The first building used as a school to serve the Sandusk area, according to an 1863 map of Haldimand county, was located on the lot on the southeast corner of Sandusk sideroad and con- cession 4 Walpole. Later this same site was used as a black- smith shop by Tod Nichol.
In 1884 Tom Westerby bought the blacksmith shop and here, also operated a small store and post office. Jack Westerby was sworn in as assistant postmaster.
At this time Irvine Macey brought the mail from Selkirk to Jarvis, stopping at Cheapside, Sandusk and Erie then dropping mail from Jarvis station back to these offices. Patrons had to come to the post office to pick up their mail. Rural delivery began in 1914.
Earlier, there was also a general store and shoe repair shop on the north west corner of the same intersection. In 1908, equipment for a saw mill, cider mill and chopping mill was shipped in from Brantford by Jack Pretty. This establishment was bought later by Bert Ionson and operated by him until 1965.
Later, a dance hall was built south of the blacksmith shop. After it had served its purpose as a dance hall, cement mixers and wheel barrows were manufactured there by Jack Westerby.
In 1872 the original schoolhouse was built by William Tyrrell at a total cost of $50. The site for this school was not legally acquired until January 29, 1876, conveyed by Sophie Louise Dunn and Rosa Douglass, and registered in Cayuga on June 19, 1877.
The frame building had a porch running all along the west side, with 2 doors opening into the schoolroom, one from the north, the other to the south. Chas Mills, the teacher in 1866, planted one of the prosperous maple trees directly in front of the school.
The seats were handmade with 2 pupils to each desk, having the double wooden slatted seat tip back against the desk be- hind. Text books were few and written work was done mainly on slates. Heat was supplied by a large box stove in the middle of the classroom. Drinking water was carried by the pailful from a well at Westerby’s. Metal brackets along the east wall held coal oil lamps for light.
As well as schoolhouse, this building served the community as a Sunday school every Sunday morning and as a meeting house for church services on Sunday evenings. It was also the headquarters for singing school, taught by Howard Kindree for at least four winters. A tuning fork was used to get correct pitch, and no musical instrument was needed. It was a red letter day in 1909 when an organ was purchased for use in the school.
Some exciting experiences included a fire caused indirectly as the result of the pranks of some fun-loving boys and a surprise appearance of a good sized steer at one of the prayer meetings.
Teachers’ salaries were very low – about $200 to $250 for an experienced teacher, much lower for inexperienced ones. Often part of this low salary had to be taken in commodities such as hams, grains, etc. The teacher usually boarded with some family close to the school, for about $1.50 to $2.00 a week, but often gave extra help to pupils for the cost of her board.
Boys attended regularly only when there was no important farm work to do and, as a result, it was not unusual to have “boys” of 19 or 20 years of age attending.
A gas line was laid past the school in 1905, allowing gas heat- ing and lighting.
Three years later Les Jackson moved this building ahead to the central front position it occupied until closure in 1965. A central hall was added with cloakrooms on either side and over the years many improvements were made. The school served as a community centre for the people of the vicinity. During the 1930s a lively literary club held regular meetings, and each year the Institute held a social evening. Many Christmas concerts were given by the children.
The school’s physical demise came in 1965 when Walpole South elementary school was built further down Sandusk road to house more students. Ironically that new school met its own demise when an industrial accident occurred at the Imperial Oil refinery resulting in toxic smoke enveloping the school sur- roundings, prompting some parents to demand its closure in case of further accidents.
This information was obtained from a brochure produced at the school’s closing in 1965