York Point School
York Point School
The exact date of the beginning of the York Point School is unknown. Uncertainty about school district names and location is the root of the problem. Some of the earliest school records make mention of York River Upper, North River Upper, York River and Warren Grove. Some records seem to imply that the district names of Warren Grove and Upper York River are interchangeable, this however cannot be confirmed. What can be confirmed is that there was in fact a Warren Grove School, and it was never located within the boundaries of Cornwall. The Warren Grove School however, did lie within the York River District, which appears to have encompassed the area along the western part of the North River. There is good reason to believe that when the old school records refer to York River and North River schools they in fact mean what was known as York Point School. In Alan Rayburn’s Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island he defines the York River School District as follows, “York River School District at North River ‘community’ 3 mi NW of Charlottetown until c1864 (North River School district aft. c1864) – Lot 32.”1 Therefore if we consider the above statement to be true, the first record of the York Point School comes in an annual school visitor report for the year 1841.
The following statement was submitted for the year end School Visitor Report for the year 1841, “‘York River, Bee-hive School, Charles MacDonnell, teacher. The number of scholars attending this school according to the teacher’s roll, is 31, 28 of whom were present on the last occasion of being examined. This may be considered as almost an infant school, the scholars whose attainments had been greatest having withdrawn; those left are, with few exceptions, in the first stages of instruction, although in the different branches taught the improvement was as great as could have been expected. It is to be regretted that several families in the vicinity, at variance with the teacher, should be deprived of the advantage arising from the school altogether; so far as his character and conduct are free from reproach, all that can reasonably be expected in his case is, that he should be diligent and faithful in teaching such branches as lie within the sphere of his own attainments. The order and discipline which appeared to reign in this school, are highly commendable, the different classes ordering their movements with military precision.”2
The York River school appeared to be in its early days of inception in the early 1840’s. The 1843 year end School Visitor Report recorded that, “this is a school newly established and attended by 30 scholars, who, with few exceptions, could scarcely read on entering school; several are now (after a twelvemonth’s tuition) learning writing and the primary rules of arithmetic. The teacher is diligent, and has the advantage of teaching in a commodious house.”3 According to a history written by the York Point Women’s Institute, the first school in York Point was located at Bass Cove, and was later moved further up the York Point Road when Hugh MacEwen donated some property for the school.4 The year the school was moved to Mr. MacEwen’s property is not known. However, as you can see from both the 1863 and 1880 maps, the school remained in the same place.
1880 Meacham Atlas (Partial, altered, magnified)
|1863 Lake Map (Partial) - Altered (Source: PARO Map 0,677)||1880 Meacham Atlas (Partial Lot 32, altered)|
Throughout the years prior to 1914, the school visitors commonly referred to the school as North River. However after the year 1914 the term York Point appears to be more prevalent. The place name of North River does occur rarely and sporadically throughout the reports after 1914, however the records never list North River and York Point in the same report, therefore it can be presumed that it was the same school, but referred to in two different ways.
Like the other schools in the area, the York Point School was renovated and moved. It also received contributions from the York Point Women’s Institute. According to the 1919 year end School Visitors Report, the York Point Women’s Institute contributed to the school, a new blackboard which stretched from wall to wall and had the inside of the school re-tinted.5 Records also indicate that the school was moved in 1953.6 According the former students it was only moved a short distance: across the street on the other side of the MacEwen Road.
With the treacherous winters Prince Edward Island used to have, it was often quite difficult to get down the York Point Road to school. On really nasty days, if you were lucky, you might be taken to school with the horse and sleigh.7 In the spring of the year the road would be awful to travel on because of the mud. The Honorable Ron MacKinley attended the York Point school and during the spring of the year would ride his pony to school.8 It was a one-room school house and was heated by means of a pot-bellied stove. During Honorable MacKinley’s time at the school, his cousin Robert Sanderson was in charge of lighting the fire.9 Like at East Wiltshire and Cornwall schools, those students who completed their education in their community schools and wished to continue had the option of attending Prince of Wales College or St. Dunstan’s. Later on when high schools were established, students from the Cornwall area were sent to Charlottetown Rural before continuing on to post-secondary education.
Some of the children who attended the York Point School would go down to the creek during recess and play on the ice cakes during the winter time. The water at the end of the creek was not very deep, but it was not uncommon for the children to get wet playing in the water. Coasting on the nearby hills at recess was also a common affair during the winter.10
In 1972 the York Point school district had a population of 129 students.11 This however was around the time of school consolidation on Prince Edward Island and the York Point School was closed in 1973.12 The students from the area from that point on attended the newly built Eliot River Elementary School in Cornwall. The York Point Women’s Institute was quick to act, purchasing the school from the Department of Education in 1973 and converting it into a community centre. From 1973 to 1977, the former school was used as a day care facility. Over the years, the W.I. continued to maintain the building and took responsibility for its repair. Several different groups and organizations used the building for their meetings.13 Today the building is falling into disrepair and is no longer used. It still stands on the corner of York Point Road and MacEwen Road.