Many Happy Recollections Of Old Arkell Schoolhouse

(from the Guelph Mercury newspaper for Friday August 31, 1962.)





Former Pupils To Meet At Anniversary Reunion

Three of the oldest surviving pupils who have been invited to the Arkell school centennial celebration are Mrs. Rachel Petty, 92, of Guelph, left, Robert Murray, 89, of Morriston, and Mrs. John Tolton Senior, 95, of R.R. 2, Guelph.






Celebrations at Arkell’s old stone schoolhouse

This old schoolhouse holds happy memories for many.





In 1862, children were attend­ing classes for the first time in the new stone schoolhouse at Arkell.  Scratching with slate pencils on their learning slates, they struggled over the three R’s, much as they do today.


          Perhaps the years the children of the last century in the school were of even more vital importance than today.  There were no grades then, there were five “books”, then entrance to high school.  Few stayed in school that long.  Most were needed on their parents’ farm, and this was all the education they had.  The succession of dedicated teachers that served in the school had to instil a lot of education in a short time.


This same building, hiding be­hind the tree, has now seen 100 years of service, and centennial celebrations are to be conduct­ed on Saturday to honour it.  Starting at 3 o’clock with a parade, the crowded day will in­clude a picnic supper from 5 to 7, and end with a dance in the school from 9 o’clock till mid­night.




Happy Memories


Mrs. John Tolton, the oldest surviving pupil of the school, at 95, and still living just down the road, expressed the hope that “this celebration will revive hap­py recollections”.  This wish is certainly to be shared by all those who have been connected with the school in its long his­tory.


          The committee responsible for the centennial day has contact­ed the other three oldest surviv­ing pupils of the school.  They are: Robert Murray, 89, now living in Morriston, Miss Rachel Petty, 92, of King Street, Guelph, and William Richardson of Oshawa.


          Their recollections certainly vary from those of more recent graduates.  Mr. Murray, who started school there in 1877, re­calls that only two students in his class went on to high school entrance.  Mrs. Petty tells of the different size slates they all used for their lessons, in the absence of textbooks and scribblers; how rich families had big slates, and poorer, or those with many chil­dren could only afford small ones.  She also remembers one of the early teachers, Simon Mc­Kenzie, insisting that the chil­dren repeat the Ten Command­ments every Monday morning.




First Log School


There are conflicting records of when the first log school was built at Arkell, but it was some­where around 1830.  It was situ­ated at Farnham, on the north­east corner of the field adjoin­ing the cemetery.  Around 1850, growing population forced the building of a second log schoolhouse on the site of the pres­ent school.  In  1856, the “teacherage”, that is the teacher’s house, was built, and in 1875 a new stone dwelling erected.  Mrs. Tolton remembers when the new house was finished.


          The old stone schoolhouse at Arkell, with its 1950 addition, now goes into its second century of service and it is hoped that all, those who have been connected with it will come and join in Saturday's celebrations to make it a memorable day.




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