MacDonald Consolidated School
More than 100 Years of Education
 
Since 1904 
 


Macdonald Consolidated School was built in 1904. The original school was destroyed by fire in 1909, and the present building was opened to students the following year.
An extension was added to the school in 1979 (seen on the left) to eliminate the many portable classrooms that were in use."
 
MACDONALD CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL

(Written in July 1979 by Doris Patterson Calder)
Macdonald Consolidated School has the good fortune to be located in one of the most historic spots of New Brunswick. Here the United Empire Loyalists founded the village of Kingston in 1783. They worked hard to fulfill a dream, and we are reminded of their dream, and of their skills, hard work and sense of beauty when we look at Trinity Church and the rectory which they built. The educational history of Kingston may be said to have begun at a meeting in Huntington, Long Island, in April 1783, when the future Loyalist Colonists of Kingston resolved to "settle together in the wilderness in such situation as we may enjoy the comforts of Church and School". They sailed from Huntington on April 26, 1783, arrived at the Saint John River on May 11th, and at Portage Creek (Kingston Creek) a few days later. They were among the first Loyalists to arrive in New Brunswick.
Macdonald Consolidated School has the good fortune to be located in one of the most historic spots of New Brunswick. Here the United Empire Loyalists founded the village of Kingston in 1783. They worked hard to fulfill a dream, and we are reminded of their dream, and of their skills, hard work and sense of beauty when we look at Trinity Church and the rectory which they built. The educational history of Kingston may be said to have begun at a meeting in Huntington, Long Island, in April 1783, when the future Loyalist Colonists of Kingston resolved to "settle together in the wilderness in such situation as we may enjoy the comforts of Church and School". They sailed from Huntington on April 26, 1783, arrived at the Saint John River on May 11th, and at Portage Creek (Kingston Creek) a few days later. They were among the first Loyalists to arrive in New Brunswick.
Farm lots were surveyed by Frederick Hauser in July 1783. The site for church and school had already been selected, one acre from the adjoining corners of the first four lots being for a school and church site.
 
The first record of the building of a schoolhouse is from the diary of Israel Hoyt. In his first entry on November 26, 1787, he wrote, "Began to build a school house. Worked at it eleven days." The first school master was James Wetmore from Rye, New York. It is possible that Frederick Diblee, lay reader, had taught in houses at an earlier date. Other early teachers were Jesse Hoyt, Edmund Finn (1797), Jedediah Phipps (1801) and Walter Diblee *1802). In 1802, fifty-five residents of Kings County, headed by Rev. James Scovil, petitioned for and secured the passage of the first New Brunswick School Act. This Act granted assistance from public funds for the several parish schools and thus marked the beginning of public schools in New Brunswick. The administration of these funds was placed in the charge of the Court of General Sessions, which in Kings County, had as presiding officer, David Pickett of Kingston. The first school inspectors were Elias Scovil and Rulof Ruloffson. Their report on Kingston School in 1809 shows that the average attendance then was 20 pupils. So far as Kings County was concerned, the Department of Education was then located in Kingston, and so it continued to be for fifty years. In 1820, the Madras School System was introduced in Kingston. James Condle was in charge and 54 boys were enrolled. In 1823, a grammar school was established and the enrollment was 113 boys. In 1852, school districts were formed and a superintendent of education was appointed for the first time in New Brunswick. He was given control of the public funds for educational purposes. Mr. J. M. D’Avery, the first Superintendent of Education, described the conditions of schools at that time:
"Some are weather tight, many are not so. Some are light, others dark. Many of them contain merely one or two decks fastened to the wall and three or four forms which the pupils in winter draw as close as possible to the large fireplace or stifling stove and there sit roasting their faces and stupefying their senses while their backs are freezing."
Mr. Avery further describes the situation at that time:
"What must be the condition of the teacher who gets board, washing and lodging in lieu of money, and who has to be boarded, washed and lodged by all the inhabitants in turn? One week in the comfortable farmhouse, the next in a miserable log hut; the food, buckwheat; the washing, little; the lodging, the fourth bed in the corner of one room. He can neither know cleanliness or decency. He cannot study, he cannot have one moment to himself’ and when the fatiguing labours of the day are over, when he requires rest for his flagging spirits and a chance to recuperate a tired brain, he is considered a lazy fellow if he does not chop wood, carry water or, at least, mind the baby."
The Act of Legislature of 1871 established the free school system and the courthouse in Kingston was used as a school until it burned in 1884. The Temperance Hall was then used as a school until a new schoolhouse was erected on the site of the old courthouse, that new school being the present Sunday School hall which has since been enlarged, and is presently located near the rectory.
Against this historical background appeared benefactor, Sir William C. Macdonald.
 
Enter Sir William C. MacDonald
William MacDonald was born in Prince Edward Island in 1831. He was strong-minded, independent and ambitious. His ambition led to the creation of the MacDonald Tobacco Company. Sir William was no entirely interested in making money, however. He wanted to spend it wisely, but he also wanted to spend it for the benefit of young people. The education of rural young people concerned him most of all. He believed that rural education should not copy city methods, as was the usual practice, but that it should be adapted to rural needs. Sir William enlisted the help of Prof. James Robertson, Commissioner of Agriculture and Dairying in Ottawa. Together they launched an experiment in improving rural education. The boundless enthusiasm of both of them brought about tremendous results. Through their mutual efforts, Macdonald Consolidated Schools were found, one in each New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario. The first MacDonald School was opened in September 1902 in Middleton, Nova Scotia, and the second was opened in August 1904 in Kingston, New Brunswick. Prof. Robertson had held a meeting in Kingston and was very impressed with the scenery, as it reminded him of his native Scotland. Dr. James R. Inch, Chief Superintendent of Education in New Brunswick (1891-1909), chose the site for the new school. Kingston was chosen, not because it was the ideal location for such a school, but because it typified the advantage and disadvantages connected with the introduction of this form of education, and it would be a valuable guide to the most remote of settlements. Seven one-room schools amalgamated into MacDonald Consolidated School. They were: Kingston, Milton (Midland), Perry Point, Reeds Point, Jubilee (Hammond River), Clifton and Summerside (Shampers’ Bluff). The pupils no longer had to walk to school, but were taken in horse drawn vans.
Sir William paid for the building, its furnishings and equipment and the school vans. The salaries of the teachers and van drivers, as well as all other maintenance costs, were provided for a period of three years from the MacDonald Fund. Each school district continued to contribute the same school taxes that had been assessed prior to consolidation. At the end of the three year period, the assistance was offered for another three years.
 
School Gardens
The new MacDonald Consolidated School had the first department of Home Economics and of Manual Training in New Brunswick. In addition, students were instructed in the natural sciences and their application to farm practice. School gardens were important. Each of the older pupils had an 8’ by 5’ plot, while two primary pupils shared a plot. They were taught how to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and raise the drops. Each pupil kept an account of the time spent on the garden and a monetary value was placed on each hour spent on it. At the end of the year the value of the crop was reckoned and the pupil had to show a profit or a loss. The expenses of seeds and all other expenses were recorded. In this way the students learned bookkeeping skills as well. Prof. Robertson appointed traveling instructors to supervise the garden work in each province, although the teachers supervised the work on a regular basis. The school gardens were very popular with the children. Every year there was a fall fair, and prizes of money and ribbons were awarded for the winning entries. There was also competition at the fair for baked goods, and for jams, jellies and pickles made in the domestic science classes. At Christmas each girl made a small fruit cake which she decorated and took home. It is interesting to note that the average daily attendance at the MacDonald Consolidated School was 92% of the enrollment, compared with 44% in the old rural schools at that time. During the first term, 166 students enrolled. A number of them came from places as far away as Saint John, Rothesay, Gagetown and Fredericton. These students boarded in Kingston so that they could attend the consolidated school. It was the "plum" of all New Brunswick schools.
 
First Teachers
The first principal at Kinston was David W. Hamilton of Florenceville, NB. He had his MA from the University of New Brunswick and obtained his Ph.D. Three years after leaving Kingston. C.M. Kelly, BA, later to become Dr. Kelly, a surgeon in Saint John, taught mathematics and manual training. Miss Bessie Young, B.Sc., of Oak Bay, Charlotte County, set up the first domestic science department. She taught chemistry, biology, chemistry of foods, cookery, home nursing, sewing and laundry work. Miss Ina Mersereau, BA, taught language subjects, and Miss Margaret Stewart was the primary teacher. Miss Annie Darling of Hammond River was also one of the first teachers.
 
The Illustrious Official Opening
The school was officially opened on 16 June 1905. This was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable events in the history of Kingston. Special guests attending the official opening included: The Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, J.B. Snowball, the ex-lieutenant governor; Premier Tweedie; the members of the New Brunswick legislature; the Chancellor of UNB; Dr. Inch, the Chief Superintendent of Education; the chairmen of several school boards; and representatives of leading New Brunswick newspapers.
The Moncton Daily Transcript reported the "Formal visit of the provincial authorities and the legislature" to be "an unqualified success", "a perfect day". In a write-up entitled, "Legislators on a Holiday", the Transcript describes how the steamer, "Champlain", brought them up the Kennebecasis from Indian Town to "The Willows" at Reeds Point.
"The "Champlain" was laden with the dignity and collective wisdom of New Brunswick public life…. The sail was a delightful one, the waters were unruffled, the sky undimmed by fleecy clouds. A cooling breeze swept over the bosom of the river and its expansions, and the brightness of the first day of genuine summer found its reflection in the beaming good nature of the excursionists…. Along the way was moored a fleet of pretty yachts, which in their pulsating rise and fall were beating rhythmic time responsive to the throbbing bosom of the bay."
As the Champlain arrived early at The Willows, the school vans enroute to meet the illustrious party had not yet appeared. Hence, the assembly began to walk to Kingston, along the way admiring the "apple blossoms and flowers by the wayside". "On the winding roadside they trooped like prattling school boys with no laggards for school".
The Transcript describes the beauty of the countryside: "…..farmhouses on the hillside with sloping meadows or pretty gardens stretching down to the roadway, with apple trees fragrant with vernal perfume whose longest boughs bending almost kissed the upreaching grass charmed the sight. The apple trees were one mass of pink and cream, a vision of delightful beauty winning expressions of admiration which flowed with almost childlike glee from the legislators who were young again".
The horse-drawn vans eventually appeared, gaily decorated with flowers, foliage and flags, and the jovial groups was transported to Kingston. Molly Otty, an early graduate of Kingston, remembered that first consolidated school:
"In memory we yet see its six peaked gables, pointing to the four sides of the square; its dark roof and red trim outlining the groups of windows; the little maple trees hopefully starting up around the edges of the lawn, and the neat plots in the school garden. Once more our combined footfalls shake the stairs as we march into the assembly hall to the spirited air of General Grant’s Grand March to the Sea". We tread over the well oiled, hardwood floors which never seem to be desecrated by a stray bit of paper; we see the classrooms, their blackboards decorated with colored chalks, we hear the electric bells (such a wonder!) ring the signal for the close of classes. Once more we behold the vans lined up outside in the gravel, as though the windows float the strains of "Softly Now the Light of Day….."; we see D. W. raise his hand in stately dismissal."
An essay written by George Crawford of Kingston Creek for the occasion of the official opening expresses the job of the pupils in their new school:
"…..When Professor Robertson was in search for a spot to establish the new MacDonald School in New Brunswick, he was pleased with the scenery of our rural village and it was finally decided to locate the school there, for which I thank them very heartily. And the building was erected in the year 1903 on the square where the courthouse stood. The school opened on the 29th day of August 1904 with the attendance of about 160 pupils. And, Oh! What greater dream of wealth, what greater job for the children than to be carried to and from school in vans, and have the elegant building in which to be taught by the best of teachers. I am sure the scholars appreciate the interest the teachers take in them.
The view from the upper windows of the building is something grand. The hills and valleys with three separate bodies of water can be seen. Kingston Creek at the north connects with the Saint John River and in the spring of 1903 the steamer, Springfield, steamed in as far as Simpson’s Point, which is within a mile of Kingston School."
Signed by: George H. Crawford
Underneath beneath is written: "Very Good Indeed" D.W.H (David W. Hamilton)
Not long after the school opened in 1904, Sir William himself made a visit to the school. Newspapers of the day refer to his "keen eye", his intense interest in every aspect of the building and the schoolwork, and his pleasure at the eagerness of the scholars. Casting an approving glance around, he said, "Very nice, very nice indeed".
 
Other Consolidated Schools
Soon after the opening of the MacDonald School at Kingston, the province built three other consolidated schools; at Riverside (Albert County), Hampton and Florenceville.
Under a section of the Schools Act, a special grant was paid to such schools, and later grants and bursaries were given to teachers taking summer courses in manual training, domestic science and agriculture, and to districts where these subjects were on the curriculum.
In 1907, Sir William gave 12 scholarships to MacDonald Consolidated graduates at Kingston enabling them to attend MacDonald College at Ste. Anne De Bellevue.
 
Board of Trustees
On August 3, 1903 the first board of school trustees was organized in Kingston. Austin Wetmore of Clifton, a descendent of James Wetmore, the first schoolmaster, was the first chairman of the board of trustees. Robert Sheldrick was the first secretary.
Items of interest in their old minute book are as follows:
A cord of wood for the school in 1906 cost $2.25.
The van drivers were paid in the vicinity of $2.25 to $2.50 per day. For this, they had to supply a team, feed their horses, keep the vans in good repair and see that the children were safely taken to school on time.
One minute requests the board of trustees to buy a lantern for their own convenience and at their own expense.
Raymond Paddock ("Arpy") Gorham, one of the best known graduates of MacDonald Consolidated established the Alumni Society of this school in 1939. He also did a great deal of fine historical research and writing on the Kingston area and on education in Kingston. Our school is much indebted to him
In the notes of Miss Margaret Steward, first primary teacher of the consolidated school is the following passage:
"One day, in 1904, a big boy came to my class. I asked how long he had gone to school. He said that he had never gone to school. I was embarrassed to have such a large boy in my class of first grade children but, for his sake, I decided to ask him some questions, to see how much he knew. In 15 minutes he had graduated from my department. In two weeks he had reached grade seven and in two years he had entered MacDonald College, Quebec."
R.P. Gorham had received his early education from his parents, and from the environment in which he was raised on the farm at Gorham’s Bluff. He graduated from Kingston in 1906 and later from MacDonald College with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.
From then on, his life was devoted to the study of agriculture. One of the many positions which he held, was that of entomologist for the Canadian government, his chief contribution being in the study and investigation of field crop and garden insects.
Mr. Gorham won international respect among scientific agriculturists, and he won high honors in the field of science. He published a great many scientific papers in the agricultural field.
In 1910, Raymond Paddock Gorham returned home from college with two, secondhand telephones. At that time there were no telephones on the Kingston Peninsula. R.P. and his brother, Adino, installed one phone in the Gorham farmhouse and another in the barn. This was the first telephone system on the Kingston Peninsula. Gradually, one by one, the neighbours wanted to have telephones, and hence, in 1913, the Kingston Peninsula Telephone Company was formed.
It brought good telephone service to the entire peninsula, and remained in existence until 1961. R.P.‘s brother, Adino Gorham, was Secretary and General Manager of this local telephone company from 1913 – 1950. Mr. Adino Gorham was also secretary and school trustee of the MacDonald Consolidated school in Kingston for 40 years.
 
First Consolidated School Burned
Unfortunately, the magnificent MacDonald school building burned to the ground in March 1909. It was rebuilt and opened again in 1910, a less magnificent building than the original, but nicely proportioned and pleasant to the eye.
A great many improvements in education were made by Dr. W. S. Carter, Chief Superintendent of Education for New Brunswick from 1909 – 1931. He was a Kingston native, born in 1858.
Kingston pupils still had gardens after the second school was built.
Teachers who taught agriculture took required summer courses in Sussex. For this the government gave a small grant to each teacher who qualified. The agricultural fairs were still held, and judges for the fairs were sent by the Department of Agriculture. Sad to say the 1930’s saw the end of the school garden. If gardening could be on the school curriculum now, it would be of benefit to the students and to the community in general.
 
Sports
The year 1929 was a memorable year for the Kingston football team. In November of that year the members of the team were crowned football champions of Kings County and won the McKenna Cup. This was a remarkable win, as they had only started to play football the previous year. Players on the Kingston team were: Jimmy Waddell, Sanford Henderson, Edwin Wetmore, Roy Thompson, Don Gorham, Lorne Duplissea (captain), Earl Saunders, Scovil Scribner, Malcolm MacDougall, George Titus, Stan (Tick) Smith, Harvey Cochrane, Shenton Scribner, Tommy Clark and Albert Northrup.
The year 1928-1929 also saw the first hockey team organized at MacDonald Consolidated School.
Sanford Henderson will long be remembered as a champion in Maritime athletics. In 1929 he led the field in the Maritime Provinces Interscholastic track and field championships held at Dalhousie University. Winning the shot put and the high jump gave him the cup for the highest individual score. Sanford was the lone entrant from Kingston, and his performance put MacDonald School in sixth place for total points out of a field of fifteen schools, a notable achievement for one lad to do. Sanford was also and outstanding pole vaulter. In 1955 Douglas Sheldrick of Clifton won the cup for winning the highest number of points of any entrant in the district track and field championships held at Hampton. His performance in the pole vaulting competition was beautiful to see.
 
Up To The Present
By this time the horse-drawn vans had been replaced by a large yellow bus, and by smaller motor-powered vehicles
In 1955 a new addition was built onto the school, and for a while it was adequate. However, with the closing of all the one-room schoolhouses on the peninsula in the early sixties, MacDonald Consolidated became crowded. A sharp increase in population added to the difficulties. Pretty soon the old school was bursting at the seams. Ugly portable classrooms began to appear on the school grounds. Each year one or more portable classrooms had had to be added giving a current total of nine. Presently, there are 368 pupils and 17 teachers in the school. Although the condition of the s chool leaves a great deal to be desired at the present time, things would look much worse if it were not for the MacDonald-Stewart Foundation which again came to the rescue. In 1974, it gave a grant of $19,000 to have the school beautifully painted inside and out. It also gave money for scientific equipment, which as yet cannot be put to use due to a lack of space. Children from grades one to nine are now bussed to the school, many from as far away as Summerville.
The last graduating class graduated from MacDonald Consolidated in 1967. In September 1967 the high school department was taken from Kingston to Hampton. In 1974 all high school students from Kingston were taken to Quispamsis to receive their high school education at the new Kennebecasis Valley High School. Although students are no longer graduating from MacDonald Consolidated School, the school is still a good one. School spirit is high and the teachers are dedicated. The very active local Home & School Association outdoes itself in its efforts to raise money and improve educational conditions. The Provincial Government has recently promised a new addition to the school.
Teachers and students, in fact the whole peninsula, is looking forward to the day when the long-awaited addition will be completed. Hopefully, it will be started within 1979.
 

 
"MACDONALD CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL, at Kingston is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The original school was destroyed by fire in 1909, and the present building was opened to students the following year. This fall, an extension is to be added to the school, shown above, to eliminate the many portable classrooms now in use."
Let us hope that the present students of MacDonald Consolidated will appreciate this new addition as much as the student of 1904 appreciated their new school building.
As past student have made meaningful and outstanding contributions to society, we feel confident that present and future students of MacDonald Consolidated School will do the same. We wonder if Sir William every dreamed that 75 years later in Kingston, graduates, teachers, students and friends would gather together to honour him and the school which bears his name.