For our organization, the Mindemoya Old School is much more than just another building to be torn down. We’ve become such a throwaway society, we often overlook the cultural significance of historical sites but that shortsighted thinking needs to stop. The Mindemoya school was one of Ontario’s very first consolidated schools and played a pivotal role in developing the very fabric of what we all love about Manitoulin Island.
That’s why our organization is on a mission to put an end to this unfortunate lack of foresight from our leaders. This building was built back in 1922 and the brick laid was meant to stand the test of time. Its life as a school may be over but there are now endless possibilities for this strongly constructed, beautiful old building.
We hope you will help us in preserving this special part of Central Manitoulin’s history!
There are very few, if any, local residents who can remember a time when this beautiful stone and brick school was not a part of the local landscape.
The school was built in 1921 and opened for students in 1922. It was known as the Mindemoya Continuation School or the Mindemoya Consolidated School, depending on the dates of articles that have been written about it.
When it first opened, it was one of the first Consolidated schools in Ontario and provided an education for students from Grade 1 to Grade 12 in the same building. The rooms to the left of the staircase serviced the elementary students while those on the right were for high school. The basement was used as a community centre and gymnasium. The students utilized the gym but it was also available to the community for meetings, dances, badminton etc.
The outlying areas were serviced by the first school buses under contract in Ontario. These were canvas-covered wagons and sleighs drawn by horses. It wasn’t until 1951 that the roads were plowed and at this time the first “factory-built” school buses were put into service.
In 1950, the Mindemoya Memorial Community Centre was built. The Continuation School basement was no longer needed for community functions.
In 1960, the Central Manitoulin High School was built on Yonge St. in Mindemoya so then all of the original school building became an elementary school.
In 1969, the New Manitoulin Secondary School was built in M’Chigeeng and the old original school transitioned into servicing grades 1-4 with the rest moving to the old high school on Yonge St.
When no longer used as a school, it wore many hats including dental offices, government offices, public library, health unit offices, law offices and a toy library.
Now this century-old icon is being given a new lease on life. A dedicated group of volunteers has worked tirelessly for the past few years to try and save it from the wrecking ball.
Recently a number of these individuals came together and formed a new group known as The Friends of the Mindemoya Old School. This grassroots organization has now been officially incorporated as a Not For Profit under the umbrella of the Ontario Historical Society. The Ontario Historical Society has been instrumental in saving dozens of “at-risk” properties around Ontario.
This beautiful and strong old building has so many stories to tell.
Now with this new beginning, people will be able to enjoy its past as well as its exciting new future!