View all Stories

The History of School Section #9, Verulam – The Red School

January 30, 2024

The Second Red School, Highway 36, south of Bobcaygeon

By Clayton Taylor

Originally Published in the Fenelon Falls Gazette, May 25, 1983

S.S.#9 was organized in 1866, composed of parts of S.S. #1, #5, and #6 Bobcaygeon. These sections were unwilling to agree to the formation of a new section, as they would lose the tax revenue of the properties concerned.

The residents in the vicinity of the present school were forced to send their children to the other schools, some many miles away. It was suggested that the pupils should attend the #5 School by travelling the present County Road #17, a distance of about 5 or 6 miles. The councillors then decided to open the road between Concessions 9 and 10, to shorten the distance to S.S. #5. They came to inspect the proposed road, and according to the late William Thurston, whose father, Jabez Thurston, was one of the councillors, were guided by Mr. Wellington Blewett, who lived on Lot 9, Conc. 9, now owned by Jos. Thompson. Mr. Blewett led them through the wettest portion of the swamp, got them completely lost, convincing them that it was impossible to build the road. The councillors then agreed that a new section should be formed.

Thus in July 1866, a Trustee Board was named, with John Johnston as secretary, other trustees Thomas Taylor and William Thurston. Among the names of early trustees and ratepayers are the following: Richard Middleton, John Middleton, William Brown, William Argue, John Harkness, James Rapley, John McNally, Edward Moore, Wellington Blewett, Alex Logan, Henry Dunn, James White, Thomas White, Carnaby Thurston and James Long.

A plot of ¼ of an acre was purchased from Thomas Taylor for one dollar, and the construction of a log building began, but Thomas Taylor offered to build a frame structure for $50.00, and the first Red School was built. Unfortunately, the early records were not retained completely, but some items were recorded in the books that came into the writer’s possession. The chimney cost $5.00, the stove $8.00, lumber for seats and desks $2.00, painting $6.00.

There are no records of the first two teachers, but the older residents told us that the first teacher was Miss Lunney, who taught for a time in a room in the Taylor home, probably while the school was being built. The next teacher was a Miss MacNamara.

In the Minute Book of 1871, which came into my possession, appears the first teacher agreement, with a Miss Ashbury, at a salary of $160.00 / year. About 15 years after the school was built, another 15 feet was added to the end of the building.

I began my education in the old school, and my most vivid memories of it, are hudding around the old stove on cold winter mornings, of ink bottles thawing, and sometimes breaking on it, and of seeing the mice come up through the cracks of the floor.

At the Annual Meeting of the ratepayers in December 1900, the trustees were authorized to proceed with the construction of a new school. Tenders were sought, and the contract awarded to William Given, for the sum of $875.00. He did the excavation and masonry, engaged John Lancaster to do the carpentry work. An addition ½ acre was purchased from Thomas B. Taylor, and the school placed further back from the road. The old building was sold to William Brown.

A wood burning furnace was installed in the basement, which smoked whenever the wind was in the east. This fault was corrected by extending the chimney a couple of feet higher. The original furnace was replaced several times, by wood, coal, and finally an oil-burner. Over the years, other improvements were made. Chemical toilets were installed in 1928, later replaced by the pail-a-day type. Hydro was installed in 1945.

A school garden, begun in 1910, was abandoned about the time of World War II. In 1911, William Thurston purchased another ¼ acre of land from the Taylors, and donated it to the School Board, making the grounds a full acre in size.

For a few years, Manual Training was taught in the school, by itinerant teachers, and music was also taught by several teachers, the first of whom was Mrs. Ed. DeNure. The pupils of #9 won prizes consistently at the County Music Festivals.

During the years, first the Methodists and later the Anglicans held Church Service in the school, and for many years, from sometime in the 1870s to 1935, Sunday School classes were held. Superintendents were John Johnston, William Thurston, William Johnston and Mrs. John H. Taylor. In the early years of the school, Thomas Taylor and the local Methodist preacher taught, and he also taught signing until his death in 1873.

The first School Inspector mentioned was Mr. J.H. Knight. He was followed by G.E. Broderick, R.F. Downey, E.C. Anderson, D.E. McDonald and B.C. Barret.

In the life of S.S.#9 there have been four Secretary-Treasurers, 1st John Johnston for about 18 or 20 years. William Thurston for 12 years, Thomas B. Taylor for 8 years, William Thurston for another 14 years, and Clayton Taylor from 1922 to 1969.

It is quite interesting to note the salaries paid to the teachers over the years. $160.00 appears to be the smallest amount paid, and the rate increased very slowly until the 1900s. In 1905, the salary was $300, climbing to $1100 in 1925, then dropping as low as $550.00 during the depression, then up to $6000 in 1969.

As the years passed, the trends in education changed, particularly in the idea of larger units of administration. The ratepayers of SS#1, #5, and #9 agreed in 1947 to form a School Area with 5 Trustees, instead of 3 for each section, as had been the custom since the days of Egerton Ryerson. The school in #5 had been closed in 1940, and the pupils transported to #9. The next important step was in grading the school, #1 as a junior school with grades 1 to 4, and #9 with grades 5 to 8.

In 1965, the whole Township of Verulam became a School Area, and the schools were all graded, with 3 and 4 grades to a school. Some schools had been closed due to low attendance, and this made the change to grading and transportation easier. Needless to say, this was regarded as a step forward, and benefitted both pupils and teachers. Thus began the now familiar sight of the yellow school buses travelling the Township roads.

In 1968, Verulam Township and Bobcaygeon united to form a still larger unit for administration and planned to enlarge the school in Bobcaygeon to accommodate the Verulam pupils on September 1, 1969.

In the meantime, the Victoria County Board of Education came into being on January 1st, 1969, as a result of new legislation, and carried on the Building Plans. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, the school was not ready for occupancy until December 8th, when all the rural schools in the Township closed, and an era ended.

The school properties and contents had all been sold at a series of auction sales held at the schools on November 8th. The Red School was purchased by Murray Carson for $5,600.00. Haggins are the present owners.

As mentioned early the first teachers were Miss Lunney and Miss MacNamara. They were followed by Miss Ashbury, 1871-72
 Miss Forrest, 1872-75
 Miss McLelland 1876-79
 Miss E. Strain 1879-80
 Miss F. King, 1880-81
 Miss M. Long, 1881-83
 Miss M. Kennedy, 1883-84
 Miss E. Williams 1884-85
 Miss M. McLelland 1885-86
 Mr. (later Rev.) A.M. Irwin, 1886-87
 Mr. W.J. Fenton, 1887-88
 Miss C. Bourn, 1888-89 (Mrs. J.H. Taylor)
 Mr. W.H. Bennett, 1889-90
 Miss F. Thurston, 1890-93
 Miss Emma Reeds, 1893-95 (Mrs. C.H. Thurston)
 Mr. Wm. Arnberg, 1895-96
 Miss Ida Laidley, 1896-98
 Miss Maud Wollard, 1898-1901
 Miss S.I. Jones, 1902
 Miss May Muycke, 1903-04
 Miss Mabel McIllmoyle, 1905-07
 Miss May Smith, 1907-08

Miss M. Kennedy, 1908

Miss Flossie Smith 1909

Miss T. Peel 1910

Charles E. Kennedy, 1911

Blake Martin 1911-12

Miss Ethel Bannon, 1912-13

Miss Gertrude Thornbury, 1913-14

Miss Gladys Moore, 1914-15

Miss Florence Hubble, 1915-20

Miss Ruby Webster, 1920-22

Miss Alberta Millkien, 1922-23

Miss Myrtle Weir, 1923-24

Miss Mabel Rose, 1924-25

Mr. George Ball, 1925-28

Miss Hazel Lindsay, 1928-30

Miss Bessie Hinton, 1930-31

Miss Marguerite Ranson, 1931-35

Miss Herberta Thurston, 1936

Miss Miriam Purdy, 1937-38

Miss Marguerite Kennedy, 1938-39

Miss Olive Parrington, 1939-42

Miss Gala Rogers, 1942-44

Miss Hilda Thurston, 1944-46

Ross Goheen, 1946-47

Miss C. Northey, 1947-48

Miss Jean Rutherford, 1948-49

Nelson Carnegie, 1949-51

James Edwards, 1951-53

Miss Mabel Kellar, 1953-58

John Little 1958-59

Mrs. Madeline Whyte, 1959-62

Mrs. Jacolyn Staples 1962-65

Miss Gertrude Smith, 1965-69

William Franklin, 1968-69

Mr. Williamson 1969

Over the period of 103 years, there were 57 teachers in the little Red School

© Copyright 2024 - Maryboro Lodge Museum