1987.17.925 | Mount Middleton School and Highway, Kings County, New Brunswick

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Mount Middleton School and Highway, Kings County, New Brunswick
H. W. Beecher Smith
June 1933, 20th century
Silver print
12.4 x 17.2 cm
William Francis Ganong Collection
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

Education during the 1930s went through contradictory phases of decline and growth. In larger cities, lack of work forced young men and women to stay in school beyond the years when many might have sought blue-collar employment. This increase in enrollment forced some schools to fill to capacity and encouraged the construction of new, larger educational institutions. In addition, the creation of vocational training programs increased the need for more space. Enrollment tripled. University enrollment climbed through the 1930s as well, although employment following graduation remained an uncertain prospect. Surprisingly, in the midst of the Depression, a boom in school construction occurred in centres such as Moncton, providing much needed employment.

In rural areas, the story unfolded much differently. The operation of the one-room schools had always been dependant upon the wealth of the community. As the Depression slashed farm income, local school boards struggled to pay teachers' salaries, or even to maintain the school buildings. In most cases, rural New Brunswick could feed itself, but the lack of hard cash made it difficult for extras such as books and repairs to the schoolhouse roof. Consolidation and school closures followed.

  • What

    A flagpole in the yard of this school was once struck by lightening and reduced to splinters; the replacement was attached to the school building!

  • Where

    Mount Middleton is located in Studholm Parish, near the community of Millstream, NB.

  • When

    New Brunswick possessed 2400 school districts in 1930 but fewer than 1600 by 1940, due to a declining rural population and the effects of the Depression.

  • Who

    Architects and designers followed a basic design, making the one-room school readily identifiable from province to province.