Category Archives: Teachers and Administrators

James and Jessie Panton

James Hoyes Panton was born on May 7th, 1847 in Cupar, Fife, Scotland. He was the son of Agnes (nee Wilkie) Panton and James H. Panton. When James was but one year old, he and his five siblings came to Canada with their parents. They sailed across the Atlantic in May of 1848, a voyage that took two months!

Hardship continued to plague the Panton family throughout their lives. Only six years after arriving in Toronto, James Panton Sr. had fallen victim to cholera. He passed away in July of 1854 leaving his wife and children essentially destitute. Soon after the death of their husband and father a friend living east of Toronto extended an invitation for the family to come live with them.

The family arrived at the Oshawa harbour on November 29, 1855 and traveled 9 miles north to the village of Columbus. James got used to living in the country and began assisting local farmers transport cattle and sheep to Toronto; he developed an interest in prayer at a young age and began attending the local school. In his memoir James notes that “nothing of striking interest occurred in school life.”[1] But something must have become clear to James through these years as he spent the remainder of his life teaching and working in education.

Late in 1886 the family moved closer to Oshawa and things began looking up for the family. They lived in their house rent free, had a number of animals that James cared for and the children continued with their studies in the country school. Though they only stayed there for a year, James was promoted to the fourth book. By December of 1887 the family had yet again moved closer to town, with the school only being one mile away. “At this early age [10 years], the writer began to show signs of being a good scholar, and by the time he was twelve he had reached the proud position of the best if not the first student in the school. At twelve he had learned six books of Euclid’s elements and had a good knowledge of all the subjects taught in a rural school.”[2]

James and his younger sister Jessie continued to excel in their studies. He notes that they “usually carried off all the 1st and 2nd prizes”[3] after examinations. By 1864 James Hoyes Panton had “succeeded in getting a First Class A[4] unlimited”[5] teaching certificate. He was only 17 years old.

Mr. Panton took several teaching jobs throughout the surrounding areas during the course of his career. His first job was at S.S. No. 2 Reach, near Manchester. He was paid $220 per year but had the expense of his own board. At the end of one year, he received a raise of $60 per year. James taught at S.S. No. 2 Reach for two years before his family finally moved to Oshawa in 1866. It was at this time that he was hired as a teacher at another S.S. No. 2, this time in the village of Cedardale with an annual salary of $320. James noted that many of his students were of American descent and quite clever. In 1868 his sister Jessie was appointed his assistant teacher. Olive French notes that Jessie Panton acted as a substitute teacher for her brother when he had to be absent and that she was just a young girl then.[6]

Jessie was born in 1850 in Cupar, Fife, Scotland and had a similar upbringing to her brother, James. After her time assisting her brother at S.S. No. 2, Cedardale School, she taught at one of the Ward Schools, Mary Street. Jessie was the principal, but on officially recognized because of a “board ruling that the headmasters of the ward schools should be male teachers. Her salary was $500 per year.”[7]

By 1885, Miss Panton had become the science teacher at the Centre Street School, though she was paid $100 less. In 1890, Miss Panton had been teaching ‘natural science’, similar to her brother, for five years. Although she briefly considered leaving, the Oshawa Board raised her salary by $100 per year to keep her in the position.

Jessie Panton continued on as the science teacher at Centre Street School until 1905 when she retired. Jessie remained active in her church, St. Andrew’s United; she never married or had any children. Jessie lived at 84 Division Street, which is currently occupied by the Durham Region Courthouse.

James Hoyes Panton died in Woolwich, ON, on February 2, 1898. Woolwich is near the University of Guelph where he was a Professor of Chemistry. Jessie Panton died in Newcastle, ON, on September 6, 1932.

[1] Autobiography. James Hoyes Panton. P.7

[2] Ibid. P.12

[3] Ibid. P. 13

[4] According to Olive French, a Class A certificate meant that you could teach anywhere in the country but had to have at least five years experience. Class A standing also meant that you obtained higher marks than someone with a Class B or Class C standing.

[5] Ibid. P. 13

[6] Jessie Panton would have been approximately 18 years old.

[7] Ross, Douglas. Education in Oshawa. Alger Press. Oshawa. P.64


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Public and Separate Schools in 1967

A new six-room addition will be built on St. Christopher School. There will be room for 200 students when it is completed. The new rooms will include a library classroom, utility room, storage room, washroom, a staff room and six classrooms.

To accommodate its increased enrollment, the separate school board is building a new elementary school, John XIII, on Athabasca Street. It will be the first to feature the new team teaching technique. It will have operable walls in one of the three quadrants that will open a three-classroom unit where groups of pupils can be taught by a team of teachers.

This circular school is 136 feet in diameter and will have a 64 foot inner court. It will have eight classrooms and a kindergarten area. It will accommodate more than 300 students. It is expected to be ready for classes in December 1967.

The principal is not yet appointed. The total enrolment of elementary students is 4,700. The total enrolment of secondary students is  222.

I am concluding this history by listing all of the schools in this city in our centennial year 1967 and the Principals who are in charge of each one. The Roman Catholic schools are as follows:

St. Joseph High School – Sister Mary Sheils

Corpus Christi – Sister Beatrice

St. Frances – Soeur Gilles du Sacre Coeur

St. Gertrude – Sister Rose of Lima

St. Gregory – Sister Mary Petronilla

St. Hedwig – Sister Mary Columbine

Holy Cross – Sister St. Thomas Aquinas

John F. Kennedy – Sister Carmela

John XIII – Mr. M. Breaugh

St. Joseph – Sister Rosalia

St. Michael – Mr. M. Ward

St. Philips – Mr. Michael Lisks

Sir Albert Love – Sister Mary Richard

St. Thomas Aquinas – Mr. Frank Hefferty

The Oshawa Public schools are continuing their expansion during this year.  A large addition will be erected on Grandview school, which will double its capacity. The project is costing $200 000. It will include nine rooms to accommodate 250 more students and a library. This addition will be the first to be constructed with a full-sized library.

The total attendance in the public schools is 12 330 for this Centennial year.

The Oshawa Public schools are continuing their expansion during this year.

A new senior public school has been built on Cedar Street to accommodate its new students. The school has 10 regular classrooms, a home economics room, an industrial arts room and a combination auditorium and gymnasium. When the school opens it should have a capacity attendance of 350 students. This is called the Lake Vista School. It was later found necessary to build a large 10 room addition. There will be a new library and a music room. The school will then accommodate 500 students.

There are plans being laid for an addition to be erected on Centre Street. It will be on the north side, the short end of Queen Street running into Centre Street will be closed to make way for it.

A new school is being erected on Waverly Street, just behind the stadium (Waverly Public School). It will have 10 rooms plus a kindergarten staff room, library and a combination auditorium/gymnasium. Operable walls will be constructed in four classrooms for team teaching. This new method is being tried. There will be a seminar room for extra student help and also for showing pictures. It will be used as well for a guidance room and discussions.

After its years of service, since 1877, Albert Street School is being closed. It is in need of repairs and the cost would be prohibitive. For the most part, through the years, it has had a normal existence. Teachers have come and gone and many students have passed through its doors. Miss fanny Hislop ruled with an “iron fist”, when she was principal. The building will be used by the Board of Education for offices for the music and sports departments. Musical instruments and sports equipment will also be stored there as well as school books.The pupils will be accommodated in Simcoe Street South and Ritson Road. King Street School will take care of some of the Grade VII and VIII students. E.A. Lovell will take care of many of the pupils. A portable has been moved on the school ground to provide extra space. Miss M. Patterson was the principal in Albert Street from September to June of this year (1967). During World War II, Albert Street School was closed, for about two years owing to the shortage of fuel electricity. The pupils from there were accommodated in King Street, Centre Street, and South Simcoe Street.

The last teachers in Albert Street School in 1967 were:

Miss Margaret Patterson – Principal

Mr. Russell – Principal’s Assistant and part-time grade three teacher

Mrs. Lois Adams

Mrs. Gertrude Penman

Mrs. Carole Ranieri

Mrs. Elsie Simmons

Mr. Timothy Slocombe

Mrs. Wilma Wigg

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Miss P.B. Faint, B.A.

She was a specialist in modern Language. She could speak French, German and Italian along with any of the countrymen. She was an excellent teacher of those languages and also taught English in the higher forms. She was ‘strict’, she tolerated to no nonsense in her classes and no one wanted to get on the rough side of her tongue. She wasted no time and came in the door saying, “We left off last day …” It was not well for those who weren’t moving fast enough to get their books out. I might add here that all the teachers came to the classes, only the science students and those going to the typing room moved at the end of the periods. Miss Faint would be over most of the years’ work a month or six weeks before the final exams. There would be ample time left for quite some time. Miss Faint was in Oshawa from January 1910 for quite [some time] until 1915; she went to Peterborough after leaving the school here.

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Visual Aids, Library Visits, and Safety Patrols

Visual Aids

In September 1945, the board of Education purchased one projector and it was taken from school to school to show films.

Library Visits

In September 1946, specified classes in junior grades visited the Public Library on schedule.

Safety Patrols

In September 1955, the first safety patrol was at Ritson Road School on the recommendation of the newly formed Oshawa Safety Council.

The Truant Officer in 1922 was Mr. P.H. Punshon[1] and in 1927 it was Mr. A.L.W. Smith. At last after all those years of discussion truant officers were appointed, at last.

[1] His salary was $100 per year. D. Ross. P. 147

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Physical, Health and Safety, and Religious Education

Physical, Health and Safety Education

Before the year 1929, physical training was taught in a room or in a whole school if the teacher had the space or the time to teach it. Many of them did teach it in the early years.

In September 1929, Mr. E.G. Nichol was employed as teacher of calisthenics. This class was dropped in 1932 because of the depression.

In September 1946, Mr. T.W. Cotie was appointed Vice Principal of Centre Street School with duties half-time as itinerant teacher of Physical Education. In 1947, he was appointed Supervisor of Physical Education. He is still carrying on with that work. In 1952, Mr. J.B. Henderson was appointed Physical Education Supervisor

Religious Instruction

In the year 1943 in September, the ministerial Association began their classes in grade VI and VII, one half-hour period each week.

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Arts and Crafts and Opportunity Classes

Arts and Crafts


Art was taught by Miss Maude Squires, first in 1919. She was an itinerant teacher until she retired in 1925. No teacher has replaced her. Interest is kept alive through an annual prize which she left in her will on her death in 1936. The arts and crafts supervisor in the year 1947 was Miss F. Hart. She conducted classes in the different schools.


Opportunity Classes


These classes were started first in Centre Street School in 1930 with Mr. Robertson as teacher, followed by Miss Rose Capel. In September 1944 a second class was conducted in Simcoe Street South School with Miss F. McLeod as teacher. It was transferred to Albert Street in 1949.

In September 1949, Miss Madeline Kelly was appointed speech correction teacher, to be followed in 1950 as Primary Supervisor in charge of primary reading as well as the speech training.

In September 1966, the first class for the neurologically impaired [was established] in a total of fourteen Opportunity classes in the city which included Primary, Junior, Senior and intermediate.

Miss Rose Capel’s class was moved to Albert Street School in 1942 to make room for Home Economics in Centre Street School. She remained in Albert Street until the time of her retirement. With the closing of Albert Street School in 1967, that class was sent back to Centre Street.

These classes are entirely financed by the Board of Education.

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Music in the Schools

In 1927/1928, Mrs. R.S. McLaughlin president of the Home and School Council with the help of Mrs. Gertrude Colpus,[1] asked the school trustees to appoint a musical supervisor, with the result that Mr. Leslie Unitt was the first one appointed here. He was here until 1929 and it could be said that he laid the ground work for the others who followed.

In 1929, Mr. Leonard Richer was the next supervisor to be appointed and he was here until his death in January 1945. He did much to organize the new project here. In spite of his lameness, Mr. Richer was able to get around to the different schools and conduct the lessons in the classes, himself. It was stated that the children’s ability to read music was excellent. Part singing was also developed.

Concerts were given in the schools where there was a large auditorium and all of the schools in the town took part. The same songs were taught in the different schools and the children did not sing together until the night of the concert. These festivals were very good.

Mr. Richer, an excellent violinist himself also did much to promote the establishment of orchestras in the schools. He conducted the first violin classes in the public schools for children who wished to take it up.

At first Mr. Richer’s work was in the public schools, but later in 1928 and 1929, he organized a Glee Club in the Collegiate on Simcoe Street North. Also about this time an orchestra was started.

Just before this, the two sons of Rev. Maxwell, pastor of St. Andrew’s church, wrote a song for the Collegiate. One of the boys wrote the words for the song and the other composed the music.

After Mr. Richer passed away in 1945, Mr. E. Wallace who was the supervisor at present was appointed. In 1954, the first assistant to the music supervisor was hired.

Under the guidance of Mr. Winkler in the Central Collegiate, music was put on the curriculum in 1955. This comprised the Glee Club and Orchestra. The C.C.J. was the first secondary school to do this. Eastdale Collegiate held the banner for having the best orchestra of any of the Oshawa schools in this year 1967. They played at “Expo.” The McLaughlin Collegiate also had the honour of playing there, as well.

…Those recitals were comprised of piano solos, ducts trios, quartets and quintets – I hope the pianos were all tuned to the same pitch for the last named. The numbers consisted of few by the composers Bach B, etc. but most of the selections were variations on old song tunes and descriptive pieces such as ‘Falling Water.”

There were many locale and passages pieces also chores and Oct. They were showy when being excused played but were wonderful.

[1] Executive of the Centre Street Home and School Association and first woman to be elected Chairman of the Oshawa Board of Education. Public school named after her – officially opened February 1959. (Ross. P. 179)

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