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School Days Museum

As I listened to the conversation around the kitchen table, I did some mental math in my head. I figured Uncle Art had left New Brunswick about thirty-five years ago to seek a greener field in the teaching profession, yet it seemed the memories of his younger days were carried with him.

He asked Dad, "Do you still use the one furrow walking plough?" "Do you hand mow around the rock piles and ditches with a scythe?" "Do you churn butter with a dash churn?"

Before an answer was given, he turned to Cliff and inquired, "Do they have double seats in the school?" "Do you use a straight pen dipped in the ink well?" "Are slates still being used?" "Is there still a tin dipper hanging by the water pail?" "Which primer are you reading?"

Without stopping to wait for a reply, he continued, "Some day people will want to know about the way of life on the farm and in the schools of years past."

It seems "some day" has arrived. For more than twenty years, members of the New Brunswick Society of Retired Teachers have been busy collecting material for their School Days Museum located in Fredericton. The inventory has grown to contain more than 10,000 items from schools of earlier years: textbooks, resource materials, teaching aids, photos, students’ work, archival materials, school furniture and fixtures.

The many photos of the graduation classes of the Provincial Normal School and Teachers College may hold a picture of the teacher in your family tree.

Copies of student publications, such as the first issue of Normal Light: February, 1891 and the Normalite: December, 1946 as well as the PNS Press: November 14, 1939 give us a chance to relate to the thoughts of the students of those eras.

Almost complete sets of school textbooks dating back to the 1800's provide a glimpse of what the students learned and what the teacher needed to know in order to meet the expectations of the school inspector when he observed lessons being taught.

A few Registers of Attendance have been donated, including those from New Maryland, York County: 1935; Limestone, Carleton County: 1889 and Nipisiquit, Parish of Bathurst, Gloucester County, 1st Term: 1913.

Looking at the classroom furnishings compared to those of today is a real eye opener. The desks, stoves and audio visual equipment of former years would be unfamiliar items to today's students but would bring back memories to the more senior generations.

The Museum’s website at provides a treasure of information for the researcher. The "Virtual Tour" section allows one to visit the classroom of yesteryear without leaving home. The "History of N. B. Teacher Education" includes photos and biographical information of a number of New Brunswick’s "Educators of Note". Among these you will find Alphée Belliveau, Director of the N.B. Provincial Normal School French Preparatory Department: 1879-1883; Dr. Walton Kelsey Tibert, Organizer and Supervisor of Training for New Brunswick Veterans: 1916-1922 who later was Director of Vocational Education for the province; as well as information on the principals and teaching staff of the Provincial Normal School (PNS) and Teachers College.

The name of the Provincial Normal School was changed to Teachers College in 1947.

"Teachers' Licenses" on the website shows one for Mary Edna Hassan, a 1911 PNS graduate, who taught 35 years in Chipman district schools and one for Joseph Raymond Tippett, a 1925 PNS graduate, who was born in West Saint John and graduated from Saint John High School. From 1951-1972 this distinguished educator served as Principal of Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton.

An essay on "Teacher Education in New Brunswick: 1784-1973" gives insight into the struggles of those responsible for education, to make changes to improve the system.

The Time Line has significant dates in Teacher Education in New Brunswick such as in 1842, when all previously granted school licenses were cancelled and only persons certified as competent by the County Boards of Education were licensed by the Governor. With the passage of the Common Schools Act of 1871, the need for teachers increased and the period of training was lengthened to five months.

The Museum is currently building a one-room school, 1900 vintage, in one of its exhibition rooms.

If you have any memorabilia, particularly photos of school houses or students of days gone by, the Museum would be pleased to receive your donations. Another area of great archival interest is the Vocational Education Field.                   

The School Days Museum is located in the Justice Building, East Entrance, Queen Street, Fredericton. The hours of operation from June until late August are Monday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. To make an appointment for a visit outside of these hours, or for any further information, please contact: School Days Museum Inc., P. O. Box 752, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5R6. Telephone & Fax. (506) 459-3738. E-mail - Website

Query 1314
Macaulay - Smith: Seeking information on James Macaulay (1853-1929) who married Ella Smith (1860-1925) in Saint John as his second wife. He had a grocery store on Saint James Street 1880-90 and  lived on Orange Street in Saint John.
8 Old Barn Lanen
Bayside, NB
Canada, E5B 2W4  
New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of
New Brunswick for sale.

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
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