From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall


February 1994

By Dr. Bill Randall 

Written this month by Jocelean Swan Hall.

The Building of the “Swamp Schoolhouse”

In 1937, at the time of Harvey’s centennial celebration, the Daily Gleaner copied a few news items which had been printed in their newspaper during the year 1887, when Harvey was fifty years old. One of the items was: “The school at the “Swamp” is nearing completion, a large force of men were at work on Saturday fencing in the grounds with wire.”

My great grandfather, Henry (Harry) Swan, 1843-1928, had the contract to build the school. Harry with his wife Jane Piercy and their children lived on Lot 17,(land granted to George Davidson) with George Davidson who at that time was an old man. Harry was a farmer, a carpenter and a woodsman. Harry provided the land for the school, built the foundation and provided all the lumber, made all doors and windows, made the shingles, etc., and he received $500 for the contract. (The school is now Henry James electrical and TV repair shop.)

Specifications for the school building are contained in a handwritten document, signed by George Mowatt. The document has been copied below, with spelling as it appeared except for the word “floor” which was spelled “flour”.

“Stone wall 36 by 22 ft. The wall to be put down to the solid rock and to be built of stone and lime. It is to be 18 inches from the surface of the ground. It is to be 2 ft at the bottom and narrowed to 18 inches at the top and there is to be a row of cut stone 1 foot thick all around next to the sill and there is to be 2 stone butments built under sill and chimney, 2 air holes 6 inches square to be left in the wall. The cundy is to be put under the wall the lowest place of the rock and the drain is to be level.

Frame: 6 Spruce. Sills 8 inches square. Sleepers not to be more than two feet apart over the whole bottom of building. Sleepers not less than 4 x 6 inches and to be put into sill not less than 4 inches. Frame to be sawed Spruce. Studding to be 2 x 4. Beams 2 x 6 and to be braced in the centre. Studding not to be more than 16 inches apart. Rafters to be 2 x 4 and 2 feet apart. Collar beam in every other rafter square pitch. The whole building to be well spiked and nailed with steel nails. Boards sound hemlock or spruce. Shingled all around with cedar shingles 4 inches to the weather. Shingles first quality for roof and second for walls to be clear of nots 6 inches at buts of shingles. Tar paper all over solid. Two coats of white paint on the sides and ends. One coat of fire proof paint on the roof. Chimney to be built 3 feet below ceiling up to 4 feet above ridge board to be made of hard brick on the outside. Six bricks to form chimney. It is to be well zinced. Doors Panneled, size 2 feet 8 inches wide and 6i feet long l inches thick. Locks and knobs on all doors. There is to be five of them and they are to be raised panneled. Floor: Spruce planed, 1 inch thick not more than 6 inches wide. To be dry board. It is to be double boarded and the seams well broke. Lathed and plastered and putty coat smothe finished. Walls to be plastered from ceiling to floor. Walls to be wainscoted 3 feet high up to windows up and down all around also halls and classroom with narrow tongued groved bedded boards with rail on top in line with window board based all around bottom 6 in. wide railing around the top 2 inches wide. To be pine. Windows and door fasings to be 5 inches inside. Planed. Window sills to be not less than 2 in. plank. Corner boards and fasings to be 6 in. and well zinced at tops of all fasings outside. Projection to be straight 13 inches wide all around. Window in the end upstairs. 1 double window in classroom. Ridge board 6 inches. Trap door to the garret in classroom 3 x 2 feet with cover.

Projection and all fasings inside and out to be sound dry pine. Outside door sills to be hardwood. Blackboard across the west end to be put above wainscoting three feet. To be made of eurka or rival liquid. Slating or other suitable blackboard surface. Size of windows 8 lights glass 10 x 16.5 windows in each side. 2 holes in chimney for pipes 1 in classroom. Base above blackboard 3 inches wide beaded as a finish for blackboard. 4 pieces in each hall bedded large clothes hooks. Platform across the front end 5 feet wide of 1i plank with suitable steps. To be painted inside with two coats of suitable paint. 12 feet clear from floor to ceiling.

Building to be finished by July 31st 1887. Paid in full on or about Oct

20th 1887. (signed) George Mowatt”

A page from an old school “Register of Attendance” for the Manners Sutton School (or Swamp School, as it was often called), District No. 4, for January 1891 listed 49 students attending school that term. The page listing the ages of the students did not survive the passage of time, however from the

1891 Census for Manners Sutton, we were able to add ages for many. The students were:
1. M. Ethel Carmichael10 yr.26. Ella Hayyr.
2. Annie Carmichael627. Agnes Moffitt10
3. Hugh McLean628. Eva Moffitt8
4. Ernest Swan829. Willie Moffitt5
5. Robbie Coburn830. Eddie Moffitt
6. Gertie McCulloch1431. Irvine Moffitt8
7. Harry McCulloch732. Alberta Embleton10
8. Eddie Swan633. Lenna Embleton
9. Wilbert Swan1234. Manzer Embleton5
10. Russel Swan935. Eva May Speedy7
11. Louisa M. Gill836. Mary Speedy5
12. Mary W. Gill737. Annie May Hay9
13. Maggie Briggs938. Nelson Speedy10
14. Robbie Dorcas439. Addie Hay
15. Mary Coburn740. Freddie Hay
16. Louis Coburn1041. Lizzie Coburn12
17. Rena McCulloch1242. Albert Hay11
18. Lottie Briggs543. Wilbert Moffitt
19. Daisy McCulloch544. Lavina Embleton12
20. Minnie Coburn1045. Howard Burrell(13?)
21. Andy McCulloch946. Mabel Mowatt12
22. Wilbert Coburn1247. Garfield Nesbitt10
23. Lizzie Swan1048. Edgar Coburn
24. Russell Swan849. Ethel Hay12
25. Harry Swan6

The name of the teacher for 1891 was not included with the students names. However, we do have the names of some of the teachers for some of the years between 1906 and 1931, which are listed below with the number of students registered.

?   26students         Aug   1906/Dec  1906

Alice Fraser31 studentsJan1907/Jun1907
Annie S. McGeachy27 studentsJan1908/Dec1908
Beatrice E. Mitchell21 studentsJan1909/Dec1909
E. Lillian Russell20 studentsJan1911/
Ella M. Manzer21 students/Jun1912
Olive I. Craig25 studentsAug1918/Dec1918

(school closed 5 weeks – Oct 14 to Nov 18 to check Influenza)

Olive I. Craig 33 students Feb 5, 1919/Jun 1919
(School closed all January to check spread of Influenza)

Annie Anderson 25 students Aug 1920/

Annie Anderson 29 students Jan 1921/Jun 1921

(Annie Anderson also taught year ending June 1922)

Lillian A. Noble 24 students Aug 1922/Jun 1923

Annie Anderson 28 students Aug 1925/Jun 1926

(Annie Anderson also taught years ending June 1927 and June 1928)

Gertrude Maxwell 26 students Sep 1929

Kathleen E. Bell 31 students Jan 1930/Jun 1930

Kathleen E. Bell 27 students Sep 1930/Jun 1931

This school played a role in the lives of four generations of my family — built by my great grandfather Harry Swan, and attended by my grandfather Matt, father Clarence, and my two brothers, sister and me.

The building was used as a school from 1887 to 1965, when the Harvey Elementary School was built. When its usefulness as a school was no longer needed it was sold to Henry James, who uses the building as an electrical and TV repair shop. And after the passage of over 106 years, approximately 78 of these years used as a school, the building is still standing in 1994, a tribute to the craftsmanship of the builders!

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: