The article following is provided by that wonderful publication, the “Puslinch Pioneer”, which for over thirty years has been dedicated to coverage of Puslinch Township news and history, and yes, most amazingly, is produced entirely by volunteers as a community service.  It is published ten times per year.  To assist with production costs, annual subscriptions of $25.00 are gratefully welcomed.  Please forward subscription requests, with remittances made payable to the “Puslinch Pioneer”, to the Puslinch Pioneer, R.R. #3, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6H9.



School Section #11, Puslinch


(from the Puslinch Pioneer, v.12, issue 4, November 1987.)


In 1845, the first school was built in this section on the John Dickie farm, later the Gamble farm, on the first bend of the Given Road, just east of the Lake Road, now Wellington Road 32.


It was of log construction, with one fairly large room, one door open­ing toward the road, and one shutter­ed window on each of the four walls.  It was heated by a large central wood stove.  The wood was supplied by the pupils, each pupil bringing half a cord during the year.  The furnish­ings were simple; the seats were blocks sawed from logs.  Later they had two long sloping desks along each side of the room.  The school’s equip­ment consisted of one blackboard and three maps.


The first teacher was a Mr. Rose­brook who, we are told, was a cripple.  Eight other teachers followed in the old school.  It is worthy of note that the first nine teachers were all men.


With progress in evidence in 1866, a new school was planned and the old school torn down and the logs sold in Hespeler.


Property of one-half acre on the corner of Lake Road and Given Road was purchased from Mr. Tom Lamont.  In 1866, a new stone school was con­structed with six windows and one door at the front with a porch.  Many improvements have been made on this school since its erection.  In 1905, a belfry and bell were added.  In 1908, the first flagpole was erect­ed.  In 1911, the first library was bought.  In 1916, a woodshed, almost the size of the school, was added at the rear, possibly to store wood and, I suspect, the site of disciplinary action also.  A basement was excavat­ed in 1927 with a cement floor and drainage, and a furnace was install­ed.  In 1935, it was wired for elect­ricity.


Enrolment increased, partially due to more permanent residents at Puslinch Lake and in January 1949 it was deemed necessary to have two teachers, who worked together in one room for a short time.  It is said that the Junior grades faced one wall and the senior grades the other.  The woodshed was then torn down and an additional room was built at the rear of the school of cement block construction and was opened for classes in September 1950.  At that time Mr. Bruce Chambers was the principal and Miss Vera Thatcher the junior-room teacher.


A movement was set afoot in Pus­linch in the 1960’s to set up a Consolidated School System which would eventually be centred in Aberfoyle, and in June 1966, with little public notice, the school was closed.  Miss Helen Purdy and Mr. George Kellner were the teachers at the time of closing.  The children were then bussed to Aberfoyle and will never know the fun (and may I also add the pranks and frustrations) they missed walk­ing back and forth from school.


Over the years many faithful trus­tees and teachers put much time and effort into making #11 a top-notch place of learning.  It has produced teachers, nurses, lawyers, ministers and professors to mention only a few.


Some things worthy of note: The teacher’s salary in 1864 was $300 which was paid annually.  After 1896, it was paid quarterly.  To begin with, the Board borrowed from in­dividuals or from the bank to pay debts until the taxes and money from the crown lands came in.  Grad­ually they were able to have a small balance left over for extras.  The school was open exactly 100 years--1866 to 1966--and a total of 50 teachers passed on knowledge to many lives.




Recollections from students of past years


During the years 1902 to 1908, we had a very capable and committed Scottish-born teacher, Mr. Duncan Ewart.  He encouraged students to develop their natural abilities and one example was the extra time spent with budding artist, Leslie Eagle, whose work was left on the spare blackboards for our benefit.


One very exciting memory was when Mr. Ewart was ringing the school bell after recess and the vibration loosened one of the large stones in the wall, which came crashing down, showering us with dust and plaster from the ceiling.


Another incident is well-remembered.  On arriving early, a fellow student and I caught a sparrow and we put it in the teacher's desk drawer along with the Bible.  Needless to say, the younger students told on us, and while we have forgotten that day’s Bible message, our sore hands from the teacher’s cane reminded us of our misdemeanour and still does after 80 years.


The Model “T” Ford was very new at this time in the early 1920’s and it is recalled that when the ball team went to play another section the whole team went in one car.


Arbour Day, the first Friday in May, was always a very special day.  Every pupil was asked to bring rakes, hoes, brooms, pails and cloths, and fish pole and bait.  Everything was made as spic and span as children can.  A flower bed was then made around the flagpole. Lunch was at 12 o’clock, then away we all went to the big lake to go fishing.  The teacher came along to keep order, hoping none would fall in, or be pushed in.  The owner of the hotel had a large boat with a motor and sometimes would take us for a ride around the big Island.


Aberfoyle Fall Fair was a half holiday for all.


The Christmas Concert was the grand climax of the year.


A bit later, the annual school fair for all schools in Puslinch was a big event, where we always showed produce from our gardens.  But the event I remember best was a dress-­up contest, which my friend and I entered each year.  When we were dress­ed as sunflowers and the next year as Gold Dust Twins, we were prize winners.  Needless to say, our dear mothers spent many hours sewing and planning, and made two little girls happy and proud.


A bit later on, a music teacher went around to the different schools to teach singing. And contests for this were held each year for music in the Aberfoyle Hall.


Helen Reeve Einwechter


with reminiscences from Anne Evans, Gladstone Zimmerman and Helen Purdy




A little poem, that suits S.S. #11 perfectly, was written by a former student, Mr. Clifford Tremain.



The Old Schoolhouse


Friends gather around and shed a tear,

In this great Centennial Year

As the powers that be now propose

All the little country schools to close.

This includes, of course, Old Number Eleven,

The best little school this side of heaven.

And a note of sadness prevails in this year’s celebrations,

When we think of the children taught here for three generations.


Many famous people, as memory recalls,

Were taught the three “R’s” within its sturdy walls.

Many a teacher who was famous in his chosen vocation,

Started his career in this very location.

And the pupils who graduated, in yearly procession,

Represented later most every profession.

But maybe we're jealous of the pupils today,

As we see them so merrily bussed on their way.


When we walked home from school, and gathered the eggs,

It improved our character and strengthened our legs,

And where “lickin” and “larnin” to­gether were fused,

Juvenile delinquent terms never were used.

As years passing by create a rosy haze,

We all remember the good old days.

Still in spite of our doubts and our fears,

This Country’s come far in the last hundred years.


But will our classrooms today,

With modern equipment and tools,

Turn out better Canadians,

Than our old Country schools?




After the closing in 1966, the building was used as a meeting place for several clubs and ethnic groups.  Now, in 1987, an almost complete­ly new building, pictured right, with a very


attrac­tive 1987 appearance, suitable for its modern use, houses a Training Centre for employees of Zehrs Mar­kets.



The United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1977, owns the pro­perty and operates a centre which enables members to be trained for advancement and also to be re­trained if, for some reason, such as injury, they are unable to continue in their present jobs.

The operation is supported by Zehrs and by government grants.  There are two clerks in the office from 8 until 4:45 and five business representatives who make it their headquarters.

The building has been in use since May, 1987 and was officially opened in July.


The old part of the school could not be used in the renovation.  The mortar was too weak, and so that section of the building was torn down, leaving the addition which had been built on at the back.


Progress comes whether we want it or not.  At least, it is good to know that the ghosts of the past will still find the property a place of learning. 



This article was contributed by G. Collins.