Scratches, Scribbles, and Sketches: Exploring the Graffiti of the Archives

As long as there has been surfaces we shouldn’t vandalize, there’s been graffiti. Though modern graffiti is often seen as vandalism, historical graffiti, sketches, doodles, and poems can humanize the generations we see in the black and white school photos.

The word graffiti  comes from the Italian word for “scratches”. Here are some examples of scratchings that can be spotted in our schoolhouse!


Limericks and poems found in old school books display the creativity of schoolchildren in Quinte’s past. The examples in our school books are numerous, but here are a few gems:



Doodles in school books may not indicate the most attentive student, but are a fun look at the musings of schoolchildren past. One particular ametuer artist leaves an impressive mark on their notebook:



Has this post influenced your opinion of graffiti? When does vandalism become artwork? We’d love to hear your thoughts!


Are You Smarter Than a 1924 Fifth Grader?

Are you smarter than a 1924 fifth grader? Try these questions out to see!

These questions are taken from the Prince Edward County Promotion Exams, 1924, Entrance to Senior III.


Make the following words mean more than one: child, knife, cargo, piano, alley, ally.

Explain the difference between “You may go, John.” and “You can go, John.”

Correct the following:

He don’t know how to do it.

I ain’t gave none of them away.


State what part of the world each explored: Columbus, Cartier, Raleigh, La Salle, Hudson, McKenzie, Drake.

Why did the Americans declare war against the Canadians in 1812. What part did the following play: Laura Secord, Tecumseh? Name six battles fought in the war of 1812.


Name in order of size the continents of the world.

Name in order from west to east the provinces of Canada.

Name the waters through which a vessel would pass going from Sault Ste. Marie to Kingston, and five ports at which it might call.

What are the following: Andes, Magellan, Florida, New Zealand, Nile, Florida, Sahara, Danube, Thames.

Where in Ontario would the following be obtained: salt, nickel, lumber, peaches, copper?


Mental Work:

26+24+30+5-10+9-6-7= ____

How many gallons in 192 pints?

How many miles in 7040 yards?

If one dozen oranges cost 72 cents, what will 8 dozen cost?

Written Work:

What is the remainder after subtracting 6,398,987 from 40,076,895 four times?

Find the product of the sum and the difference of 69,879 and 68,945.

A man raised 640 bushels of grain. If 1/8 was barley, 1/5 was oats, and 1/10 was corn, and the remainder was wheat how many bushels of wheat did he raise?

A boy bought 8 bushels of hickory nuts at $3.00 a bushel and sold them for 15 cents a quart. What was his loss or gain?

Find the value of a pile of wood 32’ x 8’ at $12.50 a cord.

How did you do? Let us know what you think!

Movers and Quakers – West Lake Boarding School


The West Lake Quakers – 1840

Private school was a popular choice in the mid-19th century, many believing that the quality of public education could be poor. After a donation of £1000 sterling was made to The Society of Friends, a school would be built on Old Danforth Road and opened in 1841.

Through the Society of Friends’ founder George Fox’s preaching to magistrates to “tremble at the word of The Lord.”, the group would become known as the Quakers. The Friends would come to New England in the early 18th century, and would reach the Bay of Quinte and Niagara Peninsula by 1754. By the 1800s, the Quakers would establish meeting houses in Wellington, Fish Lake, Ameliasburgh, and Bloomfield.

West Lake Boarding School’s first two teachers were Mary V. Loag and Joseph H. Haines, the former responsible for the female department, and the latter for the male. Loag would receive a salary of £50 per annum, and Haines would receive £100 per annum.

In the year 1854, West Lake Boarding School would house 110 boarders, and receive 12 day students. A student would likely attend for two years in their teens, becoming educated in religion, mathematics, literature, farming and domestic skills.

The school’s decline would be a result of financial difficulties, competing quaker schools, and a rise in the quality of Egerton Ryerson’s public schools. The school would be sold in 1856, and today only the brick building which contained the girls’ quarters and dining room remains.

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Above: Segments from news concerning the school.

A New Visitor

The Victoria Schoolhouse has a new family visiting this year.  A duck, and her eggs, have camped outside our 1904 schoolhouse and interpretive centre.  We’re assuming they want to be first in line when we open for the season.  If you’re in the Ameliasburgh area, please be careful around our family.  We want to ensure they’re happy and healthy.

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School Inspection – Continued

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The Reverse of the school inspection form illustrates a list of duties for the school trustee, the teacher, and the inspector.

The Trustee’s directions are to make sure that the schoolhouse and furniture are kept in good repair, ensure that the teacher is doing his/her job and using authorized materials, and take the inspector through the school.

The teacher has to oversee the smooth daily running of the schoolhouse.  Upholding the mandates of the community and the trustee were also very important.

Finally, the inspector’s job was to ensure that the students were learning, the teacher was teaching appropriately, the schoolhouse was in good condition and that all materials required were present.  The inspector would then report back to the board on the status of his findings.

School Inspection

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As I’ve never had the pleasure of conducting a modern review of a school, I can only assume that the process is much more detailed now.  We have standardized tests to examine student achievement, teams of custodians to monitor school cleanliness, and multitudes of systems (e.g., electrical, plumbing, HVAC) to maintain.

In 1895, the inspector visited a school in North Marysburgh and determined: the floors were a little dirty, the school needed a map, and the closets needed attention.  The rest was satisfactory.

The cost for a map was $3.75.

It’s difficult to believe that a school inspection was that easy (and a large wall map was that inexpensive).

Attendance Exceptions During W.W. II

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During World War II, the Government of Ontario issued an exception for attendance at schools.  Students who worked on farms were allowed to begin school in October, instead of September.  The students were commended for their work during the war and their contribution to the war effort.  The difficult part for those helpful students would be getting caught up on missed work when they returned to school.

That kind of exception must be difficult for modern students to fathom.  Provincial attendance exceptions never occur.

Community Exhibits Display

Recently, the Quinte Educational Museum and Archives was given the opportunity to put up a display in the Ontario Legislative Assembly.  Our display was part of the Community Exhibits Program, which allows Ontario organizations to showcase some highlights of their organizations.  Our display used some educational artefacts and illustrated who we are as an organization.  Our Member of Provincial Parliament will be notified of our display and some professional photographs will be taken.

If you are near Queen’s Park between now and late November, stop by and take a look at our interesting display!


Teaching Salary in the 1800s

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This note is a request to pay a teacher his salary.  The salary for an entire year is eighty-seven dollars and fifty cents.  Using a rough inflation calculator, it seems that the teacher’s salary would be around $1,989 in modern times.  A modern teacher making that salary would live in dire conditions.  In 1877, the teacher lived with local families and scraped by due to the generosity of the community.

What would we do if this was the case now?  Would our communities be so generous?