Union School No. 5 (1871 – 1920)

In 1879 the present school, “Community Hall’ now, was built of red and white brick.  The one large room was later (in 1901) divided into two.  This school was built when the older one became overcrowded. To mark this special occasion, the children marched from the old school to the new.  A Mr. Sowerby is thought to be the first teacher.  The blackboards were at first of wood, later changed to slate.  The seats were all double and graded in size.  The floors were of rough wood and the children often stubbed their toes on the big knots.  It was heated by a big stove until 1901 when a furnace was put in the south room.  Later, in the mid-1920’s, the cellar was excavated and the furnace put there. The land for this school was donated by Elgin Cooper.

By 1917, immediately south of the school, a non-denominational Sunday school was opened by Miss Laura Francis, one of the school teachers.  School Christmas concerts, Scout meetings, box socials, etc., were held here.  In the latter days of the school the junior grades were located in the basement of the Sunday school. This building is now the Alano Club.

In 1920, 2 ½ acres to the north of the school, 2 ½ acres were bought from George Robinson (husband of Muriel Cooper, daughter of Elgin Cooper) for recreational purposes.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Union School No. 5 (1871 – 1920)

  1. Deborah Hodgkinson

    Mr. Sowerby would have been my Great Grandfather, Albert Thomas Sowerby, who graduated from the Ottawa Normal School in 1878. Albert Sowerby was born in Brooklin, Ontario in 1857, son of John (Jack) Sowerby and Rebecca Dale. His father came to Whitby East Township as a young boy in 1832 from Brough, Westmorland, England.

    Albert taught at the Claremont School in 1880-81. He decided to become a Minister in the Baptist Church and trained at the Baptist College at McMaster located in Toronto at that time. He became a Baptist Minister in 1884 and was well known in Ontario and the Northern US as Rev. Dr. A.T. Sowerby. He spoke at the Pickering Centennial in 1911. Rev. Sowerby died in 1928 in Toronto.

    A photo from of Rev. Sowerby is posted on the Pickering Ajax Digital Archive (PADA).

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this Deborah. It is always amazing to find out this much information about someone that Ms. French mentioned in passing. I will make sure to view the photo.

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