Perth Courier, April 20, 1894

The following report was read at the last meeting of the Board of Education.  The labor of searching for old historical facts and compiling this very interesting report from them devolved principally upon the chairman R. J. Drummond, who deserves great credit for the excellency of his work.  Perth , 28th March, 1894

Dear Sir:

Acknowledging your circular of the 5th ult., the Committee of the Board of Education of the town of Perth which summarized the “Early History of the County of Lanark ” as follows:

The Township of Montague bordering on the Rideau was first surveyed by William Fortune in 1774.  His survey was not completed until 1797 and by Mr. Stegman.  The following year land was taken up in the township.

In 1802 we find the population to have been 90 souls and as was natural education of the youth commence.

Records inform us that compared to the system of today the system then was very simple, adapted rather to a paucity of population than to a superabundance as it now is.  Yet notwithstanding, in its sphere was equal to the effect.

We at least find that no complaints were made about a school opened in 1804 in that township on Lot 20, Concession 2 under Jessie McIntyre in his own house which school was continued publicly by other teachers whose names have been forgotten, in a school house on Lot 24 of the same concession.

In 1815 a proclamation in Great Britain offered free land, free provisions and free implements of agriculture to such persons and families as would settle in Canada and the Bathurst District which was then under prospective survey was pointedly included.

Accepting the terms, a party of Highlanders settled after much delay on the road, in this district, on what was subsequently named for this reason the “Scotch Line”.  This section may be found on the County Map of today at the meeting corners of the Townships of Bathurst, Elmsley, and Drummond which then with Montague were designated as the “Settlement Forming on the Rideau”.

Attached to this colonization scheme the Rev. William Bell was sent by the home government at a salary of 100 pounds per annum to attend to the spiritual wants of the pioneers and John Holliday, father of James Holliday, now one of the older citizens of the town of Perth, was sent as teacher with a salary of 50 pounds per annum.

John Holliday sailed from Greenock in 1815 and taught the first school among the settlers on the Scotch Line on Lot 21, Concession 1, Bathurst not far from the center of the town of Perth , not further, indeed, than at present many country scholars have to walk to their school.

In 1817 colonization of the District was increased by the disbandment of a regiment of soldiers whose services as such were over as the War with the U.S. had been closed.

Act 2 George IV Section 3 & 4 provided that the government of Upper Canada might erect in the District of Bathurst some kind of Judicial Authority with Perth as the judicial seat.

Accordingly, on the 15th November, 1822, the government of Upper Canada did so by constituting in Perth a “Board of the Quarter Sessions” as part of its numbers being privileged to sit on the Bench with the judges and act as his head advisors.

Dr. Thom, Dr. Reade, William Morris (afterwards the Hon. William Morris), Col. Taylor, and Father John McDonald were among the persons comprising this board.

They appear to have levied and distributed taxes and received 100 pounds per annum from the government of Upper Canada for school purposes till such school or schools be self sufficient.  They also had the power to nominate ten scholars for free tuition.

The first school house called the District and Grammar School appears to have been erected immediately to the (illegible word—west??) of the present location of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church about the year 1820 and many yet living in Perth recall their early education in the building which was still serving its good purpose in 1850.

John Stewart was the first teacher and remained so at least ten years at a salary of 100 pounds per annum.

Fees were collected from the scholars except those nominated for free tuition by the Board of Quarter Sessions.

The privilege of nomination intended for poor but deserving children was the cause of much strife because of the nomination of the sons or of sons of relatives of the Board.

About 1830 William McKay succeeded Stewart as the teacher of this District Grammar School and many now living recollect him.

Rev. Ephraim Patterson, well known in the west as a successful preacher, recently deceased, and brother James now living hale and hearty and well known in Perth, was a nominee of Hon. William Morris for free tuition and the last living of those favored by this privilege.

William Kay, the teacher, came from Cornwall to the District Grammar School where he had been an assistant to Dr. Urquhart.  He left for Goderich in 1843 giving up the school in Perth .

Brown, a graduate of Trinity, Dublin , succeeded him and impressed on the youth of that day the necessary tuition as the manners of “The Irish Gentlemen”.  Corporal punishment was a daily occurrence and was often administered to the bare back.  Brown departed suddenly in 1846 leaving many creditors to mourn his departure.  The school remained vacant until the Spring of 1847 when John McIntyre, a young graduate of Queen’s College then in its infancy, re-opened it and succeeded in establishing one of the best in the Ottawa Valley .  Boys were sent to Perth Grammar School from the surrounding towns and country some coming from a long distance.  The school was continued in the old place until 1850 when the grammar and the common schools were united and it was then removed to a part of the wooden building in which the common school was taught.  John McIntyre continued to teach as Head Master until he was appointed first manager of the branch of the Bank of Montreal in Perth, which opened two or three years later.

Taking ourselves back to about the year 1822 we may investigate the private schools of the town of Perth which there were several, imparting healthy training to the youth.

In that year, Benjamin Tett opened a school in the house which is now John Riddell’s house on Herriott St. near T.A. Code’s factory and opened in 1823 opposite the present Methodist Church .

From 1827 to 1832 John Wilson afterwards Judge Wilson, and hero of a celebrated duel with young Lyon, taught a private school in the Fraser house on Craig Street; later on he moved his school to the Thompson property on Gore Street.

Dawson Kerr, father of George Kerr, who was well known and recently deceased in Perth , kept a school next to the Methodist Church on Gore Street .

There was a very prominent school about the year 1849 known as the “old stone school” in the West Ward of the town on D’Arcy Street of which Robert Lees of Ottawa afterwards Q.C., practicing in Ottawa was the first teacher.

John McKay, son of Capt. McKay, succeeded him.  William Somerville and Duncan Morrison were successively teachers in that school.  Duncan Morrison was afterwards minister in the Presbyterian Church and died lately in Owen Sound .

According to the statement of many now grown gray with years, punishment was inflicted in these early schools without being tempered by mercy.

Between 1839 and 1844 Mrs. Wilson's wife, of the minister of St. Andrew’s Church, taught the leading ladies school in the building which is now the Methodist parsonage.

About the year 1839 the Misses Sinclair kept a ladies school on Drummond Street opposite the present residence of William Meighen, Esq.  This was a boarding and day school and under their care some ladies were educated who came from as far as little York , now Toronto .

The honor of being the first child born in the District of Bathurst and who attended the District Grammar School is divided between James Bell our present Registrar and William Moore of the township of Elmsley both living and hale men still.

Leaving the town of Perth for the municipality we find that a school was established in an “unsightly log shanty” on the road allowance between the townships of Beckwith and Ramsay now in the middle of the town of Carleton Place .  This school was taught by Mr. Kent who is said, notwithstanding the mean pretensions of the schoolhouse, was a good master.

Where the village of Middleville now stands in the township of Lanark a school house was put up and occupied by Robert Mason and his scholars.

These are among the early public and private schools in the recollection of living men or in early records of the then District of Bathurst now the County of Lanark .

These records bring us down to the “forties” during which the amalgamation of all schools was first broached.

About the year 1843 Murdoch McDonnell and W. O. Buell were prominently active in promotion the union of the schools.

Local trustees took charge of the education of the town and by way of experiment turned the then private and public schools into Ward schools under one supervision.

The D’Arcy Street School became the West Ward school.  The Centre Ward School was on the corner of Drummond and Herriott Streets; the East Ward School was on Brock Street eastward from Cox’s Corners.

The next step the Trustees took was the concentration into one building of all these schools.  So in 1846 the present site of the public school was purchased form the Rev. William Bell, the chaplain previously referred to who was sent out to the Bathurst District by the home government.  A frame building was erected on it sixty feet long.

On the 13th May, 1850(?) the union of public and grammar schools was finally affected making tuition free to all scholars.

The frame building was found too small so in 1852 the present stone building was erected on the same site for high school and public school which now with an addition is attached is occupied by the public school scholars only, a high school building on a new site on the Malloch estate property having been erected in 1876.

To conclude, from these two buildings have issued many trained scholars who have made a name for themselves and none the less from the original schools of the District of Bathurst for many men have been made who are now living certainly with a keen recollection of corporal punishment inflicted by early teachers who applied the rod wisely we will suppose.  And this brief sketch would not be exhausted aright without a reference to a few of the men whose names are interestingly suggestive of good accomplishment amid the general walks of our national progress.

The names are Hon. Alexander Morris, M.C. Cameron, Malcolm Cameron, H.H. Rose, now M.P. for Dundas, famous in politics; James S. Sinclair a judge of Wentworth, Judge Deacon of Pembroke and Judge Elliot of Middlesex and Judge Jamieson of Wellington, Judge Livingstone of Norfolk and D. Morrison, Jr., Judge of Grey for the judiciary; Hon. John Haggart, Minister of Railways and Canals; Canon Burke of Belleville, Professor Baker of Toronto University, Professor Thomas Hart, M.A., of Winnipeg in the fields of education; F.I. Mitchell, the present Inspector of the County of Lanark Schools—these are a few among the many are memories heartily summon to tell of a fruition which has been honorable alike to the early and later schools of our sketch whose education was promoted as teachers or scholars in them.

Posted: 16 June, 2004