We lived about a kilometre from my school or about 0.6 miles in what was essentially downtown Montreal. My mother must have kept quite fit in those days because she would walk that distance 8 times a day — morning, twice at lunch, and afternoon, each occasion requiring a round trip. She did this to escort me to school and back. In total, she would have walked almost 8km or 5mi per day all through grade 1 and into grade 2 before we moved to the suburbs. She also walked me in Kindergarten, but she got off lighter because that was only a half day and so she was only required to make 4 round trips for a measly 4km or 2.5mi.
Up until that move early in grade 2, we lived in the inner city. Not that it seemed too dangerous in those gentler times, but it was still what it was — inner city. And not only was it inner city, but it was a bit of a convoluted route, if I recall, along with quite a bit of traffic to contend with. This is why she walked with me.
Largely, I think because I sensed some anxiety from my elders, I was reluctant to walk it alone, and I'm sure that my parents were also reluctant. I could have done it though as witnessed by one time that I did.
As a bit of a respite for mom, I was once to accompany a somewhat older neighbourhood boy to walk home with me one lunch hour. I guess, however, my younger class got out for lunch a little earlier than the rest of the school because when I got outside and waited for a bit, I thought that maybe he had gone ahead without me because there were no other kids around. So, I struck off on my own and actually managed the walk quite well as a 5 years old although I was a tad nervous.
Even now, as I look back, it makes me a bit apprehensive to have attempted that solitary walk on my own in that environment at that young age, but I had a pretty good grasp of my bearings, even then.
So, after that failed attempt, back and forth Mom continued to go, 4 round trips daily for a total of 8 trips in all. A few times, I recall something like kind of a soup kitchen for kids near the school that she took me to in order to save herself one round trip, but I don't think we did that too often.
Early on in grade 2, we moved to the suburbs, and with that route also being easier, I was sent out on my own, which I didn't mind at all, for I was surely a big boy by then. I'm not sure whether that would happen in these super-parented days, but times were more laissez-faire back then.
The school that I went to was called Victoria, and judging by the following screen capture from Google Street View, it was a fine building, built in 1887 with an addition mainly for a gymnasium in 1911. It has been re-purposed from an elementary school in present times, becoming an adjunct to Concordia University for awhile. Presently, it is a school for tourism and hotel management according to this article: Victoria School.
Oddly enough, 5 years or so after we had moved from the area, I joined a scout trip that met in the very same school, which was, in fact, still functioning as a school in the late fifties and early sixties. The reason that my scout troop was so far from my suburban home at the time was that I joined the troop sponsored by my former downtown church and with which I still maintained some ties.
|The Kindergarten room was behind the window to the right of the door, and I spent grade 1 in the room to the left.|
Also from street view, this is how our residence from back then looks now, the one we walked back and forth to and from.
And this is what it looked like back then, or at least this is what Grampa and I (and Skippy) looked like sitting on the front steps. I'm sorry to say that I haven't, at this point, come across a photo of more of the house.