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 Old Car Detective Kapuskasing to Kingsville in a 1951 Hudson Pacemaker     Leamington chiropractor Dr.Henry Reimer was 16 in the summer of 1966 when he visited his older brother in the northern Ontario town of Kapuskasing.  He would be attending ...
  • The Growth of Cities     Once mankind had discovered the advantages of farming over running around the countryside looking for berries to gather and animals to hunt we began to gather together in places where agricultural could be expanded. Generally ...
  • WHAT’S UP WITH THAT TRAFFIC? Sitting at a red light when you have places to be is frustrating but the City of Leduc is doing what it can to alleviate congestion in Leduc Common.     “It’s a busy intersection, I’ll give you that,” said Kevin Cole, Director ...
  • Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast A pig farmer from central Alberta says everyone can make a difference in their community and the world, no matter what their talents or skills are.     Speaking to a full house at the 2014 Joint Mayors Prayer Breakfast April ...
  • Aquatic Leadership in Leduc     A new aquatics leadership pilot program for high school students will be introduced this fall in partnership with the Leduc Recreation Centre, enabling them to receive credits for graduation and the potential of employment ...
  • Lakedell 4-H Achievement Dear Reader,     It’s awesome how one day led to a group of determined people and two days of fun filled 4-H events. Early in February, the Lakedell Agricultural Society hosted the annual multi-species judging. Susann Stone ...
  • Leduc Annexation Open House For a video of this event click this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuF4pu3smS8      The first Open House on Edmonton’s planned annexation, hosted by the County of Leduc, was held on Wednesday, April 2nd at the Nisku ...
  • RAM wins big in Los Angeles     The Reynolds Alberta Museum (RAM) has been attending and competing in the National Association of Automobile Museums (NAAM) awards program since 2006.  The wall in the museum that displays a variety of awards they have ...
  • The 35th Annual Wetaskiwin Music Festival Michaela Strydom Overall Intermediate Piano Performer, Alayna Chrunik Overall Piano Grade IV & Under Performer & Overall Vocal performer 11 years & under, Megan Strydom Overall Dr. Richard Bellamy Junior Piano Performer, ...
  • Needed, 1.5 Million Litres of H2O    It’s getting close. During a recent tour of the new Manluk Centre led by Kevin Lucas, Director of Community Services for the City of Wetaskiwin, he declared, “the Manluk Centre is near substantial completion and on May ...
  • Reflections On TRC Left to right: Annie Smith, Krista Rogers, Winter Eriksson, Shelby Caron, Celina Baird,Dustin Quinlan Gary Hill. Front Row : Eduard Frye , Evan Dinner, Cody Quinlan.      When I attended the TRC hearings in Maskwacis last ...
  • Is Wildrose the Future for Alberta?     Wildrose party leader, Danielle Smith, is hosting a Meet and Greet on Tuesday, April 15th from 7-9 p.m., at the Super 8 Hotel at 3820-56 Street in Wetaskiwin. The Meet and Greet gives Albertans a chance to bring up concerns ...
  • Daffodils & Tea Friends and residents enjoy the day at Sunrise Manor.     The words Sunrise and daffodils were not indicative of the weather at Sunrise Village on the day of their annual Daffodil Tea.  The streets surrounding Sunrise Village, ...
  • Learning Council Reflections     Forty years ago a group of Wetaskiwin and area residents recognized the need to identify and coordinate local resources to meet the changing learning needs of adults. The Wetaskiwin & Area Community Learning Council was ...
  • Chamber Hosts AGM And Spring Sessions     Laughter pealed from the conference rooms at the Wayside Inn on March 25th as motivational speakers entertained, educated and motivated local business people. Spring Session, a new twist on the traditional AGM, was an ...
  • Celebrating 50 Years Warburg Seed Cleaning Co-op Celebrates 50 years of service to area farmers. Pictured here are the past and present directors who attended the celebration. Tom Luethi, Plant Manager is also shown in the photo.         On ...
  • 4-H Club Reports Gwynne 4-H Club Report     Hello, I am Jake Emmerling, the reporter for the Gwynne 4-H club. We are one of the smaller clubs, but that doesn’t stop us from having lots of fun and exciting adventures!          For our first ...
  • Watoto On The Go   TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF THIS EVENT CLICK THIS LINK    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnRuq5Uz2Pg The Watoto African Children's Choir was hosted by Zion Lutheran church in Wetaskiwin on March 22nd.  The Watoto Choir will ...
  • Halliburton Decision Delayed Leduc - The County of Leduc’s decision to approve Halliburton’s development permit for a chemical mixing and storage facility has been deferred for the second time to April 22nd.     The permit had been deferred at the Feb ...
  • Local Saputo To Close Doors     On March 31st, exhaust was exiting from the Saputo plant into the chilly air in Wetaskiwin but we do not know for how long. On Wednesday, March 26th employees received disheartening news that the Wetaskiwin Saputo plant ...




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