Friday, July 2, 2010

School's Out

A Gift of Ebony and Gold

Every year as the school year draws to a close, teachers seem to gather a wide range of small appreciative gifts from students. Ranging from gift cards to chocolates, store-bought and homemade cards to things that say “I know teacher will like this!” it is these thoughtful expressions of, “Thank you! You’re a great teacher”, that speak volumes to their instructors. It is also a tradition that has been around for many years and in 1883 one Chilliwack teacher was presented with an ebony cane fitted with a heavily ornamented and engraved gold top. Amongst the cane’s golden scrolls and floral motifs is the simple inscription, “Presented to J.P. Johnston by his pupils Chilliwhack July 1883".

Scottish-born John P. Johnston taught in Chilliwack for more than 15 years and was considered to be one of the finest Latin and Greek scholars in the province. We do not know much about him, other than he died in New Westminster February 9, 1899. His obituary was printed in the Chilliwack Progress newspaper from which we were able to gather the above scant details. Obviously he had left a lasting impression on the community and was remembered by many.

Image: Cane top of the Johnston presentation cane.

P.S. Chilliwhack is an early spelling for the community of Chilliwack.

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