“Alex Lord, a pioneer inspector of rural British Columbia schools, shares … his experiences in a province barely out of the stagecoach era. Travelling through vast northern territory, utilizing unreliable transportation, and enduring climatic extremes, Lord became familiar with the aspirations of remote communities and their faith in the humanizing effects of tiny assisted schools. En route, he performed in resolute yet imaginative fashion the supervisory functions of a top government educator, developing an educational philosophy of his own based on an understanding of the provincial geography, a reverence for citizenship, and a work ethic tuned to challenge and accomplishment.
Although not completed, these memoirs invite the reader to experience the British Columbia that Alex Lord knew. Through his words we endure the difficulties of travel in this mountainous province. We meet many of the unusual characters who inhabited this last frontier and learn of their hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, and eccentricities. More particularly, we are reminded of the historical significance of the one-room rural school and its role as an indispensable instrument of community cohesion.
John Calam1 has organized the memoirs according to the regions through which Lord travelled.”2
Parts of these memoirs are of special interest to communities in the Okanagan Valley, as Lord’s first teaching position, in 1910, was in Kelowna. With “teaching experience [he tutored faculty children while attending university] 3 and qualifications in hand, he embarked upon a lifetime adventure in British Columbia.”4
Next week’s blog will contain parts of Chapter Nine, “Kelowna Beginnings. Some lasting impressions” from Alex Lord’s British Columbia.
1 John Calam is a professor emeritus of the Department of Social and Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia.
2 John Calam, ed. Alex Lord’s British Columbia. Recollections of a Rural School Inspector, 1915-36. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 1991.
3 Ibid., pp. 3-4.
4 Ibid., p. 4.
5 Ibid., Map 10, p. 104.