Two Roman Catholic Churches were situated in Westmeath Township as a part of the larger diocese including Grand Calumet Island and Coulonge, Pontiac County, Quebec. They are: in Westmeath Village; Our Lady of Grace Church and in LaPasse Village: Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The children in these parishes, some of whom in the early years had grown up in a French-speaking home environment, were sent to the English-speaking public schools of the township. They were quickly assimilated into the wider community.
There was a red-brick public school S.S. No. 4, in the Village of LaPasse and both Catholic and Protestant children attended. Under the guidance of Father Henri Martel steps were taken to establish the second school in the village. This would be the first separate school in Westmeath Township and it opened in 1916. We have these entries from the Westmeath Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir Book:
On January 5th 1915, the first meeting was held to form a separate school in LaPasse. The following were named as Trustees: Alex Lamarche, Edward Gervais, with Gilbert Gervais as Chairman.
On July 6th it was decided to build a stone building. A contract was given to John Samuel Kelly of Fort Coulonge. The school was ready for the fall term. In 1919 it was decided to divide the school into two rooms and hire two teachers.
In 1934 a new frame building was erected to serve as a classroom and also as a parish hall, on the main street across from the Roman Catholic Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In 1954 the frame building was remodelled, an addition added and modern conveniences added.
The school board consisted of Aurley Gervais as Sec. Treasurer, Ovelia Lacroix as Chairman. Trustees were James Gervais and Andrew Gervais who also are on the school board at the present time (1958).
The teachers are Miss Eva Gervais, principal and Mrs. Ovelia Lacroix.
This report was given by Mrs. Aurley Gervais, rewritten by Mrs. C.J. McMullen, 1958 for the Westmeath Women Institute Tweedsmuir Book.
“Ecole Sacre Coeur“, operating from 1915 to 1933, was built of stone block and situated across the street from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in LaPasse and was later demolished. In its place, a framed wooden school house was built in 1934, which served the community until the early 1960s, when the children were then bussed to attend the new Our Lady of Grace Separate School built in Village of Westmeath. It was then re-purposed to become the LaPasse Parish Hall.
With the establishment of a second separate school in the area, a successful attempt was made to offer French-language instruction. This second red-brick school was short-lived from 1950-1958.
LaPasse Separate School No. 3 is built at the south end of the Bromley Line at the Lacroix Bay Road corner. The land was purchased from Euchere Lacroix, formerly owned by John La Marche.
The first meeting of this school was held on June 7, 1949, at the home of Leo Gervais. The first trustees were Leo Gervais, Mrs. A. Marion and Laurence Ethier. The school was named “The Canadian Martyrs School”.
The Department of Education approved the sum of $13,000 for capital expenditure to build the school. Classes were held at LaPasse from Sept. 1949 to Dec. 1949, until the school was completed. The new school was opened in January 1950. Gerard Couturier was the first teacher in this school. In June 1950 Mr. Rutherford, Deputy Minister of Education gave permission to teach French as a language of instruction in S.S. No. 3.
First Sec. Treas. – Mrs. A. Marion. Mr. D. Bertrand has been Sec. Treas. since Jan. 1950-58.
At present there are 15 children attending classes.
This report was given by Mrs. D. Bertrand. Rewritten by Mrs. J.C. McMullen, Feb. 1958, for the Tweedsmuir Book.
In her 1984 book “The History of the Corporation of Westmeath Township“, local historian Evelyn Moore Price who worked at the LaPasse school, writes of the creation of the separate schools; first LaPasse Separate School No. 4, in 1916, which would take the place of the older public S.S. No. 4 and then the later two schools: Separate School No. 3 which opened in 1950 on the Bromley Line and only served the community for 8 years, closing in 1958, and then in 1961 a new Westmeath Village school named Our Lady of Grace Separate School opened which is serving the community until the present day.