The Talbotville School


By Morley Thomas 


I started to school on the Monday after Easter Holidays in April 1925. Fergus Heidt, an older neighbour boy, was asked to see that I got there safely. Alvin Longhurst started to school the same day and just before 4 o’clock that afternoon the teacher, Mrs. Annie Hicks, wrote ten words on the blackboard for our spelling homework!  She was a veteran teacher and believed in homework! In contrast, a year later, when Eleanor Turville was our teacher, she left our class – Alvin, Jack Kwasek and I – alone to play with plasticene for extended periods each day when she was busy with other classes.

      The Auckland family was probably more connected to the Talbotville school than many families. My maternal grandmother, Catherine Thomas Auckland, had been an eleven-year old pupil when the brick schoolhouse was built in 1874. The Thomas Thomas family lived on the Bostwick Line, now Wonderland Road, a mile and a quarter east of the school and Catherine and her siblings walked through the woods and fields to school each day.

      Then, in 1907, when Catherine she and her husband John Auckland moved with their family to Talbotville some of my uncles and an aunts attended the school. A few years later, in January 1913, my mother, then Alice Auckland, became the Talbotville schoolteacher and taught there until her marriage in 1916. Later, in 1921-1922, after Mother had been widowed and we were living with the Auckland family, she taught the

junior room for a year. The schoolhouse had been divided into two classrooms but, the next summer, the partition was removed and over the next few years, Mrs. Hicks was the teacher. However, she was often ill and Mother substituted for her; on those occasions our telephone would ring at 7 a.m. when Mrs. Hicks would ask Mother to substitute for her.

      My grandfather, John Auckland, participated actively in the annual school meetings and served as trustee for one term. By the 1920s, two of my uncles, Walter and Ralph Auckland, began to take active parts in these meetings, which were held in Christmas holidays each year. I remember their discussions at the Auckland noontime dinner table following those meetings.

      I passed the Entrance in June 1931 and had no reason to be interested in the Talbotville school for more than thirty years. Then, more than thirty years later, in 1969, I was invited to speak at a school-closing social gathering on the afternoon of Saturday, June 28. My platform was a hay-wagon in the schoolyard. I spoke about a few of my memories and recited some historical facts although I actually then knew so little about the history of the school. Now, after I have had the opportunity of examining the Treasurer’s Account Book(1859-1928) and the Trustees’ Minute Book (1910-1964), I could probably give a much better speech than I did more than thirty years ago.

      These books are in the possession of Don Cosens who purchased them from the estate of Elmer Auckland. I am unaware of any published .histories of the Talbotville school except for an account written by Mark Wallis and published in 1896 by the St. Thomas Southern Counties Journal. (These school section histories were reprinted in 1971 as A Pioneer History: Elgin County.). Since the Minutes of the trustees meetings are not available before 1910 and the financial Accounts after 1928, this account is in no way a complete history of the school section. But, using the available information, I have tried to make this an interesting collection of accounts dealing with the schoolhouse, the trustees, the teachers and the pupils. In addition I have added paragraphs dealing with school caretaking, heating, general repairs, school supplies and the schoolyard. I have also included lists of teachers, pupils, and trustees.. 

      The Trustees’ Books 

The major sources for the history of the Talbotville school section are books in the possession of Don Cosens off St. Thomas – The Treasurer’s Account Book that covers the period from 1859 to 1928 and the Trustees’ Minute Book for the period from 1910 to 1964.

      The first expenditure recorded in the Treasurer’s book is an item for $2.75, which must relate to the cost of the book when it was purchased from McLachlan and Geddes in February 1859. The book measures 8 1/2 by 13 inches and has a sufficient number of pages to cover all the accounts from 1859 to 1928. The 9 by 14-inch Trustees’ minute book was purchased from R. McLachlin in January 1910 for $1.20. Only the first 133 pages were used before the school section was dissolved in 1964. The format of the minutes remained remarkably unchanged over the period of record. Details of every annual meeting were recorded but records of the trustees’ meetings during the year were not always entered into the book.

Morley Thomas  2009                             

 Table of Contents 


The Trustees’ Books 

Chapter  1 The School Section

    The Annual School Meeting 

Chapter  2 Early School Houses


    A Township School ? 

Chapter  3 The Trustees

    The Teachers

    The Pupils 

Chapter  4 School Revenue



    General Repairs

    School Supplies 

Chapter 5 The School Yard 

 Chapter 1 

The School Section 

In 1846 a provincial Act empowered the townships to officially delineate school sections and ruled that the schools become “free schools” supported by local taxes and government grants rather than by fees from parents. The Five Stakes (Talbotville) section was labeled School Section No. 6 and in 1854 the new Southwold Township council legally fixed its boundaries – the town line between Southwold and Westminster on the north, the Bostwick Line (now called Wonderland and Ford Roads) on the east, Edgeware Road (now called Major Line) on the south and lots 37 North and South on the west. A few years later, lots 37 and 38 were given to School Section No. 7, the Payne’s Mills school section. The boundaries then remained unchanged until the school sections were dissolved more than one hundred years later.  

The Annual School Meeting 

Thee 1840 Common School Act called for the election of three trustees in each section, outlined the responsibilities of the county councils for education, and called for the appointment of paid District school superintendents. During the 1930s, and perhaps for a much longer period, the annual meeting of Talbotville school section ratepayers was held in the schoolhouse at 10 a.m. on a day, usually a Wednesday, between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Attendance varied from a very few, six or seven people, to a turnout of more than thirty when a controversial topic was on the agenda. The current chairman of the board of trustees opened each annual meeting and the first item of business was the election of a chairman and a secretary for the meeting. Then, in a program order which did not vary over the years, the elected chairman would ask for the reading of the minutes of the previous annual meeting and various reports including the trustees’ report, the auditors’ report, and in later years, the inspector’s report. Sometimes there was also a report from the medical officer of health. Unfortunately these reports were not saved and so there is no record of what was in most of them or of the resulting discussion.

      At the meetings motions were made authorizing the trustees to buy school supplies and caretaking items, to contract for repairs to the schoolhouse and, in later years, to pay the secretary-treasurer a specific amount for his work the previous year. There undoubtedly must have been discussion on these and other items that did not lead to motions but in general such discussions were never reported in the minutes. Sometimes there was a motion to hire a new teacher stating the salary but at other times this matter was left to the trustees and no record is available. A ratepayers’ auditor was elected at each annual meeting to examine the books at the end of the year in company with a second auditor to be named later by the trustees.

      The final item of business at each annual school meeting was the nomination and election of a ratepayer to serve as a trustee for the next three years. (There were three trustees and each was elected for a three-year term.) In the early years, there were closely contested elections as indicated by the number of votes obtained by each candidate recorded in the Minute Book. (Remarkably, these elections were held by an open show of hands until 1951 when secret balloting was adopted). Often, especially in the last thirty years in the life of the school section, the retiring trustee was re-elected. A motion was then adopted that the meeting be adjourned.

      After World War II some innovations were introduced. At the annual meetings in earlier years the custom had been for the treasurer to simply read the financial statements but now the need for copies of the reports prior to the meeting was expressed; after a few years a duplicating machine was purchased to produce copies. The ratepayers periodically asked that the insurance on the building be increased and the need for obtaining liability insurance against accidents to the children was considered. The annual premium for fire insurance, purchased at first from a private company and later from a mutual company, amounted to but $1.20 a year in the early 1900s.  

Chapter 2 

Early Schoolhouses 

In 1807, the Upper Canada House of Assembly passed an Act calling for the establishment of a grammar school in each District. Several years later, a London District school was established at Vittoria near today’s Simcoe. In 1816, a year before the first settlers arrived in the Five Stakes (Talbotville) area, another Act called for each township to make arrangements to establish common schools. Ten years later, in 1827, the Five Stakes community, probably without appreciable assistance from the township or the provincial government, built the first Five Stakes school.

      The schoolhouse was a log building at the northwest corner of the intersection of the Back and North Streets on lot 40 North. A couple of years later a second log schoolhouse was built on the other side of North Street on lot 41 East. In those years conditions at most common schools in rural Upper Canada left a lot to be desired – the quality of teachers was poor, the teachers lacked training and their pay was usually less than that of a common labourer.

      Until the Upper Canada House of Assembly passed the Common School Acts in the 1840s there was very little financial support from the government for schools and parents had to pay fees to have their children attend. “School sections” were being determined throughout the townships at this time and in 1843 the Five Stakes community built a frame schoolhouse on the North Street a quarter of a mile or so north of the Corner but in the centre of the section. At about this time the school was first identified as School Section No. 6, Southwold.

      No documents are available to indicate the cost of building the frame schoolhouse but it is most likely that taxpayers of the section paid for the building. (Twenty years later, in 1861, the census enumerator placed a value of $400 on the building.) It was built on lot 43 East owned by Daniel Bowlby. It was not until 1858 that the trustees purchased the school lot from Daniel’s brother Isaac, then the owner. Census data from 1851, 1861 and 1871 reveal that there were usually more than eighty children of school age living in the school section so even without compulsory school attendance the building must have been overcrowded in most years. Often there must have been too many pupils to be handled by one teacher and, in fact, two teachers may have been employed in 1866-67 and again in 1872.

      The frame schoolhouse served the community for thirty years until a white brick building was erected in 1874. When the building of a brick schoolhouse was being discussed there must have been considerable controversy over its location. The 1843 schoolhouse had been located very close to the centre of the section, probably as suggested or mandated by the School Acts. However, it was a quarter of a mile north of the Talbotville road intersection or “Corner” which was always recognized as the community centre around which the church, stores, hotels and most village houses were located. Some ratepayers must have wanted the new brick school to be erected at the Corner since on January 11, 1873, the school trustees paid $15 to “McDougal for defending suit on school site.” This suggests that some ratepayers may have threatened the trustees with a lawsuit over the location of the new schoolhouse.

      The trustees’ books reveal that the new schoolhouse with new stoves, new desks, and so on cost the section ratepayers a considerable sum of money and there is no record of financial support from governments at any level. When the “special rate for [the new] schoolhouse” tax was collected from the taxpayers in 1874 and added to the general school tax, the total school t ax amounted to nearly $2,000, a remarkable increase from the $491 school tax of the previous year.

      The contract for erecting the new building was given to Robert Barr for $1,450 and he received an advance payment of $290 in June 1874. The school trustees purchased 2,400 brick from Warren Smith in July for $14.40 and Lindley Smith, Henry Widdifield, and John Ayerst teamed the brick to the site and were each paid $3.00. Since the trustees made no payments for lumber and other building materials it is apparent that the builder supplied these as part of the contract. When Mr. Barr received a final payment of $290 in January 1875 his payments totaled $1,748, some $300 above the contracted amount.

      A new well was dug for $20 and Peter Boughner supplied a pump for $10. Other costs associated with the new building included $12 to McClary for a new stove (two old ones were sold to Charles Waite and H. Branton for $7.10), $135 to McCormick for desks and, a year or so later, $19.63 to William Bowlby for building new privies. A school bell and rope cost $14.72 and someone was paid $5 to hang the bell.  


For about twenty years the schoolhouse served the community without major repairs. Then, in December 1893, when there was concern over the general condition of the building, J.B. Long was paid $3.50 to travel to Talbotville and “estimate and report on [the] school house.” There is no indication of what needed repairing but, the next July, $61.81 worth of lumber was purchased from Henry Lindop and repair work was done by W. Marsden for $83, by Samuel Smith for $42 and by Matthias Smith for $42. Eaves- troughs were installed and the school lot was tiled the same summer. Few repairs were made over the next several years indicating that the 1894 repairs put the building in good shape. The value of the school property was estimated at $1400 to $1600 in the 1911 to 1916 period.

      By 1917-18 the school was again overcrowded with fifty to sixty pupils in attendance and undoubtedly pressure was put on the trustees by the inspector and the parents to do something. So, in February 1918, a special ratepayers meeting was held to discuss whether or not to repair the building or build a new schoolhouse. At the meeting the ratepayers overwhelmingly defeated a motion to build but a motion to have the present building repaired passed handily. The trustees then accepted an offer from Wm. Van Horne to remodel the school for $855, which he did in the summer of 1919.

      But overcrowding remained and the ratepayers were urged, probably by the school inspector, to consider joining with a nearby section or sections to build a schoolhouse with two or more rooms. However, at the 1920 annual school meeting, the ratepayers adopted a motion that stated “the consolidation of schools is not deemed advisable.” Then, in April 1921, the trustees attempted to solve the overcrowding by deciding to repair the old Temperance Hall in the village to fit it for school purposes. William Bowlby was hired and made $78 worth of repairs. A local veteran teacher, Mrs.  Annie Hicks, was hired to teach some classes at the hall, a caretaker was hired and some adjacent land rented for a play yard.

      Mrs Hicks began teaching in the Hall but apparently some parents were unhappy with conditions there since a special ratepayers’ meeting was called a month later, in May 1921, to deal with the situation. A motion to properly improve the old Temperance Hall for school purposes was defeated and motions were passed asking the trustees to seek estimates for either building a new two-roomed school or for adding a wing to the existing structure.

      The ratepayers at the meeting also struck a committee to contact adjacent school sections to examine the possibility of their joining with Talbotville to build a “consolidated” schoolhouse where two or more school sections would send their pupils. (There is no record of their findings.) It is unlikely that either of these proposals were carried out since a later motion to have the schoolhouse partitioned to make two rooms carried.

       So the hall site was abandoned after three months and William Bowlby erected a partition in the schoolhouse in August for $270. Two teachers, Miss Harriet Hansley and Mrs. Alice Thomas were hired for the 1921-22 school year and classes began in two rooms that September. There is no record of any discussion at the December 1921 annual meeting about the advantages and disadvantages of the two-room school but an anonymous correspondent wrote to the St. Thomas Times-Journal two weeks later stating that “a number of warm discussions” had taken place at the meeting. It was reported “A number expressed the opinion that a capable teacher to teach these two small rooms could have been hired for less than $2,100 [the total amount paid to the two teachers].” and that many ratepayers thought that “the section’s money has been handed out a little too lavishly.” Apparently the trustees listened since, in June 1922, they advertised for a teacher to teach the whole school. A few days later Annie Hicks accepted the position for $1,200 and, in August, William Bowlby removed the partition.  

A Township School ? 

But discussions about a possible school consolidation, which would answer the overcrowding problem and probably see the abandonment of the Talbotville school, must have continued. At the December 1925 annual meeting the ratepayers adopted a motion stating they were against a proposed Township Trustee Board (which would lead to consolidation and eliminate the local trustees) and instructed that a letter be sent to the Minister of Education condemning the idea. But pressure on the trustees to do something lessened as the school population declined over the next couple of decades from about sixty pupils in 1922-23 to fifty-one in 1925 and to forty in 1928. (When I attended the school in the 1925 to 1931 period there were usually between forty and forty-five pupils each year.). More than twenty years passed, after the Depression of the 1930s and World War II, before there is any record of the matter of a consolidated school being raised again at an annual meeting.

      On June 28, 1950, a special meeting was held in the schoolhouse to discuss the overcrowded conditions. Thirty-one people were present when Mr. McColl, the inspector, explained about staggering classes and told how other school sections were handling overcrowding. A recommendation that the trustees hire a second teacher and find accommodation in the village did not get support – perhaps because the old Temperance Hall had been razed in 1930. Nothing was decided at this meeting.

      At the December 1950 annual meeting there was an open discussion on the subject after which the meeting adopted a resolution calling for a small temporary building be erected (perhaps an early portable?) and a second teacher be hired. But this did not happen. Then, at the 1951 annual meeting, the trustees, led by Lester Longhurst, presented building options to the ratepayers. They were asked whether or not a new wing to the school should have one or two rooms and whether on not there should be a basement. The unanimous decision, by a vote of 36 to 0, was that a wing with a basement with heating equipment for the whole school be built at an estimated cost of $1,900, the lowest cost option. Further, the meeting agreed that a well costing an estimated $1,200 be drilled. An amendment that called for the trustees to hire a bus to transport the senior pupils to Fingal each day instead of building was defeated 25 to 3 by the ratepayers in attendance. 

      The costs of the accepted tender for the school addition were thoroughly discussed and some ratepayers were somewhat disturbed to learn that the heating costs with the new wing might run to $100 a month and asked the trustees “to keep a close watch on this.” It is interesting that the construction costs were not further debated indicating that perhaps a provincial grant was expected to cover the capital costs of the building. Those at the meeting moved “a hearty vote of thanks to the trustees for their extra work of the past year.” The new wing was completed in time for use in the fall of 1952.  

      After a few years with the new wing in place and the overcrowding alleviated, interest in school affairs began to fall off. Attendance at the annual meetings that had averaged about twenty people in the 1950s fell off to six to nine in the 1960s. Minutes of the annual school meetings in the 1960s give no indication that the trustees anticipated that the Township of Southwold council would soon mandate school consolidation. Nor is there any indication as to whether or not the ratepayers were unhappy that the local school might be closed. The township’s decision to have a township board and close the school came into effect in 1964 but the school actually lasted five years longer than the trustee board, which was dissolved in 1964, because classes continued at Talbotville until the consolidated school at Middlemarch on Front Street was constructed. During this time the Talbotville school was administered by the township school board. 

Chapter 3 

The Trustees 

Three elected trustees were responsible for maintaining the schoolhouse, for hiring the teachers and for paying their salaries. The trustees were ratepayers in the school section and were elected by their peers at the annual school meetings. They worked within guidelines issued by the Education Department in Toronto.

       From 1844 until 1871, in addition to the trustees, there was a paid Southwold Township school superintendent and legally named School Visitors who were drawn from the ranks of the clergy, judges and municipal officials. It is believed that the superintendent and the visitors visited the schools occasionally and reported any shortcomings to the trustees.

      After 1871 a school inspector was appointed for each school district, which consisted of one or more townships, and he periodically visited the schools to assess both the work of the teacher and the physical condition of the schoolhouse. A visit from the inspector was a major event and dreaded by most teachers. The inspector’s report was delivered to the trustees who were responsible for making any necessary improvements to the physical conditions of the schoolhouse and for dismissing the teacher if the inspector recommended such action. Another check on the activities of the teacher and trustees was the opportunity for ratepayers to voice their dissatisfaction, if any, at the annual school meeting. It was democracy at the local grass-roots level!

      The public school trustees were elected for three-year periods and served as volunteers without a salary or honorarium. After each annual meeting the new trustee met with the two continuing trustees and elected a chairman and a secretary-treasurer for the next year. Quite often the same trustee was named to both posts and at other times someone who was not a trustee was named secretary-treasurer. This job was a significant one but it was 1910 before there is record of any honorarium being voted for the secretary-treasurer.

      The trustees must of had very little correspondence since the postage costs in hiring a teacher were about the only postage noted in the Treasurer’s account book; once a telegram was sent in an effort to hire a teacher and its cost is noted. Frequently a dollar or two was paid for advertising for a new teacher in the St. Thomas newspaper and on occasion in the London and Toronto papers.

      Except in a few instances, the names of the trustees are not known prior to 1910 but after that the Trustees’ Minute Book contains the results of the voting for a new trustee each year. Mark Wallis wrote that in 1844 the first trustees had been Patrick Burns, Henry Stringer and David Gilbert. In 1858, when the lot on which the schoolhouse was located was purchased, William Bowlby, Jacob Smith, Samuel Smith, Sidney Boughner, and John Allworth signed for the school section. It is reasonable to assume that one or more of these men were trustees at that time. Nor were the names of the secretary-treasurers recorded in the Treasurer’s Account Book. But from handwriting and other clues it appears that Alexander Knox took over those duties in 1859 from Sidney Boughner.                

      It is interesting to note that in 1874, perhaps because of major expenses that year for the new school, auditors were first named to check the secretary-treasurer’s books. At the annual meeting that December John Stacey was elected ratepayers’ auditor and the next month he and George Hicks, the trustees’ auditor, audited the books and signed that they had found them to be correct and that all vouchers had been produced and inspected. Edmund P. Boughner was first appointed an auditor in 1885 and over the following forty-three years he acted in that role twenty-nine times. The last ratepayers’ auditor, Ralph Auckland, was appointed in 1945; perhaps professional auditors were employed for the final twenty years of the local trustees’ authority.

      For the first few years of the twentieth century the tradition of regularly changing trustees continued which meant that many ratepayers were involved in administering the school. Then, from 1924 through 1929, the retiring trustee was re-elected each year and three trustees –  Sam Burtwistle, William Auckland and James Fife – served together for these five years. Earlier in this period, trustees who served often were James Travers and John Barnes for six years each and Ben Haines for five years. From 1929 to 1964 only sixteen different trustees served indicating that most ratepayers either did not want to devote time to trustee’s duties or that they were satisfied with the way the school was being administered. An example of this occurs in the 1936 to 1942 period when three trustees – Norman Brokenshire, Sam Burtwistle and George Clinton – served together over the seven-year period.

      Sam Burtwistle’s twenty-four years of service made him the longest serving trustee in the history of the school section. He was first elected for 1922 and was re-elected every third year until he withdrew his nomination in December 1946. He was then named secretary/treasurer by the board at a salary of $50 a year. Three years later, at the December 1949 annual meeting, John Burtwistle, his son, was named to replace him and he served as secretary-treasurer until the board was dissolved fifteen years later. Two other families, the Clintons and the Brokenshires, were also well represented on the school board over the last decades. George Clinton and his son Reg served for a total of twenty-three years and the Brokenshires, Norman and his sons Robert and James, were close behind with a total of twenty years on the board.

      After World War II, when an increasing number of ratepayers worked in London or St. Thomas in urban jobs, it is interesting to note that the trustees remained chiefly farmers. Besides the families just named, other farming families such as the Longhursts and the Fifes were prominent on the board during these years. It is also noteworthy that these farm families all resided and farmed on the North Street in the northern portion of the section. 

The Teachers 

In 1896 Mark Wallis wrote that the first school was conducted by Solomon Savarine in 1827 and that other teachers in the period before 1844 included a Mr. Price, Samuel M. Fassett, Myron H. Rowley, Leonard Bisbee, a Miss Spackman and Jos. Orchard. Several of these early teachers were immigrants from the United States such as. Fassett also opened a beer store and taught music. He lived in Five Stakes for only a year before he died in 1834. Rowley came in 1831 and attempted to be a storekeeper before teaching for two years in the 1840s. Bisbee may have been the last teacher in the log schoolhouse.

      Wallis reported that the teachers in the frame schoolhouse, between 1844 and 1858, were Wallace, Ralph, Campbell, Lindsay, Olmstead, and Fraser. The 1850-51 minutes of the Southwold Township Council show two “school appropriations” for S. S. No 6 – seventeen pounds, three shillings and ten pence to A.H. Fraser and two pounds, seventeen shillings and half a penny to Robert Darch, both presumably the teachers that year. Fraser was also the 1851 census enumerator for the local district; he enumerated himself a schoolteacher and may have taken leave from the school to conduct the census.

      In the thirty years from 1844 to 1873 most teachers taught for only a year or so at Five Stakes/Talbotville before moving on although Donald Graham taught for three years from 1863 to 1865. John Walker, his successor, had previously taught at the Grammar Schools in St. Thomas and Sarnia before retiring to St. Thomas in 1859. He was from Argyleshire, Scotland, was well educated, spoke Gaelic and was a frequent contributor to the newspapers of the day. He came out of retirement to teach at Talbotville and continued to live in St. Thomas. He reportedly walked both ways each school day in 1866 and 1867.

      In 1874 Peter McAlpine was the last teacher in the old frame school building and the first to teach in the new brick school that fall. After employing several teachers in the old school during the 1860s there was stability in the teaching ranks for a few years in the new school. The longest serving teachers between 1875 and 1900 were Douglas DeCow who taught from 1877 to 1879, W.L. Mackenzie, who taught from 1887 to 1890, and May Dalgleish, who taught from 1897 to 1900.

      Over the years there were several teachers who had grown up in the community or had moved to the school section as children. The 1859 teacher, Ann Reilly, the first woman teacher employed at Talbotville, was the daughter of Five Stakes pioneer Isaac Reilly (lot 44 East). Eleanor Burns, probably the daughter of Patrick Burns who purchased lot C in 1826, taught for a month in 1866. Years later, in 1890, Frederick Voaden, who had also earlier been a pupil at the school, taught for several weeks. The son of James Voaden, who came to lot 40 North in 1866, he was later principal of the Port Stanley school. George Hicks, who had been a pupil in the 1870s, taught for a few weeks in 1892. He was the son of James Hicks who came to lot 41 East in the 1860s. Then, in 1894, the teacher was Annie Fearnley, perhaps the daughter of George Fearnley, a farmer who later purchased a farm and lived on lot E. The Phineas Drake who taught in 1901 was a descendant of Phineas Drake, a pioneer who settled on lot 38 South in 1818.

      Other local girls who taught the school include Annie (Gunning) Hicks and Alice (Auckland) Thomas although neither had been a pupil at S S No 6. Annie Gunning, daughter of William Gunning, who came to lot 42 East in 1903, taught the school in 1903-04. After her marriage she taught again in the 1921-25 period as Annie Hicks. Alice Auckland, the daughter of John Auckland who purchased a farm on lot A in 1904, taught the school from 1913 to 1916. As Alice Thomas, a widow, she taught the junior room in 1921-1922 and frequently substituted for Annie Hicks when the latter was ill in the 1924 to 1926 period.

      There were only a few woman teachers between Miss Reilly in 1859 and Miss Fearnley in 1894 – Eleanor Burns, a Miss McDermaid, and Kate McIntyre. However, in the 1890s, Miss Fearnley was followed by three more ladies over the next six-year period – Minnie Law, Maud Bennett and May Dalgleish. After 1903, except for three brief periods when a man taught for a month or two, all the teachers were women. Unfortunately there seems to be no complete record of those who taught the school between Miss Carolyn Campbell in the early 1930s and Mrs. Gwendolyn (Goff) Beal who, according to a newspaper story at the time the school closed, taught from 1944 to 1957. Nine former teachers were reported to have been present at the closing reunion in 1969.but unfortunately their names were not given in the newspaper story.

      There is no record of the teachers’ salaries prior to the purchase of an account book for the treasurer in 1859. That year Ann Reilly was paid $220. In the 1860s salaries were higher and averaged $340. Salaries were still higher in the 1870s and averaged $400 for several years. With better times in the 1880s, when farmers had increased incomes for their grain and livestock, salaries were increased to $490. But there were poor times again in the 1890s and the teachers’ salaries fell to less than $300, more than a third lower than they had been twenty year earlier. Times became more prosperous after the turn of the century and $500 became a standard annual salary for a few years before 1910.

      Salaries edged up during the Great War and exceeded $900 by 1920. Inflation in the early 1920s took salaries as high as $1,350 before leveling out at about $1,100 by the end of the decade. Financial records are incomplete after 1928 but most rural schoolteachers took significant cuts in their salaries during the Depression. (For example, at a Dunwich Township school, my mother’s salary dropped from $1,000 in 1929 to $400 in 1932.) Salaries began to increase in the late 1930s and by 1959 salaries at the Talbotville school had climbed above the $3,000 level.

      It is clear that prior to modern times the trustees were never prepared to pay women teachers as much as they paid men. For example, in 1894, when Miss Fearnley succeeded James Tiller she was paid $300 compared to the $400 he had received the previous year. In the early years teachers were not paid on a monthly basis but rather when the money became available to the trustees. In 1884, when the municipal grant of $56 was received in February it was paid directly to the teacher as was the August legislative grant of $53. These grants decreased over the years as explained in a following section. By the 1890s the trustees began paying salary installments every month or two from the tax-raised portion of the salary.

      Two and a half percent deductions were made from teachers’ salaries after the passage of a provincial Teachers Superannuation Act. in 1917 as premiums towards a pension. The legislative grant was reduced by that percentage and the trustees recouped by deducting that percentage from the salary paid to the teacher. Sometimes the salary was dependent on the degree of overcrowding in the school. In 1922-23 when there were about 60 pupils, an undated report from the inspector to the trustees reads in part – “There is a very large attendance … too many pupils for an average teacher to teach successfully…The Board should face the situation squarely. Paying the teacher a large salary has not solved the problem. It would appear that the solution lies in building a modern two-room school or in renovating the old school and building a modern wing.”

      In the early 1930s music instruction began at the school after the ratepayers at an annual meeting supported the trustees’ earlier decision to buy a piano and hire a music teacher. All went well for twenty years until there was apparently so much dissatisfaction expressed by parents with the teaching that the ratepayers adopted a motion hat “music be discontinued till a different teacher is secured.” 

The Pupils 

Neither the Trustees’ Minute Book nor the Treasurer’s Account Book contains any indication of the number of pupils attending the school each year. It is not until the 1890s that pupil attendance records are available although there are means to make good estimates  Beginning in the 1890s school photographs are available from some years but a few pupils may have been absent on the days the photographs were taken. Class standings and pupil promotions were often published in a St. Thomas paper but only two of these have been found.

      However, the decadal census enumerations of 1851-52, 1861 and 1871 have been examined to get an indication of the number of school-age children living in the school section. It was assumed that few if any children would be sent to school at an age less than six years and that most pupils, especially in the early years, would have left school by the age of fifteen. Accordingly the potential school population data that follow are based on those children in the school section between the ages of six and fourteen, next birthdays. In later census years (1881, 1891 and 1901), comparing the census data with the school photographs reveals that, for one reason or another, the school attendance totals were only about three-quarters of the number of school-age children enumerated in a census year.

      It is likely that the 1843 frame schoolhouse was often overcrowded since inspection of the decadal census data indicates that there were in excess of seventy-five children between the ages of six and fourteen, on their next birthdays, living in the school section during the 1850s and the 1860s. In 1851 the school section had a population of about 500 people of which eighty-three were children between the ages of six and fourteen next birthdays. Attendance was not compulsory so the estimated attendance that year is sixty pupils. 

      The North Branch of the Talbot Road was surveyed in 1811. The war of 1812 interrupted Colonel Talbot’s plan for settlement and it was 1817-18 before settlers were allocated land along the road in the area that later became School Section No 6. Thirty-five years later, in 1851, of the eighty or so children of school age in the section, more than half were descendants with the same pioneer names. These were twelve Smith children of school age, nine Bowlbys, six Mitchells, four Lyons, four Rileys, four Boughners, two Hannons and one Lemon. In addition there were eight Burns, Hetherington and Webb children whose ancestors had purchased land and moved into the community by 1837. 

      The 1861 census enumerator noted that the Talbotville school could hold 100 scholars and was valued at $400. (For contrast he noted that the local church could hold 300 people and was valued at $500.) There were eighty-two youngsters of school age (6 to 14 years next birthday) in 1861 and applying the three-quarters rule the estimated attendance in 1861 was sixty. In 1871, when exact ages were recorded, it is estimated that there were fifty-six pupils. It appears that two teachers were employed in 1867 and perhaps again in 1872 indicating that the trustees had the building divided into two rooms. Perhaps some classes might have been housed elsewhere although there are no expenditures that might be linked to rented space.

      The new 1874 brick schoolhouse appears to have alleviated the overcrowding. Also, there would be fewer pupils in the late 1870s since rural populations in most Ontario counties reached their peak early that decade before beginning to decline. Although analyses have not been attempted using the 1881 and 1891 census enumerations; it is likely that pupil attendance in those years was in the forty-five to fifty-five range. Later in the 1890s, rural population began to increase again.

      The earliest school photograph that can be found was taken on a day in the early 1890s when fifty-four pupils were present. Later, in a Spring 1895 photograph, there were forty-one pupils present. However, in the latter case, pupils may well have been being absent on the photograph day, so it is estimated that perhaps the attendance in the 1890s averaged forty-five pupils. A “Report of Standing,” published in the St. Thomas Evening Journal in May 1898, shows forty-two pupils.

      Photographs in 1899 show thirty-six pupils and in 1901 forty-two pupils while the census that year indicates there were about fifty-five youngsters of school age in the section. Fewer pupils in a photograph may be due to illness while some parents might have been reluctant to send their children to school the day of the picture taking because of their lack of suitable “best” clothes. Also, pupils who lived on the edge of the school section, as in the southeast corner of lot D, may have been pupils at an adjacent school. An instance of this occurred in the late 1890s when three sons of George Auckland, who lived at the rear of lot 43 East on the Bostwick Line), first attended the Talbotville school but later transferred to the Townline school which was closer to their home than the Talbotville school.

      It appears that by 1900, in general, parents were keeping their children in school until they reached the age of fourteen or fifteen. In the 1901 census the number of months each child attended school was recorded. Forty-two pupils had attended the Talbotville school for eight to ten months the previous year and seven had quit school or gone on for higher education in 1901. Not all parents started their children to school at age six since in the Fall of 1901 three six-year olds in the school section were not yet in school. On the other hand three children who were six in early 1901 had already been at school for several months indicating they may have started at age five. There are only twenty-five pupils in the 1902 photograph, forty-one in the 1909 photograph, thirty-seven in 1916 and thirty-eight in 1917. Actual enrollment those years was probably slightly greater than the number indicated by the pictures.

      The register of pupils for the school year 1922-23 (the year after the ratepayers had objected to the cost of two teachers and the two-room concept abandoned) is the earliest one available  In September of that school year Mrs. Annie Hicks’ school register showed fifty-two pupils in six grades. During the year another ten pupils moved into the school section while several pupils moved away. It was a heavy teaching load for which Mrs. Hicks’ contract called for a salary of $1,200 which was increased to $1,350 the next year doubtlessly because she could handle a large school where others had failed. But she was frequently ill, perhaps from the strain, and missed many days at school. In 1925, the year I started to school, the average attendance in June was forty-seven pupils. The total number of pupils registered over the school year 1924-25 year was sixty-seven. Eight in the Entrance Class left in June and three quit school before their Entrance examinations. Three pupils moved away during the calendar year and nine arrived. In 1927, school attendance averaged in the mid-forties but dropped to the mid-thirties by 1931.    

Chapter 4 

School Revenue 

As noted earlier, parents paid fees to send their children to school before “free schools” were mandated in the Common School Acts of the 1840s. At one time the fees amounted to about the equivalent of two dollars a quarter year for each pupil. A local family would often board the teacher and then not have to pay school fees

      There is no information on what revenue the trustees had to operate the school before 1859. That year the Treasurer’s book shows that the trustees received money from three sources – a “legislative” grant from the provincial government, a “municipal” grant from the county and a school tax from each ratepayer in the school section. The trustees hired one or more persons to collect the local school taxes. (This was done apart from the collection of the general Southwold township taxes which was the responsibility of the township council.) Other sources of income over the years were fees from parents of pupils who lived outside the section (ten cents a month for each pupil in one instance), rent when the schoolhouse was used as a polling station during an election and from the occasional sale of surplus supplies such as unused building materials, old stoves, etc. but these amounts were insignificant.

      The total annual revenue obtained by the trustees, from which the teachers’ salaries and all other expenses were paid, increased irregularly from about $300 in 1859 to about $450 in the years just prior to 1874. The annual legislative and municipal grants each amounted to $60 or $70 for the first few years and then dropped to around $50 each. The school taxes collected locally each year increased from less than $200 to more than $300 a year by 1871. There is no indication as to how the size of the grants from the province and the township were determined each year. It is likely that the local school taxes were based on the assessed value of each ratepayer’s property in the section. The local tax collectors received 2% of the tax collected for their efforts. Some of school tax collectors in the 1860s and the early 1870s were Benjamin Knight, Alexander Knox, John Smith, and Walter Roberts.

      To fund the construction of the new schoolhouse in 1874 the section ratepayers were assessed a “special rate for the school[house].” When added to the general school rate the total school tax that year amounted to nearly $2,000, a considerable sum in those days and a remarkable increase from the school tax of $491 the previous year. There is no evidence that money was borrowed or of any assistance received from the county or the province for construction.

      After the schoolhouse was built the revenue from local school taxes ranged from a high of $573 in 1888 to a low of $203 in 1896. The small annual grants from the provincial and municipal governments continued to decrease and in fact the latter grant disappeared entirely after 1896. In 1904 the province began to give grants for specific purposes; a small library grant of $10 was received that year. In 1906, the county provided a special onetime grant of $75 and in 1908 the legislative grant was increased to $136. In 1909 the school section began getting a special, small additional grant for Fifth Class work.

      In 1860 the local school taxes had provided one half of the trustees’ revenue but by 1877 the local taxes had grown to three-quarters of the revenue and this proportion was maintained until 1908 when the government increased its grant. In about 1883 the Township of Southwold took over responsibility for collecting the local school taxes and the money was turned over to the trustees each December.

      With most of their revenue not available until December each year the trustees borrowed money most years to pay the teacher’ salary and other expenses. The first record of this occurring was in 1873 when $100 was borrowed from George Nichol at 3% interest. Later, small amounts were borrowed in different years from such individuals as G.S. Bennett, James Bennett, Isaac Smith, Mr. Ayerst, W.M. Bowlby, and John Coulter. Between 1911 and 1917, Nellie Auckland, a local teacher who taught elsewhere, made five loans, usually of $100 each, in the summer and was paid back at the end of the year. Others lending money to the board during this decade were William Bowlby and J. Hansley. 

      The treasurer’s records are sometimes not too clear on the details of the borrowing but the repayments were always recorded. Despite often having to borrow money late in the calendar year the annual statements reveal that, when the revenue and expenses were tallied, the trustees always ended the year with a surplus to carry over to the next year. These year-end surpluses varied from as low as $36 in 1877 to as high as $581 in 1908.

      By 1909 the provincial system for providing revenue to rural school sections had begun to change. The local school tax remained the principal source of revenue and became many times larger than the legislative and county grants until late in the Great War. The tax money received from Southwold Township came as a municipal grant of $300, which rose to $800 during the Great War and then decreased to $600 in the 1920s.

      The legislative grants from the province were to assist in paying the teacher’s salary. These grants remained at $100 or less until well into wartime when they were increased to reach $500 in 1922.  This grant was then decreased to a little less than $300 by 1928. The Fifth Class grant of less than $100 a year, begun in 1909, disappeared after a few years indicating the class was probably dropped. A few small annual grants from the province and/or the county became available early in the twentieth century – a $16 accommodation and equipment grant beginning in 1909, a $25 extra legislative grant based on the teacher’s qualifications beginning in 1910, a $7 library grant in 1911, and, in wartime, a school garden grant of a few dollars. But these small grants were not too important in the finances of the school section.

      By 1922 borrowing was no longer necessary since the board was carrying a balance of nearly $3,000 at the end of each year. With their balance the trustees periodically invested in debentures that realized up to $100 in annual interest. This “balance on hand from last account” in January of that new year dropped to $1,300 by 1928.

      Without a more recent Treasurers’ Account Book little is known of the income and expenditures at the school over the last forty years of its existence. Also, without the minutes of the trustees’ meetings between the annual meetings, there is no record of what amounts the township was asked to give to the section. In the 1940s some minutes were recorded and from them we learn that after the annual meeting in December 1948 the trustees decided to “ask the township for $700 for the school section for school purposes.” The annual amount requested increased to $3,900 in 1959 and then decreased to $2,000 which probably indicates the provincial grants had increased. In 1964, the last year of local trustee board, the amount requested from the township was $3,500. 


It is likely that the teacher and pupils and perhaps some parents handled the housekeeping tasks at the schoolhouse on a voluntary basis before the school section began to receive appreciable tax money and government grants. But, by 1859, the names of those paid to light fires and sweep the building were recorded in the treasurer’s account book. Payments were made every month or so; sometimes the same person looked after both the fire lighting and the sweeping but usually different individuals were involved. 

      In early 1869 Jonathan Smith was paid $2.25 (five cents a day) for “nine weeks tending fires.” About three dozen different young people handled the housekeeping jobs between 1877 and 1908, sometimes successive members of a family did the work for several years. The pay for these jobs did not vary much over this period; in 1883, the task of lighting fires paid $1.50 a month in the heating season and for sweeping the school the same amount or less. There was no single caretaker or janitor until 1907 when Cecil Remey (Ramey) was paid $25 for the year. Charles French was engaged as caretaker in 1915 and he looked after the school until 1926. Mr. Moore was the school caretaker in 1927 and Ruby and May Gunning took over the job in 1928.

      Beginning in 1879 the trustees paid $2 each August to a person for “scrubbing school.” This task was not passed around as much as the other housekeeping tasks were and was usually done by one person for consecutive years. During the 1880s Mrs. Ramey and then Mrs. Tiller handled the job. In the 1890s Ed Milton and family did it each year followed by John Scoyne and his wife and then a Miss McLean.

      Housekeeping articles such as tin cups, brooms, nails, scrub brushes, mop handles, dust pans, etc. were purchased from time to time from a local storekeeper such as James Acheson, John Stacey, William Calcott, and Edmund Boughner.  


It appears that two wood-burning stoves heated the schoolhouse in the early days. After the teacher’s salary, firewood was, in most years, the trustees’ largest expense. About twenty cords were required each year and these were purchased from a local farmer, usually in February when sleighing was good for delivery to the school. The price was less than a dollar a cord in the 1860s increasing to $1.40 in later years. Sometimes a small amount of kindling or more expensive dry wood was also purchased. There is no record of a tendering process but the same farmer seldom sold wood to the school in successive years indicating that an attempt was made to spread these cash sales around amongst the ratepayers. After delivery someone was paid a dollar to pile the wood; on occasion members of the baseball club did this work. Other times, when the wood was delivered in three-foot lengths, someone was hired to saw and split the wood into suitable size for the stoves.    

      New stoves were required from time to time and in 1911 a new Waterman Waterbury furnace was purchased for $125. In few years it was decided to convert the stoves to gas and Hedley Powe made the gas installation in December 1915. Then, for several years, payments for gas were made each month to the Southern Ontario Gas Co. and no wood was purchased. However, the matter of heating became of concern by 1918 when, at the annual meeting, the trustees were ordered to “take some steps to get more heat for the classroom” The trustees purchased a load of coal but, in 1921, the remaining coal was sold, a new stove was purchased and the trustees began to buy wood again. The next year Roy Wallis removed some of the gas equipment but small monthly payments continued to be made to the gas company at least until 1928 indicating that perhaps gas was used for lighting. From the minute book we learn that in 1930 the ratepayers passed a resolution calling upon the trustees to “use their own judgement in regards to the kind of fuel used.” 

General Repairs 

In 1868 fifty feet of lumber was purchased from Alex Bowlby for 50 cents and E. Godfrey made and repaired seats for $2. In December 1869, 933 feet of lumber was bought for $8.39 and next month Mr. Milley was paid $2.25 for work on the schoolhouse.

      For a couple of decades after the new brick schoolhouse was erected and furnished in 1874 only minor repairs were needed but, every so often, William Bowlby, a local carpenter, was paid a few dollars for “repairs on the school house.” Other people were employed to replace broken windows, repair and replace seats, replace or add more hat hooks, clean the well, fix the pump, clean the stovepipes, repair the fence, and so on. These tasks were done by such local men such as Richard Milley, Charles Waite, William Bowlby, George Hicks, William Card, John and Thomas Stacey, Isaac Bowlby, Mr. McCallum, W. Calcott, Samuel Smith, Matthias Smith, Mr. Page, J. Remey, Wm. Remey, and John Scoyne. Pokers, a fence, a gate, hinges, bars for the lobby windows and other such iron work were made by William Smith, a local blacksmith. Masonry work such as chimney repairs and replacement, whitewashing, kalsoming, and plastering was done at first by George Kitson and later on occasion by Mr. Ponsford, William Singer, Harry Cox and Thomas J. Hill. 

      The pupils must have been hard on the school benches and seats. In 1877 Charles Waite and Richard Milley were paid $10.90 to repair seats and to install “hooks to hang caps on.” Others who repaired seats over the years were Samuel Smith, Edward Roberts and John Scoyne.  In 1877 more seats were purchased from S. Sills for $17, in 1894 new seats were obtained from Green for $86, and in 1901 four seats were bought from S. Dubber at $1.50 a seat. Windows were frequently broken since practically every year Richard Milley was employed to repair some. The stove pipes not only had to be cleaned every year but were frequently replaced. Window blinds were installed and from time to time needed repairs. William Bowlby built a low platform at the front of the schoolroom in 1884 for $12.

      In 1910, James Spencer was given a contract for $36 to paint the school. Jos. Newbury painted the walls and ceiling again in 1914 for $31. New stovepipes were purchased every few years. In 1915, $26 was paid for a new desk and chair for the teacher and a wall clock which cost $18.50. It was reported that the value of equipment in the school was about $150 during the 1911 to 1915 period. In 1922-23 new frame cloakrooms were built at the front of the school at a cost of several hundred dollars according to a newspaper account. A few years earlier the original 1874 brick cloakrooms had been removed. In 1931, hydro was connected to the school and electric lights installed. 

School Supplies 

In the early years, crayons, blackboard paint and felt for brushes were frequently purchased from local storekeepers. From time to time the blackboard had to be blackened by painting.  New blackboards, probably of slate for the first time, were purchased for $51 in 1913. More blackboards were obtained for the sidewalls at a cost of $32 after the inspector’s “order” to do so in 1918. There is no mention of pupil’s slates as these were the parents’ responsibility. Ink tablets, with which to make ink, were purchased from time to time. In 1895 five inkstands were purchased from R. McLachlin for $3.75.

      Maps were first purchased in February 1870 when $9.22 was spent. A globe was purchased in 1886 and more maps in 1888. In 1903 a start was made on better equipping the school with maps and books. That year $26 was spent for maps and a dictionary from E.N. Moyer and Co. and a map of Elgin County was bought from The Journal newspaper company. More books, supplies and scientific apparatus were purchased from M.G. Hay in 1904 as the school began preparing to offer Fifth Book class work. More than $110 was spent that year, a marked increase over any previous expenditure for books, scientific apparatus and supplies.

      A few expenditures seem unusual now, more than a century after they were incurred. For example, in late in 1878, an item reads “paid James Hicks for ashes 7L (at) 25 cents per L  $1.75” James Hicks ran the local ashery where ashes were leached to produce potash but there is no explanation as to why the school trustees would be buying ashes. Another item, from September 1899, reads “paid Mr. Milton (for) putting in lights 75 cents.” Natural gas did not come to the school until later so this payment must have been for hanging coal oil (kerosene) lamps on the walls.

      In 1908 William Bowlby was paid $5 to build a bookcase. Books were purchased from time to time and another bookcase and some scientific equipment were purchased during the time a Fifth Book class was offered. But the school library in 1909 could scarcely be called a library. Then the board began to receive a small library grant and a few dollars worth of books and supplies were purchased from Robert McLachlin or Gundy’s bookstores every year. A cupboard for books was purchased or built in 1911 and “overhauled” in 1916. It is not known whether a purchase of balls and bats from Davey’s Hardware in 1926 was paid for from the library grant or not but I remember they were well used by the pupils. Library expenditures increased over the years since, in 1928, nearly $100 was spent on maps and supplies at McLachlins. Other general, less expensive school supplies were purchased in the twentieth century at the local general store successively run by E.P. Boughner, Milton and Smith, Frank Auckland, John Lindsay, John. Pickering, John Calcott and Fred Cott.

Chapter  5 

The Schoolyard 

A major expense in 1872 was $137 for a fence to enclose the schoolyard. For this work lumber was purchased from John E. Smith for $37.50 and 130 ordinary posts and four gateposts were bought from Wm. Ayerst for $7.50. Other materials (nails, hinges and screws) cost less then $25. The fence was built that fall by William Bowlby and a Mr. Lean who were paid $67. In the summer of 1879 an attempt was made to make the schoolyard look better by leveling it and sowing a half-bushel of timothy seed. The grass must have grown since the next summer sixty cents were paid to an individual for “mowing the schoolyard.” At the same time as the yard was leveled nine loads of gravel were purchased to make or improve sidewalks, probably around three sides of the school and to the road.

      The well was cleaned from time to time and the pump frequently had to be repaired or replaced. For some reason the pump had to be locked as a “pad lock for pump” was purchased in 1879. In 1885 Isaac Bowlby built a new fence and George Kitson built a new chimney for the schoolhouse. Trees were planted in the schoolyard in 1888 by T. Martin and W. Knight and ten years later ten pine trees were purchased: at least two of these pine trees were still there in the 1920s. Each year someone was paid to cut the weeds or mow the yard in the summer. Edward Bowlby built a new woodshed in 1891 for $10.30. That year new shingles were purchased and Kieffer and Welter were paid $29.50 for the re-shingling work.

      In 1914 the trustees decided that new closets (privies) were needed and gave William Bowlby the task of obtaining materials and erecting new 6 by 8 feet buildings on concrete foundations, using first class materials, with screens in front of the doors. He was paid $133 for the job The matter of chemical toilets to replace the outdoor privies was a major subject of discussion in 1931 and led to a special meeting the following February. There the inspector advised of the advantages in using such modern improvements and a representative of the manufacturer also spoke. It appears that the toilets were purchased and installed.

       A new flagpole was purchased and erected in 1910 and a new pump was purchased in 1918 from C.H. Putnam. Gravel was obtained several times to improve the paths and “to fill the holes” in the area next the schoolhouse. Someone was hired to cut the grass and weeds and clean up the yard late each summer before the pupils returned. The eavestroughes required repair in 1922 and the building was re-shingled in 1925 at a cost of about $75. Thomas Montelier built a new fence on the south side of the lot that year.

      In June 1913 a portion of the schoolyard was ploughed to enable the pupils to plant a garden. The provincial education department had begun to promote school gardens and in 1915 the government paid a small grant of $7.10 to each school that had one. Manure was purchased in each of the next few years but there is no evidence that school gardens were ever very successful at Talbotville despite the probable enthusiasm of the teacher and pupils each spring. Care of the garden during summer holidays was probably a major problem. In fact, at the 1917 annual meeting, when discussing the teaching of agriculture, the ratepayers decided to stop spending money on a garden when they adopted a motion stating that “the home plot is preferable on account of not having a suitable spot for a garden on the school premises.”  (In those days it was unthinkable that a farm or village family would not have a kitchen garden.) 

      At about the same time the school garden program was dropped rural school fairs were introduced. Several schools combined their efforts and in the late 1920s the annual North Southwold School Fair was held on the grounds of either the Frome or Payne’s Mills school on a day in late September or early October. The pupils brought their exhibits of art, flowers, vegetables, carpentry, and so on and competed in public speaking, singing, dancing and such sports as softball.

      The first money the S S No. 6 school board spent on school fairs was $8.15 for “the pupils prize money” in 1917. Similar amounts were then paid each year except in 1922 and 1923 when the fairs may have been cancelled. Judges in the various areas were teachers and interested parents. Besides the few cents given as prizes, the six best entrants in each category each received a coloured township school fair ribbon which was suitably inscribed as first, second, etc. prize. 

April 3, 2009

Table 1

Trustees 1910 to 1964 

Year                                   Trustees  

1910    Frank Bennett, Chair/SecTreas., John Scoyne, Wm. Voaden                     

1911    John Auckland, Chair, Frank Bennett, SecTreas., John Scoyne 

1912    John Auckland, Chair, Wm. Voaden, SecTreas., Ben Haines

1913    John Auckland, Chair, Wm. Voaden, SecTreas., Wm. Wallis                     

1914    Wm. Voaden, Chair/SecTreas., John W. Barnes, Wm. Wallis

1915    John W. Barnes, Chair/SecTreas., Jas. Gunning, Wm. Wallis

1916    Jas. Gunning, Chair/SecTreas., John W. Barnes,  Jas. Travers                   

1917    John W. Barnes, Chair/SecTreas., Jas. Gunning,  Jas. Travers                   

1918    John W. Barnes, Chair/SecTreas., Herbert Hicks, Jas. Travers                    

1919    John W. Barnes, Chair/SecTreas., Herbert Hicks, Lewis Cole

1920    Jas. Travers, Chair/SecTreas., Herbert Hicks, Lewis Cole                                      

1921    Jas. Travers, Chair/SecTreas., Edward Haines, Lewis Cole                   

1922   Edward Haines, Chair/SecTreas., Sam Burtwistle, Jas Travers

1923   Edward Haines, Chair/SecTreas., Sam Burtwistle, Wm. Auckland

1924   Sam Burtwistle, Chair/SecTreas., Jas. Fife, Wm. Auckland                          

1925   Sam Burtwistle, Chair/SecTreas., Jas. Fife, Wm. Auckland            

1926   Sam Burtwistle, Chair/SecTreas., Jas. Fife, Wm. Auckland

1927   Sam Burtwistle, Chair/SecTreas., Jas. Fife,  Wm. Auckland

1928  Wm. Auckland, Chair, Jas. Fife, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas.

1929  Wm. Auckland, Chair, Jas. Fife, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas.

1930  William Auckland, Chair, Walter Auckland, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas.

1931  Sam Burtwistle,  Walter Auckland, William Auckland

1932  William Auckland,  Walter Auckland,  Sam Burtwistle

1933  Norman Brokenshire,  William Auckland,  Sam Burtwistle

1934  Sam Burtwistle,  Norman Brokenshire,  William Auckland

1935 George Clinton,  Norman Brokenshire,  Sam Burtwistle

1936 Norman Brokenshire,  George Clinton,  Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1937 Norman Brokenshire,  George Clinton,  Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1938   George Clinton,  Norman Brokenshire,   Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1939 Norman Brokenshire, George Clinton, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1940 Norman Brokenshire, George Clinton, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1941 George Clinton, Norman Brokenshire, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1942 George Clinton, Norman Brokenshire, Chair, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1943 Wilfrid Fife,  George Clinton, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1944 Wilfrid Fife,  George Clinton, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1945 Wilfrid Fife,  George Clinton, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1946 Wilfrid Fife,  George Clinton, Sam Burtwistle, SecTreas

1947 Wilfrid Fife, Chair,  Chester Voaden,  George Clinton

1948 Reg. Clinton,  Wilfrid Fife, Chair,  Chester Voaden

1949 Reg. Clinton,  Wilfrid Fife, Chair,  Chester Voaden

1950 Reg. Clinton,  Wilfrid Fife, Chair,  Chester Voaden (resigned), L. Longhurst

1951 Reg. Clinton,  Wilfrid Fife, Chair,  Lester Longhurst

1952 Lester Longhurst, Chair, John Burtwistle, SecTreas,  Reg. Clinton

1953 Reg. Clinton, Chair,  Lester Longhurst,  John Burtwistle, SecTreas

1954 Lester Longhurst, Chair,  John Burtwistle, SecTreas,  Bob Brokenshire

1955 Lester Longhurst, Chair,  Fred Helka,  Bob Brokenshire

1956 Bob Brokenshire,  Fred Helka, Elmer Auckland (resigned), Stuart Fife

1957 Bob Brokenshire, Chair,  Fred Helka,  Stuart Fife

1958 Bob Brokenshire,  Fred Helka,  Stuart Fife, Chair

1959 Harley Laur,   Bob Brokenshire,  Fred Helka, Chair

1960 Jim Brokenshire,  Harley Laur, Fred Helka, Chair

1961 Reg. Clinton,  Jim Brokenshire, Harley Laur, Chair

1962 Reg. Clinton, Jim Brokenshire, Chair,  Harley Laur

1963 Fred Helka,  Reg. Clinton,  Jim Brokenshire

1964 Reg. Clinton,  Fred Helka,  Harley Laur

1965 Board of Trustees abolished 


Table 2

                               Teachers and Salaries 1859 to 1928 

Usually teachers taught a complete school-year term from the fall of one year to the summer of the next but sometimes teachers were at the school for only half a year. At other times supply teachers were employed for a few days or weeks when a teacher was ill. The list of teachers shown below is arranged by calendar years – when only one teacher’s name is shown for a year he/she taught both the spring and fall terms. .  

Year           Teacher’s Name         Salary              Calendar Year                         Notes

                                                                              Total Salaries

1859         Ann Reilly               220.00               220.00

1860         John Greer               162.50                                                 6 1/2 months

                  Neil Munro              108.00               270.50                   4 1/2 months

1861         Neil Munro              288.00               288.00

1862         A.. McTavish          150.00                                                  6 months

                  James T. Kerns         25.00                                                  July only

                  Charles Clark          100.00               275.00                    4 months

1863         Dugald Graham       300.00               300.00

1864         Dugald Graham       370.00               370.00

1865         Dugald Graham       370.00               370.00

1866         Samuel Halls           105.77                                                 71 days

                  Miss E. Burns            36.00                                                1 month+21d.

                  John Walker            192.00              303.77                    6 months

1867         John Walker            384.00

  1. Gerrard               187.40


Table 2 continued 

                  Alexander McIntyre  23.30              594.701                      supply

1868         Alexander McIntyre  47.00                                                 supply

                  George A. Swayze  253.79               300.79

1869         George Swayze       360.00               260.00

1870         A.J. Sinclair            350.00               350.00

1871         [A.J. Sinclair]        [350.00]            [350.00]2

1872         A.J. Sinclair              40.00

                   J.N. McIntyre         187.50

                   J.G. McLean           129.75

                   Mr. Kennedy          100.00               457.253

1873          Peter McAlpine      354.37               354.37

1874          Peter McAlpine      400.00               400.00

1875          James Birks            400.00               400.00

1876         W.H. Elliott             401.15               401.15

1877          Douglas DeCow      400.00               400.00

1878          Douglas DeCow       390.00              390.00

1879          Douglas DeCow       400.00              400.00         

1880          Alex Berks               447.05               447.05

1881          Alex Berks               375.00               375.00

1882          Miss McDermid       178.50     

  1. Black                    191.00               369.50

1883          Robert Marr              400.00               400.00

1884          F.F. Furguson            440.00               440.00

1885          Kate McIntyre           196.95

                      ???                          190.22               387.17

1886          Wm. Jamieson           125.86

                   Thomas Hughes        285.20              411.06

1887          W.L. MacKenzie       450.00              450.00

1888          W.L. MacKenzie       475.00              475.00

1889          W.L. MacKenzie       490.00              490.00

1890          W.L. MacKenzie       267.30 

                    Frederick Voaden     160.00               427.30                   supply

1891           George B. Hopkins   400.00               400.00

1892           George Hicks              18.75                                                 supply

                    George B. Hopkins    402.50              420.25

1893           James Tiller               400.00               400.00

1894           Annie Fearnley          300.00              300.00

1895           Minnie Law               300.00              300.00

1896           Minnie Law                300.00              300.00

1897           Maud Bennett             206.25

                    May Dalgleish              45.00              251.25

1898        May Dalgleish            250.00              250.00

1899        May Dalgleish            260.00              260.00

1900        May Dalgleish            280.00              280.00

1901        Phineas J.R. Drake     300.00              300.00

1902       W.J. Sanders                 350.00             350.00

1903       W.J. Sanders                 280.00

                Annie Gunning               10.50                                                 supply

                Laura M. Jarvis             159.00              449.50

1904       Laura M. Jarvis             180.00

                Annie Gunning              159.00             339.00

1905       Annie Gunning              186.00

                Lilly Moorhouse            147.63             333.63

1906       Lilly Moorhouse            350.00             350.00

1907       Lilly Moorhouse            187.07

                Maud Bennett                  23.92                                                supply

                Clarence Laidlaw             31.10                                                supply

                Miss Wanless                 150.70             392.79

1908       Miss Graham                  500.00             500.00

1909       Miss Graham                  287.72            

                Margaret MacLennan     216.28             503.00

1910       Margaret MacLennan     500.00             500.00

1911       Annie Harrow                550.00              550.00

1912       Annie Harrow                550.00              550.00

1913       Miss Armstrong             325.13

                Alice Auckland              325.00               650.13

1914       Alice Auckland                75.00               575.00

1915       Alice Auckland              604.33               604.33

1916       C.W. Treadgold               65.00

                Alice Auckland              330.67                                                  supply

                Miss Gillard                   240.00                635.67

1917       Miss Gillard                   360.00

                Miss Verna B.Robinson 240.00                600.00

1918       Miss Robinson               620.00                620.00

1919       Miss Mary Jamieson      725.00                725.00

1920       Miss Jamieson                480.00

                Harriet Hansley              400.00                880.00

1921       Harriet Hansley              600.00                                              senior room

                Annie Hicks4                  245.00                                              junior room

                Alice Thomas5                400.00             1,245.00               junior room

1922       Harriet Hansley               660.00                                              senior room

                Alice Thomas                  575.00                                              junior room

               Annie Hicks                    480.00

                Alfred Weldon                  50.00             1,765.00               supply

1923       Annie Hicks                 1,260.00             1,260.00

1924       Annie Hicks                 1.080.00

                Alice Thomas                  250.00             1,330.00               supply

1925       Miss Clare Bates             377.66                                              supply

                Annie Hicks                     841.86

                Alice Thomas                   260.30             1,679.82              supply

1926       Alice Thomas                     47.95                                             supply

                Eleanor Turville               542.38

                Violet Francis                   330.00               920.00

1927       Violet Francis                   990.00               990.00

1928       Violet Francis                   550.00

                Carolyn Campbell            440.00               990.00 

Only occasional names are available after 1928 

1948-49  Gwendolyn Goff             2000.00           2,000.00


1957-58  Miss McCallum              2700.00                  ??

1958-59  Mrs M. Davy                  2800.00   

                Marjorie Lewis               3100.00            5,900.00