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The Kinmount Continuation School

March 5, 2024

Kinmount's School

By Guy Scott

The first school in the pioneer village of Kinmount was convened in 1859. A second schoolhouse was constructed in 1874 on the present-day site of the Legion. The school age population soon exceeded the capacity of this building and in 1905, the towering two-storey brick schoolhouse was opened on the hill just across from the Royal Canadian Legion. This impressive new structure contained four large classrooms, and offered instruction beyond Grade 8. Kinmount Continuation School was born in the second storey of the “old brick schoolhouse.”

At the turn of the century, the Kinmount area was serviced by thirteen school sections, each containing a one-room schoolhouse. These one-room schoolhouses offered Grades 1 to 8. In order to further their education, the students were forced to attend the Continuation School in Kinmount. Most students in the “settlements” quit school after or before Grade 8, but a few went on to higher learning. In the days before motor cars, this often involved a long walk or ride into town. Some students boarded with in-town families while others chose to commute.

One former student who lived five miles north of Kinmount, walked to school during the spring and fall, but for the winter season, his father procured a horse and cutter for the journey. By the time he fed, watered and hitched the horse, he reasoned that he could have walked to school, snow or not! However, other students along the way appreciated being “picked-up” and given a ride. So to feel important and “show-off” a bit, he ran a school bus service for neighbouring students. He reminisced that sometimes the sleigh was so loaded with students, it was a miracle the horse could draw it. Oh, by the way, snowploughing was unheard of at this time! Other students came by horseback, impressing the younger students with feats of horsemanship.

The school was divided into four classrooms. Grades 1 to 6 occupied the lower floor, while Grades 7, 8 and 9 were in one room and Grades 10, 11 and 12 in the other upstairs room. The two teachers often swapped rooms for certain subjects. Only a small percentage of students actually finished Grade 12. Most opted for the work force long before the age of 18. However, Grade 12 graduation was a must if one was to continue on to post-graduate studies. Oddly enough, a teaching position was often secured with Grade 10 or even less. It was obviously not one of the “higher professions” requiring a Grade 12 diploma. The number of students attending Continuation School was also related to the skill and likeability of the teachers. Many former students fondly recall a “good” teacher who motivated them to stay in school. Likewise, when asked why they quit, most of the students recalled they didn’t “get along with” or “like” their teacher.

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