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

S.S. No. 8 Lee’s School

This school section served children from the Meath Hill & Snake River areas at the most westerly side of Westmeath Township.

In the 1984 book, “The History of the Corporation of Westmeath Township“, local historian Evelyn Moore Price summarizes this school:

Flashback to One Room School House in Westmeath

by Margaret Pender

From the Cobden Sun, December, 1976.Mrs. Margaret Pender of R.R. 2, Renfrew, was reminded of a one-room school house she attended which is now closed. Mrs. Pender wrote the following when she was still a student at the school in 1938. 

The story of the S.S. No. 8 Westmeath School, sometimes known as the Lees School is a silent memo of the steady progress which the early pioneers made in the field of education since the arrival of settlers in the Ottawa Valley.

The first log school was built in 1859 on the farm property of Mr. George Lee’s which at the present time is owned by Mr. Wilbert Brown.  The school was built on the brow of a hill overlooking Muskrat Lake and was built on a bush road.

The pioneer school was a low building constructed of logs with small paned windows which frequently had to be patched with shingles or old copy books.  The school had no modern conveniences and the teacher was hired to teach her students the three R’s of writing, reading and ‘rithmetic.

The students sat on log benches and had to be summoned to class by the teacher’s booming voice as there was no bell in the early school.

The logs of this pioneer school were later transferred to the farm of Mr. William Rollins, father of George Rollins, a rate-payer in the Snake River section.  The logs were used for the building of a home for Mr. John Costello, a Snake River blacksmith.

In 1876 the pioneer school was replaced by a new school built on the former site but on the property of Mr. MacDonald.  Men from the area built the new school of logs from the Kenny’s swamp. For 47 years, this little red school house was a landmark in the settlement and where the parents of this generation were to receive their education.  In this second school, double seats and desks replaced the log benches.

From 1898 until 1900. Mrs. Alex MacDonald was the teacher and she had 72 students under her care from grades one through eight. Many of the students attended only in the winter months because they were needed for chores on the family farm. Teachers boarded with local ratepayers.

Several of Mrs. MacDonald’s students contributed to the war effort during the World War I.  These boys were Vernon Graham, son of Robert Graham; Wilson Howard, son of George Howard and Donald Coffey, son of William Coffey.

In 1923, another school was constructed on the same site by the Pembroke firm of Beattie Co. Ltd. Later another addition was added to the school and students could now study grade nine subjects at the school.

In the early years of the school, students would come at 8 a.m. to light the fire in the furnace. Later the school hired a janitor to look after the school but the children were responsible for the fire for the remander of the day. There was no running water in the school and students had to walk across the street to the home of Percey Brown, now Campbell Faught’s, for water.

This second school was torn down and made into a hen house at the farm of Mr. George Rollins on the Rollins sideroad near Micksburg.

The third school was a large brick building with a basement and a wood shed in the rear.  There was a large cloakroom, two large windows and a cupboard containing about 500 books. There was a large Union Jack at the front of the room and pictures of the late King George V and Queen Mary.  There was also a piano in the school for the teaching of music.

Some of the teachers at the school from 1893-1938 were: Mr. Johnson, Mrs. E. DeLong, Mr. Harrison, Miss T. Munro, Miss Boland, Mrs. Maitland, Miss Gordon, Mr. J. Russell, Miss E. Leach, Miss Matheson, Miss Weedmark, Miss L. MacKleme, Miss Mabel Smith, Miss Evelyn Grant, Miss Isobel Bowes, Miss Tate, Miss Kate Faught, Mrs. G. Case, Miss Muriel MacGregor, Mr. Fred Kelly, Miss Sadler, Miss Jean Cook, Mrs. O. Spearman, Miss Newton, Miss Evelyn Mick, Miss Elsie Johnson, Miss Margaret Brown, Miss L. Stein, Miss Hazel Childerhose, Miss Mary MacDonald, Mrs. N. Buttle, Miss Cora Childerhose, Mrs. Marcella Dennison, Miss May Hill, Mrs. Cora Nelson and at the present Miss Stella Wilson (1938).