Lake Eloida School
School Section #17
Concession #10, Lot 27 (see map)
present address 153 Lake Eloida Rd.
Known as “17 Kitley and 19 Yonge” built on part of Concession 10, Lot 27 in KItley. It served the rear lots of 10 to 30 of Concession 10 in Kitley, Concession 11 of Yonge and some of Bastard. It was built in 1868 and closed in 1961. Previous to it being built school was held in the home of William T. Howe who lived on that land. Thomas Howe received these 200 acres by Crown Patent Sept. 1. 1838 but had been developing the land since at least 1820. The original nominee of this land was Solomon Conley and Margaret Howe. In his will he left part of the land plus 50 pounds to be used to build a school. In the early years of the school it was also used as a Church.
The following information is taken from Dr. Glenn Lockwood’s book “Kitley 1795-1975”
The Lake Eloida school area, in the days of the three-trustee board, was comprised of the rear half of lots 10 to 30 in the 10th Concession of Kitley, part of Lot 4 to Lot 15 in the 11th Concession of the Township of Yonge and a very small area in the Township of Bastard.
School was first held in this section in a nearby stone house owned by William Howe, which overlooked Lake Eloida. Teachers in this building included Miss E.J Ferrar and Miss Adelaide McCrea, a daughter of Hiram McCrea of Frankville. Of the latter teacher it was said, “She was a slender and very tall, and very good looking. She wore the same dress day in and day out made of a dark printed material. It trailed on the floor as she moved about slowly and with great dignity.”
A schoolhouse was built of stone in approximately 1868 in Lot 27 to the 10th Concession. Miss Vina Root, later Mrs. John Mackie, was one of the early teachers in the new school. Another teacher, Holmes Eyre, a grandson of Abram Eyre, used a heavy hand on those who did not obey his instructions. Other teachers in the latter half of the 19th century were: Annie Laura Scovil, Josie Glazier, Jennie Eyre, Jennie Percival, Emma Johnston and Hincks Eaton.
An item in the Athens Reporter of January 21, 1890 read: “Miss Jennie Eyre, teacher at Lake Eloida School was presented with a hand mirror by Miss Ina Hause and a fruit dish by Miss Lillian Barnes, on behalf of the school girls, and Clifford Crummy presented her with a glove and handkerchief set on behalf of the boys, after an address was read by Jessie Henderson. Miss Erye will be taking another school next term.”
Mrs. L.A. Kilborn recalled that Mother Barns, generally known as “The Witch of Plum Hollow”, used to take her by the hand hand take her part way to school and how her teacher, Miss Scovil, used to take her, a tiny child, home with her at noon, lest she run away from school.
During its early decades the school building was used as a church sanctuary, and for Sunday School. Over the years there was little change in the appearance of the well built one room edifice, except for the new roofing, redecorating, and the addition of a drinking fountain, the installation of modern desks and equipment and the installation of hydro.
The following is a narrative as recounted by Miss Ethel McDowell who was teacher for a number of years at Lake Eloida.
“When I went to Lake Eloida to teach, the Second World War was still in progress Groups of soldiers would practice military maneuvers occasionally at Mr. Ogle Webster’s corner and along the road leading to the school. I remember them sending up rockets of flares one night and thinking, the show is nearly as good as fireworks. Another night they were making a smoke screen, I thought. Often one or two soldiers would go tearing along on motorcycles.
“Well, one chilly, damp afternoon in the autumn, a group of soldiers came along and the leader, a lieutenant, I presume, came to the school door. Could his men sleep in the school all night as they had made a long march and were very tired? They wouldn’t touch anything, and would leave everything as they found it. Well, in my mind flashed the thought, if they were going to risk their lives overseas so the rest of us could sleep safe and secure under a roof, it was only common decency to let them sleep warm and dry that night, in the school. A small closed in truck accompanied them, I gave my consent. When I went to the home of the W.M. Moore’s where I boarded, the soldiers took possession, and probably were sound asleep.”
“Now it seems there was a second group of soldiers, ‘the enemy’, on the road coming from Athens. They came upon one of the Lake Eloida boys and asked him if he had seen any soldiers that day. “Why, yes”, he replied, “There’s a bunch sleeping at the school tonight.”
“Group No. 1, feeling safe and tired, had gone to sleep without posting a sentry. So Group No.2 stole up to the school, slipped into it, and set off a tear gas bomb just inside the door. The sleepers awakened, got out fast.”
“In the morning the lieutenant came to meet me and apologized for what had happened. He had opened the door and windows, and when I first entered the school it didn’t seem too bad. But in a few minutes I emerged tearfully. You can imagine my dismay and chagrin. We couldn’t have school for a week, and when we did go back the effect of the tear gas was still there; the pupils gazed at me with tear filled eyes. One day Mavis Crummy, (Mrs. Clair Knapp), said to me, “I used to like to come to school, I don’t anymore.”
“Inspector Oaks said we would probably notice the tear gas for a year, and we did. He wrote to Army Headquarters, and in due time a couple of ‘top brass’ arrived at the school. I can remember them standing by the box stove and saying that they noticed nothing but the smoke from the wood fire. Huh !!! They said that the soldiers had gone overseas by that time. One of them also stated that in actual warfare the enemy would have blown the encamped men to pieces.
“If the trustees had fired me, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But they were good enough to say that if they too had been asked they would likely have given the soldiers permission to sleep in the school.”
Some of the teachers during the 20th Century included: Florence Scovil, John Webster, Anna Webster, Miss Lenna Brown, Russell Edmunds, Mrs. Aileen Montgomery, Mrs. Thomas Ericson, Miss Junter and Mrs. Leonard Scott.
In June of 1961, Lake Eloida School was closed after having served as a place of instruction for over 90 ears. Mrs. Ericson was the last teacher and last class of the old school included the following: Douglas Deir, David Wood, Danny Pattemore, Betty Van Drunen, Barbara Wood, Donna Deir, Donna Pattemore, Kathy Knapp. Connie Knapp Robert Wood, Mary Ellen Morrison, Robert Morrison, Beth Edmunds, Frances Knapp, Carole Knapp and Dianne Knapp.
On October 26th, 2019, Athens and Area Heritage Museum had a “School Reunion” for those who attended the old Lake Eloida one room school house. The following information was obtained at that reunion. Many thanks to the Athens and Area Heritage Museum for sharing this with us.
The Lake Eloida School Story
The Lake Eloida School which was built about 1868 and was used continuously for over 90 years was closed this June (1961). The Lake Eloida School area, more primly known as “17 Kitley and 10 Young” in the days of the tree-trustee board, comprised the rear half of lots number 10 to 30 in the 10th Concession of the Township of Kitley, part of Lot 4 to lots 15 in the 11th Concession of the Twp of Yonge, and a very small area in the Twp of Bastard.
At least six farms in the western part of the school area first came into being as part of a Crown Grant made to John Graves Simcoe. The minutes of the Executive Council of Upper Canada dated Wednesday July 9, 1794 refer to a grant of 5,000 acres ordered that day to His Excellency in appreciation of his service as Colonel of the Queen’s Rangers. An absentee landlord he turned land over to Abraham Holmes just after 1800. This property now owned by the Harold Pattemore’s had until September 1959 remained in the same family for five generations.
A small slice of land at the north end of the school area was originally owned by John Arnold, son of the famed American traitor, Benedict Arnold. John Arnold, father of the late Henry H. Arnold who was sectary treasurer of the Athens High School Board for 35 years and a member of the Board for 40 years and an Athens merchant, died on the property in 1831.
During many of the early decades the present school building was used as a church sanctuary, and for Sunday School. Almost every Protestant family in the neighbourhood worshiped here regardless of denomination, he men and women occupying opposite sides of the schoolroom. The Methodist minister from Athens conducted the services in the afternoon of the Sabbath.
It is likely that most of the children were taught their ABC’s by their parents or older members o their families during the early 1800’s. Then came the days of the itinerant teacher and “school” in one or another of the homes. Schooling was spasmodic and during the busy seasons it almost disappeared. At least there was a school building. Mrs. Austin Craig, who taught in the present stone school estimated that it is more than 90 years old. She remembered as a small girl attending school first in the stone house now occupied by the Thomas Knapps overlooking the lake and later she thought she attended the new school. Miss E.J. Ferrar was one of the earliest teachers. She was teaching in Eloida in 1865. Miss Adelaide McCrae was another early teacher, as was Miss Vina Root (later to become Mrs. John Mackie and the grandmother of Mrs. Gerald Morrison, Holmes Eyre, Anna Laura Scovil, Josie Glazier, Jennie Eyre and Jennie Percival.
Probably the Lake Eloida pupil who has won most distinction in her field of service was Marion Bottomley, now Dr. Marion Hall, a Methodist missionary attached to the Madar Union Sanatorium, a 250 bed hospital at Ajmer, India.
(this article was written in 1961, the author is anonymous)
The History of the Lake Eloida Schooling
by Sally Smid, Athens and Area Heritage Society
During the 1800’s area children were taught at home or sporadically by various itinerant teachers in different homes. The first mention of aa school was one that was located in the stone part of the home of Thomas Knapp. The Lake Eloida School was build around 1868. An early teacher was E.J. Ferrar who was recorded to have taught in the area in 1865. Another early teacher was Miss Adelaide McCrae. Mrs. Austin Craig who later taught there as well and received a salary of $150. a year, remembered McCrae as a “slender, tall and pretty woman who wore the same dress everyday. It trailed on the floor as she moved slowly about with great dignity”. Miss Vina Root, later Mrs. John Mackie, was also an early teacher. It was reported that another teacher, Holmes Eyre, used a “heavy haand” on those who didn’t obey his instructions. Other memorable teachers were Annie Scovil, Josie Glazer, Jennie Doreen Livingston, and Eva Moore.
An item in the Athens reporter of Jan. 21, 1890, right after Farmersville became Athens, read, “Miss Jennie Eyre, a teacher at the Lake Eloida School, was presented with a hand mirror by Miss Ina Hause and a fruit dish by Miss Lillian Barnes, on behalf of the school girls and Clifford Crummy presented her with a glove and handkerchief set on behalf of the boys..Miss Eyre will be taking another school next term.”
During many of the early decades, the school building was used as a church sanctuary and as a Sunday School. Almost everyone in the area worshipped there, with the men and women occupying opposite sides of the schoolroom. Two lady evangelists, Ella Birdwell and Inda Mason, conducted meetings in the school as well. The school was “packed to the doors”.
Over the years there has been little change in the appearance of the well-built little one room stone schoolhouse, except for new roofing and redecorating, adding a drinking fountain, new curtains, modern desks, and equipment as well as the installation of hydro.
Former students have many memories, fro Christmas Concerts, spelling bees, picnics at the campground, Arbour Day trips to the woods for flowers, to the visits the kindly Dr. Kinney, the inspector, as well as toasting cheese sandwiches on the wood stove. Then there was the time that Charlie Howe’s ram was chased around the school and battered the door.
Miss Ethel McDowell taught at the school for several years. Stories are told of how the students teased her because of her wooden leg, but that didn’t seem to limit her capabilities. She had a very unique experience having taught during WWII when groups of soldiers would practice military maneuvers in the area. They asked her if they could sleep in the school after a long march and promised to leave everything in place. She patriotically agreed and the soldiers bedded down for the night.
Now it seems that there was a second group of soldiers, “the enemy”, coming from Athens and they asked one of the locals if they’d seen and soldiers. It was revealed that they were in the school. Since they had left no sentry, the “enemy group” was able to slip up to the school and set a tear gas bomb just inside the door. The sleepers awoke and quickly escaped.
Apologies were made, but there was no school for a week due to the lingering smell which was noticeable for a year. When the “top brass” came in response to the complaints, they made light of the incident and stated that in actual warfare, the enemy would have tossed in a bomb that would have blown everything up. Miss McDowell thought that she might have been fired but the trustees were understanding.
In 1961 the Lake Eloida School closed and students were transported by bus to Frankville, Hard Island and Anoma Lee. The school which was attended by all of the elementary children in the community had a unifying influence. As Mrs. Aileen Montgomery, who taught there until 1960, wrote at its closing, “A mutual community concern is gone and as the pupils go to their new schools in different directions, it is inevitable that the neighbourhood interests will be divided.” Perhaps the school’s unifying force was gone, but the warm memories and rich heritage remain.
(Much of this information was obtained from The History of Lake Eloida, Athens Reporters and various former students)
News from The Athens Reporter and County of Leeds Advertiser
Tuesday Feb. 5, 1895 issue-
Lake Eloida School (Kitley SS #17)
The following is a list of the pupils whose work entitled them to place on the honor roll (names appear in order of merit):
IV.- Nellie Wiltsie
III – Amos Wiltsie, James Poirier, Harry Everett, Anna Thomas
II – Robert Everett, Martha Kincaid, Roy Johnson, Floyd Howe, Edna Howe
Pt II. – Charlie Stephenson
I – Omer Davis
Those who attended every day, Nellie Wiltsie, Floyd Howe
Maggie Wiltsie, Teacher
Lake Eloida School (S.S.#17) Kitley
Tuesday Aug 20, 1895 issue
Sarah Holmes, wife of Horace Booth, died on Monday last at her residence near Lake Eloida. Mrs. Booth was born on the farm adjoining the one on which she died and has always resided in that neighbourhood. She was in her 71st year at the time of her death. The funeral will take place at the Lake Eloida school house at 10 a.m. to-morrow (Wednesday)