Looking Back


Exam Time in Onoway

Onoway High School students who wrote departmental exams in late January or will be writing them in June endure quite a different experience than those who sat the exams 90 years ago. The Archives at Onoway Museum has a collection of exam papers dating back to the 1920s. In 1927, for example, grade VIII students were required to write departmental exams; those in grade XII wrote high school and university entrance exams. These exams were written in June.

At that time, there were no high school classes in Onoway. The few students who wished to further their studies had to go to larger centres such as Edmonton where they would stay with a relative or find a place to board. They paid tuition fees (it was $7.00/month in 1931). Some locals, e.g. Charlotte (Coates) Potter, went to school in Stony Plain and Dorothy (Lafleur) Frederick boarded at the Lac Ste. Anne Dormitory near Sangudo as late as the mid-1940s.

If you were in the lower grades and went to Beaupré School in Onoway in 1927, you might have been in Mr. Bramley's grade 4 - 7 room. In September there were 47 students in his room but a senior room was added (in the annex to the Onoway Community Hall) so by January, there were only 40 students in grades 4 to 6. Mr. Bramley resigned and Mrs. Ostrander took over in April and finished the year.

Imagine writing departmental exams – no calculator, no computer – strictly pencil and paper. No electricity – just the light coming through the windows. And spelling counted!

These exams are fascinating - stop by the Archives and have a look!


English 1 1927 - Composition: total of 100 points
English Composition 1927
English Composition Page 2 1927

Paragraph writing on page 2 of English - Composition exam (1927)
Paragraph writing on English -
                                  Composition exam

Departmental Examination Arithmetic and Mensuration Grade VIII 1924
- last question on the exam (worth most marks)
Arithmetic 1924
Arithmetic Question 1924

Departmental Examination 1927 Algebra 1 - first page on the two-page exam
Departmental Examination 1927 Physics 1 - second page of three pages

Physics 1 1927 - this music question was on page 2 of 3 pages
Physics 1927 - music question

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 Last updated: July 22, 2018