Arden History

Text of an Article from "Keep In Touch" (Retired Teachers Association of MB, Winter 2008)

Arden School Cairn

Keith Boughton

The dedication of the cairn, commemorating the old schools, by M.C. Rev. Stu Anderson on Sunday, October 14, 2007, at 2 p.m. was an uniquely Arden experience.

Committee Chairperson, Bruce Francis, raised the new flag on the new flag staff as the assembly sang "0 Canada."

Joan (Griffiths) Kitson and Mary (Mathews) Kuharski unveiled the cairn, joined by other Committee members:

Bruce Francis-Chairperson, Vivianne (Riddell) Howard, Irene (Small) Magwood, Ella (Roe) Jarvis, Joan (Griffiths) Kitson, Lorraine (Hawkins) Kushner, Brenda (Hoath) Sumner, Joan (McKinnon) Madill, Evelyn (McKinnon) McKenzie, Mary (Matthews) Kuharski, Helen (Thomson) Ford, Doreen (Bradley) McLeod, Marge (Webster).

Fred and Doreen had fielded the idea of a cairn.

Rev. Stu Anderson read the plaque dedication: "Arden Schools dedicated in 2007 in remembrance of the pioneers, former trustees, teachers and pupils". The three old schools are pictured and dated.

The cairn structure, on a cement base, is composed of building blocks unique to Arden. These particular blocks are from the former Harry Snell farm house situated approximately two miles west of the south end of Arden. They were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Mike Saj who now own the property. These blocks have a unique Arden historv. In 1904 the Arden "Cement Block and Building Company" came into being as J. A. Gilhuly. George and William Stockdale, Robert Lamb, Sam McGorman and Maurice E. Boughton each contributed $100 to form the company. Arden sand mixed with cement formed each block.

Men with an Arden connection built the cairn. Arnold Suski gave the leadership and expertise. He was assisted by Dennis Gagnon, Gareth Henderson, Bruce Francis, Abe Enns, Brian McCutchin, Douglas Campayne and
Rev. Stu Anderson.

Under the guidance ofM. C. Rev. Stu Anderson,the following people brought greetings: MLA Stu Briese, Reeve Richard Funk, Heritage Committee representative Douglas Popkes, Bruce Francis.

Homer Gill, a student of the 1930-1940 years and later a teacher, recalled interesting stories and events of those days. He invited students of the 1930 to 1935 years to ioin him. These "students" came to the front and took their place behind him, in front of the cairn: Bill Matthews, Edith (Gill) Kerr, Helen (Thomson) Ford, Rev. Stu Anderson, and Rev. Keith Boughton. Most notable, still seated in the audience, was John Bucksovich, now 92 years of age, who had attended Arden School during the 1920's.

The cairn's preparation and construction was financed by the residue moneys from the 2006 Reunion, from the Lansdowne Heritage Committee and from individual donations.

A grant is yet expected from Heritage and Tourism of the Manitoba Government. Some minor work has yet to be finished at the site.

The history of the Arden Schools was begun in 1884 with the formation of the Arden School District.

While the school district dates to 1884, the first school was only ready for classes in June, 1887. This building burned in 1890. A new building erected. In time it became known as the High School.

With increasing settlement in the Arden area the Middle School was build in 1909. The consolidation of Arden School District #341 took place in 1919.

In 1920, George Stockdale built the Little School.

With the guidance of Principal Mrs. Mollard and Wilmot Gill, Grade twelve was added in 1939.

The Little School housed Grades 1 and 2, the Middle School, Grades 3 to 5. This
High School had Grades 6 to 8 on the south side. The north side was split to house Grades 9 and 10 on the east side, Grades 11 and 12 on the west.

Consolidation brought students in for high school from the surrounding school districts.

In 1954, the new school was built on the school site. The Little School was moved to its present location on the south side of the municipal office. An addition was constructed. It is now the Seniors' Centre.

The Middle School was moved to be a residence, first in Neepawa with a further move to Onanole.

The High School fell apart as Riverside Colony attempted to move it over the South Arden Crossing. The pieces became a Legion hall as well as part of the Snelgrove house and possible part of the Ben Free garage.

On June 26, 2001, the "New School" was closed. High School students were transported to Neepawa some years earlier. The elementary students from the fall of 2001 on-ward are also taking their schooling in Neepawa.