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Ruby M. Cusack


Annual Report of Schools of New Brunswick

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick P888-56. Circa 1920,
adults and children stand outside of the one room Willow Grove School House.
 Among them are Murchie, Enid, and Vera.

June was a wonderful month as not only did school close but the last day of school brought a picnic with visitors arriving carrying tins of sandwiches and sweets. Everyone joined in the fun and frolic as well as catching up on all the latest community news.

We had decorated the iron stove with Blue Flags, Ferns, Butter Cups, Daisies and Lilacs.

Since there was no hydro in the school, an old gramophone kept us in tune as we sang O’ Canada, followed by a musical drill and recitations.

Three girls were doing a Thank You to the guests for coming but got mixed up in their lines and were about to burst into tears when laughter erupted from our visitors with lots of clapping.

 Now was the time for enjoyment and we all headed out in the yard to play a game of Scrub.

The ladies had a relay race carrying an uncooked egg in a spoon.

The men were busy playing horseshoes while discussing the repairs that need to be done over the summer.

The women heard all this talking and gathered around to add their two cents. But it wasn’t long until they disagreed on when the old fashioned desks had been replaced. If they had had access to The Annual Report of the Schools of New Brunswick for 1928-29 by the Chief Superintendent of Education and read the Inspectors’ Reports, the answer was there - “Titusville - New single adjustable furniture”. Also in the list of improvements in the counties of St. John and Kings Counties by Inspector G. J. Marr, who had made 440 school visits, lots of facts are given such as Loch Lomond School had its roof shingled, sides clapboarded, building and outhouses painted. Otter Lake had new posts put under the building and a new door-step. Barnesville, Bayview, and Holderville received new dictionaries while Willow Grove fell heir to a new flag chart.

The names of teachers in the schools throughout the province can provide genealogical information and sometimes a clue as to how the path crossed for many a bride and groom.

The 1929 list contains the names of four hundred and seventy six candidates who wrote the Matriculation and one hundred and twenty five who wrote the High School Leaving Examination.

At the end of the 1939 school year there were 2,893 teachers employed in the public schools of New Brunswick with 454 being males.

At Lower New Salem, School District No. 2, Parish of Blissfield, Northumberland County, the old schoolhouse was torn down and an excellent new building erected. This building is well lighted and has very good blackboards.

Many teachers in rural schools prepared students for Normal School - later known as Teachers’ College.
Determination was needed by the rural students who were able to pass the exams without having the experience of attending High School.

To us who went to the one room schools, the memories of a wood burning box stove, the dipper and pail of water, raising the flag up the flagpole, copying notes from the blackboard, writing on a slate, a straight pen and ink well and the trips on a cold day to the outhouse ever remain vivid in our memory bank.

Gradually there are fewer and fewer of us to remember the one room schools and fewer still of the buildings left standing. I suggest you send digital picture copies to Archivist, Joshua Green, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick -Email or Phone (506) 453-4428 so memories can be kept in a secure place for future generations.

The old Journals of the Legislative Assembly, is where the reports of the Chief Superintendent of Education appeared. These reports would have been tabled in the Legislature and included with all the other annual reports in the Journals.

The Annual Report of the Schools of New Brunswick started in 1880, under that title. But before that there were reports of the Superintendent called by other names. The Common Schools Act of 1871 was the legislation that provided for a free non-sectarian system, and from that year until 1879 the report of the Chief Superintendent was known as the Report of Common, Superior, Grammar and Normal Model Schools.  Prior to the 1871 act, these reports were known as the Reports of the Chief Superintendent of Education, or the Superintendent of Parish Schools, depending on how far back you go.

Although spending hours looking through the Annual Reports of the Schools of New Brunswick is time consuming, the results are often quite fascinating and one gathers much information on the teachers, students, repair of buildings, and more than just the teaching of the A B Cs.

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