Amongst this busy city still lies a sliver of respect for Brantford's Pioneers. The lawn was being cut while I was there as well. Some headstones not shown were too badly weathered.................................................................... I never thought I would find a pioneer cemetery in front of a Parts Source. Well that's why I didn't find it. My sentry totally found this,again. Concession 2 lot 31. This cemetery dates back to 1862[Methodist Church 1861]. It would be oh so unrecognizable today, except for the headstones. It is nicely lined with pillars. ................................................................................. A tribute was made for the Methodist Church 1861-1907 and school that was beside; S.S. No.12 1875-1962. It looks like there was a bell on top as there are an odd placement of bolts stuck out of the top of the monument. The original school outside plaque was saved and encased. Two original shots made public by Brant Museum. So 1907, when the church closed, would seem also when the cemetery closed. I could not find any images of the church or outside of the school.............................Copy From the public Brant News link BELOW that may not last, Some other schools mentioned here are in this data base.................................................... : Imagine walking three miles to a rural school in all kinds of weather hoping that a neighbour would come along with a horse and buggy and give you a ride. Or, years later, maybe the milk truck gathering up the milk cans would pick you up and drop you off at your rural school. Three miles was the longest distance for children to walk to school. A rural school was situated outside the boundary of a town or city.
In the late 1700s, when the forests in Upper Canada were first being settled, there were no schools. But, by 1817, in Robert Gourlay's report, A Statistical Account of Upper Canada, a school in Burford and one in Oakland were listed. The school in the Village of Burford was built in 1808 and the teacher was Capt. Marvel White, who served in the Burford Company of the 1st Oxford Militia during the War of 1812. The school was torched by Gen. Duncan McArthur and his mounted Kentuckians because it was used by White and his men as a military warehouse, a guard room and part-time officers' quarters.
At this time, teachers had no training. They were often men who had military service. At Cooley Pond School, S.S. No. 7, Burford Township, a retired Waterloo soldier, John Frazier, taught two families, the Olivers and the Weavers, in a lean-to on the Weaver farm. He lived half of the year with each of the two families. When eight to 10 children attended classes, the families built a log school house on the corner of the Davis farm with Frazier continuing as the teacher.
A minute book from the Oakland Village school of 1833-34 stated that each pupil paid one-third sterling per month to attend school unless there was a financial problem which could be proven.
In 1843, the School Section Act stated that the townships were to be divided into school sections. In 1846, it was Egerton Ryerson, chief superintendent of education for Canada West, who wrote a report upon which the public school system of Ontario was built. School sections were numbered, uniform and approved texts were recommended, support for the schools would come through property tax and teacher training would be done through the Normal and Model Schools.
The first inspector in Brant County from 1870 to 1902 was Dr. M. J. Kelly followed by T. W. Standing from 1902 to 1931. The following are some comments written by Standing about the classes that he visited: stove smoking making all walls and ceiling dingy; room too small and crowded for satisfactory work or for health; good order in school and good working tone; constant rapping of ruler and calling to order but order not maintained.
The third inspector was Lt. Col. Joyce V. D., from1931 to 1942 and J. C. (Danny) Webster from 1942 to 1969 when the City of Brantford and Brant County amalgamated and he became a superintendent until his retirement in 1972.
When the inspector visited Moyle's School, now The Olde School Restaurant, the students thought that he was there to inspect them, causing them to shake in their boots but it was the teacher who was being judged.
Daily Life in a Rural School
There were eight grades within the walls of the rural school. How did the teacher cope? One of the secrets was planning. She worked with different classes at the front while the other classes worked independently on given assignments, which could be on the blackboard or, much later, copies were made on the "jelly pads." When assignments were finished, library books were available, an older pupil might help a younger one or a younger pupil might learn from a lesson being taught to a higher grade.
At the end of the day many of you may remember taking the chalk brushes outside and cleaning them against the school wall.
One of the biggest events was the traditional Christmas concert. Beginning in December recitations, skits, solos and Christmas carols were practised until perfect. The room was carefully decorated and the tree came in last.
On the magical night, parents, preschoolers, grandparents and friends jammed the school for the exciting program and the grand finale was always Santa Claus. At Tranquility School, S.S.No. 12, Santa was Len Yeck who came in all decked out in his Santa suit sitting in his sleigh which was pulled across the stage by his pet reindeer. The children crowded around him petting the reindeer and receiving their gifts.
Arbor Day, held on the first Friday in May was another important day. It was spring cleaning time. At Woodbury School, S.S. No. 6, Burford Township, the pupils came to school armed with rakes and shovels and worked like beavers to clean yard and the inside of the school. Even the inside of the windows sparkled when cleaned with Bon Ami. All of this hard work was followed by a rousing baseball game.
In fall, the school fair was the exciting event. In the early 1900s, the Department of Agriculture helped schools organize their fairs. The pupils at the Village School, S.S. No. 2, Oakland, Mount Pleasant School, S.S. No. 5, Brantford Township, and Maple Grove School, S.S. No. 4, Oakland, participated in a school fair at one of these locations. Pupils submitted their best efforts in handwriting, drawing, painting, baking, vegetables and flowers. They were judged according to grade levels and those who placed first, second or third received ribbons.
Many of the boys who lived on farms spent hours in their barnyards practising their showmanship skills with their calves so that on fair day their well-groomed and -trained calves would earn red ribbons.
Rural schools were more than classrooms. They were community gathering places. Several schools accommodated Women's Institutes and Sunday schools. At German's School, S.S. No. 6, South Dumfries, Sunday school was held for well over 25 years under the guidance of T. N Charlton and Ulysses Grandine.
Among other activities held were quilting bees, one of the first magic lantern shows, a tin peddler selling his wares and a cobbler mending shoes for the whole family.
Bits and pieces
From 1859 to 1864 and 1873 to 1881, John McLean taught at both the first and second McLean Schools which were across from each other on Highway 24 North at McLean School Road. Because the community recognized his close association with the school and community and his excellent skills in imparting knowledge, they named the school after him.
Some of the students who attended Newport School, S.S. No. 10, Brantford Township, lived on the other side of the Grand River in Onondaga Township and therefore used a different mode of transportation to go to and from school. In the warm weather the pupils crossed the river by either ferry or rowboat but in the winter they walked over the ice. When the ice broke up, a few brave souls hopped from ice cake to ice cake. The school closed when the water was creeping along the road which ran along the river.
The school bell that hung in the belfry and summoned the pupils to school came from one of the boats that plied the Grand River during the age of the Grand River Navigation Company when Newport was a port.
In the 1850s, Middleport School, S.S. No. 2, Onondaga Township, was in need of a teacher for September. The school trustees were meeting at the tavern in Middleport when Mr. Kingston happened in off one of the boats operated by the Grand River Navigation Company. The trustees found out he was a teacher and immediately hired him for five years.
The history of any school is not complete without its shenanigans. Brant County schools were no exception. In St. George before 1860, the boys received their education at the south end of Lorimer Street while the girls were taught by Mrs. Richardson in an old hotel building where their school room was at the back of a bar room. A few of the more adventurous girls decided to crawl under the seats and into the bar room while the other girls studiously went about their work.
At Woodbury School, it was a tradition for the boys to show up with snakes and chase the girls around the school yard or lock the girls in the 'stink room' in the basement that housed the holding tank for the chemical toilets upstairs.
When Audrey Elcomb taught at Pine Grove School, S.S. No. 17, Brantford Township, the school was alive with mice, of which she was petrified. Each night it became the caretaker's job to set many traps and empty them before Elcomb arrived in the morning.
The second Moyle's school built in 1840 became so infested with rats that all of the books were put into the teacher's desk after school so that the creatures could not chew them to get at the tasty glue.
Over 200 years of history was created in the rural schools in Brant County. By the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, the baby boom had affected the school enrolment bringing about the closing of 77 rural schools in Brant County and introducing consolidation. Onondaga Central School was the first consolidated school in Brant County with the closing of five school sections. All of these schools hold as many memories as there were pupils. What are your memories?
Sources: Memories of Attending S. S. No. 6, Woodbury School by Betty Ames; Oakland Township, Volume 2 by Stuart A. Rammage; The Story of Onondaga Central School; Rural Schools of South Dumfries by J. C. Webster; Tweedsmuir Histories of Alford Park, Blue Lake and Auburn, Cathcart, Moyle's, Newport and St. George written by members of the Women's Institutes.
Local historian Ruth Lefler has been awarded the Lt.-Gov.'s Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement. She welcomes readers' comments, which should be addressed by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to: Reminiscing, c/o The Expositor, Building 4, Unit 1,195 Henry St., Brantford, N3S 5C9.