nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘one room school

early schools – old maps, photos and diaries

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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!

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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!

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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.
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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 …’.

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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!

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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!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

 

Written by jane tims

July 20, 2016 at 7:35 am

one room schools – distractions on the way to school

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I am thinking about the ways landscape would have influenced the day at a one room school in New Brunswick one hundred years ago. As we drove some of the back roads in the Stanley area this past weekend, I tried to think like a child on the way to school. So many distractions!

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First, the views. Fields green with new corn, yellow with buttercups, winter-white with daisies …

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And daisies to pick, perhaps a bouquet for a favorite teacher …

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Brooks to cross, and the lure of watching for fingerlings in the clear water …

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And a farmer’s pond, with ducks to watch, fish to feed, frogs to hunt and cat-tails …

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Hillsides of fragrant hay-scented fern to roll in …

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Orchards to play in and ripe fruit to gather …

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It makes me wonder how anyone ever made it to school.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

 

 

early schools – searching for old schools

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Last weekend we went on another excursion to try and find some remaining one room schools. We drove from Geary south to Gagetown by way of Westfield, in a loop, going down many side roads.  We found six buildings that may have been one room schools. We were in a hurry so we did not stop to ask anyone about their knowledge of the area. That will happen on a future trip when I have a little more information. (Added note: on July 7, 2016, I visited the New Brunswick Museum Archives and was able to verify the information below from 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. Verifications are indicated below in brackets.)

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June 11

Map showing our drive to find one room school houses … the yellow dots and names in blue show the buildings we considered.

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The one room school in Patterson is part of an historical settlement created by the community. It is typical of a one room school house in every way. It also has an outhouse. The historical settlement has the school, a church, a store, a house and a barn.

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Patterson School 7

Patterson School at Patterson, Queens and partly Sunbury Counties, New Brunswick

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This old building in Lower Greenwich is in poor shape, deteriorated since I took the photo below in October of 2014. In spite of the embellishments it has all the characteristics of a one room school. (This building has been verified as Greenwich School from photos at Archives)

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Meeting hall in Lower Greenwich, Kings County, New Brunswick

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The Central Greenwich Women’s Institute (GEMS Senior Citizens) has an addition with a basement. Although it looks like a school, the middle side window is twice as wide as the other windows.(This building has been verified as Central Greenwich School from photos at Archives)

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Central Greenwich Womens' Institute 2

Women’s Institute building in Central Greenwich, Kings County, New Brunswick

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A little house near Oak Point caught our eye. It was the same size as a one room school, but the windows and doors were all in the wrong places. The locations of these could have been changed to improve access and conform to an internal plan, but it may be just a small house. (This building has been verified as Oak Point School from photos at Archives)

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Oak Point 1

roadside building near Oak Point, Kings County, New Brunswick

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There were two school-like buildings at Queenstown. The first was a small building used by the Hampstead Local Service District ( a governance unit in un-incorporated areas). This building had only two windows on each side and an added garage. (This building has been verified as Queenstown School, also called Hampstead #2 from photos at Archives)

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Central Hampstead A3

Hampstead Local Service District building, Queenstown, Queens County, New Brunswick

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The second was just down the road, within sight of the Hampstead LSD building. It was larger than the LSD building, had an addition to the back, a stone basement and a tin roof, and was built on a slope beside a small stream. This building also had the larger middle window seen at the Women’s Institute building in Central Greenwich. I have verified this hall is the relocated Orange Hall from the community of Dunns’ Corner, lost when Base Gagetown was created.

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Central Hampstead B5

Meeting hall in Queenstown, Queens County, New Brunswick

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I have three ways of discovering the history of these buildings. One is to talk to local people, to hear their stories. Another is to consult the Walling Map (1862) for the Kings County schools. The other is to have a look at a scrapbook of one room schools, kept at the New Brunswick Museum Archives in Saint John. The scrapbook was made by Marion Johnston Dunphy who photographed 150 schools from 1974 to 1984 (The One Room Schools of New Brunswick and What Became of Them). Her photos may help me identify which of the buildings above were once one room schools. (I looked at this photo collection on July 7, 2016 and verified several of these buildings, as indicated above.)

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Regarding the Base Gagetown communities, the Base Gagetown Community History Association has an excellent website with photos of schools once located in the communities there  http://www.bgcha.ca/communities.html .

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June 5 2016 detail of 'way to school' Jane Tims

June 5 2016 detail of ‘way to school’ Jane Tims

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

June 17, 2016 at 7:24 am

early schools – the autograph book

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A tradition in schools before the 1960s was the autograph book. I had one of these books in the 1960s, but although I collected some autographs, it was considered a quaint activity.

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two of Jane Margaret Norman's autograph albums

two of Jane Margaret Norman’s autograph albums

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Both my mother and my aunt had autograph books in the 1940s and 1950s. One of my aunt’s albums was from her students when she taught in a one room school.

I also have my great-grandmother’s autograph album with messages from 1885 to 1914. Her name was Mary Jane (Johnson) Clarke. Her daughters (including my grand-mother) wrote in the album in the later years.

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Mary Jane Johnson Clarke's autograph album

Mary Jane Johnson Clarke’s autograph album from the 1880s

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These books are small, rectangular in shape. The covers are heavy stock paper, sometimes flocked. The older albums have embossed leather covers. The albums range in size from about 3″ by 5″ to 7 3/4″ by 4 3/4″ (the oldest books are the largest). Each page of the book held one autograph: the date, a message, saying or poem, perhaps an address and a signature. Males as well as females wrote in the albums. The albums from the 1940s and 1950s have variously coloured pages in now-faded pink, yellow and blue. The pages in my great-grandmother’s album are beige and white.

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my grandmother's autograph in my great-grandmother's autograph album

my grandmother’s autograph in my great-grandmother’s autograph album

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Some of the messages offer serious advice for a good life:

Life is like a mirror

Reflecting what you do

And when you face it smiling

It smiles right back at you

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Some messages are amusing or even politically incorrect. One from 1947 shows a disturbing flippancy about marital violence:

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When your husband at you flings

Knives and forks and other things

Seek revenge and seek it soon

In the handle of a broom

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Some messages are just funny, and seem almost modern:

Great-Aunt Laura Clark's autograph in my Great-Grandmother's autograph album

Great-Aunt Laura Clarke’s autograph in my Great-Grandmother’s autograph album in 1909

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Since my focus in my ‘old schools’ project will be on the school in the context of the landscape, I was pleased to find one or two messages about landscape!

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When hills and dales divide us

And distance is our lot

Just cultivate the little flower

That is called forget-me-not

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And:

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I’m glad the sky is painted blue

And the earth is painted green

And such a lot of nice fresh air

Is sandwiched in between

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June 8 2016 'the autograph' Jane Tims

June 8 2016 ‘the autograph’ Jane Tims  (Is she writing the autograph for her friend or her doll?)

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Did you ever have an autograph album? Do you remember any of the verses people wrote?

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Copyright 2016  JaneTims

Written by jane tims

June 15, 2016 at 7:00 am

early schools – the rope swing

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Students in the one room school may have appreciated apple trees growing in the school yard. But there would have been other trees too. A hefty old red maple would have been a good place for a swing. Perhaps a simple rope swing, with a loop over a horizontal tree branch and a big old knot at the end for sitting.

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June 3 2016 'rope swing' Jane Tims

 

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rope swing

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lunch hour

best spent

upside down

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legs wrapped

tight as twist

of hemp

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splayed ends

of the big knot

trail on the ground

follow hair and

dragging fingers

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world tipsy-turned

maple branch – a bridge across the sky

other kids stand on their heads

school house and outhouse

hang from the hill

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Copyright  2016  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 8, 2016 at 7:00 am

early schools – school gardens

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It’s gardening time in New Brunswick. While I tend my little tomato plants, I wonder if one room schools in the early 1900s kept school gardens.

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Mill Road School, Gagetown 2

Was there once a school garden in the yard of this one room school near Gagetown, New Brunswick?

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In the province of Nova Scotia, some schools had gardens. My aunt, Dr. Jane Norman, in her history of Nova Scotia’s schools, tells about the Travelling Teachers program and the ‘Garden Score Card’ (Jane Norman, Loran Arthur DeWolfe and The Reform of Education in Nova Scotia 1891-1959. Truro, Nova Scotia: Atlantic Early Learning Productions, 1989). The Travelling Teachers operated from 1918-1920, bringing knowledge and help to schools in their districts about rural science, including home-making, healthy living and gardening.

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In 1918-19, to encourage gardening as part of the school program, the Rural Science Department of the Nova Scotia Normal College (where teachers were trained) donated $10.00 to each Travelling Teachers’ school district. School children and schools who obtained the highest scores on the ‘Garden Score Card’ shared the money as follows:

  • three school children with the highest scores won prizes of $2.50, $1.50 and $1.00
  • three schools with the highest scores won prizes of  $2.50, $1.50 and $1.00

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The ‘Garden Score Card’ rated the school gardens and the efforts of the children with the following criteria:

  1. Condition of Garden:
    1. Planting and arrangement of plants (5)
    2. Thinning, training, regularity in row (5)
    3. Cultivation and freedom from weeds (10)
    4. Freedom from diseases and insect pests (10)
    5. General neatness of paths, labels, stakes, etc. (5)
    6. Consideration of adverse conditions, if any (5)
  2. Range of variety in flowers and vegetables (10)
  3. Amount and quality of bloom (flowers) and crop (vegetables) (15)
  4. Amount and value of canning or sales (20)
  5. Showing made at exhibition (15) Total Points (100)

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The school children in my drawing are working hard, but based on the ‘Garden Score Card’, they would not have received a prize for their gardening! No stakes, no labels, no regularity in the row.

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June 2 2016 'useful knowledge' Jane Tims

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How would your gardening efforts be scored??? I would not make good marks on any criterion!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

early schooling – the fate of older buildings

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Since our first drive to the Grand Lake area to find old schools in the landscape, we have kept an eye out for others. I am realising these buildings have met one of three fates:

  • demolition – lost forever to the landscape
  • deterioration – left to decay and eventual collapse
  • re-purposing – restoration and maintenance for use as camps, sheds or community use

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For example, the Bunker Hill School in Rusagonis, New Brunswick has been well maintained and is used as a meeting place in the community. The old school has been recently painted and has a wheel-chair ramp.

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Bunker Hill School Rusagonis Station

Bunker Hill School, Rusagonis Station, Sunbury County, New Brunswick

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The conservation of older buildings in the landscape is problematic. They have historical value, create community character, and serve as a reminder of the past. On the other hand, for derelict buildings without purpose, liability soon exceeds value. We are at a time in our history when the buildings associated with growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are succumbing to the vagaries of time. Older designs, although often sturdy, are not energy-efficient and don’t always fit our modern ideas of efficiency and convenience, or our 21st century need for parking areas, central heating, and convenient washrooms. As a result many older buildings, including churches, schools, halls and stores are lost from the landscape.

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Mill Road School, Gagetown 2

old school at Mill Road, near Gagetown, Queens County, New Brunswick (Verified as Lawfield School, Gagetown #1)

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Do you have older school buildings in your community and what has been/will be their fate?

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 6, 2016 at 7:00 am

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