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.