Saving a piece of history

Once holding pride of place in one-room school house, historical plaque has travelled across Canada

As Canada begins to celebrate its 150 birthday, Ed Bennett holds an earlier piece of the country’s history in his hands: a large plaque commemorating the 60th anniversary of Confederation. The wood and copper plaque shows the crest of Canada with the words, “Canada Our Country 1867 – 1927.”

“One of these plaques was placed in every one-room school in 1927 to commemorate the anniversary,” said Bennett, a retired teacher and principal who moved to Vernon with his wife Maureen eight years ago, along with the plaque that has moved across the country.

Bennett’s father was a trustee for School Section No. 3 Beckwith in Ontario’s Ottawa Valley. Built in 1908, Cuckoo’s Nest School was a one-room school attended by students in Grades 1 to 8 — typically, the school had fewer than 10 students at any one time. In 1945, the school closed and students were transported four miles away to another one-room school. The original building has been added on to and is now used as a private residence.

“Dad was given the responsibility of disposing of the contents so that the school building could be sold, and for some unknown reason, kept this plaque,” said Bennett, who was a student at the school from Grades 1 to 4. “For years, this plaque has been hanging in our garage, and now I’d like to donate it to the museum or somewhere it will be seen.”