|Date of birth||December 10, 1909|
- This interview is a part of the Chronicles of Oakland Township, which was compiled in the summer of 1980. Click here to read more interviews in this collection!
This is Debbie Urban interviewing Mrs. Goldie Riddoch at her home in Scotland, Ontario July 29, 1980.
Debbie: Mrs. Riddoch, could you tell me where and when you were born?
Mrs. Riddoch: I was born and raised on a farm on the eleventh concession of Burford Township in the County of Brant in the province of Ontario. We lived west of Fairfield between Harley and Northfield. I was born at home December the 10th, 1909 and weighed two and a half pounds.
Debbie: When did you come to Scotland?
Mrs. Riddoch: I came to Scotland in August 1943 a bride of only one year with my husband, Douglas Arthur Riddoch and began teaching here in September 1943 ah in Scotland Public School also at that time a Continuation School. My room, the junior room had recently been converted from the Continuation School to the primary room. (Tape is shut off) We lived at Lloyd Wilson's for three and a half years until we bought the orange brick house cattycorner from the Glaves' undertaking parlour on the corner of Oakland and Queen St., Scotland, Ontario.
Debbie: Could you tell me a little bit about your wedding?
Mrs. Riddoch: The wedding took place on the front veranda of our farm home on the 11th concession of Burford Township. On each side of the veranda were trellises of red roses and we stood on the beautiful blue hooked rug with red roses in the center and the guests stood out in the front yard among the spruce trees. My sister May Shellington Adison was bridesmaid and Robert Hooten was the best man.
While May was helping me get into my $8.50 wedding dress dad called, "Goldie if you're coming, come on". I really hadn't made up my mind. Of course I didn't know whether I was coming or not. I didn't know whether to get married or not. So I went down anyway.
Debbie: Could you tell me where you attended school?
Mrs. Riddoch: I attended Northfield Public School from 1917-24 and Burford High School from 1924-29 and I walked two and a half miles every morning and home at night to Harley Station to catch the train for Burford. The tickets costs $3.00 a month and I had 25 cents a year to spend. I attended Hamilton Normal School after teaching two years. I took another second year course at the Stratford Normal. I had to make it some how because mother expected me to be a school teacher. Every second summer I attended summer school to upgrade my certificate and be able to use these now methods to make my lessons more interesting. During the winter months special courses were offered at Brantford such as new math, language arts and science which I also took in order to put as many new ideas as possible into my daily practice.
Debbie: Was it necessary to go to Teacher's College at that time?
Mrs. Riddoch: Oh yes, it was necessary for us to go to Teachers College or Normal School as it was called then. We had to listen to lectures on all the various subjects in the curriculum and teaching methods as well. We took psychology find other subjects and we had to write examinations. We would be handed a teaching assignment then we would have to go in groups of two or three to observe the lessons being taught in the practice school and in a day or two we would have to go teach our own lesson assignment. The practice teacher would tell us what she liked about our. lessons and what she didn't like and toll us how to improve them.
Debbie: What made you decide to become a teacher?
Mrs. Riddoch: Before, well as I said I didn't decide. Everything was cut and dried before I was born. The only other thing I could have done was train for a nurse or go to business college.
Debbie: Where did you teach before Scotland?
Mrs. Riddoch: Before coming to Scotland I taught two years at the stone school two miles west of Paris on #2 highway all the grades from one to eight then five years at Harley Public School all the grades one to eight inclusive and five years at Durham Center near Mt. Elgin Ontario all the grades one to eight and 28 years in Scotland teaching one and two.
Debbie: Could you make some comparisons between the schools you taught at?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well, Harley was a brick school and it had a basement where they stored the coal and wood. The furnace was up in the classroom. Durham Center was a frame school with no basement. The furnace was natural gas and it was up in the classroom. Scotland was a brick school and it had a furnace in the basement. It had an entry to hang their coats and hats on, a mat to put your boots on and shelves for the dinner pails. Durham Center also had this. The stone school was a one classroom structure. It had a basement with a coal and wood furnace and a storage place for coal and wood. Stone, Durham Center and Harley were all one-room school while Scotland had several rooms.
Debbie: Do you remember any the significant events that happened within Scotland school?
Mrs. Riddoch: (tape is shut off, looking for notes) (then back on). On the last day before Christmas holidays we all assembled in the hall at Scotland School to sing Christmas carols. The senior grades all stood on the stairways and the smaller children down below and each teacher1 s class had aspocial number of their own to put on.
During the later part of my teaching experience a day was set aside in Scotland School for games and sports and relays and it was about the last day in June. All the pupils in the whole school were divided up into teams and there wore captains who chose the teams. On each team there were children from the tiniest to the tallest. There were twelve teams divided up so that two teams went to the obstacle race to compete and two more to the broad jump and two more to the ball throw and so on. The winning team then went and picked out another team to compete with at the came event and it was a progressive thing and at the end of the whole thing they went and they received trophies.
Parent interview was another interesting thing. A certain night was set aside when the parents came to the classrooms whore their children attended and talked to the teacher. They discussed the report and looked at their note books and around the room at all the other work displayed for that occasion. They looked at the art work on the walls and the stories they had written and their finger pair, ting and box sculpture and every type of art you could think of. This was a great incentive for the teacher as well as the pupils.
On Fridays in the winter the seniors sold hot dogs and chocolate milk in the hamm at noon-hour to raise money for bus trips. We practiced for months when I first came to Scotland for the music festival. Our class used to go to the music festival and play in the rhythm band and the choirs too.
The centennial year was held in 1967 and during that whole year special sports programmes were initiated. The children ran races and did other sports such as broad jump. They won silver, gold or bronze medals. On a special evening the parents in the community were invited. The teachers and pupils were all dressed in their centennial dress or outfit. They put on a special programme right out in the front yard. Our class I remember sang in their little choir and Brian Amy played the violin and our rhythm band also played. The parents enjoyed this very, very much. (tape is shut off, looks for notes) (tape is turned back on)
A very important school reunion was held at Scotland school before they tore the old school down. People came from far and near, all the old teachers, principals and friends to meet for the last time in those wonderful surroundings. There was a special programme put on by the intermediate school. Margaret Hunter was in charge of the whole thing and I have a tape of it someplace. (Tape is accessible to Public through G.R.)
Debbie: Do you remember any news worthy events like winter storms, did you have bad winter storms?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well several times severe snow storms occurred and the children had to stay at school until late in the evening or until their parents could come after them or until the snow plough went through. The neighbours and friends came in and brought food and if the children had no way to got home the neighbours took them into their homes until morning.
Debbie: Would you be able to tell me how much the school teachers made when you first started teaching as compared to the amount they're earning today?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well the salaries varied. At one time they were making 590 dollars a year and then it got up to about 10,000 dollars before I quit.
Debbie: Well 500 dollars , about what year was that, do you remember?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well that would be from around 1932 to 1934 somewheres in there, in the depression years.
Debbie: What was the year that you quit teaching then?
Mrs. Riddoch: I quit teaching in September 1971. Uh, in June 1971.
Debbie: Could you toll me how faraway did the students come to go to Scotland?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well the children came from two or three miles from all the farms around Scotland and from the village. The ones that came from a distance walked or their parents brought them because there were no buses. But when the buses did come, they came as far away from almost over at the hitching post on the townline and also from Kelvin.
Debbie: I'm going to ask you about the teaching methods, how do they compare with when you first started teaching to today?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well when I first started teaching forty years ago the children sat in their seats and listen to the teacher do all the talking. It was more of lecture method but now its much different.
The pupils decide what they want to do after returning from a bus trip. For instance my class and Mrs. Peppers class visited Story Book Gardens at one time, and another time we visited Mr. Nellis' Sugar Bush. But before we went to the sugar bush the children told me what they wanted to learn. I made a list of everything they said on the blackboard and we had this for a reading lesson. They learned all the words and phonics. When they came back they told me what happened and I wrote it in a blackboard story for them to read which was correlated with all the other subjects.
Before when I taught they had no filmstrips nor radios, nor televisions, nor lesson helps like that nor nobody coming from the library to tell stories. We had a limited amount of books but now they have all these things to teach with which makes it much easier.
In those other times of teaching the seats were all buckled right down to the floor. Now they're movable so they can put the seats around in a circle and discuss things. The children lead in the discussions and plan the whole lesson while the teacher supervises.
Debbie: I see.
Mrs. Riddoch: We correlate art and spelling language arts and every subject on the curriculum with everything they like when they're making jello or pancakes or doing any other interesting project.
Debbie: Could you now tell me how were the children disciplined?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well the children were disciplined by making them stay in after four or at recess if they misbehaved. Some people made them write out lines "I must not talk in school" but I never did that. Sometimes I stood them up in the corner. Once I stood somebody up in the corner and I forgot about it and he fainted away.
Debbie: Oh my goodness! (laughs)
Mrs. Riddoch: I didn't do that again.
Debbie: No, I guess not. How has the type of clothing changed since you first started teaching?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well when I first started teaching no slacks or shorts were worn by the girls that would be terrible. They used to wear little dresses and aprons. Then the bigger ones wore long dresses and the boys wore overalls. Some of the girls also wore sweaters and skirts. The rural school pupils wore more like farm clothes and the other ones in town wore like they'd wear to Sunday school.
Debbie: What is your opinion about teaching at a rural school?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well in a rural school it is more like one great big family. You teach a child for five years and you get to understand him better every day and you're better able to help him. In the graded school you only have the child one year. It takes six months to get them out of their shell and one year to get acquainted and by that time they're in the next room.
In the rural schools the big children used to come in and would help their little brothers and sisters put on their rubber boots and button up their coats for the teacher. They also did odd jobs for the teacher like cleaning the blackboard and climbing up high to decorate the room at Christmas time. The little children were quite comfortable with the big children in the same room with them for they felt more at home. Another thing that we used to have was Arbour Day. They had that once a year where the little went out and gathered up the pieces of stones and weeds and stuff. The big ones raked the yard and cleaned the whole school inside by washing the windows and cleaning the cupboards. Afterwards we had a picnic and went to the woods or something.
Debbie: Did Scotland ever partake in any school fairs like did they ever enter any art work?
Mrs. Riddoch: What they did in my time was made—do art, printing and projects for Burford and Simcoe Fair. All this stuff would be put on display up there.
In the rural schools we had a regular school fair. The department of agriculture would send around a pamphlet and the children would pick out what flower and favourite vegetable seeds they wanted. They'd take those home and plant them in their own garden then take them to the fair. They'd make bird houses and cakes and what ever else was on the prize list. They also would have a parade, sing a song, carry a flag and be in the public speaking contest.
Debbie: Oh, that's quite a bit of things then. I have one last question I guess I want to ask you and that's about your impression of Oakland Township as a community. What do you think?
Mrs. Riddoch: Well I think it's a wonderful community and we have wonderful times together. We enjoy all the ministers in all the churches and we really enjoy each other personally. I think it's a wonderful place.
Debbie: So you think this is a fairly close community?
Mrs. Riddoch: Oh yes it's very close.