Central School Once Single Room Under Eye of Teacher, by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 12 December, 1957

School Building, 1850

The first Carleton Place Common School was replaced at the same Bridge Street site, by the original form of the present Central School in 1870. The old school was enlarged in 1850 as described by James Poole in volume I of the Carleton Place Herald :

Our school house has been improved during the past year by erection of an addition some fifty feet in length. The school house is now in the form of a letter T, with a front of fifty feet to the street and measuring 48 feet from front to rear at the widest part, the wings being 24 feet wide. It is so arranged that the whole can be under the eye of one teacher, or if desirable a part of it can be shut off with folding doors and used either as a female school or as a juvenile department to the male school.

The building committee intends to have a porico put up. Outhouses have been erected and the whole ground, about a third of an acre, has been neatly enclosed with a good substantial fence. It only remains to have the building painted and a few trees set out in the grounds to make it everything that can be desired as a village school house.

Yearly rates payable for cheap education by an efficient teacher in the new school were advertised by the trustees of Beckwith school section No. 11, after the school had remained vacant for a few months in 1852 for want of a teacher.

Private classes offering tuition for young ladies also opened at this time in Carleton Place when in 1851 a Miss Roy opened a day school, quoting rates of 4 pounds per year for English only and 6 pounds for English, Music, French and Drawing. Miss Margaret Bell also announced a school for young ladies to be opened by her at her mother’s home. Several years later she was the teacher of the local community school.

Grammar School

The first high school facilities in Carleton Place were provided in about 1852. Their establishment accompanied appointment by the Governor General of town residents – Robert Bell, James Duncan and James Rosamond as associate members of the Board of Trustees for superintending grammar schools in the united counties of Lanark and Renfrew. Peter McLaren, when teacher of the Carleton Place Grammar School, obtained his Queen’s College B.A. Degree in 1853. The common school board and the high or grammar school trustees were united, about this time, as they continued to be for many years. The pupils of both schools shared the same building. Samuel G. Cram (1838-1915), son of David Cram of Beckwith, was later head of the old Grammar School.

Quarterly examinations exercises, reported to be so neglected by parents in 1848, were found commanding parental attendance at Carleton Place twelve years later, as told in James Poole’s press reports of midsummer and year-end school exercises here :

An examination of the pupils of the Union Grammar and Common School at Carleton Place, under the charge of F. S. Haight, M.A., took place on July 19, 1860, previous to the summer vacation. The forenoon was devoted to the examination of the several classes in reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, with French, Latin, geometry, etc. In the evening essays and other compositions were read, and addresses delivered, by some of the more advanced scholars. The spectators now amounted to several hundreds. Pieces of music were performed by the scholars. We noted the essays on Scotland, Mahomet, Astronomy and Education as being particularly worthy. The exercises were closed with an address by Rev. W. C. Clarke of Lanark.”

Christmas Party

An account of the year-end school exercises of the same year tells of the first community Christmas party in Carleton Place to be placed on public record :

The Carleton Place Union Grammar and Common School closed its fourth term for 1860 on December 22nd, and was examined by Rev. John McKinnon. Grammar school prizes were awarded in arithmetic, spelling and composition, grammar and three classes of geography. On the evening of December 24th the teacher and senior pupils gave a soiree to the inhabitants of the Section.

The spacious school house, which has recently been thoroughly repaired, was beautifully decorated with evergreens and flowers and lighted up with a great variety of candles and coloured lamps. Vocal and instrumental music enlivened the scene. It gives us great pleasure to state that music is cultivated in this school to a greater extent than any other school with which we are acquainted.

Robert Bell Esq., M.P.P. Presided and Rev. Mr. McKinnon opened with prayer. Orations and addresses in different languages were delivered by some of the senior pupils which did them great credit. We give a list of the most prominent, viz., David Duff, Salutory ; Rufus Teskey, Greek oration ; Wm. Sinclair, English oration for abolition of capital punishment ; Josiah Jones Bell, 1845-1931, French oration ; John M. Sinclair, 1842-1926, English oration, on evils of intemperance ; D. McKinnon, Latin oration.

Some pieces of composition by the female pupils were then read by Miss H. Halcroft which showed that the young women attending the school were determined not to be distanced by their male competitors. A presentation of an elegant writing desk was made by the senior class of boys to the teacher, F. S. Haight, M.A. The evening’s entertainment closed with an excellent address to the pupils by Rev. John McMorine, ‘God Save the Queen’, and benediction by Rev. Mr. Halcroft.

On Tuesday evening the scholars, parents and trustees were again invited to the school house, which was well lighted up. In the centre stood a Christmas tree, twinkling with wax tapers and loaded with useful and ornamental articles in endless variety. Every pupil plucked some of this fruit, and seemed to be delighted with the proceedings.”

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