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After 1907
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School Section 17 and Lady Evelyn Public School

The history of public education in Ottawa East goes back as far as 1850 when the province passed legislation dividing Nepean Township into school sections (SS's) As seen on the map below, the community initially was part of School Section #1, located in the northeastern part of the township. Ratepayers for each of these sections were responsible for maintaining the local school.

School Sections 1850 - 58

While no information has yet been found on the specific school that served Ottawa East, it is clear that most schools of this era were sparse to the say the least. Elliott, in his definitive work "The City Beyond" describes facilities as "rough-hewn and the learning rudimentary)(1). Only a few had blackboards and desks consisted of "angled planks that ran along the side walls . . . children sat on benches made of split basswood logs, facing the wall (and stood in the centre of the room between the stove and the teacher's desk to recite lessons"(2).

It must be remembered that Nepean was essentially rural at that time. While children were entitled to a basic education, their future lay in a predominantly agricultural community. Most ratepayers therefore did not place a high priority on education and tax support was kept to a minimum. Elliott notes (3) that the original school for SS#1 was located west of Dow's Lake where the Experimental Farm is today. In 1872 a "substantial, and . . . superior, brick building" was constructed near the present-day Hopewell School. It is not clear however, how many Ottawa East students journeyed to these schools.

By the 1870's the suburbs of Archville and Spenceville (later to become Ottawa East Village) were demanding their own school section and school. While SS#1 had been reduced in size, control of education still lay in the hands of predominantly rural school trustees. And, as noted in the historical overview (found here), many ratepayers objected to funding the children of the squatter camp along the canal. Led by such notables as James and Thomas Ballantyne, Robert Lees and Archibald Stewart, the community convinced the township to create a new school section - SS#17.

On April 22, 1875 Nepean Township Bylaw No. 243 (4) was passed and this provided for the borrowing of $800 for a new school house. On April 30, 1875, Bylaw No. 245 (5) established School Section #17, which included all of Ottawa East from Ann St. (Mann Ave.) to Elliot St. between the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal. The responsibility for the organization of a school committee and construction was given to Thomas and James Ballantyne and Archibald Stewart donated land - familiar names in the history of community.

Original school On Concord at HarveyThe school was built on the northeast corner of Centre St. (Concord North) and Fifth St. (Harvey St.) and opened for students in September of 1875. (6) According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen (January 26, 1876), by the end of the year there were 74 students on the register with an average attendance of over 50. The article described the school as a "neat wooden structure, 24 x 20 with 11 feet of ceilings". The full article has been reproduced here.

The register in 1875 noted that there were 74 students with an average daily attendanceSS17 on Concord at Harvey c1900 of 50. In 1890, the records of the new Ottawa East Public School Board (OEPSB) showed 77 pupils in the register, "the highest on record". By today's standards, cramming over 50 children in an uninsulated wooden box" with eleven feet of ceiling" would be deemed criminal. One can only imagine how Miss Hasty, the original teacher in 1875, managed to cope.

By 1890 the conditions of the school had become intolerable and, according to the February 18, 1890 report of the schools inspector "not adequate in any sense". His actual report can be found here along with "Duties of Teachers". Under threat from the Education Department, the School Board was forced to act immediately.

The Board passed a motion on April 7, 1890 agreeing to build a new brick school. On May 19 tenders were considered and Mr. Tomlinson's bid of $2,497 was accepted.

Brick School House on Concord at Harvey - built in 1892

Footnotes: For complete references, see Sources

  1. Elliott, "The City Beyond", p 56.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid, p 58.
  4. City of Ottawa Archives, Nepean Township Minutes, 1875.
  5. Ibid.
  6. City of Ottawa Archives, Ottawa East Public School Board Minutes, 1889 to 1907, MG 327-4. All additional information on the school has been extracted from these records.
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