From the pool elevator, June 1962.


FTLComm - Langbank - Thursday, March 21, 2002
Last Wednesday night Melvin called, now Melvin is a couple of years older than me but in a village of only eighty people we all had to get along and Melvin and I got along very well. When these pictures were taken Melvin had already left for collage and that left twenty school age children in this little village on the Cromer subdivision of the CN half an hour East of Kipling with the village of Kennedy only four miles away.

I had come with my family to Langbank in grade three and in my final year of high school I had lived in Langbank for eight long years. The longest I have ever lived anywhere in my life. I had received my little 127 Kodak for Christmas and now I wish I had captured much more of the village on film. At the time the things I should have taken pictures of where so ordinary that it never crossed my mind to get a picture of Ted Burnett, George, Davie and Gordon McClement, Mrs. Dickie, the McKillops, the Parkers, the Wests, Dolph Sourois, the Wiltons, Wallaces, McIntyres, Hollaways and Browns.

The picture at the top of the page has our house and yard in the foreground with long shadows stretching into the garden, toward the pump house and station. Across the street from the Parkers and West's garage. For much of my life in Langbank I was the Winnipeg Free Press paper boy, a miserable task during the winter but it gave me insight into that village and the life of its dogs like no other.

The village had two churches, this was the United Church served by a minister from Kennedy every other week and Sunday School every week lead by Andrew Bruce. The second church was a Pentecostal church called the Gospel Chapel and service its followers for many communities around. Catholics went to Kennedy and few Anglicans went to the stone church two miles South of town.

In the late fifties we got an electric organ in the United Church the first one was a goofy Hammond that worked poorly then a complex Conn replaced it and was the wonder of us all. Though I did not play I and every other kid in the village was a member of the choir. Melvin's mom and Mrs. McKillop (the principal) had long served as the church organist but Melvin was the master of the new organ and when he went off to collage Wilma-Jean (Mrs. McKillop's daughter) took over the duties as the church organist.
In those last years of high school with one poor television channel (CKOS Yorkton) we made our own entertainment and it was the tradition for those years to meet at the church Saturday evening and sing. We did traditional church music, some gospel stuff but mostly we did Broadway musicals.

Melvin was a gifted keyboard guy but not the only one, Phyllis Brown, Heather Hewson, and Wilma all played well and there was enough of us to belt out Oklahoma, the Student Prince, South Pacific, My Fair Lady and anything else that came along.

Some times our parents would come just to see what we were up to and stay for the show. The tradition did not end when Melvin left because he came home every so often and we all would celebrate with some songs.

Melvin Hurst became a teacher, school and Division music director, band leader and music festival adjudicator. One of his favourite jobs was the Music and band director of Melfort's Tiger Lily School Division. He is the church organist and choir director for a large Toronto Church and was out to adjudicate the Prince Albert Music Festival last year.
The large brick school was a two room education factory when we moved to Langbank in 1952. Grades one to seven on this East side of the building and Mrs. McKillop's eight to twelve room on the West side. The washrooms were in the basement and cloakrooms at the front. This picture taken in January 1962 shows the flag pole gone and the outhouses removed from behind the building. The portable housed grade ten when it was first brought into the village as consolidation had seen the closing of the rural schools and the busing of rural school kids. We were the baby boomers and after one year the new concrete block building was constructed in 1960 and served the community until it was closed this past year.

The schools were the success of Langbank. Failure was unheard of, it was not an option, no one failed and most graduates went on to collage or post secondary training. Mrs. McKillop told everyone that no one ever failed and we made sure she was right. But multiple grade schools are a place for independent learning and sometimes independent teaching.

The picture below is of most of the high school returning home from a trip to Regina. Heather Hewson is on the extreme left. Heather was a really great singer and played just as well, Wilma Jean McKillop peeks over the shoulder of Jim Dean a psychologist. Wilma is a court reporter and homemaker in Vancouver. To the right of Jim Dean is Gordon Chapman (with glasses). At the back in the middle is Wayne Flamen, then Wilson Cowan. Wearing glasses is Bill Brown.

Now Bill Brown was part of my life everyday I lived in Langbank. He was good in every school subject and took on the role of making sure Jim Dean and I learned physics which we did by correspondence, he was the guy that got us through chemistry and algebra. Bill used a ruler, he was one of those guys who did things and still does things right. Lives in BC interior having had a very successful career.

In front and to the right of Bill is Liz Tarka and over her shoulder is Brenda Stutt. As kids growing up in the fifties this group of people were each individuals, each with their unique approach to the world and each carrying with them the spirit of independent self actuallising people. Of those in this picture only three or four still live in the Langbank area.

Timothy W. Shire


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