Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Old Brudenell Schoolhouse renovated

Published on October 22, 2013
     Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay presents a plaque to Frank Dolan to mark the official re-opening of the Brudenell school house following a complete renovation.
Photo & Article by Steve Sharratt.  The Guardian.
Extensive two-year renovation aimed at giving venerable
Kings County school another 100 years of service
BRUDENELL — For years it sat lonely and leaking.
            The local council would sit in the original school desks when holding a monthly meeting and a stiff wind through the drafty windows would easily chill the coffee.
But after a two-year effort, the old Brudenell schoolhouse here has been completely renovated and ready to face another 100 years of community service.
            “It’s unbelievable the amount of work involved to get this done,’’ said council chairwoman Peggy Coffin. “Now we have a beautiful building.”
Coffin welcomed guests to the school house Saturday during the official opening ceremony where former students Athol Robertson and Catherine Robertson (no relation), both 91 years old, cut the ribbon.
            She paid special tribute to council member Frank Dolan, who oversaw the project and spent much of the past summer supervising the contracted work.
            The two-year project began with lifting the building and the installation of a foundation and heating system. The rebuilding continued with water, insulation, shingling, windows, roof and a complete painting.
            “It was badly in need of renovation,’’ said Dolan. “We were holding our council meetings in here and you could see the old place starting to fade.”
            The roof was leaking and the foundation was crumbling when the community contributed $13,000 towards a renovation assisted by both levels of government to cover the estimated $70,000 project.
            Located a few miles from Montague, it’s one of the smaller one-room schoolhouses in the province and served a baker’s dozen worth of students. There were photographs and early textbooks on display, and even two handwriting awards presented to former student Athol Robertson.
            “George Dewar, before he became a doctor, was our teacher one year,’’ said Robertson, who attended during the late 1920s and early 1930s.  “When you saw his face turning red, you quieted down.”
            Former student Annie (Stewart) Cameron drove from Indian River to attend the opening.
            “We all had jobs to do whether it was fetching water twice a day or carrying coal up from the basement,’’ she said.
            “You would roast sitting by the pot belly stove and be chilly if you sat in the corner.”
            Built around the turn of the last century, the school will now be available for events, gatherings or reunions, and absolutely free to residents of the community.
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The following article appeared earlier in the Eastern Graphic www.peicanada.com
            Athol Robertson and Catherine Robertson, both 91, sit in the desks they used when they attended Brudenell School in the 1930s. Brudenell School is getting a makeover, and the Brudenell Community Council is selling 20 of their desks for $40 each. - Heather Jordan Ross photo
Community of Brudenell to raise funds to keep
schoolhouse focal part of its community
Wed, 07/10/2013 - 05:00 By Heather Jordan Ross hjross@peicanada.com
            As 91-year old Catherine Robertson settled her small frame onto the seat of an old desk, she recalled her first day at Brudenell School in 1928.
            “I went to school with my brothers and sisters and I was very afraid of the first teacher,” she said. “So I was permitted to sit with my sister Doris.”
            It’s been 75 years since nonagenarian relatives Athol Robertson and Ms Robertson sat at those desks as students.
Mr Robertson enjoyed playing more than school work, but he’s grateful of the Brudenell Community Council’s efforts to preserve the school.
            “It’s part of my youth, and I really appreciate what’s being done,” he said.
            Brudenell Council is working to maintain the heritage of the school, which is at least 150-years old, while making it accessible to the community, thanks to money from ACOA and the PEI Community Fund.
            Vice chair Frank Dolan wants a more accessible, warmer community centre that could be used for information sessions, meetings, classes, and music lessons.
            The old school is the community’s only meeting place, and yet it has never had washrooms or year-round heat.
“The big thing is we’ll be able to get public use of it for small meetings,” Mr Dolan said.
            By August, Mr Dolan hopes the building will have a heating system, washrooms, hardwood floors, a refurbished roof, and a display to share the history of the building with visitors.
            Council would like to purchase new chairs and fold up tables, which is why they’re willing to part with every school desk except one.
            “That’s what we were using for people to sit in when they came to a council meeting,” Mr Dolan said. “We’re generating funding from them (the old desks) to buy proper seating.”
            Twenty desks, made by the Globe Furniture Company in Waterloo, Ontario, and at least 70-years old, will be available at a cost of $40 each.
            One desk will be kept for display with other Brudenell School memorabilia.
            “Margaret Jean and Georgina Dewar, who are also on council, have gone through old textbooks, artifacts, and pictures of historical importance,” Mr Dolan said.
            Councillor Margaret Jean Smith also attended the school, and her father designed the first tongue and groove style ceiling. She’s excited to finally see the school provide space for more use than for cold councillors.

            “The need in the community is there,” she said.

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