Base Line School Section No. 4

First of all, I shall explain the meaning of the term base line. The township is divided into concessions a mile and a quarter apart. The base line is the first one, Kingston Road the second. Rossland Road the third and so on farther north to the boundary line of the township. All below the base line was called the broken front.

Part of School Section No. 4, was in East Whitby and part in West Whitby. However, in 1850 when Oshawa annexed the East Whitby portion, the remainder in West Whitby and became School Section No. 8.

The Base Line school as it was known in the earlier days, was also of the pioneer era and was established in 1840. In its day it was one of the outstanding schools in this district many successful students have passed through its doors. The original school was situated on lot 15 broken front and was in all probability built of logs similar to the other pioneer schools.

The next one was a brick building erected in 1852. It was situated one half mile south of the Base Line and one half mile east of Thornton Road[1].  Some interesting items in connection with it are to be found in copies of the “Vindicator” printed in the late 1850’s.

In March of 1858, a public examination of the school was held in Rev. Thornton’s Church. It was situated near the front gate of what is now the Union Cemetery. The roads on that day were very bad. There was also an epidemic of scarlet fever in the neighbourhood. The attendance at the exam was very good owing to the circumstances. These exams usually lasted all day, with a session for the seniors in the evening. The senior exams at that particular time had to be cancelled owing to the conditions.

Mr. George Jessop was teaching the school then. He often took part in public examinations in other schools. His pupils in No. 4 were reported to have shown outstanding ability and the people of the community seemed to have been thankful to him for his work with their children. The classes were questioned in geography, English grammar, algebra, arithmetic, history and physiology. Their comment about Mr. Jessop was that “teachers like him are like angels’ visits, few and far between.” His motto was “thoroughness and not humbug.” He was described as “being a man of ability and high character.” He left the school around the time of the public examinations and went to British Columbia where he was later employed in newspaper work.

However, the attendance soon outgrew the above-mentioned school and in 1835, a larger one was built near the corner of Royal and Simcoe streets.  It was a frame building of fairly substantial construction. It was known as the “Union School” earning the title from the fact that different religious denominations had worshipped there at one time and another. It was also reported to have been called the “McGrigor School,” as it was built on their property.

It was the first church the Methodists had and they organized their Sunday school there. The Roman Catholics celebrated masses in the school building while their first church, St. Mary’s, here in Oshawa was being erected.  The Quakers also held services there.

After some years this schoolhouse had to be abandoned due to over-crowding. Lack of classroom space has been Oshawa’s number one problem for many years.


[1] Olive French notes that it was near the C.N.R overpass and the Consolidated Trucking Company. It was erected on a line running east and west. However, an Oshawa times article from 1987 lists the school as being between Thickson Road and Thornton Road. (OCA S. 26, B. 6, F. 1)

Children of the Dearborn, Manning, Allin and Sinclair families attended this school. The school was thought to be closed in 1950 and demolished in 1987. It was “too far gone” to be moved and had been deemed an “eyesore” by CN officials. (OCA S. 26, B. 6, F. 1)

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