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History of The Old School

History of the Musquodoboit Harbour Elementary School

From the Superintendent of Education Report for 1924 on page 57:

"A new two-room school building, by far the best in rural Halifax, is under construction in Musquodoboit Harbour." 

 

In 1926, Graham Creighton, Inspector of Schools, notes in his report "With a view of assisting teachers in the better teaching of English literature, singing, drawing, chemistry and physics, a workshop was held in the commodious and well-appointed school house in Musquodoboit Harbour."

Dorothy Facie, who went there in the thirties (she was home schooled until Grade 5, because it was a two mile walk) thinks Robert Stoddart from Jeddore must have built it, but I have not been able to verify this.

 

 In C.A. Hake's article "Publicly funded schools in N.S. pre-1930" in the Research Bulletin, No. 211, Dec. 1983, there is good information on the architecture of many early schools but nothing on Musquodoboit Harbour's. Hake does say "more research and analysis needs to be done in the area of school architecture between 1900-1930 ".

 

He also mentions the fact that the CPI (Nova Scotia Council of Public Instruction) introduced two more sets of plans for county schools before 1930. The N.S. Archives had no record of these.

 

“In all the pictures I saw of NS County Schools, there were none resembling the Harbour's.”

That the school was indeed 'state of the art' is evident in what its early students (Pearl Turner and Dorothy Facie) remember as being so wonderful: hot air heating (no wood stoves), indoor plumbing (no cold outhouse), three cloakrooms (one for the boys, one for the girls and one for the teachers - the latter was later turned into a lab.)

 

Although it looks big on the outside, it had only two classrooms: the Big and Little Room. One for grades 1-6, the other 7-11. (The average enrollment in rural schools in the Musquodoboit area was 27.) The basement had two rooms. The one with the furnace had a cement floor, this is where physical education took place.

 

The style of the building was popular in Nova Scotia in the twenties:

Craftsman, which owed a great deal to the British Arts and Crafts Movement. Advocates of the Movement felt that good design had been lost in industrialized production and were keen to demonstrate that well-designed and well-made objects, including houses and schools, added joy, beauty and value to everyday life. Typical are a gently sloping roof, broad eaves and exposed rafter ends. The rafters and eaves evoke medieval English building practices, so admired by the Movement."

 

- Research conducted by Ria in 2010 during community's acquisition of the Old School.