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Days to Remember: One-room Schoolhouses in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

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larger_dl.10133.jpgThe one-room schoolhouse, so long the focus of folklore and nostalgia, is the subject of a new book. Days to Remember: One-room Schoolhouses in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, is the culmination of years of work by the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), Sherbrooke & District. The book, which is lavishly illustrated with vintage and contemporary photographs, features over sixty biographical sketches of former schoolteachers (most of them women), pupils and one inspector. The material was distilled from hundreds of hours of taped conversations with people who are now in their eighties or nineties, and who taught at or attended one of the Townships’ rural schools.

larger_dl.10005.jpgThis spiral-bound, 178-page book is part history, part photo album and part agenda. Biographical sketches and photographs are interspersed with blank pages for the days and months of the year. More than anything, this book is a treasure trove of local social history. The reminiscences contained therein seem as fresh in the minds of the tellers as though they had just happened yesterday, and we are fortunate indeed that they have been preserved for posterity.

Days to Remember is also proof that hard work by volunteers with good leadership (in this case the dynamic Bev Taber Smith and Carol McKinley of the CFUW) does on occasion pay off. The University Women were fortunate to have received funding from a number of sources, including Townshippers’ Foundation and others, and this funding allowed them to hire a very competent editor, Brenda Hartwell, to oversee production. Hartwell, whose past editorial work has included, among other projects, several editions of the anthology Taproot, exhibits her customary perfectionism in the finished product. The University Women chose well.

The texts in Days to Remember are lively, informative and filled with personal experiences and anecdotes. The photographs, many of them action shots of schoolchildren and their teachers, complement the stories beautifully. The permanent agenda format will ensure not only that the book will be in use for many years to come, but that it will serve as a poignant reminder of the courageous part that so many young women played in educating our children in the first half of the twentieth century.

Days to Remember: One-room Schoolhouses in the Eastern Townships of Quebec can be purchased through Townshippers’ Association (819-566-5717 or toll free 1-866-566-5717) and CFUW Sherbrooke & District club’s website www.cfuwsherbrooke.org/pages/special_projects.