By Michelle Poirier

The Century Schoolhouse program takes elementary students back to the 1900s in the rebuilt Cedar Brae Schoolhouse at Georgina’s Pioneer Village.

The Town started the program to teach students the differences and similarities between their school day and the typical school day of a Georgina student in the 1900s.

“Students learn a little about what school was like for children in the late 19th century. That is, the type of school desks in use, slate boards and inkwells, all grades in one room, heated by a wood stove, and methods of discipline,” the Town said.

The learning experience includes role-play, as students are encouraged to take on the identity of a 19th-century child.

“Students are given a photo of a 1900-era Georgina student with details such as their name and birthdate; this will be who they will answer as during the roll call. Through guided imagery, students will leave 2023 and wake up to imagine themselves in 1900.”

During their journey back in time, students also learn how to address their teacher correctly, recite God Save the Queen, practice cursive writing, and take a 19th-century math quiz.

According to the Town, the program has been very successful, with students engaged and interested in what they have been learning.

“We try to incorporate comparison in all of our lessons. Children are engaged when they can see or touch something from 100-plus years ago and compare it to a modern-day equivalent,” the Town said.

“They often have many questions. Much of the morning is taken up with question-and-answer time; then, at the end of the visit, we review what they learned and how they feel about the life of a 19th-century rural student.”

Cedar Brae Schoolhouse

The Town of Georgina completed the schoolhouse rebuild on July 29, 2022, with occupancy on December 22, 2022.

Cedar Brae Schoolhouse has a long history in Georgina; it was built around 1880 to accommodate the students of the new school section.

In 1964, the school board closed the school, and the building was used as a community hall for 15 years. But the hall closed in 1979 due to lack of use, and the building was donated to the historical society and moved to Georgina Pioneer Village in 1984.

In 2017, it was closed to the public when Town determined the building was unsafe.

“The rebuild process has ultimately resulted in a true replica of the original schoolhouse,” the Town said.

While much of the original structure has been replaced, the bell cupola, wood furnace and blackboards were preserved, and two bookcases will be reinstalled pending refinishing.

According to the Town, the rebuild, due to be completed in 2019, was delayed by the pandemic and changes to the scope of work.

In 2019, the Town budgeted $200,000 for the rebuild. But Town Council had to approve additional funding to complete the project. The final cost was $425,503.

‏The Town said new programs for kindergarten classes are in the works, and it hopes to introduce community programs at the schoolhouse, including evening programs for youth and adults.

Teachers can find the booking request form on the Town of Georgina website. The Century Schoolhouse is a full-day program, limited to groups of 40 or less, and recommended for grade three classes.

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