Every week, I share an excerpt from my Great Aunt’s book, As the Story is Told: A History of Morpeth and Community, which was printed in 1986. This week is a continuation of the section on the closing of Morpeth School.
Morpeth School: SS No 2 Howard – Closing Ceremonies, continued…
The following report of an agreement between the trustees and Mr. Andrew Winters gives one an idea of what was expected of a care-taker back in 1901.
“Memorandum of an Agreement made this Second Day of January A.D. 1901 between the Trustees of S.S. No. 2 Howard and Andrew Winters of the Village of Morpeth. The said Andrew Winters agrees to do all the work hereinafter mentioned: Build fires and have the school rooms warm by 8:15 a.m. And when necessary during school hours; sweep school rooms, class rooms, cloak rooms and halls every school day after school hours; dust furniture next school morning; keep windows and walls free from cobwebs and dust; scrub floors and wash so as to remove dirt from woodwork of walls, doors, windows and furniture, also polish glass of windows twice a year, once at Easter holidays and once during the Midsummer Vacation; cut all grass and weeds growing on grounds whenever necessary and remove all grass and weeds so cut and also any rubbish from school grounds so as to keep grounds neat and tidy; keep the closets in a clean and healthy condition; nail on any pickets that may be broken off the fence at any time; put in any glass that may be broken from doors to closets (back-houses); remove snow after storms from belfry before melting; keep the basement tidy. All material such as lumber, glass, putty, nails, brooms and soap to be furnished by the Trustees. For and in consideration of which the said trustees agree to pay the said Andrew Winters the sum of Fifty Dollars per Annum in quarterly payments. This agreement to terminate by either party giving one month’s notice in writing. A witness the hand and seal of the Trustees and Caretaker. Signed in the presence of: H. Wilkinson, A.D. McDiarmid, Hiram Hill, Trustees and A.J. Winters, Caretaker.”
“The worst storm in my experience was while I taught in Morpeth. The snow appeared to be ice pellets which were frozen solid under terrific hurricane force. The school was isolated with drifts which reached to the second story of the building – no snow removal equipment then. Using shovels the village men made steps up over the frozen drifts so the students could get into the school. Did they ever love it!
In those days the grades in the school were termed classes – primer, junior and senior first, second, third and fourth classes. All Grade Eight (Senior Fourth) publics must try an entrance examination at Ridgetown before entering High School. This was a trying experience for many rural children.
In 1918 the schools of Ontario were practically all closed on account of the terrible flu epidemic that swept over the world. Many thousands did, with some in our own locality. The school was again closed for a few weeks as a smallpox case developed in Morpeth. This urged many parents to have their children vaccinated.
It was on the day that the armistice was signed ending the First World War in 1918, that suddenly the school bell began to ring wildly, being pounded with a hammer. John McDiarmid heard the news, so rushed to the school, climbed into the school belfry and succeeding in making the children sure that the school was on fire. All of the villagers however realized what was happening so the school was closed and everyone left for Ridgetown to join the celebration. This bell is now in the Morpeth United Church grounds.”