one day, I rudely interrupted my grumbling at Fate to declare, "If I can't take classes at Harding, I don't see why we cannot have a school here where young people could study the Scriptures: - say, just for three weeks during the summer holidays." Frances thought the idea good and I was suddenly elated with the might of its possibilities.
I rushed home to outline my idea in a hurried note to Wilfred (Bro. Wilfred Orr). He was living at Minton, Saskatchewan, then operating a grocery business. Before I had sent the letter, he had called, read my note (I was not at home) and left word with Mother that Frances and I should come to Minton on the next train to lay plans.
That we did. I shall never forget how excitedly we planned. Bro. and Sis. C.W.Petch, visiting at the Orr home, wholeheartedly entered into our discussions. Bro. Wilfred was to be principal of the school; C.W.Petch would help teach Bible; while Pearl Orr and I would teach oral reading and English respectively. (J.C.Bailey also taught in the first school).
Where would we have the school? Minton. There were no suitable buildings, but that troubled us little. We had made the momentous decision to have a Bible School. Somehow the cooking and dining quarters and sleeping rooms would be found. We spent hours discussing what books of the Bible would be studied and how the boys present at the school would give short talks in Chapel Service because every good Christian should be trained to give an answer for the hope within him.
The financing of the school was another detail discussed. We discarded the idea of regular tuition fees. Everyone was to be welcome. Students would be asked for donations of food. If they desired, they could give money to help pay any other expenses that might arise. The teachers had no thought of remuneration.
Enthusiastically assuming the role of advertising agent, I wrote more than thirty letters to individual Christians or leaders of congregations, explaining our plan. Students were requested to bring tents and bedding as well as food donations.
The first Bible School in Saskatchewan opened on Monday, July 13, 1931. I always contend that July 13 is my lucky day. On that day I had been baptized five years previously and now my brain child was being born.
Minton, a suitable home for our pioneer idea, was a small hamlet of newly erected, unfinished buildings (steel came through in 1927) directly south of Regina, 11 miles from the United States boundary line. It is built in a tiny valley surrounded by high prairie hills. When the strong winds came down upon us, Bro. Petch would shiver and talk longingly of the Ontario trees while shading his eyes from the glaring sunlight. Overflowing with energy and a zest for living, we liked the barren hills and breathed delightedly the fresh breezes from the west.
Wilfred and Pearl Orr with their wee son, Harold, had moved into a cook car for the summer. Their home served as a classroom (Wilfred had removed the partitions) and the basement was the kitchen and dining room. We used their dishes, towels and numberless other articles required.
On the Sunday before the opening of the school the young people began to gather. Because of Bro. Petch's influence there was a good representation from Horse Creek. Students came from Estevan, Radville, Lake Alma, Pense, Regina, Bengough, Ogema, and Wawota in Saskatchewan, from Manson in Manitoba, and from Montana in the United States. Before the term ended, there had been 49 students besides 33 visitors.
Students cooperatively did the cooking and other household chores. Each one had his special job. There was no shortage of food except one day when the fire in the stove would not burn and no bread could be purchased in the hamlet. We breathed a sigh of relief when our Model T came chugging along the street with several loaves of Mother's good bread.
Those three weeks were a wonderful period in the lives of the young people. They had a gay time, as all young people should have, but the undercurrent of devotion to the church was sweet to behold. They were present to study God's Word, and His Word they did study. The hills were excellent places for learning memory work. Lessons were studied and Bible questions discussed even while doing the weekly washing.
I have a copy of the Minton School Oracle (editor, Lavina Husband Perkins) which we hectographed and sent to the students. On the opening page is the poem "A Christian Standard," written by Cecil T. Bailey:
Pray that souls may be converted,
Pray we keep our flags unfurled;
Fight the fight of faith in Jesus;
Preach the truth which is His Word.
Clad on firmly God's great armour;
Conquer with the Spirit's sword.
Those were the standards of our school.
School opened at 9:00 a.m. and closed at 4:00 p.m., with 1 1/2 hours at noon. The books of Joshua, Judges, Revelation and Mark were studied. A period of 70 minutes each day was devoted to subject study. Among the subjects discussed were: Inspiration of the Bible, The Gospel of Our Salvation, Church Discipline and the First Principles. The students were keenly alive to the importance of these topics. They were happy to find wisdom and to get understanding.
What a time the boys had struggling through their first speeches in Chapel Service! Claude B. Perry made his debut with the topic "The Good Shepherd." The Bible School Oracle states that his text was "I am the good shepherd." He explained how Christ takes care of us just as a shepherd takes care of his sheep. I will never forget that speech. I believe that I have never seen anyone else so nervous on the public platform. The audience sat gripping the benches with sweat running off their fingers. However, Bro. Claude did not give up. Several years later I was pleasantly surprised to hear him preach a very good sermon.
Two young people accepted the Gospel during the term: Frances Black and Bert Husband.
Upon re-reading the Minton School Oracle, I learned that violin music was often rendered in the basement; that a very successful impromptu concert was held Saturday evening, July 18th (I recall Bro. Petch astonishing us by singing "Putting on Agony, Putting on Style"); and that rousing softball games were played frequently.
We had a few merry times over our tent houses. One night we were awakened by a strong wind that blew down our tent (My sister Eleanora, Lavina Husband, Frances and I were squeezed into a small affair). When it started to rain, we hurriedly gathered a few blankets and rushed into the classroom. We spent the rest of the night on the floor there - not alone though, as the other girls were in the same predicament. I don't recall what happened to the boys. As a result of a few similar incidents I have not since been particularly fond of camping.
For our school paper, Pearl Orr wrote a Twenty Years Hence Article. Her predications were worth reading. Of Herb Forman, she prophesied, "Herby Forman visited there with Harry Woodcock's circus as the living skeleton. Poor Herby has to diet rigorously to keep his place??"
I could not close the description of our first Bible School session without a word of appreciation for the work of Bro. and Sis. C. W. Petch. Sis. Petch, now residing at Charlton Station, Ontario, was the camp mother: scolding those in mischief, devotedly caring for those temporarily sick and advising us on a thousand and one details.
As the other teachers were almost as young as the students, Brother Petch provided ballast for the school. He was our inspiration. Many Radville Summer Bible School students were letter perfect on doctrinal matters; he gave us lessons in practical Christian living.
At the close of the term every student and teacher left Minton determined to he present at a similar school the following summer. There were many moist eyes during the singing of "God be with you 'till we meet again."
1932: As Wilfred and Pearl Orr had moved to the Peace River District in the fall of 1931, arrangements were made to have our second summer Bible School session at Radville. The meeting house would be a convenient class room. Sis. F. Hurlburt had very kindly offered the use of their home for a girls' dormitory. Remembering our unfortunate tent experiences of the first term, I welcomed that suggestion very heartily. A four-room cottage, one block from the meeting house, had been rented for kitchen and dining room. The boys were expected to bring tents as before.
In early July, the Friday before the opening of the school, Manley Jacobs and I motored to Radville from my home in Lake Alma. We were the vanguard - to prepare for the entrance of students and teachers. We were in high spirits. As the school had received much favourable comment during the past year, we were expecting a good attendance - sixty regular students.
Radville, located southeast of Regina, about 33 miles from the international border, is a larger place than Minton, boasting a C.N.R. round house, a six-room brick school, besides a Roman Catholic convent, several stores and approximately one thousand inhabitants. The town sprawls over a good bit of land on the west banks of the Souris River. While the roadways to Radville are barren of trees, the town itself has shrubs and trees planted along the streets, making an oasis on the desert of prairie land.
But to return to my story, Bro. Manley and I were soon busy buying groceries and cleaning the four-room cottage. The Radville brethren under the leadership of loyal old Bro. Cassidy had done most of the heavy work before we arrived.
Then Saturday afternoon the first students came. They were Richard and George Hovind, Paul Morrison and Clifford Elford, who had travelled the one hundred and seventy-five miles from Horse Creek in a two-wheeled horse trailer covered with canvas. With Cliff acting as trail manager, the three and a half day trip had been made without mishap. They had camped out on the prairie two nights, the boys taking turns acting as guard to keep the horses from straying too far while grazing, and had spent one night with Brother Gavel at Harptree. While we were pleased to welcome the boys, I was disappointed not to see the Horse Creek girls. I could not quite understand why they had not come along too!
Truly that year's session was successful beyond our dreams. But what problems arose! We had dining space for 28 people - one long table in each of two small rooms. Imagine trying to serve 90 to 115 people on those two tables! When setting the tables three times did not solve the problem, a long table was placed in a tent outside the cottage. The houseflies nearly drove us from there. It was almost impossible to get all the people served and dishes washed in the 1 and 1/2 hours allotted for the noon meal. The poor kettle washer was really a martyr to the cause.
The cooking itself was a tremendous task. As the school was financed by donations we could not afford to hire a cook. Pearl Orr, the chief cook, arranged the menus and selected the assistants from among the girl students to cook the meals.
How much to cook was the big question? Fancy cooking for one hundred people when you had been accustomed to prepare a meal for a family of five or six! Puddings were made by the dishpanful and it would take two students nearly an hour to peel the potatoes in the morning before classes commenced. My sympathy was extended to the student body and members of the faculty when the school teachers were supper cooks. I smile yet at some of the queer results - but everyone was having such a grand time food mistakes could be easily forgotten.
As had been the practice at Minton, so at Radville, all the work about the dining hall and dormitory was done by the students. Each Monday morning the list of jobs and "jobbees" was read after Chapel Service. Students worked cooperatively and well, but there were some drawbacks to the system.
As there were several younger children present, two classes were held that year. The teaching faculty comprised: Principal W. Orr, J.C.Bailey, D.H.Perkins (an American who had been preaching at Winnipeg), Pearl Orr, Miss York, Lavine Jelsing, Signe Jelsing, Clarice Hurlburt, Lavina Husband and L.M.Torkelson. The girls taught the elements of oral reading, composition, spelling and grammar to the Seniors and the Bible Lessons to the Juniors.
There was an enthusiastic desire to study memory work and delve deeply into the riches of God's Word. Twenty young people made the good confession and were buried with Christ in baptism.
On Saturday nights we had extra diversion with a program consisting of songs, reading and debates. The mock trial of D.H.Perkins was the memorable event. With his stiff collar and black bow tie, George Johnson made a dignified judge. We all agreed that if our lawyers had not chosen to dedicate their lives to preaching the Gospel, they could have won fame and wealth practising law!
Thus, in spite of inadequate sleeping and dining quarters, difficulties in cooking - especially the bread - it never rose when desired and the stove always balked when there was bread in the oven. How effusively we welcomed Sis. Josephson, Sis. Crone and other generous sisters when they arrived on Sundays with big, crusty loaves of fresh bread! However, as I started to say, in spite of those aforementioned drawbacks, the school was voted a tremendous success. And everyone went home leaving me with towels, shirts, ties, aprons, pillowcases and even a pair of men's trousers. It was nearly a year before I discovered the rightful owners.
The summer Bible Schools were a blessing to Saskatchewan. Our congregations are small and very scattered. Unless you have lived isolated from others who follow the gleam, you cannot realize the deep craving for fellowship that was satisfied by the Bible Schools.
Young and old met to make lasting friendships. When Bible School days were over and friends must part, letters helped to bridge the time until the next session. Together with pleasant memories, these letters encouraged the young people to remain loyal to their convictions instead of partaking in the questionable pleasures of the world. Therefore, besides giving a better understanding and knowledge of the Scriptures and inspiring our young men to qualify for church leadership, the Bible Schools promoted life's great source of happiness - good companionship.
1933: Teachers: Principal Wilfred Orr, D.H.Perkins, Cecil T. Bailey, Lavina Husband, Lavine Jelsing, Clarice Hurlburt, Signe Jelsing and L.M.Torkelson. There were fifty students present. The Perryville School opened that year, which accounts for decreased attendance.
A ten-room double house was used for dining hall and girls' dormitory. We were jubilant over the extra space.
Teachers and visiting brethren gave five minute after-dinner talks on etiquette.
A farewell surprise party for the Beamish King group from Winnipeg was held (with delicious home-made ice cream). To the Junior Class, little Dave Forman (10 years) preached a sermon, "Building Up the Church."
New subjects: Church History, Christian Evidence and Bible Geography (teacher, Signe Jelsing, who had just returned from a year at Freed-Hardeman College) were added to the curriculum.
Seven boys trekked across the prairie from Horse Creek in an uncovered four wheel trailer. Harry Woodcock, later killed in a bombing raid over London, was the life of the party.
Principal Wilfred Orr's breakfast pancakes were enjoyed by many.
The girls could not come into the dining room wearing sockies - how customs do change!
Several young people were baptized.
1934: Teachers: Principal Wilfred Orr, Pearl Orr, Signe Jelsing, Cecil T. Bailey, Lavine Jelsing, Elsie Black and L.M.Torkelson.
Money was scarce. Less than sixty dollars to pay rent and feed thirty-five people for three weeks. Food donations were not plentiful - a direct result of the crop failures on the southern prairies. Nevertheless, the school closed without debt. The chief supper fruit was the saskatoons that the principal and his wife had picked before school commenced.
The ten-room double house was again used for dining hall and girls' dormitory.
Following the evening Service, many a soul stirring sing-song was held in the dining hall.
1935: Teachers: Principal Wilfred Orr, Signe Jelsing, Clarice Hurlburt and L.M.Torkelson. Before they went to Ontario on their honeymoon, Cecil T. Bailey and Lavine Jelsing Bailey attended the school for a short time.
The double house was again used.
From 9:00 to 9:30 every evening was quiet study period - the students being assembled in the dining hall.
1936: Teachers: Principal J.C.Bailey (W. Orr had moved to British Columbia), Signe Jelsing, Clarice Hurlburt and L.M.Torkelson.
A six-room place called the "Cowden House" was used for dining hall and girls' dormitory. The double house had been sold and moved away. We had toyed with the idea of buying it ourselves for a permanent dormitory but hesitated for lack of funds until it was too late. Cowden House, though far too small, possessed three distinct advantages: distance from the business section of town, trees on the lawn and a playground across the street.
Softball was especially popular. Principal J.C.Bailey coaching, the boys won several games against the town team. Carl Johnson was the star pitcher.
Public prayers were offered after breakfast each morning.
That was the summer the baptismal services were held early in the morning. They were memorable occasions, "sacred as an unvoiced prayer." The quiet hush of the riverside was broken only by the reverent voice of the minister of the Gospel and the still breathing of the students as they witnessed the solemn, yet simple ceremony by which their friends dedicated spirit and energy to the furtherance of Christ's kingdom.
1937: Teachers: Principal Hector D. MacLeod, J.C.Bailey, Earl Jacobs, Lois Clarke, Signe Jelsing and L.M.Torkelson.
For living quarters that year we had a small four-room cottage about four blocks from the meeting house. The garage on the lot was gladly used as another bedroom.
The thirty-five students were divided into three classes - 11 Juniors, 12 Intermediates and 12 Seniors. From the Intermediates' class seven young people were baptized. This class studied the book of Acts with absorbing interest.
Nine o'clock was curfew time for students under sixteen.
We all enjoyed Sis. Lilyard's fresh bread and sugary cinnamon rolls - truly a welcome change from the customary Bible School bread!
This was a lean year financially. Bro. Dempsey's usual liberal donation was gratefully accepted. (I recall that one year school could not have continued through the three-week period without his help. May we imitate his loyal devotion to the church). Many students could contribute only slightly toward the expense fund, but all were welcome.
During the depression years the food was often very plain but the students revealed a sturdy pioneer strength by uncomplainingly accepting the inevitable. There was no dearth of youthful laughter and good fellowship.
1938: Teachers: Principal J.C.Bailey, Vilma Gustafson.
The first floor of a large store building on Main Street served as kitchen, dining hall and bedrooms for the girls. No, the boys did not sleep on the streets. As I always mention the dormitory for the girls, you will wonder if boys attended. Yes, but they usually slept in tents or in the meeting house.
Sis. M. Locke was camp mother. Bro. and Sis. Madison Wright, publishers of "Scriptural Songs," were present at this session. Sis. Wright taught singing.
1939: Teachers: Principal J.C.Bailey, Gordon J. Pennock, Marion Wright. During the two-week school there were ten baptisms.
Frances Black Clarke presided over the kitchen-dining room. That year the LeClaire house near the roundhouse east of the railroad served as living quarters. Can you wonder why we finally decided to have a permanent dormitory? You will marvel at our patience at waiting so long - there is a reason for that too!
1940: Teachers: Principal Wilfred Orr (J.C.Bailey had moved to Ontario a few weeks before Bro. Wilfred Orr returned from British Columbia), Pearl Orr, Hector MacLeod, Signe Jelsing MacLeod, Gilbert Jacobs, Eleanora Torkelson, Clarice Jacobson and L.M.Torkelson
More than fifty students attended the two week school. Here are excerpts from short essays written by students of the school:
Ellis Krogsgaard: There have been six baptisms, which proves that a great work has been carried on during the period of the Bible School.
Alice Floyd (9 years): I am in the Junior Class. There are six in that class.
Frances Alfstad: All who attended had their work to do such as preparing the meals, waiting on tables and sweeping floors. Breakfast is served at 7:30 a.m. Classes are from 9:00 a.m. until 3:15 p.m.
1941: Teachers: Principal Wilfred Orr, Morris Bailey, Cecil T. Bailey, Pearl Orr, Betty Roemer (matron and teacher).
An attendance of 65 with 11 baptisms. The girls went swimming in the morning.
Morris Bailey sometimes made the breakfast pancakes.
Our very own dormitory was used for the first time during summer school. A home at last!
1942: Teachers: Principal Bert Husband, Roy Farr (teacher and financial manager), Ellen Black.
Bro. Wilfred Orr taught one week before he and his wife went to Scottsburg, Saskatchewan, to conduct a Bible School.
Attendance: An average of fifty; four baptisms. Cecil T. Bailey preached occasionally at the evening services.
1943: Teachers: Principal Wilfred Orr, Hector MacLeod, Signe Jelsing MacLeod, David Forman, Betty Roemer.
While attendance was not large, there was a fair crowd all the time. Two older boys responded to the Gospel invitation and were buried with their Lord in baptism. The dormitory was presided over by Signe MacLeod with the assistance of Betty Roemer. On Lord's Days many visitors from surrounding districts attended.
1944: Teachers: Principal J.C.Bailey, Magnar Knutson, Gordon J. and Nellie Pennock (matron), Signe MacLeod, Bethel Bailey, David and Matle Forman, Betty Roemer (matron).
There were 84 students altogether with about 70 at one time.
During the meetings held each evening ten young people made the good confession and were later buried with Christ in baptism.
Of that session Joan Roemer writes: ... For what can be compared to the love of Christ; the study of His Word - the fellowship of those who are happy in the Lord? Such was my privilege to share for the three weeks at Radville Bible School. The place (if you will pardon me) where we fume the most and love the best; the place where love, cheer and exhortation are handed out wholesale; where young and old in one sweet accord sing His praises and study His Word.
And if we have learned but this, "Afraid to be ashamed, and ashamed to be afraid" in spreading the glad tidings of Christ, we shall not have learned in vain. That, by the way, was the motto of our very zealous principal (J.C.B.) who with five or six other brethren, made the school a well liked, well operated and well instructed one.
Our dean and matron won a permanent place in all our hearts as they went about from dawn 'till 10:00 p.m. in their simple, kind-hearted ways, giving happiness and aid to all.
Gordon J. Pennock writes that the only sensational event of the term was his oversalting the porridge so that it was "good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden underfoot."
1945: Teachers: Principal J.C.Bailey, Morris Bailey, Magnar Knutson, Bethel Bailey, Signe MacLeod, J. O'Neal.
It was a splendid school with an attendance of seventy. There were four baptisms.
In the early years of the Bible Schools, the students were chiefly between the ages of 14 and 25 years. As the years went by younger children came, while the older working people were often absent. Then, in 1945, to accommodate the several mothers attending with pre-school age children, a kindergarten class taught by Signe MacLeod was added to the three regular divisions of Junior, Intermediate and Senior.
The school was held in the new dormitory, built on the east bank of the Souris River, about two miles from the old dormitory via the bridge, or less than one mile using the rowboat. This unfinished building provided kitchen and dining room on the basement floor, classrooms on the main floor and girls' bedrooms on the second one. Living in the old dormitory, the boys had the pleasure of the before-breakfast walk. They made good use of Orr's boat.
Sister Alfstad of Ogema, efficiently presided over the kitchen, truly a distinct advantage over the arrangement of previous years when student cooks worked diligently but often lacked time.
The students revelled in the "spacious" grounds - as yet mostly space - but my vision of the future shows tennis court and bowling green, together with other facilities for sports and shaded walks, bubbling fountains and velvety lawns.
Barred by the river from easy access to the town, the students relaxed contentedly under the nearby trees (on Wilfred and Pearl Orr's place), or shouted light-heartedly at play. Supervised swimming was the popular sport. After a day of concentrated study, in a hot class room, a dip in the cool river was "as welcome as the flowers in May."
A beautiful spirit of cooperation and cheery good-will permeated the entire student body and teaching faculty. Attributing much of the improvement to better accommodation and removal beyond the town limits, several teachers voted the session superior to many other fine schools.
The Winter School
Shortly after the summer school of 1931, J.C.Bailey began planning for a three months' winter school. This plan materialized in December, 1932, with J.C.Bailey as principal and D.W. Dryden Sinclair as assistant teacher. The school was held in the Brock house at Ogema, Saskatchewan, a small town 45 miles northwest of Radville. J.C.Bailey, with his family, lived at Ogema at that time.
There were 28 fairly regular students during the term, besides another 17 who attended classes at convenient times. Studying hard, the students made excellent progress. The timetable included lessons in the Old and New Testament, Church History, Homiletics and Christian Evidence. J.C.Bailey insisted that the scriptures be memorized without a flaw and this same passion for accuracy demanded concentration in the text study lessons of the New Testament.
Students were graded for their work in each class. At the end of the day they eagerly awaited the announcement of the "Big Five." Not too easily satisfied, J.C.B. said to his students, "May you always be as faithful to God's Word as you have been in your studies."
I have a copy of the Year Book which the students so patiently prepared that winter. As I glance over its pages I see pictures of Mary Sinclair who made the boys struggle to keep their vaunted superiority, now residing in Vancouver and the mother of two children; Vilma Gustafson, an industrious student, now a liberal contributor to the Lord's work in Sarnia, Ontario; Claude B. Perry, a Big Fiver, now a farmer who preaches and teaches the Bible at Punnichy; Robert Sinclair, the valedictorian at the closing exercises and later the founder of the Gospel Herald; Marion Lewis, now an excellent song leader and preacher in Livingstone, Montana; Glenn Danielson of Andes, Montana; Raymond Jacobs, big hearted and direct, who met the Arch Fear one year later with a ready smile on his lips - and many others who are still working as loyal citizens of His Kingdom.
Because this term was such a decided success, J.C.Bailey next planned for a four months' school beginning November 1, 1933. The home of the school was a big two-storey building with a large, comfortable classroom and kitchen, dining room on the first floor and with girls' bedrooms on the second floor. The boys had their bedrooms in a nearby building. Bro. Wilfred Orr and J.C.Bailey were in charge of the school.
That year Manley Jacobs, Clifford Anderson and Clifford Elford made a long trip from Horse Creek in an uncovered trailer again. Camping the first night on the open prairie and the second night with some hospitable German people, they arrived in Ogema on the third day. That day Bro. Manley shot three coyotes. The money from these coyotes paid his tuition at the school.
It was a very successful school - more than 30 regular students - diligent workers. Directed by J.C.B., the class in public speaking conducted several debates on questions of current interest. Stirring lectures were delivered on the fallacies of certain modern cults and 'isms. During the winter there were seven baptisms and seven restorations.
Vivid are my memories of learning chapters from Proverbs, eating the good meals prepared by the student cooks, directing plays for the Saturday night programs, listening eagerly to the beautiful singing of the Montana Six and attending the wedding of Frances Clarke and Duncan Ross at the school closing (I was bridesmaid).
The third winter Bible School (1934-35) was held at Ogema with Claude B. Perry assisting J.C.Bailey with the teaching. Herb Forman attended that year. During the Christmas season I visited the school. My liveliest memory of the visit is the bitter cold of the Girls' Dormitory. Although my blood almost congealed the girls were active and jolly! It was a good school.
For the fourth term the winter school moved to Radville in 1935. Bro. Wilfred Orr acted as principal with Pearl Orr and Claude B. Perry as assistants. The ten-room double house previously used by the summer school served as home for this session.
This has been referred to as the calamitous year. Gilbert Jacobs brought the measles to the susceptible. Students were nearly asphyxiated twice - once Bro. Wilfred was barely able to open the outside door before he fell unconscious. When Ellen Black fell down the cellar, she cracked two ribs.
But all is well that ends well. The students learned much as a happy family. Skating on the river was a popular pastime. Ellen Black writes: "Money was scarce in those days and our bill of fare was as slim as the next year, but all was palatable and no damper on our happy spirits."
Hector MacLeod, now preaching at Oungre, Saskatchewan, attended this session of the Bible School. When introduced to one of the visitors, he met his future wife.
In 1936 money was as scarce as hate in heaven. Nevertheless, sustained by a dauntless faith, J.C.Bailey conducted a successful three months' winter school. Two outstanding students were Roy Farr, at present the printer in the Gospel Herald shop, and Walter McCutcheon, now a loyal church worker in northern Saskatchewan. There were two baptisms. Bro. D.A.Sinclair was guest speaker for the two weeks' evening lectures. That was the winter Dorothy Davies broke her finger - a mere detail in her life, and stole the mayor's coal - by mistake.
Since there was no school at Radville in 1937, a three-month term was held in a log house near the home of Bro. and Sis. Austin Perry at Punnichy. Claude B. Perry and Hector MacLeod were the teachers. The small enrolment was increased during the public school holidays. One afternoon a week, special classes were given for visitors.
In 1938 under J.C.Bailey's leadership, the winter school returned to Radville - to stay. With a number of people entering Bible School work for the first time attendance was improved. Among others present were Arthur Goodchild, Joe Coldwell (my brother-in-law), Ruth Nelson Grasley and Glen Dempsey.
In the Gospel Herald J.C.Bailey writes: "The Bible School starts this morning (December 4, 1939), with fifteen students, and this number will be augmented in a few days. This is the biggest opening enrolment we have had in several years. We look for a profitable winter."
The opening of the Winter Bible School has become a traditional red letter day to the scattered brethren of Saskatchewan. It is an opportunity to visit friends, to compare babies, crops, schools and the weather. It is an opportunity to hear a good sermon - many congregations do not have brethren capable of preaching - and to hear reports of the progress in the extension of Christ's Kingdom. Tired hearts are inspired to rededicate themselves to their first love. The "1939 Opening" was favoured with a beautiful day and a good attendance with representatives from twelve congregations. Bro. J. O. Golphenee of Montana, U.S.A., and Cecil T. Bailey were the guest speakers.
During the winter, a two weeks' Gospel meeting resulted in six young people obeying their Lord in the ordinance of baptism. One convert, Norman Hoffman, is now the guiding spirit of the Estevan work.
To give some idea of the cost of attending Winter School, here is an excerpt from the Gospel Herald, November, 1939: "The price is $12.00 a month or $35.00 for three months. Half of this may be supplied in produce. Girls wishing to work for part of their tuition should write at once."
In the fall of 1940, Wilfred and Pearl Orr, recently returned from a four-year sojourn in British Columbia, purchased from the town of Radville an eight-room house ($550) in excellent repair, for Bible School use. Not having time to consult the brethren, since the opportunity had to be seized or lost, they courageously took the plunge. Anyone who has ever attended Bible School and witnessed its wanderings in the wilderness in search of a home, can testify to the crying need for such a building. The Radville Bible School had become a permanent institution. It needed a permanent home.
At the opening of the winter term (December 15) we were in the seventh heaven of delight examining the basement with its furnace, the kitchen with its cistern pump (how I recall our strenuous attempts of the summer terms hunting soft water for hair washing), the pantry with cupboards for food storage, two fair-sized dining rooms and the clothes closets in some of the five bedrooms. We also noted the wide veranda, vine covered in the summer, built along two sides of the house, which could be very conveniently converted into five summer bedrooms. Great was the rejoicing over the possession of this house, "more precious than rubies."
Former Bible School students and teachers, together with many other brethren, gladly donated towards the payment of the building. To completely discharge the debt Bro. and Sis. Mallory, Nelson, B. C., gave the largest single donation one year later.
At the evening service of the Opening, 1940, one student made the good confession and was baptized the following day. During the term another young man, persuaded to attend by a young lady who afterwards became his wife, was also baptized.
The winter term commenced with only nine students but the enrolment grew until twenty-five had attended before school closing. The instructors were Wilfred Orr, Morris Bailey, and Pearl Orr. When asked if anything spectacular had occurred during the term, Morris Bailey replied, "I met my wife. Does that count?"
If a concrete suggestion within possibility of execution is presented, people are desirous of helping a good cause. When coordination is lacking, leaders are often at fault for neglecting to give definite recommendations. At the Opening, 1940, Wilfred Orr outlined a plan which was welcomed. The interested ladies were to prepare twelve quarts of vegetables, pickles, meat or fruit for donation to the Bible School. After each session the sealers would be returned to the donors to be refilled for the following term. When school commenced in the winter of 1941, eyes beamed with housewifely pride at the rows of filled sealers in the basement cupboard. Especially did the student cooks appreciate the sight.
At the Opening (December 15) the ladies discussed the necessity of obtaining better kitchen equipment. Clarice Hurlburt Mooney's suggestion of a Shower for the school met with instant approval. Clarice and I wrote to the likely-to-be interested congregations asking for specified articles (to avoid duplicates). The response was grand. Wilfred Orr wrote, "The Shower has been a great boon to the school. We already have received ironing board, boiler, washboard, clothes pins and curtains besides utensils much needed in the kitchen. It certainly makes the school more livable and homelike."
That year Bro. and Sis. Jim White (brother-in-law to Lowell Davis, Chinese missionary) and family of three small children from Montana, attended the school for the entire term.
Wilfred Orr was principal the two following terms. Even though the enrolment was light, these were good terms with several new students from Manitoba and Montana attending.
In 1944 J.C.Bailey was principal again. There were 30 in attendance with an average of 15. The first lecture week of the Bible School was held that year with Chas. B. Middleton of Helena, Montana, as guest speaker.
In 1945-46 Morris Bailey was principal, assisted by Wilfred Orr and J.C.Bailey. Morris Bailey reports, "The total number in attendance was thirty-two. Of this number there were twelve who enrolled for the entire term, and several attended during the last two months... During the course of the term several debates on controversial Bible subjects were conducted... The highlight of the term was the lecture week, January 14 to 18th, in which Bro. Claude Guild of Vancouver, B. C., was the guest speaker. During that time several interesting lectures and a number of soul-stirring sermons were delivered by Bro. Guild. The visible results were: four baptisms and a number of confessions of wrongs and the church strengthened."
With J. R. O'Neal as editor, the student body published a booklet, "School News."
The Establishment of Radville Christian College
While the pioneer stage of the Bible School had truly served a good purpose, it was definitely over. The time for a change was at hand. If the school were to more adequately satisfy the needs of the Saskatchewan community a different system of management and a broader curriculum had to be adopted.
As we are a conservative people, afraid of change, much teaching to mould public opinion was necessary. Admirable indeed is the steadfastness of zealous Christians disliking innovation. It ever behooves us to guard carefully lest we stray from the lighted path. This hesitancy of the brethren to accept the proposed new order is surely preferable to the eager reception of any new and fashionable idea. Yet "the old order changeth, yielding place to new. And God fulfills Himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world."
In the early days of the school, the teachers dreamed of the future Christian College with its Bible, commercial, music, agricultural, high school and college departments. It seemed a dream impossible of fulfillment during the lean depression years. None of our brethren are wealthy and surely they were not in the Hungry Thirties. Cecil T. Bailey was the first who spoke concretely of its consummation. He maintained that huge sums of money would not be required. With a large vegetable garden, fruit trees and a livestock farm connected with the agricultural department and with a furniture making shop connected with the manual training department, the school could be partially self-supporting.
To demonstrate his faith in the plan, soon after his marriage, encouraged by his wife, Lavine Jelsing Bailey, Cecil T. began studying his high school courses in his spare time. Gradually writing off his subjects after several years' study, he finally received his grade twelve diploma without having attended a high school one day in his life. After taking a short course at the provincial Normal School in Regina, he began teaching. Now he has four years' teaching experience (three in High Schools) and several classes already toward his Bachelor of Arts degree. Casting aside the possibility of success in another career, he only desires to teach in the College of his dreams.
Anyone who knows Cecil T. knows also that he lacks not words to express his ideas. Therefore, during those ten years you may rest assured he has not remained silent regarding his project. Some scoffed at the idea. It's impossible in a poor province like Saskatchewan. Who would attend the college? Is there a need for it? Is such a school scriptural?
It is not always wise to be too practical. It is people who occasionally throw caution to the winds, believing all things possible, that eventually write their names in golden letters in the history of progress.
Cecil T. Bailey made his first public plea for a more comprehensive Christian education at the three-day Fellowship Meeting held at Wawota, Saskatchewan, June 30 to July 2, 1944. The audience listened attentively. Recently returned from a successful four-year mission in Ontario, J.C.Bailey sat quietly during the lecture, leaning forward with his hand on his forehead, and afterwards in the Open Forum he said nothing. (I was feeling in italics and thinking in capitals). In his unobtrusively determined way, Wilfred Orr wanted to know the proposed plan for financing the Christian High School and the reason why public high schools were not satisfactory.
Cecil T. tried to show how the instructors' belief in the doctrine of evolution or their skepticism regarding the divinity of the Scriptures can undermine the faith of the impressionable adolescent. Moreover, our farmer brethren must send their children away from home to attend high school. How much less worry for them if their children were staying right in a residential school under Christian supervision than alone in light housekeeping rooms! At this meeting the seeds of the idea were widely scattered.
You realize, no doubt, that the burden of organization for the winter and summer school terms has always rested on the shoulders of Wilfred Orr or J.C.Bailey. It was almost an impossible load to carry - be advertising agent, building supervisor, financier, and principal. That they were able to carry it for so long a time shows the quality of these two Christian gentlemen.
Some brethren started agitating for the appointment of trustees for the school. This not only would equalize the burden but also would create deeper interest on the part of the brotherhood. Interest varies directly with the degree of responsibility. How to select the trustees was a subject for long debate.
Moreover, Bro. Wilfred and Bro. J.C. were not altogether satisfied with the title to the Bible School dormitory. It was held in their names. They visualized the difficulties that might arise upon their death.
Furthermore, a need for a second dormitory had arisen. Especially for the summer school, the accommodation was very inadequate.
In addition to the preceding problems was the question of a new site for the school. Bible School teachers believed that it would be more satisfactory to have the children farther away from the main business section of the town. If the brethren considered moving advisable, Bro. Wilfred Orr offered a site for the school on his property on the east bank of the Souris River. (I might state here that the dormitory has not yet been moved (1946), as Bro. Wilfred Orr and J.C.Bailey are trying to sell it. The money received will be used to build on the new location).
To consider all the problems that had arisen regarding the Bible Schools, Bro. Wilfred called a general meeting, Thanksgiving week-end at Radville. A goodly representation from the majority of our Saskatchewan congregations and from Winnipeg gathered Saturday, October 7, 1944. We had three long sessions that day.
Although the question of establishing the High School received more support, no definite decision was reached. We thrilled to hear J.C.Bailey speak in favour of its establishment and Bro. Wilfred Orr considered the advantages. Once convinced they do not support a measure in lukewarm fashion. One brother from Horse Creek mentioned that he had a daughter ready for high school. While he hesitated to send her to the neighbouring town, he would not hesitate to send her to a residential school under Christian supervision.
The question of organization to select trustees for the school was also endlessly debated. The brethren were totally at sea as to the advantages and disadvantages of the various suggestions. Finally, a committee consisting of H. MacLeod, Cecil T. Bailey and Wilfred Orr was selected to study different methods of organization. Following the afternoon session, I had a throbbing headache.
In the evening the group present agreed that for occupation that winter a new dormitory should be built under Wilfred Orr's supervision on his proffered six acres across the river. Money for the project would be raised by donation.
Although it may seem at first glance as if not much had been accomplished, this meeting was in truth the beginning of the fuller realization of our vision splendid.
The new, two-storey frame dormitory (36'x 28'x 14') was started. Several brethren donated labour but heavy winter arrived before the building was ready for occupation.
In the following spring, together with other brethren, Wilfred Orr made the building fit for summer school use. As I have previously stated, the teachers and pupils had a thoroughly enjoyable time revelling in the privacy of its location. The building is still far from finished.
In 1945 the Fellowship Meeting was held at Radville June 30 to July 2nd. Heavy rains reduced the numbers on Saturday. But by Sunday the greatest gathering of brethren ever seen at Radville was assembled in the packed church building.
On Monday morning the organization of the Bible Schools was introduced. Out of the tangle of statements the following truth became clear - it was not good business to have the dormitory titles in the names of two men, no matter how trustworthy.
"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."
In the afternoon we proceeded to business. J.C.Bailey was appointed chairman, and I temporary secretary. Valuable suggestions for organization were given by H.A.Rogers, Cecil T. Bailey, Wilfred Orr and the chairman. It was soon apparent that those assembled desired to form an organization to control the property of the school and supervise its activities.
Motions were made and carried that the organization consist of faithful members of the churches of Christ, over eighteen years of age, who had purchased a five dollar share. From and by this membership a board of five directors with two-year terms was to be elected. The directors must reside in Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Alberta. Furthermore, it was decided that anyone who had donated five dollars or more toward the purchase or construction of either of the Bible School buildings be given shares to the total value of his donation. Many other decisions were made at the meeting but it is not my purpose in this story to give detailed account of business transacted. Come to the annual meeting in July to hear the minutes read.
The members of the first board of directors were: G. J. Pennock of St. James, Manitoba; Wilfred Orr, H.E.Peterson, J.C.Bailey, all of Radville, Saskatchewan; and Manley L. Jacobs of Horse Creek, Saskatchewan.
It was a great day. Much had been accomplished.
On Tuesday, July 3rd, the first meeting of the Board of Directors was held at the home of J.C.Bailey. The meeting opened with prayer. The following officers were selected. Chairman: Gordon J. Pennock. Vice-Chairman: Wilfred Orr. Treasurer: J.C.Bailey. Secretary: Lillian M. Torkelson.
One of the major questions at this meeting was the choosing of a name for our school. Without a name, no charter could be procured from the government. The several suggested names did not meet with the absolute approval of the Board.
I shall long remember one amusing incident at this meeting. As Gordon J. Pennock wanted a Biblical name, Wilfred Orr was reading a list from the concordance, others listening attentively for a name that would suit their fancy. He read Bethel, Bethesda, Bethaven (a pause). "That's a good name," said Bro. Gordon. "What does it mean?" After a search, W. Orr replied, "House of Wickedness." The euphonious name Bethaven College was rejected.
Although no one was satisfied, finally "Radville Christian College" was adopted. It seems rather presumptuous to call the school a college when it has only one three-month term in the winter, another three week term in the summer and is held in two small buildings, one unfinished. In fact, I usually refer to it by the less conspicuous title "R.C.C." To have the school merit its name will necessitate visionary courage, self-sacrificing labor and unceasing prayer. "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."
During the past year the directors have not neglected their business. Under the Benevolent Societies Act in Saskatchewan, the charter has been obtained. A successful winter school has been conducted. For the first time in its history, the principal was paid a salary and a full-time cook was engaged. With W. Orr as building supervisor, one thousand dollars have been spent on the new dormitory.
Interest in the proposed high school has been growing. Money is still scarce. However, we feel sure that once the brethren are convinced that young people will be better fitted for Christian living by the extension of the services of the school, that support will be given.
Some brethren fear that with the introduction of other departments into the school, the emphasis on the study of the Scriptures will decrease. No one is proposing the abolition of the winter Bible course. Indeed, at the December meeting of the directors, a resolution was passed favouring the extension of the winter Bible School term for the next season. No, there will be no curtailment of the present study of the Scriptures. The immediate aim is to provide High School students also the opportunity for some Bible study.
J.C.Bailey says: "One of the great problems is to impress the need of more time spent in education. I mean that in the truest sense of the word. God's book when translated gives us the most perfect English we have, yet we find little interest to develop among us such matchless English as has made some of our preachers famous."
The Men at the Helm
Would you like to meet the directors of "R.C.C."? They are a capable group. I respect and admire them tremendously.
Gordon J. Pennock, chairman (preaching for the Burnell St. congregation, Winnipeg), the youngest of the five, a good organizer, mighty in action. He has faith in the school. "I believe that the Bible Schools have been the greatest factor responsible for the splendid condition of the work in Saskatchewan. Brethren have learned to take their place in sustaining the work of the local congregation largely through the school."
Wilfred Orr, Vice-Chairman (evangelist and builder). For him no sacrifice is too great for the cause of Christ. Like Chaucer's poor parson, "But Cristes lore and his apostles twelve, He taughte, but first he folwed it himselve."
J.C.Bailey, treasurer (evangelist and publisher, editor of the Gospel Herald), aggressive, hard working with a burning evangelistic zeal.
H.E.Peterson, a successful, practical farmer who has a layman's deep interest in providing a Christian education for the young people of Saskatchewan. From experience, he knows the difficulties involved in sending High School children away from home.
Manley L. Jacobs, a plain-spoken farmer preacher who often untangles the knot with his blunt common sense.
They are five men worthy of trust and support. The extension of the Kingdom is their earnest desire. Although they believe the Bible Schools have done a noble work, they are not content to rest on the laurels of the past. The "untravelled world" with its margin forever fading, beckons them onward.
"From Little Acorns, Mighty Oak Trees Grow"
Perryville Bible School
After Minton, the first other school established was in northern Saskatchewan at Punnichy in the Perryville district (1933). Bro. D.A.Sinclair took the lead, acting as principal the first years. Other principals were Cecil T. Bailey (1936-1939) and Manley L. Jacobs (1941-1942). These three principals were capably assisted by D.W. Dryden Sinclair, Hector D. MacLeod and others.
The schools were held on grounds (donated for that purpose by Bro. J.P.Spafford) adjoining the Perryville public school, 12 1/2 miles north east of Punnichy. By volunteer labor the brethren erected three log buildings suitable only for summer use. While these buildings were under construction, the public school served as classroom. Portable granaries have been used for sleeping quarters, dining room and kitchen.
Most of the students came from neighboring farms or villages. Attendance reached a high mark of fifty for a few days during the second term. The number was considerably reduced in succeeding years. There were usually good crowds on Lord's Days. Several young people obeyed their Lord in the ordinance of baptism.
Like the Radville school there was no definite charge for students attending. The expenses of erecting and furnishing the buildings and payment of teachers, were paid from a fund set aside for that purpose, augmented by donations from pupils, interested brethren and neighbours.
Practically all the food, such as vegetables, meat, canned fruit and milk products was donated. The sisters of the church took turns baking bread and, at their convenience, assisted with the cooking at the school.
The Schuette family from Pense, Saskatchewan, were very helpful in various ways.
Although Punnichy has not had a summer session since 1942, we hope that the school is not dead. May it soon revive to serve the needs of the children and young people who are unable to attend the far-away schools at Horse Creek and Radville.
Omagh Bible School
In 1937 when Cecil T. Bailey, a Minton student, preached at Omagh, Ontario, he praised the Bible Schools of Western Canada, suggesting that interested brethren contact Bro. Alex Stewart of Toronto, to direct a similar work at Omagh. This resulted in the very successful annual summer school on the Johnstone farm. The sight of their conveniently erected and well equipped buildings on the lovely tree-shaded campus is pleasurable to a westerner who has long struggled with accommodation problems. When I attended the fine closing exercises in July, 1944, there were 215 people present.
Carmon Bible School
In 1937, inspired by the success of the Saskatchewan summer schools, D.A.Sinclair opened a school at Carman, Manitoba. In this work he was assisted by Bro. Stewart, Herb Forman, Gordon J. Pennock and others. During its seven terms of operation, attendance was very good. Several summers, more than one hundred students were present.
Manitoba needs a summer vacation Bible school. Will the Carman school revive? Bro. Sinclair realizes the need but does not feel physically able for the task. As you will remind me that my story was to be of Saskatchewan schools, I will say no more of the excellent Ontario and Manitoba work.
Whitewood Bible School
In 1944 another Minton student, Herb Forman, organized the school at Whitewood, Saskatchewan, which has had two splendid sessions and will likely continue as an annual feature of that district. The school was conducted on the farm of Brother and Sister A. Nilson, about fifteen miles north and east of Whitewood. Brethren who have assisted in the teaching are: W. McCutcheon, Magnar Knutson, Norman Hoffman, A. A. Gallagher and David Forman.
There have been other successful summer schools in Saskatchewan of only one session, each supervised by D.A.Sinclair and Wilfred Orr, which I shall not describe here. Now I will close my story by telling very briefly of the excellent Bible School at Horse creek.
Horse Creek Bible School
It was Bro. D.A.Sinclair who urged the brethren at Horse Creek to establish their school in 1936. So long as his health permitted, Bro. Sinclair was an untiring worker in the Bible School movement. He firmly believes that the summer Bible Schools have done more than any other single effort to further the work of the Lord in Western Canada.
The school was held in his farm home (two-storey), about one mile south of the Horse Creek post office and sixteen miles southwest of McCord, Saskatchewan. Some years before this, Bro. Sinclair had planted several thousand trees around the house and near the pond which was fed by a spring creek running through the farm. During the dry years these green trees and fresh pond water made this an ideal spot on the dusty prairie for a summer vacation.
This place is still used for cooking, dining rooms and Girls' Dormitory, but a larger summer building has been erected for classes and services. Tents among the trees are also used for sleeping quarters.
Of the first term Bro. Sinclair writes: "In 1936 I went to Horse Creek. This was in the very difficult times there. It was wonderful the way the four congregations - Horse Creek, Millie, Varsity and Patriotic - rallied around the school. Bro. Manley Jacobs, Bro. Clifford Elford, Bro. Herb Forman and I did the teaching. Sixteen were baptized. On one of my later visits to Horse Creek, four of the boys baptized at that school took the entire Service. One of these boys has gone to his reward.
"Bro. Manley Jacobs drove his grand old Model T. almost night and day transporting students and bringing provisions to the school, provisions which were willingly provided by the members of the church, even though they may have gone short at home. It was a wonderful school."
Bro. Sinclair writes glowingly of another term there, of the fine cooperation among the brethren, mentioning especially Sis. Madelaine Tetreau's excellent service as matron of the school. "There are no finer people than at Horse Creek."
Forty-one students have been baptized at the Horse Creek schools. After five years of service the winter sessions closed in 1941. Manley L. Jacobs was principal the first years and since 1941 Clifford Elford has held that position. Other local teachers have been Herb Forman (who lived at Horse Creek when first married), Walter McCutcheon, Washington Forman and Earl Jacobs.
Visiting brethren who have assisted with the teaching are: Madison Wright (1938), Wilfred Orr, George Johnson (1941), D.A.Sinclair (1943), H.A.Rogers (1944) and Gordon Pennock (1945).