Frog Lake Day School


by Canon E. Ahenakew

In 1912 Rev. J.R. Matheson, then missionary in the Onion Lake District and Principal of the Residential School felt that a day school was needed at Frog Lake. The Indians were poor and down-hearted owing to the Massacre that had taken place on their reserve in 1885.

The present Chief (John Horse) told me that first of all they asked the R.C. Church to secure a school for them, but nothing was done. Then they went to Mr. Matheson. In a very opportune way Charles Quinney, who, as a boy, had been taken to Emmanual College, Prince Albert, to be trained as a teacher-catechist by Mr. Matheson, arrived in Onion Lake at this time, after church work and teaching school at Cumberland House.

Mr. Matheson, after talking the matter over with the then Indian Agent, decided to open a small school at Frog Lake himself. He sent Charles Quinney, offering to pay him $25.00 a month out of his own pocket, to teach. Charles had four children by this time and $25.00 a month was a very small sum but he went to Frog Lake. He started to build two fair-sized shacks without any help financially. He and his family lived in one shack and he taught school in the other. The work went on so well that after a while the Indian Department took over, paying Charles $300.00 a year. This, helped out by the Diocese of Saskatchewan, was raised to $400.00.


After some years had elapsed Charles contracted typhoid fever and died. The school was, however, by this time well established and it was moved to the present site. Mr. Alex' Peterson was the next teacher and did very good work till he resigned and Mr. Hunt succeeded him. A wonderful change has taken place on the Reserve, and mostly through the work and influence of the school. That inferiority complex, which was so noticeable, is no more. The young people are bright, well clothed and happy.

If Rev. J.R. Matheson had not started the work of teaching the children in 1912, the condition of the Indian would probably have gone on deteriorating. Surely, the Anglican Church has some right to keep on with the school just when it has obtained its objectives in the building of a splendid school building by the Indian Department.

I thought it might be well to supply this information as I am about the only one who knows the details. I arrived at Onion Lake a week before Charles Quinney arrived. Rev. Matheson had a stroke the night after I arrived there.