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  • Ontario, Canada

S.S. No. 2 Westmeath School

The S.S. No. 2 Westmeath School had humble beginnings as a small log structure near an orchard. Unfortunately, the low land at the Ottawa River shore was a floodplain and so  that school wasn’t well located and was then moved up onto the higher ground at Front Westmeath. The exact dates this little school served the community is not recorded. Three drawings by an unknown artist shows the early settlements and its schools.

The drawings were kept as part of Westmeath Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir History material.

The first log buildings were built at the Lower Allumette Lake shoreline and later the settlement moved to the hilltop.
This might be a drawing of the first small log village school house and the pretty young teacher with her bell.
This is the 1886 village school with bell tower. There are photographs on this page of this school.

Evelyn Moore Price in her 1984 volume “History of the Corporation of Westmeath Township” summarizes the beginnings of S.S. # 2 in this excerpt:

There is a lot of historic information available from numerous sources about S.S. No. 2. Chief among the sources are the books and ledgers for the school kept in the village by the Connors family.  Also the Westmeath Tweedsmuir Book and the reunion booklets all have extensive materials about the school.

Looking for Old Class Pictures?  They are collected in the reunion booklet Westmeath Public School “A Century of Learning”, 1906 – 2006.

This school section is centred around the Village of Westmeath which in the early days was called Front Westmeath to distinguish it from the Township. 

Front Westmeath was situated on the east bank of the Lower Allumette Lake, between Allumette and Paquette Rapids on the Ottawa River. Boat, canoe and ox-team were the only means of transportation for the early settlers.  Their home were located along the river bank. Evidence of this can be found in the old foundations, some of which still exist.

The first school was a log one, build on land donated by George Washington Tucker, situated on the river bank at what was later known as the “Old Orchard”.

Early reports say there were in the year 1844, 115 school age children of a population of 384.  The value of the school house and site $750.00. There were 11 maps value $50.00, and in the 1868 general population of 396 there were 127 school age children. There is a record dated back to the year 1834.

The first trustees from 1854 were as follows: Samuel Adams; S. Huntington, C.S. Bellows, Secretary-Treasurer; John McNeeley, Chairman; 1855 Trustees were: Chas. Bateman; S. Huntington; G.R. Tucker, Sec.-Treas; M.M. Drew; John McNeeley, Chairman; Henry Bryce; S. Adams.

YearTrusteesSec. – Treas.Chairmen
1856Ira Mason, G.R. Tucker, G. HogarthM.M. DrewW.B. Huntington, Henry Byce, G.R. Tucker
1857W.B. Huntington, Ben Mason, Ira MasonS.A. HuntingtonG.R. Tucker
1858Same as 1857Same as 1857Same as 1857
1859C. Bateman, A. Mansell, A. FraserM.M. DrewA.A. Huntington, M.M. Drew
1860S.A. Huntington, M. Archambualt, A. MansellM.M. DrewM.M. Reilly
1861S.A. Huntington, John Tucker, C.A. BellowsWigglesworthJohn Tucker
1862Same as 1861Same as 1861Same as 1861
1863A.F. Mansell, G.R. Tucker, G.A. BellowD.C. ChamberlinS.A. Huntington
1864Noah Jackson, A.F. Mansell (Deceased), G.R. Tucker, W.A. ChamberlainD.C. ChamberlinA. Fraser
1865A.T. Mansell, Noah Jackson, W.A. ChamberlainD.C. ChamberlinA.T. Mansell

Later Trustees were:   Edward Mac Donald, Alfred Smith, Ben Mason, Norman Reid, Alfred Reid, Thos. McBride, Wm. Timm (1902), A. Carlson (1903), John Patterson, David Anderson, R.D. Goddard, Wm. McCagherty, Gordon Tate, Norman Buchanan, W. Snowdon, Jos. Kilgore, John Viggers, John Connors, Chas. Wright, James McMullen, T.A. Brown, E.O. Gervais, John R. Fraser, George Howard, Arnold Gibbson.

The second school, also a log one was built in 1884, at the junction of the Gore Line and the present Village Main Street.  By this time the township had been surveyed and farm lots laid out. To this school came children from the riverfront and some distance inland.

Records of the school meeting of the householders and free holders of School Section No.2 Westmeath, on the second Wednesday of January 1854, give the following information: C.S. Bellows called to the Chair; John McNeeley appointed Secretary; moved by Samuel Adams and carried that each pupil attending school shall pay 1 shilling, 3 pence per month to assist in raising the salary of the teacher. The remainder to be raised by general taxation.  Moved by Hiram Chamberlin, seconded by C. Adams that the parent or guardian sending children to school contribute a half cord of wood, feet long cut in two to be piled at the school before February 14th.

For the year 1856 an agreement was made by the school board and their new teacher for that year; James E. Maxwell, who held a certificate of qualification to be a common school teacher. The salary quoted £75 Halifax Currency to be paid yearly.  This agreement was signed by Ira Mason and Geo. W. Tucker, trustees and the teacher. It was witnessed by D. Hogarth and W.B. Huntington.

For many years as late as 1860, there were heated discussions at the annual meetings whether schools should be run as a free school or by a levy on the public and general taxation.

In 1867, at the time of Confederation, the total population of the school section was 384 and the number of school age children was placed at 115.

In 1870, M.M. Reilly, the teacher, received a salary of $375. per annum; $8.00 extra for attending to the heating and $5.00 extra for acting as Secretary Treasurer. Teacher was docked $1.50 per day for any lost time.

In 1871 in the minute book it was moved and carried that the ratepayers may send to the public school their near relatives at a cost of 1¢ per quarter. In this year American silver sold at a discount of 10% and the school board decided to dispose of their holdings.

In August 1873, an addition was built to the school and an extra teacher was engaged.

In 1878 the price paid for wood for heating the school was 82½¢ per cord for hard maple and 47½¢ per cord of pine.

1886 Westmeath Village School. Photo from Westmeath Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir Book.

In 1886, the school being overcrowded and in need of repair, having been in use since 1844, a new school was erected on the same lot and location only farther back from Main Street.  It was of frame construction, consisting of two stories with a bell tower and bell; the senior room in the upper story and junior below.  It was the school that the older generation still living attended. Some of these were: the Adams, Carlsons, Ceciles, Frasers, Wrights, Ethiers, Reids, Achesons, Liberties, Rettys, (and many, many others),   O’Briens, McMullens, Burke’s, Jackson’s, Snowdons, McBrides, Bairds, Kavanans, Buchanans. This school served the section until 1905 when an additional third teacher had to be engaged and classes held in the Town Hall, which is also a possession of the School District.

Both clippings from Pembroke Observer & Upper Ottawa Advertiser, February 12, 1886
The first school built in the village was of log construction. This is the second built of frame construction in 1886 at the end of Gore Line and Main Street intersection. This 1886 School with bell tower is pictured in early 1900’s with two unknown girls.

In 1906 a new 4-room brick school was built at the southern end of the village on land purchased from the Late Dr. John Graham, the Village Doctor.  This consists of four large classrooms and two large hallways and a full-sized basement.

1906 Westmeath Village School

In 1898 what was known as Fifth Form work was taken up by the principal – W.F. Grylls. A Continuation class was taught intermittently till 1910 by the Public School Principal.  In 1910, a grade  Continuation School was started. In 1929 A Grade Continuation school was changed to a Grade B.

The Ottawa Journal, Saturday, October 13, 1934

In 1951 School Section No. 2 joined the Pembroke School Area.  The Continuation School students being transported by bus to the Pembroke Collegiate.  In the Public School there are three teachers still employed: Principal, Intermediate and Junior.

Grades XI and XII were closed June 4, 1951, and Edith Anderson Valliant hired to teach Grades IX and X, and gave Mr. Whyte notice his services are no longer required.

George Bishop1941$1000Public School
Muriel Christie1941$825Public School
Mrs. Greg Gervais1941$825Public School
Annie Dean1943
Mary M. Cote, B.A.1943
Muriel Christie1943$1000Public School
Alice Hennessy1943$950Public School
Inez Gervais1943$950Public School
Mr McIverney1943$1600Public School
Dorothy McEwen1944Principal, High School
Chris Anderson Wilson1945Asst. High School
Miss. M Christie1946Principal, Primary School
Mrs. W. Anderson1946Primary Room
Mr. Wm. Sly1946Primary Room
Dorothy McEwen1947$1900Principal, High School
Mrs. Anderson1947$1700
Mr. Fresque1947$1800Principal, Public School
Miss Agnew1947$1600Primary School
Same teachers as 19471948$100 raise each
Mrs. Anderson1949$2000Principal, Public School
Miss Agnew1949$1800Primary School
Miss M. Dipsam1949$2000Principal, Continuation School
Miss Sleuth1949$1500Primary School
Miss Anderson1950$2100
Beryl Menear1950$1700Primary School
Mrs. B Whyte1950$1800Principal, Public School
Mr. A.F. Zettler1950$2500Principal, Continuation School
Miss G. Millar1950$2300Assistant, Continuation School
Beryl Menear McBride1953$2300
Mr. Armstrong1954Principal, Public School
Charles Rushton1956Principal, Public School
Lucille Dupuis1957, 1958Junior Room
Katy Fraser Barr1957, 1958Intermediate Room
Francess Poupore Hennessy1957, 1958Principal, Public School

Trustees since 1940 to 1958:  John R. Fraser, E.O. Gervais, Lorne Elliott, A.A. Gibson, George Howard, Dawson Shields, Keith Tate, Arnold O’Brien, Dyer Kenny, Willard McMullen, Max Grylls.

Secretary-Treasurers from 1940 to 1958: Henry Young, 1940-43; Frances Hennessy, 1943-48; Wm. C. Grylls, 1948-51; Katherine Barr, 1951-58.  $60.00 per year paid to the Sec. Treasurers.

Chairmen: E.O. Gervais, Arnold Gibbson, Lorne Elliott, Richard du Manior, John M. Wright, Keith Tate, Dyer Kenny, A.S. O’Brien.

In 1948 the interior of the building was redecorated.  Contract was given to N. Tate and the wiring contract to Mr. Legault and Son, of Ottawa. The caretaker was paid $12.00 per month (Mrs. Bohart).

In 1942 the janitor was paid $490.  That same year the wood for the furnace was bought from Joe Davis at $6.50 per cord for hard maple, 50 cords.   In 1944 the fence was removed from around the school yard. In 1945 the secretary-treasurer salary was raised to $80.00 per annum.

Lights were installed in 1946, water in 1952, septic tanks and toilets in 1955 and washrooms in 1957.

-Compiled by Mrs. C.J. McMullen, Westmeath Tweedsmuir Book