Eva's Journey

Excerpt of a Transcript of a Tape Recorded Interview with Eva J. Bond, about her early teaching experience Interview conducted by John Henderson, August 24, 1977. S-C83.

John Henderson:
Could you start off with what you were mentioning about how you became interested in coming to Canada in the first place…?

Eva Bond:
Yes.  Well, it really started when I was at college in St. Catherine’s College in London, at Teacher’s Training College.  While I was there, Bishop Lloyd of Saskatchewan came to give a lecture.  His idea was really to encourage Christian teachers to come to teach in the rural schools of western Canada.  Now I was very, very interested.  He showed various slides.  When he departed, I determined that that was for me.  Now he did explain that anybody who was interested in going to Canada should contact the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf in London, an organization that helped arrange for teachers to come to the West.

I made an appointment to see the Reverent P.J. Andrews.  He had a very interesting interview with me.  At the end of this, he told me, “I think you are very suitable but you are too young.”  By the way, I was 18 at the time.  So that was that.  I returned to college and thought about it, feeling very disappointed of course.  When I had an opportunity to go home to discuss it with my father and my eldest sister (my mother had died when I was a child) they both said, “No, you are much too young, it is too difficult an adventure for someone so young.”  That was that.  

I was rather deflated but determined that that wasn’t the end.  I prayed very hard.  I felt that it was a job that needed doing and maybe I could do it.  To make a long story short, I had another interview with this Reverend Andrews and he, I suppose, decided that I was the right material after all.  On August 4, 1923, at the age of nineteen and a half, I left England for the West with the blessing of my family.

Now at Liverpool I met a group of Maple Leaf teachers, all of whom were experienced.  I had no experience other than my college training and practice teaching.  I had no certificate to show anybody because I had only written my final exams a few days before and the results wouldn’t be out for a month or so. However, undaunted, I started out.  It wasn’t the most comfortable journey in those days but we finally, after eight days, reached Quebec City.  From there we got on the train and headed west and I finally arrived at Regina a few days later. 

Now there was … an Anglican clergyman who was in charge of … the Fellowship of the Maple Leaf in the West and he obtained a suitable boarding place in Regina for us.  He took us to the Legislature to get our standing … I soon realized it meant checking our qualifications.  When it was my turn, the only thing I had to show was myself and a college report signed by the principal.  Then I was asked to swear an oath of allegiance to the King which rather amazed me, as I had always been a loyal subject.  However, it didn’t worry me until – and I swore this oath, a rather interesting procedure – but what did worry me was when they charged me $5 which I couldn’t afford, as I only had $20 to my name and didn’t know a soul in Canada.  But that was the drill and so it went.

Now, although I didn’t know anyone in Canada, I had had an introduction to a lady and gentleman who lived near Ridgedale in Saskatchewan, who were homesteaders.  I had this introduction in England and I corresponded with this lady whose name was Mable.  She got in touch with me in Regina and explained that there was a school going, not too far away from where they lived.  So, although I had had other offers of schools on the prairie… it was the bush that appealed to me.  I got on the train and went….  I arrived late at night, that was the end of the steel in those days.  As a matter of fact, the conductor had to shake me because I was fast asleep.  However, I rolled off the train and there to meet me was Mable’s husband, whose name was Roland.  He was very nice.  What rather surprised me, it was dark but there were stars out, but he looked exactly like King George V, complete with beard, about the same stature.  He was dressed in homesteader’s clothes, which I have never seen the King in.  He had a buggy waiting.  He loaded my baggage and we rattled down a hill.  It was only three miles to a district, Riverstone, where the homestead was.  It was everything I had imagined – a long cabin, dark, bush all around, the door opened, lamp light streamed across the ground and Mable welcomed me with a very English voice.  So I was thoroughly happy I had got to the West….

Now Mable explained to me that this school that was vacant was at a place called Waterfield, about 20 or 25 miles through the bush from Riverstone.  A few days later she drove me over in the buggy and I was introduced to the trustees and they appointed me to be their teacher.  I didn’t stay there immediately but I went back and picked up my baggage.  I guess it was something like the 28th or 29th of August when I became the teacher of Waterfield School….

A teacher and her pupils on the steps of their rural school, ca. 1919-1920. PAS Photo R-A428-13