Manual Training and Home Economics

Mothers interested in home economics (Mrs. H.A. Twilley and different members of the Home and School Club) started classes in sewing at King Street School after 4 p.m. It was for the girls who wished to take it up. Those mothers were anxious to see Home Economics as a subject on the curriculum in much the same way Industrial Arts was started for boys. Mr. Bruce McRoberts,[1] one of the teachers, began classes after 4 p.m. in King Street School. The boys made easily constructed articles with saws, hammers and a few nails – “jackknife carpentry” as one might say. It was also taken up in Centre Street School around the same time. In September 1936, the Board of Education set up a committee to study those projects.

In September 1937, King Street and South Simcoe Street schools set up classes in Grades VII and VIII for instruction in Home Economics and Manual Training (since called Industrial Arts). These were carried on in the classrooms. Miss Etta Holmes was principal of King Street School, at the time, and she aided in the work. In September 1940, the classes were extended to include all eight schools and in 1941, Mrs. Maimie (Archer) Cole and Mr. John Bently were appointed itinerant teachers, visiting the schools.

In September 1942, Home Economics and Industrial Arts Centres were built in Centre Street School with the above teachers assigned there for Grade VIII only. Centre Street school was a bee hive of activity at that time. Children from all the schools in the city came there for instruction. Classes were held part of the day, once a week, for each school.

The sewing machines in use, first of all, for the girls were the treadle ones. These machines were gradually replaced by those that are run by electricity. At first it was a special award of merit for a pupil to be allowed to use the one and only electric machine in the room. In 1942, Miss Eleanor Cronk of South Simcoe Street School was appointed as teacher of sewing and visited the Grade VII classes all over the city.

Finally the boys’ Industrial Arts room in Centre Street School was completely mechanized. In September 1945, Home Economics and Industrial Arts Centres were established in South Simcoe School. In 1948, individual classes were stopped and pupils traveled to one of the shops.

In September 1945, home instruction for children, physically unable to attend classes, was set up at no cost to the taxpayer. Grants from the Department of Education and the Rotary Club covered the cost.



[1] Later killed overseas during World War II.


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