Walkerton District Secondary School
Built: 1852 - 2012
J. Morgan - 1880-1924
G. Anderson - 1924-?
W.C. McCamus - ? - 1935
Cyril F. Washington - 1935-1962
William C. Setterington - 1962-1977
J. Richard Marshall - 1977 -1988
William Mayne - 1988-1994
Ernie Koshan - 1994-1998
Mary Anne Williams - 1998-2000
John Woodley - 2000-2005
Cathy Thomson - 2005-2012
This was us...
History of Secondary Education in Walkerton
(Compiled from archives of Walkerton Herald Times and high school newsletters and yearbooks. Feedback is welcome for corrections, revisions and where appropriate additions. Please contact John Thompson at [email protected])
SECTION ONE – The Early Years (1852- 1901)
In 1852, the first school was opened in Walkerton and elementary school classes were held above the offices of the old Herald Times newspaper facility.
In 1873, an “upper school” education was finally available as the Walkerton High School was formed with approximately 50 students who met in the Orange Hall, which also doubled as a Town Hall.
The number of students increased and it was obvious that there was need for a larger and permanent facility. In the interim, various halls were used for “upper school” students.
In 1874, tenders were called for the erection of a new public school, and the proposal of David Siebert for $7,557 was accepted.
In 1875, sod was turned for the project, and a building project, and a building with six classrooms, and a gymnasium/auditorium was built on Colborne Street, behind the present day school. Allegedly, the construction was within the budget, at a cost of about $7,000. As there was no other building available, the high school was provided two classrooms in the new building. This facility then provided high school education opportunities for students in the lower Bruce County area for about 75 years.
In 1876, the grounds were improved and later a bell was installed in the belfry. The school budget for 1877 was $2,637 and the average attendance was 322. In due course, the facility was overcrowded and a second two-story building, known as the “Victoria School” was built behind the present school.
In 1880, Mr. J. Morgan MA, was appointed as the first high school headmaster (principal) and served for 40 years until 1920. Morgan firmly established the high standards of education which continued throughout the 20th century as Walkerton’s main claim of educational prestige. Students could advance only to 4th Form (grade 12) as a 5th form curriculum had not yet been developed.
In 1882, as a result of general changes in the number of students attending, Walkerton High School was condensed. At the turn of the century, a major issue in education was the challenge in collecting monthly fees for pupils. It was difficult to persuade reluctant scholars to attend classes for more than just the winter months, when outside work was impossible. As well, it was difficult to attract teachers due to the extremely low rate of compensation (salary).
SECTION TWO - Progress in the 20th Century – 1900 - 1951
Walkerton High School
From his appointment as principal of the Walkerton High School in 1880, Mr. Joseph Morgan, M.A., served for an amazing forty years, who firmly established the high standards of education for which the institution was noted in the first half of the twentieth century. He retired in 1920.
Little information is readily available depicting the school during the first half of the 20th century, however, suffice to say that student of Walkerton High School, residents of the lower Bruce County, citizens of Ontario and all Canadians were influenced and impacted by what was unfolding in the world.
Progress in Ontario
Internationally, the decade commencing in 1900 featured a world economic boon. In 1902 the province commenced work on a highway to northern Ontario to tap the riches below the surface, while two years later, the auto manufacturing industry took hold in Windsor.
In 1906, Sir Adam Beck successfully encouraged Sir James P. Whitney to establish the Hydro Electric Power Commission of Ontario, the first publicly owned electric utility in the world. Four years later, the Ontario Hydro Commission transmitted electricity generated in Niagara Falls to Kitchener - the first long-distance transmission of electricity in Canada
In 1912, while Ontario was expanding it turf, acquiring sections of the “north-west” territories, the passing of Regulation 17 banned the teaching in French after the first year of school, and the teaching of French after the 4th year which infuriated Quebeckers and helped to further divide the 45 year young country of Canada.
The period 1914-18 featured World War I, the Great War which was deemed to be the “war to end all wars”. This was a statement, in hindsight, of tremendous optimism and obvious naivety. In 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a Guelph doctor serving in France, wrote the world's most famous war poem “In Flanders Fields, the poppies grow…” More than 600,000 Canadians fought overseas, and in 1917 Canadian soldiers bravely defend Vimy Ridge in France in a decisive battle that was key to the outcome of the conflict the following year.
Locally, one hour to the south of Bruce County, the city of Berlin, with many citizens of German origin and heritage, was pressured to change its name to Kitchener, in honour of Lord Kitchener.
In 1917 women were provided the opportunity to vote in provincial elections, and a year later, the identical responsibility was provided to them in federal elections. At the same time, federal income tax was introduced as a “temporary wartime” measure. On November 11, 1918, armistice ended World War I.
After the war, the United Farmers of Ontario led by E.C. Drury held political power in Ontario and ushered in a decade or prosperity with a bang, a period fondly remembered as the “Roaring Twenties”. Auto, pulp and paper, mining, iron and steel industries thrive and an abundance of jobs attracts immigrants from Europe and Asia, a significant contribution to the growing multicultural mosaic in the province.
At Walkerton High School, Mr. Morgan’s successor was Mr. W. G. Anderson in 1920, followed by Mr. W.R. McCamus until 1935.
The decade ended with bust, as the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday, October 30, 1929, and the Great Depression of the 1930s was underway. The impact was global and causes unemployment and stemmed the flow of immigration. Canada’s population surpassed 10 million, double what it was at the turn of the century
In 1934, Ontario received world-wide fame with the birth of the Dionne Quintuplets in Callander, just south of North Bay.
Cyril Washington, WDSS Principal 1935 - 1962
At Walkerton High School, Mr. Cyril F. Washington was appointed as principal in 1935.
In Ontario, worker dissatisfaction precipitated a strike of the auto workers in Oshawa in 1937, and in response, Premier Mitchell Hepburn used the Ontario Provincial police to suppress the unrest.
.In 1939, the depression ends (good news!), but was replaced by the Second World War, (bad news!!) a conflict in which one million Canadians fought and 42,000 lost their lives.
During both World Wars, many students courageously enlisted in the service of their country. Unfortunately, many Canadian servicemen did not return. Noteworthy, locally among the many Walkerton High School alumni, was Lieut. Lewis Honey, who won the Victoria Cross post-humously, the Empire’s highest decoration for valour.
.Following the war, the economy and the population grew significantly with 400,000 babies born nationally between 1947 and 1966. The number of students in the area increased rapidly. The elementary and high school faced a significant need for expansion.
.In 1949, the Ontario Department of Education formed the South Eastern Bruce School District with its new policy of combining rural and urban secondary education. A bus service then added a large number of students from the surrounding are to those few who have previously been compelled to board in town in order to take advantage of this educational opportunity.
The High School district then consisted of the town of Walkerton plus the villages of Mildmay and Paisley, the township of Carrick, and parts of Brant, Bruce, Culross, Greenock and Kincardine townships.
.In the next to last year of the old high school, the following students were listed as graduates indicating their next activity at the start of the second half of the 20th century:
.Joan Baillie – nursing; Margaret Cive – attending Normal School; Don Cramm – working in Pinkerton; Velma Ferris – Normal School; Paul Fisher – Waterloo College; John Fisher - Markham High School; Grace Garbutt – attending University of Toronto;
.Jacqueline Gilmar – teaching school; Betty Johnstone – Special Commercial Course, now working at the Bank of Montreal; Bernice Kraemer – attending Normal School; Doreen Kraemer – attending Normal School; Kay Kramp – attending WDHS; Kay McCarter – Special Commercial Course, now working at the Canadian Bank of Commerce; Marie McConnell – Special Commercial Course – now working at the Canada Spool and Bobbin; Don Monk – working in bank in London; Muriel Parker – nursing; Doug Shaw – University of Toronto, engineering; Jean Skelton – Toronto General Hospital; Eileen Thompson – attending Normal school; Don Waechter – St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto; Ken Weiler – St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto
In the same year, the following were listed as graduates with commercial training, and their subsequent activities: Bill Cameron – working in London-Preston area; Doreen Fenwick – Larsen & Shaw office; Maxine George – Walkerton Building Supply office; Rogene Lane – married on May 5, 1951; Dorothy Moore – working in Kitchener; Joyce Ringel – Walkerton Herald-Times office; Gerald Rome – Canadian Bank of Commerce; Eleanor Schmidt – Hanover Transport office; Verna Schwichtenberg – Mildmay Motors office; Dorothy Smith – Hanover Transport office; Helen Thompson – nursing in Wingham Hospital; Mary Wilhelm – Cowan’s Corporation office
The Final Year
.Walkerton High School, known locally as the Old Colborne Street High School located in the heart of Walkerton, hosted its last academic year in 1950-51 following 74 years of service. That year, the institution boasted a complement of 10 staff members:
.Mr. C. F. Washington, B.A. Principal – Classics; Mrs. O. Ellis – Physical Education;
.Mr. J.A. Hay – Music; Miss C.E. Hounsom, M.A. – English and History;
.Miss A. M. Howell, B.A. – Arts, French and English; Miss J. V. Johnston, B.A. – Mathematics and Science;
.Mr. G. A. Kaye, B.A. – Math and Physical Education; Miss R. M. Marriott, B.A. – French;
.Mr. J. M. Tait, B.S.A. – Agriculture; Miss M. K. Walters, B.A. – Commercial
.The times, they were a-changing as reflected by Principal Washington in his yearbook message:
.“June 1951 marks the end of an era in the history of Walkerton District High School. In September we shall begin our studies in the new building. The contrast between the old and the new is very marked; will there be a corresponding change in our school life? We have lived informally in this old school. If we wanted to upset our timetable to practice for cadet inspection or for the Hay Singers, we did so. Everyone has known what is going on and has taken an interest in the school activities. There was a high standard of friendliness and co-operation between the students and the staff. Can we keep this spirit in the years to come or will the new school become just an educational factory? The answer to this question lies in the hands of the students. It is you who make the school what it is. Keep up the good work you have started in the past years!
. Some there are who will not be returning to school next year. To them I extend the very sincere wish that they may be happy in their chosen occupation. They will not be forgotten!” Cy Washington
.SECTION THREE –1951 – A new school, a new era
.As the middle of the 20th century approached, the Walkerton District High School had operated for seventy years, primarily for students living in the community.
In 1949, the Ontario Department of Education formed the South Eastern Bruce school district with its new policy of combining rural and urban secondary education. A bus service then added a large number of district students to those few who had previously been compelled to board in town in order to take advantage of this educational opportunity.
The High School district consisted of the town of Walkerton plus the villages of Mildmay and Paisley (were there had been a high school), the township of Carrick, and parts of Brant, Bruce, Culross, Greenock and Kincardine townships.
The increased attendance which followed this change created overflow classes into the town armouries and the public school, thereby enabling Headmaster Cyril Washington to carry through his long dreamed-of plans for an enlarged modern building.
At the same time, the leading edge of baby boomers was entering elementary school.
.The buildings used by the high school were vacated in 1951 and were purchased and razed by Clarence Arnold. Additional playground space was made available for the increasing public school enrolment. In 1952 an addition to the elementary school that created a debenture of $125,000, added two new classrooms, library, gymnasium/auditorium, offices, teachers’ room and storeroom for occupancy in 1953.
New high school facility - through the efforts of S. B. Coon and Son, architects from Toronto and James Construction Company of London, the structure on Yonge Street at the south end of town, opened on September 1, 1951. Enrolment was just over 300 students, with a staff complement of 13 teachers. New teachers in that historic year included Mr. Vasey (Health and Science), Miss Helen Johnston (History and English), Mr. Les Naftel (shop), Miss Rose (Girls PT and history), Miss Rice (Home Economics) and Miss Robinson (Art and Guidance)
An insight into the life at Walkerton District High School in 1951-52 was chronicled in the school’s “Highlights” newsletter, in an historic perspective of the times, authored by grade 12 student Alda Grant who served as assistant editor of the publication.
“Well, here we are in a new school! Our modern one-story structure has seven classrooms, two well-equipped laboratories, a large gymtorium, home economics rook, shop work room and two up-to-date washrooms.
Our attendance has increased greatly this year to make a new record of three hundred and three pupils enrolled. Part of this is due to the closing of Paisley and Tiverton schools. Because of this, it has become necessary to divide grade nine into three parts. It has also required increased teaching staff, each specializing in one or two subjects. To aid the agricultural teacher in his experimental work the school has a large garden, a small barn and a tractor. Many buses and taxies travel to and from school transporting the students.
On either side of the spacious hall are lockers which hold each person’s belongings. As you have no permanent desk in any room, you travel from room to room, going to the teachers. A two-minute interval is allowed for this between the thirty-five minute periods. There is a loud speaker system in every room, working from the office. Our opening exercises are held by means of this and any announcements are also reported. Increased supervision of health is evidenced by the medical examination held a few weeks ago.
In the cafeteria, two cooks will prepare the meals for the entire student body. This will keep the health of everyone at a high standard. For the convenience of the caretaker, there is an oil heating system with thermostatic control to provide even heat throughout.
On entering any room one notices the beautifully tiled floors, pastel shades of the walls and the many windows. The plaster in the ceiling and walls is sound-proof.
Much has been done to the landscaping of the school grounds. Small evergreens have been planted close to the walls and along the walk are small shrubs. Soon this will be not only a modern institution or learning but also one of the beauty spots of Bruce County.”
Opening of the cafeteria - on Monday December 3, students had the opportunity (and privilege) of eating their first meal served in the modern cafeteria. Grades nine, ten and eleven were scheduled for dinner (now referred to more appropriately as lunch) at 12:08 while Grades twelve, thirteen and Commercial attended their regular classes. At 12:45, the senior classes were dismissed to have their “dinner” and grades nine, ten and eleven returned to their class rooms.
The menu boasted nourishment comprised of one scoop of potatoes, one scoop of corn, three small sausages, a roll of ice cream and a bottle of chocolate milk. The fare – two bits - provided to Mrs. Ellis.
Official opening - the facility was officially opened on Thursday December 6, 1951. Parking supervision was handled by male students and in due course the gymnasium/auditorium was packed – overflow crowds were ushered to seats in the cafeteria to listen via the modern public address system.
On a stage decorated with beautiful mums, Dr. G. P. Mullen, Vice-Chairman of the School Board, introduced the platform guests that included members Board and other appropriate community officials. Representatives of the Roy James Construction Company presented the architect, Burwell Conn, with the key. Conn thanked the Board and sagely suggested that success still depended on the abilities of the teachers and the diligence of the students. In turn, Conn presented the key to P. S. MacKenzie, Chair of Board.
Special guest Major Brian S. McCool, Assistant Director of Music in the Ontario Department of Education, (a former Walkerton High School graduate), introduced guest speaker A. G. Hooper, M.A., Superintendent of Secondary Education, Province of Ontario. Hooper announced the school formally opened; audience members rose to their feet while the Girls’ Bugle Band, under the supervision of J. A. Hay, provided appropriate music.
Hooper paid tribute to principal Cyril F. Washington for his qualities of leadership both as a principal of the High School and among his fellow teachers in the province. As well, he also acknowledged former successful teachers and pupils of the institution. His impassioned wisdom that “There is no Royal Road to Learning and no short cut to success in life”, preceded his personal mantra that he shard, stating “Let me spend my life in service provided that I may be of assistance to others.”
In closing Hooper challenged the audience to encourage the school to emphasize character, reliability and courage to overcome difficulty.
Board chair MacKenzie replied, stating that he hoped that the taxpayer would feel comfortable the school is a worthwhile contribution to the education of future citizens.
Principal Washington confirmed that he and the staff appreciated the new building and acknowledged the valued contribution of the taxpayers.
The formal evening closed with the singing of “God Save the King”.
“At Home” – twenty-four hours late, the social event of the year – the annual “At Home” formal dance was held on Friday December 7 in the gymnasium. Students were reminded and encouraged to “avoid the rush and disappointment by acting promptly - remember maybe that special one will be asked if you delay.”
The decorating committee for the event used blue and white (school colours) streamers and large baskets of flowers on the platform for creative effect. The gals wore a variety of pretty gowns, with pinks, lilac and blues the most popular colours, as well as many pastel shades, complemented by corsages of orchids and roses.
Music provided by Wally Scott’s orchestra provided the ambience, and the evening closed with a dainty lunch of cookies and coffee served by the senior girls.
Ahhhh – the good ol’ days!
Open House…. On the weekend of December 8-9, the public was invited to visit the school, where teachers, sporting the best of the smiles of the 50s, lined the foyer and welcomed visitors.
The new Walkerton District High School instantly became a vital component of the community, a legacy that would span the next 60 years.
Walkerton Schools Heritage Committee
Back For the Future Committee
Sherry Lynn Bruder
1950s and 1960s Alumni Co-ordinator
John Thompson - Waterloo
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