Woondum Provisional School students.
Woondum Provisional School students. Supplied

Woondum's 'scientific caner'

WITH debate ensuing around the nation whether punishing kids with a smack should be against the law it seems timely Ron Turner has come forward with an old photo of Woondum Provisional School students, whose teacher was known for his ability with the cane.

Ron, who lives at East Deep Creek, owns the land the school once stood on and is seeking any information about the school or photo. He got the photo from June George, her mother-in-law (Eda Meecham) attended the school.

In his research Ron has uncovered Donald Price was the teacher at Woondum Provisional from 1907-09. Price later went on to become a principal at Gympie South and was known for his disciplinary skills.

Margaret Greenslade a past student, (now deceased) described him as a "scientific caner". She said for minor infractions a stroke of the cane was administered across the palm. While noisy students, or those misbehaving, received a stroke across the fingers, or the fleshy part of the thumb.

Ron found an article by Ms Greenslade where she recalled the teacher gave them a cut for every sum they got wrong and described him as giving the cuts irrespective of sex. The students, however, were wise to the ways of the forest and knew which leaves of a particular shrub to rub on their hands to numb the sting of the cane.

He said the photo was actually a reverse of the original.

"It is possible to see the corrugations of the edge of the 800 gallon water tank and tank stand. This should have been on the right hand side to accord with the Greenslade sketch."

Ron said the top bar of the bicycle  indicated a male teacher probably in 1907-11.

He also found a poem: "Donald Price is a very good man. He goes to church each Sunday. He prays to the Lord to give him strength. To belt the kids each Monday." The author was anonymous, but Ron thinks there is little doubt it was written by Margaret Greenslade as she wrote "much similar verse".

Ron has published information about the school in Woondum! Which Woondum?.

The Woondum Provisional School opened on September 4, 1899. There was confusion around where to send the post as the address was C/o Post Office, One Mile and mail would end up delivered to the Woondum Siding. So in 1913 it was renamed 'Ardoyne' after the birthplace of one of the school founders, in County Cork, Ireland.

The school was located east off Hyland Rd; there were three male teachers 1907-11 with young female teachers before and after this date. Reports Mr Turner found show a maximum of 21 boys and 26 girls enrolled in 1903, but daily attendance records cannot be found.

Do you have any information about this photo? Do you recognise one of the faces? If so Ron Turner would love to hear from you, phone 5482 5188.

Gympie Times


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