| May 12, 2005

Feature article,May 12, 2005

Feature article May 12, 2005

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Sharbot Lake Public School - 75th anniversary

by Jocelyne Steeves

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the present Sharbot Lake Public School. The start of the area's interest in educating its young, however, goes back many more decades.

In 1886, Mr. Jerome Thomson who had hunted in the area for many years became concerned with the many children he saw on his outings, who lacked any formal education. He decided to change that. As the general merchant and lumber dealer in the village of Sharbot Lake, he personally paid for the teaching salary of Miss Bella MacPherson and provided a building behind his own home for that first class.

The first school meeting was held on December 29,1886, to organize what was to be known as School Section #9. The elected trustees were Jerome Thomson, Dennis Babcock and J. Shibley. N.V.W. Mallory was Secretary Treasurer, M. Avery was Chairman and J.H. Cannon was Auditor.


In 1887 the first school was built in front of the present school, closer to Highway 38. The building measured 26 feet by 40 feet and was heated by a wood stove. A teacher's duties included starting and stoking the fire and maintaining the building. She had to adhere to a curfew, abstain from alcohol, tobacco and harsh language. Marriage ended a young woman's teaching career.

In January of 1888, Miss Mowbray of Ompah was paid the sum of $18 per month to teach. The first student record in 1904 had 63 students enrolled. There is no indication that there was more than one teacher in the building. Discipline was strict and the adage not to "spare the rod" widely believed and acted on. Men teachers could take one night each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they went to church regularly. Any male teacher who smoked, used liquor in any form, frequented pool halls, or got shaved in a barber shop, gave good reason to suspect his worth, integrity and honesty. Summer vacation lasted six weeks. The two-month vacation started in 1911.

In 1928 the school became too crowded and some classes were moved to the Oso Community Hall. In 1893 the Trustees had anticipated future growth and had purchased a lot on top of the knoll behind the school. In 1930 a new two-room brick building was built with a small room overhead to be used as an office for the principal.

Since Sharbot Lake was centrally located in the Oso Township, it hosted the annual school fairs in September: parades, singing and reciting competitions. Exhibits were placed in the community hall. Farm children brought in their calves, lambs, chickens and turkeys for judging.

Until 1937, grade eight students from one-room schools in the surrounding area came to Sharbot Lake School to try their end-of-June entrance exams.

By 1946 the Board paid to transport the grades 9 and 10 to Sydenham High School, as the Sharbot Lake High School was not built until 1948. In 1947 the grade 7 and 8's from Sharbot Lake, St George's Lake and Chamber's School were temporarily moved to the Masonic Hall.

In 1948 four new classrooms were added, along with a teacher's room, a principal's office, halls and washrooms with toilets and running water. A new hot water heating system replaced the wood burning stove.

In 1965 two additional classrooms with an all-purpose room below were added at a cost of $85,000. This addition replaced two one-room schools in the district.

To commemorate the present school building's 75th Anniversary, Sharbot Lake Public School will be hosting an Open House and Tea on Saturday, June 11 from 1-4 p.m. in the gym.

The committee would encourage one and all to announce the upcoming event to any acquaintance who may have attended or worked at Sharbot Lake Public School in decades gone by who may live too far away to read this announcement. Ann Walsh at 279-2908 would also welcome any pictures from yester-years to add to the display for all to enjoy.

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