Recollection of Boyhood Days
In Stokes Bay
As related by Arthur Shute to Helene Scott

     Before there was a regular school built at Stokes bay, classes were held in the Orange Hall, which was fairly new at the time. At that time we were not divided by grades, but by classes, designated by the Ontario Readers, as follows: Part one (Primary), Part Second, Second, Third, Junior and Senior Fourth. We generally spent a year in each class and were promoted by trying a written exam, after the Second Book, on. We spent six months in Junior Fourth work and a year in Senior Fourth which corresponds with the present Grade Eight, then to graduate we had to pass an Entrance to High School Examination at the end of the school year.

     The Orange Lodge met in the upper storey of the Hall and a lot of us believed that the lodge members kept a goat up there and had branding tools. I don’t know how such rumours spread, but most boys at certain ages are ready to believe the bizarre and mysterious items they hear from others.

     I remember a girl starting school in First Reader who was head and shoulders taller than the rest of her class. As she had never been to school before, because she always lived too far away to attend she had to start almost at the beginning. A story lesson in the First Reader started off as follows:

     “Fan, a cat is in your bed and she has had a nap in it”. The teacher was testing the class on words in the lesson their meaning. She asked this girl what a nap was. The girl thought for a moment and then blurted out – “Kittens, I guess”. The school broke out in bedlam, laughing, and it took the teacher some time to calm things down. This girl, at least understood nature.


   Arthur Shute, at age 16, 1902.
   We are much indebted to Arthur
   for pictures and history of the
   Shute family.

     We had no enclosed yard at Orange Hall School and we would wander down to the Big River and across the bush on the far side at recess time and noon hour.

     One year we had as a teacher, a tall elderly man who had been an old school master in England and he believed in the old maxim of “Spare the rod and spoil the child“. He never used the regulation strap, but the pointer he always seemed to have in his hand during school hours. It he caught one doodling or drawing pictures when he had given an order, he would bring the pointer down across the offender’s shoulders, or hands, or back of the neck, while the pupil was seated at his desk. We played tricks on him, such as “pinging“ a bald spot on his head, with a spit-ball of chewed-up paper, propelled by catapult or rubber bands, when his back was turned as he was working on the blackboard. We carried carpet tacks and shingle nails and often a favorite stunt when a boy asked to go out, was to place one on his seat, so that when returned and sat down, he would let out a howl and jump into the aisle, then the old man would come raging down, waving the pointer and accusing ones near the scene of the crime. . We all played innocent!

     One year I had the job of lighting fires in the old box gtove in the mornings, and consequently stayed after four to get in the kindling and dry wood for the following morning. We had a lady teacher from Toronto that year who did not believe in using the strap. She never strapped anyone, but always tried to rule by kindness and making one ashamed of what he or she had done. I was at her mercy by having to be in school after four. If I had misbehaved throughout the school day, she would call me over to a seat and would sit down beside me and put her arm around my shoulders and talk to me about how grieved and disappointed she was at my conduct for she had expected so much from me, as a leader and one of her big boys. She made me feel like a heel, and I would have preferred a dozen strokes of the strap, but she won her point, since to avoid these scene, I was pretty careful to try to please her. I was also glad to see other pupils kept in who got a taste of the same gentle persuasion. We all liked her and were sorry when she left.

     Another lady teacher came from around Orillia. She used the strap and was a strict disciplinarian. She was Catholic and as Stokes Bay had an Orange Lodge then, and was about one hundred percent Protestant, she only stayed six months. She was a good teacher but I’m sorry to say, we were all a little prejudiced and narrow about religion in those days.

     I was out of school, working on a farm for eighteen months, and then returned to write the Entrance Exam. As a result, my younger sister and I tried the Exam at the same time although she was 2 1/2 years my junior.

     The Exam was held in Lion’s Head for our Dictrict, comprising from Tobermory, to about ten miles south of Lion’s Head, all pupils south of this line went to Wiarton. It was three day exam, and my sister Sarah and I had to board and room in the village of Lion’s Head during that period. While my sister crammed on the subjects to be written on the following day, I was taught the names of playing cards and how to play euchre by my room-mate. I remember May Williams and Dena Pettigrew who were trying their Exams from Lion’s Head; also a Miss Saunders from Dyer’s Bay who was a real artist at drawing.

     The subjects we had to pass on were, Literature, Composition, Grammar, History, Geography, Arithmetic, Reading, Physiology and Temperance, Writing and Drawing. We had to produce a Writing Book completed, also a Drawing Book, besides a written exam on both. To pass you had to have 331/2 percent on each subject and 50 percent on total marks. On this Art exam we were asked to draw a picture as we saw it from the following verse taken from Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Church Yard” –

          “There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
          That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
          His listless length at noon-tide would stretch,
          And pore upon the brook that babbles by.”

     I got the guy lying down, and the beech and the brook O.K., but the guy had only one leg lying down on his side poring over the brook, but try as I might I could not get him equipped with his limbs intact! Miss Saunders sat two seats ahead of me, and I peeked over her shoulder and saw the perfect man she had drawn; I got the idea and eventually came up with the finished article. Poor Miss Saunders failed, on the total, but passed in drawing.

     Now back to the Orange Hall School. The seats were made by a local carpenter, and the two back seats would have accommodated four young adults easily. I always sat in the one on the boys’ side with generally two others. On the girls’ side the three oldest or legest girls sat, and many notes of the masher type and curiosity questions and answers found their way across the school, at the back. Occasionally, a teacher confiscated one she had captured and it generally meant a whipping, or stay in after school for a lecture.

     Among the children attending school in the Orange Hall were: Nellie, William and Pearl McLeod, children of D.B. and Mrs. McLeod, Mr. McLeod was blacksmith there at the time. Murdock, Malcolm, Margaret and Dick McIver, children of Mr. and Mrs. John L. McIver. Two boys and two girls, children of Mr. and Mrs. Archie Cameron. William Shute, adopted son of Mr. and Mrs. John Shute. Alex, Tena, Maggie, Kate and Sara Smith, children of Mr. and Mrs. Alex Smith. Kelly and Herbie Burley; two Wedow children, a boy and a girl, children of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Wedow, hotel proprietors; Harvey, Charlie, George, Richard and Elgin Golden, children of Mr. and Mrs. Bob Golden; Violet, Georgina, Bert, Charlie and Minerva Golden, family of Mr. and Mrs. George Golden; Harvey Kirk son of Mr. and Mrs. George Kirk; Malcolm and Flora Smith, who lived in Lindsay Township, a mile and half north of Stokes Bay; two McFarlane boys, sons of Bill McFarlane; two Alderson boys, sons of Peter and Mrs. Alerson; Sandy and May Ferguson from Tamrack Island; Ruth Cameron from Thompson’s mill; The Huntsberger children; Kate Liverance came for a short time. Teachers I remember are: Mr. Treadgold, Mrs. Stonehouse and Miss Fox... and my brother Richard James, also taught me for a short time. Mr. Treadgold also taught at Lindsay school and when he came to Stokes Bay, his daughter Jennie came to teach at Lindsay Twp. school.

     On trying my Entrance Exams at Lion’s Head, I came first in the District and 5th in the County, and was presented with a watch by Harry Wedow, the hotel proprietor. (Stokes Bay)

     Mr. Shute passed away in 1975 – then in his 80’s. He was the last of the Shute family. (Wiarton)



Big River
     “Big River” around 1920 showing cooper shop on river’s edge built by Dan McLennan, who also built house in background now owned by jack McLay. Also in picture: Bob Golden home with dock and netshed at River. In extreme right of picture is the home owned by George Kirk. In between are other homes, one of which was Norman McDonald’s first home since destroyed by fire and rebuilt.

Pages 15-18 of Old Timers’ Tales
A History of Stokes Bay and Area
(Bruce Peninsula)
By Helene Scott