The celebration was grand as close to 600 people turned out for the 100th anniversary of Queen Victoria School in Belleville on Saturday, May 12, 2012.
The afternoon event featured ceremonies, entertainment, memorabilia-sharing and a free barbecue.
Principal Chad Harvey was proud to host the event in conjunction with a planning committee.
"Queen Victoria School is the oldest functioning public school in the Hastings and Prince Edward district. Students from generations of families have come to school here. It’s still a thriving school with caring staff and wonderful students," remarked Principal Chad Harvey.
Visitors, which included a significant number of past students, signed the guest book, indicating they live in Belleville or the Quinte area, and from as far away as Collingwood and Ottawa.
For many seniors attending, it was the first time they had reconnected with schoolmates since graduation several decades ago.
Each classroom had its own special display of memorabilia with resource teachers present dressed to represent the various decades, from Edwardian through mod to contemporary.
Student performances featured singing and dancing, starting with the First World War song, "It’s a Long Way to Tipperary," "You Are My Sunshine" and hits from Disney films like Snow White and Muppet star Kermit’s "Rainbow Connection." The program also featured a quartet of singers from Moira Secondary School.
Dignitaries representing the province, the city and school board made assorted remarks and presentations.
A former long-time teacher, Wilma Houston, shared some memories of her years with the crowd, while many memories were also shared between former students in the crowded hallways.
Apart from its prime function as an elementary school, Queen Victoria’s generous stage and auditorium saw the start of the Quinte Ballet School, various amateur theatre productions and concerts and many other special activities.
Taken from: Belleville Public Schools 1966 report (Accession No. 3819)
“Long known as “Pine Street School”, this building commenced with eleven classrooms in 1912 at the same time as Queen Alexandra (Ann Street School), and was extended by five classrooms and an auditorium in 1931. It is one of the four ‘modern’ schools (Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and King George) built at the beginning of the century. In 1908, a proposal was made to City Council to provide $20,000 each for four new public schools, and $60,000 for a new high school. In 1911 part of this plan was realized when Council agreed to provide $35,000 for each of the two public school buildings.”
Queen Victoria School opened officially on Friday, November 8, 1912. The Honourable R.A. Pyne, Minister of Education for the Province of Ontario, was in attendance for the occasion. Documents introduce Mr. A.C. Wilken as the founding Principal, a position he would hold for almost 40 years.
The school went to Grade 8 at the time, with the introduction of kindergarten not occurring until the 40′s.
At one time Queen Victoria boasted a pottery kiln, a music room, an ice rink, a home economics wing and an industrial shop wing in the basement. There was a strong tradition of choral music and many awards at the Rotary Music Festival.
There is a photograph of a good sized band posing outside of the school, which is most likely the band started by teacher Alf Cooper after the WWII. Jack Evans, student in the 40′s,recalled the band in an Intelligencer article. “I learned to play a coronet- and our band toured, playing school concerts in other towns.” Mr. Evans fondly remembered the school at the 80th Birthday celebration. He brings to life an epic snowball battle, and another teacher, a Mr. Cousins, a former artillery officer.
There is a small collection of artifacts in the display case in the school foyer. Among these is a Basketball trophy (cup) from 1929 which has recently been reunited with a photograph of the students who won it. (courtesy of Mr. M. Hope, son of Mr. Robert James Hope, student late 20′s-1930). Also, we are fortunate to have a Junior Red Cross journal from the 30′s and many varied and interesting objects.
For more information, please contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 2354, [email protected]