poetry and prose about place

early schools – old maps, photos and diaries

with 6 comments

Last week, my husband and I visited the New Brunswick Museum Archives and had a look at three sources of information on old one room schools in New Brunswick:

  • the Walling Map – shows the location of roads, family homes, businesses, churches and schools in 1862 in Kings and St. John Counties
  • the photo collection by Marion Johnston Dunphy who photographed 150 schools from 1974 to 1984 – The One Room Schools of New Brunswick and What Became of Them
  • the diary of C. Gordon Lawrence, teacher at the Tracy school (Sunbury County, New Brunswick) in 1903. His diaries chronicle his experiences as a school teacher from 1903 to 1962!


Thanks to the Walling Map, from now on, when we go for a drive to find old schools in Kings County, we will know exactly where to look. Also, I will know something about the landscape setting for each school – the key component of the poetry I intend to write!


With the photos, I was able to check the identity of some of the schools we have already found. A good example is the school building at Mill Road, near Gagetown, Queens County, New Brunswick (below). From the photos in the Marion Johnston Dunphy collection, I was able to verify this as the Lawfield School, Gagetown #1. I signed an agreement not to share the Dunphy photos on the Internet, but I will be able to use them to prompt ideas for my poems.

Mill Road School, Gagetown 2~

We also looked at C. Gordon Lawrence’s diary from 1903. This contains his day to day experiences as a 17 year old teacher at the Tracy School. He did not detail his observations of the natural world, but there are gems in the diaries for a poet! For example, after a long bout with chicken pox, he was feeling very ill and wrote: ‘… a dose of Pain killer failed to work but a dose of blackberry cordial gave me relief …’.


Gordon Lawrence’s diary includes a map of the location of the school. It is faint but shows where the school was located, not far from the North Branch of the Oromocto River. The roads have changed significantly since 1903 – back roads to Harvey and St. Stephen were the main roads in 1903!


The three items we looked at are only a sampling of the information available at the Archives. With these preliminary investigations, I can now begin to write my proposal for ‘a manuscript of poems about one room schools in the landscape’.  I will be sure to let you know if my proposal is successful!



Copyright Jane Tims 2016


Written by jane tims

July 20, 2016 at 7:35 am

6 Responses

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  1. It sounds like you’re having fun – and success – with your research, Jane. Does your husband enjoy being your research partner?!

    Liked by 1 person

    Jane Fritz

    July 20, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    • I asked him and he just laughed … However, once he started reading the diary of the Tracy teacher, I had to wait until he finished reading the first six months!


      jane tims

      July 20, 2016 at 8:53 pm

  2. My grandmother was a school teacher in the early 1900’s. I have found that old newspapers on microfilm which contained community news were good sources of information about the schools and teachers of that time. Looking forward to your future posts on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person


    July 20, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    • Hi Rebecca. Thanks for the idea. I must check some of the newspapers of the time. I find I only need a whisper of an event to provide the theme for a poem! Jane

      Liked by 1 person

      jane tims

      July 20, 2016 at 5:23 pm

  3. This is wonderful research, Jane. Congratulations. I love the idea of replacing painkillers with Blackberry Cordial …

    Liked by 1 person


    July 20, 2016 at 10:19 am

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