Remembering the one room schoolhouse: Legacy project rebuilds school as it was in the 1860’s

Lanark County’s Beckwith Township has heritage on its mind these days: The rural community located just outside of Ottawa has undertaken more than one legacy project over the years, some in commemoration of Canada’s 150th, with the most recent project, now complete, to reconstruct an 1867-era one-room log schoolhouse in Beckwith Park.

The goal, according to Beckwith Township Reeve, Richard Kidd, is to create a static display museum similar to that found in Upper Canada Village that will depict what life would have been like in the 1860s in Beckwith, while highlighting the important role the one-room schoolhouse had played in the community for over 100 years.

One-room schoolhouses were a common sight in rural Ontario in the 1800s. Typically located in areas where there were enough students within walking distance to warrant its construction, children of all ages were taught in the same room. Many of Lanark County’s one-room schoolhouses are still standing today, serving communities as everything from libraries to community centres.

Kidd noted that the one-room schoolhouse model was “very good for social skills,” describing an environment in which students in grades 1 to 8 were all in the same room and learning at the same time. In the 1860s there were 13 schoolhouses situated in Beckwith Township; they were all closed in 1966.

“From 1818 to 1966 the one-room schoolhouse was a big part of the rural community here, it was a community centre and a schoolroom,” Kidd explained.

The reconstruction of the Beckwith schoolhouse was completed with an eye to historical accuracy: the logs have been recycled from an 1850s log barn, and students from Algonquin College Perth Campus’ Heritage Carpentry program constructed the heritage windows. School desks, bookcases, books and a teacher’s desk complete the scene inside the schoolhouse. A windmill pump will also be added to the landscape, preserving what life would have been like 150 years ago.

The one-room schoolhouse reconstruction in Beckwith Township is the latest project in a line of heritage-focused projects recently undertaken by the Township. In 2017, Beckwith embarked on another ambitious legacy project, to create anedible park in Beckwith Park.

Through this Canada 150 project, heritage apple, plum, cherry, butternut and currant trees were planted within Beckwith Park on a one-acre plot. Species were carefully selected in order to accurately represent life in Beckwith 150 years ago. Currently on the 2.5-acre lot set aside for the legacy projects sit three log barns, the edible park, and in 2018 the one-room schoolhouse was added to the project, creating a static display museum.

Enjoy Beckwith’s heritage sites on a drive through Lanark County using the following publications:

Historic Cemeteries of Beckwith Township, Lanark County, Ontario Canada

Hamlets of Beckwith Township, Lanark County, Ontario Canada


Learn More about the one room Schoolhouses of Beckwith Township, in Lanark County, Ontario Canada: