Grace and One-Room Schools

Grace Morton, One-Room Schools, 1 room schoolhousesIf history were told in the form of stories,
it would never be forgotten.
Rudyard Kipling, author

Grace: a teacher’s life, one-room schools and a century of change in Ontario is a book about Grace Morton’s life (1907-2008) in southern Ontario. It’s also social history – stories about how it was to grow up on a farm, teach in one-room schools, and live in small rural communities. It illustrates how much Ontario has changed – and education, too.

Articles on the book appeared in The Kingston Whig and Kingston This Week. To hear a radio interview with the author, click on or see my post entitled Radio Interview – listen in. A review of Grace appears in Renaissance magazine, published by the Retired Teachers of Ontario, reprinted in my post: Book Review — RTO magazine (see list on right of page).
Grace is a high-quality publication designed and printed by Allan Graphics, Ltd., in Kingston:
For more information, or to order a book, please click on the headings at the top of this page.  When sending a message through a reply box, your email address will not appear online.


14 thoughts on “Grace and One-Room Schools

  1. mARTa Lynne Gill

    Dear Millie,
    As a former teacher and a mother I am most moved by your book, GRACE .
    An amazing account of those by-gone days in the classroom and country communities, but more than that, a mother would be so proud of a daughter like you who portrayed it all with such love and respect.
    I think I’ll replace my Hoya plant with a HIBISCUS in memory of your story. What a beautiful woman she was ! and you likewise, Millie.
    Marta Lynne Gill
    Grandma, Artist, Mini-farmer and retired teacher (’59 ’90 )
    Glen Major, Ontario

  2. LeAnne Taylor

    Good Morning Millie
    I am interested in contacting you regarding an opportunity to speak to a group of retired women teachers, but I cannot find a direct contact. Can you help me with this please?
    SIncerely, LeAnne
    Reply: As always, I’m in touch personally to respond to invitations or requests for books.

  3. Joyce Blyth

    Hi Millie,
    I purchased you book at the Guelph Historical Society meeting last week and have thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of it. Once I started, I could not put it down.

    I am 82 years old, attended a one room school (1939 – 1946), have lived on a farm all my life so I can relate fully to the rural life stories.

    Simple times – yes. But I look back on my school days at Binkham, S. S. 3 in Erin Township with a fondness that can’t be duplicated. In those years nobody had much, nor did we expect much, but we appreciated what little we had. During the war years we learned to make-do, put up with and do without.

    Thank you for sharing the life story of your remarkable mother.

    Joyce Blyth

    Hi Joyce,
    Thanks for writing to share your thoughts. How fortunate you are to live your life on a farm. When I was growing up on a farm, I thought living in the country was better than living in the city.
    I enjoyed speaking to the Guelph Historical Society — an enthusiastic audience.

  4. John Lowry

    Dear Millie
    I have just finished reading your book and found it to be a very enjoyable read. It is a tremendous tribute to the life of your mother. You were fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk with her about her life. My grandmother was a one-room schoolhouse teacher in SW Saskatchewan in the 1920s and early 1930s. Your book has helped me to understand what life must have been like for her. With kind regards, John

    Dear John
    Thanks so much for sharing what the book meant to you. Writing Grace’s story helped me understand more too – and realize how hard it is to see life from someone else’s perspective. It’s so easy to judge others, and so much effort to try to understand.

  5. Kim

    Hello Millie,
    Mrs. Morton was my teacher at Allan’s school. That was the last year before it closed. There was 3 of us in Grade 1. I have so many wonderful memories of her and all that we did and learned beyond the academics. Centennial year celebration and I had to do a performance…..”On a bicycle built for two”….with Gary & Bobby. In my family, I was the last of the kids to have her as a teacher. I so remember the button dress my mother made me so I could wear it over to the farm for our get together.
    A couple of years later she was my supply teacher in Stirling. I kept in touch in later years through correspondance, and many years later when she lived on Bridge Street, Belleville, we reminisced about that time in the playground when I took hold of her hand and I said how we learned so much more at Allan’s. (I was in Grade 3).
    She gave me a book of her poetry and I have always treasured it.
    It was by chance, well sychronicity really that I heard about your book. I can’t wait to read your book. Thank you for writing it!
    Stratford, Ontario

  6. Ralph Reid

    I was a student at Allans School when your mother Grace taught there. Grace was a great teacher and she would go out of her way to teach a slower pupil. In the pic of the pupils in front of blackboard I am the the tall pupil in the back row in the middle. Thank you Grace for being a great teacher.
    Ralph Reid

    1. Ralph Reid

      Hi Millie:
      I was one of Grace Morton’s students and she was kind to every one of us. I remember I had an operation and was hospitalized for two weeks. After I returned home, I couldn’t go back to school right away. The first day at home a knock came to the door at 4:30 in the afternoon. It was my teacher. She said, “I’m going to come a few nights to keep Ralph caught up.” My mom couldn’t believe that a teacher would do that.
      I am not an avid reader. I usually skim over stuff. After I got the book I decided to read a little but it was so good I read half the book. The next day I finished the book. It sure brought back a lot of memories and I shed a few tears too. Your mother was a great teacher and we pupils in Allans School all liked her a lot.
      Ralph Reid

      Hi Ralph,
      Thanks for writing. I remember your name and I found you in the 1956 picture. You look pretty happy. How many years did Grace teach you? I’ll bet you have a few stories I’d love to hear about Grace and school.

  7. Larry Ellis

    Good morning Millie: I spoke with you about two years ago, you called me looking for information about Victoria school. Sorry, but due to a health issue I did not get to it and some how lost your contact info. Anyway what I do know is that my dad Wilfred Ellis attended that school and your mom was his first school teacher. My dad also was there early in the morning in the winter to start the fire to get the school warm for school. I also know that my dad and mom remained good friends over the years. I missed seeing at your book signing at the Havelock library as I was away on vaction and at your presentation at Lang pioneer village. Could you let me know where I could purchase your book. I look forward to reading it. Thank you, Larry Ellis.

  8. Larry Ellis

    Hello Millie Morton: could you let me know where I could purchase your book. I was away on vacation when you were at our Havelock library and also missed see you at Lang on County Day. I actually spoke to you on the phone about two years ago when you called looking for infomation and I was to recall you. However due to family health issues I didn’t get to it and lost your contact info. Would still be willing to chat if you care to. I believe my dad Wilfred Ellis was not only a pupil but a good friend later in life
    Hi Larry,
    I appreciated our chat and recall meeting your father at Mom’s Cream Tea (one of the chapters in the book). My book is available at Kerr’s Corner Books in Campbellford. That’s probably the closest store near you.

  9. Sylvia Jones

    My mother taught elementary grades in small (even one-room) schools in Saskatchewan during the 30s. The pay was abysmal ($700 for the entire year, room and board paid from that). Of course teachers were expected to room with some upstanding family and exhibit good “moral behaviour”! Her last school was in a small village in southern Alberta – she was offered a substantial increase. After a few years of teaching there, she met and married my father, a farmer which is where I along with 3 siblings grew up.

    Dear Sylvia
    Submitted on 2013/10/11 at 4:10 pm | In reply to Sylvia Jones.

    Thanks so much for sharing your mother’s experience in Saskatchewan. Grace’s experience was similar. Teachers were paid through grants from the Department of Education and local taxes. As a result of the Depression, both government grants and local taxes were reduced.
    In 1931, Grace had five years of experience and a salary of $950.00 per year. Two years later, trustees reluctantly reduced her salary to $700.00 and later $650.00. Still, she had a job and many qualified teachers were unemployed.
    I’ve heard stories about teachers in Saskatchewan who received little or no salary. They moved from home to home so parents could contribute by providing room and board.
    Seven hundred dollars isn’t much – about $12,000 in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars, or in purchasing power, the 1935 price of a new car. Rural teachers typically didn’t own cars. They (and their pupils) walked to school. And yes, everyone knew the teacher well. She was expected to be a model of propriety. It was a different era.

  10. Sherry Peters

    Millie your book is delightful. Each chapter stands on its own as a snapshot in time of Grace, and yet as each is read I find you artfully weaving for us a panoramic view of her world. Thank you for capturing her life so well.

  11. Pat Bowman

    I enjoyed this book for several reasons. As a former teacher, as an acquaintance of Millie, as someone who knew many of the young people in the area, and as a former summer resident of the Stirling/Oak Lake area, I languished in the recollections. A wonderful historical tribute from Millie to her mother. Nice work. Thanks.

    Pat Miller Bowman

    Thanks Pat. Until I told you about the book, I didn’t know you had a Stirling connection. I’m very pleased you enjoyed reading about Grace’s life and the history relating to it.

  12. Jean Dawes

    A brilliant book. It gives deep insight into rural Ontario – little understood by city-dwellers like myself. I didn’t know about one-room schools, the supportive nature of farming communities, the profound changes in the way people live.
    Jean Dawes, Toronto

  13. Nancy Babcock

    Hi Millie

    I recently finished reading your book and thoroughly enjoyed it! My family on my mother’s side is from that area and a few of them may have been taught by Grace. I am sure anyone who is interested in one-room schools or the early history of Ontario townships would enjoy this book. Thanks, Nancy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s