A little log school house traditionally has been the first school of many prominent persons in the professions, agriculture and business. Like others of the province and nation, Lanark county’s humble early schools, despite their disadvantages, and aided by the family backgrounds of their students and teachers, filled this role well. For a typical early list of eastern Ontario rural and village teachers, Beckwith township’s teachers of 1855 may be taken. In order of school sections they were:
1U (Gillies) Alex McKay; 2 (Franktown) John Sinclair; 3 (Coocoo’s Nest) Wm. Kidd; 4 (Prospect) Donald McDiarmid; 5U (Tennyson) Donald Cameron; 5 (7th Line E.) Alex Armstrong; 6 (The Derry) Duncan McDiarmid; 7 (9th Line W.) Elizabeth James; 8 (9th Line E.) Elizabeth Murdock; 9 (11th Line E.) Fleming May; 10 (Scotch Corners) Helen Johnston; 11 (Carleton Place) Margaret Bell; 12U (with S.S.11 Goulbourn) Wm. McEwen.
A glimpse of rural schools of about fifty years ago may be gained in extracts from Lanark school inspector F. L. Michell’s reports of 1905 on Beckwith township schools:
“No 2 (Franktown) – The school suffers greatly from that evil so prevalent in our schools, irregularity of attendance. School work is well done in the junior grades but unsatisfactory in senior grades. The grounds are rough and not fenced along the road.
No. 3 (Cuckoo’s Nest) – The school house is small and worn out. Doing excellent work under disadvantages.
No. 4 (Prospect) – An excellent school property. Attendance is very large. The old useless well should be filled in.
No. 5 (7th Line East) – Always kept in first class condition. The school work is excellent. The attendance is small, but few schools in the county have to their credit a larger number of graduates who have taken prominent positions in our land.
No. 5U (7th Line West) – This is also one of our banner schools.
No. 6 (The Derry) – This is also an excellent section, and like No. 5 it has sent out numerous young people to lives of usefulness. Attendance is very small. The school work is excellent.
No. 7 (9th Line West) – A good site and in fine condition. The school work was not up to average.
No. 8 (9th Line East) – An excellent new school house, and work well done.
No. 9 (11th Line East) – One of the richest sections of the county. There is no library. The school ranks excellent.
No. 14 (11th Line West) – Some small repairs are needed. The school work is generally good.”
School sections in Beckwith township which had their first teachers in the 1820’s about the same time as Carleton Place were those of the Derry and Franktown. Read –Beckwith One Room Schools– Leona Kidd