Big Tancook Elementary School

Last night at the Imagine Our Schools consultation Maureen O’Shaughnessy put a slide up that showed a one room school house. This was an attempt at both levity and to make the pro “small and old school” contingent (ie: this website) look out of touch.

The one room school house was introduced as being a Civil War era model of program delivery.

Her comment was “obviously none of us have kids going to, or remember going to a one room school house.”

This comment caused some concern for us here at Citadel Schools!

Knowing as we do that there is at least one community operating a one room school house on Big Tancook, and suspecting that Westport Village on Briar Island is also a one room school house, it makes us wonder…. just how deep an understanding do these Toronto based consultants have of the widely varying program delivery models that are currently used, successfully, in Nova Scotia?

The first school on Big Tancook opened its doors on November 1, 1820 in a private home. Thomas Gibson was the schoolmaster.

In 1864 the first schoolhouse was built on the northern side of the island. It was located across the road from the present day building. This school was for grades primary to eleven.

Another school was located on the southern side of the island. This school was for grades primary to grade five. The two schools were named Northwest Cove and Southeast Cove Schools. In 1935 the population of the two schools was 85 students.

The Northwest Cove School was torn down and replaced by the present day one built around 1950.

In 1967, grades seven to eleven were sent by ferry to Chester and Southeast Cove School closed its doors forever. Northwest Cove School became Big Tancook Elementary with grades primary to 6. There were two teachers. The school population in 1967 was 33 students.

In 1992, the students became a school for grades primary to five. There was one teacher. Big Tancook Elementary School is one of the last one room schools in Canada. Population averages 10 students. Present teacher and Principal is Elizabeth Sutherland.

Big Tancook Elementary

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