My love for cairns is maybe a little strange. I don’t know anyone else that slams on the brakes whenever they see a cairn. (Well, other than Andrew, ha.) Since developing this fascination, I have learned that many of these cairns we encounter are school cairns. These endearing sites dot the landscape, paying tribute to the one-room schoolhouses that once dotted the prairies.
The other day I was driving the country roads with a friend, and she was reflecting on the new school year that’s just about to begin, and the many changes being implemented in an effort to educate kids amid the ongoing pandemic.
Cohorts — that’s the new thing they’re trying.
I’m prone to daydreaming. As she spoke, my mind wandered to the many school cairns I’ve seen. Each one represents a group of former students coming together to commemorate these long-abandoned sites, forming committees to set up and care for these little cairns.
My imagination leapt fifty years into the future: Pandemic Cohort gatherings take place across the province to commemorate the time back in 2020 when they were young and were forced to spend all day every day in a small, randomly-selected group. At these Pandemic 2020 Cohort gatherings, they’re laughing as they reminisce about those wild uncertain times.
Just a daydreamy thought borne of seeing a lot (a LOT) of school cairns this year. The more I see, the more I think about how much people must have loved being grouped into a small random cohort all those years ago. The cairns are evidence.
Here are just a few schools and school cairns we’ve seen:
This book documents each of the 46 school districts (each originally a one-room schoolhouse) which became one giant school division in 1968. It’s filled with fond stories of a bygone era. As a new era of schooling unfolds, looking back at the past makes me think it could possibly someday be reflected upon fondly, too. Time will tell.