Thursday, September 27, 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Certificate

Here’s another family treasure I want to share with my readers. It’s my Mom’s High School Entrance Certificate. 

Jacqueline Desgroseilliers' High School Entrance Certificate, 1948.

In the 1940s, Mom attended St. Thomas d’Aquin school in the village of Blue Water, near Sarnia, Ontario. After she successfully completed Grade 8 of elementary school, she received a “high school entrance certificate”, dated July 5, 1948, from the Department of Education. Mom was set to begin high school that autumn.

But, fate had other plans for her. A few weeks earlier that spring, her mother Juliette became ill. Within a few short months, pancreatic cancer claimed Juliette one August day in 1948.

After the funeral, family life seemed to resume for Mom, her sisters and their widowed father. She started high school that September as planned. Mom had enjoyed elementary school and done well. She found the teaching nuns strict, but fair. She didn’t have any reason to think high school would be a different experience. But it was. Instead of walking to a neighborhood school like she did to St. Thomas d’Aquin, Mom had to travel on a city bus every weekday to get to the Catholic high school in Sarnia. While there, she encountered prejudice from some of the staff and students who looked down on the French-speaking students from Blue Water. Also, the added cost of high school (like transportation and books) put a financial burden on her father, who was unemployed at the time.

After a few weeks, Mom decided to quit school. Her father hoped he would find work, but none materialized. She had so looked forward to high school and didn't want to stop learning, but things didn't work out for her.

Soon afterwards, Mom’s elder sister Madeleine helped her get a job as a waitress in the cafeteria at Polymer Corporation (a synthetic rubber manufacturing plant) near their home in Blue Water. She didn’t make much money, but it helped to support her father and young sisters who were still at home.

Despite these difficulties, Mom has fond memories of her elementary school days and cherishes her High School Entrance Certificate.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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