This particular copy of Carden Schools was given to us by Mr. Wayne Teel
The hand written name on the front page is William H. Teel
Mrs. Margaret(Thasher) Stewart and Miss Lillian Holder compiled the original information. That book is available at the Carden library
Mrs. Francis(Fox) Laver is now in the process of updating that book and adding some pictures.
Miss Angie Hallett converted our copy to computer format
We would like to dedicate this section to Mrs. Stewart who passed from us this summer. I am sure you will see her name and others like her as we go forward . Look for them.
S.S. #3 Mud Lake School
The earliest days in Mud Lake School are recorded in an excellent essay by Mrs. James Day (nee Jessie Anna Ramsay) written about the year 1936-37. It is reprinted in part below.
“Beautiful summers followed by white cold winters. Thus the happy happy days passed. We were growing and soon must go to school and begin to improve our minds.
The log school (located on the Cemetery Corner) had been built some two years when we started on our quest for education. The school was about two miles from our home and near a lake. It served for church and Sunday School as well. I remember visiting it before the roof was on, just the beautiful freshly hewn clean pine logs. I crept in under and took a view of the interior, also a whiff of the pungent odour of the great pine chips which were strewn all about. When next I visited it, it was all complete, a well shingled roof, nicely floored, ceiled overhead, six windows and one door. The spaces between the logs chinked with wood and plastered with mortar.
A fine substantial edifice in the eyes of the builders! They looked upon that which they had created and pronounced it Good. And it stood for many years a monument of enterprise and industry, for the probabilities are that every log had been cut and prepared free. The shingles hand made by old Grandfather Day, a labour of love to protect his manifold grandchildren and others, and give them opportunities to acquire l’arnin’. Grand old pioneer type, never afraid of work or hardship.
It would be a revealment to us now to know how few dollars and cents went into the building of that old log school in the backwoods. How clean and new and bare it was in those first days with its six square windows of small panes of glass, two on each side and two at the back, with the teachers high desk between them. Two long desks on either side against the wall, with a long stationary bench in front of them which was very convenient: the children could sit with their backs to the desk and study from their books in vibrant whispers, or turn around and swing their feet over the seat and under the desk, and write or cypher. We thought it a splendid arrangement as it enabled us to change our position frequently.
There were two shorter benches in front of these, which could be moved about, on which the younger children wiggled and squirmed through the long long hours they waited for recess and freedom.
The teacher’s desk was large, and built on a raised platform two steps from the floor, at which she sat enthroned in dignified authority overlooking the little barefooted group of homespun humanity sitting in a row on either side like a flock of unfledged fowl on a perch, ceaselessly shoving, crowding and whispering, scratching their slates and rubbing them off with their sleeves. In that manner the little learning was slowly absorbed until we graduated in the three R’s with out any fuss and feathers.
The hours were long and weary, but there were compensations. Quite often someone had to go to the little spring near the lake shore for drinking water. Did I say some one? Two were supposed to go and it was a most enjoyable trip. We would not go during play periods. We waited until school was called and then developed an uncontrollable thirst, when some one would say, “Please Teacher, May Johnnie and I go for water?” Or perhaps Mary and Susie got in the plea first and obtained the coveted privilege with instructions to MISSING INFO and not MISSING INFO.
O what joy to get out in the sunshine, carrying the water bucket and tin cup from which we all drank regardless of germs, for those were the good old days before germs were invented. So why should we worry? We went a short distance down the road, then slipped through the fence down a little path deliciously damp and cool, so restful and soothing to our hot bare feet. The long grass, rushes and bushes came up to our chins and over our heads at times. We encountered some mud as we neared the water. We each took a long long drink, and then another before we filled the bucket, then rested a few moments and imbibed some more water, still further enjoying the scenery. Carrying a pail of water through the long grass was rather difficult and before we reached the fence a goodly portion had slopped over and run down our legs. More was lost getting over the fence. We finally arrived with half the quantity we started with which, considering all things, was not so bad.
As we entered the room a keen comrade lost no time in making the request, “Please may I pass the water pail?” and immediately some boy who was weary of hard study made the round with the pail and tin cup. Girls first of course and everyone took a drink of the cool sparkling water and tried to settle down to the irksome task of putting in the time until the next intermission. How glad we were when teacher said “Put away your books and slates; MISSING INFO Go quietly now.” As each boy leaped off the doorstep he let one MISSING INFO whoop and ran into the woods to resume whatever game or occupation had been interrupted at the previous playtime.
O Playtime was the good time, the glad time. School time was the long time: every fifteen minutes a long drawn hour. Summer afternoons were hot and sultry in the small stuffy schoolroom. The sounds from the outside came through the open windows, the drowsy hum of bees, the soft chirping of birds and insects, the low rustling of the grass, all combined to create a sleepy atmosphere and occasionally little heads dropped over arms on the desk and slumbered peacefully. Others struggled against the almost inevitably spelled out words of their lessons in audible whispers, scratched the mosquito bites on their legs and feet, picked innumerable thistles from their toes, and went through all the ordinary contortions of a healthy active child when supposed to be sitting still. (In early 1900’s long summer holidays were introduced, MISSING INFO school met in summer.) When the teacher said “Put your books and slates away.” the change was instantaneous. Eyes brightened, backs straightened, everyone became alive and rushed out into the sunlight of light and life and joy.
And O my dears, would you not be happy if you were a child today and could rush out of school and hurry down to the corduroy over the marshlands and chase big water snakes off the logs where they were lazily sunning themselves. Or you could go into the swamp and procure a hoard of pitch from the tamarac trees and chew it up into delicious red gum, and fill your pockets and chew it surreptitiously in school. But this had to be done very carefully for if the teacher discovered you in the act you would have to march down and deposit it in the big box stove. However, one was able to fish up another piece from the supply in your pocket and proceed to manufacture it. This helped wonderfully in passing a dull afternoon, and freed one from that drowsy feeling brought on by desultory study.
Sometimes we would go in the other direction and play in the beautiful hardwood bush. The boys usually played horse and drew poles and built houses, barns and fenced fields. Sometimes they would draw material for the girls to build playhouses, but more often the girls were left to MISSING INFO small chunks of logs were used for seats, also upholstered with moss. Odds and ends of boards were discovered or brought from our homes, that we arranged for shelves on which we placed our particular treasures, pretty pebbles, clam shells and acorns, together with choice specimens of broken china. The latter was especially prized. There was a charm that lingers still about these fragments of Blue Willow Ware, Brown and Gold lustre, and the white with pink blossoms. What glamour they added to our decorations. And made our large white iron stone pieces seem very common indeed.
Thus we played, kept up three or four playhouses, each containing its own congenial group. We were not always happy. Being human, quarrels arose and one group would not be on visiting terms with another for maybe one or two whole days. But soon the air would clear, the fleecy clouds roll by, the sun would shine again in all its brightness and we were happy, all our troubles forgotten.
On the edge of the wood we could gather raspberries in their season, and an abundance of dogberries. They had a funny puckery taste but we always ate them. Dewberries grew in the edge of the swamp, and heaps of wintergreen on which we freely browsed. We gathered great bunches of leaves of the sour sorrel and ate them. They served in lieu of pickles and salads. Natures own remedies kept us in the best of health and sharpened appetites for our plain lunches of bread and butter and made us hungry as bears for our five o’clock supper when we reached home. We looked out upon the graveyard from the two back windows of our school. In fact, in a short time there was grass covered graves within six feet of the building. We may wonder now why they put the dead so near where the little children played. After all, it may have had its influences on our young lives. We were as happy and carefree as any but we never played beside the graves. We often went in by twos and threes and wandered sedately around and spoke in lowered tones of those lying beneath. In the first few years there were very few sleepers there, but time takes its toll and now nearly every one of those old pioneers (and students) are lying very comfortably and neighbourly in the old Mud Lake Burying Ground. We never called it a cemetery. Who would think of applying such a dignified name to that sandy hillside?
(The school served as meeting place and Sunday School and the following excerpts from the essay illustrate the place it took in the lives of the pioneers.)
Are you going to meeting on Sunday? we asked each other. We didn’t say Church. Why? We had no church, but just gathered in the little school room every Sunday for religious services. Every alternate Sunday morning the Methodist minister visited us, and the intervening Sundays a Presbyterian ministered to our spiritual needs. The Sunday School was a union of both denominations, held at an hour that would not interfere with the other services. How plain in my backward vision is the picture of that old congregation gathered for worship. The men and boys all sat on the west side of the room, facing the women and girls and small children on the opposite side. We listened to God’s word expounded by simple Christian men who went into hard places in the name of the Master. They expected small remuneration and received less. The minister was frequently paid in sacks of flour or maple syrup.”
Thus concludes the useful and delightful reminiscences of Mrs. Day. Miss Myrtle Graham, one time student of both Mud Lake School and long time teacher, has kindly shared her memories of those days, which follow. Mr. A. McNabb was also interviewed and verified much that had been written. Mrs. A. Campbell also helped with her memories, as did other younger people.
Carden was surveyed in 1855 and soon Joel Day and his four sons, plus three McNabb families, the Griggs, the Gilchrists and others formed the settlement. Three Day brothers married three McNabb sisters, and presently there were grandchildren who must have schooling. Could be that George Jarret, who was handy that way, superintended the erection of the structure, much of which was free labour, and it is thought not more than one hundred dollars changed hands.
By 1865, classes and Sabbath worship proceeded to everyone’s satisfaction. Many children were victims of scarlet fever and diphtheria. One of the largest families to attend was that of Solomon Thompson which boasted 14 children. Four of these youngsters died in one epidemic.
Miss Susan Campbell from Brooklin may have been the first teacher of #3, (aunt of Archie Campbell, who settled nearby), later ones were Misses McEachern and Craig. Neil Rutherford was the last and moved the children and equipment to the new school. (Sandy McNabb remembers Mr. Rutherford as “one of the best.”)
Mr. Colin McNabb, with eyes uplifted, was the able precentor for 20 years, when the school became church for a day. Mrs. Jas. Day and Mr. Frank Thompson held teaching positions for their classes of boys or girls in Sunday School from 1888 to 1896.
After the Log School was deserted it still stood almost touching the sandy road, it had seen adult education in 1877-1883 before that term was coined. A Literary and Debating Society followed a programme of Shakespearean Reading and Debates on lively topics. A Singing school drilled note reading as well as song participation. A Temperance Society sought to extol the virtues of Total Abstinence. When the old school was razed in the early 1920’s it brought old relics to light – a backless volume of Shakespeare, some limp singing books and a box of faded Temperance Regalia, an eloquent reminder of the struggle for culture as they carved out homes, fields and roads. Sometime in the late 1800’s Easter Holiday week was introduced in order for the teachers to attend Convention. (and they were expected to go.)
It seems agreed that about 25 pupils or slightly more was the average attendance in that early day. Names of the families who sat on the long benches were Wellington (Wick) Grahams, Days, (Asel, Jim, Etta, Maude, Ada, Norman, Milly, Mabel, Wilfred to mention a few) McNabbs, Campbells, Gilchrists, Palmer, Grigg, McDonald, Wright, Taylor, Hargrave, Thompsons, Avery.
Excellent board for the teachers was secured at Griggs and later at A. Campbell’s. McNabb’s School might still have been the attractive name for this school, as it was so named in early documents, had not Mr. A. Day, member of the first church board moved that it be called Mud Lake School – It still is!
It was a happy day for pupils and teacher when after some discussion a site was chosen for the modern brick school erected on Mr. Hargrave’s property. Mr. Hargrave offered a free site on the corner of his farm, but the powers that were decided it was too chancey a drainage problem, and purchased the hilltop site. Mrs. MacFarlane a daughter of John Hargraves, recounts her father’s opposition to the site, as it cut into his field making cultivation difficult. Mr. McNabb recalls Mr. Allie Chrysler as the builder, and the sum of money mentioned as debenture was $800.00. The opening date was Sept. 1st 1896, and the happy little procession of youngsters headed by their school master, Mr. Rutherford, entered their new domain. What a pleasant change. Here were varnished double desks, matched flooring, high ceiling, and V joint walls. A lengthy run of pipes traversed the ceiling, and the grounds were neatly fenced with a slantin board atop, which proved a fine sitting vantage point for years to come.
No matter how fine the school, only good teachers could impart knowledge, and fortunate were the youngsters who sat under those early imparters of knowledge. Miss Kelly of Brechin, Miss Cameron of Gamebridge, Miss Hepburn, Mr. Robert Munro (later an M.D. and a genius at explaining physiology), Miss Day, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Ward (reciting poetry and choral work were his specialities), Miss Pepper (sister of Miss L. Young), Miss E. Morris (teacher at Point Mara junior school as Mrs. D. McNabb ‘67.)
Classes were thrilled with the helioterra, an arrangement of earth, moon and sun in model form, to show their movements. The space age had arrived. The encyclopaedia produced endless new knowledge. Penmanship was stressed, and Miss Cameron and Miss Hepburn used a strong hair pin to rule groups of 3 lines, (as in today’s copy book) on one side of the slate. The pencils were sharpened on a convenient rock. Such mottos as “Honesty is the best policy” and “Gentle words and Kind deeds” as inscribed in an old copy book dated 1895, belonging to Mr. John Day, and discovered by Wilmot Wright during renovation of their home, illustrate the importance of penmanship, as well as a lesson in good conduct. Each line was expected to be better than the one above. The vertical penmanship practiced until the early 1900’s gave way to a more flowing style, and swifter copying as time went on. Homework was a heavy task. Memory work of poems, countries and their capitals was imposed, but has served a useful backlog of memory to the students, who can still rhyme off the Village Blacksmith and myriad other poems and songs. Spelling too was a thorn in the flesh. All correct was the rule of the day, and many a hopeful entrance student journeyed to Kirkfield or Uptergrove for their tests, to be plucked, for an inadvertent disability in the spelling line.
As Mrs. Day recalled in Log School Days, play time was the best time in the new school as well. More sophisticated games became the rule in the more restricted yard. Pump, Pump, Pullaway, Ready or Not, Football, and even a spot of square dancing were attempted. One youthful scholar was famous for being able to sing 20 verses of a harrowing shanty song at a stretch. Mr. Grigg, a nearby resident provided wide long boards which were used for coasting down the hilly road, the most thrilling recreation of all. Mr. W. Hargrave, in the stone house, proved a friend in an emergency when he would extract a tooth by sheer force to give misery, but final relief to the sufferer.
Some of the teachers scolded as few of their kind would or could do today. Small misdemeanours brought harangues which were enough to rouse dislike for school in the offenders. The strap was no stranger in those days, and one teacher who was famous for wielding this weapon on a young lad of the day, later casually remarked that she and her strap were to given credit for the student’s later success in life. Not all teachers are so remembered, notably Mr. John Ward of 1907 or thereabouts who made school the happy busy institution it should be.
In the early days most of the teachers remained in the community for the weekend, where they gave generously of time and talent to church and community effort, especially Epworth League. Several married local men and gave valuable leadership, (one would be Mr. McNabb who became an elder of Sebright Church.)
The teachers of the day were put to a hard decision when the first inspector came to visit. Mr. Reazin had an unhappy habit of falling to sleep beside the stove, while correcting copy books, the question which faced the teachers was whether to wake him or not.
Miss Graham concludes her reminiscences with the statement “I really would not exchange my old time public school days for modern ones, though I am aware of excellent new curriculum and methods.”
Mrs. Tom Wright tells a funny little story of her mother, Mrs. Allie Chrysler, who attended the original school. One time a younger sister left the school room to use the outside toilet. Mischievous Maggie too “left the room”, and stealthily approached the little house, where she began scratching on the wall. The little girl inside could only think of stories of lynx which were prowling the district, and she ran screaming into the school. The teacher and students soon guessed who the “lynx” was and a good laugh was enjoyed. We are not told if punishment was meted out.
As happens, time gradually changed the new school into an aging one. Windows on the west were closed to provide proper left shoulder lighting. A partition separated the cloak room from the class room, a piano and electric light was installed, and new decoration made the school, which was used until 1967, very modern and up to date. In 1941, the individual section became a part of the Carden School Area. In 1966 the school became a Junior School in which only the first four grades are taught and children bussed to the location.
Registers exist in the school from 1919 when Mrs. Mabel Lambert, Atherly, and Mrs. Mabel E. Speiran, Brechin were keeping records. Thirty names are on the roll, which include Avery, Day, Freelen, Thompson, Wyatt, Campbell, Chrysler, Black, Wright, MacNabb, Newby, Nicholson, Lelliot. It is interesting to note that many of the names from the past generation are still attending this school, and in 1966 the same family names could be found in many cases. Other names which appear on subsequent registers are Fenton, Holmes, Cottrell, McDonald, Tyrell, Young, Beaumont, Payne, Beemer, Johnston, Eastcott, Eysten, Fox, Williams, Graham (these last four names record the fact that Dalrymple school was closed for a short time and children attended Mud Lake.), Richardson, Debenham, Ridgewell, Bolton, McLeish, Blunt, McGillivray, Robinson, Andrews, Symes, Bramwell, Lunney, Morgan, Lemmon, Mintz, Fulsom, Matthews, Hart, Walsh, Shilling, Morton, Pattenden, Stone, O’Connor, Miller, Middlebrook, Gilbert, Phillips, Bull, Shier, Butson, Wilson, Strome, Stewart, Black, Eastcott, Stewart, Wood, Roberts, Townes, McDonald. From this list it can be seen how many pupils have entered and left the doors of #3 Carden and Mara. The list may recall school chums who have been all but forgotten to readers of this report.
A partial list of more recent teachers is Miss M. MacKenzie, Miss Morris, Miss Shirley Smith, Miss Warkenten, Mrs. Carric, Mr. Steep, Mr. Drury, Mr. De Mouillard, Weir, Dobson, Mrs. A. Grigg, Mrs. M. Childs, Mrs. J. Wright, Miss Maxine Marshall, Miss MacDonald, Mrs. McGillivray, Mrs. Morgan, Mrs. John Wright, Mr. Bill Demopia, Miss Duncan.
No school story is complete without a reference to men who served on the Board. Some who have so acted in recent years are George Young, Phoebe Young, Elgin Thompson, Emerson Day, Lena Campbell. Mr. A. Thompson was for many years secretary of the school board.
An old record book recalls a Sunday School which is remembered by many as a model of its kind. Mrs. B.F. Chrysler was the director, 53 scholars would attend and there were seven teachers on the staff as well as assistant teachers and officers. Some teachers names were Mrs. A. Campbell, Miss Wyatt, Miss Avery, Mrs. Hargrave, Miss Thompson and others.
Several students who were educated here followed the professions of nursing and teaching. Of recent years, commercial courses have provided several students with good jobs in town and city, the most valued contribution to the section is of course made by the students who settle nearly to become good farmers and business men.
Life moves on in this section and the brick school which served so well and so long no longer echoes to childish voices.