The rusty old pump beside the road, and the story behind it

Cedar School pump

Have you ever wondered why the remains of an old water pump (see bottom right of photo) are beside Queensborough Road? Read on and you will find out.

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.

Cedar School

Cedar School, which for many years stood at the corner of what are now called Queensborough Road and Cedar School Road. Here you are looking west; the school faced Queensborough Road, and the pump would have been in front of it. (Photo courtesy of Doris Pearce)

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.)

Queensborough Community Centre

The old one-room schoolhouse in Queensborough, now the Queensborough Community Centre.

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.

Cedar School students

The student body of Cedar School in 1931. I love this image of the students in the sun-dappled shade of the big old trees. (Photo courtesy of Doris Pearce)

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?

10 thoughts on “The rusty old pump beside the road, and the story behind it

  1. Thank you Katherine for putting so much time and effort into your blog for people like me to enjoy!!

  2. What an interesting story, and the old B&W photographs are wonderful. Reading this was like taking a trip back in time. I can just imagine the children walking to school, in all types of weather. My mother mentioned that she used to walk a “good mile” to school and that in the very cold weather, they were happy when a farmer stopped to offer the kids a ride in his truck.

    It’s a shame about the trees being taken down. I hate to see this happening, and on the weekend when I was on the train, I saw lots of trees that had been split from the ice storm of 2013. It’s always sad to see an old maple that is being taken down.

    Speaking of one-room schoolhouses, have you seen the film, “Why Shoot the Teacher?” It’s the story of a young teacher (during the Great Depression era), who leaves Toronto for Saskatchewan to take a job as a teacher. It’s well worth seeing, and it’s on YouTube.

    • Why Shoot the Teacher – wow, that’s an old one, isn’t it? I remember that coming out in – when? The early ’70s? It was in the days when there wasn’t much going on in the world of English Canadian film, I know that. I’ve never seen it, Sash, but I know I would enjoy it, and I will look it up – though not here at the Manse, where watching a whole movie on YouTube would bring another round of internet sticker shock!

  3. Hi Katherine,

    These lovely old photos and your reference to the book, “Times to Remember in Elzevir Township” just jogged my memory about a similar book that my father had. It is “Them Were the Days”, which is a collection of interviews with 61 “past and present” Hungerford Township residents, mainly focused on stories about their growing up in Tweed. Maybe you know of it? It was published in 1973, so perhaps it’s available in the Tweed and Madoc libraries. It was written by Patricia LeSage, Margaret Rashotte and Baden Vance, printed by Madoc Review Ltd.

    The book contains some interesting photos, one of Tweed in 1900, taken from the top of Victoria Public School, and another of the Methodist Parsonage, plus other buildings of the late 1800s. There is also a photo of the Tweed CPR Station. Another photo that is really interesting is of the Tweed-to-Actinolite stage coach, “back in the Gun Smoke era”.

    The stories are very interesting. One resident, Annie Dewar, recalls when they tolled the bells for the Queen (Victoria). Someone had heard that the Queen had died, so they tolled bells in Tweed at 7.00pm. Others recall how people used to “visit” more often and how it was customary to have company more then than now.

    Maybe some of the other readers know of this book, too. Who knows? It might show up at the used book stores.

    • So funny you should mention that book, Sash – I learned of its existence just a few weeks ago, in a conversation with Penny Vance of Tweed, the wife of Baden Vance, one of its authors. I suspect it was produced under the same kind of program that saw two high-school students in Madoc write a history of that village, called Way Back When… That now-rare book is extremely expensive if you track it down on the internet, so I was overjoyed when I found a copy a while back at a Madoc yard sale – for a dollar! As I told Penny, I will hope to have similar luck finding a copy of Them Were the Days, which is clearly a book that Raymond and I have to have!

  4. Hi Katherine,

    Did you recently change the photo at the top of the blog? I don’t remember the flag before, or am I just slow in noticing?

    Yes, if you can get “Them Were the Days”, I know you’ll love it. The title comes from the ending of an interview with a past resident of the area (Mary Easterbrook Fairman): “We often see Bert Huyck and his wife and have great talks about old times in Tweed and we all agree with that old saying “Them were the days!”

    • Hey Sash, yeah, I decided it was time for a new photo at the top of the blog – I try to change it with the seasons, and sometimes more often than that. Have to show people what the Manse is looking like as they read about it!

      I will most definitely keep my eyes peeled for a copy of Them Were the Days. And until I can find it, I have the great pleasure of reading the Heritage Herald column (by the Tweed and Area Heritage Centre‘s curator, the tireless Evan Morton) in the Tweed News every week. I have learned so much about the village’s history thanks to Evan!

  5. Just for fun, check out the website “”, and in particular Queensborough. Be sure to use the “Fade” tool.

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