New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Saint John Grammar School

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The following is from Historical Sketch of the Saint John Grammar School From Its Establishment in 1805 to 1884, by John A. Bowes, Saint John, 1885. It is a chronology of events in the history of the school, concentrating on its organization and governance. It appears to be drawn mostly from the minutes of the Board of Directors, and is an excellent source of information.

 Grammar School

The Grammar School at Horsfield and Germain Streets.

From the Saint John High School Web Site


Historical Sketch of the Saint John Grammar School

The year 1884 witnessed an important change in one of the oldest public institutions of St. John. For eighty years the Grammar School had been under the control of a body corporate, known as the President and Directors of the Public Grammar School in the City of St. John. The School Act of 1872, which provided for free public schools in all parts of the Province, while it made the school free did not remove the control of the Grammar School to the St. John Board of School Trustees, the Directors retaining until last year a joint control with the Trustees of Public Schools. At the last session of the Legislature of New Brunswick several important changes were made in the then existing school laws of the province. In one section of the amended act the President and Directors of the Grammar School were instructed to hand over all property held in trust by them for the benefit of the schools to the Trustees of Public Schools for the City of St. John. This transfer was made on November 1, 1884, and was the last official act of the President and Directors of the Public Grammar School of the City of St. John, for, by a previous resolution, they had declined to continue as the honorary managers of the School.

The Foundation of the School

There were among the Loyalist founders of St. John and the province of New Brunswick many men who knew by experience the great benefits derivable from a finished education. They had come from the older colonies where had long been established institutions of learning, of which not a few of the Loyalists were graduates. It is, therefore, not at all remarkable that such men should desire for their sons like advantages, and that among their earliest official acts should be the establishment of a college of learning at the capital of the province, and the institution at their principal city of a public grammar school where would be taught the classics and the higher English branches. By an act of Assembly passed March 5, 1805, less than a quarter of a century after the vanguard of Loyalists reached the shores of the then County of Sunbury, in the Province of Nova Scotia, the St. John Grammar School was established. This act was entitled “An Act for encouraging and extending literature in the province,” but it simply established the St. John Grammar School, placing it under the control of a Board of Directors, of which the rector of Trinity was always to be the President, the Mayor and Recorder of the City being ex officio members of the Board. Besides these three there were six additional Directors. The names mentioned in the act were: Rev. Matthew Byles, D. D., Rector of Trinity; Wm. Campbell, Mayor, and Ward Chipman, Recorder, of St. John; Hon. George Leonard, Jonathan Bliss, William Pagan, John Robinson, John Black and Thomas Wetmore. Powers were given the Board to elect successors, and they had the privilege besides of admitting eight free scholars into the school. They were granted the sum of £100 annually for the ordinary expenses of the school, and £100 additional for the purpose of erecting a suitable school building. The act made the Directors accountable to the Legislature for the proper management of their trust, and stated that when the annual income of the Board should reach the sum of £600 the annual grant of £100 should cease. Such is a brief recital of the powers vested by the Legislature in the President and Directors of the Grammar School. It was a very brief document, but the institution which it established has a long history and has probably fitted more men for the battle of life than any other educational institution in the province. Thousands of young men and boys have left its friendly portals to commence their career in business or professional life. But instead of weakening with age the Grammar School grows stronger as the years roll around, and now when the people of the country are educated at the expense of the property of the country its influence is greater, more widespread and general than at any previous time in its history. Men who look to the St. John Grammar School as their Alma Mater are to be found not alone in St. John, but in every country under the sun. Some are merchants, others lawyers, doctors, mechanics, and in every walk of life. Wherever they go they all cherish pleasant recollections of the time spent in the queer old building which for seventy years stood on the corner of Germain and Horsfield streets.

The School Organized

No time was lost by the Directors in organizing the School after the necessary legislation had been secured. The first meeting was held on March 19, 1805, at which the full Board was present. Ward Chipman, jr., was elected clerk, and Mayor Campbell informed the Board that the Common Council had granted £100 toward the erection of a school building. A resolution of thanks was passed to the Corporation, and Messrs. Bliss, Leonard and Robinson appointed a committee to look up a suitable site for building. The Board met again on March 21st. when this committee reported that the most eligible site was the lot on the corner of King street, north, conveyed by the City Corporation to Trinity Church corporation. A resolution was passed asking the vestry of Trinity Church to grant the land to the school, and Messrs. Leonard, Robinson and Chipman were appointed a committee to procure a plan for a suitable building. Samuel Snider was at this meeting appointed messenger to the Board. On March 30 another meeting was held at which the reply of the vestry of Trinity Church to the petition of the Board was submitted. This communication sets forth that the vestry had met in the City Hall on March 22. The question of a grant to the school had excited great interest, “14 members of Trinity congregation being present” It was stated by the vestry that two of the lots had already been leased and that they had offered lo release the parties and grant a lease to the Directors of the Grammar School at an annual rental of 50 shillings for each lot. There appears to have been considerable opposition to this proposal, as the communication states that eight of those present voted that the lots he leased as proposed, while six voted against it. This proposal was not accepted by the Board of Directors, another and more liberal offer having been made by Thomas Horsfield, one of the largest landowners in the city at that time. Mr. Wetmore, who submitted Mr. Horsfield’s proposal, also handed in a plan of the lot on Germain street which he offered to convey to the Directors. Messrs. Leonard, Robinson and Chipman were appointed a committee “to contract with Mr. Horsfield for the purchase of said lot, unless they shall find upon inquiry that a more convenient lot on the same street can be procured upon better terms.” Messrs. Leonard and Wetmore were also appointed a committee to solicit donations towards the building fund of the school, and on April 18 this committee reported that they had received £217, which, with the grants already in hand, made a total of £417 towards the building fund of the new school house. On April 26 the committee to contract for a suitable lot reported that they could not obtain a better lot, upon better terms, than that offered by Mr. Horsfield, and they had, therefore, accepted his terms. No mention is made in the minutes of the Board as to what these terms were, but an examination of the records in the Registry Office shows that Mr. Horsfield, in consideration of five shillings, “granted, bargained and sold” to the President, Directors, etc., the two lots on Germain street, known on the plan of the said city called Parr Town as Nos. 116 and 117, making, together, an oblong square 100×200 feet, at an annual rental of £6. One of the conditions of this lease was that a public street should be laid through the property from Germain to Charlotte streets, such street to be forty feet wide, one half of which, or twenty feet, should be taken from the Grammar School lot, and the other half from property owned by Mr. Horsfield. This deed bears date April 20, 1805. At the same meeting of the Board at which the property was secured, the committee on the building, reported that the estimated cost of the structure for which they submitted plans was £400. The Board accepted the plan and appointed the Mayor and Messrs. Robinson and Pegan a committee to contract for the building. Messrs. Bliss and Robinson were appointed “to treat with Mr. Jennison to take the charge of the school upon the best terms that can be agreed upon.” The committee on the building reported on April 24 that they had accepted the tender of Thomas Bean and Lawrence Dowling to complete the carpenter work for £119 15s, it being the lowest tender. At this meeting a memorial was prepared asking the Common Council to open a street through the school lot and Mr. Horsfield’s property to Charlotte street. This request on the part of the Directors was accepted by the Council and the street was opened the following summer. The committee to procure a teacher reported that they had agreed with Mr. Jennison to open the school on June 1, 1805, he to receive from the Board a yearly salary of £100 and £5 per annum for every scholar excepting the free scholars, and five shillings additional from each scholar to provide fuel; the school to be conducted under the rules of the Board, Mr. Jennison to provide a school room until May 1, 1806. This agreement was made for one year and could be terminated on four months notice. Messrs. Blair, Wetmore and Chipman were appointed a committee to prepare byelaws for the guidance of the Board and the school. Thus in two months after the organization of the Board they had secured a lot, contracted for a building, and made arrangements with a teacher. Considering the slowness with which executive bodies moved three quarters of a century ago, the Grammar School Board had accomplished a great deal in a comparatively short time. On May 7, however, it was reported that Bean & Dowling had given up their contract, and that Mr. Venning’s offer to erect the school building for £219 had been accepted. Mr. Venning went on with the building, and finished it ready for occupancy the next year.

The next meeting of the Board was held on August 26, when it was decided that the master of the school should be permitted to act as assistant to the rector of Trinity Church, “provided it did not interfere with his employment under the Board.” Dr. Byles was authorized to inform Mr. Jennison of this decision, and also all persons who applied for the position of preceptor. The first visitation of the school by the Board was appointed for the first Monday in September at 9 o’clock. On October 1 following, Mr. George Ironside was appointed preceptor of the Grammar School, his duties to commence June 1, 1806. No fault was found with Mr. Jennison but according to the official records of the Directors, “the great importance of providing a preceptor who may at the same time he employed as an assistant to the rector of Trinity Church, has been the only inducement to adopt the present measure.” Mr. Ironside, however, never filled either position, charges of a serious nature being preferred against him at Windsor, N.S. where he was residing, and which he was asked by the Board to refute but failed so to do. On May 20, 1806, the Directors entered into another engagement with Mr. Jennison on the same terms as before, the Board refusing one of his conditions, viz., that “he would expect every scholar, or his servant, to sweep the .school every morning in their turn.”

The First Free Scholar

At this meeting Peter James Bowry was admitted as the first free scholar. The father of this boy, who had been a master mariner, was dead.

The school was continued under the direction of Mr. Jennison during the year, Rev. Roger Victs being appointed preceptor and assistant to the rector of Trinity on November 25, 1806, taking charge of the school June 24, 1807. The Board made up their accounts from the commencement to January 22, 1807, when a deficit of £205 15s. 5d. was reported, and a petition sent to the legislature asking for an additional grant to relieve the Board from its indebtedness. The Legislature of 1807 granted £100 additional to the school for this purpose. Soon after Mr. Victs’ appointment as preceptor he dismissed the school in order that he might observe one of the fast days of the Church of England. This action was discussed at a meeting of the Board held on July 3, 1807, and five fast days which should be observed by the .school in each year specified. This action on the part of the Board was protested against by Rev. Dr. Byles, who entered his protest in the clerk’s minutes, which entry, at its next meeting on October 14, the Board ordered to be expunged.

The school appears to have had a hard struggle for life in its early days, as, on July 3, 1808, it was reported “that £100 were due Mr. Horsfield, and £50 in other debts besides,” and that “there was no fence around the lot.” The Legislature was again appealed to and a grant of £170 given to pay the debts of the Directors. Mr. Horsfield was paid the amount due him, and in lieu thereof gave an absolute deed of the property to the Directors, This conveyance is dated August 1st, 1808, and is in the form of a Perpetual Lease.

The Rules and Regulations

The Rules and Regulations for the government of the school, although similar rules had been acted upon from its organization, were first reported to the Board April 20, 1812. They required the pupils to attend in May, June, July and August from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. In March, April, September and October, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.  In November, December, January and February from 930 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Another requirement was that the school should be opened every morning with prayer and the reading of a chapter in the Bible, the pupils being required “to read fluently.”

Between 1812 and 1814 the management of the school does not appear to have been very satisfactory. Rev. Dr. Byles had grown very old, and was unable to fully attend to his duties as rector of Trinity, which threw the greater part of his pastoral duties on Mr. Victs, who, at a meeting of the Board held on January 4, 1814, was reported to be, besides Principal of the Grammar School, “practically rector of Trinity, and also chaplain of the garrison,” and he was informed that “if a material change did not take place in the school, another preceptor would be provided.” The funds again were behind hand, there being a deficit of 19s. pd., while the building needed repairs and more salary was required for the preceptor. In response to the memorial of the Board, a grant of £50 was made by the Legislature. The letter to the principal had the desired effect, as, at the next meeting, April 14, 1814, the Directors expressed their satisfaction with the exertions of the preceptor and the proficiency shown by the, pupils. On August 17, of the same year, it was decided to increase the tuition fees to £7 10s. for each pupil, and to admit one free scholar to every ten paying ones. Mr. Victs resigned the preceptorship and the position was offered Mr. .J. T. Twining, but he refused to accept the offer. The Legislature was then giving £140 annually to the school, which was not sufficient, and the Board asked the Corporation of the city for an annual grant, and on December 22, the Council acceded to this request and granted £25 annually to the school. The St. John Society Library, which had occupied one of the rooms in the school building, was charged a rental of £5, annually.

Difficulty in Getting a Teacher

Mr. Twining having declined the offer of the Board, and as there appeared to be no person in St. John immediately available for a preceptor, Mr. C.F. Hazen, who was about making a trip to the United States, was commissioned to secure a suitable person. Apparently forgetful of this commission, the Board engaged Mr. Bremner as master of the school, but before he had taken charge Mr. Jonathan Wainwright, who had been engaged by Mr. Hazen, arrived in St. John on January 9, 1815. The day after Mr. Wainwright’s arrival the Board held a meeting. Mr. Bremner very generously resigned his claim, but the Board declined this resignation and paid Mr. Wainwright $150. for the trouble he had been put to, establishing Mr. Bremner as preceptor of the school. At the time of his appointment, Mr. Bremner held the office of Coroner of the City and County of St. John, but this office apparently did not conflict with his duties as principal of the Grammar School, and the Board did not object to his continuing to hold it. Subsequently, however, Mr. Bremner accepted the office of Postmaster of the city. Seventy years ago this office was neither a very important nor lucrative one, but the Board’s experience with Mr. Victs, in the triple capacity of vicar of Trinity, chaplain of the garrison, and principal of the Grammar School, had been very unsatisfactory, and they promptly called upon Mr. Bremner to resign the office of Postmaster, which he declined to do, continuing to hold all three offices until ho resigned the principalship of the Grammar School two years later. The legislative grant was in this year increased to £150. The fuel money charged upon the pupils was also increased from 5s. to 7s. a quarter. On April 16, 1816, the first figures of the attendance at the school are given, the committee reporting that there were 27 Grammar and 22 English scholars receiving instruction, recommending, at the same time, the employment of an usher.

Dr. Patterson Engaged

On January 17, 1818, Mr. William Black, a member of the Board, announced his intention of going to the mother country, and he was authorized to engage a preceptor in Great Britain, on the terms established by the Board, “with as little delay as possible.” What this language meant in those days can be imagined, as it was not until November 23, 1818, that Mr. Black reported that he had “engaged in Glasgow a gentleman of the University of Glasgow, Mr. James Patterson, who had arrived in St. John the previous day. “Mr. Patterson came highly recommended and it was resolved that he be put in possession of the school, (which had been closed for some months), on December 1st, on which date the school should be re-opened. The Board allowed Mr. Patterson £45 to defray the cost of his passage and decided to erect a dwelling house on the school lot for his use. Several new books were prescribed and the clerk authorized to order them from the publishers. This would seem to argue that the bookseller of the time did not keep such extensive stocks as is done nowadays, for in one or two instances before the Board had been obliged to order from the publishers the text books used in the school. The appointment of Mr. Patterson as preceptor ended the difficulties of the Board in that particular, as he continued in office for a great many years, doing noble work in the education of the young.

On September 2, 1819, the Board adopted forms of prayer for use at opening and closing of the school, but Mr. Patterson stated that he had conscientious scruples against using them and the Board in consideration “of his great merit as a preceptor” did not insist on his violating his conscience, but allowed him to continue his prayers as formerly. They altered the school hours, however, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., during the months of September and October, and fixed upon October 1st as the commencement of the curriculum for the year. A class in Hebrew was also established, and owing to the great range of subjects taught during the day, it was decided that for the future the mathematical class should be taken up at some hour in the evening. Such a well filled school day as this would scarcely meet with favor by the advanced educationists of the present day.

The school continued to flourish under the principalship of Mr. Patterson, and its advantages having gone abroad in the province, numerous applications were received from parents in other parts of New Brunswick for the admission of their sons into the school. The chief difficulty in the way was the lack of suitable boarding places for the boys. The resolution of the Board to erect a dwelling for the preceptor had not been carried out, and on December 27, 1819, the Board, by another resolution, decided to erect a dwelling house large enough to allow the preceptor to take in boarders, and petitioned the General Assembly for a grant to “enable them to carry out so desirable an object.” There is no record of an additional grant, and as the Clerk, on April 6, 1820, was ordered to invest £’250 on hand, it would seem that the resolution was never carried out. For four years everything went on harmoniously, the board holding the regular semi-annual examinations and reporting themselves as highly satisfied with the preceptor and the progress made by the scholars. A correspondent of a city newspaper did not find everything as satisfactory as the Board thought it was, and wrote a rather severe criticism of the management of the school, which was printed in the City Gazette, a newspaper published by William Durant. At the next meeting of the Board, held on April 10, 1824, the following minute was recorded:

“The Board having observed that in the City Gazette, published by William Durant, there is an insertion containing remarks on the visitation of the public Grammar School on Monday last, which were not authorized by any order of this Board, or anything which was said by the President or Directors who held the examination; and considering it highly improper that any statement of this kind should appear in the public prints without the order or approval of this Board, it is therefore ordered that the clerk be desired to call upon Mr. Durant for the name of the person who furnished him with the above remarks, and also to deliver to each of the printers in this city a copy of this order.”

There was some cause for remark, as the minutes set out that two of the classes were reading Virgil before they understood their grammar, and several boys were put back in their studies. The following year an improvement was reported, two teachers having then teen employed for some lime. In the two succeeding years there was a notable increase in the attendance at the school, and on June 13, 1827, it was decided by the Board that the whole morning should be devoted to the study of the classics, the assistant teacher to take up the English studies in the afternoon. The junior classes were also to be forwarded as soon as they had attained the necessary excellence in their studies. At a subsequent meeting of the Board, held on November 19th, it was decided to reduce the tuition fee to £5 per annum if Dr. Patterson did not object. The reason for asking Dr. Patterson was that he got a portion of the tuition fees, and the Board a short time before had, by resolution, appropriated £100 from the provincial grant to help pay the assistant teacher. Mr. Patterson gave his concurrence in this reduction on April 21, 1828, at the same time requesting that the boys in the lower classes should not attend before 9 o’clock unless their parents expressly wished their attendance in the early morning session.

The school was now thoroughly established, and was each year growing more popular with the people because of the superior facilities it afforded for a first class education. On March 31, 1832, the corporation gave a gold medal for excellence in the classical department, which was won by George Lee, who thus became the first corporation medalist. An enlargement of the English room was found necessary in this year, and on April 14, 1834, a committee was appointed to consider the best mode of enlarging the school house. The school hours were again altered to give six and a half hours daily attendance at school during the summer and six hours daily during winter. A month later the Board decided on the following holidays for the year:

Holidays—From Good Friday to Easter Tuesday inclusive; Whit Monday and Tuesday; Ash Wednesday; King’s Birthday; 18th of May, Loyalist day; the whole of July; from December 21st to January 3rd.

The tuition fees of the first five classes were increased to £5 10s., and it was reported that the alterations and enlargement of the building had cost £158 14s. 4d.; the size of the building having been nearly doubled by the alteration. Even this enlargement proved insufficient as, on July 12, 1838, a committee was appointed to consider the advisability of erecting a new building. This resolution came to nothing, the committee reporting some time subsequently that the erection of a new school building was not at the time feasible. On December 3, 1838, the tuition fee was increased to £6 a year, £1 of which was to go to the Directors, the remainder to go to the preceptor. At this meeting a communication was read from Moses H. Perley, on behalf of the Mechanics’ Institute, who were desirous of leasing a lot 50 feet front on Horsfield street. It was resolved to lease such a lot, 80 feet deep, at an annual rental of £30 a year. This offer was accepted by the directors of the Institute, but before the lease was made out another lot (the present site) was obtained on better terms. The arrangement respecting tuition fees continued until December 15, 1845, after which Mr. Patterson was allowed to retain the whole of the tuition fees. The finances were reported to be in a flourishing condition, £159 11s. 6d. being due by the corporation, besides some outstanding rents. In November, 1847, the Board established a library for the boys, and appropriated £10 for that purpose. The report of the clerk, Mr. John H. Gray, on March 29, 1855, showed the following to be the receipts and expenditures for the year ending on that date:

[Financial tables not included in this transcript.]

That boys were no better at that time than they are in the present day is proven by the minutes of a meeting held in May 16, 1855, when a complaint was made that the boys had been abusing people in the adjacent yards, and the master was authorized to close the gate after school hours. The morning hours, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., were dispensed with, the school being kept till 12.30 p.m. instead of closing at noon, as formerly. This arrangement was continued until January, 1857, when it was decided to alter the salaries as follows: Principal, £290; classical master, £250; English master, £150. The income at this time, estimated on a basis of 75 pupils, was £770; the rents from property owned by the Board being £60 and the Provincial grant £150, both of which formed part of the total. The discipline of the school was far from what it should have been. Dr. Patterson, after 40 years of service, was growing old and the boys, while they gave their attention to their studies, did not keep such order as was necessary in so excellent a scholastic establishment as the Grammar School had grown to be, and it was thought best by the Board that the head master should teach the more studious boys in some other building than the Grammar School. The Board accordingly, on February 29, 1857, passed a resolution allowing Dr. Patterson £300 a year provided he would teach the boys at his own house. A subscription was also taken up for the school, £265 being promised by different citizens, and on March 17, Messrs. E. Blanchard and John March were engaged as teachers for the classical and English departments respectively.

This arrangement worked very satisfactorily, the attendance at the school on December 7, 1857, being reported as 83, Dr. Patterson having 17, Mr. Blanchard 39, and Mr. March 27. However, the tuition fees were not paid up promptly, and on January 15, 1858, the Board decided that, owing to the difficulty of raising money, the teachers’ salaries should be reduced for the next year, provided sufficient money was not received to pay the full amount. This decision was not satisfactory to the teachers, and they resigned. A month later another scheme was submitted, the tuition fees and grant to be divided as follows: Dr. Patterson £300; Messrs. Hutchison and Manning, who were appointed the successors of Messrs. Blanchard and March, £400, to be divided as they might agree upon; any receipts above £400 were to go to the Board. In the following June it was decided to increase the Clerk’s salary from £10 to £35, as, under the new arrangement, he had to collect the tuition fees. Extensive repairs, which cost £100, were made to the building during the summer, and the old bell which had been used for the school was disposed of for £11. It weighed 320 lbs. The new arrangement appears to have worked very well, for in December 6, 1858, the clerk reported that the whole number of pupils was 91, 58 of whom were studying classics and 33 English. Of these 54 were paying £8, and 30 £6. The remaining seven were free scholars. It was decided to appoint one of the more advanced pupils as a tutor, he to receive £15 per annum. The three brothers of the young man selected were free scholars in the school. The custom of members of the Board acting as examiners, which had been followed up to this Time, was departed from and never returned to afterwards. Rev. William Armstrong, Messrs. C W. Weldon, W. P. Dole and Dr. Sinclair were the first persons chosen lo act as examiners. Their report on the condition and progress of the school was very flattering, and it was ordered to be published.

In the following year the Whit-Monday and Whit-Tuesday holidays were cut off, and the first Saturday of each month made a school holiday. It would appear from this that school had previously been taught on Saturdays.

From 1859 to the present time the progress of the school has been most satisfactory. Events have transpired which, for the time, caused a cloud to rest upon the school, but the Board, when possible, remedied the defects, and as the years passed by the school made rapid and material progress. On January 5, 1860 the school had done so well that £100 bonus was divided between the three teachers. The only effect the civil war in the United States had on the school was that the boys were taught drill, Major T.W. Peters being their instructor, the Board having accepted on March 4, 1862, his offer to drill the boys and provide them with wooden rifles free of charge.

In 1863, the Board found it necessary, because of the increased expenses of the school, to reduce Dr. Patterson’s salary to £200, he to provide a separate room for his pupils. .Justice Parker, the following year, presented the Board with £50, the interest of which was to be annually expended in the purchase of a medal, which was to be called the Albert medal and was to be awarded as the Board should determine. This donation was made on December 5, 1864, and the Board decided to add $12 annually to the interest, which was to be expended in the purchase of books to accompany the medal. The volunteer fire department having been disbanded a committee was appointed to report on the practicability of altering No. 5 engine house, a brick structure, which adjoined the school building, into a school house. It was found that this idea was not feasible and the question of a new building was recommenced and earnestly discussed during the following year. So strong was the feeling in favor of a new building in a more central location that on January 25, 1866, a committee was appointed to select a site. The citizens also took the matter up, and a public meeting was held of which Mr. Lauchlan Donaldson was the chairman, and a resolution favoring taxation on the citizens generally passed. The result of this meeting was reported to the Board on March 13, though they did not consider the resolution favorably, but decided, instead, on making extensive repairs on the old building which, it was estimated, would cost $1,650. At a subsequent meeting held on August 22, the matter was again discussed when it was decided to borrow $2,000 for the purpose of improving the building. At this meeting a memorial was also framed to go to the Common Council, asking that body to restore the grant for the Corporation medal, which had not been given for some years, the annual payment for it having ceased in 1843. This memorial was successful, the medal being restored, and in the following year it was won by Clarence Treadwell. The first Parker medalist was W.S. McFarlane.

Yery little of importance occurred until 1870, when Dr. Coster was appointed classical master and Mr. E. Manning was re-appointed second master. Dr. Patterson was still living but had giving up all control of the school. The Board, however, continued to pay him $400 from the government grant, which, in the following year, they reduced to $300. In November, 1871, the total attendance at the school was reported to be 114 boys, 52 of whom paid $8 ; 9 $7, and 53 $6 per quarter. A communication was read at the same meeting of the Board from the Trustees of the public schools asking on what terms the Board would cooperate with them in the management of the school. On December 29, the next meeting held after this communication, the Directors of the Grammar School notified the Trustees that they would rent their building for $240 a year under the condition that Dr. Coster and Messrs. Manning, Sills and Wilkins, the teaching staff, were continued in office and paid by the Trustees. The offer was accepted by the Trustees, who agreed to pay to the Board $3,000 annually while three teachers were employed, and $2,400 when only two teachers were needed. This was the only change made by the School Act in the Grammar School, the appointment of teachers being made by the Board of Directors and confirmed by the Trustees of public schools. The income and expenditure for 1872 as estimated were as follows:

[Financial tables not included in this transcript.]

The income from rental was required to pay the pension allowed Dr. Patterson and for other contingencies. The total rent roll was then about $400. With the change in the school law and the erection of new and handsome buildings in all parts of the Province, it is only natural that the agitation for a larger and better home for the Grammar School should be recommended. The site, too, was far from the centre of the city and it was felt that there should be a new building in a more central locality. A committee was consequently appointed October 27, 1874, to look for a suitable site. The business depression, which is not yet over, was just then beginning to be felt in St. John and no one was surprised when, on June 8, 1875, this committee reported that no suitable vacant site could be found, and recommended that the school be continued where it was. It was a fortunate resolution as otherwise the property would have gone in the general destruction three years later.

When Mr. Manning, who had held the position of second master of the school since 1858, tendered his resignation on June 21, 1876, the Board decided that the school should be conducted on the departmental system as much as possible. Previous to this date the boys in the classical room were heard their English lessons in the English room, and vice versa, excepting those studying only the elementary principles of classical languages, who were instructed by the second master.

The Old Building Swept Away

The fire of June 20, 1877, destroyed the old school building and all the other property owned by the Board, excepting the records of its proceedings. This property was insured for $3,200 and had against it two mortgages, one for $1,800 and another of $400. The annual income from rents at the time of the fire was $721, the larger part of this amount being derived from the old engine house property. From the 20th until August 13th the school remained closed; on the latter date the departments were re-opened in St. Mary’s school room, which bad been leased by the Board at a rental of $300 a year. The school was continued in this building until the completion of the Madras School building on Duke street in the following May, the Board having leased for $350 a year sufficient accommodation for two departments from the Madras School Board. The school quickly outgrew its quarters, and in September a committee from the Board of Directors was appointed to consider the erection of a new school building. No definite action was taken on this matter.

At the session of the Legislature in 1882, a bill was introduced which affected, in some measure, the rights of the Board, the members of which petitioned against the proposed legislation, and in consequence of this the bill before the Legislature was withdrawn. A library, which had been organized by the debating club of the school, which had received several grants of books, was also given grants in 1882 and 1883. The only other important event occurring in the last mentioned year was the removal of the school to its present quarters in Odd Fellows’ Hall, which were leased from the Odd Fellows’ Hall Company at the annual rental of $400.

It was on March 26, 1884, that the first intimation of the approaching dissolution of the Board was had. On that date a committee, consisting of Rev Canon Brigstoke, Mr. H.W. Frith and Mr. I. Allan Jack were appointed to confer with the city and county representatives respecting the proposed legislation by the Provincial government, and its probable effect on the St. John Grammar School. The amendment to the School Law, which is now known as 47 Vic. Cap. 12, became law at the Session of 1884. Under the Act the Board of Directors were instructed to transfer all property held in trust for the school by them to the Trustees of public schools. When the Act took definite form the matter was the subject of some correspondence between the two Boards, and at the solicitation of the Trustees the Board of Directors continued to manage the school as formerly until November 1, 1884, when they transferred all their property’ to the Board of School Trustees. At this last meeting, held on October 29 last, they passed the following resolutions, which was their last official act :—

Whereas, By the Act of Assembly, 47 Vic, cap. 12, passed April 1st, 1884, and recorded on the minutes of the last meeting of this board, all property in whatever form existing or wheresoever situated, belonging to the President and Directors of the Public Grammar School in the City of St. John, was vested in the Board or School Trustees of the City of St. John; and

Whereas, By resolution of the said Board above written, the said Board of School Trustees has authorized its Secretary to receive a transfer of the said property; therefore

Resolved, That in compliance with the said act and the said resolution, the Clerk of this Board be authorized and directed to hand over to the said Secretary of the Board of School Trustees all property now in his hands or under the control of the Board of School Trustees, consisting mainly of the articles and things following, that is to say :—

  1. All the desks, stools, benches and other school furniture apparatus and appliances contained in the several school rooms in Odd Fellows’ Hall, occupied by the Grammar School.
  2. Water supply debenture, No. G1142, of the City of St. John, for £125, dated January 23rd, 1877, and payable May 1st, 1915. Next coupon due 1st November next.
  3. Any sum of money which the said clerk shall have in hand at the credit of this board on making up his final statement therewith to November 1st next.
  4. Also the following leases and counterparts of leases held by this board, viz:

(1) A lease from the New Brunswick Odd Fellows’ Hall Company to this board dated the 21st day of January, 1884;

(2) The counterpart of a lease from this board to Rev. Wm. Mitchell of lot on Horsfield street, now occupied by H.H. Mc Lean, Esq., barrister, dated 1st September, 1877;

(3) The counterpart of a lease from this board to Eliza A. Chapman, now Mrs. F. Gregory, of a lot adjoining said mentioned lot, dated the 17th of September, 1877;

(4) The counterpart of a lease from this board to Hugh Bustin of a lot adjoining said and last mentioned lot, dated September 1st, 1877.

(5) The counterpart of a lease from this board to Ward Chipman Drury of a lot adjoining said mentioned lot dated August 17th, 1863, now in the occupation of James H. Pullen, painter;

(9 (sic.)) The counterpart of a lease from this Board to Mrs. Barbara Clark of a lot on the corner of Horsfield and Germain Street, dated May 1st, 1878.

And further Resolved, That the said Board of School Trustees be requested to give a receipt under their seal for the above mentioned property, money and documents.

The following resolution also passed the Board:

Whereas, The properties held by the President and Directors of the Public Grammar School of Saint John having been, by Act of the Provincial Legislature, vested in the Board of School Trustees of Saint John, with a provision in the Act that the management of the school shall be as heretofore, subject to the approval of the Board of Education;

Resolved, That all the property of this Board being thus divested by law, this Board does decline to continue any control or management of the school, or any responsibility relating thereto; and further

Resolved, That a copy of the above resolution be transmitted to the Board of Education.

[Lists of officers, teachers, etc., not included in this transcript.]


Written by johnwood1946

December 18, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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