South Hull School No. 4, Hooper Wright (Cement)
by Janet A. Benedict, 1989
The No. 4 School was located on Samuel Benedict I land holdings, at the junction of Mountain Road (now Gamelin Boulevard) and Iron Mine Road (now Cité des Jeunes Boulevard), South Hull, Quebec (now Hull). Built in 1832 by Samuel Benedict I and Hooper Wright, it was called the Hooper Wright School, which was of log construction. There were seemingly only a few children for to attend.
This school was burnt in 1848.
In the early 1850s, Hooper Wright again, along with some of his sons, took the contract to build a larger school, as the previous one had become too small. In all likelihood this would have been a frame building and built on the same site. Most school houses in those days were low and squatty, all build after one pattern, a one storey square box building, sometimes with a small vestibule.
During those years,Teachers were paid by the parents of the children they taught. Next to the Churches, the school played a major role in the development of the community.
In 1908 a cement block school was built, seemingly on the same location.
Regretfully not too many of the pupils by name are known in this picture. Amongst them are Eva Benedict, Gertrude Thibeaudeau, Nellie Maxwell, Emery Benedict and Clayton Benedict (authors father).
The three Rs was about the extent of the education the pupils received in these early schools, from Grades one to four. Some pupils had to walk long distances to obtain this only education available.
Around the early 1900s I well remember hearing a School Teacher receiving all of $18.00 a month to teach approximately 30 pupils. Boys, especially, usually left school at age 11, as they were needed at home to assist with farm work, although some did get back to school again but only in the winter months when work was slack on the farms.
There were no desks in the early days, only backless benches along the walls mostly, and the pupils held their slates on their knees. It was on a black painted board that the Teacher illustrated the lessons for each day.
In some rare cases when a parent wrote a note to the Teacher to explain her / his childs absence from school, the Teacher could barely read it due to the parents lack of education.
The above picture shows Miss Violet Grimes, Teacher in the doorway. Amongst the pupils were Ivan Benedict, Ira Benedict, Emery Benedict, Eva Benedict, Lila Benedict, Leeta Benedict, Alice Benedict, Wilton Benedict, Clayton Benedict (authors father), Nellie Maxwell, Gertrude Thibeaudeau, Irene Thibeaudeau, Chester McMillan, Redge Josling, Edward Josling, and Orvil Armstrong.
Once the cold weather came, the School Commissioner for No. 4 would arrange for one of the older boys to start the fire in the large box stove one hour before school, and also to bring in the wood for the day from the woodshed at the back of the school. For this work, boys would receive a small sum, by the mid forties it was $5.00 a month. On cold days it was nearly impossible to get the school warm due to the lack of building insulation; on the other hand, sometimes the top of the stove and the stove pipes for quite a piece would be red hot. Often, ink bottles would have to be thawed out on top of the stove.
Usually, the boys took turns daily at the morning recess to walk to the closest farm to get a pail of drinking water for the day. Girls took turns during the noon hour to sweep the floor and perhaps do a little dusting also.
The School Commissioner saw to it that the the floor was scrubbed during the Christmas and Easter holidays. Then just before the fall term commenced the Commissioner again saw that the school got a thorough cleaning. In those days we got 10 days off at Easter, but no further holidays until the end of June, other than May 24th.
Some pupils had to walk 2 or 3 miles to school. School buses were unheard of until the mid forties, neither was compulsory education, or any family allowances whatsoever to help the financial burden.
The school bell rang at 9 A.M. Students were dismissed at 4 P.M. Monday to Thursday, but on Friday got out at 3 P.M.
In the late thirties, and probably even before that, a pupil commenced school in Grade 1 and only went in May and June. The following school term the student entered Grade 2.
The school day commenced at No. 4 school with the pupils in turn choosing a hymn from the Redemption Hymn and Chorus books accompanied by our Teacher on the organ. This was followed by everyone repeating the Lords Prayer in unison.
Even though this was only a one room school, with one Teacher for approximately 30 pupils from Grades 1 to 7 (although Grade 7 had to write their entrance exams in Hull High School), still some of these students left here to further their education and later become prominent citizens.
The desks at this school for many years had been a double desk and seat, with ink well at the centre back of the desk top, while a shelf underneath for books, scribblers, etc. Around 1940, these desks were replaced by a single desk, with arm piece and attached seat. The slide out drawer underneath the seat was for text books. An ink well was in the upper right hand corner. (Chair desks, see picture of Commissioners).
The Christmas Concert was the highlight of the year, as the Teacher had all the pupils participate in some small way at least, therefore had to start planning and practicing rather early. The Commissioner always saw that 12 foot to 15 foot tree was ready for the concert. Even though this was time consuming it all helped to prepare the pupils for later years, especially in developing self-confidence in performing whatever part was assigned to them.
The Commissioner at No. 4 school was usually asked to be Master of Ceremonies for that evening, and at the conclusion Santa always came to distribute gifts from the tree. Teachers and parents alike were then able to give a sigh of relief as the concert had gone off pretty well after all.
A few Catholic children attended this School also, by paying a moderate monthly fee of no more than a few cents. In the late thirties, the School Teacher received $50.00 a month salary; a couple of years later increased $10.00 a month. There were 192 days in the school term.
The Commissioner for the School was to obtain a suitable place and within walking distance for the Teacher to room and board. Some Teachers beautified the school grounds by planting a few flowers, including wild ones, and also a few shrubs and seedlings.
We were most grateful to the Womens Institute, who supplied vegetable and tomato soup along with cocoa for hot drinks during the winter months, especially for the pupils who were not able to get home for a hot lunch.
The School Inspector usually visited the school at least once a year. Some were quite nice and the pupils didnt mind. Other Inspectors who actually found little fault, left the pupils somewhat upset and they didnt actually look forward to his next visit.
There was a terrible snow storm during the winter of 1943 which blocked roads. Our Teacher had gone away for the weekend, and then could not get back in time for re-opening the school. Pupils on Iron Mine Road could not get to school for several days either, as 10 and 12 men had to shovel a path ahead of the snow plow especially where it was drifted a lot.
For some years, near the end of the school term, the pupils were given a day off for sports.
The majority of the Teachers at No. 4 from the mid-thirties and into the early forties were mostly from Pontiac County, Quebec.
On the concluding day of school term when the final report cards were distributed, the School Board had given the Teachers money to purchase a book for to be presented to each child. If a little money was left over, extra books were bought for special prizes, e.g. neatness, general proficiency, etc.
South Hull School No. 4 1938.
Back row, left to right: Eileen Dennison, Marie Joly, Rita Joly, Miss Annie Gamble (Teacher), Irene Bedell, Betty Shouldice, Dorothy Dennison, Janet Benedict (author), Florence Dennison, Evelyn Gratton and Evelyn Hickey.
Second row, left to right: Bernard Gratton, Gertrude Thibeaudeau, Cecile Cousineau, Letitia Benedict, June Benedict, Vera Hickey, Theresa Souliere, Harry Benedict, Ceprien Cousineau, and Stanley Cousineau.
Front row, left to right: Roland Thibeaudeau, Maurice Deregier, Clive Benedict, Gerald Gratton, Douglas Dennison, Beverly Shouldice, and Warren Knox.
In 1950, it was decided to amalgamate the one room South Hull Schools, and to build one large school. Built just off Deschênes Road, (now Vanier Avenue), and officially opened April 13, 1951.
The No. 4 School and site was purchased by the National Capital Commission in 1952, and the building was demolished.
The Number 4 School Commissioner for the last 14 years had been Clayton Benedict (Janet Benedicts father), also last Chairman for the South Hull Protestant School Board, and had been for a number of years chairman of the 4 Schools, namely, No. 1 Stone School, No. 2 Simmons School and No. 3 Brick Perry School.
From No. 4 School have gone many persons whose names are only a memory now, and very few of these families now live in this sector.
A landmark for 120 years had disappeared. No doubt many fond memories still remain in the minds of former students who are still with us today.
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