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Mary 'Mae' Lorena Crosby
Mary 'Mae' Lorena Crosby

    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

    S.S. #5 Carden (Called O’Neill School)

    Neither general register nor secretary’s cash books can be located and so the sketchy details following have been gathered from the memories of former students, a former teacher, one of the builders, a former ratepayer, the records of Public Archives, Toronto, record books of Victoria County, and the publication “Schools and Teachers”. For making this story possible, we express sincere thanks to the following: Mrs. John Lunan and Mrs. Bert Tough of Kirkfield, Mrs. Meta Fitzsimmons of Lindsay, Mr. Bill Adams of Gamebridge, Mr. Lou Martin of Brechin, Mr. William Jacob of Coboconk and Mr. Norman Peel of Norland.
    From information available this school area seems to have the distinction of being the last school of the township to be built and the first to be closed. In 1865 the assessment of this area listed 21 names, among them being Michael Foley, Patrick, Charles, and Dennis McCarthy, John O’Neill, James Taylor, William Turner and John Turner.
    Records of Public Archives, Toronto show that S.S. #5 is first mentioned by the local superintendent, John Welch for the year 1870. First teacher mentioned was Miss Catherine Turhey.
    Inspector Reazin’s report of December, 1880 listed section 5 as being a log school with an enrolment of 17 and teacher’s salary $180.00. In June, 1884 he reported it as “Taylor‘s” – an inferior log building, only very poorly furnished, good order maintained, school not carried on during the whole year. In June, 1895 he described it as a school house behind the age.
    Just before this in 1894 the Adams family had moved from Toronto to the section. Bill Adams of Gamebridge told us he remembers at ten years of age being taken from the city school in Toronto to continue his education for four years at S.S. #5. Such a contrast, at #5 they often had little visitors from outside not interested in education – playful chipmunks and sometimes a snake making its way between the logs of the wall. Teachers were Miss Twohey who boarded at Foleys and Mr. Dan Lucy. Pupils attending were Adams – George, Bill, Chris and Fred; Turner, Duncan; McCrae, Donald; O’Neill – Theresa, Willie and John; Wetherup, Bill; and Foley – Tim and Maria. Friday was the day for reviewing the week’s work. A couple of boys who didn’t pass the test of the review, usually got the birch rod from Dan Lucy on the following Monday. Soon Monday became the day for them to occasionally skip school.
    The school was located near the North East corner of the property of John O’Neill, Lot 20, Concession 8, on the south side of the Quarter-line. Mrs. Lunan (Mamie Marren) told us of attending the school the last 2 or 3 years of its existence. To go to school meant a long walk alone through the maple bush between her home and the school. Her parents, being concerned for her safety walking alone postponed her going to school past the usual age. Then they arranged that she live with her grandparents (McCarthys) and walk from there until her younger brother became school age. Other pupils of that period were her brothers and sisters, Peter, Alma and Dennis; the O’Neills – John and Bill, the Martins – Josephine and Florence. Last teachers of the log school were Mary Ann Connell, Hannah Twohey and Clara Bassett. Another teacher was a Mr. John Shannon. He is remembered as being clever at clock repairs and spent some spare time and maybe (some thought) some school time serving his customers. As a result when the term ended, a dispute arose as to how much salary was due him. A court settlement at Victoria Road was in his favour, allowing him more than his prearranged salary of $18.00 a month.
    Fortunately for our story, the John Martin family moved to the #5 school area in 1903, just in time for son Lou to see the end of the log school era and the building of the new frame one.
    Lou and his father were repairing a ranch fence near the log school one day and noticed that the low windows were open and from time to time, it seemed a shower of particles could be seen coming from within. Wondering what could be the reason, Lou went to the school door and discovered the teacher, Miss Clara Bassett, was gathering up sheep manure from the floor with an old slate. Apparently someone’s sheep had found the door loose enough to allow them the shelter there from some of nature’s cold winds.
    An oft-repeated story, concerned Jimmy’s lunch and the chipmunk. Apparently Jimmy O’Neill, one of the youngest pupils as was the custom, had his lunch on a shelf high on the side wall. As classes progressed, a chipmunk was attempting the theft of the lunch. Jimmy excitedly jumped from his seat to rescue the lunch. When the teacher asked what was the trouble, Jimmy retorted: “That chipmunk’s not going to get my lunch.”
    About this time Inspector Stevens declared the school “Unfit for use” and a new one would have to be built. Meeting and discussions followed with the usual delaying question – How can the money be raised? The new site was chosen on the corner of the quarterline and the 8th concession – East side of the road. The builder hired was William G. Peel and sone Norman of Bexley.
    Norman recalls his Uncle Jeff Peel, of Bexley built the 18 foot by 27 foot stone foundation still to be seen at the site. Then came the long horse drawn trips taking the lumber from Head River Mill to Kirkfield planing mill and then north to the school site another 9 miles. On one trip across the quarterline, a neighbour’s horse was found “in distress”. Mr. O’Neill’s horse’s foot had got stuck in a crevice of the rocky road. Norman helped free the foot and both continued on. The chimney had to be as specified – from the ground up – built by Mr. Hoyle of Glenarm using 900 brick. The door was at the front, with cloakroom just inside.
    The new frame school took shape and was painted white with red and blue trim, much to the delight of Julie O’Neill whose favourite pastime that summer was to run over the ridge north of her parents home in bare feet and watch the building of the school. How eager she was to start to the brand new school – built just in time for her first classes.
    Lou Martin remembers his contract of building the woodshed and fence along the road for $35.00. He was to tear down the old log school, and re-use any suitable lumber to build the woodshed. The logs he drew home for farm buildings or firewood.
    He remembers the under-floor ventilators built in the school to allow fresh air to come in under the stove. The first teacher in the new school was Miss Minnie Kennedy who stayed several years. During the first cold days of winter both teacher and pupils were chilled to the bone, despite the wood stove filled to capacity. Lou was called to look into the problem and decided on a way to stop the cold air entering was to fill up the ventilating vent under the stove with several blocks of wood.
    The next teacher was a Miss Ella Winn from Downeyville, who boarded at O’Neill’s. After a few months at S.S. #5 she went to the Horncastle section.

    Memories of #5 as given by Mrs. Meta Fitzsimmons (Miss Meta Power)
    Miss Power had attended Modal School Course, the last held in Lindsay in the Old Central School, where part of the Lindsay Collegiate now stands. This entitled graduates to a certificate to teach for five years.
    Miss Power remembers arriving at Kirkfield Station having travelled by C.N.R., with trunk and belongings, and was met there by Mr. John Martin, Secretary of school board, with horses and a large open sleigh. The nine miles from Kirkfield North to the school seemed the longest nine miles she had ever travelled. Occasionally a dim light would be seen in the distance and she would ask Mr. Martin, “Is that the house or school?” He’d reply between puffs of the old pipe – “Oh no, we’ve a long way to go yet.”
    Miss Power boarded at Mr. John Martin’s – cost of boarding being $10.00 per month. Most common foods were beef, salt pork, eggs, potatoes and turnips – the latter vegetables were kept in a pit in the ground and had wonderful flavour. Mrs. Martin’s pies (pumpkin, apple, rhubarb or berry) were the best ever eaten. Home made bread and butter were beyond description. Tasty short cakes with currant were also served with preserved plums or berries. The home was a log one with three rooms downstairs – a large living room-kitchen, off which were two bedrooms. These were heated by a stove, part in each room, made possible by an opening big enough for the stove. Mr. And Mrs. Martin occupied one and the school-marm the other. Miss Power would be awakened in the cold winter mornings by Mr. Martin starting the fire in the other part. The other family members slept upstairs.
    Miss Power enjoyed all the recreation and social life in the community but most of her spare time was spent reading. If neighbours called in, cards and chat were the pastimes. There were the occasional sleigh rides. On one occasion Lou Martin took Miss Power and his sister Florence to the McCarthy’s across the fields to the seventh concession over and around the snow banks. On the way back the cutter toppled over on a well rounded snow drift and all fell out.
    Dances in the neighbourhood were perhaps the most memorable events of the social calendar. One party never forgotten was held at S.S. #2. During the evening (some of the men having had a bit of fire water) a fight developed and a number of the ladies had to escape by the window. Miss McMahon of this school and Miss Power of #5 were both among the ladies who got through the window in spite of their long skirts (the style in those days). Another such occasion occurred at Chirpaugh’s Hotel Victoria Road. Lou took Meta and Florence in the horse driven cutter. After dancing came the long drive home. Nearing home Lou had fallen asleep at the reins. The wise old nag stopped at the house door for the ladies to alight and then went on to the barnyard area. Taking a short turn over the manure here, the cutter upset and Lou (still asleep) went overboard. Such a cooling off! and such cool glances at breakfast next morning. How shocked her parents were when Meta later told them of her teaching experiences in Carden.
    Transportation in those days was not easy and the C.N.R. left Kirkfield very early. The Duggan family had kindly offered to take Miss Power to the train any time to visit her home in Lindsay. One day she walked six miles after school Friday night to their home only to find a bee was in progress and no one could spare time or horses that day to take her to the station but she enjoyed the hospitality of the Duggan home for the week end.
    Then came the end of the term and Mr. Steven’s (Inspector) letter states: “Her work there was successful. She is a young lady with winning ways with children to whom she is very kind.” This would seem the keynote which years later launched her into a long career in child welfare work with the children’s aid society and after thirty years of service therein retired as assistant superintendent in Victoria and Haliburton Counties, through the Lindsay Office.

    The teacher next after Miss Power, was Miss Bess Thompson, who came in 1910. By this time only 2 families in the area had children of school age – The O’Neills and Martins. The Adams and Marren families had moved to better farming areas in 1898 and 1902 respectively.
    Another teacher whose term at #5 was brought to our attention was Miss Sadie McCaughey. It is probable that this was Miss McCaughey’s first school, to which she went with a meagre education but a talent for teaching and a thirst for knowledge. The story is that she tried the Entrance Examination with her own Grade 8 Class and later proceeded to Model School, before embarking on a long and successful teaching career.
    Social parties in the school were sometimes attended by sleigh loads from Kirkfield and Horncastle. All remember Charlie McCarthy as being the teacher’s suitor until the wedding bells rang in September, 1911.
    From “Schools and Teachers” publication, we learn that S.S. #5 was closed June, 1911. Last teacher had been William J. Hickey with salary of $375.00. Average attendance had been 2 pupils – Julia and Charlie O’Neill and secretary John O’Neill. The little school was valued at $600.00 and equipment $70.00.
    The only pupil of public school age – Charlie O’Neill continued his 3 R’s at Kirkfield Public School, boarding with the Morrison family and Julia went to Lindsay Collegiate.

    Moved by Roy Fox, seconded by J. Deverell that this representative meeting of the electors of S.S. #4 Carden hereby put themselves on record as being in favour of dissolving S.S. #5 and attaching the same in such portions as they may seem expedient to adjoining sections. Carried.

    MEETING AT S.S. #2. SEPTEMBER 18TH, 1946
    Moved by John P. McNaney, seconded by T.W. Deverell that Michael Healy’s Oshawa, tender is accepted for school #5 for seventy dollars.

    Today at the site of this former country school, we gaze upon a partly grass covered stone foundation, and a heap of discarded lumber blackened by the elements. Only the cattle can be seen grazing in the surrounding pasture lands. Let us remember the struggling generation of more than half a century ago. These sturdy pioneers came full of hope to build their homes in the “New World” frontier. They also hoped for education for their children in this land of freedom. The arable land was not sufficient for successful farming, and one by one, the homes became vacant, to fall into ruins – like their little frame school. The children have grown and scattered to the larger schools of life and other battles of survival for themselves and their children.


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