The first school in what is now S.S. No. 6, Howard (SCANE'S) was a log building built in 1828, on the corner of Lot 7, Concession 9 - a little to the west and across the road from the present school.
This building served as a meeting place as well as a school for a number of years. The work of building the school from the hewing of the first log to the making of the teacher's desk was done entirely by the settlers.
The first teacher was an Irishman by the name of Gowdie who was strong on discipline. Each family having children attending school paid the up-keep of the school and the teacher's salary according to the number of children they had going to the school. Part of the teachers' salary was paid by boarding the teacher.
When this school opened in 1828, pupils by the name of Mitton, Scafe, Carlisle and Marsh were in attendance. Thomas Scane was one of the first trustees and his son John was Secretary.
Teachers following Mr Gowdie were Sophia Nash, Alexander McKillop, a Mr Thompson and Alexander Goulet.
This log school was destroyed by fire, date not known, and prior to the building of Mitton's school in Ridgetown, the pupils of this section attended the log school at Rushton's Corners. After Mitton's school was built most of the pupils came to Ridgetown School, later pupils attended Ridgetown's second school on York Street.
As the rural population was increasing it was felt a school outside the village of Ridgetown would best meet the needs of the people. 0n January 8, l879 a meeting of the ratepayers was called by John Hartwick, who had been authorized to do so by the Howard Township Council, for the purpose of electing three trustees for the section. This meeting was held at his home and the following trustees were appointed -- John P. McKinlay, John Hartwick and James Scane. Duncan McKinlay was named Secretary. A second meeting was called on January 15 of the same year, and after much discussion it was decided to purchase one acre of land at the north west corner of Lot 8, concession 10, from the Misses Betsy Jane and Ann Scane, daughters of Henry Scane, for $150.00. On February 25 following the contract to build the school for $1,115. was awarded to the firm of Tolmie and Wilson.
The first meeting held in the school was on November 17, 1879, when the trustees met to examine the school and engage a teacher for the following year.
Walter McBrayne was chosen as first teacher at a salary of $400. for the year. His duties included lighting the fires and cleaning the school. Mr McBrayne taught for two years and was followed by James Decon, who in turn was succeeded by Anson Smith. With the exception of Wm. Ruthven, who is said to have taught some years later, these three men are the only men to have taught in the school.
In 1884 Miss Sarah Smith was engaged as teacher at a salary of $360. A complete list of teachers who have taught since 1885 is not available, but the following have taught: Miss Robina Munro, Miss Lizy Smith, Miss Elizabeth Smith (the two Miss Smith's were not related), Miss Harriet Henry, Miss Edith VanAlstine, Miss Stevenson, Miss Ada Gesner, Miss Sasah Gosnell, Miss Violet Savage, Miss Sarah Gosnell (second time), Miss Mabel Ramm, Miss Shirley Agar, Miss Blanche Marshall, Miss Flora Gesner, Miss C. Crawford (supply for short time as Miss Gesner was ill), Miss Mabel Ramm (second time), Miss Hazel H Hawes, Miss Marjorie Moody.
When the school was first built the winter attendance is said to have exceeded fifty pupils. In 1942 there were only seven resident pupils in the section. The inspector decided the attendance was so small it was advisable to close the school. The pupils to attend the Public School nearest their homes. Since there are now more public school pupils in the section the school is being reopened on September l, 1946 with Miss M. Moody as teacher.
From the time of Miss Sarah Smith, who received $360 per year, the salaries were gradually raised with $1,050, being the highest paid in 1922-1923. After the depression the salaries were lowered from $1,000 gradually to $650 in 1936. In 1937 salaries began to rise. The salary being paid for the year 1946-47 is $1,450.
From the time the schools (present and log) were built, there has never been a year in which there hasn't been a Scane on the school board until the present year (1946) and one of the present trustee's grandmother was a Scane. Charles W. Scane who became trustee in 1907 was trustee for 23 consecutive years.
In 1912 during the Easter vacation, the chimney and one wall of the school gave way. Once again it was necessary for the country pupils to come to town to school, but this time they had their own teacher. The school section paid the town $20 for the use of the vacant room in the Ridgetown Public school from April l5 to the end of June.
The present school has been extensively remodelled. In 1934 the window lighting system was changed, a new hardwood floor was laid, and the school redecorated. In 1938 a basement was added, making the building in its present condition one of the best remodelled schools in the Province. Hydro lighting was also installed at that time.
In 1939 a little more than an acre of land adjoining the school lot was bought at the back for $100 through Walter Hamil from Tony Russell (the English name of a native of Poland) for a reforestation plot. The County paid $50, the Township $25 and the school section $25 of the cost. On this lot around 6,000 trees have been planted. Some are coniferous trees, others deciduous. The section cares for the plot and trees are given to any desiring trees for re-planting.
More than 300 people have passed through the doors of the present school. Owing to the fact that the school lot adjoins the town, some of the town pupils, those living in the western part of the town found it nearer attend the country school than their own town school. While on the other hand pupils of the section who had to pass through the town to reach their country school, went to the town school instead.
Some have entered the professions, some of the field of commerce, while many still live in the vicinity. Former pupils who served in the First World War were Dan McGregor, Francis Crawford, Alexander Crawford, Jack Brien, Walter Adams, Charles Turner, George Harrison, James Eastlake, Will Eastlake and Mack Eastlake. Three from the section who attended town school and who served in the first World War were John Linton, Reggie Turner and Victor Pyne. Mack Eastlake, John Linton and Reggie Turner gave their lives in the "War to end all Wars".
In 1916 the ladies of the section sponsored a garden party on the school lawn. The proceeds were given to the Red Cross, and during the evening a new flag pole was erected and a new flag donated and hoisted to honour the memory of Mack Eastlake. Charles Scane who had been trustee the longest was given the honour of hoisting the flag for the first time. Phil Henry who was Mayor of Ridgetown at that time and also a rate-payer of the section was Master of Ceremonies.
Former pupils to serve in World War Two were, Earle Brien, Billy Casey (who paid the supreme sacrifice), Lea Vickery, Lorne Luther, Frank Gawne, Harold Gawne, Kenneth Burley, Joe Kocela and Earle Fox.
Two former pupils of the old log school house worthy of mentioning are Thomas Scane and Ebenezer Scane.
Thomas Scane (the third to bear the name of Thomas) was born in l834 and was the first pupil from the log school to attend a University (Toronto) He became a surveyor and one of his first big jobs was surveying along the McKenzie River for the Canadian Government. He and his men are said to have been the first white men to traverse the territory.
Ebenezer Scane born in 1838 was of this locality to become a lawyer, having studied law at Victoria College. He played a prominent part in the municipal affairs of Chatham where he had opened a law office in 1865. He was Mayor of Chatham three times.
(History was written ca. 1946)
Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.