This is the first article of our “Back to School” series that will run on PuslinchToday throughout August.
By Marjorie Clark
The school at 16 Old Brock Road in Aberfoyle was officially opened on Sept. 5, 1958. On May 5, 1956, F. Tremain and William McComick, of the Puslinch School Area Board, had presented a request to Puslinch Township Council to issue debentures in the amount of $40,000 to build a new two-room school for the Aberfoyle School Section. Another delegation appeared before Council in February 1957. A request for tenders was published in February 1958. R. G. Cripps was the architect and Alvin Spooner of Hespeler was the builder.
Two hundred people attended the opening. Rev. Hugh Wilson of Duff’s Presbyterian Church performed the dedication. Nadine Chapman, music teacher for the School Section, sang, “Bless This House”. Other soloists were Aberfoyle School students, Wendy Schwartz, Sheila Maltby and Marie Gregor. A Young People’s Quartet from Duff’s Church composed of Jean McCaig (soprano), Jean Gilmour (contralto), Allan Coburn (tenor) and Robert Gordon (bass), also sang. Speakers were: Reeve of Puslinch, James McCaig, Deputy Reeve James McMillan, R. G. Cripps, Harry Worton, M.P.P., Principal of Aberfoyle School, Cecil Reid, and teacher, Joan McPhee. The most memorable words were spoken by Alex Ord, representing the families of the Aberfoyle community. He said,
“I would like to see a history written before the present generation passes to its great reward. Four walls do not make a home but the people therein do. This could very well apply to a school.”
In February 1964, four more classrooms and an auditorium were added to the new school at a cost of $95,000 and another opening ceremony was held on Feb. 12, 1965. In the summer of 1967, the former Donald Schwartz house was removed from the school property to clear the way for twelve more rooms, added in January 1968, when the Township School Board closed the final group of the twelve, small schools and collected the township children by bus for travel to Aberfoyle Public School each day.
Education in Aberfoyle has a long record. The first school in Aberfoyle was held in a log building on lot 17, concession 8, in the late 1830’s, where Hugh Barnett conducted night classes. Settlement of the township had begun in 1827. During the day, the pupils assisted their parents with chopping trees, clearing the forests to grow crops and establish a homestead. The second school was in a frame building on lot 18, front concession 8, Wingrove’s farm. It was administered by a Board of Trustees, consisting of local men, Duncan McFarlane, James Smith and William Scott. In 1849, there were 111 pupils between the ages of 5 and 16. This premises, south of Fox Run Estates, is in use, in 2015, as a residence. The stone school was erected about 1872 on lot 19, rear concession 7. In 1923, there were 40 students and in 1956, enrolment was 39.
The vacated, old, stone school building was sold in July 1959. On June 10, 2006, the original school bell was returned to the stone school, then owned and operated as a store called “The Bird’s Nest” by Robin and Larry Wayne. The bell had been purchased by Jack Steffler of Guelph in 1964 and taken to a family cottage, where it remained until the cottage was sold in 2005, when it was offered to and welcomed back by the Waynes. In January 2012, the Aberfoyle Family Chiropractic Centre opened here.
Again on September 8th, 2015, Puslinch children in grades kindergarten to eight will return to the Aberfoyle School built in 1958, now administered by the Upper Grand District School Board, which oversees very many elementary and secondary schools.