If you have ever driven into Queensborough from the west, along Queensborough Road – or, for that matter, driven out of Queensborough heading west – you might have noticed the remains of an old rusty pump on the north side of the road just east of the intersection with Cedar School Road. Have you ever wondered why it’s there?
If you’re a relative newcomer to the area, you probably have. But if you’re a longtime resident, you will know – from your own memories, or from the stories your parents or grandparents have told you – that the pump is on the site where a one-room schoolhouse once stood. And you won’t be surprised to know (given the name of the nearby road) that it was called the Cedar School.
Nothing at all remains of the old building now, save for that pump. But when I pass by it, in my mind’s eye I can see long-ago students pumping water into a bucket to take into the building, where a dipper would be placed into the bucket and it would serve as the communal source of drinking water. And I can also imagine students playing around with the pump, with no buckets in hand, just splashing the water on each other and drinking it out of cupped hands. (That’s exactly what we Queensborough kids, back when I was growing up here, used to do at the pump up at the still-extant old schoolhouse here in the village. That pump also served as the source of my family’s drinking water for all 11 years that we lived at the Manse.)
Cedar School was one of several one-room schoolhouses that existed in and around Queensborough, back in the days when there were no buses and so schools had to be within walking distance of their pupils. I’ve already mentioned the one that was right in the village (and that now serves as the Queensborough Community Centre, site of the hugely popular annual Pancake Breakfast and many other social functions), but there was also a school at Moore’s Corners (east of Queensborough, still standing but now a private home); one way back in the small community that was (and still is) known as “the Rockies” northeast of Queensborough; and then there was the one known as the Red School, southeast of the village on what is now called Bosley Road.
But Cedar School was, according to Times to Remember in Elzevir Township (the book that is the definitive history of this neck of the woods), the earliest of them.
“The first recorded education for Elzevir Township children was provided by Madoc Township [whose eastern boundary is just to the west of Queensborough] when Elzevir was under its jurisdiction for all municipal purposes,” Times to Remember tells us.
“Queensborough children attended the Union School known as the Cedar School during the 1840s, and possibly as early as 1837 by which time the Cedar School was built … In 1850 … the subjects taught … were surprisingly varied, grammar, geography, history, writing, bookkeeping, measurement, algebra, geometry, elements of natural history, vocal music and linear drawing.”
Later the other schools were built in and near Queensborough, but Cedar School continued in operation a long time into the 20th century, serving children whose families lived in the area west of Queensborough, east of Hazzard’s Corners, and on Hart’s Road southeast of Hazzard’s.
One of those children was my new friend Doris (Broad) Pearce, to whom I owe a big debt of gratitude for showing me the wonderful photos of Cedar School and its students that are reproduced here. When I visited Doris a few months ago, she shared her fond memories of the school and the fine teachers she had there.
Doris’s family lived on Hart’s Road, about two miles from the school. So the children walked four miles a day to and from school, along country roads (perhaps cutting across fields sometimes?) in all kinds of weather, both fine and foul. Did they think anything of having to make such a the trek? Not at all, Doris assured me. Her memories of the walk are good ones – especially the beauty of the arbour of maple trees that once (even into the days of my own Queensborough childhood) covered much of that section of Queensborough Road.
And speaking of trees: do you see all the lovely big trees in both of the photos that Doris shared with me? Now compare those images with what you see in the present day, in the photo at the top of this post.
What have we done to our trees?