The Maple Hill School: A Vibrant Gathering Place for the Community
Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Since we are still so excited about fall and everyone going back to school again, that we are going to showcase another historic school. This week, we will tell you about the heritage schoolhouse known as the Maple Hill School!
The original school in the area was located on the corner of lot 35, concession 5 on the corner of the Catering Road and the 5th concession. It was a small log schoolhouse built in the area in the 1850’s. Eventually, this school was sold to a man named John North who moved it across the street and converted it into a family dwelling. The 1878 York County map shows us that a new school was built on the east half of lot 30, concession 3, made from brick to replace the old schoolhouse. This schoolhouse was described as which was described as an “oldish frame building, rather poorly furnished and situated” (Mulvaney & Robinson, 1886, page 179). There were only about 15 students there at the time.
By about 1900 a new school needed to be constructed, and the people in the area disagreed as to where the new school should be built. It was eventually decided that the school should reside on lot 31, concession 4, facing the Maple Hill Sideroad; today it can be seen on the corner of Boag Road and Catering Road. The former school was sold to John Norris, who tore it down and rebuilt it as a residence. This new school was built by architect John Croutch in 1914 as a one-room schoolhouse, costing about $2700 (worth about $60,000 today) and it served about 30 students from kindergarten to grade 8. The building had two outhouses, one on the boy’s side and one on the girl’s side, and students kept warm by means of a wood-burning stove in the wintertime in the 1940’s and 50s.
Figure 1: The Maple Hill school near Ravenshoe, built in 1914. Photo from Gladys Rolling's East Gwillimbury in the 19th Century (1967).
In 1965, there was a movement to demolish this small schoolhouse when larger school buildings were being constructed across East Gwillimbury. However, the East Gwillimbury Women’s Institute stepped in and successfully petitioned the municipality to keep the building as a community hall, and they purchased the building from the school board to save it. It remains today as a hallmark of early education and community spirit. If you want to learn more about this heritage schoolhouse, you can read about when it celebrated its 100th birthday here.
Have you ever attended an event at the North Union Community Centre, or attended it when it was a schoolhouse? Let us know in the comments!