The first school was located on Copper Lake Rd in the basement of what is now known as Margie MacPherson’s house (N45 22.965’ W061 58.598) formerly the John Sinclair (Squire) house on Copper Lake Road. One of the first teachers in the area was William Sinclair who settled in Lochiel Lake in 1816 and moved to Goshen in 1818. He was the first male teacher in Goshen. He turned to teaching after he cut his leg with an axe while working in the woods and was unable to continue in that line of employment.
Around 1840 a small school was built on what is now named Old Rd., locally known as Back Road and Holy Hill, at the intersection to what was known as the Danny Cummings property in the 1940’s (formerly owned by John 5th Sinclair). The foundation of the building can still be seen by a knowing eye. This school eventually became too small so a new school was built.
In 1865 two school houses were built, one in Argyle and one in Goshen. The Goshen area was large and scattered and an itinerant teacher was necessary. The new Goshen school was built closer to the center of the village and was located at the foot of the hill below Alexander Sinclair/Athol Hattie’s house on the road to Eight Island Lake. The school burnt down circa 1900-01 and for a short time the classes were run out of a house basement. Later, the “pony barn” at Alexander Sinclair’s was used for classes until a new school was built.
Plans for the new school were drawn up and dated June 29th. 1901. In 1902 the new school opened and operated until June of 1960. The school went from grade primary to grade six; all taught in one classroom with different tables separating the grades. Six children sat at each table with three chairs on each side. There were few children in school, especially the higher grades. The school closed in 1960 mainly because it got very cold in the winter, heated solely by a wood stove, and there wasn’t indoor plumbing.
A dilapidated school house at Eight Island Lake was destroyed by fire in March 1935. As good fortune would have it, there was ample insurance. Suitable temporary quarters were found and classes continued with only three days of school lost. Work on a new structure began during summer vacation. The new school, located on a beautiful site beside a lake, was built in accordance with modern design and was well adapted to the needs of the community.
In 1935, considerable activity went into the improvement of school property and purchase of new equipment. School buildings in many sectors were improved by paint, hardwood floors and other necessary repairs. The schools were also supplied with chairs and tables to replace the old double seated desks screwed to the floor.
In 1953, the St. Mary’s Rural High school opened and took students from grades 7 to 12 from the surrounding areas including Goshen. The first school bus driver that covered the Goshen/Copper Lake Rd. area was Alec Archibald of South Locharbor.
There were schools dispersed throughout the area, one about every three miles, since children walked to school. There were schools in Goshen, Argyle, Eight Island Lake and South Lochaber until they were consolidated in 1960.
The Goshen Consolidated school was a P-6 school that was built in 1960 and closed in 1990. Students in junior and senior high school were bussed to St. Mary’s Rural High School in Sherbrooke from 1953 onwards. The first teachers at the school were Katherine MacHattie who taught grades primary and one, Alister MacNaughton who taught grades two, three and four and Gordon Macdonald who taught grades five and six and served as Principal. In 1964, Marie Sinclair taught grades five and six as served as principal. In 1971 Jean Cummings took over teaching grades four, five, and six and Katherine MacHattie took over as principal. In 1983 Milford Austin took over as principal and remained so until the closure of the school in 1990.
Subjects taught at the Goshen Consolidated School were English (Literature, Grammar, Writing and Spelling), Social Studies, and Mathematics. Music, Physical Education, and French were taught by circuit teachers who travelled to different rural schools in the area. Susan Cameron taught Reading Resource briefly at Goshen before going to Greenfield and Sherbrooke. Beatrice Nichols took over Reading resource after Susan left. Marie Sinclair was the Elementary Guidance Councillor. There were four teachers when the school closed and roughly 25/30 children in each classroom. At one time there were over 100 children in the school. Students that attended the school were from Goshen, Eight Island Lake, Country Harbour Lake and Argyle. In later years students from Giants Lake attended Goshen School as well.
After the school closed in 1990 the children were bussed to Sherbrooke Elementary. Many parents were not in favour of this because of the distance the students had to travel.
There was a gathering at the school when it closed where commemorative plates and cups were for sale marking the 30 years that the school was in operation.
Goshen School Teachers list 1901-1960
1901-02 Louis Fraser
1907-08 Harriet Estelle Nichols
1909-10 Nellie J. Sinclair
1910-11 Sophie M. MacIntosh
1911-12 Sarah E. Fisher
1912-13 Minnie Christina MacGreger
1913-14 Harry Stanford Worth
1914-15 Leo Garten Fisher
1915-16 Georgina Elizabeth Kinney
1916-17 Susie L. Giffen
1917-18 Elizabeth Henderson
1918-19 Helen Louise Holland
1919-20 James Arthur Forbes
1921-22 Elizabeth Charlotte Henderson
1922-24 Barbara Christina MacIntosh
1924-25 Sadie Anne Steward
1925-26 Jessie Helene Sinclair
1926-27 Bertha Belle Fraser
1927-28 Katherine A. Cameron
1928-29 Alexander Bruce Fraser
1929-30 Annie Mary Ehler
1930-31 Alfred Stanley Forbes
1931-33 Irene Mason
1933-35 Helen Henderson
1935-36 Margaret Hope McNeil
1936-38 Beth Esabel Whiteway
1938-39 Muriel Louise George
1939-41 Phyllis Katherine Lavers
1941-42 Phyllis K. Lavers/Muriel George Cameron*
1942-43 Mable Muir
1943-45 Margaret May MacGillivray
1945-46 Clarence Wilson Moore
1946-47 Valerie Louise Scranton
1947-50 Phyllis Katherine Nichols**
1950-51 Clarence Wilson Moore
1951-53 Phyllis Katherine Nichols
1953-54 Vera Henderson
1954-57 Anna Jean Stewart
1957-60 Beatrice Nichols
*Phyllis K. Lavers left her teaching position midyear to join the Royal Canadian Air force.
** Nichols is the married surname of Phyllis Katherine Lavers
Vignettes of School life in the mid-late 1940’s
Elizabeth MacDonald (nee MacNaughton) is a daughter of Goshen and attended the Goshen School on Copper Lake Rd. in the mid-late 1940’s. She has fond memories of her school days. The one room school had tables for groups of younger students and individual desk for the older ones. A long low pipe supplied heat from a wood stove which was kept burning by the older boys in the school.
The start of every day included a salute to the flag, recitation of the pledge of allegiance and the Lord’s Prayer and singing O’Canada. The department of education supplied the schools with songbooks for music, and reproductions of famous works of art for picture study; which teachers would use to teach art appreciation, writing skills and concepts about color. School days were occasionally interrupted by visits from the inspector of schools, a post held by Ray Coldwell in the 1940’s. He would talk to the students and observe the school in operation.
Student teachers from the Normal College in Truro came to the school for training and were especially well- loved by the students. Harold Feltmate and Hope (nee MacIntosh) Wright were two fondly remember student teachers.
Health was also part of school life. Cod liver oil was given to every student on a daily basis, supplied by the Department of health. Public Health nurses visited the school and during the summer a mobile dentistry clinic would park on the school lawn.
Children at Goshen school played the same school yard games that many rural children made part of their lives. Anti-over, ring-around-the-rosey, London Bridge, hopscotch, and tag were a few of the everyday favourites. In winter sledding and skating occupied the children outdoors during recess and lunch. Warmer weather brought ball games and friendly boxing matches.
For more information on children`s school games see:
The Teaching Life-
Marie Sinclair was a school teacher in Goshen and the surrounding area from the late 1940`s until 1983. She started her teaching career right out of grade 11 in a one room school house in Cumberland County. The teachers were hired by the school trustees who raised the funds to pay the teacher. In 1945, she was paid $400 dollars for the year. She paid $3 a week for her room and board and walked to school every day.
After 2 years of teaching she went to Normal School and got her teacher`s license and was recruited to teach in Country Harbour. In the following years she taught in Loch Katrine, West Locharbour, Argyle, 8 Island Lake, St. Mary’s and Aspen; changing schools every year as was the common practice in those days. Teaching posts in the late 1940`s and early 1950`s were easy to come by and a teacher often had several offers for any given year. The high teacher turnover rate in rural one and two room school houses was mainly due to teachers looking for better pay and better facilities. The gypsy lifestyle of the young school mistress or master was common from the earliest school days in the area until the mid-late 1950`s.
Although a majority of the teachers in the Goshen area throughout history have been women, it is interesting to note the following point from the St. Mary`s Municipality minutes: 1952 a 100.00 increase in salary was given to all single teachers and a 200.00 increase in salary was given to all male married teachers.