I was built in 1925 as a rural school house grades 1 through 8, averaging 35 students in the 2 room school. Over the 38 years of loyal service there must have been well over 1,000 students educated under my roof.
1963 was a new era and a larger school was built to replace me in the hamlet of Escott, to combine a number of smaller schools throughout the immediate township.
What was I to do? Close permanently and be sold off to the highest bidder? I was terrified, my children were gone and I was all alone. I felt old and neglected, of no use to anyone, I was very sad.
Board of Education people are business people and I was just a line on the asset sheet to be dealt as may. Just when all I could see was a wrecking ball coming my way some very creative community minded people rallied and worked diligently to persuade the powers to be that the little red school house in fact did have a useful purpose, just give them a chance.
Meetings were held, hands were rung and tears were shed but not in vain. A group of seniors managed to transfer my title of ownership from the Board of Education to the Rockport Seniors. This turned out to be the easy part, now they had a building, money was tight to manage and maintain.
Fund raising efforts led to a Government Horizons Grant, transferring the little red school house into a community building, with wall panelling, flooring and a kitchen, oh my! Build it and they will come, indeed they did although mainly seniors, card parties, socials and local food and fun were had by all.
Over the years the valiant seniors held their own and kept me going year round through thick and thin but times was a changing again! Seniors were dwindling, volunteers were scarce and interest was fading, oh my what am I to do?
Just in the nick of time children and grandchildren of the seniors rallied around me and decided that it was time to form a new committee, relieving the steadfast seniors of their yoke. Born was the Rockport Recreation Association Committee, made up of volunteers to press forward with a determination to keep our little red school house owned and controlled by local residents for the enjoyment of all.
Well before long 50 years have passed and a long list of volunteers have come and gone and I am still here, the little red school house. My guardians have done their job well, new lighting, new flooring, painting up and down, new kitchen, oil furnaces, dishwashers, even a handicap ramp and washrooms, I am blessed.
Fund raisers are legendary, winter carnivals, music festivals, art shows, grants, dances the list is endless.
Not to forget the ice storm of the century, I was the command post for the local government as well the military as we forged through the storm to see another day, strong and more determined than ever.
There have been sad times as community members passed from this world to hopefully even a better place and I celebrated them in my little red school house that could. Not to forget the good times, the
Lions, Lioness, Seniors, Men’s Breakfast Club, family reunions, buck & does, bridal and baby showers, weddings, oh my god we have had fun in my little red school house.
After all these years we may be at as cross roads, again! Committees and committee members have come and gone but as witnessed by many organised groups, volunteers are harder to find these days, everyone is so busy.
History speaks for itself and considering I am now the ripe old age of 88, I am determined to see 100. I cannot do it alone as I am just a little red school house that needs people to care for me in my advanced years.
Files coming soon.
Tom Massey -- A River Rat in the Thousand Islands featured in Shawn Thompson's book Soul of the River. Tom appeared in CTV's Regional Contact as the Elf of Rockport. Over a lifespan of 77 years Tom was known as a fisherman, tour boat captain and a tug boat skipper during the construction of the Johnstown Bridge and the St. Lawrence Seaway. His oral stories about fishermen and boats in the Thousand Islands entertained family and friends for generations and now you can read the stories as penned by Tom Massey.
The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the Rockport Recreation Hall.
$15.00 plus shipping and handling
For more information contact
89 Old River Road