1874 - 2011 (~ 137 years)
||Rivers Edge Dr. 1060 - School (former) - fieldstone 1 storey West Montrose |
||1060 Rivers Edge Dr., West Montrose, Ontario
||1060 Rivers Edge Dr., West Montrose, Ontario
||still standing 2011
||27 Dec 2011 |
||West Montrose School|
Taken by Donald Schildroth in January 1957 Original photo in possession of Marion Roes 2011
- Taken from Kissing Bridge: The story of Ontario's only covered bridge, and West Montrose, the quiet, charming village whose sides it connects by Del Gingrich, published 2009. Excerpts printed with permission of the author. pp. 114-120. Sources are Waterloo Historical Society annual volumes, interviews with individuals and Township of Woolwich archives.
West Montrose Public Schools
William Veitch sold property for the new school to the trustees of school section #6. They offered him $100. He refused the proposal and an arbitrator was appointed. There is apparently no indication how the situation was resolved. The location of the village's new school was in the area of Zuber Corners where the building still stands. Alyce Martin wrote, "The road from the covered bridge to Zuber Corner did not go through the hill, but turned south opposite the present Trailer Park and by-passed the hill, coming out to connect with the Winterbourne-Elora road approximately opposite the new Mennonite (Parochial) School. A set of farm buildings was situated (in the early 1920s) along that road directly south of the stone schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was built after the road was built through the gravel hill. While building the road, they encountered a full flowing spring. Water was carried from here until a well was dug years later. This spring still flows freely today." William Sugg tells of pranks being common in those days. He said the older boys locked the teacher out of the school. Severe caning by teacher Cavanaugh punished them. Effie Letson remembered being marched from the 1865 school to the 1874 school when it opened.
Tenders were accepted from Mathias Vogt for $250 for the work of building the structure, and from Fred Struk, $460 for the masonry work. Mr. Karsh of Hespeler was hired to make 60 students seats. Bathrooms were located in the basement. A long, solid beam gave sturdy support, running the entire length of the building. In August 1874, the assessment was raised to $1700 to pay for all the expenses. Salaries were increased to $450 for Mr. Bowman, and $14 per month for Miss Mackie, the school's teacher. Until about 1930, depending on the enrolment, one or two rooms were used. In the case of two rooms, one was the primary room for grades one to four, and the other was a senior room for grades five to eight. From 1930 until its closing, both rooms were in operation. Mr. John Rennie was the teacher in 1920. Some of the children he instructed were Percy Letson, Pearl Jupp, Arthur Merriott, and Beatrice Winfield. Expenses at the new school listed for 1882 included $7 for whitewashing, $1.50 for cutting thistles on the grounds, $1 for cleaning the floor and 50 cents for lighting the fires. The price of wood rose to $4.40 a cord. An early report of the building and property said, "Indeed it fits into the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes. One would have to drive a great distance before coming upon anything of equal beauty and service." Around 1925, the late Lena Martin, a Mennonite farm girl from the area, regularly arrived in West Montrose by horse and buggy. She left the horse and buggy in the village for the day while she attended school just up the hill. Hydro was installed in West Montrose School in 1941 and the lights were turned on for the first time on October 15th of the same year. George Winfield, a long time resident of the community, recollects the school as being the centre of activity as it was opened for lively card games and frolicking dances through the quiet and freezing winter months. George's father owned a truck for hauling cattle and pigs. When transportation was required to take a ball team from West Montrose to another school, Mr. Winfield loaded the team members into his truck. Until its closing in 1966, the West Montrose School had 76 teachers, the last being Mrs. Joyce Crane. After its closing, students enrolled at the former West Montrose S.S. #6 were transferred to Winterbourne. In July of 1966, a reunion was held at former Woolwich School S.S. #6. Mrs. William Whitehead at 81 years of age was one of the six teachers in attendance. A pot luck supper was enjoyed by all. Following the closing of West Montrose School, some members of the community started a drive to keep the building open as a museum. The Township of Woolwich would have retained ownership under the proposed plan. But no action was taken. Apparently the authorities felt that the costs involved would be prohibitive. In 1966, bids were invited for the purchase of the school building. A couple from Toronto, Mr. and Mrs. Wittifield put in the successful offer of $7475. It was $5 more than the next highest. An intriguing part of the deal was the fact that Mrs. Vera (Fewings) Wittifield was a former teacher at the school. When they arrived to look at their purchase in 1966, the pleased and somewhat surprised new owners found the students' desk still there. Minutes of some meetings and other writing remained on the blackboard. The old bell was in working order. But residents of the village warned them not to ring it too vigorously as it had served as their old fire alarm. Menno Martin Contractors of St. Jacobs did extensive renovations. Vera Fewings (later Mrs. Wittifield), started teaching at the school around 1932 and stayed about three years. Mr. Ferguson was the teacher in the other room. George Shoemaker was a trustee. A teacher's annual salary was $800.1a
1aSubmitted by Marion Roes 2011