This spring, Gordon Goldsborough will make his late father Len’s dream a reality when a monument is erected to commemorate Ferndale School in the RM of Macdonald.
Len, a Starbuck resident who passed away in 2012, led an effort to raise the money needed to purchase and place a suitable marker at the former school site.
Len attended Ferndale School in the 1930s and ’40s. The school building, originally constructed in 1887, was replaced by a new building in 1940. Ferndale School closed in 1960 and was demolished in 2009.
Goldsborough, a biology professor and historian, said his father and other members of the fundraising committee raised about $3,000 for the project. With the help of his brother Greg, a contractor, Goldsborough located a large boulder that will be inscribed with historical information, then placed at the Ferndale School site.
As secretary of the Manitoba Historical Society, Goldsborough has travelled throughout Manitoba mapping over 4,000 historic sites. He said he discovered that stone monuments are most durable, and because metal plaques are sometimes stolen, he believes etching directly onto the stone is best.
Goldsborough hopes many former pupils of Ferndale School will participate in the monument’s unveiling ceremony, which will likely be held in May or June.
However, the Ferndale School commemoration is now part of a bigger project called the Historic Schools of Macdonald, he said. Through a partnership between the R.M. of Macdonald and Manitoba Historical Society, he is collecting information on Ferndale School and 16 others that once operated within the municipality.
"We’ve already created web pages for each of the schools," he said, and invites former teachers, students and their relatives to add their names, photos and other information to the pages. The list of schools can be found at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/municipalities/macdonald.shtml#sites.
By using an online system, Goldsborough said, the information can be changed and updated as necessary.
Through the project, signs will be placed on right-of-ways close to the original location of each of the schools. Goldsborough said these signs will be quite basic but each will include a QR code linking to the school’s web page so anyone scanning the code can get more information.
He would like to see students who went to some of the other Macdonald schools take on the job of fundraising to purchase sturdier markers to replace their school’s signs.
Ultimately, he would like to have a brochure printed showing all the schools’ locations so people could explore the municipality.