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Nottawasaga and Creemore Central School 50 + Years : Very Fond and Happy Memories from Keith Balfour

Monday, June 12, 2017
Monday, June 12, 2017
67
Monday, June 12, 2017

In the spring of 1966 I was invited to an interview for a teaching position in the new, yet-to-be built, central school in Nottawasaga Township's Creemore, Ontario. I had applied for a teaching position with the Nottawasaga Township School Board earlier that spring. I had just got engaged to my now wife of more than 50 years. I had one year's teaching experience at SS#1 Kilkenny, north of Lake Superior, on the shores of Lake Nipigon. (I now, at the end of June 2017, will be starting into my 20th year of retirement.)

My fiancée, Jane, and I drove to Creemore from London, Ontario with my mom, coming along as chaperone. My job interview was to be held at the Creemore Public School. My interview was held in the basement furnace room of the school with trustees (Jack Heslip. Dalton Middlebrook, Bill Vancise and one other) conducting the process. School Custodian, Tom Montgomery, opened the building for us.

My mother and future bride went downtown to George and Noni Price's snack bar and curio shop to have a break, a snack and to wait until the meeting was over.

I was hired there and then. I was told that I'd be in the new school when it was finished. In the meantime I'd be at the one room Cashtown School, north of Cashtown Corners, with Grade 5 to 8 students gathered together from other township one room schools which were being closed. The other Grade 5 to 8 pupils who would eventually come with my crew from Cashtown were also gathered together into other one room school locations in the Avening and Dunedin areas with teachers Audrey Timmons and Bessie Arnold who later, like those of us at Cashtown, would head for the new school upon its opening. The Creemore students from grades 5 to 8 and their teacher Jane Black would be based at the Creemore Public School until amalgamation time. Jane Black was to be our principal.

That fall was an exciting period for me who'd only seen, but not taught in, a one room school during my teacher training. It would also be my first experience with school buses.

The youngsters, too, who were to be my new students, had been gathered together from several other one room schools besides Cashtown and had new friendships to make, and for many, a new school to which to grow accustomed. Additionally they had a new teacher to break in, one who was an unknown commodity. That same situation was essentially true in two other of the future school's temporary sites and to some degree for the Creemore crew who were to join us when our new home was opened.

The excitement of a new school for us all with many new student and teacher faces was prominent in our minds all that fall of 1966. Delays, of course, occurred. The contractors stopped work so they could go hunting. The electrical system's transformers were not available when promised. The new heating system's state-of-the-art unit ventilators had some fine tuning issues. (I can still vividly remember Mr. Beselink from the unit ventilator's company puttering around with the system in each classroom during class time after we were finally in our new home.)

Recesses at Cashtown saw us all outside together getting to know one another and playing games like "Ante Over the Shanty" over the school's roof.

As Christmas approached we all realized that the hoped for move to the new building would not be late fall but, instead, after the Christmas break.

True to the hands-on and personal nature of rural school communities the move of the school furnishings and materials, including the kids' things, would happen over the holiday with the trustees, including the Secretary-Treasurer, W.D. McLeod, handling the bulk of the process themselves for all four to-be-re-located sites. They were aided, I know, by local farmers and other community members at times.

It's amazing how smoothly it all went!

The first school day of 1967, Canada's Centennial Year, saw us shuffling, searching, moving furniture and unpacking materials. It was organized confusion but it was great fun! The moving job had been very well done. Materials were usually located where they could be fairly easily found, for the most part. Very little could not be found and those things were of very little consequence.

WE WERE,    AT LAST,    AS PROMISED, . . . . . . .  AND HOPED FOR,  . . . . . . . . AND DREAMED OF  . . . . . . . . . ALL ONE SCHOOL!    

 OUR NOTTAWASAGA AND CREEMORE CENTRAL SCHOOL !

 NOTES:

1)  This was the spring of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. A year of many auspicious beginnings, including our school's.

2) Curiously, over the next number of years the few items which had apparently disappeared into a black hole, such as the collapsible community 12 foot wooden plank tables and benches from the Cashtown School's back storage lean-to, all resurfaced. Being as the new central school had no storage space to accommodate them they ended up in another community facility where they could still service the good folk of south Nottawasaga. That's great planning, folks!

3)  When the Creemore Public School held its Reunion several years ago it was heart-warming and somewhat amazing how many of those first year NCCSers my wife and I met again after all those years. One of the highlights of the formal event in the Creemore Legion Hall was the singing of our NCCS school song written by Audrey Timmons and company. It still makes me very proud to sing it again aloud or in my mind. Its words have indelibly etched a place in my memory. I needed no song sheet, then, to stand up and proudly sing: ---

" ' twas in the town of Creemore 1900 and 67

behold there were the ten of us one more would make eleven

they hauled us off to Creemore in those yellow trucks we're driven

our own Centennial school.

Avening, Banda, ad Mt. Zion.

Cashtown, Creemore, Maple Valley.

Bayview, Glen Huron, and Dunedin.

23 has joined us too.

 

Many schools were joined together.

All for one be our endeavour.

May it continue on forever.

Our own Centennial School!

 

So let us all cooperate, be Nottawasaga's pride,

and celebrate our union here with no regrets to hide.

We brought with us some memories

that always will be dear. Our own centennial school.

 

Avening, Banda and Mt. Zion.

Cashtown, Creemore, Maple Valley.

Bayview, Glen Huron and Dunedin.

23 has joined us too.

 

Many Schools are joined together.

All for one be our endeavour.

May it continue on forever.

Our own Centennial School."

3)  Our school's proud and spirited local history started there and then. Sock Hops, occasional Friday night school dances and film nights for our students, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and other spirit and team builders would become common in the next few years, but that was in the future. Who can forget the tree plantings – circular glades on our front yard and individual trees along the south ridge of the playground  . . . .or the Tennis Club's courts being added to our playground? Those were the days!

4)  Jane Black, who lived in Collingwood, decided later that 1st year to resign as principal. When the position opened the Nottawasaga Township School Board notified the other three teachers on NCCS's staff. I expressed my interest in applying for the now vacant principal's position. After some necessary deliberations the Board offered me the position. When our school re-opened for a second year in September of 1967 there were again four teachers on staff – Audrey (Mrs. Wallace) Timmons, Bessie (Mrs. Brinkman) Arnold, Donalda (Mrs. Charlie) Mackie, and myself. I was, as was the norm for those times, a teacher-principal.

       Over the next few years we saw the addition of other staff as our school's student population grew. Our first additions were itinerant music teacher Peter Coates and several French teacher itinerants in succession.

5)  The 1960's had seen the drive to building central schools to replace one room schools. NCCS had been Nottawasaga's last necessary change to that new direction. All our one room schools were now but fond memories of our past.

      In the early 1970's more changes occurred in Ontario's provincial education system. The new provincial educational initiative was the creation of county school boards and the elimination of township and town school boards. The Simcoe County Board of Education came into being at that time. Gone were the township school boards and the town and city boards in Simcoe County. In our area it meant, besides our Nottawasaga Township Board, that the school boards of Sunnidale Township, the Town of Stayner and The Town of Collingwood were all amalgamated along with Barrie and Orillia and the rest of Simcoe County's public systems' boards.  

6)  I was to spend 13 1/2 very happy teaching and learning years at NCCS. I saw and unofficially supervised through two major additions to our school in those years.

            - The first saw two new classrooms and a very commodious back meeting hall added to our original building complement. It was in this hall that our now six classes of pupils and our staff congregated to watch the winning final game in the famed Canada-Russia hockey series. Paul Henderson's scoring the game and series winning goal was enthusiastically watched by all of us on the school's tall mobile TV.

            -  The second gave us all a wonderful new library, our gymnasium, and offices, storerooms, meeting rooms and a staffroom. WOW! This was heaven! ​

7)  I was transferred to Collingwood Senior Public at the end of June 1980  but we, the Balfour family, continued to live, love, learn and grow in Creemore until my retirement in June of 1998. We raised our two boys, D'Arcy and Devlin, there. Both boys are proud graduates of NCCS.

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