Remembering Porto Bello Jr. School

Miss Irene Mikeljohn came to teach at Porto Bello Jr. School in the fall of 1942 when she was only 17 years old.

Porto Bello Jr. School was one of the many one-room schools which provided the education of the majority of students in western Canada for generations until after World War II.  It was built in 1914 and closed in 1953 when its students were bused to the consolidated Pipestone School.  However, by the end of the 1930s Porto Bello Jr. School was not typical.  Unlike most one-room schools, it served only Grades One to Six, with an exceptionally high enrolment of 54 students in 1939 when John A. MacDonald was one of seven pupils in Grade One.  Grades Seven to Eleven attended the Porto Bello High School located a couple miles or so away.  
    According to the memories of MacDonald, one of the outstanding teachers at Porto Bello Jr. School was Miss Irene Mikeljohn.  She taught there for the 1942/43 school year when she herself was only 17 years old.  During her year at this school, she lived in the tiny teacherage on the school site, and had to carry water for the school's use and for her own use from the farm across the road, even when she had to wade through hip-high snow to do so.  Her understanding of her students is evident in her comment as she handed MacDonald his report card on June 28, 1943, saying, “John, I am passing you to Grade Five, but I have a suggestion.  If you could spend more time on school work and less time on sports, you will make it okay.”
    Miss Mikeljohn left Porto Bello Jr. School to take her teacher training, then taught at Daysland, Clyde and Nanton. She married fellow teacher, Bob McLeod, and the young couple moved to Penticton, B.C. and had two girls. After Bob was killed in an automobile accident, she continued to raise her girls and put them through school.  In 2007, she moved with her daughter to Mill Bay on Vancouver Island.  MacDonald had a most enjoyable visit with this unforgettable teacher in her home there in 2012.

John A. MacDonald visiting with Irene McLeod (nee Mikeljohn) at her home at Mill Bay on Vancouver Island in May of 2012.
  

 MacDonald notes that there were no drugs or smoking in the high school back in his time, and that none of his schoolmates have been in jail.  Instead, they went on to be doctors, teachers, engineers, a millionaire, and successful farmers.  MacDonald himself moved into the work force after Grade Eight at Porto Bello High School, and went on to fully develop his mechanical skills and to work with children and youth, especially in the field of sports.  Upon completion of mechanical schooling at the Chicago Vocational School, he was selected to respond to the main speakers, thus giving his first speech when he was 18.  Next he worked in Millet where he coached a Fastball team for girls aged 14 to 17 and won it all.  While in Millet he married Marjorie Rasmussen and got his auto mechanics license with 94% on the exam.  Through the years, he completed an Engineers Course at the Chicago Vocational School, and challenged the licensing exams in heavy duty mechanics and millwright, getting 97% and 95% respectively.  After working in a number of jobs and places, he settled in Calgary and for 10 years was Girls Hockey Director for the Calgary Girls Hockey Program at three age levels with 44 teams.  Through the years he worked in management, was a partner in forming a company, earned his pilot's license and night flying endorsement and owned a plane, became a public speaker, travelled extensively, and worked with children.  His wife passed away in 2011.  His MLA in Calgary recognized his work with children by arranging for him to have dinner with the Queen when she was in Calgary in about 2007.
    John A. MacDonald is only one example of a very successful life following from an early education in a one-room rural school.

 

More Stories:
  • The Wild Side - A New Local TV Series Coming Soon Coming your way is a new television series, detailing the life of the average outdoorsman here in Alberta, the team they share the field with, and the families involved in accommodating their passion, named, ‘The WildSide’. ...
  • Fall Crocuses Dare Alberta Winters Canadian gardeners are known for their adventurous spirit. Not to climb mountains or hike in a foreign wilderness, but to sometimes introduce new plants in their gardens, year after year. Through the import of seeds and bulbs ...
  • Rising Starz Fundraiser For Make-A-Wish Set aside this Saturday, October 25th, for the First Annual Rising Starz Event, showcasing the talents of local performers with the intent to raise enough money to grant a wish to a wish child. The ‘magic’ of a wish can reinvigorate ...
  • Rosebrier 4H Beef Club It’s that time of the year, 4H has begun. We are all so excited to begin a new year with new calves. We have 19 members in our club this year. During our October meeting we held elections. Our Executive are as follows: Emilee ...
  • Leduc City’s Emergency Response Proves Effective In Dealing With Spill Leduc Fire Services responded to a chemical spill at the Leduc Recreation Centre (LRC) on Oct. 16, 2014. Fourteen firefighters, two pump trucks, one rescue truck and a command vehicle were dispatched to the LRC shortly after ...
  • The 2014 Calmar Firemen’s Ball Goes Country! This year, the 8th annual Calmar Firemen’s Ball did a 360 and went from the usual formal affair to a down home country casual theme, much to everyone’s liking! The evening began with an excellent meal with plenty of country ...
  • Medieval Fundraiser Immanuel Anglican Church in Wetaskiwin had a wonderful time with its second annual evening of Medieval Feasting and Entertainment. The evening was intended as a fundraiser for the church, and included a silent auction. The ...
  • Thorsby Ballerina Headed For the Big Stage Six years of dance classes might enrich the life of a youth, but for a young Thorsby ballerina, hard work and focused passion will lead to an opportunity of a lifetime. Kiera Souza, who turned nine years old on October 17th, ...
  • Bob Robinson: Rodeo Hall Of Fame Inductee 2014 Millet’s own Bob Robinson had the honor of being inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, during the Rodeo Historical Society’s Rodeo Weekend, September 26-27. Born September 13, 1931 in Calgary to Frederick ...
  • Small Fire Department Receives Big Boost On Friday, October 10th, the County of Wetaskiwin’s Mulhurst & District Fire & Rescue Department was presented with a cheque for $15,000. The money was donated during the ‘2014 Larry Majeski Memorial Golf Tournament & BBQ’ ...
  • This, That And Everything As of October 10th, Millet really does have This That And Everything. Located at 5009 – 49 Ave in the old Fields location, owners Richard and Sabrina Jaffray-Barnes have realized their dream of a family business. The couple ...
  • Louisiana Hayride At Maclab Upon making plans to attend the country Music Tribute concert, “Hayride” at the Maclab Centre for the Performing Arts in Leduc, it came to the attention of regional theatre-goers that the Maclab now offers reserved seating. ...
  • Power Off Predators Technology, the Internet and social media are facts of life in today’s society, and with all the benefits, there is a dark corner where predators groom and lure young people. When Warburg resident Colleen Foster was approached ...
  • Turkey Chase and Search for The Yeti The Annual Devon Turkey Chase is in its 9th year, held once again at the Lions Campground on the shore of the North Saskatchewan River. This fun outdoor event is so rooted in the Town of Devon’s local culture, that it has ...
  • Fall Food Roundup Success The shelves of the Leduc and District Food Bank are filling up again with another successful Fall Food Round Up. This year, 17,679 pounds of food was collected in the door-to-door food drive Oct. 6. Another 3,900 pounds have ...
  • Leduc Food Bank Cooking Lessons Each month, between 100 and 150 families in the Beaumont, Calmar, Leduc, Leduc County, Devon, New Sarepta, Thorsby, Nisku and Warburg walk through the doors at the Leduc and District Food Bank looking for help to feed their ...
  • Young Leaders To Be Praised At 3rd Annual Mayor’s Event On October 29th, from noon till 2 pm, at the Best Western, over 70 Leduc teens will be applauded for their character, service and leadership at the 3rd Annual Mayor’s Youth Leadership Recognition Awards Luncheon. Leduc Mayor ...
  • Battle Lake Church Welcomes New Pastor A Commissioning Service planned for October 25 marks the first six months of the Buchholz’ pastoral ministry at Battle Lake Community Baptist Church. This is a momentous event for the congregation as it marks the end of a ...
  • Saving Lives During Operation Impact Submitted by S/Sgt Neill Pearson A/Officer in Charge, Wetaskiwin RCMP October 10-13, 2014 will mark Operation Impact, a national campaign to make Canada’s roads the safest in the world. Members of the Wetaskiwin RCMP detachment ...
  • 1st Annual WCTS Walker-Thon Raises Over $3,000!!! The Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society held its 1st Annual Walker-thon earlier today (Friday, September 26, 2014) at the Wetaskiwin Mall. Led by Mayor Bill Elliot and W1440 Morning Man Billy Williams, 14 participants ...




 
  • Leduc Radio Ad
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia
  • Industrial Netmedia