Education in Bass River written by Ward Hemeon in 1987

The first indication of a school in Bass River is found in the Island Cemetery located on a knoll in the marsh just below Judge James Fulton’s former home. There is a stone there with the inscription, ‘’John McLean. Died 1790. The original stone replaced by Bass River Women’s Institute in 1967.’’ The 1955 History of Bass River states he was a native of Ireland - the first teacher and the first person buried in the Island Cemetery. Some of the first generations of Fultons are also buried in this Cemetery. 

Up until the first part of the 1800’s, school was taught in private homes. Around 1825 there was a school house built near the bank where Mrs. Henry Starritt’s house now stands, within a few yards of Riverside United Church. Some 25 years later, the little ‘’Red’’ Schoolhouse was built on the east side of Maple Avenue - a couple of hundred yards from the intersection of Maple Avenue with Highway No. 2. This building was used until the Free School Act of 1866 came into force, when this building was condemned and a new building was necessary.

 A larger school was built just north of the present Baptist Cemetery, and the site of that school was given by Mrs. Lillian (Thompson) Hill a few years ago to the Cemetery Association. The School Register at that School at times carried the names of over 100 scholars and 60 or 70 would sometimes be crowded into this school house. Everything from the A, B, C’s to Navigation was taught, except the Classics. Ambitious sailors from Five Islands to Londonderry came to that school to study navigation, big husky men, so large that the seats could not hold them and they sat on their desks with their feet and legs out in the aisles. 

At this time the School Section extended from the east side of Little Bass River to a line on Portaupique Mountain just past the Davidson dairy farm. The Section, in 1885, was divided and another School built at Little Bass River and one at Portaupique Mountain. 

The Bass River School was burned in 1893 and was replaced by a two-room school on the same site. In 1911, the second building burned and a new site was chosen nearer the centre of the village. At first, only two rooms were needed but, eventually, four rooms were in use with a second storey added and classes taught up to and including Grade 12. 

On August 9, 1960, Senator J. G. Colhoun, Mayor of Londonderry, Ireland, turned the first sod at the site of a new Rural High School for the Bass River district. The site was in Mayflower Park where so many community picnics had been held over the years and also many contests between the Bass River baseball teams and those from surrounding towns and villages. 

In September 1961, a fine new High School was ready for Grades 10 to 12, with an Industrial Arts department, Household Economics department and Physical Education department, and, later, Grade 9 also attended this School, which included the High School students from Londonderry to Five Islands. In 1970, when the Cobequid Educational Centre, Truro, was opened, progress again overwhelmed us and Grades 10, 11 and 12 were moved to Truro, resulting in a daily round trip of approximately 90 miles for those students living as far away as Five Islands. 

When the higher grades were moved into Truro and with the closing of Elementary Schools in the surrounding area, the former High School has been used as a Junior High School and, just the past year, it has been necessary to move grade 5 also there. Additional rooms have been added to the former four-room Elementary School and the children from Primary to Grade 4 attend classes there. 


Rules for 1915 Schoolteachers

Truly, the lifestyle of a schoolteacher has changed radically in the last 50 or 60 years. For example, a 1915 teacher’s magazine listed the following rules of conduct for teachers of that day: 

Ÿ        You will not marry during the term of your contract.

Ÿ       You are not to keep company with men.

Ÿ       You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless attending a school function.

Ÿ       You must not loiter downtown in any of the ice cream stores.

Ÿ       You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have the permission of the chairman of the board.

Ÿ       You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother.

Ÿ       You may not smoke cigarettes.

Ÿ       You may not dress in bright colours.

Ÿ       You may under no circumstances dye your hair.

Ÿ       You must wear at least two petticoats.

Ÿ       Your dresses must not be any shorter than two inches above the    ankle.

Ÿ         To keep the schoolroom neat and clean, you must: sweep the floor at   least once a week with hot, soapy water; clean the blackboards at least once a day; and start the fire at 7 a.m. so the room will be warm by 8 a.m.


$107 Realized From School Concert 1954 

  BASS RIVER, Mar. 19, - The Bass River School under the direction of the teachers , Mrs. Eva Dunning, Mrs. Douglas Davidson, Miss Lucia Durning, Mrs. Duncan Keirstead and Miss Mary Sharpe, presented a very fine concert in the Community Hall here on Thursday evening, to a more than capacity audience. The sum of $107 was realized for school purposes.   

                    Following is the programme, -

                    O Canada ; Dramatized Nursery Rhyme - Grade II; Choral Reading, Grades III, IV and V “Who Stole the Bird’s Nest.” 

                    “Dogs and Daffodils” - Estella - Rachel Gamble; Frances - Judy Gilbert; Glenn - Alfred Thompson; Marilyn - Charlotte Keirstead; Joe - Leigh Faulkner; Ted - Elston Rector. 

                    Intermission - Sale of fudge, which netted $15.

                     “Wayside War” - The Ostler - James Peppard; Susan - Eva-Rose Rector; The Colonel - Neil Taylor; Martin - A Sergeant - Darrel Lawson; Alicia Pemberton - Joyce Fulton.

                     “Junior’s Moustache” - Junior Deane - Allison Fulmore; Ann Deane - Janet Gamble; Mrs. Deane, their devoted mother - Eleanor Gilbert; Henry Deane, their worried father - Curtis Soley;  Tookie Troax - Anne’s girlfriend - Heather Dau; Emma Farley, a school teacher - Eva Fletcher; Richard Troax,  Tookie’s father - Harlan McLellan.

                     These numbers were well acted and much enjoyed by the audience.

 Copied from a scrapbook kept by Gertrude (Jo) Gilbert.


Joan Fulmore Led Grade 12 Students 1954

BASS RIVER, June 28, - Graduation Exercises were held in the United Church on Monday evening, June 21, with a capacity audience. Following is the programme:

                    Graduation March, played by Harlan McLellan; O Canada; Invocation - Rev. J. Knowles; Opening Remarks - Willard Fulton, Chairman; Choral Reading: A Long Story - Primary; Song: Billy Boy - Beginners, Grades I, II and III; Choral Reading: Come to the Woods and Meadows - Grades III, IV and V; Song: Ye Banks and Braes - Grades III - VIII.

                    Radio Play: The Voice of Canada - Grades VII and VIII; Hymn: Now the Day Is Over - High School; Duet: The Song of the Gondoliers - Eleanor Gilbert and Curtis Soley; Chorus: A Merry Comrade - Little Bass River School; History and Class Prophecy - Harlan McLellan.

                    The address to the students was delivered by Rev. C. Earle Gordon, minister at First United Church, Truro. He was introduced by Rev. Mr. MacKay.

                    Following his address came the presentation of diplomas and certificates.

                    Miss Joan Fulmore, who delivered the valedictory address during the exercises, and also achieved the highest standing in Grade 12, was awarded the Dominion Chair Company Ltd. scholarship.

                    In Grade 11 Miss Barbara Blaikie received the prize for the highest average.

                    The Citizenship Trophy was presented to Allison Fulmore while Joan Fulmore received the ping pong trophy.

Copied from a scrapbook kept by Gertrude (Jo) Gilbert.


James Creelman Donates Oil Heating System to School 1953 

BASS RIVER, Nov. 23 - The annual meeting of the Bass River School Section was held in the school house on Monday evening, November 16, with Willard Fulton acting as Chairman of the meeting and Mrs. Wyman S. MacLellan as Secretary.

           There were 42 in attendance.

           The trustees are John Sharpe, Willard Fulton and John A Starratt.

           During the summer, a new central oil heating system was installed by the Enamel and Heating Products, Ltd., Sackville, N. B., replacing box stoves and wood, and is proving very satisfactory both for school purposes and the other activities held at the School House. This oil heating system is a gift to the Bass River School Section from James S. Creelman, who is chairman of the Board of School Trustees, and is greatly appreciated by the Section. It is hoped other improvements will be made in the near future. 

          Mrs. Roland S. Hegan, Secretary to Trustees, gave her report.



BASS RIVER, June 13 - The annual closing of the Bass River and Little Bass River Schools was held in the United Church, Bass River, on Friday evening, June 19, at 7:30 with J. S. Creelman as Chairman. The Processional was played by Harlan McLellan, and opened with O Canada, and prayer by Rev. W. K. MacKay.

          The program consisted of a song The Robins Breakfast;  Playlet, Nursery Rhymes and Choral reading, Primary Dept.  Song - The Brook. Choral Reading - Intermediate Department. Solo - Eleanor Gilbert “My Prayer”.  Piano duet - Natalie Hegan and June McLaughlin.  Song - The Fairy Piper - Little Bass River School.

          History and Class Prophecy - Gordon (Buddy) Smith.

          The Chairman then introduced the speaker, Dr. George Davidson, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare, Ottawa, a former resident and pupil of the Bass River School. He urged the pupils to carry on to the highest mark in the future as in the past, as they will be the future citizens of this country. His address was enjoyed by both students and the more than capacity audience.

          This was followed by remarks by the Principal, Mrs. Dunning, thanking all who had a part in making the closing a success. Mrs. Leslie Grue, on behalf of the teachers and Miss Joyce Starratt, presented Mrs. Stanley Fulton with a  gift in appreciation of her work with them in the music.

          Remarks by the Women’s Institute President, Mrs. Irvin Lawson, who also presented the prizes from the Institute, for Perfect Attendance, Courtesy, Mathematics, and Oral English.

          Diplomas and prizes were presented by the Little Bass River, Bass River Junior High, Intermediate and Primary Teachers. The Citizenship Trophy was won by Reggie Fulton. The Ping Pong Trophy went to Arthur Newton. The Dominion Chair Co., Ltd., Scholarship Prize went to Gordon (Buddy) Smith, Grade XII student, and Miss Joan Fulmore, Grade XI, for highest standing. These were presented by J. S. Creelman.

          Valedictory was given by Arthur Newton.


The Annual Closing of the Bass River School

BASS RIVER, June 23 - The Annual Closing of the Bass River School was held in the United Church on Friday, June 20, at 7:30 with Willard Fulton, as Chairman.

          The Processional was played by Harlan McLellan and opened with “O Canada” and prayer by Rev. Harold Thompson.

          Remarks by the Chairman.

          Chorus by  Primary department under the training of Miss Joyce Starratt.

          Class Prophecy by Charles Fulmore.

          Duet - Eleanor Gilbert and Natalie Hegan.

          Choral Reading - “If” by Intermediate Department.

          Chorus - “Wooden Shoes” High School

          Valedictory - Dale Lawson

          Mrs. Eva Dunning introduced Dr. David Davison, a former pupil and graduate of Bass River High School as Special Speaker. ______________ the graduating class to develop strength of character, the will to work and the ability to stay with a job until its completion. He congratulated the graduates on the accomplishments during the year’s study and wished them success in their future endeavours.

          Remarks were made by the Principal, and on behalf of the teachers and School Board, Mrs. Leslie Grue presented Mrs. Harold Thompson with a gift in appreciation of her work with them.

          Remarks following by Mrs. Ronald Burns, President of the Women’s Institute and presentation of the Institute prizes for Courtesy, Perfect Attendance, Mathematics and Oral English. Diplomas and prizes were presented by the Primary, Intermediate and Junior High Teachers - Miss Verna Smith, Mrs. Leslie Grue and Mrs. Eva Dunning. The Dominion Chair Company Limited, Scholarship Prize was presented to Dale Lawson, Grade XII for highest standing and to Miss Dorothy Lawson for highest standing in Grade XI. These were presented by J. S. Creelman, Manager of the Dominion Chair Company Ltd.

          Dale Lawson also won the Cup for the year 1952-53. This was followed by “The Queen”.


Bass River Students Make Good Showing 1947 

 Bass River, Sept. 20 - Of the fourteen pupils in Grade eleven writing Provincial Examinations, eleven got full passes and three got partials. The Grade eleven pupils were: Grant Walls, George Durning, Nathalie Durning, Everett Gilbert, Ashley Marsters, Arthur Hegan, Vera Fowler, Carol Dykens, Walter Miller, Walter Lewis, Carlton McLellan, Gerald MacNeill, Annetta Silver, Harold Bogle.

           Of the seven pupils in Grade 12, five got full passes and two got partials. The Grade 12 pupils were: Hazel Sharpe, Curtis Lewis, Willena Murphy, Douglas Lawson, Keith Fowler, Jean Hegan, Marie Carde. 

          Principal Keith L. Perry has been here four years and has given good service. He is assisted by an able staff of teachers consisting of Miss R. Jean Smith of Stewiacke, Junior High; Mrs. Logan Lewis (nee Miss Avis Ashley); Miss Kathleen Starritt. We wish the above teachers and pupils another successful year.

           Harold Welch has opened up a novelty shop at Little Bass River. He manufactures his own goods.


Closing Exercises of Bass River School Well Attended The Truro Weekly News June 1947 

  BASS RIVER, June 23 - The closing of the Bass River Public School was held Friday evening, June 20, in the United Church, a record crowd attending.

          Grant Walls played the Graduation March, while the students entered the Church. Rev. Geo. Tucker gave the invocation.

          The program consisted of the following numbers: Choruses by  Primary children, Piano Solos by Eleanor (no surname given), Harlan McLellan and Geo. Durning, and a reading by Betty Corbett. The Class History was read by Curtis Lewis, and the Valedictory was splendidly delivered by Hazel Sharpe.

          H. N. Nason, gave an inspiring address to the Graduating Class, emphasizing the value of developing the mind and the spirit, as well as the body.          

          Following the presentation of diplomas to the pupils by the teachers, Jean Smith - Junior High, Avis Ashley - Intermediate and Kathleen Starritt -

Primary Department, the following prizes were presented by Mrs. J. A. Wilson, on behalf of the Women’s Institute:

          Citizenship Trophy - Everett Gilbert

          Progress Prizes - Senior High - Keith Fowler, Vera Fowler; Junior High: - LeVerne Hegan; Intermediate - Beatrice Corbett, Ercil Fulton; Primary: - Omar Meekins, Georgina Higgins, Rosalie Boggs.

          Attendance Prizes - Hazel Sharpe, George Durning, Clyde Walls, Ernest Tucker, Audrey Lewis, Ronald Fulton, Gordon Tucker, Reginald Fulton, Natalie Hegan, Gerald Meekins, Phyllis Tucker, Patsy Lupton, Eleanor Gilbert, Janet Gamble, Omar Meekins, Helen Gamble, Malcolm Gamble, Ardith Fulton, Glenford Gilbert and Norman Gamble.

          In addition, the Principal, K. L. Perry, presented these special prizes:-

Dominion Chair Company Scholarship - Curtis Lewis

Knights of Phythias - Highest Scholastic Standing in the Senior High - Grant Walls

Highest Scholastic Standing in Junior High - Elizabeth Gilbert

Reader’s Digest Award to valedictorian - Hazel Sharpe

          K. L. Perry congratulated the splendid work done by his able staff and thanked all those who had assisted.

          The able chairman of the meeting was Jas. S. Creelman.


Grade 10 - Betty Gilbert; Betty Corbett; Hazel Fletcher; Joan MacDonald; Geneva Starritt; Lloyd Johnson; Florence Welch; Susie Dykens.

Grade 9  - Audrey Lewis; Clyde Walls; Marian Banks; Betty Moore; Ernest Tucker; Shirley Moore; Verbena Fulton; Isabelle Vance; LeVerne Hegan; Beulah MacLellan

Grade 8 - Peggy Lewis; Patricia Williams; Ronald Fulton; Reginald Taylor; Elizabeth Taylor; Iva Corbett; Malcolm Taggart, James Carde; Betty Moore.

Grade 7 - Beatrice Corbett; Ethel Johnson; Gordon Tucker; Kathleen Higgins; Fred Faulkner

Grade 6 - Natalie Hegan; Reginald Fulton; Elizabeth Williams; Kenneth Crowe; June MacLaughlin

Grade 5 - Elinor Banks, Ercil Fulton; Phyllis Tucker; Harlan McLellan; Gerald Meekins; Chester McCallum; Patsy Lupton; Stanley Seeton

Grade 4 - Eleanor Gilbert; Janet Gamble; Ardith Fulton; Gladys Higgins; Joan Suttis; Reta MacLaughlin; Glenn Gilbert; Omar Meekins; Floyd MacIntosh

Grade 3 - Joyce Fulton; Cora Johnson; Harold Boggs; Curwood Corbett

Grade 2 - Rosalie Boggs; Vivian Fulton; Helen Gamble; Yvonne Gamble; Truman Morris; Gerald McNutt; Norman Gamble; Stanley Williams.

Grade 1 - Georgina Higgins; Judith Gilbert; Kenneth Banks; Malcolm Gamble; Elston Rector

Primer - Marilyn Bradshaw; Rachel Gamble


“Old Home Week” Is Opened At Bass River 1955 

Bass River  -  This community opened its “Old Home Week” celebrations here on Wednesday evening when the community hall was filled to overflowing with residents and their relatives, as well as many visitors from far and near.

          The reception, which was held under the direction of a committee headed by Hilbert Taylor, was chaired by the Rev. W. K. MacKay, pastor of the United Church, who welcomed the visitors, some of whom had come from as far away as Alberta, Ontario and various sections of the United States.

          Renewing old acquaintances after an absence of 45 years, was Herbert Fisher, Three Hills, Alberta. During the course of the program Mr. Fisher was called to the platform and made a few brief remarks.

          Its history, dating back to the first settler, James Fulton, who came here from New England in 1765, was traced for the audience by Edgar Fisher, the oldest employee of the Dominion Chair Company, Limited, which is the major industry of Bass River. Several other visitors, some of whom return annually to this community and spend their Summers here, were called before the gathering and spoke of the enjoyment and hospitality they have found in this Colchester village.

          Mr. Fisher, the historian, was presented with a copy of his poems put in book form by members of the Home and School Association during the winter months. He thanked the association and expressed his appreciation to the members for having this work done. 


          Films on the Dutch settlers coming to Canada were shown during the program. Part of the showing included the Leggewaters, a Dutch family, who are now settled on the oldest homestead in Bass River. The site of their home is on the left bank of the river looking toward the bay and near the graveyard where lie some of the early settlers, including the first school teacher of the village. Nearby is a favourite spot where fishermen from far and near come to fish the striped bass which frequent the river and from which the village derives its name.

          Following the program a social evening was held and lunch was served by the committee-in-charge. Mrs. R. S. O’Brien, Jr., was pianist for the evening, while Mrs. Oswald Mosher led the sing-song.

          On Thursday afternoon and evening the community was practically deserted when a basket picnic and clam bake were held at “Saints Rest” on the bay shore. The site, which was a favourite camping ground of the MicMac Indians in the early days, is near the entrance of the river and on the opposite shore to where James Fulton became the first settler 190 years ago.

The house he built at that time is still standing and remained in the family until five years ago when the homestead was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Leggewater, who came here from the Netherlands.

          Thursday’s celebrations came to a close as the inhabitants of the village and their guests gathered around a huge bonfire on the beach and sang many old favourites as they enjoyed nature at its best.

          Friday’s celebrations will include excursions to points of interest and a concert in the evening while another picnic will take place on Saturday. The week’s program will conclude on Sunday with divine worship in the various churches. During the day the United Church will celebrate its 90th anniversary when Rev. Herman Campbell, Halifax, will be the special preacher at 3 p.m.

          A point of interest to many is the fact that Edson Fulton, a great-great- grandson of the founder of Bass River, is one of the general committee members in connection with “Old Home Week”.  

Copied from a scrapbook kept by Phyllis (Grue) Hemeon. 

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