Tag Archives: book talk

Sleeping in School

Schoolhouse near Beaverton
Schoolhouse near Beaverton

I slept in school – or, more accurately, I slept in a former school. The opportunity came when I was invited to speak to the Beaverton, Thorah, Eldon Historical Society. One of their members owns a renovated one-room school. She very kindly offered hospitality
When it was new in 1926, the school had many features considered modern at that time – separate entrances for boys and girls (still there – see photo), an office for the teacher, and a bell on the roof. A finished basement partitioned into two sections, each with its own chemical toilet, provided separate play areas for boys and girls. Until 1969, it was a school. Now it is a roomy home, with a modern kitchen, four bedrooms, and modern bathrooms.
Nearby in Beaverton, the Historical Society maintains a museum and archives. It includes an old stone jail, a log house (1850), and a storey-and-a-half brick home furnished to about 1900. On display were many household items mentioned in my book, including a butter churn and a treadle sewing machine.
I was pleased to discover the friendliness of the historical society’s members and their extensive efforts to preserve their heritage. As the noted scientist Carl Sagan said, “You have to know the past to understand the present.”
Millie Morton


From School Room to Tea Room

Millie with Ernie Pattison in The Old Ormsby Schoolhouse Tea Room

Millie with Ernie Pattison in The Old Ormsby Schoolhouse Tea Room

Imagine a large room with several dining room tables, large windows, and an old-fashioned wood stove. Add a Union Jack, a blackboard, a couple of wooden desks, books and artifacts. Clearly, this was a one-room school. Now it’s The Old Ormsby Schoolhouse Tea Room, near Bancroft, Ontario. The photo shows Ernie Pattison, owner of the tea room, welcoming me. Last month, while numerous patrons enjoyed a tasty lunch, I shared stories about Grace and one-room schools.
The old schoolhouse used to be S.S. #3 Limerick – that’s School Section number three in Limerick township of Hastings County. Nearby is the Old Hastings Mercantile and Gallery, an old house transformed into a shop and filled with gifts of every kind. Gary and Lillian Pattison run the gift shop. Ernie and Debbie Pattison operate the tea room. Both places are gems in the countryside – off the beaten path and well-worth a visit.
Millie Morton

Excitement in Kingston

Writing Grace was a surprising voyage through the twentieth century – an opportunity to learn more about my mother’s life and Ontario’s history too. Since the book’s publication, I’ve had many occasions to share Grace’s stories with others. Each event is exciting. I often hear new stories too.

Last week, in connection with a book talk at the Seniors Centre in Kingston, two local newspapers published articles. I’m proud to share them here. Peter Hendra wrote for The Kingston Whig. Julia McKay wrote for Kingston This Week. The publicity generated new interest in one-room schools and Grace’s stories; more invitations to give book talks, too. Her experiences illustrate how education and life have changed as Ontario industrialized and urbanized. They offer a fresh look at Ontario’s history.

It’s always exciting to hear from readers. Please let me know if the book brought back memories or offered surprises to you. Today I added a new comment to the What Readers Say page. I’ll continue to do this as I hear from readers.