North Lake School
There have been three school buildings at North Lake; the first was used as a salt house at Fraser’s Store, the second one was built by Sewell Robertson and was hauled to North Lake Harbor to be used as a trap house, the new school was used for few years until the consolidation of the schools in the 70’s. It was then purchased from the Women’s Institute in the 1970’s, and was then known as the North Lake Place. It was used for community events until it was sold again in the early 2000’s, and it’s now used as summer cottage.
It was built the spring and summer of 1956 and opened its doors to the first students in the fall of 1956. The new school was built by Harry MacLauchlin and serviced students from the East Lake Bridge to Kenny Fraser’s’ house at the North Lake/Elmira road. In the spring the school also served the children of the families who came to North Lake Harbor to fish lobsters. The school, like most one room schools taught grades one to eight where students studied Math, History, Geography, Health, Science, Reading, Spelling and Writing.
Most students walked to school each morning and many that lived close to the school would walk home for their lunch and come back for classes in the afternoon, while those that lived further away would bring their lunches (usually a jam sandwich, cookies and milk) with them. For those students who went home for lunch in the winter if the weather was really bad, they would bring their lunches with them, which was a real treat since they would be able to have their lunch with their friends.
Students had a ten minute break for recess in the morning and in the afternoon and on their lunch hour they would have time to play as well. In the fall and spring students would often be found playing tag, Red Rover, baseball or skipping rope. The new school at North Lake had a coal furnace in the basement which meant that it was up on posts and on the colder days students would play tag in the basement using the posts as bases. In the winter students would have snowball fights, or go sledding outside on the nice days and on the stormy days students would play games like tic-tac-toe, pin the tail on the donkey, checkers and string games inside the school.
To keep the school clean and running smoothly students were responsible for a number of chores. Water needed to be taken into the school from the well next door and the boys would take turns taking in the water and there was a pump that could be used for cold water at recess time. The boys were also responsible for lighting the fire in the school in the morning. Since the furnace in the North Lake School burnt coal, the coal would have to be put in the fire each morning and added throughout the day to keep the school warm enough for the students to work. The girls were responsible for cleaning the chalkboards each day and for sweeping the floors. The local Women’s Institute was responsible for the major cleaning duties of the school, every so often ladies from the community would come into the school and some of the girls would stay after school and help them scrub the floors and do a good cleaning of the school.
Throughout the year, students’ academic records would be kept and every three or four months a report card would go home from the teacher. The report card was a simple cardboard paper that would have the marks recorded on it. The report card would be taken home and signed by the parents and then it would be returned to the teacher so it could be used again the next time reports were sent home.
In the spring the school would receive a visit from the Superintendent of the school, Mr. Harold Hynes. Mr. Hynes would usually come to the school around noontime and stay for the rest of the day. He came to observe the school, students and the teacher. Mr. Hynes would often ask the students questions about their school work to see what they had learned and would also watch the teacher teach their class. It was often a stressful time for both the teacher and the students and everyone was on their best behaviour for this visit.
Through the years there were a number of teachers who taught at the school at North Lake. Some of the teachers include: Jean (MacGregor) Hender (1955-56), Joan (Murphy) Duffy (1956-57), Eileen (MacEachern) MacDonald, Martha (Garrett) Bruce, Catherine Stevenson, Linda Rose, Fran Rose, and Barbara Bailey.
People who held an important role in the operation of the school were the school trustees. The trustees were members of the community who would take turns helping manage the school. They would also be responsible for the furnaces of the school and would have to sign the cheques on behalf of the school for supplies and such. The trustee would receive a supplement from the community for their work as a trustee for the school. James D. MacDonald and Wesley Fraser held this position for a few years at the North Lake School, as their children attended this school.