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The One-Room Schoolhouse

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larger_bchs.25.sm_.jpgPioneer schoolhouses were built to accommodate about thirty students from grades one through seven. Most schools were made of wood, with a simple cast-iron wood stove for heating in winter. Outhouses were set apart from the school building or located at the far end of an attached woodshed. There was no electricity for lights, so windows were relied upon for daylight. Until about 1900, when factory-built desks were available, desks and seats consisted of long, hand-hewn pine boards, lined up in rows.

Children had to walk to school, so they would leave home early in the morning. The boys had to do chores when they arrived, like fetching water or bringing in wood for the wood stove. Boys and girls of all ages shared the same classroom.

The school day started with a prayer, a reading from the Bible, and the singing of God Save the Queen. The curriculum consisted of learning the arithmetic tables, spelling, and reading aloud. Enrichment came to those who finished their lessons quickly and listened to the lessons of the older children. School, however, was not compulsory, so work at home often took priority over attendance at school.

Teachers, for their part, were poorly paid and usually rotated from one farm family to another for free room and board.


For 1 day in Sept.1943 I went

For 1 day in Sept.1943 I went to the one room schoolhouse in Birchton, Quebec with my playmates. This schoolhouse is now someone's home. My Dad would not drive back home on Rte 5 Labor Day weekend to Massachusetts after our vacation with his parents. It was quite interesting for me, as each row was a grade level. Since I was sitting in the grade level which I would be at my school.
The teacher was very interested in what I was learning. She put some lines on the board(a partial box) with numbers in front and inside and then asked me if I knew what it was ? I had never seen anything like it as in my school we had separate rooms so we never knew what the other grade levels were doing. She told me it was division.
When I got back to my school I asked my teacher why I didn't know division among other things I heard being said in the one room schoolhouse. So she asked me to explain to the class everything I saw and how did a teacher teach 6 grades in a one room schoolhouse with each row being a grade level.. I also told the teacher there was no toliet facilities but an outhouse attached .And there was a wood stove for heat. And I brought a lunch pail to school. Some kids had to walk very far to school as there were no buses. And some got picked up by families in a horse and buggy.
I treasure so many wonderful happy memories of my time in Birchton. I still travel every back road when I visit and stop and remember every detail.