History of Ridgetown Public Schools

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One of the achievements for which the pioneers should be especially commended was the establishment of Public Schools as soon as there were a reasonable number of children to attend them. Knowing full well the handicap under which they themselves lived because of the lack of a fair common school education they were determined that their children should have a better chance of an education. Schools were built and opened when it meant the addition of another burden on their already almost hopeless finances.

The first Public School of Ridgetown was built in 1828 on a site almost across from where Scane's School is now. From the hewing of the first log to the making of the teacher's desk, the work was done entirely by the settlers. This building was used as a meeting house and school for many years. A list of the pupils who attended this school when it was opened in 1828 contains such names as Mitton, Scane, Scafe, Carlisle and Marsh. The first teacher in this school was Mr Gowdie, who according to report, was very strong on discipline. The next teacher was Sophia Nash, who later married one of the first settlers, James Watson. Then Alexander McKillop and a Mr Thompson. Money was scarce and the where-with-all to pay the teacher was hard to procure. This difficulty was partly overcome by having the teacher board around at the different homes, one week for one child and two weeks for two.

Each parent, at the beginning of the year, pledged a certain number of children to attend school. At the end of the term the expenses were divided into as many parts as there were children pledged and each parent had to pay for the number he pledged whether they attended or not.

The next school was built on a lot donated by James Watson in l840. It was situated on the corner of Main Street and Erie where the Community Grocery now stands. This site became valuable for business and a new school was built on the North Side of York Street. Mr E.B. Harrison was the teacher. He later was the County Inspector. A wing was built to this school in 1872.

Soon accommodation became limited and in 1875 the building and grounds of the Methodist Church on Ebenezer Street were bought by the Public School board. What was formerly the church became the primary wing of the public school. In 1882 the present School was built on Jane Street on the site where a sawmill had burned down. It has remained the only Public School in Ridgetown.

The citizens of the town in February 1948 have just voted on and carried a by-law to build a new public school on the site of the present school.

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.
2004-10-29