Page 19 - Alexander Munro, Early Schoolmaster
ISSUE : Issue 20
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1978/8/1
unless means comes from some other quarter. The want of a house is the only thing I feel disappointed in, for a good house is the only comfort we can have in this coun? try. ... "Unless you saw them you can have no idea of the poverty of the people in general. When travelling among them I meet with the greatest kindness. Plenty of fish and po- atoes, but the bed of straw was very cold, with the frosty wind blowing in between the logs, seldom having more than one sin? gle blanket to cover me. But they are get? ting better in their moral things every year and.I hope by the blessing of God on your exertions they will be advancing in spiritual things every day though we have much to do and contend with. I cherish the hope that I shall see Cape Breton bud and blossom as the rose, and not only support her own ministers, but assist in sending the gospel to other benighted lands. "Mrs. Munro and I commenced teaching on November 21 and have 60 scholars. The whooping cough has kept many away. In a week or two I expect some pupils from St. Anns and two lads from Middle River have taken up their abode in a small hut beside the school. We are unable fully to carry out the training system as we could wish for want of a gallery. I have mounted the maps on rollers at my own expense, and I suppose I shall have to put the pictures on the boards too....I should have many more young men had I a pair of globes. We live about half a mile from the school. We open at half past nine, and continue till dark about 4 o'clock with an interval of 15 minutes. The people are very much in want of medicine, being 24 miles from a doctor. I brought out some for my own use. They asked if we had any and in a few days I had given all away." Munro began his school on the twentieth of November, 1839, barely a month after his arrival. Munro's first register is still in very good shape. He has entered very neatly the names of the pupils, their ages, parents' names and dates entered. Pupils apparently entered the learning process at, various times throughout the term. The ages of the pupils ranged, in the first term, from several seven-year-olds to one-' James Sutherland, age twentjr'-six. The fil'st term Munro conducted his school from November to May with sixty pupils. Entries begin again June 15; this time however, Munro has them regrouped in families, the ages are not recorded and the dates of en? rollment listed for only those pupils who enrolled late. On November 20, l840, the number registered reached 104. This nximber had declined to 95 by the following March. Mtinro has separate entries for male and fe? male students • males at the beginning of the register and females at the middle. At the back of the register is a list of names, students and teachers, and items they apparently purchased from Munro. In? cluded among the items were the following; Johnson Dictionaries, readers • first to fifth books, paper, pens, quills, English grammars. Bibles, and Woods Extracts. Teaching supplies sold included reading, geography and mensuration books, maps. The school operated by Munro was known as Boularderie Academy. School records clas? sified it as a superior school. It might be thought of as an early Normal School? indeed Munro felt it could easily become such a school but probably it would be best classified as a Vocational or Techni? cal school. The Munros would give classes in any subject area that was needed or in which there was sufficient interest. They worked as a team, Catherine being as capa? ble a teacher in her own right as Alexand? er. Born at Ardnamurchan, I8l4, she at? tended a private school in Glasgow, trained as a teacher and had a good com? mand of French, music, needle work and cooking. Alexander concentrated his ef? forts in the academic areas with lessons in Mathematics, Grammar, Geography, Natur? al History, Algebra and Latin. Mrs. Munro was highly qualified in this type of educa? tion having had an appointment as' mistress of a School of Industry at Manchester, Eng? land. From her letters: "I have 30 girls sewing from 9 to 24 years of age and expect to have more through the winter. They are exceedingly anxious to learn. Only 2 or 3 are tolerable sewers, but they all strive to imitate my work and are succeeding astonishingly well consid? ering their apparatus. There is not a scis? sors in the"school but mine. Few of them can manage to bring more than one needle at a time. They depended on me for those J. W. Stephens cSSstle Limited building centre ??UllDilkS SUPHIIS harpWari an?? faints WOODWORKIRS AND JMtlL WORK Phone the Lumber Number Sydit my 564-5554 , IXovak Scotia Local Distributors of Angelstone and Mason Windows A Full Line of Flooring and Insulation. Cape Breton - A Bibliography Prepared by Brian Tennyson of the College of Cwpe Breton and published by the Nova Scotia Department of Education, the volume lists all publications relating to Cape Breton from early times to the end of 1976. 114 pages including index. Price: $2.70 postpaid, from the Nova Scotia Government Bookstore, Box 637, Halifax B3J 2T3. Please include payment with order and make cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance, Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Department of Education Honourable George Mitchell, Minister Carmen Moir, Deputy Minister
Cape Breton's Magazine