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The Joys of Teaching

Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of  New Brunswick, Lillas Reid, History of Norton collection, P58-91
                        with Lucy and Martha Pierce in front of Dickie Mountain School, Kings County, in 1924 

When Aunt Ethel and Gram came through the door, Gram was carrying a surprise in her draw-string purse but alas it was not for Cliff or me, but for Dad.

She handed him a soft-covered book, titled “The New Brunswick Reader - First Primer”.

She pointed out it had his name on the inside cover as well as “Clover Hill” which was the school he attended.

This little book brought forth a lot of stories of his days in the one-room school. It really surprised me how he could remember the names of his teachers and told us something interesting about each one.

Aunt Ethel informed us that teachers remember the good and the bad deeds of their students.

Winnifred Conrad Thomson, in her publication “The Joys of Teaching” reminisces about many of the incidents in her school days and in her teaching career, which commenced in the 1930s.

She experienced bullying when she was in grade one. She loved going to school but one day, a group of three girls taunted her at recess time about wearing thick glasses that made her look like an owl. One of them snatched her glasses and stamped on them, breaking them beyond repair. 

Her teacher, Miss Murray, happened by at that moment and between sobs, Winnifred explained her right eye was no good as it was hurt when she was three. This incident meant a train trip to Saint John and a week at home. But during her recovery time, she made a decision that when she grew up, she would be a kind-hearted teacher like Miss Murray.

After graduating from High School, she went on to the Provincial Normal School in Fredericton where she won the Governor-General’s medal for highest professional standing in her class and also earned a music teacher’s certificate.

At her first school, one parent did much complaining, but the Superintendent, stood behind her.

At her next school, the trustees thought it would take a male teacher to handle some of the unruly students but she proved them wrong. When she saw the bare foot of a boy, mashing another child’s sandwiches and cookies in milk, she blew her top and ordered him out.

Many an eighteen-year-old stepped into the role of school marm with one year of training at the Provincial Normal School in Fredericton.

School injustices by some teachers were never forgotten nor forgiven while acts of kindness were carved in the hearts of students forever.

Early Schools of Kings County, New Brunswick” published by the Kings County Retired Teachers' Association has information on 180 schools.

Everything you ever wanted to know about school records will be found in "New Brunswick Schools: A Guide to Archival Sources." This book was compiled by Diana Moore and Andrea Schwenke under the direction of E. R. Forbes. It describes the available primary material - manuscripts, official records, correspondence and other documents relevant to schools and teaching in our province.

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick has many school related photos with some of them being online on the Historical Images of New Brunswick at PANB

Also on the Provincial Archives of  New Brunswick website, the Index to Petitions for Teachers' Licences and Payment 1812-1882 has 6645 records at

The series RS657, Grammar, Parish, and Private School Returns, (1816-1976) is a wealth of educational information. Within these records is the group of records popularly titled the Teacher returns.

In 1802, the New Brunswick provincial government began to play a role in education by giving teachers financial assistance. Three years later, the government began to build elementary and high schools, and in 1816, school management boards were elected. In 1847, the government had parish schools constructed; in 1858, additional funding was allocated to build new high schools. However, government funding was frequently not sufficient to pay the teacher's salary and administrative expenses for the school. To fill the funding gap, parents whose children attended the school were expected to pay a contribution proportionate to the number of children enrolled.

Many children from poor families were not able to go to school as their parents could not afford the school fees.

The Common Schools Act of 1871 meant a number of benefits for the citizens of New Brunswick: education was provided free of charge, new school districts were established, new schools were built and the system for issuing teachers' certificates was improved. The new schools were open to all children, regardless of their mother tongue, religion, gender and - most important of all - their family's economic situation.

It took more than 50 years after the province was founded for New Brunswick to set up institutions designed to train teachers. In the early years, education was poorly organized, and anyone who wanted to teach could easily do so without any official training. Although the government tried to solve the problem on several occasions, these attempts were generally fruitless or had little impact. And so in 1847, the provincial government passed a law to set up a provincial teacher training college and a system of three different certificates to be awarded on graduation. The first training school opened in Fredericton on February 10, 1848. On May 2, 1870, a training school called the Normal School was again set up in Fredericton. In 1947, the Normal School became Teachers' College. More information can be found at

The saga of education in New Brunswick gives us a window to look through to better understand the school system of the past.

Although my school days have ended, I still search for information on where the folk in my family tree learned to read and write, as well as the names of their teachers and classmates.

Query 1871
Fuller - Crawford - Secord: Widow Ann Fuller of Kennebecasis Bay, New Brunswick 1784-5. In 1790 styled Ann Crawford, widow of Kings County. Could she be Ann Secord born c1740 at New Rochelle, Westchester, NY, and possible mother of David Fuller (c1765-1846) of Prince of Wales American Regiment? David’s son John Secord Fuller was baptized (Anglican) 29 Sep 1809 at Niagara, Ontario.
Query 1872
Crow - Worden - Northorp: John Crow came to New Brunswick circa 1818 and married  Sarah Jane Worden. He received a land grant in Johnston Parish, Queens County, New Brunswick in the 1840s. His daughter Emeline Harris Crow married Stephen Joshua Northrup, who changed his last name to Northorp.  He was a shoe maker in Centerville which I believe is in Queens County. I seek information on the birth place of John Crow and the names of his parents and grandparents.
Contact R. Northorp at

New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of
New Brunswick for sale.

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