Story of High Schools Goes Back 114 Years, Carleton Place Canadian, 15 March, 1962

The story of high schools in Carleton Place is a lengthy one with many interesting sidelights (sic sidelines).

The corner stone of the present High School (Prince of Wales High School) was laid in 1923 and under it was placed a scroll containing the following information:

The High School has made many moves since it was started about 75 years ago (about 1848) as a Grammar School. . Mr. Nelson, a highly educated gentleman, was the first teacher.  The first building used was a frame one on the Central School grounds.

From there it was moved to Hurd’s Hall on Bell Street, being the upper flat of the building for many years known as McKay’s Bakery.  After that the present Holiness Church on the corner of Bridge and Herriott Streets, was used for a short time.  Then the north-east room in the present Central School was used.

From here it was moved to Newman’s Hall, in the rooms now occupied as temporary quarters for a High and a Public School class.  This school went back again to the Central School building for a short time, until the present used building on High Street was ready for occupation in 1882.

Note: Newman’s Hall is the building now occupied by the Brewers’ Retail Store and the school on High Street is the present Prince of Wales School.

For nearly 30 years the people of Carleton Place were considering the question of better school accommodation, but owing to the exigencies of the times, such as loss of population, removal of industries and expenditures on other public undertakings, small progress was made.

However, with the rapid growth of the rising generation during the past few years, we have become convinced that more school accommodation should be provided.

Early in 1922 it was decided to build a High School.  Messrs. Richards & Abra of Ottawa were selected as architects, a plan was adopted, the estimated cost being placed at $100,000.  A building committee was appointed composed of J. M. Brown, chairman, A. E. Cram, Alfred McNeely and W. J. Muirhead.

On the 12th of June, 1922, the Council submitted the question to the electorate who pronounced in favor of granting the aforesaid sum by a vote of 412 for to 79 against.

The scroll concluded with a list of the contractors.

On January 3, 1924, the present High School was opened at an impressive ceremony.

The Canadian’s files recount some of the turbulence that accompanied building of schools, including a riot which once decided the place for the town hall. 

Howard M. Brown, who has written countless articles on the early history of the town, records that in the 1870’s came municipal incorporation, the building of a town hall on Edmund Street (now Victoria School) and finally the provision of a High School on High Street.

The school was built in 1877 by the Board of Education.  The succeeding administration, supporting objections to its location refused to accept the school and in 1879 began converting the town hall into classrooms.  After public and private litigation and a long and bitter municipal feud the High School was occupied as such.

The town hall settled into service as a combination Public School and village lock-up.