Schools in 19th Century St Marys Ontario
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From History of Perth County 1825-1902
by William Johnston, published in 1903

For two years subsequent to first settlement there were no schools.   In 1843 Mr. Nicholas Rogers came to Little Falls, and opened a private school.   There was no building, but he transformed a part of his shanty into a seminary, where he trained the young boys and girls of this new section.   Since that period educational matters have made great progress, ample provision having been made for comfort and convenience both to teachers and children.   St. Marys has now four public and one separate school, in which are employed a staff of nine teachers.   The public schools are under principal William D. Pence, his assistants being all females.   St. Marys public school buildings are severely plain in architectural style, and certainly indicate a desire for utility rather than show.   One of these is an ancient structure, erected in pioneer days as a place of incarceration for evil doers.   This has been transformed from a cold cell for expiation of guilt to a comfortable room for training innocent youth.   The separate school has a substantial and well equipped building, and is also doing good work, employing one teacher only.

In 1875 a high school was erected, which a few years later, as a recognition of its effective work, was elevated to the dignity of a Collegiate Institute.   This is an imposing and well equipped school, from whose classes have gone out many clever students, whose names are now written on the scroll of fame, adding lustre, not to St. Marys alone, but to Canada.   This institution has been for many years presided over by Mr. Stephen Martin, a worthy and efficient educator, who has done his duty well.   With him are associated four assistants, one being a female.   The average attendance at this school is about 175.   For a more complete description of our public school system and methods employed, the reader is referred to "Remarks on Education" in another part of this work.

In the municipal building will be found the mechanics institute library, consisting of four thousand volumes.   This institution is free to all citizens, and open every lawful day.   Reading rooms are also open in connection, on whose tables can be found the leading periodicals of interest to Canadian readers.   This institution is supported partly by governments aid, and largely by special grants from the town.   It is well conducted by a board of prominent citizens, appointed as governors by the people.   A great number of societies - benevolent and otherwise - are represented in St. Marys.   Oddfellows, Hibernians, Foresters, Maccabees, Chosen Friends, Workman, Orange Society, Sons of Scotland, and most ancient of all, Free Masons, are doing good work.   In their places of meeting will be found not only rational amusement, but practical educational work is done, useful to members in business affairs of everyday life.

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