Fight is on to save 100-year-old historic school

Mindemoya Old school

MINDEMOYA – A 99-year-old building known locally as the Mindemoya Old School will soon be a pile of rubble if the Central Manitoulin council proceeds with its planned demolition, as voted upon last month. That vote has galvanized a group of local taxpayers, called ‘Friends of the Old School,’ to redouble their efforts to save the building.

“The school, a solid brick and stone building, is historically significant, being one of the earliest Consolidated Schools in Ontario,” said spokesperson Jan McQuay in a Friends of the Old School press release issued Thursday. “We want to save this building not just because of its history, but also because tearing it down is such a terrible waste. We’ve become a throwaway society and that has to stop.”

Local residents began the fight to save it after the municipality gave their last remaining tenant notice to vacate in 2017. After much protest, a municipal sub-committee was set up to find a new use for the building. “But they put up nearly impossible conditions as roadblocks,” said Ms. McQuay, “and in late 2019 they shut the subcommittee down.”

“We reached out to the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario,” said Ms. McQuay, “And the firm ERA Architects answered our call for help. They did an assessment which praised the building’s quality and the legacy that it represents within our community.”

Meanwhile, the Weengushk Film Institute, located nearby, has expressed interest in the building for their planned expansion. “Weengushk wants to expand their production capacity, and more than triple their numbers of students,” said Ms. McQuay. “That would be an ideal use for a former school and a boon for Mindemoya.”  

Friends of the Old School is certain that there is a place for this building and the urgent task now is to forestall its destruction, the press release concludes.