Union School Section #3 – Kinmount Village
June 5, 2023
USS #3 Kinmount Village
The biggest school section in the Kinmount Area was USS#3, Kinmount Village. The union section attracted students from Somerville, Galway, Lutterworth and Snowdon Townships, making it a true union section. The first schoolhouse was a crude log structure set up on the west side of town, somewhere along Crego Street. The great railway boom of the early 1870s led to the construction of a much larger, multi-room school on the present site of the Kinmount Legion. The earliest photo of this building reveals it likely had several additions as the school populations continued to grow. In fact, by 1900 the summer population had grown so much, another, much larger facility was needed. The new 3 storey brick school was built across the street and dominated Kinmount’s skyline for decades until destroyed by fire in 1986.
The old brick schoolhouse contained 6 rooms: each filled by 2 grades. Secondary School (grades 9-12) was offered, making it the only school in the area where a secondary school education could be acquired. Rural students from the one room “settlement” school sections could continue their education past grade 8 by attending school in Kinmount. In the days before school buses and year round road plowing, this often involved boarding in the village. Some students outside walking distance, often came by horse and wagon or cutter (depending on the season). A driving shed to house horse and conveyances was located beside the school.
Not very many students continued on to High School prior to the 1940s. A complete education was considered to be a Grade 8 diploma. At age 15, children were children no longer and often were expected to join the work force. High School was for those entering the professions, such as teacher, doctor, etc. A high School Diploma was a luxury. All this changed after 1940, and while it was not mandatory to attend High School, more students did so. High School, then called Continuation School, was discontinued in Kinmount in 1957, and the students were bussed to Fenelon Falls District High School.
The old, old wooden school was turned into a residence after its school days were finished. A number of families lived in the structure, the most famous being the St. George Family, remittance men from a famous Irish family. When the Royal Canadian Legion needed a clubhouse in 1946, they purchased the structure for $600. The set up was soon found not suitable and in the 1950s the old school was torn down and the present Legion building built on the site. The Legion was unable to locate in the Somerville side of town because Somerville was a dry township where alcohol sales were banned. Galway Township had no such restrictions. But many residents opposed the Legion location due to the fact the school was just across the street. A compromise was reached whereby the Legion club room didn’t open the bar until 4:30 pm each day, long after the school children had gone home.
By the 1950s, the old brick school was outdated, and a new structure was planned. The last school was built on Wilson’s Hill in the west end of the village. It contained 3 rooms and operated from 1958 until it was closed in 1992. The last school was built (and paid for) by the ratepayers of Somerville Township. By 1965, all the one room schoolhouses in both Somerville and Galway Townships were closed and the students bussed to the new Kinmount School, or its equivalent in Burnt River. Even with the consolidation, the number of school children continued to fall. Until by the 1980s, there were less than 60 students at the school. The age of the school section was fast waning by the 1960s. By 1969, provincial legislation abolished the remaining one-room school sections and made the County Boards of Education responsible for all school and related activities. The writing was on the wall for the small local schools. In 1992, after much debating, arguing and anguish, Kinmount Public School was no more. All school aged children were bussed to the new central Ridgewood Public School in Kinmount. There are currently no schools in the Kinmount area, once served by 13 school sections. The last school became the new Baptist Church: a role it fills to this day.