School Examinations

Something that must have caused plenty of butterflies in the stomachs of the students of those early days was the public examinations. They were held for many years in all the schools – quarterly or semi-annually. The parents and friends of the children were urged to be present, the object being of course to let them see how the school was progressing. Their teachers and assistants as well as some others from outside took part in the questioning. The children answered in the presence of all, either orally or by writing as the case required. One of these exams was advertised as follows.

“School examinations of Oshawa Central School which has now been in operation for a year under the tuition of Mr. A.W. Lawder will take place in lower part of Sons’ Hall, Jan 15th 1858. Mr. Lawder is resigning at the close of his exam to be succeeded by L. Younghusband late of Port Hope.”

The following is also another advertisement of the same exam.  “Pupils of the Central school will be examined in the several branches which they have been taught during the term, in the Son’s Hall on FRIDAY of the 15th instant.  Classes will be examined in Arithmetic, Physiology, Geometry and Chemistry in the same place on the evening of the same day commencing at 6 ½ o’clock.  Parents and other friends of education are cordially invited to attend.”

A.J. Lawder

Head Master January 11th, 1858

The Central School examination “took place on January 15th, 1858 in the lower part of the Son’s Hall. One end was fitted up with a dais and the classes were seated or stood during their questioning period. The walls were covered with geographical, astronomical, historical and other maps and charts.

            Mr. George Jessop of Township School No.4 East Whitby and Mr. Lawder’s assistants, Mrs. Lawder, P.H. Gibbs and Miss Eliza Stone, took part in the questioning.” The whole exam took three hours. The children’s’ answers were described as having been excellent (no doubt it had all been well rehearsed beforehand. However, afterwards everyone seemed to have been happy. Speeches were made by some of the visitors and votes of thanks were extended to Mr. Lawder and his staff. He replied suitably and then introduced the new teacher.

It was said that on some occasions, when these exams were held, that the girls decorated the hall very tastefully with evergreens and flowers.

Mr. Jessop was at that time teacher in the “Base Line School” in East Whitby. It was, then, situated about one-half mile east of Thornton’s Road near the C.N.R. over-pass. Of course there was no C.N.R. at that time. Mr. Jessop was often called upon to conduct public exams in the different schools. He was very highly thought of in his community and in Oshawa. The “Vindicators” of those days mention the country schools and it shows how rapidly the district was being settled.

On January 16th, 1858, Mr. Lawder gave a concert of singing. Most of the songs on his program were the ones he had used in his classes every day. Also, there were a number of other pieces “declamation and etc.” At the close Mr. Lawder was presented with “a beautifully bound copy of Scott’s poems on behalf of his staff and pupils. Mrs. Lawder received “a beautiful work box.” Mr. Lawder then expressed his thanks and also for Mrs. Lawder. Afterwards four of the “wee’est ones” sang God Save the Queen. Queen Victoria was monarch then. There is no record of where he went after he left Oshawa.

On July 30th 1862 when one of those Public exams was over, a trustee remarked about the large number of “well dressed healthy and good looking children assembled in a well ventilated and lighted room. What a contrast it was to forty, thirty or even ten years ago.” The children had given an exhibition of singing. The room referred to was the second floor of the Centre Street School. It was not divided into class rooms until later.

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