Mr. Melvin Toews (father of noted Canadian writer Miriam Toews) was my grade seven teacher at Woodlawn School in Steinbach during the 1966- 1967 school year. Canada was celebrating its 100th birthday. In the fall of 1966 Mr. Toews decided to put together a magazine called The Woodlawn Journal. Each student was asked to contribute a piece of writing about Canada or write a report about how different areas of the country were preparing to commemorate the centennial.
The journal opened with a poem about Canada by my friend Audrey. On the second page was my essay entitled This Land of Ours. Mr. Toews printed up many copies of our journal, probably at his own expense, and we all felt great about being published authors with our work available for others to read.
Here’s how my essay started………..
Canada is a rough vast land nestled between two foaming masses of water. It stretches from the Atlantic Ocean where the lonely wails of fishing schooners fill the air to the Pacific Ocean where you can hear the harsh blasts of ocean liners as they chug out of Vancouver’s harbor. It reaches northward to the snowy land of polar bears and reindeer and south to the blue waters of the Great Lakes.
Pretty poetic wasn’t I?
As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday it is kind of neat to look back at the journal my classmates and I created fifty years ago for another milestone in Canadian history.
By the way I didn’t save my copy of the Woodlawn Journal but a decade after I was in Mr. Toews’ grade seven class I got a job at Elmdale School where Mr. Toews was on staff as this photo attests. On my first day on the job I walked into Mr. Toews’ class to say hello and he went straight to his filing cabinet, pulled out a copy of the journal and opened it to the page with my essay. He gave me the copy to keep. Thanks Mr. Toews.