East and West Ward schools

Elizabeth Hall
A Walk Through History

The Prince Charles School, built in 1949 for $300,000 replaced the old West Ward pubic school. But before both of those, came the first Napanee Academy. It was built in 1846 and served as both a grammar school and a common school, a grammar school being a school that consisted mainly of children from the wealthier families and were available to those who could pay tuition. Common schools were first created in 1816 when the first of many Common School Acts was passed by the Ontario government; common schools in this time were open to anyone of the white race and meant families didn’t have to pay tuition for their child to get an education.

By 1855, the number of students attending the Napanee Academy had increased drastically, even with multiple other private schools in the area. A second school was quickly needed to keep up with the growing number of students, and the new, additional building served as the grammar school, while the old school continued to be the common school. In 1864, a decision was made to build another new school, the West Ward School, on Bridge Street to accommodate the students at both existing schools. The new school, costing almost $8,000 dollars to build, opened in September 1865. Though roughly 30 later in 1896, a fire damaged the centre part of the school, leading the board to make the decision of enlarging West Ward school and changing entrances and classrooms. There were three exits in the school, and students there were trained to know which one to exit through.

In 1907 students were shifted to even out the classes between the East Ward and West Ward Schools. But in 1912, due to overcrowding, all students below third reader were required to attend the East Ward School, built in 1872 and similar to the West Ward School (third reader is the level at which a student was capable of reading: a reader was a textbook used to help students learn to read, they started with the first reader and once they mastered that they moved on to the second reader, and so forth).

The West Ward School continued to act as a community school until it was replaced by a new $300,000 school in 1949. By Royal consent, the new school was named, “The Prince Charles School” and was opened in Oct. 19th, 1949, by the Premier of Ontario, Leslie Frost. The West Ward School was demolished, and the East Ward School is now used as a warehouse for a local furniture company.

Random History Fact: When Explorers found King Tutankhamun’s tomb and opened it, some of their men died. They thought it was because of the curse ancient Egyptians carved into the stone above the doorway of the tomb.


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