The Rakings by D. L. Greene

Chapter 10

     Summer drew to a close. My work had been largely exploratory and I was able to recommend the places likely to become centres for permanent work. While not laying claim to any brilliant achievement I felt that my time, and the Missionary Society's money had not been wasted. Two trivial incidents connected with my departure for college supported this idea. Or did they?

     A dear lady asked me if I would be coming back to their community next year. I explained that it was impossible for me to say as students had little voice in determining where their summer fields might be. They went where they were sent.

     "But", I added, "If I do not come back you will no doubt get a better student". To this Pious prophecy the lady replied, "Well, I hope so."

     At the Demaine appointment a man who sang very well offered to sing a solo at my farewell service. I gladly accepted his offer, and left the choice of song to him. When the proper moment arrived Mr. Stokes sang "When you come to the end of a perfect day."

     I held my last service at Sunkist on a late September Sunday evening and preached from the text "Be still and know that I am God". I was thinking of the loneliness the people would feel that coming winter, some of them being forty miles, some fifty miles, and some sixty miles from any town, and with a river and its hazardous hills intervening. There would be no schools operating, no mission services, no picture shows, and no entertainment except what could be provided by a local effort. Radios of course, were unknown then.

     For the men there would be no work except chores, for there was little or no wheat to haul. For the women there would be nothing to relieve the monotony of daily housework within overcrowded shacks. For the children nothing to do but play with handsleighs, the family dog, and perhaps a pet calf.

     Beyond these humdrum activities there would be little diversion except reading. Much time would be spent just sitting and thinking. I wanted to suggest something to think about, something that would take people's minds away from themselves.

     So I urged frequent reading of Psalm forty-six , the source of my text, "God is our refuge and strength a very present help." When the blizzards raged, "Therefore will we not fear though the earth be removed." When the men were on the long trail across the Saskatchewan, "There is a river, the stream whereof, shall make glad to the city of God." On days when the visibility was good and the prairies stretched away to far horizons; and on the starlight nights when the heavens were declaring the glory of God, "Come, behold the works of the Lord..." And on days when the prairie winds were locked in their caves and the whole land was wrapped in a silence that awed, "Be still and know that I am God... and keep your hearts and minds..."

     After church that night I packed up my belongings and loaded them once more into my buggy. Turner and I drove over to the Anderson home where with the family we spent a couple of hours singing and talking. At midnight we had a substantial lunch followed by family prayers and farewells. At one a.m. Mr. Anderson and I set out for Bridgeford where I was to catch a train at 7 a.m. We had arranged for the ferryman at Belleheumer's crossing to leave the scow on the west bank, and at 3 a.m. by the light of a coal oil lantern we ferried ourselves across the water.

     We climbed the hills, and soon the first grey streaks of dawn appeared in the eastern sky. Mile after mile of the earthen road Artie pushed back under the buggy. The red ball of
light emerged above the rim of level prairie and for two hours we drove into the rising sun. We arrived at Bridgeford in time to get breakfast at a Chinese restaurant before my train was due. I said goodbye to Mr. Anderson who was to take my equipage back to the mission and then boarded the train for Moose Jaw. I reached the Rural Dean's home at Caron about noon, and found that Mrs. Simpson, with characteristic kindness, was arranging a welcome party for myself and some other students. But I was too exhausted after my all night traveling to enjoy a party so this social event was cancelled. Next day I resumed my journey back to college.      Four more winters I spent in college also under pioneer conditions. Emmanuel College had been founded in 1879 at Prince Albert by Bishop McLean. It had a Dominion Charter as the "University of Saskatchewan." When the province of Saskatchewan was formed in 1905 out of the old District of Assiniboine and the North-West Territories, it immediately began to plan a university. In 1907 an Act was passed founding a second "University of Saskatchewan."

     Under the energetic leadership of Principal Lloyd, Emmanuel College moved from Prince Albert to Saskatoon in the summer of 1909 and affiliated with the new University. Both institutions held classes that fall in temporary quarters, the latter being under the presidentship of Dr. Walter C. Murray. The Dominion Charter of the former was renewed substituting the name "University of Emmanuel College" and continuing degree of conferring powers. But Emmanuel waived its right to confer degrees in everything except Theology in return for a free site on Saskatchewan University's campus. At an early convocation held in a Saskatchewan theatre, Bishop Newnham said it was not clear in his mind whether the new university was the mother or daughter of Emmanuel.

     The University opened with seventy-five students, half of whom belonged to Emmanuel College. Arts and Science classes were held successively in Drinkle Block, Number One, old Victoria School and Nutana Collegiate Institute, while the greystone buildings were under construction.

     Emmanuel College students were housed in wooden buildings which were known as "The College of Shacks". There was a long car-roofed dormitory in which thirty-five men slept in tiny cubicles fitted with two tier bunks. The top man roasted, while the bottom man froze. Six shanty-roofed shacks accommodated an overflow of students and Dean-in-Residence.

     Larger church-like buildings sufficed for lecture rooms, chapel and dining-room. Another frame construction did duty as a social room, facetiously dubbed "The Piggery", and a stable sheltered students' ponies kept in the city for winter mission trips. Sanitary arrangements were of the outdoor variety, while a well in the centre of the quadrangle supplied water for washing and drinking. For luxury baths we patronized down-town tubs.

     We returned to college each fall to rough it in the outskirts of a budding city. There were no street cars during our first years, so we walked across the prairie, slid down the Saskatchewan River banks, crossed the ice, and scrambled up the other bank and thence to the seat of learning. In recognition of our efforts to acquire the liberal arts we were dubbed "The Drinkleblockheads".

     Athletics were never allowed to suffer through undue devotion to studies although we had to play soccer on rough prairie pitches, and hockey on outdoor rinks. Casualties were numerous and a home-made pair of crutches constantly in service. As Emmanuel students were mostly from the British Isles, they furnished most of the men for the University soccer teams, and by
the same token, none for the University hockey teams.

     Nevertheless we maintained a team in the Inter-faculty Hockey League and played our games to the end of the schedule. In fact, our team gained the unique distinction of never winning a match and never scoring a goal. This record, however, won for us a place in the Sports Joke Column: "Why is Emmanuel hockey team like philosophy?" "Because Immanuel Kant."

     Since I was one of the four who formed our Canadian-born contingent, rather than for any great skill in the game, I was drafted into the team and made to play right wing, in the old seven man line-up. When we met the Agro team I was pitted against the Honourable John Bracken, Premier of Manitoba, then a professor in the College of Agriculture, and left winger for his aggregation. Whatever his political opponents may think of him today, I will say that on ice John was a clean sport.

     Early in our second year the University student body introduced that evil custom of college initiations, believing, according to the depraved standards of those barbarous days, that no university worthy of the name could function properly without this annual reversion to the primitive.

     I mention the event merely to indicate by contrast how far civilization has advanced in these more enlightened days of initiationless colleges. By initiations of course, I mean Initiations, not pleasant little tea parties for freshmen and freshettes.

     The old Victoria school suffered the loss of at least one chair that night. It was somehow broken up in the melee and to this day I possess, along with my Indian relics in the archives department, a chair rung painted with the identical green and white paint, used to brand the First Years. Most of our Emmanuel men failed to accept their invitations to the ceremonies, so Mahomet went to the mountain. In the security of the Sophomores' dormitory the initiators conferred the badge of the University student body upon those who had missed the main event.

     The principal and staff of Emmanuel College were furious about this intrusion and demanded an apology from the University body. It was a clear case of trespass. But it was done in total ignorance of the fact that our temporary buildings were built upon private property, and not on the recently acquired university holdings, there being no streets nor sidewalks to mark out the boundaries. An apology was made, and the male student body was invited to a supper and entertainment in our buildings. On this occasion good-will speeches were exchanged, and Emmanuel College and Arts and Science lived happily ever after.

     In our third year, we began to use the first units of the permanent university halls. That autumn too, 1912, we laid the corner stone of the permanent Emmanuel College building. When this auspicious ceremony was about to begin someone came into our dormitory asking for a Bible to place in the stone. I offered mine, first however removing the notes of the last sermon I had preached on my summer mission. I did not want future generations criticizing my penmanship.

     In our fourth and final year, we occupied the new college, where we luxuriated in steam-heated rooms, ample tubs, and shower baths. My chum and classmate Hedley Holmes (afterwards Archdeacon of Saskatchewan) and I were assigned to a room together. The next year five of us returned to complete our Arts course at the University. We were given a room each in consideration of our pioneering experiences. Holmes and I made ours into a suite, using one room for a study and the other for a bedroom.



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