School House History

REPRINTED IN 2008 BY W GALE BANKS FROM AN ARTICLE DONE BY VIOLA Mc MACHEN

BRIAR HILL SCHOOL

            The first school on Briar Hill was a log building which was situated across the road in Leeds Township.  It apparently burnt down during the late 1800’s.

            The present school on Briar Hill was built by a Mr. Dan wing, a carpenter at that time.  It was situated in the joint townships of Leeds and South Crosby.  In 1913 the school was remodeled adding the porch to the front and a belfry and bell on top.  This belfry was removed from the school in the 1940’s.

            Two of the first teachers to teach at Briar Hill were Miss Alice Pennock about 1879 and 1880, and Miss Mc Clane from Toronto.  When Miss Pennock taught here there were sixty on the roll.  At that time there were no seats or desks.  They used long benches to sit upon.  The majority of the pupils coming at that time were large boys and girls.  The boys came to school in the winter and worked on the farms in the spring and fall.  There was no bell at that time and school was called in by the teacher tapping upon the window.

            Some of the earliest settlers living in the community were the Middletons, Stevens, Haskins, Wings, Whites, Wiltsies, Beers, Halladays, Chases, Struthers, Godkins and Niblocks. 

            Some of the people who served on the school boards throughout the years were Byron Gamble, Elmer Mc Fadden, Cyril Mc Machen, Cecil Mc Fadden, George Morley,                   Joseph Mc Machen,  Albertus June, William Tate, Owen Birtch, Clarence Mc Machen, Joe Tye, Al Summerville, Harmon Mc Fadden, W.C. Wing, and Stanley Kirkland.

            Records show that the secretary of the school board earned $5.00 per annum, janitor about $30.00 or .05for building fires.

            For winter entertainment at noon hour, teachers and pupils often enjoyed riding downhill on the farm of Joe Mc Machen.

            The community always enjoyed the annual “Christmas Tree” with the pupils performing in plays, skits and musical numbers-the highlight of the evening being the visit of Santa Claus.

During the 1950’s these people helped make the “Christmas Tree” a success:

 Chairman- Al Somerville, Santa Claus- Mabel Danby,

 Piano and singing- Minnie Banks (Mother of Neil Banks).

Attendance started to diminish during the 1950’s and Briar Hill School closed in June 1956 with only eight pupils on the roll.  Pupils were then taken by bus to Lyndhurst Public School.