December 4, 2022
Kinmount School, built circa 1905. It was located at the corner of Monck and Bobcaygeon Roads.
By Guy Scott
“Education was a highly prized commodity in pioneer times as well as today. The first order of business in any pioneer community was the establishment of a school. Most of these early institutions of learning were one-room schools, containing grades 1 to 8. In the days before school buses, most students arrived by walking. The schools were sited so that no child had to walk more than 5 miles to school. There must have been quite a few ‘snow days’ when walking 5 miles for a young child was not possible! Thus a proliferation of one room schools at regular intervals was the norm.
The Kinmount area was home for 15 of these one room schools. Each school was assigned a section number, usually by township although the geography of the Kinmount area led to a lot of ‘union schools.’ Each school section was managed by a board of trustees who hired the teacher, kept the finances & were responsible for the physical upkeep of the structure. A ‘school levy’ was placed on the tax bill of each property within the school section. A typical farm in the Union Creek school section paid $5.06 annual school levy in 1892. Often work, or goods in kind such as firewood, were accepted from the poorer ratepayers. The position of school trustee was a volunteer job, and often trustees spent decades in selfless duty to higher education.
In pioneer times, large families were the norm, and the schools were always full. In later years, fewer children led to the closing of many of the one room schools. The advent of school buses & better roads, made amalgamations common. Eventually the one-room schools were phased out & the students concentrated in the main centres. The last of the one-room schools were closed in the 1960s and a new central school was built in Kinmount (1958). In 1992, the population of Kinmount school had fallen to the point where a large new central school, called Ridgewood Public School was built in Coboconk and students from the four ‘northern’ schools of Victoria County were all bussed there. The Kinmount School was sold to the Baptist congregation, and an era ended in the village of Kinmount.
The venerable one-room school was often the only public building in settlements outside town. It hosted church services, concerts, meetings and suppers to name a few events. Despite what would be called today ‘primitive conditions,’ many a learned scholar got their start in this humble institution.
A list of the one-room schools in the area
USS #1 Silver Lake
USS #2 Union Creek
USS #3 Kinmount Village
SS #12 White School Crego Lake Road
SS #6 Dongola (Somerville)
SS #4 Swamp Lake School (Galway)
SS #7 White Lake (Galway)
USS #7 Furnace Falls
SS #1 Fortescue (Cavendish)
SS #3 Iron Mine School (Lutterworth)
SS #2 Buller (Lutterworth)
SS #6 Irondale (Snowdon)
SS #2 Dutch Line (Snowdon)
USS #4 Rock School (Bobcaygeon Road)