School - 1873
the construction of a new combination High and Public
School, or Union School, in Port Perry throughout
the later part of 1872 and well into the following
year, as the Ontario Government prepared legislation
for the construction of high schools in the province.
Questions surrounded the willingness
of ratepayers to dig deep into their pockets to
pay for the erection of a "palace" in which to educate
their children, and the huge and ongoing expenses
involved in equipping and maintaining the building.
In February 1873, the Ontario
legislature was flooded with petitions from High
and Union School boards, looking for a slice of
the public school's budgets. Residents living in
the hamlets and villages surrounding Port Perry
argued against the cutting of public school budgets
and the fact their education taxes would be used
for construction of a High School in Port Perry.
Despite the pleas of ratepayers,
construction began on the new Port Perry Union School
during the summer of 1873, which would combine the
high and public school in the same building.
An article published in the Ontario
Observer, in September that year indicated the building
was finally underway, when it reported the School
House was one of eight buildings in the course of
construction in Port Perry. The two other most significant
buildings were the new Town Hall and Geo. Currie's
About a month later, as construction
was moving along, the Observer noted that the proportions
of the magnificent new educational building (Union
School) were rapidly moving along and that it promised
to rank among the finest school buildings in the
Later that month, in preparation
for the school's opening, council called for repairs
to the sidewalks between the new Town Hall and the
Construction on the building continued
throughout the winter and finally on March 6, 1874
the school was opened. The Observer reported the
new and magnificent school building, having been
sufficiently advanced to admit the pupils, held
a celebration to which the public were invited.
So successful was the celebration that twice as
many attended as could be accommodated in the large
room in which the program of entertainment by the
students took place.
The school served the community
for over 50 years, before being destroyed by fire
on April 7, 1926.
After serving the
community for more than 50 years, Port Perry Union
School went up in a blaze of glory.
Fire ripped through the magnificent
structure on the evening of Wed., April 7, 1926,
devouring the building and all its contents.
The fire was discovered by the
caretaker, Mr. A.W. Allin, who returned to open
the school for a meeting of the Board of Education.
He had put on a fire in one of the furnaces to heat
the board room, then went home.
The alarm was given, and the fire
brigade was soon on hand, and while every effort
was made to save the property, the fire had too
big a start, and the firemen were powerless to save
The newspaper reported: "It was
a wonderful spectacle. That roaring furnace of flame,
situated as it was at almost the highest point in
town, lit up the whole countryside. The walls had
been splendidly built, and retained the fire like
the sides of a huge furnace. The flames would leap
high above the walls, where the wind would at times
catch them, and whirl them forward in quest of new
About The Fire
Nobody was seriously
hurt although a few firemen did have a narrow
escape when the tower fell in.
The Fire lasted three hours
and damages was estimated at $65,000.
Following the fire, students
attended classes in the basements of area churches
and the town hall.
Mr. Orchard's house, right next
to the school was saved. His windows were also
saved by hanging wet blankets over them.
Principals: Thomas Follick was
principal of the high school and Marshal Rae principal
of the public school at the time of the fire.
Return to the
Top | Return
to Town History Index