Oz "Ozzy" Loon (née Osprey) was kind enough to give me her opinions on the apparent laziness of the current cohort of undergrads at U of A, who can’t seem to get through a day without napping. Her comments can be seen in their entirety here. I agree with her on a number of points, namely the entire second paragraph. Though, I would like to add that tree planters consistently do more than 10 hours manual labour in a day. Also, and I could be mistaken, but I think certain branches of the military get more done before 6am than most people do all day.
However, I think her first point is neither here nor there. Chances are that in 1908, people who actually worked on farms and did 10 hours of manual labour a day didn’t get through high school, let alone attend University. People who worked on farms were needed to work on the farm, and didn’t generally attend schools at a higher level. I realize that Edmonton was probably very rural at that time, and I’m sure that there were exceptions to this. I think in 1908 at least it would be rare for children from working farms to attend University. In general, a post-secondary education didn’t become a common place thing until the mid-to-late 1900s; it certainly wasn’t common when my mom reached University age. I imagine that the students in 1908 were probably children of merchants or academics, from families with money where intellectual pursuits weren’t seen as a waste of time. And while they didn’t have TV, they may have had electricity. Calgary got electricity in 1889, and I certainly hope it didn’t take 19 years to make it 300km further north.
I didn't look very hard, but here's a picture from Edmonton, 1908.