Duncan MacLanders Ross was born on Gulf Shore on the farm where his father, David Ross, settled in the early 1850s. He married Joann MacKay, of Waughs River, and Varina Lillian Ross was born to this couple on November 25th, 1896 in Waldegrave.
For her, education was an uphill struggle all the way. Indeed, to hear Varina tell of the almost endless problems, now (1981) makes one marvel at the advances made, and to realize that "we have come a long way" and that in reality "the good old days" are past and good riddance.
However, the first ten grades were accomplished witih the ordinary trials of farm life; chores galore; the storms of winter; the heat of short summers; in short, the adversity that made the student shine in later years, and become known as one who was made of "sterner stuff". The obstacles were there; poor teacher quality and attitude; sometimes the attitude of adults to the educational system. Obstacles were to be hurdled, and hurdled they were.
In 1914 she was a teacher; her first school, Lower Gulf Shore. The 1915-16 term was spent in Oliver with 32 pupils; a happy experience, she recalls. That summer she enrolled in a Rural Science Course in the Normal College in Truro. She remembers the long hot walks to the Agricultural College for courses in Biology and Botany. She was back in Oliver in September 1916.
There was no Harvest Excursion Train in 1917 (so they thought; all able men were in the services; but it turned out they just had to get someone to gather the harvest in, and a train did go later), so Miss Ross and her friend, Lavina Kennedy, paid full fare to Saskatchewan. The call was strong and teachers almost without number were lured to the high and prompt pay of the many schools that were being erected all over the prairie.
She obtained a school near the town of Piapot (Paypot), the town named after the Indian Chief who detained the building of the C.P.R. She boarded in a log house, the home of a lovely P.E.I. family named Stewart. Then, to satisfy the Board, there was a stint at Regina Normal School. In March 1918, she accepted the teacher job at Camalachie, 30 miles south of Moose Jaw. The semester ended at Christmas; just in time to get home to Nova Scotia for Festivities. She never returned West.
She became Mrs. Sanor MacIvor, 23 July 1919, and proceeded to raise a family of four; three boys and one girl. Raising and educating the family was well interspersed with everyday activities that yielded self-sufficiency. She became expert in the husbandry of Silver Foxes, chickens and cattle. The garden was a must.
When the North Cumberland Historical Society instituted the awarding of Fellowships for meritorious service, Varina MacIvor was the first to be so honoured. She was nominated to receive the award by Founding President, the late Harry R. Browne, He cited unrelenting support to all endeavours of the Society, since it was founded in 1963, as the criterion for her choice. The presentation was made in 1979.
Mrs. MacIvor now resides at Harbour View Manor, Pugwash, Nova Scotia (1981).
J. R. MacQuarrie, in
Some North Cumberlandians, at Home and Abroad, Past and Present,
The North Cumberland Historical Society, 1982. (Publication No. 2)
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