The History of a Rural One-Room School – Win a Copy of this book!

unnamed-3St. Patrick’s School, 1922-1968 

The book is entitled ‘The History of a Rural One-Room School, St. Patrick’s School, 1922-1968’. The school was located a couple of miles north of Merlin. 

The book sells for only $15, tax included, and can be purchased at Lenover Quality Meats on Park Ave. East, Chatham, Ontario. 

How did it come about? 

Marianne saw a copy of a recently published book (2016) about a one-room school in Harwich and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a history of St. Patrick’s,” the one-room school that she had attended. She contacted Larry Lahey, who had some experience in writing local history, and after a year of research the book was completed. The book has 72 pages, including an index with 600 names. 

The book contains 28 different topics, one of which is Christmas concerts. In 1947 there were twenty separate Christmas concerts hosted by one-room schools in the Merlin area from Dec. 11 to Dec. 22. 

“Throughout Canada it was a tradition for a one-room school to hold a Christmas concert with all students participating. St. Patrick’s was no exception. Parents got involved by setting up the stage and curtains. Due to an epidemic of measles at St. Patrick’s, the Christmas concert of 1952 was cancelled. In 1955 the rendition of ‘Big Bad John’ by Tennessee Ernie Ford, mouthed by student, John Hickey, was so well received that an encore was requested. In 1958 St. Patrick’s and Sacred Heart school of Fletcher combined for a concert at St. Pat’s. One year a parent, playing Santa, came to the concert ‘two sheets to the wind’. Teachers were evaluated by the quality of concert they were able to organize.” 

The authors were surprised at the large number of teachers that came from Perth County (near Stratford). Also surprising is how many young women found their way to St. Patrick’s from Ottawa, Bradford, Toronto and Peterborough. 

The book also discusses corporal punishment which is now prohibited but was in favour at this time. 

“By far the most common form of corporal punishment was the strap administered to the palm of the hand. Most students felt that the strap was more than likely deserved, however a few resented being strapped in the early grades, just for not having work completed. This was a time when the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ philosophy existed.” 

“Several local men married St. Patrick’s teachers. You can picture the eager anticipation that must have been in the eyes of the single men, each time a new teacher would come to teach at St. Pat’s.” 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

This article (and photos) was written and submitted by: Marianne Lucio and Larry Lahey

_ _



Subject Line: “One-Room School Contest” 

Email body: Name, address, phone 

Or drop by our office and fill out a ballot: Abstract Marketing (above Frendz) 216 King St. W., Upper Unit Chatham, ON 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *