St. John Separate School

From the beginning, the first schools in Garson were considered public schools as no religion was being taught. By 1936, Father Coghlen (a Roman Catholic priest who served on the school board from 1936 to 1945) was actively trying to create a separate school system. Despite his efforts, a separate school was not seriously considered until near the end of his term.

St. John School - 2004.  Photo courtesy of Carolyn Salem.On February 5, 1945, a meeting was held in the parish hall at St. John's church. It was at this meeting that a separate school board was formed. From this development, the new school board arranged for the purchase of property on William Street on which to erect a separate school.

While plans were under way for the development of the school, the board rented the church's hall for classes. Plywood was used to divide the room into sections and thus separate the students into grade levels for instruction.

Construction began on the school in March of 1946 and by September of that year, it was ready to receive students. St. John Separate School contained two classrooms and an auditorium with a folding wall that could serve to divide the space into two additional classrooms.

The students were taught in both French and English. The two French classes each had 41 students, with one class consisting of Grade 1 and 2 students and the other of Grade 3 to Grade 6 students. On the English side, the Grade 1 to Grade 6 class (taught by former S.S. #2 teacher, Kathleen Donnelly) contained 60 students while the Grade 7 to Grade 9 class had 20 pupils.

Soon after classes began, the division of grades was restructured and a third English-speaking teacher was hired to take over the instruction of the Grades 4 to 6 groups. This additional class was held in the basement of the school.

By 1947, the school board was considering making additions to the school, though this was not done until 1952. In the meantime, the school was overcrowded and not enough classroom space was available to teach all of the students. The board once again rented out the Parish Hall to create two more classrooms.

Finally, in 1954, construction on the new wing was completed, allowing for an additional 155 English students and 148 French students.


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