Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Teacher, Teacher Can You Teach Me! – Jan. 20, 2022

The Schoolhouse Series – Part 2

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series visit the online Cottage Shack magazine

As curator of the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM), I have had the opportunity to welcome into our collections so many amazing artifacts this past season. Our co-op students have done a great job researching them and creating signage and labelling. The A-Team group of volunteers have worked hard to provide additional storage and display areas for our ever-expanding collection.

Already we are planning World War 1 and World War 11 displays, a new veterinary office and a lovely picnic area by the river. Even through the winter months, all of our dedicated volunteers are planning and preparing for next season’s displays and events.

Part 1 in this series was about our “Eady” schoolhouse. As the resident schoolmarm, I re-create a typical day in the late 1800s. Being a city girl, I lack the personal experience of a one-room school. My program, instead, is based on research and the heartfelt memories of many of our visitors. An abundance of old textbooks, slate boards, desks and inkwells are part of our assemblage of favourite treasures. The entire room is reminiscent of bygone times.

Our schoolhouse is open to visitors every museum day. The school program is available each Tuesday (Community Dat at CCHM), each Wednesday, and at special event days. We also accept reservations for families and small groups.

The children’s school day begins with me wandering the yard, ringing the leather-handled bell. Students responding to the bell line up outside the schoolhouse entrance – boys in one line, girls in another. As it was believed that cleanliness is next to godliness, each child’s finger nails are inspected. I am certain that the nail polish I see was not an issue in the 1880s.

As the students enter, girls are told to curtsy and boys to remove their hats. Upon finding a desk they then read the wall chart that enumerates the school rules. In my previous article I told of these rules, but suffice it to say here they were very strict. Some children get a little overwhelmed by them. I reassure them that we are just taking a flight into make-believe. Once we have settled in, the girls are invited to don one of our pinafores. We have yet to come up with something special for the boys to wear.

Roll Call follows in which each child is required to stand up and address the teacher with “Good Morning.” At its conclusion we all stand and sing “God Save The Queen” while I hold up a picture of Queen Victoria, the reigning monarch of the day. Unfortunately, not many Canadiana children today are familiar with this anthem, so I usually end up singing a solo.

Next comes a Bible reading, often by a senior student. In the one-room school it was common for teacher to regularly call upon the older students to assists him or her with the younger pupils. As an example, I often have the Olmert students lead in the singing of “O Canada” – even though it did not officially become our national anthem until 1980.

Depending on how long the students are with me, our daily schedule typically includes all or part of the list below:

  • Printing/Cursive Writing – always hold your pencil correctly, keeping you head up and use your right hand.
  • Reading in small groups with the teacher (Ontario’s Reading Program Texts)
  • Arithmetic – doing sums
  • Tour of the museum
  • Storytime
  • Crafts (prepared by my co-op students)
  • Singing time
  • Archaeology – digging in our sandbox for buried treasure
  • Recitation -poems and verses are taught and recited

To complement these mainly academic pursuits, music has an important role in our program. Having been a music teacher and choir director, I use my experience to introduce the children to songs of by-gone days. I also use puppets to engage the students. We attract many passing visitors when the schoolhouse bursts into song. I also play old-time records on the record player and have the students march around the room following the leader.

I have been told that in the past students would march around the room for the main purpose of keeping warm. Next season I hope to incorporate a rhythm band into our march.

At recess on Community Days, we provide snacks, but often families bring picnic lunches. After eating, we go outside to enjoy such games as Tag, Red Light/Green Light, Hide and Seek, Duck/Duck/Goose and a Tisket/a Tasket. We sing “Farmer in the Dell,” “Punchinello” and “My Bonnie.” Parents and grandparents often join in the fun.

At the days end we return to the schoolhouse to tidy up and collect the student’s work. After singing a goodbye song, the students are asked what chore they would have to do when they got home to the farm. I am always amazed that so many children have embraced the pioneer spirit and answer with jobs such as feeding the horses, cleaning the barn and collecting eggs.

On days when the homeschooling groups come, up to 40 children experience pioneer school day. At the end of these days, I feel like the actual 1880s teacher must have felt at the end of her day. Exhausted!!

Check out our website and make a plan to visit our olden day Eady schoolhouse when we reopen in the Spring.

By Patricia Turnour

(My next article will examine the life of the pioneer school teacher.)

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Our Schoolhouse Rocks – Jan. 14, 2022

The Schoolhouse Series – Part 1 – By Patricia Turnour

To view the original article and others in the 2022 series visit the Cottage Shack online magazine

As curator of the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM), I have many opportunities to research and restore our precious artifacts. I wholeheartedly thank everyone for thinking of us as the forever home for their treasures.

As we begin a new year, I would also like to share my appreciation for our wonderful volunteers. We are like a colourful quilt made up of a patchwork of friendly, talented, caring people.

Being curator does keep me busy, but I still manage to find time for my other occupation, schoolmistress. Having being a schoolteacher for almost 40 years puts me in good stead for this position.

We have a unique schoolhouse attached at one end of our display barn. Not that long ago, it had a gravel floor, gaping holes beneath the wall boards, a leaky roof and sagging rafters. The room was also shared with an abundance of wildlife.birds nesting in the corners of the ceiling were a common site. Bats also enjoyed hanging from the rafters.

However, things were about to change. We began with minor repairs to the schoolhouse walls. It took the vision of our A-Team to really get things going. After much blood, sweat and tears (literally) the current “school” emerged (perhaps the subject of a future article about the A-Team).

Today the school house proudly boasts a shiny new metal roof and a display wall for maps and pictures. It houses a well-loved collection, from times long past, of local pictures, textbooks, story books and memorabilia. Perhaps our family name is inside one of the covers. Our oldest book is entitled The Plays of William Shakespeare (1811).

And here my story begins.

Our previous school teacher was “Miss Grace” Willmott. She is fondly remembered by many young visitors whom she put through the paces of a typical pioneer school day. “Miss Lorraine” Garside often served at her side as her educational assistant. These lovely ladies still do help in the schoolhouse on special days and tours.

Today, though, it is I, Miss Patti who now takes centre stage as schoolmistress. In yesteryear my day would have started long before the arrival of the schoolchildren. Lighting the wood stove, pumping water from the well, preparing the lamps and ensuring that lessons have been planned for all eight grades, just to name a few!

When visitor children come to our school, I explain that we are imagining attending school in the village of Eady in the 1800s in the original Eady SS #14. Our records indicate it was built in 1879. Mr. Alpine was the first teacher whose wages were $360 per year. Some of the original teachers were Dan Coffey (1907), Miss Amy Weaver (1916) and Miss Alma Walker (1922). Unfortunately, that school burned down in March 1925, so classes were temporarily kept up at the Thompson house. A new brick school was soon constructed and remained in service until 1963. Eventually, it evolved into a private home.

Most of the children attending school back in those earlier times would have come from farm families and with a great distance to walk. My mother attended a one room country school and I have certainly heard just how far and how deep the snow really was.

Visiting children are also given a quick course on “School Rules.” The students take turns reading the Rules chart aloud. There are many sources online for this information.

Children must:

  • Obey your school master and accept his punishments
  • Help and love each other
  • Refrain from fighting and teasing
  • Be silent during lessons and speak only when spoken to
  • Not leave your seat without permission
  • Raise your hand and stand to speak
  • Always write with your right hand
  • Remember cleanliness is next to godliness
  • Stand when an adult enters the room

After reading these rules, the children do look a little worried about the consequences of misbehaving. On this note, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. One such punishment is the infamous dunce chair. Once seated there. A pointed hat is placed on the naughty child’s head. He/she is stuck there until the teacher has determined that he/she has learned his/her lesson. There is never a dearth of eager students willing to demonstrate this.

Another punishment involves me putting three dots on the chalkboard placed about a foot apart and directing the miscreant to put a finger of the right hand on the right dot, a finger of the left hand on the left dot and their nose on the middle dot. Again, no lack of volunteers (even the parents join in). I am certain that the consequences of misbehaving in the early days were a little more severe! Spare the rod, spoil the child comes to mind!

And so, our school day begins; and that is the subject of my next article, “Teacher, Teacher Can You Teach Me,” part 2 in this series.

In conclusion, I would just like to thank the many visitors who have walked down memory lane with me and shared their schoolhouse experiences. Being born and raised in the city, I did not have the opportunity to attend such an inspirational place. We truly appreciate your memories and musings.

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Co-Op A Novel Idea, A Local Beef Ring – Nov. 26, 2021

To read the original article and others in this series visit the Cottage Shack magazine

Being curator at the Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) requires me to learn all I can about our wide variety of artifacts and buildings.

The Woodrow log house is the only building on site. Though a few of the outbuildings have been built by volunteers, most are genuine originals donated by former owners from off-site and reconstructed here. Some came with many fixtures, tools and furnishings, authentic to the structures; they serve to further the credibility of the museum’s representation of a particular feature of earlier rural life.

All my previous articles have been related to fashion. This entire is vastly different as I have chosen to write here about what I feel is our most interesting building on site – The Eady slaughterhouse. Our guests either find it very intriguing or a little unsettling – sometimes both. During a tour, when we describe and explain the reasons for such things as a blood trough, bleeding our and butchering, a visitor’s attention soon becomes focused on the true purpose of the operation that was once performed here.

Doug Binns, one of our volunteers has researched this building extensively and written an article published in an issue of the Coldwater Current newspaper titled “Fresh Meat – What a Luxury.”

In today’s world we think nothing of going to the supermarket to purchase fresh beef, pork or poultry for our dinner table. But in the 180s and early 1900s, the lack of fresh meat was a real concern. Area farmers generally did not lack animals as sources of protein for their families, it preserving large quantities of meat certainly was a challenge. Thus, the emergence of the beef ring.

In the Medonte/Coldwater area around 1904, Mr. Sam Dunlop came up with the original co-operative idea. Most visitors to CCHM are surprised to learn that co-ops were around at the turn of the last century – not a more modern concept. Mr. Dunlop gathered together 25 families to form the original group. A slaughterhouse was constructed on the Russell farm on the 10th line of Medonte just north of the Village of Eady.

Each shareholder family was, in turn, required to deliver an animal to the slaughterhouse between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. of their designated day to be slaughtered the next day by the resident butcher, Mr. Scarlett. This process happened regularly very 2 to 3 weeks. Once the animal was slaughtered, hung to bleed out and butchered, the meat was then wrapped in brown paper and the package was tied with a string. The family whose animal was processed received the best cuts of meat – juicy steaks and choice roasts as opposed to boiling beef. Packaged meats were placed in labelled boxes attached to the walls of the slaughterhouse, each co-op member having a numbered box. The butcher would then let the members know that their meats were ready for pick up. If a family did not eat the meat promptly, they would often preserve it with brine.

Beef rings grew in popularity as they were a very efficient way to ensure that fresh meat was always available. The Eady beef ring grew in size at one point to 35 members. Here are the names of some local families that were recorded as members: Dunlop, Johnston, Walker, Hawke, Ball, Kent, Wilson, McFarland, Merced, Bell, Graham, Blaney, Spence, Orion, Rose, Moon, Reid, Kellington, Russell, and Young.

In 1965 the co-op was disbanded. However, local farmer Geordi Kent continued to slaughter his cattle and pigs there well into the 1960s. The locals were enjoying grocery stores providing their meats and farmers had long since begun shipping their cattle to meat packing plants located in the major centres. Though the slaughterhouse remained on the Russell property, serving for some years as a storage shed, it retained much of the specialized equipment that had been incorporated into it.

Bill Wilson, who had spent his youth on a neighbouring family farm, returned to the area in 1979. He and his wife Linda purchased the Russell farm and settled into their retirement there. Shortly afterwards they donated the slaughterhouse and contents to CCHM. The structure was dismantled and carefully delivered to the museum. It was reconstructed on our site and restored to its original purpose.

While many of our visitors find the experience to be quite gruesome, some of our local folk have fond memories of this place. A brother of one of our volunteers actually was at one time an assistant to the butcher.

You might want to visit us at Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum in the Spring to see our slaughterhouse firsthand…if you dare!

By Patricia Turnour

Editor’s Notes:

It is often the case that when someone makes a donation to CCHM their interest is piqued to the point that they themselves become volunteers and, in some cases, member of the board of directors. Such was the case of Bill and Linda Wilson.

While researching this subject I got a look at the original Minute Book that recorded the annual meetings of The North River Beef Ring from 1928 to 1954. It belongs to and was loaned to me by Bernice Dobson, a great grand-daughter of Archibald and Catherine Woodrow whose homestead is the main attraction at CCHM. What also makes this book of value to Bernice is the fact that many of the eateries were made by her father Joe Walker, one of many grandsons of the Woodrows.

Because much of the script is extremely difficult to read, I chose to rewrite the entry from 1928 to provide some insight into how a typical co-op functioned. The 1928 minutes were the only ones that provided sufficient legibility for a good excerpt from it. You can see that the meetings were structured and that the shareholders took their rules and responsibilities seriously.

I also found it curious that they annually held an oyster supper. Reference to it appears in the Minute Book as late as 1937.

North River Beef Ring Minute Book

An excerpt from the meeting of October 13, 1928

Moved by: Norman MacDonald, Seconded by: Mel Lovering That Les Archer and George Lovering be judges for coming year. Carried.

Moved by: Les Archer, Seconded by: Judy Kitchen The price of beef be the same as last year – 12 cents/pound. And kill two in May.

Moved by: Dave Lovering, Seconded by: Les Archer Anything under four hundred the price to be be $10.00. Carried.

Moved by: Clint Archer, Seconded by: P. Lovering A fine of $10.00 is not put in proper turn in the ring. Carried.

Moved by: P. Lovering, Seconded by: Les Archer P. Hawke be paid $5.00 for repairs to the slaughterhouse and Nora Lovering $1.00.

Moved by: Les Archer, Seconded by: A. Hawke The secretary write The Johnson Farmhouse, for the full amount due to the ring is not settled for his share to be sold and (he) put out of the ring. Carried.

Moved by: P. Lovering, Seconded by: P. Hawke That every share holder is to be present at the fall meeting or a representative, is not his share be forfeited from the ring. Carried.

Moved by: Clint Archer, Seconded by: Mell Lovering The laws of the ring be posted up in the slaughterhouse. Carried.

Moved by: P. Lovering, Seconded by: Les Archer We have an oyster supper on the 27 Oct…(unintelligible).

Andrew Lovering Received Cash $53. 38

Expenses – $45:00

Balance in the bank – $12.73