Personal Memoirs: Memories of Teaching at Langruth School (1951-1952)
by Duane Duff
The community of Langruth was founded by George Langdon and Judson Ruth, of St. Thomas, Ontario. I grew up in a small community about twenty miles east of that city. The year that I was in Langruth, Mr. and Mrs. Langdon still lived there. In fact, Mrs. Langdon was a member of the school board.
The community is located a few miles west of Lake Manitoba and to the northwest of Portage la Prairie. The road to Langruth from the Yellowhead Highway, about sixteen miles south, is along a geological formation, and was known as the Ridge Road. The soil structure to the east is different from that to the west. The nearby lake is fairly shallow, with it being possible to wade out further than might be expected. There were no paved roads north of the Yellowhead Highway.
This was farming country. However, when I was there, it was also a fishing community, with much of the produce being exported to the US. There were growths of trees, not as common on the prairie farther to the south.
As elsewhere on the prairies, winters could be very cold and the summers very hot. The last week of April in the year that I was there, the daytime temperatures reached 90°F (32.2°C). Then during the third week of May, there was a wet snowfall.
There were two grocery stores. The Red and White was operated by two brothers, Bjarni and Joe Johanson. There were two or three farm implement dealerships. Near the middle of the community was the Ridge Hotel. Mr. and Mrs. McKinley operated the post office. The Royal Bank of Canada had a branch here. There were also a barbershop, a restaurant, and a shoe repair shop. The theatre was located in a quonset-type building just south of the school. As with most communities in Manitoba, there were a skating rink and a curling rink.
The office for the Municipality of Lakeview was located on the east side of the main street toward the south. There was also a local telephone central office nearby.
The Lutheran church, which conducted services in Icelandic, was located on the west side of the street, toward the south along the main street. The United Church of Canada was located on the same side of the street toward the north end.
Canadian National Railways – A mixed train, which carried the mail, arrived from Portage la Prairie twice a week and went as far north as Alonsa.
Greyhound Bus Lines – There was daily morning service to Winnipeg and daily evening service from Winnipeg. Its northern terminus was either Amaranth or Alonsa. I believe that it carried mail to Langruth one day a week.
The building that held my classroom was a grey brick building that was constructed about 1912, about the time of the founding of the community. On the other side of a partition was a high school classroom. Nearby was a white cottage-style building that housed elementary classes and another high school class. Surrounding these two buildings was a large playground. Our school was at the extreme north end of the community, while the home where I lived was at the extreme south end, less than one mile away. To the south of our buildings and on the west side of the street was a large hall where the primary grades were.
My classroom had windows on the west and south sides. Blackboards were on the north and east walls. In the southwest corner was a small room, about the size of a closet. In here were a few shelves that held our small collection of library books. There were outside toilets to the north of the buildings. In the basement were chemical toilets and a wood-burning furnace. I was on supervision duty every four weeks. In the winter, one of my jobs would be to throw a chunk of wood into the furnace. The heat reached the classroom through a register in the floor. Drinking water and clothes hooks were at the back of the room. A number of children liked to keep their heavy overshoes on their feet during the winter, even though it was not necessary to do so.
The students played softball when at school, while a number of them played hockey and/or curled in the winter when not at school. Some rural students were hauled to school in an enclosed horse-drawn sleigh in the winter.
On one occasion, Lionel Kuran, Margaret McKay, and I participated in a Sunday evening service at the United Church. Lionel conducted the service and gave the prayers. I read the sermon that was provided for me by one of the members of the church. It was the weekly sermon from the Family Herald. Margaret was the organist as usual. For part of the year, services were conducted by student ministers. They roomed at the home of Mrs. Duff (no relation to me) and obtained their meals at the Organ home, where I lived.
I would like to thank Fred Hiebert and his sister Florence for verifying two names for me.
Staff and Associates
Page revised: 11 December 2015