Letter: A brief history of the Mindemoya Old School

Help support Friends of the Old School before it’s too late

To the Expositor:

The story of the Mindemoya Consolidated School is a good example of progress through controversy, the democratic system working for the benefit of all concerned. 

The first settlers in this area of Carnarvon Township arrived in the early 1870s. The Loves, Vincers, McDonalds, Galbraiths, Elliotts, Hodgsons, Kings and Caddells all worked together to establish a thriving pioneer community. Recognizing the need for a school, School Section No. 1 Carnarvon was organized in the year 1876 and a log school house was built to the north of the main intersection (north of Jake’s) the next year. When it burned to the ground, the decision was made to rebuild in the same place.

As the population increased and the school became crowded a dispute arose in 1893 to have the section divided with the dividing line being the 20th sideroad (Yonge St.) which runs north and south through the town of Mindemoya. This proposal was turned down by Carnarvon council and a new frame building was built, just west of the main intersection of the town (close to Maja’s Garden).

However, by 1918 the population growth made it necessary to hire a second teacher and consider expansion. Again, there was discussion and controversy to divide the school section and build two schools. This time the movement was more successful. Council divided the school section, and two sets of trustees were elected with Mr. David Wyman acting as secretary for both boards. Plans were made for the building of two schools, one in the east and the other in the west end of the section, Yonge St. being the dividing line.

Again, a counter movement was established by some of the more progressive ratepayers with a plan to establish a consolidated school comprising sections one and four to serve all pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 12. This plan proved to be popular since it encompassed the improvement of high school education whereas previously some pupils took Grades 9 and 10 in the elementary school and others went to Owen Sound, Sault Ste. Marie, etc. for further education. 

Plans were made, debentures were issued and the consolidated school was built, a solid brick and stone structure designed to last. This was one of the first consolidated schools in Ontario where more than one school section was served and pupils from Grades 1 to 12 were educated in the same building.

With the opening of the consolidated school in 1921, another first in the Province of Ontario became necessary. The first school buses to operate under contract were established to bring the pupils from the far corners of the joint sections.

So, you can see how progressive our early settlers, our ancestors, were! The Old School building stands as a tribute to their dedication and determination. They worked together to make positive changes in our community. We now have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps. 

Don’t give up! Support the Friends of the Old School! Help them find a solution. Support the group any way you can before it is too late!

Can we look at this situation differently? Ask: What can we do to save this historic structure, instead of listing the reasons why it cannot be done!

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” – Winston Churchill

Pat (Williamson) Costigan

Lake Manitou and Kitchener

Member of the Central Manitoulin Historical Society

Member of the Friends of the Old School