he Albert County Chronicle

May 23, 2005

History of Riverside Consolidated School

At the turn of the century, “consolidation” of rural school was an educational movement being promoted all across Canada. By building a large central school with well-educated teachers and better equipment, the children in outlying rural communities would receive the same educational advantages as children who lived in larger centres.

In 1903 New Brunswick passed legislation encouraging the establishment of consolidated schools. The Honourable Abner Reid McClelan, a resident of Riverside who was a former lieutenant-governor of the province provided the thrust to build such a school by donating $5,000 towards its construction. The province paid $1,000 and the remaining $14,000 was paid by local taxpayers.

In July of 1904 construction of the school began on a rise of highland on the left bank of the Shepody River, between the village of Riverside Albert. The architect, Watson Reid of Riverside, supervised the construction of the three story wooden building with its foundation of freestone in Midway and New Ireland.

When Riverside Consolidated opened in September of 1905, 225 students filed through the doors and experienced the most modern facilities available at the time. The school had five departments and staff of seven teachers. The Albert County Grammar school was one department, enabling students to prepare for University Matriculation. The other departments included Household or Domestic Science, manual Training, Agriculture and school Gardening. Everyone was enthusiastic about the potential of the new school and many residents donated equipment and library books.

Although classes began in September 1905, the formal opening ceremony took place June 15, 1906. The New Brunswick Premier Tweedie Chief Superintendent of Education, J.R. Inch and many other officials arrived by way of the steamer “Wilfred C.” at the Riverside Wharf. There they were met by Honourable A.R. McClelan and the drum and bugle of Albert performed.

In the years since 1905 the Riverside Consolidated School has indeed provided a sound education, former students include a Prime Minister of Canada, leaders in all professions and occupations and most importantly – respected community citizens. Many changes to the Riverside-Albert area were a bustling commercial center. However, some things have not changes. The school still stands on the original location, looking mush the same as it did in 1905 and Riverside Consolidated School is still committed to providing the best educational opportunities possible to the students who enter its doors!

On June 12, 1997 a plaque was unveiled that now designated the Riverside Consolidated School as a “historic building”.

The Riverside Consolidated School is New Brunswick’s oldest consolidated school to be still in continuous use.

The Hebron School

Fern McCurdy, a resident of the Kinsmen House in Riverview has fond memories of Hebron School, Hebron, Albert County. In this article, she recalls the school, built in 1882 with clapboard and birchbark insulation. The school building is still there although the last class was held in 1926.
“The first school was built on land owned by Wint Akerley, located across from where the present school now sits. The trustees decided to erect a new school on land owned by James Smith and the original school was sold to Andrew Alcorn who moved it to his property.
The present school building, constructed in 1882 was erected on a stone foundation with clapboards on the exterior over birch bark insulation. The interior finished by John Cannon was plaster over lathes.
The interior was one large room with a wood stove in the center. Two large blackboards were painted on the plastered walls and the teacher’s desk was placed on a raised platform at the rear. The room had four windows one on each side.
The handmade school desks came from the first school and each desk accommodated two children. Gertrude Wilbur, a teacher, organised a social to fund the purchase of new desks. The new desks also held two children and each child had an inkwell and a ridge at the front to prevent books from sliding.
“We bought our own textbooks and used a slate and slate pencil instead of notebooks. School was discontinued in January and February because of inclement weather.
The teachers boarded in various homes owned by the Alcorns, Sinclairs and Hanlons and were paid by a government grant and tax collections. The last teacher, Ellis Wilbur received a salary of $419.00 for the trustees and a grant of $120.00 for the year. Room and board cost $2.00 per week.
The final year of operation, pupil registration was down and it was decided to send the remaining students to school in Alma by horse drawn van. The school, still standing today is on the Sinclair property in Hebron.”