19th Century Schools
Early Settlers
Council Projects

From History of Perth County 1825-1902
by William Johnston, published in 1903

As population continued to increase school accommodation became necessary.   This led to a building of logs being erected for school purposes.   Like similar structures in pioneer days, services were held within its walls by all religious denominations.   It frequently happened at these old schools, that as one congregation of worshippers retired another at once took their places, and so the voice of praise was heard from morning until late at night rising up to heaven from these humble places.   In all towns and villages in Perth County the school house only for years was available for public meetings of any kind.   In these old log buildings embryonic statesmen roared in patriotic fervor, pouring out terrific elucidation of the wrongs of their long suffering and misgoverned country.   Here a chairman at social gatherings told his drollest anecdotes, and eulogized the ladies of the locality for their splendid repast, to which all had done ample justice.   This, doubtless, would be true Of all the inconveniences inseparable from pioneer life - and they were many - want of an appetite was not one of them.   When our backwoods orators had ascended the platform, and in a good-natured, homely manner drawn on their stores of broad humour, the old log walls fairly rang with mirth.   Travelling mountebanks, also, for a small contribution to the cause of education, were permitted by trustees to display their tricks of legerdemain to admiring maidens and youths clad in homespun, from back concession lanes, arousing their cupidity by, an exhibition of something marvellous and incomprehensible.   Around these old schools happy memories still linger, and many grey-haired men and women now slowly wandering on in life's sunset shadows, will experience yet a thrill of joy at some happy remembrance of those school days that come back never more.

It was not till 1877 that Listowel did itself justice in providing school accommodation.   When action was taken, it was in no niggardly manner.   During that year was constructed a handsome central school, quite in keeping with that liberality displayed in private residences and other improvements.   This building is of brick, two stories in height, surmounted by a tower, which gives it an imposing effect.   Nine teachers are employed in its several departments at present, with Mr. G. W. Slaughter as principal, his assistants being all females Mr. Benjamin Rothwell, who was first principal in this school, had at one period under his charge 550 pupils, but by some inexplicable reason an increase in inhabitants has been followed by a decrease in school population, the average being now 450.   The original contracts for this school building amounted to $10,000, which, before its final completion, was supplemented by various sums, until it cost nearly $15,000.   A good site was chosen, comprising two acres of land, which has been planted with trees, giving the whole a trim appearance.

In 1879 steps were taken to erect a high school.   $6,000 was set apart for this purpose, but as usual in such enterprises, it had to be supplemented by various sums prior to completion, until over $8,000 had been expended.   The site of this school is equal to that of the central, and was a gift to Listowel by a public-spirited citizen named Peter Lillico.   This building is tasteful and modern in construction, although not so large as the central, nor even quite so imposing.   In this school are three teachers, includlng Mr. W. A. Phillip, the head master.   The average attendance is 110.
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