Nottawasaga & Creemore Public School Annex Bell

 In Letters, Opinion

Editor:

As a follow-up to the recent article on saving the bell I would like to expand on the historic significance of that bell. In 1881 a new four-room school was built on two lots at the corner of Caroline and Collingwood streets. It originally did not have an outside bell. In 1882 the citizens of Creemore and the surrounding township raised enough money to purchase one having it installed in a bell tower on the roof. 

That school originally was heated by wood burning pot-bellied stoves in each room and it was often quite cold. Helen Blackburn mentions in her book “Has The Bell Rung Yet?” that the principal, William Mackay, would come into a room and blow his breath. If he could see it he closed the school for the day. It also did not have indoor plumbing but girls and boys outhouses in the yard. In 1916 the board realized they had to build a new school. Beside the antiquated heating and plumbing, it could not accommodate the increased enrolment and provide classes up to Grades 11, 12 or 13.

In March of 1916 the board accepted a tender from Mr. J. Akitt, a local hardware owner and builder to build a new six-classroom school for $17,940. By January of 1917, it was officially opened with the donated bell from the old school proudly on its roof. As a tribute to Mr. Akitt’s workmanship, 101 years later, one would be hard pressed to find a crack in the brickwork.

No reference to the bell would be complete without mention of excursions to the attic. The little room at the end of the upstairs hall was the library. In the ceiling was a trap door to the attic with a convenient folding ladder behind the door. Certainly not all but, a number of students at some time made a trip to the attic. This can be verified by the number of signatures on the very large brick chimney, including mine. 

Gerry Blackburn,

Creemore.

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