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A piece of history

Students and staff at Rockwood School connected with the past—the year 1950 to be exact—thanks to the donation of an item of immense historical significance to the school.

Lisa Marr-Lang, the granddaughter of late Winnipeg School Board trustee Stanley B. Laing, donated the ceremonial trowel her grandfather used to lay the school’s date stone in a 1950 ceremony.

Rockwood Trowel.jpg

Oddly enough, students had already seen the trowel in a photograph during a trivia challenge at a recent Rockwood assembly.  Students learned that behind the date stone were lists of chief officials of the Dominion of Canada, province and city, school reports, and coins and newspapers of the era.

“We always do historical trivia, it’s one of the ways to get students more engaged and attached to this building,” said Principal Jamie Hutchison. “Every day, kids come in and walk past that date stone—so we showed them a photo of Mr. Laing helping to lay the stone during the official ceremony.”

Thanks to Ms. Marr-Laing’s accompanying letter, students were able to learn more about Stanley B. Laing. He was born and raised in Winnipeg, the son of Major George S. Laing; the elder Laing was director of the Canadian Brodesser Elevator Manufacturing Company, as well as working as an auditor for the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and Winnipeg Stock Exchange. Major Laing was in injured in the battle of Passchendaele in 1917, and would pass away at the age of 75 in Deer Lodge.

Stanley Laing served with the Canadian military and British intelligence with honour in the Second World War, before returning to Canada in 1945 to continue serving his community.  His wife, Gertrude Mary Amies Laing, also had a considerable record of public service, including being the only woman on the Royal Commission of Bilingualism and Biculturalism.

“Receiving the trowel and that letter made the story about the man in the photograph even more fascinating,” Mr. Hutchison said. “And of course, we were honoured to display the trowel at our school.”

He added that learning more about the Laing family’s history was a fantastic experience for Rockwood students.

“It helps to build community. All of the students know so much more about this school and the history of the neighbourhood,” he said.


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