As one travels along Routes 114 and 915 throughout Fundy Albert on an early weekday morning, you'll likely see youths of different ages standing along the side of the road, heads bowed scrolling social media or using a device, idly chatting, or sitting in a warming vehicle until the school bus arrives to deliver them to Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough or Riverside Consolidated School in Riverside-Albert. None walked uphill in three feet of snow wearing their father's thin-soled-newspaper-lined loafers to reach their education destination.
Yes, yes we've all heard similar versions of exaggerated tales of bygone school days. But there are some compelling school-day anecdotes of local history that have been more accurately told - and should be shared - to give an appreciation of different generations and to preserve their stories and memories.
Archives reveal a 1964 interview with Mr. & Mrs. Morris who described the Harvey School as a two room school with a classroom in between which was used for strapping* bad children. I never got in there myself. *Strapping was a form of punishment using a leather strap or belt to strike hands or backsides.
In summer of last year, Harvey Hall board member Debbie James of Lower Cape visited on the phone with Bernice (Bennett) Russell. Now 87, Bernice is a former student of the Harvey School on Mary's Point Road off Route 915.
Bernice tells that when the Harvey school burned the pupils were moved across the road to the 1884 Harvey Community Hall until a new school could be built. Mrs. Russell describes how they tried to get back to the original school house as soon as possible because there was no electricity in the hall. Classes were held upstairs. The upper
level that is over the stage area held classes for grades 1-4 with Mrs. Thelma Ballard as the teacher.
Classes near the steps (the street/front end of the building) were grades 5-8 with Mr. Stuart Kiever as the teacher. Our desks faced the direction of Harvey Bank with two children per bench/desk - the bench attached to the desk. There are some of these desks with attached benches remaining in the upper level of the hall. Students traveled by bus from New Horton and loved to play in the mud (clay) under the hall. Christmas programs in the community were held at the Harvey Hall. Lighted lamps were placed along the side walls to give ample lighting for the presentations. A vintage oil lamp chandelier still hangs in the upper level.
Debbie James recently met and chatted with Garfield Brewster, now 86 years old, who lived in Mary's Point and walked to school and the hall. He told her that eventually there was a bus. School started by the ringing of a hand bell, and wood stove fires in the hall were tended to by Garfield Brewster and Richard Bennett (brother of the afore-mentioned Bernice). Garfield and Richard loved to play in the clay behind the hall and decided they should make some clay nests for the swallows at the old school. None of the birds liked these nests and kept building their own.
A description of the Harvey Hall gleaned from a 1998 article in the New Brunswick Reader reports? It's not a fancy building, but a spacious one, paneled floor to ceiling in red spruce and possessing the same simple beauty as the wooden ships once built by people in this county. In the cubby hold behind the stage, the signatures of schoolchildren can still be deciphered on the wood-paneled walls. A recent hands-on helper for a Harvey Hall work party last fall discovered a distant relative's name in those "cubby hold/stage wings." Even the hall's graffiti
has history and a local connection to it!
Whether you're a newcomer to Fundy Albert, or a long-time resident, there's history to learn, and history to make especially now with the ongoing efforts to keep the Harvey Hall of the people and for the people for continued fun, learning and community.
If you have stories to share, reach out to the Harvey Hall Facebook Page or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.