Lucy Palmer – A School Teacher’s Diary
Teachers were respected for their learning and usually took an active part in the community. Lucy Palmer, a schoolteacher in Malpeque from 1887 to 1890, writes very little about her life as a teacher, but shows how active her social life was. She was invited out constantly to parties, picnics, drives, quilting parties, walks, and neighbour’s houses for tea or supper. Her diary gives a lively picture of community life in Malpeque at the turn of the 19th century.
On November 15, 1887, Lucy also wrote about disciplining some of her students:
“This evening, very much against my will I punished three boys, Ben Owen, Alf Craig, & Herb Ramsay, by keeping them in for an hour after the rest to learn a lesson that hadn’t been prepared at home. At first they giggled & laughed thinking, I suppose, that there was plenty of time before dark to learn their lessons & have fun too, but by & by one nudged the other & told him to look how low the sun was getting & all three turned their attention to their work, and in less than no time, they were up to the desk to repeat it & when finished they scampered home feeling somewhat ashamed of themselves I hope.” (This excerpt taken from “Party Time in Malpeque.”)
With multiple grades in one room, a teacher had to keep good order for students to be able to learn. Lucy clearly preferred keeping students in after school to physically punishing them with the strap. Which way of punishment do you think is better and why?
Diary of Lucy Palmer, pg. 1
PARO, Acc 4311/3
Michael Bliss. “Party Time in Malpeque: The Social Life of Lucy Palmer, Schoolteacher, 1887-1890." Island Magazine.
---. “A Farmer Takes a Wife: The Courtship of George Haslam and Lucy Palmer, 1892-1894." Island Magazine.