Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Fallbrook Farm Heritage Site
Update 59 - The Significance of Community Past and Present


It is the right time to return to our roots, the origin and inspiration of the Fallbrook campaign and the Ballinafad Oral Project. The possible destruction of the little Celt McKay farmhouse which preserved the McClure log cabin exemplified a profound lack of appreciation of the contribution of the pioneer community which continued the work of the Iroquois people in opening this land to human occupation. Through the opinions of heritage experts and historians, we have demonstrated here on the significance of that contribution. With the courage and determination typical of pioneer communities, the families of Ballinafad created a synergetic force based on cooperation, concern for your neighbour and a sharing of human and material resources which ensured the survival of their common endeavour.

The sprit and force of community is where lies the significance of the Fallbrook project. No one person, no one family but persons working tirelessly together to forge a new life for themselves and their neighbours. The common good dominated over individual prestige and profit. This form of community significance is recognized by the Ontario Heritage Act as a basis for historical designation. It is also recognized as a fundamental human value .That value is very much threatened with extinction in the Occident where individual and corporative ambitions and profit enter into direct conflict. All is not lost as enlightened persons work in all sectors to cultivate the spirit of community and to ensure that it is transmitted to the next generation. Halton Hills, at the borders of the endless industrial park of western Toronto, is a perfect example of a community which has taken up this challenge. Jim and Marion Kirkwood are examples of persons who have dedicated their lives, in the most discrete fashion, to nourishing the spirit of community and ensuring that the torch be passed. Jessie McKay is another example, directly linked to Fallbrook and the Oral history project.There are many more, both in the Fad and the surrounding district. Persons who have dedicated their lives to others and the betterment of their communities’ without fanfare. Their histories survive often only in oral history. If this history goes unrecorded, it is lost forever. What do we know of the thriving native communities which thrived at Silver Creek before the arrival of Europeans?

The Ballinafad Oral history project was initiated by Graeme Morton, Chairperson, Scottish Studies, University of Guelph, Sandy McKay, Joan Kadoke and Jim Kirkwood. James Jensen has since joined the team. The soul and spirit of both the campaign to preserve the Fallbrook site as a memorial to the native and pioneer communities and the Oral History project is Reverend Jim. He will scringe at both the title and the ``showboating``but we have poetic license! Jim grew up in the spirit of the ``Fad``and it is with the congregation of the Ballinafad United Church that his life mission has its roots. He and his life partner Marion embody this spirit in their own persons, their life long relationship in the service of others, their families and in the numerous projects in Africa and here in Canada and their beloved Toronto. Their mission in Africa was building community in collaboration with local populations and in total respect of their integrity. The work of Jim and Marion against apartheid continued when they returned to Canada. For newspaper articles on Jim and Marion, return to the history of James Palmer Kirkwood by linking to

In the photos below, we see the Kirkwood homesteads in Erin Township. Jim is seen admiring the tombstone of a Rockside pioneer family at Melville Cemetary, White Church, Belfountaine.Below right, Marion is seen between cousins Alan Kirkwood and Marion Smeaton Kirkwood at Hickory Falls, near Ballinafad.

It is Rachel McKay Schwan and Alan and Nancy Sinclair who spoke of Jessie McKay in their interview for the Oral History project. She was described by Aunt Rachel (both granddaughters of Donald McKay) as a dedicated teacher who worked all her life in Toronto with challenged youth. Rachel remembered that ``Jessie worked tirelessly for her students, never counting her hours and often going to court to serve as a character reference.`` She moved to Toronto with other family members specifically to teach at the Model School which formed new teachers. She never married and worked all her life for the Toronto School board ,dying prematurely in 1969 at the age of 59.She has been described as the ``sparkplug of the McKay clan``. Outside of her immediate family circle, few knew of her dedication and unsung contribution as a pioneering educator but through oral history, she finds her rightful place in history. Most probably, she was named after her Aunt Jessie who never married and dedicated her life to the Fallbrook farm and the care of the patriarch, Donald. An article on the Model School where Jessie McKay is named follows this update.

The Kirkwoods and Jessie McKay are examples of a never-ending list of unsung heroes. The spirit of community survives against huge obstacles in persons working tirelessly and discretely in all sectors around the planet. In cultural and natural heritage, environment, the constant struggle for social justice, the list is endless. People organised in community form pockets of resistance. Values have been transmitted in spite of the overwhelming odds. Will they survive? We can only hope and persevere.

S. McKay Ballinafad Oral History Project
June 13, 2011, Quebec City

Toronto Normal School - Today (Originally Published Around 1947 )FOR six years the shadow of the Second Great War lay on the Toronto Normal School. First came the tragic loss of Thornton Mustard. Then came the enlistment of graduates in the armed forces, with tidings from time to time and from distant lands of former students who had made the supreme sacrifice. One of these, F/L Malcolm McIver, a F. C., was valedictorian of the year 1940-41, and son of Murdoch McIver of the School's Soldier Year, 1919-20.

In the summer of 1941, the influence of the conflict was felt by the School in another way. A call came from the Department of National Defence for quarters in Toronto for Initial Training School No. 6, in connection with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The Government of Ontario promptly offered the buildings of the Normal and Model Schools and arrangements were quickly completed for the transfer of the teacher-training institution to the building known as the Earl Kitchener Public School. This three-storey building of seven­teen rooms, located at 870 Pape Avenue in the Township of East York, was made available through the co-operation of the Toronto Board of Education. Though lacking an adequate auditorium, and having no gymnasium, the building provided reasonably satisfactory temporary quarters for the Normal School.

H. E. Elborn, General Editor of Text-books in the Ontario Depart­ment of Education, had been appointed principal of the School in October, 1939. It fell to his lot to supervise the move to the new building, and to adjust the life and routine of the institution to its new surroundings.

The Model School, sister institution of the Normal School for ninety-three years, was disbanded at the time of the transfer to Pape Avenue. Its pupils were absorbed in the public, separate, or private schools of the city, and its teachers were either transferred to the staff of Toronto Public Schools, or were assigned new duties under the De­partment of Education.

The Model School had played a valuable role in the history of teacher-training in Ontario. Organized at a time when the common schools of the community were not of high standard, it had provided, as its name implied, a model for student-teachers to copy later in schools of their own. By the twentieth century, the publicly supported schools of the Province were well organized, well-housed, well-equipped, and well-staffed, and consequently were in a position to provide facili­ties for teacher-training purposes. For that reason, special Model Schools were not attached to the Normal Schools instituted in London, Hamilton, North Bay, Peterborough, and Stratford. But the Model Schools in Ottawa and Toronto continued to operate. They stood a little apart from the city school systems; they had their own traditions and com­manded their own loyalties. When their buildings were taken over during the war, families whose children had been educated in the "Model" for several generations mourned the passing of what had be­come beloved institutions.

The place that the Toronto Normal Model School held in the hearts of its "old boys and girls" had been shown in February, 1934, when a reunion was held of its graduates of fifty or more years before. Sir John Aird, Sir Henry Pellatt, and Col. A. E. Gooderham were among former students who attended this party organized by Headmaster F. M. McCordic in connection with Toronto's Centennial Year. "One by one the old students appeared," reads a report in the Mail and Empire of February 22, 1934, "looked quickly around the gathering and then, with 'Hello Bill' or 'Well, well, Charlie,' began to renew the acquaintances of more than half a century ago. There were those who brought old prize books, others with old photographs and autograph albums, and others with old reports. In one corner of the room were the old registers. Grey heads bent over these yellowing volumes, pick­ing out who stood first in his class or laughing because they discovered they stood last."

Headmasters of the Model School after the turn of the century were: Angus McIntosh (1887-1912) ; R. W. Murray (1913-15) ; Milton A. Sorsoleil (1915-21); Thornton Mustard (1921-23): F. M. McCordic (1923-40) ; and Adam McLeod (1940-41). Of these, M. A. Sorsoleil later became Deputy Minister of Welfare for Ontario, Thornton Mustard became eighth principal of the Toronto Normal School, and Mr. McLeod became Supervisor of Correspondence Courses in the Department of Education. Two staff members often recalled by graduates of the school arc Thomas Porter and Charters Sharpe. Mr. Sharpe is now on the staff of University of Toronto Schools, and keeps in close touch with the "old boys" of the Model by post-card, circular letter, and informal reunion. Former members of the staff who are now enjoying retirement in Toronto are: Misses May K. Caulfield, Alice Harding, Lilian Harding, A. F. Laven, and Mary E. Maclntyre; Messrs. F. M. McCordic, C. D. Bouck, and E. H. Price. The staff of the Model School during its final year,1940-41, was composed of: A. McLeod, C. T. Sharpe, R. G. Kendall, C. E. McMullen, Jessie I. Cross, Doris R.. Soden, Jessie McKay, Rose Lynch, Mrs. K. Crawford, Marion Evans, Jean Greig, Mrs. C. S. Burke, Elizabeth Mitchell, M. Maude Watterworth, A. Elsie Sherin, and Mrs. Vera S. Fuller. The following members of the Normal School staff were asso­ciated with the Model School: G. S. Apperley, D. W. Burns, E. Grace Conover, Joicey M. Horne, Mrs. Vera E. Russell. ...............

One hundred years is a long time in the history of public education in any land. In the century from 1847 to 1947 the pioneer Normal School of the Province has become one of a group of eight schools entrusted with the training of teachers for the elementary schools, the University of Ottawa Normal School having been opened in 1927. Two of these sister Normal Schools are now headed by former masters of the Toronto Normal School—Dr. C. E. Mark, appointed principal in London in 1932. and W. K. F. Kendrick, appointed principal of the Ottawa Normal School in 1946.

But the Toronto Normal School has meant much more in the educational history of Ontario than an institution for the training of teachers. As the home of the Education Office for many years it was, as Lord Elgin termed it, the seed-plot of the school system. In it, diverse educational projects were nurtured until they became sturdy enough for independent growth. Thus the collection of curios in the corridors of the Normal School is but a memory, dwarfed by the Royal Ontario Museum; the School of Art and Design has become the Ontario College of Art; the copies of old masters and the plaster reproductions of famous statuary, once the pride of the Normal School, are forgotten now that original masterpieces are on view in the Art Gallery of Toronto; experiments in cereal production, once a feature of the School's grounds, are now the province of the Ontario Agricultural College; the training of high school teachers, begun in the School in 1858, is now the function of the Ontario College of Education; books once assembled in the building in St. James Square now form the nucleus of the educational section of the Legislative Library. And so the catalogue could go on. The Toronto Normal School was long not only the seed-bed, but, as Ryerson described it, the main-spring of the system of public instruction.

Those days are gone by, but the chief task of the school—that of teaching those who will teach our children—remains one of first im­portance. In this history we have read much of staff members and buildings—of masters and masonry, if you will,—but a school is more than bricks and stone, more than its teachers; it is the sum of its staff. students, and graduates. Just as those groups have won for the Toronto Normal School, during the past century, the place it holds in the educa­tional life of the Province, so those groups to-day must uphold and strive to improve the quality of the school's work in the years to come. To men and women teaching or studying in its classrooms, or leaving its halls for classrooms of their own, might be addressed the lines from Newbolt's Clifton Chapel:

"Henceforth the School and you are one,
And what You are the race shall be."

Toronto Normal School:
Toronto Normal School

Toronto Normal School - Centenary Address

Toronto Normal School - Old Government House

Toronto Normal School - First Years

Toronto Normal School - Temperance Hall

Toronto Normal School - St. James Square

Toronto Normal School - Years Of Transition

Toronto Normal School - Turn Of The Century

Toronto Normal School - Between Two Wars

Toronto Normal School - Today

* Extracts of article from the internet. For the complete article, link to

Jim and Marion Kirkwood in their comfortable home in the heart of Toronto. Jim archives precious pictures while Marion displays a sample of her colourful weaving.

Return to Fallbrook Farm Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus