Upper Big Tracadie Schools

Avonside school

Avonside school opened in 1928 on the site of an older, one room school house, located on the lands of the Mattie family close to Black River (Tracadie River).  The school officials were Thomas Tramble, John F.Grant, and Samuel Gerro, following  the precedence of having two white trustees and an African Canadian one.  Dorothy Day (nee Ash) attended Avonside School in Monastery circa 1933.  That is until the white population “put them out”. When asked to explain the situation at Avonside, she spoke of incidents where the white children took their lunches, sat on them and passed gas, making their lunches inedible. The school closed in 1962.

Rear Monastery School

In the late 1930’s a decision was made to divide the school section at Avonside.  The Rear Monastery School was established and operated until school consolidation in 1963.

Teachers at Rear Monastery School:

Elsie Elms- the longest serving teacher at the school.
Elenor Irving
Leonard Irving
Alice Elms
Kathleen Paris-Williams
Irene Paris-Elms
Nina Fougere
Mary Hartigan

Upper Big Tracadie School

The first school at the Upper Big Tracadie crossroads was a run down one room building that was torn down and replaced by a building that was brought to the site from the Guysborough Interval to the Merland Pass.  This school served the community until 1960 when it was moved to highway 16.   The building has since been renovated and is now the Upper Big Tracadie Community Hall.

Dorothy Day attended the Upper Big Tracadie School in the mid-1930’s after leaving Avonside school. It was a long walk from Rear Monastery which included crossing a brook.  A man was nearby to carry them across the brook but after a time Mrs. Day felt the education provided at the school was substandard and not worth the effort of the long walks. Her feet would be so cold after the long walk, “I’d get people to sit on my feet, I was so cold”.   She quit school and went to work for Clyde MacDonald of Monastery.

A majority of the teachers were unlicensed and little more than school children themselves.  Mrs. Pat Skinner recalls being taught grade 8 by a boy who had only just finished grade 11.  The pay was terrible and often wasn’t received until the end of the school year.  Teachers who were not from Upper Big Tracadie boarded with families in the area, many staying at the residence of Alex Clark, a house located on Clark road that was considered the finest in the community at the time (1940’s).

Mrs. Pat Skinner recalls walking up to 5 miles in cotton dresses through all seasons to the little school house at the crossroads of Upper Big Tracadie circa 1940-1950.  The school was visited on a regular basis by the public health nurse from Guysborough, most often on a Friday.  The nurse carried out a basic health survey, checking for head lice and observed the cleanliness of the students’ hands as well as providing information on colds, good sleeping habits and milk consumption.  Inoculations may also have been carried out.   In later years, Public Health Nurse Katherine (Kaye) Williams of Guysborough continued these visits to the Upper Big Tracadie School until the school closed in 1960 when the Upper Big Tracadie School consolidated with the Lincolnville District.


Hattie Eugena ASHE (Daye) – obtained her elementary education at Guysborough Academy and went onto completion in Boston, Mass.  She began her teaching profession in Upper Big Tracadie then Lincolnville and Sunnyville, ending her 30 year teaching career at Mary E. Cornish School, Lincolnville, as principal for the last five years.
Elsie Mae Elms- taught for 40 years in Upper Big Tracadie and Rear Monastery, from the age of 17 in 1928.
Rev. Donald Thomas- from New Glasgow, a student minister at Tracadie United Baptist Church where
he was later ordained.  He boarded with Deacon Joseph Desmond (father of current Deacon Everett Desmond).
Irene (nee Paris) Reddick- from Mulgrave, who once noted some of her students were older than herself.  She was teaching at Upper Big Tracadie School at age 17/18.
Elsa (nee Reddick) Barton- from New Glasgow; boarded with Alex Clark
Mary (nee Barton) Borden- from Digby; boarded with Hattie Day Ash
Leona Williams- from New Glasgow; boarded with Alex Clark
Billy Jewel- from New Glasgow; boarded with Alex Clark
Patton Paris- from Mulgrave, cousin to Irene Paris listed above.
Other teachers  at the Upper Big Tracadie School include:
Anne Jewel, June Walton, A.F. Skinner, Nellie Brodie, Helen Gibson, Kathleeen Paris-Williams, Iva Martin Clayton, Martha Jones, Ryland Walton, June Maclean, Mrs. Canterberry.
Note-Mr. Jerry Gero also boarded teachers from the Upper Big Tracadie School.