James and Jessie Panton

James Hoyes Panton was born on May 7th, 1847 in Cupar, Fife, Scotland. He was the son of Agnes (nee Wilkie) Panton and James H. Panton. When James was but one year old, he and his five siblings came to Canada with their parents. They sailed across the Atlantic in May of 1848, a voyage that took two months!

Hardship continued to plague the Panton family throughout their lives. Only six years after arriving in Toronto, James Panton Sr. had fallen victim to cholera. He passed away in July of 1854 leaving his wife and children essentially destitute. Soon after the death of their husband and father a friend living east of Toronto extended an invitation for the family to come live with them.

The family arrived at the Oshawa harbour on November 29, 1855 and traveled 9 miles north to the village of Columbus. James got used to living in the country and began assisting local farmers transport cattle and sheep to Toronto; he developed an interest in prayer at a young age and began attending the local school. In his memoir James notes that “nothing of striking interest occurred in school life.”[1] But something must have become clear to James through these years as he spent the remainder of his life teaching and working in education.

Late in 1886 the family moved closer to Oshawa and things began looking up for the family. They lived in their house rent free, had a number of animals that James cared for and the children continued with their studies in the country school. Though they only stayed there for a year, James was promoted to the fourth book. By December of 1887 the family had yet again moved closer to town, with the school only being one mile away. “At this early age [10 years], the writer began to show signs of being a good scholar, and by the time he was twelve he had reached the proud position of the best if not the first student in the school. At twelve he had learned six books of Euclid’s elements and had a good knowledge of all the subjects taught in a rural school.”[2]

James and his younger sister Jessie continued to excel in their studies. He notes that they “usually carried off all the 1st and 2nd prizes”[3] after examinations. By 1864 James Hoyes Panton had “succeeded in getting a First Class A[4] unlimited”[5] teaching certificate. He was only 17 years old.

Mr. Panton took several teaching jobs throughout the surrounding areas during the course of his career. His first job was at S.S. No. 2 Reach, near Manchester. He was paid $220 per year but had the expense of his own board. At the end of one year, he received a raise of $60 per year. James taught at S.S. No. 2 Reach for two years before his family finally moved to Oshawa in 1866. It was at this time that he was hired as a teacher at another S.S. No. 2, this time in the village of Cedardale with an annual salary of $320. James noted that many of his students were of American descent and quite clever. In 1868 his sister Jessie was appointed his assistant teacher. Olive French notes that Jessie Panton acted as a substitute teacher for her brother when he had to be absent and that she was just a young girl then.[6]

Jessie was born in 1850 in Cupar, Fife, Scotland and had a similar upbringing to her brother, James. After her time assisting her brother at S.S. No. 2, Cedardale School, she taught at one of the Ward Schools, Mary Street. Jessie was the principal, but on officially recognized because of a “board ruling that the headmasters of the ward schools should be male teachers. Her salary was $500 per year.”[7]

By 1885, Miss Panton had become the science teacher at the Centre Street School, though she was paid $100 less. In 1890, Miss Panton had been teaching ‘natural science’, similar to her brother, for five years. Although she briefly considered leaving, the Oshawa Board raised her salary by $100 per year to keep her in the position.

Jessie Panton continued on as the science teacher at Centre Street School until 1905 when she retired. Jessie remained active in her church, St. Andrew’s United; she never married or had any children. Jessie lived at 84 Division Street, which is currently occupied by the Durham Region Courthouse.

James Hoyes Panton died in Woolwich, ON, on February 2, 1898. Woolwich is near the University of Guelph where he was a Professor of Chemistry. Jessie Panton died in Newcastle, ON, on September 6, 1932.

[1] Autobiography. James Hoyes Panton. P.7

[2] Ibid. P.12

[3] Ibid. P. 13

[4] According to Olive French, a Class A certificate meant that you could teach anywhere in the country but had to have at least five years experience. Class A standing also meant that you obtained higher marks than someone with a Class B or Class C standing.

[5] Ibid. P. 13

[6] Jessie Panton would have been approximately 18 years old.

[7] Ross, Douglas. Education in Oshawa. Alger Press. Oshawa. P.64


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Public and Separate Schools in 1967

A new six-room addition will be built on St. Christopher School. There will be room for 200 students when it is completed. The new rooms will include a library classroom, utility room, storage room, washroom, a staff room and six classrooms.

To accommodate its increased enrollment, the separate school board is building a new elementary school, John XIII, on Athabasca Street. It will be the first to feature the new team teaching technique. It will have operable walls in one of the three quadrants that will open a three-classroom unit where groups of pupils can be taught by a team of teachers.

This circular school is 136 feet in diameter and will have a 64 foot inner court. It will have eight classrooms and a kindergarten area. It will accommodate more than 300 students. It is expected to be ready for classes in December 1967.

The principal is not yet appointed. The total enrolment of elementary students is 4,700. The total enrolment of secondary students is  222.

I am concluding this history by listing all of the schools in this city in our centennial year 1967 and the Principals who are in charge of each one. The Roman Catholic schools are as follows:

St. Joseph High School – Sister Mary Sheils

Corpus Christi – Sister Beatrice

St. Frances – Soeur Gilles du Sacre Coeur

St. Gertrude – Sister Rose of Lima

St. Gregory – Sister Mary Petronilla

St. Hedwig – Sister Mary Columbine

Holy Cross – Sister St. Thomas Aquinas

John F. Kennedy – Sister Carmela

John XIII – Mr. M. Breaugh

St. Joseph – Sister Rosalia

St. Michael – Mr. M. Ward

St. Philips – Mr. Michael Lisks

Sir Albert Love – Sister Mary Richard

St. Thomas Aquinas – Mr. Frank Hefferty

The Oshawa Public schools are continuing their expansion during this year.  A large addition will be erected on Grandview school, which will double its capacity. The project is costing $200 000. It will include nine rooms to accommodate 250 more students and a library. This addition will be the first to be constructed with a full-sized library.

The total attendance in the public schools is 12 330 for this Centennial year.

The Oshawa Public schools are continuing their expansion during this year.

A new senior public school has been built on Cedar Street to accommodate its new students. The school has 10 regular classrooms, a home economics room, an industrial arts room and a combination auditorium and gymnasium. When the school opens it should have a capacity attendance of 350 students. This is called the Lake Vista School. It was later found necessary to build a large 10 room addition. There will be a new library and a music room. The school will then accommodate 500 students.

There are plans being laid for an addition to be erected on Centre Street. It will be on the north side, the short end of Queen Street running into Centre Street will be closed to make way for it.

A new school is being erected on Waverly Street, just behind the stadium (Waverly Public School). It will have 10 rooms plus a kindergarten staff room, library and a combination auditorium/gymnasium. Operable walls will be constructed in four classrooms for team teaching. This new method is being tried. There will be a seminar room for extra student help and also for showing pictures. It will be used as well for a guidance room and discussions.

After its years of service, since 1877, Albert Street School is being closed. It is in need of repairs and the cost would be prohibitive. For the most part, through the years, it has had a normal existence. Teachers have come and gone and many students have passed through its doors. Miss fanny Hislop ruled with an “iron fist”, when she was principal. The building will be used by the Board of Education for offices for the music and sports departments. Musical instruments and sports equipment will also be stored there as well as school books.The pupils will be accommodated in Simcoe Street South and Ritson Road. King Street School will take care of some of the Grade VII and VIII students. E.A. Lovell will take care of many of the pupils. A portable has been moved on the school ground to provide extra space. Miss M. Patterson was the principal in Albert Street from September to June of this year (1967). During World War II, Albert Street School was closed, for about two years owing to the shortage of fuel electricity. The pupils from there were accommodated in King Street, Centre Street, and South Simcoe Street.

The last teachers in Albert Street School in 1967 were:

Miss Margaret Patterson – Principal

Mr. Russell – Principal’s Assistant and part-time grade three teacher

Mrs. Lois Adams

Mrs. Gertrude Penman

Mrs. Carole Ranieri

Mrs. Elsie Simmons

Mr. Timothy Slocombe

Mrs. Wilma Wigg

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Jubilee Year 1927

The principal of the school for eight years was Sister Margaret Mary. She is a sister of Mrs. Leo Karnath. She is retired now and is, at present, in St. Joseph’s convent in Toronto[1]. She celebrated her diamond Jubilee (60 years) in 1963, in St. Joseph’s order.

By the year 1930, the Oshawa separate school attendance stood at 454. The average was only 75%. Thus was an important factor as the legislative grant was based on daily attendance and not on the total enrolment as it is at present.

[1] Unsure of when Sister Mary Karnath passed away.

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Supervising Principals and Inspectors 1967

Supervising Principals and Inspectors of Protestant Schools


Supervising Principals –     T.C. Tice

James Campbell

Arthur E. Garbutt

Cecil Cannon – Later an Oshawa Inspector

T.R. McEwen – Inspector who took Mr. Cannon’s place when he left Oshawa.

Mr. E. Webster

Mr. W. McDonald – Inspectors of Oshawa

Thomas J. Heath

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Board of Education – 1967

S.E. Lovell – Chairman

T.D. Thomas – Vice Chairman

J.G. Brady

F.R. Britten

L.D. Clarke

L.G. Glover – Phm. B.

J.C. Larmond – B. Sc.

Mrs. C.C. Lee

S.G. Saywell

R.H. Stroud

D.W. Wilson

F.S. Wotten



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School Boards of Later Years

The following was reported in the “Vindicator,” “A diligent servant, one of the school trustees, took a quiet snooze to himself at the board meeting, on Tuesday p.m. and woke up just when the question of a new pump and well was being discussed. We can’t say there was any connection between the subject of discussion and the waking, but a pump is a suggestive thing at such a time.” Perhaps the thought of a dowsing with cold water in his subconscious mind brought him to his senses eh? It must have been a tame meeting compared to some of them!

However, Oshawa owes much to the school boards which down through the years have brought the Public and High school system second to none in the province. The following was reported in the “Daily Reformer” June 30th 1927,

“In the early days the work of the schools was supervised by trustees, these being elected along with the town and city council. The first school board as we know it now did not come until 1890 and some of the members were nominated by the county council.” This system was changed in 1926 by vote of public supporters.

“In the year 1927, the Board became the “Oshawa Board of Education” composed solely of men elected by the citizens of Oshawa to administer the affairs of the schools. By this, the taxpayers were given a greater voice in the expenditure of money on education. In the year 1884, it was thought that a huge sum of money had been voted when the schools were allotted $35 000 to carry on their work. In 1927 around $244 000 of the city’s money will be used with the government grant in addition.”

“The change from a city and county combination boards was a natural outcome, for Oshawa schools by that time, were extensive enough to have their own district and separate management.”

Rev. Father P.J. Bench sat on the school board in 1927. His work dealt mainly with the High schools which were attended by the graduating pupils of separate elementary school. There was only one at that time, mainly St. Gregory on Simcoe Street North.

There were seventeen members on the Board before changes came into effect. Afterwards there were ten. Ten members still comprise the Board of Education for the protestant schools. Two additional ones represent the Roman Catholic Secondary students, many of whom attend the protestant High schools. These Catholic members are elected by their voters.

Mrs. Edith Conant Myers was the first woman member of the Board of Education to be elected in Oshawa.



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Miss Fanny Hislop

Miss Fanny Elizabeth Hislop was born in June 1858. Her mother was a member of the Tweedie family, long established in this district. Miss Hislop had one sister Sara Jane who was younger than she. Their home was on the corner of Celina and Athol streets where the Loblaw Supermarket now stands . The old house was in a dilapidated condition when it was demolished to make way for that store, but in its heyday it was a well-kept residence. Their father died when Fanny was ten years old.

Fanny and her sister attended Public and High school in Oshawa. Both were excellent scholars as the old school reports showed . Fanny was the only one who passed the Intermediate exams in Oshawa in 1876. This meant the successful completion of grade VII, VIII, IX and X. Mr. W. Tamblyn was head master of the Union School on Centre Street at that time, and he recommended to the school trustees that she should be given a prize. She was awarded ten dollars worth of books, which were described as having been “handsome volumes of the standard poets.”

Miss Hislop passed the second-class teacher’s examination in the summer of 1877 and attended Normal School in the following year, 1877 to June 1878. It was reported in the “Vindicator” that “Miss Fanny Hislop, a brilliant Oshawa student was appointed grade one teacher in Albert Street school in Sept. 1878.” James McBrien, inspector of Public schools at the time singled her out as being one of the best teachers for junior pupils that he had in his inspectorate.

Her sister, Miss Sara Jane Hislop, also taught in Albert Street School and was the principal for a few years, 1890 – 1896. Fanny was appointed principal in 1911, a post she held for thirteen years. She taught grade three at that time and her salary was $550.

She was very strict and some of the people living in Oshawa today can remember the shakings-up she gave them. It was said that when the children were on the playground, she was there with her black sateen apron on and armed with a horsewhip. She was going to have order or else. Some years later a visitor came to Albert Street School and as he was walking along the hall, he noticed that the whip was not hanging in its usual place. He asked where it was and mentioned that it had hung there for a long while. It was a formidable looking weapon to many, no doubt.

A little girl, who probably regarded Miss Hislop with some apprehension said, “The teacher always wore the strap on her belt.” “The Teacher,” no doubt, kept it there to be handy in case of need. She often used to say, “You know I am as strong as a horse.” One little boy said to her, “Could you pull a load of hay, Miss Hislop?”

The day came, however, in 1924 when she had to retire. Albert Street was the only school in which she ever taught. Many people look back on their school days now and say she was one of their best teachers.

She died July 27th, 1935 and is buried in the Union Cemetery. Provision was made in her will for the establishment of the Grade VIII scholarship out of her own funds. There were only eight public schools in Oshawa at the time of her death and Miss Hislop could not have foreseen the tremendous expansion that was to take place in the next thirty years. It is not the intrinsic value of the prize, it is the honour of winning it and students will work hard during the year to earn it. There is also a small Hislop Scholarship in the High school.

Miss Fanny’s sister Sara Jane, who later married Mr. William McAddie also left a scholarship in the High School.

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Miss P.B. Faint, B.A.

She was a specialist in modern Language. She could speak French, German and Italian along with any of the countrymen. She was an excellent teacher of those languages and also taught English in the higher forms. She was ‘strict’, she tolerated to no nonsense in her classes and no one wanted to get on the rough side of her tongue. She wasted no time and came in the door saying, “We left off last day …” It was not well for those who weren’t moving fast enough to get their books out. I might add here that all the teachers came to the classes, only the science students and those going to the typing room moved at the end of the periods. Miss Faint would be over most of the years’ work a month or six weeks before the final exams. There would be ample time left for quite some time. Miss Faint was in Oshawa from January 1910 for quite [some time] until 1915; she went to Peterborough after leaving the school here.

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Miss L. Cruickshank

Miss Cruickshank was a specialist in art and commercial. She was head of the Commercial department in the school and was very efficient. She kept good discipline also; she was firm and could be sarcastic. Owing to her unusual height, she seemed to tower above everybody. The commercial course then, was quite elementary and only took two years. There were no complicated gadgets in the offices. The equipment consisted of a typewriter, pens, pencils, maybe an inkstand and pencil sharpeners. Pitman’s Short Hand textbook was used[1].

Miss Cruikshank was not in the new High school very long. She resigned at Easter in 1912. She went from here to Western Ontario. Those who knew here in Oshawa were saddened, later, to hear that she had been killed in a motor accident.

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Miss Flossie J. Armstrong

Miss Armstrong is a specialist in French and Physical culture. She is the only one of the six teachers living today who was in the new high school in 1910 . Miss Armstrong’s home was in Taunton and she received her elementary education out there. She attended the high school on Centre Street here in the city. She also attended the Normal College in Hamilton on a first class certificate. She came to the new high school when it was opened in the fall of 1910. She taught French, English, Canadian History and Physical Culture. She has since retired and is residing here in Oshawa, at present.

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