Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Class Reunion: 1895

In 1895, shortly after the relocation of the schoolhouse, there was a reunion of the class of 1842.

 The Berliner Journal, dated September 26, 1895 poignantly commented: “after those present, on hearing the various speeches felt themselves transported back to the past, the school was closed at four o’clock and the pupils were gathered together in front of the school and photographed as a group. On their return into the school, they found it had been transformed into a dining room with heavily laden tables, which the old-timers thoroughly enjoyed. After everyone had chatted cordially for awhile longer, the gathering broke up. The company will not meet again in complete numbers, nor in such a way.”

Monday, 23 July 2012

Moving On: The Log Schoolhouse Relocates For The Last Time

By the 1890’s, a number of factors had contributed to the schoolhouse’s ultimate move to Waterloo Park (where it remains to this day).  As a school, it had outlived its usefulness by 1842, deemed too small to accommodate the growing student enrolment.  As we have discussed, the school (as a building) was moved to its 2nd location near present day KCI where it served its purpose as a family dwelling for the Levi Carroll family.

The communities of Waterloo and Berlin had changed significantly, by the 1890’s, as well. Waterloo was in search of land to develop into a public park and by September 1, 1890 it acquired the 60+ acre Jacob Eby farm. The wheels of progress were definitely in motion.


Photo of what was to become Waterloo Park; c. 1890. Jacob Eby’s farm was considered to be an undeveloped and “rough-looking” expanse that sloped towards a man-made mill pond (what we know today as Silver Lake). For further information see the City of Waterloo website: http://www.city.waterloo.on.ca/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=2735

Needless to say, there was much work to be done in the next few years but, in time, many trees were planted and buildings were built in or re-located to the young park—including the 1820 log schoolhouse.

How it got there is an interesting story in and of itself. Levi Carroll’s wife, the former Margaret Moore Johnston, died in February of 1890 and by Levi’s own account he fell “on hard times” after she passed away. We find that the 1891 census records list Levi, his step-daughter Emiline and her son William as being the only ones still living in the schoolhouse.  Later that year, Levi, Emiline and William enter into the House of Industry—thereby vacating the schoolhouse. In 1893, the Westside Park opened (Waterloo Park).

At this point, I have not yet determined whether there was another tenant in the schoolhouse following Levi’s departure (in 1891) or not, but the Waterloo Park Board purchased it as an empty building in 1894. Discussion had stalled regarding whether to demolish the building or not but Isaac Erb Bowman, a member of the Park Board of Management, strongly advocated to have the school moved to Waterloo Park as a “cultural link with the past” whereby it could serve as a visible icon for the importance of education for the early settlers who built it. (Not yet a hundred years old and it was already being recognized as too valuable to destroy!) Waterloo purchased the building and moved it to the park in 1894.

As I uncover further details, I will update this post—as to who was the owner of the schoolhouse when it was purchased, etc. As to this point, we do know that one man can certainly make a civic difference and a great deal of thanks goes out to Isaac Erb Bowman for helping to preserve the school for future generations. (as stated in my first post, this precious built heritage resource was finally designated on April 23, 2012).