School for the Blind, Halifax, 1897

The Register, Berwick, Nova Scotia,

Wednesday, August 18, 1897.

School for the Blind

Editor Register

A few weeks since, when visiting the eastern portions of the Province of Nova Scotia I heard of a man who was deprived of sight and being in search of all cases of partial or total blindness I made arrangements to meet him with a view to seeing whether the School for the Blind could in any way be of service to him. I found that the man was 38 years of age, that he had accidentally lost the sight of both eyes when he was 15 years old and that for twenty-three years he had been sitting idly all day long, the monotony of his life being broken only by eating and sleeping. Physically and mentally, and I might say spiritually, the man had become a complete wreck. Ambition and hope for the future and even the power of enjoyment of the present had vanished out of his life and I found that I had come to him too late and that his destiny on earth at least was a simply a dull, monotonous existence.

For twenty-four years every effort has been made to make the School for the Blind known throughout the Maritime Provinces. Every available agency has been used to awaken the interest of the public in the education of those deprived of sight and to stimulate broad minded and intelligent persons to co-operate with the school and to bring all those for whose benefit it has been established within the scope of the privileges and blessings which it is fortunately able to offer and yet in the Provinces many blind children have been allowed to grow up in ignorance and like the man referred to above are now leading lives of helplessness and enforced idleness. Contrast the lives of the energetic, enthusiastic, self helpful and self supporting men and women who have graduated from this Institution with the miserable, monotonous lot of those who have not enjoyed its advantages and then you will no longer wonder at the constant and unceasing efforts which have been and are being made to obtain information with respect to those who are totally blind or whose sight is so far impaired that they can no longer see to read.

Many persons express surprise that the parents or guardians of those who are partially or totally blind do not at once communicate with the Superintendent of the School for the Blind at Halifax and secure for their children the free education which the school affords, but experience has proved that few parents will admit that their children are hopelessly blind, that the one central thought in the minds of such parents is the recovery of sight and that owing to this oftentimes false hope, and to indifference, the children are allowed to grow up and reach man hood and womanhood without any effort having been made to prepare them to lead useful lives.

I believe that each reader of this letter will admit that in this enlightened 19th century no totally or partially blind child who has average mental capacity should be allowed to grow up in ignorance. I believe that each reader is willing to do his or her best towards furthering the work of the school and I believe that as an outcome of this letter each district in the Maritime Provinces will be thoroughly searched and that the report of each and every case of blindness existing will be forwarded to the Superintendent of the School for the Blind at Halifax. Don’t imagine, reader, that this can be done without effort upon your part. Unknown to you there may be a blind child in the chimney corner of a neighbor’s house within a stone’s throw of your own home. Blind children are, as a rule, hidden away, kept in the background out of sight and it is only by careful and persistent inquiry that their whereabouts can be ascertained.

Trusting that I may count upon the hearty co-operation of your readers, I remain,

Yours Faithfully,

C.F. Fraser, Supt.

Halifax, Aug 16th, ’97.