Page created by Wallace Pierce

                by Beverley Dell Jewson
                     Class of 1951

  Written for the 100th Anniversary Celebration May 2009

Education Comes To Bertie Township                                 Board Of Commissioners

Bertie Township (now the Town of Fort Erie) was surveyed           This Board was mandated to set out regulations for govern-
by the British in the late 1700’s, so the first settlers took up   ing the schools. At one time, Rev. John Anderson, Rector
lands along our waterways. Settlements sprang up along             of St. Paul’s Church was President. Members of this Board
the Niagara River, Black Creek and the Lake Erie shoreline.        visited schools and reported on conditions.

School At The Fort                                                 The School Year And Fees Were Set

In the early 1800’s school was held at the “Old Fort” for          There were two terms during the year. First term was from
the children of military personnel, who often camped in the        Oct. to April and the second term, April to Oct. Vacation
area during the milder months of the year.                         time was one week at Christmas and two weeks in July.
                                                                   Every other Saturday and Good Friday were considered
School At Bertie Hall                                              holidays. School fees were set at 1s.3d. (25¢) per child per
By the 1830’s a small number of students attended private
classes in Bertie Hall, the old Forsyth home. Bertie Hall          S.S. #11 First Recorded School
still stands at the foot of Phipps St. and Niagara Blvd. and       Trustee Meeting.
houses the Doll House Gallery.
                                                                   A meeting was held June 12, 1844, and James Johnston,
First School At Waterloo S.S.#1                                    Peter Tuttle, and John Moore were chosen as Trustees for
                                                                   the Section.
The first public school in the village of Waterloo (Fort Erie)
in 1844, stood near the ferry landing at the foot of Bertie St.    In a report given, it was recorded that the School had been
                                                                   open for 9½ months during which time there was a quali-
A new frame school was built in 1848 at the corner of Wa-          fied teacher for 4 of those months. Teachers recorded
terloo and Forsyth Sts. known as Bertie School Section #1.         were; Miss Piper, 8s.9p, Mr. Riseley and Ralph Disher. Mr.
                                                                   Disher taught again in 1845 for 3 months, and his salary
Fire destroyed this building, so a one room brick school           was 3 pounds 5 shillings.
was built on John St. This school still stands today as a
home.                                                              That year there were 46 students. Charles Hill was the
                                                                   teacher in 1848.
Readin’ Writin’ & ‘Rithmetic In Ridgeway
                                                                   In 1847 a Trustees meeting was held in Thomas Disher’s
There was a school documented in the area surrounding              store. Trustees meetings were held in places of business
the settlement of Ridgeway, as we know it today. William           and generally of one of the Trustees. This meeting adopted
Lyon Mackenzie visited a school in the Ridgeway area and           the S.S.#11 Bertie official seal of brass, with number 11 in
recorded it as early as 1826. Whether it was a Common              the centre and the word “Bertie” in a semi-circle above and
School established after the School Act of 1816, or a school       below the 11. The Fort Erie Historical Museum in Ridgeway
entirely under the auspices of the local Quaker settlers is        has this artifact in it’s collection. April 16, 1850 the school
uncertain. Mackenzie refers to it as “their” school.               was closed so that the Trustees could do their inspection.

1816 Common School Act                                             Government Grants

Many schools were established following the passing of             Grants were received for all established schools during
the Government of Upper Canada’s Common School Act in              the 1850s. There were no regulations imposed on teacher
1816. In part it reads:                                            qualifications or salaries. Common School statistics were
                                                                   reported in 1855, but the government did not list any figures
1. Primarily local initiative and control                          for upper level school attendance because the numbers
2. Local financial responsibility to support them                  were so insignificant.
3. Local areas to elect 3 (three) School Trustees
                                                                   Free School Fee
Bertie Township then divided into 15 school section areas.
In the following years 14 school buildings were established,       January 13, 1869, Dr. Brewster chaired the annual meet-
with the Ridgeway area being known as S.S.#11.                     ing when B. P. Snyder put forth a motion that the School be
                                                                   FREE for 1869. J.J.Moore moved that a fee of 25¢ be set.
                                                                   A vote was taken and the “FREE” motion won.

Special Meetings                                              1871 School Improvement Act

On January 23, 1869 a special meeting was called, to be       This Act stated that all children between the ages of 7 -
held 10 days later. A motion was put forward by Alexander     12 years must attend school 4 months of the year. This
Anger, seconded by Jacob Clause, that the Trustees be         remained the same until 1921, when the ages changed to
instructed to “purchase half an acre of land adjoining the    6 - 14 years.
old site, for building a new school house on one rod width
added on south side of old lot. The balance west of old lot   Annual Meeting
to make half an acre additional. Carried.” On motion the
Trustees were instructed to build a new school house on       Once a year the ratepayers from the section were invited
the site chosen and the money be raised by assessment on      to attend a meeting in the school house. The meeting
the property in three equal yearly installments. Motion ap-   nominated a chair and sec. for the evening. These meet-
pointed C.M. Gorham, John Cutler, and Isaac Hershey as        ings elected the three Trustees for the following year, paid
a “building committee to have the same as the Trustees in     the bills to James Dalton for making the fires $3.50, C.
letting and accepting contract for building schoolhouse.”     Lieber for painting the blackboards, ordered cords of wood,
                                                              elected an auditor and received reports on teachers, their
Another special meeting was held February 13, 1869 when       salaries and inspection reports.
two motions were put on the floor. Build a two story school
and “build but one story high and as large as they deem       The Gov’t grant was $85.11 and Municipal assessment
advisable.”                                                   grant $62.48.

The vote carried for a one story school house and today we
still look at the two storey edifice.

                                                                  Back Left: 1880 Two Room Addition For Senior
                                                                              Class - Library Upstairs

                                                              Two Room School Is Full

                                                              By 1879 the Trustees Girven, Morrin and Haun found that
                                                              their 2 room school was full. To alleviate the problem,
                                                              they rented the Temperance Hall for $1.00 a week and the
                                                              School’s Junior Dept. met there each day. The Legisla-
                                                              tive grants had increased to $97.27 , school insurance was
                                                              purchased for $12.00 and 8 cords of wood was ordered for
                                                              $3.00 a cord.

       Two Room Grammar School Built in 1869

Build More School                                               Coronet Band 1888

Tenders were called and opened on Aug. 14, 1880 with            The upstairs room of the new addition was rented to the
Eber Cutler winning the contract to build a 2 storey brick      Ridgeway Coronet Band for their practices, twice a week.
addition 40’X26’ on the back south corner of the school         The rent would be free of charge if the band brought their
house ‘. His price $1,755 was not the lowest bid, however       “own fuel for the lights and wood for the fire.” If the School
low bidder Mr. Kennedy withdrew his tender of $1,650.           Board’s insurance was going to be increased, then the
He stated he was “not in a position to do the work.” The        Band would have to pay this expense. The Coronet Band
Trustees stipulated that “the work be finished by December      performed at the new Crystal Beach Park and marched up
1, 1880.” A special ratepayers meeting had been held just       Ridge Rd. and played under the gas light at the corner of
two months before, to garner Gov’t funds for this addition.     Hershey St.(today). They played every Saturday night on
                                                                Mrs. Stone’s front yard. That house still stands today 3695
The motion reads “that the Board of Trustees do, and they       Hershey St.
are hereby authorized to make application to the Township
Council of the Township of Bertie, to draw that portion of      Special Grants For Continuation Schools
the Gov’t Surplus Distribution Fund due to the School Sec-
tion, to be used in building an addition to the school house    The Province awarded special grants in 1906 for all Con-
and otherwise improving the school premises. Carried            tinuation Schools. The Trustees began to look at more
unanimously, June 1880.”                                        ways to accommodate more students, who wished to stay
                                                                in school after passing the High School entrance exam. So
Mr. Alva H. Kilman had been hired as Principal in 1879 and      plans were underway during 1907. A full time caretaker,
he was respected and well liked by the ratepayers. Stories      Mr. Frank Dell was hired for $144.00 a year. The holes
are told today of Principal Kilman instructing a few students   were plastered in classroom walls, the school yard was
in the Senior Class with courses in upper level education.      enlarged and 40 new single seats for the Seniors were
Mr. Kilman resigned in 1897, one year after the course          purchased in Buffalo, N.Y. Duty was paid on this purchase
books for the first two years of high school were printed in    as well as $3.60 was paid to the Trustee that crossed on
1896. School grades were designated by “Books.” Each            the ferry at Fort Erie to make the purchase. At the Annual
book outlined the courses of study to be taught for two         Meeting that year, the Library Board of the Town reminded
years. Four books were developed for the eight years of el-     the Trustees that the Library, which was in the upstairs
ementary school. The Fifth Book dealt with the courses for      back classroom was for the students as well as the commu-
the first two years, Grades 9 and 10, in High School.           nity. So for the next several years $25.00 was given to the
                                                                Library Board as it was free for everyone. Insurance was
Superintendant For Education Canada                             purchased on the building for $3,000. and $400.00 on the
West (Ontario)                                                  contents.

Sweeping changes in education were the result of the            1908 Grade “A” School
appointment of Egerton Ryerson. He laid out the book
system, set entrance exams and also implemented regula-         May 9th 1908. “It was moved by M.H. Hibbard, second M.S.
tions governing the school buildings and equipping High         Pound that we establish a Continuation Class Grade “A” to
and Continuation Schools.                                       open Sept.1, 1908 and that we take the necessary steps to
                                                                provide desks .and other equipment for the room. Carried.”
In the History of WeIland County 1887 it states: “public
schools do more advanced work in places where the High          June found the Trustees with three teacher vacancies to
Schools are not within reach.” High Schools were being          fill. They advertised for a school principal holding a first
built in larger towns and cities across Ontario, due mainly     class professional certificate for $900.00 Primary Dept.
to student numbers and a larger assessment base. Small          teacher $350.00 and Fourth Class $400.00. The Principal
villages and rural areas tended to build additions to their     was to teach the Continuation School Class. Purchases
grammar schools, and often referred to them as Continu-         this year included new Science equipment, drawing books,
ation Schools. The 1880 addition had Mr. Kilman using           text books, 10 desks, and a slate blackboard. Mr. Thos. D.
the lower room for the Senior Class and upstairs was the        Allingham was hired as Principal on June 24th 1908. One
library.                                                        month later the Trustee Board lost the Sec. W.W.Thom,
                                                                who died instantly at a young age. Principal Allingham re-
Ridgeway Krafft Connection 1882                                 signed Dec. 10,1908 to take effect Jan. 1 1909. Ads were
                                                                placed in the Toronto newspapers “Mail and Empire” and
The four room school had wood stoves burning in the             the “Globe”. Mr. David T. Wright was hired Dec. 29, 1908
winter months, so a Mr. Samuel Krafft was hired to light the    but he could not teach until February, so a supply teacher
fires in the school house for $24.00 per year.                  was hired for the month of January 1909 for $80.00

Mr. Wright did not even start teaching before he resigned      Students! Students! Students!
Jan. 6, 1909. Mr. S.D.Cowan was hired for Feb. 1, 1909         Classrooms Overcrowed!
for $1,000. The Trustees must have been frustrated and
maybe a bit suspicious.                                        The trustees wondered what to do next.

Ridgeway School, March 1909                                    The choice was: close the Continuation classes and use
                                                               those rooms for the elementary students, or build on an-
Trustees meeting was called to consider the condition and      other addition.
non-attendance in connection with the Continuation School.
                                                               At the 1910 Annual Meeting, discussions centred around
Two Trustees visited the School on Mar. 16th and found         filling and beautifying the school grounds and the state of
only ONE pupil in attendance. On March 17th they visited       the art “water closets.” No decisions were made about the
again and found there were NO pupils attending. Trustees       student body until the 1911 Inspector’s report. It made it
reported the matter to the Inspector Mr. Marshall, by phone,   very clear that the school was to be enlarged or go back to
and arranged with him to visit the school on the 18th. There   a simple grammar school.
were two pupils in attendance. They did not think it advis-
able to keep the School open until Easter. It was mutually     So on July 12, 1911 tenders were let for an addition on the
agreed with Principal Cowan, that “if they could raise the     north side of the building, two stories high, of brick. Four
attendance to an average of nine students for the balance      estimates were received and E.W. Near was awarded the
of the month we could continue to Easter.” If they could       contract for $3,830.00 with the work to begin immediately.
not average nine students Mr. Cowan agreed to close the        By the Aug. 24th meeting, it was reported that the work was
school and accept his salary to March 31, 1909.                going well.

Then Principal Cowan tendered his resignation effective        Sanitary Water Closets
April 9, 1909. The Trustees decided not to advertise again,
but to just look at the applications that they had and “hire   At the last several Annual Meetings, citizens were question-
satisfactory recommend from the Inspector.”                    ing the state of the “water closets.” But it wasn’t until 1912
                                                               the lnspector reported on the “water closet” issue.
Now we find Mr. A.M. Woodley at the helm immediately fol-
lowing Easter. A GRADE “A” SCHOOL WITH A GRADE “A”             The Trustees had hired Daisie Ford several years earlier,
PRINCIPAL.                                                     to keep the water closets clean. The report claimed the “out
                                                               houses were not sanitary and the well water was not good.”
The Grade “A” standing provided for a third year of Second-    It took two years, when a report was given at the Annual
ary School leading to a Junior Matriculation and Normal        Meeting, that new “water closets” had been installed Dec.
School entrance (Teacher’s College.)                           1914.

The Grade “A” Principal meant that 37 students showed up       The total enrolment in the Grammar and Continuation
for classes. More students meant more regulations; such        School was 296 students.
as larger school grounds, better sanitation, new text books
etc. In fact the cramped school conditions were unsatisfac-    (The Museum has an early picture that shows the water
tory. There were now 5 teachers and a student body of          closets behind the school before the 1880 addition)
252. (Do the math)
                                                               Another issue during these early years. was the develop-
Enlarge The School Grounds                                     ment of Crystal Beach and the Amusement Park. Citizens
                                                               began to speak about forming a Police Village and become
In June 1909, property was purchased on the west side          incorporated. Crystal Beach area was in S.S.#11 School
back as far as Mill St. Mr. Finch sold his piece for $575.00   Section; so the Trustees worried about them pulling out of
and Mr. Miller for $130.00. Benjamin Anger’s Blacksmith        the Section and having their own school. S.S.#11 would
shop was on this property, so the Trustees sold it at public   lose the tax assessment base.
                                                               The Trustees hired a lawyer in 1911, to put in a clause in
                                                               the corporation bill to prevent a division of S.S.#11.

                                                               The idea to appoint one teacher and two from the Women’s
                                                               Institute to sit in on Trustee’s meetings was presented. In
                                                               the end, Crystal Beach said they were satisfied and they
                                                               would remain in S.S.#11.

School For Crystal Beach                                       Cornerstone Is Laid 1920

The Trustees made a decision to try opening a school at       An impressive ceremony was held for the laying. of the
Crystal Beach from Jan.1,1915 until Easter break 1915.        cornerstone Work slowed down due to the bankruptcy
During that year’s Annual Meeting, it was reported that it    of the Hamilton Bowser Construction Co. To keep the
cost $80.00 per month for the Crystal Beach School but the    project on schedule $13,500 was added to the original
results were not satisfactory. The service was discontinued   contract price of $89,887. All elementary and Continua-
and the children were brought to the Ridgeway School.         tion students walked up the road and moved in together
The motion reads “that a                                                                      in 1921. The Province had
competent person be found                                                                     issued guidelines for all
with the advisability of                                                                      new High Schools, outlining
employing a conveyance to                                                                     new courses, classrooms,
bring scholars from Crystal                                                                   gymnasiums, indoor wash-
Beach.”                                                                                       rooms, laboratory, Domestic
                                                                                              Household Science room
Robert Barnes won the                                                                         and Manual Training areas.
contract for $2.00 a day                                                                      This new building fell short of
from Dec. 15, 1915 - until                                                                    the requirements for a High
March 1916 “subject to                                                                        School, so conversations
conditions embodied.”                                                                         were centred around build-
                                                                                              ing a separate High School
Build Another                                                                                 building.
School Building                             Continuation   School  1921 - 1927
                                                                                              The well loved Principal A.M.
At the Dec. 26, 1918 Annual School Board meeting the                                          Woodley resigned in 1926
issue of building a brand new school building was raised.     after 17 years,  Mr. Fred Schnick  followed as Principal of
World War 1 had just ended and the citizens felt that plans   the  High School  students and  Mr.  L.B. Hyde was hired as
could now be put into action.                                 Principal of the elementary  students   from 1927 -1939.

Teachers & Salaries were posted:                               The two levels of education now parted in 1927 with the
                                                               opening of another new school at the north end of the vil-
PrincipaI A.M.WOODLEY          $1900.00                        lage.
Miss Houser 			                 $ 900.00
Miss Disher 			                 $ 800.00                       Ridgeway Continuation (High) School
Miss Robb 			                   $ 700.00
Teachers in the lower rooms $600.00 each per annum.            The Trustees had previously purchased a 10 acre parcel
                                                               of land on the east side of Ridge Rd. from W.G. Willson,
The School had been closed for a period of time in 1918        for $7,500. A special ratepayers meeting was called for the
due to the outbreak of the Influenza Epidemic. The Dec.        School Section to pass a request for $132,000 to the Bertie
31, 1919 Annual Meeting was held at 10 a.m. in the School.     Township Council May 1927, for the new school. The new
                                                               12 room red brick school was designed by the Province’s
“This being one of the most enthusiastic meetings held in      leading school architect, S.B. Coon and Son, Toronto.
years.” Reports were given about a NEW school that was         Avery Shipp Co. tendered to build the school for $99,600
slated to start in 1920. A. Collard and Geo. Mann were the     (possibly $96,100 – source documents are not in agree-
new Trustees for the year. Land had been purchased at the      ment). The school now boasted 8 classrooms, teacher’s
south end of the village, where the Ridgeway Public School     room, corridors, laboratory, auditorium 40’ X 70’ and a
is today. The west side of Ridge Rd. was purchased from        gymnasium.
the Jackson Farm.
                                                               Admittedly, this building offered fewer facilities than the
M.S. Pound recorded in the minutes: “I was pleased to see      city High Schools of the same period. It did not include
the turnout, as I’ve been making reports for years and there   Domestic Science and Manual Training. These areas were
was hardly a “Corporal’s guard” to hear.”                      equipped at a later time.

                                                               The wooden floor gymnasium played host to many cham-
                                                               pionship teams over the many years. The Auditorium
                                                               was well used by students for a variety of events The high
                                                               School Literary Society held an Entertainment Night, Ora-
                                                               torical Contests, Dramas, Musicals, Fashion Shows, School
                                                               Dances and Graduation Programs, etc.

1942-1947 During these years bills were presented to the
                                                                 Board from the Erie Coach Lines for school bus transporta-
                                                                 tion for $62.50 and $87.50. During the Second World War
                                                                 years, teacher R.M. Disher had his students write “newsy”
                                                                 letters to former High School graduates who were serving

                                                                 The student body remained around 100 students during
                                                                 these years.

                                                                 Unqualified Teachers

                                                                 The Provincial Dept. of Education issued a bulletin that
                                                                 stated if the Board was using any unqualified teachers, (es-
                                                                 pecially during the war years), they were asked to advertise
                                                                 these positions before May 15th, 1948. If there were no
                                                                 applications, then unqualified teachers could be hired.

                                                                 Changes In The 1950’s

                 Current RCBHS Building                          The first change happened in the old gymnasium. The old
                                                                 original wooden floor, laid on wooden stringers, had been
                                                                 replaced because of rotted stringers. A cement pad was
New Name -                                                       poured and a tile surface was installed. The tiles were cut
Ridgeway and Crystal Beach High School                           for all the sports lines and the school crest was placed in
                                                                 the centre circle. By 1954 letters of complaint were being
The Inspector, Mr. Mills, advised a change in status and         sent to the company that had laid the tile, FIint Kote Co.
after due process, a by-law created the Ridgeway and             Toronto. Some areas were lifting, but the Company passed
Crystal Beach High School, Jan. 1, 1930. This also pro-          the blame to the installers of the cement pad.
vided for Senior Matriculation courses to be offered for a 5th
(Grade 13) year of schooling.                                    A letter on file from the Dept. of Education gave a list of
                                                                 names of teachers who the School Board was not to hire.
A new High School Board was elected which included: M.I.         Un-qualified teachers could be hired with a letter of permis-
Beeshy chairman, Dr. W.R. Stackhouse, Ruby Sherk, Albert         sion.
Yaeck, M.S. Pound Secretary, and the Crystal Beach Coun-
cil appointed Mrs. C. Sheppard. There were 103 students,         The Auditorium with a stage at one end was rented out to
Principal Schnick and teachers G. Grant, Olive Hibbard,          community groups, such as the Volunteer Fire Dept. who
and Olive Culp.                                                  conducted a St. John’s Ambulance Course.

Music Music Music 1938                                           A 1954 letter from the Crystal Beach Council protested the
                                                                 Ridgeway High School Requisition. This may have had
At a 1938 School Board meeting it was moved that Mrs.            something to do with talks with the other School Boards
McCaulley be asked to teach music the following year.            about merging the School Districts. The local newspaper
Mrs. McCaulley taught Grade 9 music and 20 of her                writes that talks had been ongoing for 6 years.
students sang a number prior to the High School students
performing “Here Comes Charlie” in 1939.
                                                                 1955 Bertie District High School Board
Bills presented to the Board were for typewriters, sewing
machines, tools and equipment, wood, etc. for Manual             During 1954 the Fort Erie, Bertie and Crystal Beach Town
Training.                                                        Councils had to give their approval, before the motion was
                                                                 sent on to WeIland County Council and then on to the Dept.
1938 – The High School Board met with the S.S.#11 Public         of Education in Toronto.
School Board about bus transportation to bring Crystal
Beach students to the Ridgeway Schools, when it deemed           “To dissolve the Fort Erie High School District
necessary.                                                       To dissolve the Ridgeway Crystal Beach High School

To create a new High School District comprising Fort Erie,        1984 RCBHS Reunion
Ridgeway and Crystal Beach, with or without Stevensville.”
Stevensville Continuation School ratepayers meeting               The reunion was held in July, 1984, with an open house at
turned down being included. However, Stevensville School          the school, a parade down Ridge Rd. from the school, an
did close in time and the students attended Ridgeway or           Oldtimers Basketball game and other events at the West
Fort Erie Schools.                                                End Arena. The reunion was ably chaired by Paul Kassey
                                                                  and honoured some of the much loved and respected
Upon Provincial approval, the new Bertie District High            teachers of earlier years. These included R.M. Disher, Eila
School Board was at the helm in 1955. The new Board               Lawson, Olive Quinlan and Wilfred Landon. Students cher-
gave a fairer distribution of the student population and a        ished fond memories of teacher-then Principal R.M. Disher,
more equitable use of financial and educational resources.        home economics teacher Eila Lawson, commercial teacher
Ridgeway Crystal Beach High remained the academic-                Olive Quinlan and shop teacher W. Landon. How those
focused School while Fort Erie Secondary expanded their           typing classes have paid off in this computer internet world
vocational and technical courses.                                 today. Seven students were placed in the School’s Sports
                                                                  Hall of Fame at that time.
Renovations and additions followed over the next several
years.                                                            Pride Field
1956 First Came The Cafeteria                                     Pride Field offers a new dimension to Track and Field
                                                                  events all across the new District School Board of Niagara.
The cafeteria and lunch room addition was built on the            Schools from Lincoln and Niagara compete on this field.
south side over the “BOYS” entrance.                              Pride Field was constructed in 1989, out of a new surface
                                                                  technology. The Crystal Beach Kinsman Club spear-head-
In 1960 – an addition was built on the north side over the        ed the project along with many donors, including the profits
“GIRLS” entrance.                                                 from the 1984 reunion.

This addition included administrative offices, Industrial Arts,   School Honours For R.C.B.H.S.
Home Economics, Library, and more classrooms.
                                                                  Single individuals and sports teams have won many hon-
In 1966 – a new large Physical Education Complex with a           ours and awards over the years, since 1927. Some early
gymnasium was added to the east and north side, along             winners were the girl’s basketball team coached by Kay
with more classrooms and new Science Laboratories.                Teal (wife of former Mayor Jack Teal.) The team won the
                                                                  ALL ONTARIO BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP in 1940
Grade 13 was discontinued at Ridgeway. Students went to           and again in 1941 in Toronto.
Fort Erie for their 5th year.
                                                                  In 1950, the boy’s volleyball team won the ALL ONTARIO
1970 And The Niagara South                                        VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP in Hamilton. The team did
Board Of Education                                                this twice under the coaching of science teacher, Spencer
                                                                  Perry. In the early years some sports teams were coached
All elementary and high schools came under this new               by volunteers from the community. Some of these were Ida
Board.                                                            Newman, Hazel Carter and Marvin Baker.

In 1973 another addition was built on the south and east          Joan Teal Fonfara taught girls Physical education from
side of the building. This wing included classrooms for           1962 -1967. Joan had a very successful career under a
teaching typing and accounting and a new Library. The old         special accreditation at Ridgeway, WeIland and Fort Erie
Library became a Science Laboratory while the old typing          High Schools. This was followed by 15 years of supply
room was used to enlarge the administrative and guidance          teaching in all subjects at Ridgeway and Fort Erie High
offices. The project cost $187,000.                               Schools.

The School now boasted 537 students with a staff of 31 in

And to think it all started back in 1908-1909 with 30+ pupils
and two teachers.

Plays! Dramas! Musicals!                                        District School Board Of Niagara

These three have played on “Stage” at the School for many       Today’s students are offered a wide variety of programs
years. One of the early plays was “Here Comes Charlie”,         from which to choose. Among the regular courses offered
under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Demont of Crystal     are studies in the multi-purpose art complex, communica-
Beach in 1939.                                                  tions technology, family studies programs, cooperative
                                                                education and media technology.
The Demonts brought their theatrical experience as vol-
unteers. Miss M.E. McLaren from the High School staff           The addition of Pride field offers a new dimension to the
assisted.                                                       physical education program. The new media technology
                                                                room boasts $200,000 - $300,000 sound boards, high defi-
School plays were performed yearly, by the students under       nition cameras, microphone servers and computers, as well
the leadership of the English Dept. teachers, in the 1940’s     as all the equipment to run a radio station, TV broadcast
and 1950’s. Teachers Gord Brown and Ken Gibbons were            and video recordings.
instrumental in directing student musical productions for
many years. These musicals were complete with student           Principals have been:
pianists and student percussion accompanists.                           Mr. A.M. Woodley         1909 -1926
                                                                        Mr. F.W. Schnick         1926 -1929
In 1981, a group of students wished to perform “Godspell”               Mr. G.S. Grant 		        1929 - 1944
but lacked teacher or School Board support, so they formed              Mr. R.M. Disher          1944 - 1962
the “Fort Erie Theatre Co” themselves. They acquired a                  Mr. A.M. Chapman         1962 - 1963
loan from the Ridgeway Lions Club and performed “God-                   Mr. D.P. Fox 		          1963 - 1968
spell” for three nights in June of 1981. They were also able            Mr. P. Tritchew 		       1968 - 1989
to pay back the Lions Club loan.                                        Mr. G.R. Morrissey       1989 - 1995
                                                                        Mr. P. Bolger 		         1995 - 1999
During the past four years the School Drama Club , under                Ms. H.M. Campbell        1999 - 2007
the leadership of teacher Jack Wieler, have brought home                Mr. L. Vescio 		         2007 - present
the “Gold” from entering the Sears Niagara District Drama
Festival. In 2007 their production was Eugene Ionesco’s         I hope you have enjoyed leaning SOME of the history
“The Lesson”. They performed “Seneca’s Oedipus” in              of our schools, Continuation and High Schools, and will
2008 and most recently an original adaptation of Euripedes’     celebrate with us in the 100th Anniversary of excellence in
“The Trojan Women” in 2009. Individually, student Lindsey       education in Ridgeway and Crystal Beach.
Middleton brought home two top awards for “Excellence in
Acting” and the “Avid Pursuer of Excellence” awards,            Beverley Dell Jewson Class of 1951


Original S.S.#11 Bertie Minute Books 1844 – 1950’s
District School Board of Niagara with special thanks to Irene Foster

Fort Erie Historical Museum.·Archive Dept.
Many Voices, A Collective History of Greater Fort Erie I and II History of S.S. No. 11 Bertie. Special thanks to Jude Scott,
Sharon Dell, and Jane Davies.

Niagara Regional Library - History of Some Secondary Schools in Niagara Peninsula - 1976
History of Ridgeway Crystal Beach High School

Louis McDermott Files: Schools in the Fort Erie District

“Robbie” by R.M.Disher – interior description of School #11 building

Pursuing Higher Education – Going to Secondary School in Ontario 1800 - 1930 Parks Canada Research Bulletin # 219
by Dana Johnson

High Schools in Canada - Marianopolis College Publication

Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School History 1927-1968
From 1968 Student Program Handout


              The undersigned Trustees of School Section Number Eleven in the Township of Bertie, as
           authorized by the Public Schools Act, hereby give notice that a special meeting of the supporters of
           the Public School in said School Section will be held at the

                                        TOWNSHIP HALL, VILLAGE OF RIDGEWAY
                                         THURSDAY, THE 12TH DAY OF MAY 1927

           at the hour of 8:00 in the afternoon for the transaction of the following business:

               For considering, and if deemed advisable, sanctioning the proposal of the Trustees to apply to
           the council of the Township of Bertie to provide, by the issue of debentures a sufficient amount, not
           to exceed ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS ($132,000) for the purpose
           of erecting a Continuation School Building and furnishing the same. Also pay for the site already

           Dated this 4th day of May - 1927
           W.G. Athoe, Jas. Truckenbrodt, Frank Millington, TRUSTEES

So read the notice which was posted around School Section 11 of the Township of Bertie. Eighty ratepayers attended
the meeting of whom 47 voted for the school and 7 voted against it. The property had already been purchased from Mr.
W.G. Willson after a similar meeting of the ratepayers on March 8, 1927 authorized buying the 10 acre site at a cost of

On June 24, 1927, the tender of Avery Shipp Construction Company was accepted for $96,100. less plumbing, heating
and certain alterations. S.B. Coon & Son were the architects. Mr. M.S. Pound was Secretary-Treasurer of the Board of

This new school was not the beginning of High School work in Ridgeway. The minutes of the annual meeting of the rate-
payers, December 31, 1919, report “The Continuation School has been in operation eleven years and 40 pupils passed in
1919. Teachers in 1919 were Mr. A.M. Woodley, Principal; and Miss Evelyn Houser.”

Classes in 1919 were still using the old Public School (now the Masonic Building) and the move to the present Public
School Building came in 1921. In January 1922, a third teacher was added to the Continuation School Staff.

An interesting motion at the December, 31, 1919 meeting is recorded: “This annual meeting is not opposed to the incor-
poration of the police village of Crystal Beach --- into a town, only in so far as it will affect this S.S. and the trustees are
hereby instructed to engage legal counsel to see that suitable clause is inserted in the Bill to prevent a division of the S.S.”

The three S.S. 11 trustees with their secretary, Mr. Pound, continued to administer the Public and Continuation Schools.
$13,500 more was needed above the tendered price for the new school in 1921. And the annual meeting listed the total
cost at $127,377.90. By December, 1923 “He figured it cost $5000 to conduct the Continuation School, which is offset by
Grants from County $4,500, Province $770 and township $1,400. By July of 1925 the cost reported was $10,964.55, and
there were 75 students.”

Mr. A. M. Woodley resigned in 1926 and Mr. F.W. Schnick became Principal. Hired at $2,500 per annum, he was given
$3,000 by November. The same year a fourth teacher was hired and some commercial subjects were taught. Teachers
must have been in good supply in contrast with 1966. When Mr. Woodley left there were 100 applicants for the Principal-

Two rooms were added to the school in 1925. But the Public School was soon crowded again and the notice which be-
gins this story was posted. In 1927 the trustees of S.S. 11 Bertie held 27 meetings, and 3 special meetings. The Sec-
retary’s salary this year was $250 and he was given an extra $50 for taking care of accounts for the construction of the
new Continuation School Building. The school was not completed by the contracted date of December 15 and damages
claimed by the Board were $1,441.82.

Some prices are of interest. The Janitor, Mr. Win. Moore was paid $1,500 per year. 300 chairs ordered for the auditorium
were quoted at $2.00 each. Teachers’ chairs cost $5.60. The Chickering Piano was $156.75. New gymnasium equip-
ment was $818. In February of 1928 the Red Bus Line was paid $50 a month from February 1st to April 30th to transport
Crystal Beach students to the Public and Continuation Schools. In the fall the cost had risen to $80 per month from No-
vember 1st to April 30th. The Principal received $3,000, in 1923, there were 103 students and the mill rate for the Continua-
tion School was 16 mills.

In January, 1929, Mr. Mills, the Continuation School Inspector advised the School Board to apply to the Minister of Edu-
cation “to pass such enabling legislation that will permit us to become a High School District.” A Special School Meeting
of the ratepayers, called for Wednesday, April 17, 1929, was informed that the Legislature of the Province of Ontario had
given approval for the County Council of the County of WeIland to pass a By-Law making School Section No. 11 in the
Township of Bertie as now constituted a High School District. The meeting passed a resolution asking for such action. In
May the Board of Trustees of S.S. No. 11 passed the motion requesting The County Council to pass the By Law “and that
the name: be known as the Ridgeway and Crystal Beach High School.” January 1st, 1930, was the date of Change.

Mr. Gerald S. Grant was made Principal in September, 1929. The first Board Members were: Dr. W.R. Stackhouse, ap-
pointed by the Bertie Township Council for two years, and Mrs. Ward Sherk for one year; Mr. M.I. Beeshy appointed by
WeIland County Council for three years, Mr. Martin Strauch for two years, and Mr. Albert Yaeck for one year; Mrs. Mabel
Shepard appointed by Crystal Beach for two years. Mr. M.I. Beeshy was the first Chairman, Mr. Albert Yaeck served con-
tinuously until January 1st 1955, when the Bertie District High School Board was formed.

Mr. Grant was on the staff from 1925 until 1944 and Mr. Disher from 1933 to 1962.

Residents of the area are familiar with the more recent building since the local high school and Fort Erie High School were
united to form the Bertie High School District on January 1st, 1955.

The cafeteria was built in 1956. It has been enlarged twice. Then in 1960 in the first large addition to the north included
offices, and Industrial Arts and a Home Economics room, a library classroom, other classrooms and basement changes.

The rooms completed in 1966 were two modern science ,laboratories and classrooms. This September, 550 students
were registered.

Many changes have taken place as the student body grew from 103 in December, 1928 to 550 in September of 1968.
Forty years of use have left their marks on the original building.

Throughout the twelve years the Bertie District High School Board was in existence, a regular plan of renovation was car-
ried out. The first major task was to re-point the bricks in the entire structure, one wall each year. Until, all were complet-
ed, three class-rooms a year were re-decorated and new lights and tile floors installed. Adequate lighting in the gymna-
sium and the auditorium were necessary. The heating plant was rebuilt to serve the enlarged school, but old ducts and
controls remain in the central building. The annual budgets just could not include new plumbing in the old washrooms,
and the private rooms for the Principal and his staff of three teachers in 1928 are overcrowded in 1966 with a teaching
staff of 27.

That auditorium has had the expected use, school assemblies, public meetings, dramas, dances,’ examination writing.
But it has also been used for several years as a second gymnasium. Another gymnasium was now a necessity. So, in
1966, the Board appealed to the Councils of the three municipalities in the High School District - Bertie, Crystal Beach,
Fort Erie - for a debenture issue sufficiently large to build another gymnasium with change rooms, and to reconstruct the
old building, tearing out old plumbing and heating ducts and drafty windows, and providing new teachers rooms. The esti-
mated cost is $385,000.

This has been a story of buildings as seen by a trustee. This is not a story of achievements of hundreds of students who
have been helped to develop their capabilities under the instruction of many fine teachers, and some poor ones. The
student-teacher story can never be told in detail. But it is well known that graduates of the Continuation School of S.S. No.
11 Bertie and of Ridgeway and Crystal Beach High School have taken and are taking, a prominent place in the agricul-
tural) industrial and professional life of Canada. And the Grade XIII results in our High School in 1968 were excellent,with
100% of the papers passed and three students were Ontario Scholars. Some of our athletes are among the winners lo-
cally, in-the province and in the nation.

The Chairman of the Toronto City Board of Education neatly summarized what it means to be a part of education today:

“to be involved in education today is like racing a canoe through white water. It is exciting, exhilarating and challenging.
No one really knows what lies ahead.

One can boldly predict the future in education only to find that many of the predictions have already come to pass before
they are even in print.”

In September, 1968, Mr. P. Tritchew, B.A., became Principal of the Ridgeway Crystal Beach High School. Mr. D.F. Brack-
en was appointed Vice Principal by the Peace Bridge District Board of Education.

The school year 1968-69 will see 550 students registered at the High School.

Aims Of The School

The School tries to provide:

1. Opportunities for personal development, and for acquiring information and skills which should lead to greater enjoy-
   ment of life and to better citizenship.
2. Opportunities to acquire knowledge and develop skills, abilities, and work habits which will help at institutions of
   higher education, in obtaining a job, and in making progress in the world of work.
3. Opportunities to make new friends and to learn how to get along well and work with other people.
4. Opportunities to explore fields of interest, to gain experience in making sound decisions and to begin the development
   of suitable plans for the future.
5. An overall atmosphere in which students of the Ridgeway-Crystal Beach High School can develop their personal
   goals in life as well as acquire that level of education which will enable them to pursue their educational and voca-
   tional goals in the future.

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