The first school was a log structure, built at the foot of Dunn’s Hill (LaPasse Road), on property owned by John Dunn. Cresting that hill on the road travelling north between Beachburg Village and LaPasse Village provides one of the best panoramic views in the area. Later a larger frame school was built on the Sixth Line (Lookout Road) on land of the Fynn Farm and it was known as “Stoney Hill” School House. Excerpt from “Beachburg: A Rich History“:
In 1852 Westmeath Township was divided into school sections with the school being recognized as S.S.#5. The first teacher was John Griffith who remained for sixteen years.
The following “Stoney Hill” story and photos are from John Wright, Hilda Dougherty Wright’s son, Deep River, 2013.
“On the Sixth Line of Westmeath Township (now, Lookout Road), a mile up the road from the Mitchell home, stood Stoney Hill School where the Mitchell children learned their 3-R’s.
“When a new school was built, the building was sold to John Scott, Jane (Mitchell) Dougherty’s brother-in-law (he being married to her husband’s sister).
“In the 1930’s the Wright kids, Hilda (Dougherty) Wright’s children, living next door, would visit and used to poke around in the old schoolhouse. There were cylinder-type gramophone records, high buttoned shoes and all sorts of old stuff that kids like to look through and wonder.
” A door had been cut through the back stone wall of the foundation providing access to the basement, and there on the floor, near where the schoolmaster’s desk must have stood, was the infamous trap door under which Grandma Dougherty (Jane Mitchell) had once been sent for misbehavior.
“In 1947 the building was in poor repair. There was a horse stable behind; a perennial rhubarb patch grew beside it. At the edge of the woods an old wooden bucket rotted in a spring evoking memories of long, long ago.”
The school section was divided in 1888 and the two sections were then known as S.S. # 5 and S.S. #14. Children in the western side of the section would attend #5 with a school on the corner of the Seventh Line and the Proven Line, (later named the Pleasant Valley Road and the Desjardins Road corner). Children to the eastern side of the section would attend a new #14.
Prior to 1888 this school section comprised the area extending along the sixth line (now Lookout Road), of the Township of Westmeath from the farms two miles south of the Village of Westmeath, to the line running east from Ledgerwoods Corner, and with a depth in the east-west direction from the Fourth Line to the Ninth Line.
The land for the new schoolhouse #14 consisted of ½ acre each donated by James Collins and Angus Barr, situated midway between the Seventh and Eighth Lines, (now named Pleasant Valley and Hawthorne Roads), on the Beachburg –LaPasse Road. The school was a frame structure.
Some of the teachers were Annie Pounder, Miss Kirk, Miss McInnerney, Billy Dudley, later a medical doctor, Roy Pounder who later became a minister, Carrie Fisher, Isabel McNab, Tena Collins, Ida Cook, Miss Margaret Windle who was the teacher when the school burned down on December 27th, 1910.
The school moved one more time, to the Collins land on the LaPasse Road intersection with the 7th Line (now Pleasant Valley Road). The new school of cement blocks was built in 1911 and was levied for and paid off in one year.
Thomas H. Collins was Secretary-Treasurer for fifty-three years; at his death he was succeeded by Russell Collins, Mrs. Eva Lyttle, Miss Delta White and Edgar White who was in office when they formed a school area in Beachburg in 1963.
Some of the teachers in the new school built in 1911 were: Miss Windle, Miss McIntyre, Elsie Griese, Martha Lowelle, Miss Halliday, Annie Briscoe, Edith Leach, Beatrice, Adams, Walter Kidd, Margaret Fraser, Evelyn Grant, Eva Leach, Jean Robertson, Bertha Lough, Lillian Crozier, Jessie Wilson, Molly Caldwell, Helen McLellan, Doris McFarlane, Viola Cameron, Barbara Taylor Mrs. Alton Salter, Jean Anderson, Mrs. Eric Weedmark, Mrs. Harry Ashley , Mrs. Garnet Bromley, Dawn Ireton, Mrs. MacDonald, Mrs. Glen Johnson.
This school was burned on March 1, 1963. The pupils were then taken by bus to a vacant classroom in Beachburg School for the remainder of the term with Mrs. Erma Johnson as their teacher.
S.S. #14 then joined the school area with Beachburg, which is now known as the Beachburg and Westmeath Township school area and the pupils were brought in by bus, the driver being Glen Johnson.
Lastly the building was demolished and the land used again for farming by the Collins family. It is interesting to note that the one-half acre of land donated to the school by James Collins in 1888 now goes back to the same farm owned by his great grandson – Versil Collins.
Pictures from the Beachburg Tweedsmuir Book, notes from that Tweedsmuir and from Mrs. Evelyn Price writings.
Evelyn Moore Price in her 1984 book “The History of the Corporation of the Township of Westmeath” summarizes this school: