Early Schools

Under the French regime education was left to the discretion of the Catholic Church. Not finding this satisfactory, the British government established The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning (RIAL) to promote education for all children between the ages of 7 and 14. Over time these ages were occasionally readjusted according to the number of students attending.

The first known place of learning in the Township was a class held in the home of Philemon Dugas on the 1st range. Here 12 to 14 students, mostly American refugees from the war of 1812, settled on the eastern edge of the lower ranges. 

The first school building, a combination school/church built in 1826 at the fork of the Red and Chalk Rivers at the 2nd range. (Daniel Parkinson’s publication “Up to Rawdon” has an interesting and detailed coverage of the establishment of this place of learning and worship.) While a church was built in the village, the school remained in use until 1880 when it was sold to the farmer.

Range Schools

This school on the 6th range was one of 12 in the Township. Built on Henry Copping’s lot, here teachers boarded at a nearby home (Harry Copping’s about a mile away). The last teacher in this school was Rose Hanna (standing on the right).

The first classes on Lake Morgan Road were held in the home of John Woods. The family is sitting in front of their house.

The first schoolhouse was built on the Scroggie Farm (now Herbert’s). The school was up on a rise back from the present road.

In the 1930’s the original school was replaced by what came to be known as ‘Master Wright’s School’. (At the corner of Lake Morgan and Belair’s road.)

The teacher lived upstairs in this school.

Master Wright’s School (the first building on the right, here somewhat disguised for a movie.) became a showplace for military memorability.

When Master Wright’s School was closed in the 1930’s, a smaller 1 one storey school was built a little higher up on the corner of Japhet Prud’homme’s farm.

This last school was closed in the 1950’s and sold at auction condition to removal. The purchaser used the lumber to build a home on Green Road which is still (2022) standing.

Village (model) Schools

1840

This school, on 4th Ave. at the corner of Metcalfe was built in 1840.

The 1909 White School

Built in 1909 on the site of the previous school, this one had 3 teachers, 1 for primary grades

(1 -4),and 1 each for grades 5,6,7, and the 3rd one certified to teach secondary classes (8, 9, 10).This teacher was also served as the principal of the school.

The school was heated with a wood furnace in the basement. The heat was distributed through a large grill in the rear of the primary classes.

A small sink with a single tap provided water for the lower grades. Each child brought a small cup for drinking.

The sanitary facilities were on the second floor of the addition at the back. Two “cupboards”, one for boys, one for girls, held a large metal can under a wooden toilet seat was placed over a hole with a pipe leading down to the sewer. There was no light in the toilets and during the winter when dark came early these were rather scary places.

One man claimed the sewer was cleaned out every 10 years, another suggested the pit was emptied annually.

Taken from records of Rawdon School Board meetings

A committee was elected in each district to hire teachers and generally supervise the quality of teaching. They were also responsible for the maintenance of the school and the parental contributions.

In the month of May a member of this board of directors visited the school to inspect the pupils’ education, the teacher’s performance, the teaching aids such as books and maps, and the condition of the school.

Teachers Contracts

Just as today, finances were always an issue in local school boards. In an attempt to hire teachers for as many as 12 schools in the Rawdon board, the hiring was delayed until after the school year had opened to get the best possible rate of pay. Other times the school term was was shortened.

In 1861 there were nine wards, that is range schools, with the model school in the village making a total of 10 schools to be funded with 321 pupils, 12 teachers, five of these women and seven men. Three of these teachers were paid less than $100 in annual salary. 

Men were paid almost double the salary offered to the women. Pay was twice yearly first at Christmas and then at the end of the school year and in currency. 

Teachers were hired on that no-fault be found when the inspector made his rounds. Should the teacher be found unsatisfactory, depending on the severity of the fault, she or he was either put on notice or paid what was owed and let go. 

Teachers were required to teach six days a week, except for holidays or festivals granted by the trustees. A total of 208 days teaching was required.

School Schedules

The school year was eight months from August to April. 

Schools did not always start on schedule due to lack of teaching staff or budget restrictions. 

Salaries were modified to reflect the days the teacher taught. 

Teachers were responsible for the maintenance of the school as well as the education of the children. They might offer evening classes for the older children who could not attend during the day

Teachers often served as a local scribe, reading and writing letters for those who were not able to do so themselves. 

Some teachers came with a collection of books that would be lent around the neighbourhood to those who enjoyed reading materials. 

Teachers were held in great respect and as such required to be an example to the community which was quite a responsibility. 

Should a teacher leave before the end of the year for various reasons the school year ended. 

Reasons for a teacher giving notice varied. Loneliness or illness, conflict with the board or the parents, or the board just did not have sufficient funds to pay the salaries. In the latter case the teacher could leave and lose all chance of getting paid or he or she could stay and hope the next years taxes collected would cover their loss. Either way the teacher usually lost out.

Parent’s Obligations

In the case of the range schools it was required of the heads of all the families with children attending classes to provide one or 1 1/2 cords of hardwood, dry and split. 

The wood was to be delivered to the school in the month of November or dollar or $1.50 to be paid to the trustees who are responsible to see the requirement was met. Should the monies not be provided the children of the delinquent parents were refused admittance to the school.

In 1884 non-confessionnal schools were replaced by separate Protestant and Catholic systems. Relations between the two boards were not always harmonious.

The Protestant Board had 8 schools with 137 pupils and $500 in taxes was collected.

 In areas where the numbers did not support separate schools the children were allowed to attend another school. The teacher of the school was paid a specified rate for each additional child.

Closing Range Schools

In 1947 all Protestant range schools were closed.

The majority of children were transported by bus, (Lake Morgan Road, St. Alphonse Road, Gratten Lake Road). Mount Loyal pupils were collected by taxi.

Should a family live in an isolated area, a nominal fee was paid to a parent to provide the transport or board their children in the village.

An Army Ambulance

The first mode of transport was a gray army ambulance. It lacked somewhat in comfort jostling the riders all around, up and down. It was soon the but of many children’s jokes and christened the “Gray Rabbit”. Mind, some of the road conditions required such a vehicle, but it did shake one up!.