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Halloween Party on the Frontier in 1928: Pioneers in Western Canada Celebrate Halloween With Themed Party

Published by Nathalie Pirnie

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In 1928 students in the lower grades in Grande Prairie celebrated Halloween with classroom parties. On October 31st Mrs. Nelson’s class had a party that featured games and a word contest. In Miss Alexander’s room the pupils dove for apples, had a peanut scramble and refreshments. Mrs. Smart gave the pupils of Miss Blade’s room a talk on music, a sonata was played for them and candy was given to them before they went home.

Masquerade Party for Older Students on October 31st, 1928

With the intention of reducing the number of Halloween pranks by keeping the kids off the streets, the school hosted a masquerade party and dance for the older students. The teachers, who were not much older than the students themselves went all out to turn the school into a haunted house and dance hall in order to keep the youngsters distracted until after midnight. The activities of that night made the social column of the local newspaper.

Half the Fun is Getting There

Vera Gutherie reported, “At eight o’clock characters of all descriptions arrived. The girls and boys entered by the front and back doors, respectively, and under cover of a white sheet were escorted – or rather ‘buffeted’ – along to two dark classrooms. Here the victims stayed until they began to wonder where they were and why. Sooner or later, however, they came to the conclusion that they were to find their own way to the party room.”

Treasure Hunt

“For about fifteen minutes every class room in the school was a confusion of clowns, witches, ghosts, and other weird shapes. They were soon summoned to the basement, where Mr. Oke announced a treasure hunt and after searching for about twenty minutes the treasure, a box of chocolates, was found by Hugh O’Brian tacked to the ceiling of Mr. Dunnigan’s room.”

Halloween Dance

“The greater part of the evening was spent dancing with Vera Guthrie and Edna Taylor taking turns as pianists. Bert Powell and Mr. Oke favored us with dances, one dancing the Charleston on his feet, the other waltzing on his hands. A square dance was ‘attempted’ which was not, however, very successful. Kenneth Benbow was evidently the only one present who could get into the spirit of the thing.”

Midnight Supper

In those days a midnight supper was the typical ending to a party on the prairies. “Towards eleven o’clock lunch was prepared. There was plenty of sandwiches, cake, candy and apples, so everybody was satisfied.” Usually a cup of sweet coffee or tea followed the late night meal. “For a time no one could imagine what had happened to the sugar until someone discovered that Edmund Garepy was sitting on it!”

Halloween Parties at the School in 1928

By 1928 the school at Grande Prairie was large enough to host multiple Halloween parties for youngsters and older students.

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