Cornwall School (formerly at the corner of Algoma Street & Cornwall Avenue)
Cornwall School was a three story building on the corner of Algoma Street and Cornwall Avenue where today a community garden is located. It was built in 1907 and closed as a school in 1988.
Back in the 1960's the classrooms were arranged so that there was a blend of younger and older children on each floor. Upon entering the school through the front double doors, steps on the left side led to the first floor classrooms. Another set of steps to your right led to the basement where the gym and washrooms and a few other rooms were located. The school had numerous large windows. The window height took up two thirds of the wall with four of these huge windows per wall. Each had a light coloured blind that was pulled down by a cord. Radiators were situated below each set of windows.
The grade one classroom was the first door on the left (south wall) as you headed up the stairs to the main floor. Its tall windows faced south (Cornwall Avenue). Grade two was the next door on your left. These were followed by Kindergarten (west wall) and grade six (north wall).
The gym was located in the basement. The gym floor was of highly polished hardwood. Exercise equipment was dragged out of a closet and then put back again at the end of the period. This equipment consisted of an old leather horse with spring board, tumbling mats and a variety of balls including a heavy, black medicine ball. Exercise time was five days of the week for 45-60 minutes. At the back of the gym, steps led to the playground located behind the school.
Every classroom had polished hardwood floors. The hardwood was narrow. The younger children had cloak rooms to hang up their jackets and park their boots. The cloakroom also served as a 'time-out' room. One janitor took care of the whole school and you could always see him with his mop and bucket either doing general washing or being called in case of an emergency such as the aftermath of a sick child.
A huge portrait of Queen Elizabeth and one of Prince Phillip graced the north wall by the grade six room. There may also have been some sort of display case separating the two photos. School choir practice for the annnual city-wide competition was held in this open hall area.
The upper floor of the school had grade four at the top of the stairs left (south wall) with the windows opening to the east and south. Grade three was on the east wall to the right of the stairs with huge windows overlooking the east (Lake Superior) and front playground. Grade five was north with windows to the east and I believe 7 and 8 sometimes combined in one classroom north wall with windows to the north. However during the late 60's the grade seven room was opposite to the principals office with south windows at our back. A small room north west was occupied several times a year by a health nurse who examined the children's teeth and gave vaccinations. Notes were sent home to the parents to advise them if further care was needed.
The desks in the early years 1- 4 were old wooden type desks with a space under the table top for your books and the seat was attached and went up like a theatre seat once you got up. The wood was dark and attached to black iron with curves and patterns in it. In the mid sixties these were replaced with desks that were of a light coloured laminate material with metal frame.
Cornwall School had two playgrounds. The one in the front (Algoma Street) was surrounded by a six foot high chain link fence. It had a wide opening at Algoma Street where the crossing guard always waited for us. Children were forbidden to run and fetch a ball or whatever else rolled, bounced or sailed out of this front gate. Two teachers patrolled during recess as we played. The playground was divided into two sections. Boys on the right and girls on the left. I found it amazing that while some kids played singing games in a circle, others played baseball amongst them and no one was injured. The right side of the playground also had two basketball hoops as did the back playground.
The back playground was equal in size to the front with an identical chain link fence. It ran along Secord Street. Organzied baseball games were played here as were official games played against other schools. This was considered the older kids turf and grade five to eight had their recess here. The north fire escape was located in back and students were forbidden to climb it.
Further information about former schools including Cornwall School can be found at this Lakehead School Board website: http://www.lakeheadschools.ca/ .