• hwtproject.k0j@gmail.com
  • Ontario, Canada

S.S. No. 6 Roche Fendu School

This school was located in the most-easterly area of Westmeath Township; serving families on Grants Settlement Road and surrounding areas at the easterly end of Pleasant Valley Road.

This school section lies just inland from a ferocious stretch of rapids that now draws visitors from all around the world. The earliest settlers did all they could to avoid the Ottawa River rapids; but nowadays the Roche Fendu rapids are sought out and enjoyed by white-water enthusiasts.

Evelyn Moore Price  in her 1984 book “The History of the Corporation of Westmeath Township“, takes the time to first set out the lumber industry’s  use of the Ottawa River to send the logs out to market. She also includes a poem  that describes the Roche Fendu area which is in the east of Westmeath Township, close to the town-line with Ross Township. Those farms front on the Grants Settlement Road and in modern times, their shorelines form part of the Whitewater Provincial Park. (Seen as green coloured islands at the right side of the “Big Bend” on this map : OfficialWhitewaterRegionRoadMap_20121122.)

Ms. Price links early family surnames to some sets of  rapids found in the Whitewater Park and the dam referred to is the Chenaux Hydroelectric Dam at Portage du Fort. In this excerpt Ms. Price lists the locations of  the various, early S.S. No. 6  school buildings as:

First school made of logs  on  Lot 26, Front B; used from 1837 to 1871 at Brady’s Point on the shoreline.

Second school of logs on Lot 30, East Front Boundary; used 1871 to 1893.

Third (& final) school  on E 1/2 Lot 6, Concession 7; used  1892-93 to 1950.

S.S. No. 6 Roche Fendu School House built in 1892 and now a private home. Photo from “Beachburg a Rich Heritage

In “Beachburg a Rich Heritage“,  produced to commemorate the 175th Anniversary of the Village of Beachburg, the Roche Fendu School is featured:

Roche Fendu is a name which is part French and part Indian meaning Split Rock. Some of the first settlers took up tracts of land to establish farms and homes in this part of Westmeath Township, along the Ottawa River.

The first school was built on Lot Front B 6, known as Brady’s Point. John Buchanan, a lawyer from Scotland, who wanted his children to be educated was the first teacher. Before the Public School Act was passed in 1850, each settlement had its own small school and each family contributed to the teacher’s salary, supplies, repairs and wood for the school. The teacher boarded among the families.

In 1871, the second school was built on property now owned by Gillan Robertson, whose great-grandfather John Park Robinson attended the first school as a boy. The next school was built in 1892-93 on  E 1/2  Lot C, Concession 7, now owned by David & Jean Robinson. This building continued as a school until the rural public schools were disbanded and the pupils bused to Beachburg Public School.

Roche Fendu Students (unknown year):       Front L-R: Eric McLean, Alister McLean, Kenneth Howard, John Lavallee, Melvin Farnel, Archie McLean, Wallace Buchannan. Middle L-R: Mary Comrie, Marjorie Farnell, Audrey McLean, Isabelle McLean, Mable Robertson, Betty Brown. Back L-R: Teacher Asa Stevenson, Dorothy McLean. Marjory Howard, Cora Brown, Jessie Black, Iva Barr, Gladys Mathieson. Photo from Beachburg a Rich Heritage.