Begins in Walkerville
by Al Roach
F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes The Beautiful and Dammed;
Harold Lloyd has em rolling in the Aisles with his silent
movie Grandmas Boy, and Alexander Graham Bell
dies at the age of 75 in Nova Scotia. And in the little town of
Walkerville (population 7500) a controversy is stirring over the
cost of the new high school - $600,000 (equivalent to over $6,000,000
in the distant year of 1982).
Meade M.A., principal-designate of the new Taj Mahal (on Huron Street,
later called Richmond) is busy in his office conferring with the
officials of the architectural firm of Pennington and Boyde regarding
final touches to be completed before 195 students burst through
the doors on September 5.
down to business immediately in the school which will become Walkerville
Collegiate Institute one year from now and which will make its mark
scholastically from the 1920s through the 1950s as one of the top-half-dozen
schools in the province.
Walkerville Public School built
1880 on s. w. corner of Devonshire and
Wyandotte (future site of Walter. D. Kelly Funeral Home)
is not suprising considering that the leaders of this little town
(having all studied Greek and Latin in their schooldays) are imbued
with the Plutarch philosophy: The very spring and root of
honesty and virtue lie in the felicity of lighting on a good education.
ubiquitous strap in every teachers desk will guarantee that
homework is done; stern teachers eyes will guarantee that
students walk quietly in single file between classes; the rigid
detention system will guarantee that no gum is chewed.
addition, the student body will develop a fierce pride in their
school - with its motto, Nil Sine Labore developed
around provincial champion basketball teams and the famous Cameron-kilted
cadet corps, easily the best in Ontario.
of which is in the future on this autumn day in 1922. Now it is
time to show off this addition to the long tradition of excellent
education in the town.
all began in 1877 with the formation of the first school board of
Walkerville with its three democratically elected members
two of whom just happened to be Franklin H. Walker, son, and Hiram
A. Walker, nephew of the towns founder, Hiram Walker. The
third member is prominent citizen Thomas Reid.
The first school is located in the basement of St. Marys Church
on Sandwich Street (later called Riverside Drive) where the Grand
Trunk Railway Station will one day stand, across from the main office
of Hiram Walker and Sons Limited.
It is heated by a big, pot-bellied wood-burning stove. The principal
teacher is paid $500 per year. His lady assistant teacher
receives $250. The secretary is paid $1 a month.
1880, the first regular Walkerville Public School is built, a wooden
structure costing $1,600 constructed on land donated by who
else the towns great distiller and founder, Hiram Walker.
This building, on the southwest corner of Devonshire and Wyandotte,
is replaced in 1886 with a handsome brick structure sporting an
impressive bell tower.
1905, the 16-room King Edward Public School is built on beautiful
elm-shaded Victoria Road (formerly Second, then Susan Avenue and
later, Chilver). The cost is $50,000 to accommodate an opening year
enrolment of 280 pupils. The usual outcry is heard from the public.
But the trustees know what they are talking about and the burgeoning
town fills the school with 548 pupils by 1922.
first principal of King Edward is Hugh Beaton, later to have a school
named after him. On the staff is Oliver Stonehouse, later the principal,
and K.C. Hortop, destined to make is mark in educational circles.
1914, King George Public School with eight rooms, makes its debut
on Ottawa Street. Again the cry: The school is too big for
our needs! But again the trustees are right. Two wings are
added in 1920 and by 1922 the school has 580 pupils.
first principal in this modern second decade of the 20th century
is can you believe it? a woman, Miss S.A. Ward. A.R.
Davidson is the 1922 principal and long-time teacher, Miss I.M.
Kimmerly, is there with him.
on Monmouth Road, just south of Huron and kitty-corner from the
site of the future high school, the Sisters of St. Joseph have been
operating St. Edwards Separate School, erected as two rooms
in 1905 with three rooms added later. There are 225 students there
time has come to show off the new Walkerville High School to an
Mr. Meade entertains the Border Cities Chamber of Commerce (president:
Walter L. McGregor) at a luncheon in the school cafeteria followed
by official opening ceremonies. Mr. Stevens is the chairman. Mayor
Stodgell is there, of course, and Rev. M. Gordon Melvin, B.A.
Members declared themselves suitably impressed with the beautiful
library, on the second floor at the front of the school, with its
rich wood paneling, that will double as a board meeting room, the
48- by 80-foot gymnasium with all of the most modern equipment,
the plunge (already being used by 16 Walkerville swimming groups)
and the 800-seat auditorium, with its 42-foot stage (widest
stage in the Border Cities, including the theatres).
At 4 pm the pupils of the public schools arrive (having completed
their school day no need to miss any classes) to see motion
pictures of the recent Walkerville Public Schools Field Day.
At 8 pm public entertainment draws Walkervilles
denizens decked out in their finest dresses and Sunday-go-to-meetin
suits. A few remarks are delivered by Rev. E.C. Coughlin, C.S.B.,
Professor of Ethics, Assumption College invited, of course,
to demonstrate there is no prejudice in WASP Walkerville. The good
burghers of the town do not yet appreciate the importance of their
guests. This is the same Father Coughlin who from his base at the
Shrine of the Little Flower, in Royal Oak, Michigan will gain continent-wide
fame loved and hated by millions for his vitriolic,
coast-to-coast radio attacks on President Franklin D. Roosevelt
during the mid 1930s.
The evening concludes with dancing in the gymnasium. The accompanist,
G.T. Jarvis, may well be playing some of the hit tunes of the day:
Somebody Stole My Gal, Way Down Yonder in
New Orleans, O-o-oh Ernest, Are You Earnest with Me?
and are you ready for this I Wish I Could Shimmy
Like My Sister Kate.
And now its all over. The crowd trails out of the double front
doors and onto the brick streets surrounding the school. Turning
west past Willistead Park (donated to the town only a year ago by
the widow of E. Chandler Walker Hiram Walkers fifth
son when she returned to the States). Or turning east to
catch the Walker Road streetcar home.
Despite the earlier criticism, Walkervillites (or Walkervillians,
if you prefer) are proud and happy with their new school. Their
children will no longer be dependant on Windsor Collegiate for their
secondary education. They will educate their own.