Camborne Ont. One Room School


This post is about the history of the little one room school house, Camborne SS 10 ½. I have included some memories of the Ranger who lived next door and attended classes here for eight years (1952-1959). Although it has been nearly sixty years, some memories are a bit dim but others seem like just yesterday.The first school was built here in 1851 by the involvement and on land owned by William Hore, a prominent pail/saw and grist mill owner and founder of Spring Mills (Camborne). See post: Camborne Ontario Ghost Mills, October 22, 2015. This school was a wooden structure facing east on the old Cobourg-Gore’s Landing Plank Road now known as Northumberland County Rd. 18.

In 1842 the south half of Hamilton Township was divided into 11 school sections and the parents paid for education according to the number of children attending. These school sections were :


SS 9: Stotts School, Baltimore, Leach & Race Track Road, still in use as a private residence. SS 10: Dale Road at Precious Corners. SS 10 ½: Camborne, on what is now Albert’s Alley. Replaced by a new school on Kennedy Road in 1961. SS 11: Stone, located on Minifie Road (6th Line) east of Coldsprings. SS 12: Coldsprings, south of the United Church on County Road # 18. Now a new private residence. SS 13: Glourourim on the Branch Road, now Kennedy Road. Now a private residence. SS 14: Bethal Grove, located on Vic Lightle Road between Hamilton Twp. 5th & 6th Line. Now a private residence. SS 15: Sackville, Bewdley, Swamp Road (Cavan). Now a private residence. SS 16: Plainville at the corner of County Road #9 and #18, now a tennis court and a French- fry trailer location. SS 17: Westington (Walkers), Oak Ridges & Sully Road. Now a private residence. SS 18: Harwood, Old School House Road.

Ranger’s Grandnieces 2016

By 1846 Reverend Egerton Ryerson (the founder of Victoria College in Cobourg) and now the Superintendent of Education introduced local property assessment to finance all public school education.   The following quote is in regards to the first teacher of SS 10 ½, John S. Snelgrove.

“We the undersigned Trustees of School Section No. 10 ½ in the Township of Hamilton by virtue of the authority vested in us by the eighth clause of the twenty-seventh section of the Upper Canada Consolidated Common School Act have chosen John S. Snelgrove to be a Teacher in said School Section and we hereby contract with the said Teacher at the rate of Two hundred & forty dollars per annum from and after the first day of January 1864. The said sum to be paid on it not before, the second Monday in January, 1865. And the said Teacher hereby binds himself to conduct the said School according to the said School Act. This agreement shall continue in force for one year from the first day of January, 1864, provided that either party may at any time terminate it by giving one month’s notice to the other. This agreement shall include all legal holidays & vacations, prescribed under authority of the said School Act”.

All teachers had to follow a similar course of study for all eight grades prescribed by the Ontario Ministry of Education. Teachers had little opportunity for Professional Development Days and would prepare lessons on the blackboard for each grade. Students were expected to do their assignments on their own with little discussion allowed. However, this did give the students the ability to learn “above their grade”. A Provincial Inspector attended the schools yearly to check the register, ensure there were minimum teaching resources and the schools were in adequate condition. He might ask the students to read and ask them questions. Each year, the school would experience a ‘student or practice’ teacher for a couple of weeks so they could complete their teaching qualifications. These teachers almost always boarded at the Grieve home across the road from the school.


By 1869, the building was considered unfit and the school trustees bought a hall owned by The Son’s of Temperance, Cambourne Division located next door. The original school was then torn down and part of it was used in a barn construction across the street from it. The Temperance Hall at one time was also used for a Sunday school and for community gatherings.  In 1895 this hall was demolished and the present one room school was built, now facing south on Mill Street (Albert’s Alley).

In 1950, under the leadership of the teacher Mrs. Ted Lacey, the students and ratepayers made such a vast improvement in the appearance of the building and grounds that Camborne School SS 10 ½ was awarded the first prize in the Provincial School Improvement Contest. It was at about this time the school had been renovated and clad in red insulbrick. In 1961 a new five room school was built on Kennedy Road on land purchased from George Ford and SS 10 ½ was closed as a school. For many years the former school was kept open for a number of uses including a nursery school. After being empty since 1992 the school was renovated in 1995 and was brought back to its original 1895 appearance. Camborne SS 10 ½ is the last one school in Northumberland County that remains open to the public for tours, social and community events.


An interesting fact of SS 10 ½: During the mid-1950’s, because of shrinking enrollments Stott’s and Stone schools were closed. These students were bussed to Camborne. Certain grades were then shuffled to Coldsprings and Glouourim to maintain maximum pupils and fewer grades at these schools with declining enrolments.

The Ranger remembers some of the recess entertainments such as baseball, hopscotch and tag but mostly the more unusual games. There was “Ollie, Ollie Over”, the object here was to throw a ball over the school roof yelling ‘ollie, ollie over’. If the ball was caught by a student on the opposite side of the roof, he would sneak around the school attempting to tag as many of the opposing team members as possible with the ball. Tagged kids are captured and become members of his team. Teams change sides each time the ball is caught. A dropped ball meant that player had to join his opposing team. The team capturing the most players wins.


Another game was called Red Rover. Two lines are formed about twenty feet apart by students tightly holding hands. One line’s captain would call “red rover, red rover, I call ‘Johnny’ to come over”. ‘Johnny’ would run across the open space trying to break through the opposing line. Failure to do so meant he had to join their team. The team with the most members captured wins the game. Winter entertainment included snowball fights and building forts and tunnels in the always reliable massive snow drifts along the cedar hedge at the north end of the yard. Being such an ‘introvert’, the Ranger always dreaded that mandatory participation in the yearly Christmas concerts put on for our parents enjoyment.

I also have vivid memories of the large woodshed building behind the school. We students took turns bringing in the day’s supply of firewood for the old potbelly stove at the front of the classroom and carried out the ashes daily. Many a student would bring a foil wrapped potato, deposit it on top of the stove and voila, a hot baked potato for lunch! Water had to be obtained from the well by an old hand-pump. Depending on if we were ‘brown-nosing’ or being punished (honest, I never experienced that dreaded strap!) we got to clean the blackboard brushes at the end of the day.

Regards, Ranger.


  1. Peggy Graham · · Reply

    In 1964 and 1965 this school was used by grades three and four, taught by Christina Elliott from Welcome. She was an amazing but strict teacher. We had student teachers regularly and Mr Nelson, an inspector visited. We were sent there due to overcrowding at the “new” Camborne school. I have lots of memories of her games and classes.


    1. Peggy, thanks for the comment, it is amazing how the “new” school became so over crowded in a few years, fortunately the one room school had been saved and was later used for a kindergarten. My oldest son attended this school and it has been preserved as a community centre for the village.


  2. Sarah Beatty · · Reply

    I attended pre School or JK as its now called in the old school house…..also summer camps were held there as i got alittle older and I remember sneaking into the shed behind the school where us locals had a fort.


    1. Sarah, great memory. I also remember the former woodshed behind the school, many memories of that old building. Ranger.


  3. Beatrice Warren (Lightle) · · Reply

    I attended school at Camborne before moving on to Harwood. I went to the school reunion and enjoyed meeting a lot of my former school mates. Love they way it has been restored and used for different activities. Margaret Lacey was my teacher.


  4. Brenda Audette · · Reply

    I happened upon your website today after a telephone conversation with my Uncle Lex who attended Stott’s School with my Mother, Betty and my Aunt Ruby (family name Bruce) in the 30s. I asked him if the school was still standing and he didn’t know, so I was happy to find your informative site. At one point in time, their parents moved from Cornish Hollow, to another farm which was expropriated for the building of the 401, then to Ontario Street in the 50s (I believe). During this same conversation with my Uncle, I was reminiscing about my grandparents next door neighbours, a young Pat and Carol Doyle, who without fail, treated my younger brother and I to candies (this would have been in the late 50s, early 60s). While I was probably around 8 or 9 years old, I did remember talk of them opening/operating a ski hill. Imagine my surprise to see your article dedicated to their enterprise. I look forward to exploring the rest of your site. Thank you – Brenda


    1. Brenda, thanks for the wonderful comment. Pat and Carol are still living in Camborne in the former ski hill chalet and doing well. I suspect that they would love to hear from you. I still keep in touch with them, they are such a wonderful couple. Their beautiful property was purchased from my father sometime before the Camborne Ski Club closed. I would be pleased to relay this message to them. Pat and Carol were always so generous to all us kids in the neighborhood providing jobs (and skiing) to us all. Thanks again for this comment.


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