Rural School Fairs

In the early 1920’s fall fairs for the rural schools provided much interest for the children.  In this district the schools involved were Thornton’s Corners, Base Line, Harmony, Maxwell’s[1], Conlin’s and later North Oshawa.  Westmount, although in the township, was not what could be called a rural school.  It was more or less a suburb of Oshawa.  (Thornton’s Corners and Harmony were not exactly good natured rivals.)

The fair occupied a whole day. In the early part of the morning the children arrived with their parents and exhibits.

Calves, colts, chickens and pets of all kinds were dragged to the fair. The fair took place on the Thornton’s Corners school ground because it was the most spacious of any.

Inside the school the following exhibits were set up; samples of art, writing, and stories on history etc. Also there was baking done by the girls, cakes, cookies, pies, muffins and entries of school lunches to be judged for their nutritious value. Fancy work such as hemming, knitting, crocheting and embroidery were on display.

Outside on the grounds, entries of all kinds of vegetables, grain and fruit were arranged. Noon was the deadline for all the exhibits to be in place.  One of the boys who had brought a pumpkin to the show, with an eye to business, watched the others who also brought pumpkins. Apparently, size was the required point. A neighbour close to the school had a large field of pumpkins and that lad with the owner’s permission, went into the field and with the willing help of two or three more boys selected the largest one they could find. They did this just before the noon dead line. Needless to say the boy won the prize.

No meals were served on the grounds, all of the visitors had to bring lunches for themselves.

The programme commenced in the early afternoon. Each school put on a display of marching and physical exercises. There was no music for this of course. Spelling matches were held in the school, these were conducted by R.A. Hutchinson who was E.W. school inspector at the time. The judging was done by people who had no particular interest in any of the schools.

The prizes were ribbons which were attached to buttons bearing the words “Agricultural School Fair”, red for the first prize, blue the second and yellow the third. A shield was given to the school that won the most points. That included the marching and also there were singing contests.

These school fairs had to be discontinued in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. The rivalry between Thornton’s Corners and Harmony became too bitter. The children’s exhibits were then placed in the Oshawa fair. Each school sent on the best ones they had.

[1] Maxwell Heights


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