Issue: December 2021
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Next deadline: December 17

UNIACKE SCHOOL - GOING TO SCHOOL IN MOUNT UNIACKE by Larry Rockwell

Reminiscences of an old man (WITH apologies to those still around who may remember things differently) - BY LARRY ROCKWELL

My parents, along with me, came to Mount Uniacke when I was two years old (so I am told). We moved into a house at the end of an alley, which boasted three other residences. The house was a find two room affair, tarpaper clad, facilities and water outside. No electricity. I think the building was used originally to service a nearby sawmill. The mill was gone, but sawdust piles remained. Brother kenny came along and over time improvements were made to the house. It still stands at #29 Old Mines Road. Most of the original building is contained within its walls. The "alley" was originally the start of a narrow wagon road leading to the Uniacke Gold Mines from the railway station, but had been abandoned in favour of better access via the present day Mines Road.

When I was five years old, (I was born December 30, 1938) it was decided I should start school that September. I think there was a policy in place that allowed a child to start school at five years, as long as his/her sixt birthday was before the start of the next calendar year. My birthday is on the penultimate day of the year, so I guess I just got under the wire. The school teacher, Inez MacKenzie, lived next door. She had a son, Donald, who was my age. For the first couple of years we travelled together, on foot. The one room school was just over a mile from myhouse, on the property where house #437 Number 1 Highway now stands. For children living at or near the mouth of the Mines Road, it was judged too far for five or even six year olds to walk, so they started school the next year.

The school was heated by a large wood burning stove loated in the middle of the one room. Students were in grades primer to nine, inclusive. There was a canteen owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Canaham, next door to the school. For ten cents a nice hotdog could be purchased for lunch. My ten cent pieces were few and far between. Facilities were outside. The boy's was not in very good shape. The girls and teacher used a separate establishment which, I understaood, was somewhat better, but I never did see the inside of it. I think there was a well on the property also, but I don't recall ever getting any water from it.

Within a very few years, it was decided there were too many students for the current school so two others were built. One occupied land where the fire hall now stands, and the other was located on Etter Road near the United Church, but on the other side of the road. I attended the fire hall school. One of the teachers was Carrie (Mrs. Tupper) MacLellan. She lived in a house (since torn down) next to the Esso service station. The old school was re-purposed. I have no knowledge as to the history of the old building, but have reason to believe it existed for some time before I darkened its doors.

Before long the two schools became overcrowded, so a third was built. I believe it was built by, and leased as a school from Mr. Ralph Blois, a General Merchant in the village. His store / resident was located at the mouth of what is now the Old Mines Road. This school had grades seven to ten, with the younger grades using the other two schools. The new school was located fairly close to Canaham's canteen, mentioned above, so I suppose they experienced a small uptik in business. The school was eventually converted to a house and stands at #460 Number One Highway. Also at this time, the use of bicycles became more common. A number of students, including me, had them. This allowed me to go home for lunch in three or four minutes, where mum had a meal waiting. Some bicycles were used in earlier years. One day, when I was quite small and attending the old school, Norman Almolky, an older student, kindly offered me a drive to school on the crossbar of his bike. I repaid him by sticking my foot in the spokes of his front wheel. It did a job on my foot (the scar is still visible) and as I remember, on his wheel.

I started grade ten at Mount Uniacke, but for reasons I can no longer remember, transferred to Windsor High School part way through the year. There were no school buses and the only public transportation available was the train. A train left Halifax in the morning early enough to allow students to attend the school. The first class was missed but since there were quite a number of students going this route, the school administration must have made some allowances for that. The student had to pay his/her own way, of course, but the railway had a policy whereby the student could purchase a book of tickets, at a cut rate, valid for a certain time period. The tickets had to be used within that time period, otherwise they became invalid. Students went to Windsor on two trains - one from Halifax and one from Truro - which was supposed to arrive in Windsor in time to make the connection with the train from Halifax. Return trains in the afternoon left Windsor late enough for the students to make the connection home. The train worked well as long as standard time was in effect. On the arrival of daylight saving time, the railroad did not change its schedule. That meant the train was an hour later in the morning, too late for school. That meant I hitch hiked to and from school. When taking the train I was always late for school. When hitch hiking I was on the road early enough that I was seldom, if ever, late. This method of transportation continued for the three years I attended Windsor High School.

LARRY ROCKWELL, Mount Uniacke

Many thanks to Larry for sharing this bit of his own history as well as the history of Mount Uniacke with our readers. It's always a learning pleasure to hear of the "old ways" as our community was growing larger and larger and still continues to grow each and every day. If any of our other readerse would like to share their "history" experiences with our readers, please feel free to get in touch with us and we will do our best to share.