To Mr. Bernhardt:
The year was 1944; the place was a small town named Uxbridge; the position available was that of high school principal. An optimistic young mathematics teacher answered the advertisement. Congratulations Mr. P.T. Bernhardt! You got the job!
I am seated now in the study hall, on the left just inside the main doors of the original school building. Mr. Bernhardt’s first principal’s office was located here. At that time Uxbridge High School consisted of less than 400 students and a dozen teachers. Because there were no buses, rural students boarded in town, and just returned home to the farm on the weekends. A room was designated for sandwich eating, but a modern cafeteria providing hot dinners and cold drinks like the one we have access today, was non-existent.
During the past 30 years, numerous changes have been made. Gradual architectural additions and portables were necessary to compensate for increased enrollment. Well-equipped shops and a spacious gymnasium have been provided. Courses such as Mass Media and Boys’ Home Economics were incorporated into the original 3-R’s type of curriculum. Report cards today are computerized. Even the name of our school was revised from Uxbridge High School to Uxbridge Secondary School.
Throughout all this modernization however, something agelessly important has remained the same. Mr. Bernhardt still has a contagious case of school spirit. He is the first one on the bus for ski trips, cheers the loudest at pep rallies, and never misses the spring formal. Mr. Bernhardt – 1974 – who was unanimously rumoured as being the most energetic participant in the annual walk-a-thon to raise money for the Save the Children Fund, has the same enthusiasm as the Mr. Bernhardt – 1944 – who coached the boys’ basketball team. His sincere personal interest has motivated many individuals to achieve academic or athletic success, and encouraged many teachers to volunteer to organize clubs and sports activities. The job of a principal includes much more than formalizing decisions, or scribbling signatures, and Mr. Bernhardt has responded to his responsibilities above and beyond the call of duty.
Uxbridge Secondary School radiates a congenial atmosphere, admired by visitors and appreciated by teachers and students because a balance of discipline and privilege exists. Informal student assemblies and regular staff meetings are held to discuss problems and suggestions. Mr. Bernhardt is a very understanding person, and in return for his empathy, respect is reciprocated. Satisfied, many of the staff members have been employed here for long terms. Frequent dances and field trips, a smoking area, a coke machine, a pay telephone, a student parking lot and a Grade 13 lounge are just a few of the advantages we have, thanks to Mr. Bernhardt’s co-operation. I do not envy his successor! He has a ‘tough act to follow!’
Mr. Bernhardt, on behalf of decades of Uxbridge Secondary School graduates, enjoy your retirement! Recollections of you as an authority will be preceded by memories of you as a friend. We will all expect to see you in the front row of future musical productions, and will also expect to hear you rooting for the Uxbridge Tiger Football Team next season, as usual!
The earliest records of education In the town of Uxbridge state that the first school house was built in 1840. In 1856, Joseph Gould built a Grammar School - thus Uxbridge had secondary education eleven years before Confederation.
In 1872, a “new” High School was built on First Avenue opposite the present site of the United Church. This school had a fine record of outstanding scholarship. Latin was a very important subject in those days and the Mustard Latin prize presented each year at our Commencement pays tribute to one of the school’s outstanding Latin scholars.
Of the teachers who came to and went from the old Uxbridge High School, none stayed so long to wield so great an influence as Dr. Park. He taught Latin, English, Reading and at times Greek, Arithmetic and Botany during his twenty years at the school. Dr. Park left Uxbridge to take the position of Instructor in Science of Education and Grammar at the Peterborough Normal School. Stephen Leacock taught modern languages at this school for a year before completing his own higher education.
The present Uxbridge High School was begun in 1923 (date on corner stone) and the students moved in during the spring of 1925. At that time, the Board of Education was comprised of W.S. Ormiston, (Chairman), J. Alexander, W.H. Vyvyan, Dr. F.E. Mellow, F. Palmer, H. Barber, A.M. Smith, W. O’Hara, J. Munro, A.E. Feir, J.W. Gould and T.F. Thompson. Mr. J. E. Burchell was the school principal. That the school was well planned is indicated by the fact that no addition was needed for thirty years. In 1955, a five-room addition was added and, at the same time, a number of changes were made in the original building, resulting in a school capable of accommodating up to 400 students. Before the addition, as many as 52 students were packed into one room. Since classes at that time shifted only for special subjects, the students spent most of their time in these crowded conditions. Mignon Hochberg, who graduated in 1942, wrote the words for our school song, "Per Ardua,” to the tune of “Anchors Away.”
Throughout these early years, education was, of course, traditional in character, with the subjects taught limited to English Composition and Grammar, Mathematics, Science, Geography, History, Classics, French, German and Physical Culture. Agriculture and Art were added about 1935, and a Commercial course was begun in 1937. There were six teachers on the staff at this time. In 1946, the remodelling of several rooms made it possible to add Home Economics and Industrial Arts to the curriculum. Cooking facilities were installed beside the auditorium so lunches could be served to students coming by bus.
The first bus to the school began operating in 1945 from Zephyr. Four rural school boards had to operate the bus, and agreement on how costs would be shared was usually difficult. The area board was formed in 1949, comprising the towns of Uxbridge and Port Perry and the adjoining townships. It dealt only with the two high schools and was called the Central Ontario County District High School Board. There were 8 teachers on the staff at this time and 3 buses were operated. Mrs. C.B. Willis was first chairman of the area board.
In 1956, on the hundredth anniversary of secondary education in Uxbridge, a five-room addition was added to the school. Mr. Gilfillan was chairman of the board, and five of the members on the board served continuously from that time until the county board was formed in January, 1969. Besides Mr. Gilfillan, they were Edgar Johnson, Bert Lockie, Cy Richardson and Lorne Tindall. The staff had grown to 14 by this time. Education was still very traditional, and the subjects taught had changed very little. The commercial course had expanded considerably, and there were very active programmes in Music and Agriculture. As principal of the school, I was able to visit the home of each student entering grade 9 so that I got to know both the students and their parents. As the school grew, this became impossible and I felt that a good deal had been lost.
In 1963, forty years after the laying of the corner stone, the huge new addition was added, changing both the appearance and the function of the school. The school now became a composite school offering equal opportunities in all three branches of the new educational programme. Forty-four students were obtaining training in the occupational classes, students were coming to the school from Cartwright, Port Perry and Stouffville for the technical courses. The staff had grown to 30 teachers at this time, and Mr. GiIfillan had taken over as Secretary-Treasurer of the board on the retirement of Mr. Alexander. From 1963 to 1968, the school continued to grow very rapidly. By 1968, the student population had reached 720 and the board employed 52 full and part-time teachers.
At the end of 1968, the Central Ontario Board was dissolved as County Boards took the place of all local boards. Mr. Alex Williamson was elected as area representative on the county board. W. Gilfillan was appointed transportation officer by the new Durham Region Board. In the following years, the bus service to the high school was continually expanded and improved, until in 1983 there are twenty bus routes for the high school. As the school enrolment continued to grow, even the large addition was not enough and four portables were in use. Plans for another addition were delayed and revised downwards as finances became tighter. It was finally opened in 1980, adding a fine new library and a music room for the school’s outstanding orchestra.
Students of the 1940s and 1950s will recall the excitement of the inter-school track meet days. Buses took a large proportion of the students to cheer on the athletes, and Uxbridge won more than its share of school trophies and individual championships. Bowmanville, Whitby, Port Perry and Brock High Schools provided the opposition.
Commencement was a big event of the year. The school auditorium was too small to hold the large crowds wanting to attend. It was held in the Music Hall with all seats reserved and extra seats moved down from the school. Finally, it had to be held on both Friday and Saturday nights until the new Auditorium was available in 1964.
No. 76 Uxbridge High School Cadet Corps was formed in the year 1900, A motion of Council was needed and the Corps began drilling in the fall. Only a few corps in the province have such an early charter. In the years following the Second World War, every boy in the school belonged to the Corps. As there was no adequate parade ground and the gym was too small, the annual inspection was held on Brock Street in front of the Post Office. Usually, the girls put on a demonstration of rhythmic dancing and gymnastics. For many years, starting in 1957, the Corps had a fine trumpet and drum band. Mr. Newton had a good deal to do with the training and success of the band.
1947, the army issued surplus skis and white parkas to the cadets. Some memorable ski hikes were held, with meals being cooked over open fires on some occasions. As ski areas became more popular, many longer ski trips were held, including those to Mt. Tremblant and to Mont Ste. Anne near Quebec City. History students will recall with pleasure the many trips to the Quebec Winter Carnivals under the leadership of Mr. Newton. French students will recall the air flights organized by Mr. Perreault.
An important feature of education at the school during the 1940s and 1950s was the public speaking program. Under the capable direction of Miss McQuade, the yearly competition started with each student in a class making a three-minute speech. The best from each class went on to the semifinals and the best of these to the finals on Public Speaking night. The auditorium would be packed with parents and interested town’s folk, necessitating the use of benches and extra chairs along the side walls. The competition was keen, and the judges’ decisions were eagerly awaited. Under this system, all of the students at the school had some practice expressing themselves before an audience, and the finalists were well worth listening to.
There were several especially memorable events during the 60s. One was the fire in the science room. It broke out in the middle of the night, gutting the room and with the resultant flooding, caused a good deal of damage. Wilson MacDonald, the poet, visited an assembly that same year, reciting his poems and autographing his books.
John Allison started a school dance band in 1965. When he left in 1966, Geordi Beare took over its leadership. Mr. Beare and Mr. Garbutt worked together to plan and direct school musicals. By the time Geordi retired in 1981, he had given an outstanding contribution to music in the school. For a number of years, the teachers’ “tin pan and broom” orchestra provided part of the fun at Christmas assemblies.
In 1968, the students began their contributions to the Canadian Save the Children Fund. In 1968, the first walkathon was held. School buses took the students to Port Perry. From there, on a cold, windy December day, they walked to Uxbridge, raising $5,007 by their efforts. Over the next 12 years, the walkathons averaged earnings over $5,000 per year for the fund. More recently, the monies raised have been donated to local projects.
The school seed judging teams were outstanding through these decades and won school and individual awards year after year. Mr. Rattray and Mr. Smith did a fine job training these teams.
Nineteen-sixty-seven was the year of Expo. In May that year, over 300 students accompanied by 19 staff members made a memorable two-day trip to Montreal by bus. The cost, including transportation, overnight accommodation, and two days’ admission to Expo was only $23.25 per student. At Commencement that year, the students were congratulated on the school’s most successful year in sports. In the one year, they had won the Curling Championship, the top “B” team in golf, the senior girls’ volleyball Championship and junior runner-up, the inter-school Track Trophy, and the Georgian Bay COSSA Junior and Senior football Championships.
In May 1968, the Centennial and Memorial Court was dedicated in memory of Doug St. John, who had been tragically killed. D.W. Mattock and George Howroyd were outstanding in the planning of, and work on, this project; but many students and staff members contributed.
In 1950, a student-teacher advisory committee drew up the regulations for earning the letter “U.” It was designed to be the highest award offered at Uxbridge High School for achievement in Academic Studies and Extra-Curricular activities. Over the years as the Uxbridge Secondary School grew larger, the number of clubs and teams increased, and the opportunities for students to earn sufficient points for their letter increased also. Therefore, the number of points required was raised several times. Over the past 34 years, it has averaged out to 8.6 students earning a letter each year. At the 1982 Commencement, seven were awarded.
The Inter-School Christian Fellowship group was begun in 1950, with Mrs. McGowan as the first sponsor. The group has continued to provide leadership training and fellowship to impress upon students the need to give expression to Christian principles through scholarship, school life, and personal living. The “Y Teen” group was formed in 1958 to prepare students for living in the city when they had to leave home to work there.
An important event at the school each year was the Formal dance and the choosing of a Queen. As nearly as can be determined from the records, the first formal was held in 1956, with Lorraine Bunker as queen. Astra records the “Snow Ball” dance in 1957, with Fiona Williams chosen queen. Each year, the students on the decorating committee tried to outdo the previous years. The year 1959 was noteworthy, as the students arranged for Robert Goulet to come out to choose the queen. He was just beginning his musical career in Toronto at this time. Frances Blase was chosen queen. The following year, the practice of choosing two princesses as attendants was begun. A separate sheet list those chosen each year.
In 1975, the year of the Uxbridge Centennial celebrations, was very eventful. Mr. Ray Newton was mayor of the town and, under his leadership, an outstanding program was planned. A torch was lit in front of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and thirty Uxbridge students, accompanied by a bus and two teachers, carried it in 4 mile relays to cover the 240 miles to Uxbridge. They left Ottawa at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 3, and arrived at Elgin Part Uxbridge at 2 p.m. Monday, June 7. The final runner handed the torch to Governor General Roland Michener, who lit the town’s Centennial torch before 3,000 interested spectators. In the summer of that year, the Durham Region board and the teachers were locked in a salary dispute. In September, the teachers instituted a work to rule campaign. Under it, they would handle all their regular classroom work but no voluntary activities. The students carried on their own activities but did not find this to be too successful; and finally on November 15, they decided on a walkout. They paraded downtown and then sat and camped on the school lawn Thursday and Friday. It was too cold to be fun, and by Monday they were back in classes. Fortunately, the board-teacher dispute was soon settled and normal activities could be resumed.
The Joseph Gould Senior Public School was opened in September, 1972. As it was built on the ground formerly occupied by the high school track, land was purchased to the east and a new improved crushed brick track built. The Joseph Gould School was officially opened in October by Reeve W.H. Gould, great-grandson of Joseph Gould, founder of Uxbridge.
The annual initiation proceedings that take place every fall have been a very enjoyable part of school life over the past forty years. On this special day, the grade niners dress in the crazy costumes dreamed up by Grade 10. Prizes (were) given for the best costumes and pictures in past Astras show that there have been many very clever winners. Obstacle courses, mush and games, provide afternoon fun for everyone. Hazing is limited to things such as carrying books for senior students, fake marriage ceremonies, and pushing peanuts along the floor with your nose. The “niners” learn that high school can be a fun place for everyone. Winter Carnivals provide fun and competition each year. Some fine snow sculptures have been produced when the weather cooperated and the inter-form competitions, including the toboggan race with the form teacher as passenger, were enjoyed by many.
As the school population grew in the sixties and seventies, so did the number of teams and clubs. Checking several recent Astras shows that there are 34 different clubs and teams in over 15 different sports. It is no longer easy for a student to decide in which to participate. A number of new activities began in the sixties.
1963 – The school wrestling team was active.
1964 – The school entered its first inter-school golf tournament with Doug. St. John winning the top individual honours. In 1966, Uxbridge Secondary School golf team won their first G.B.S.S.A. Championship.
1965 – The school team entered the inter-school Curling under Mr. Kerford’s leadership and in 1967 won the Ontario School Boy Championship and went on to the Canadian Championships at Flin Flon, Manitoba where they stood third. Team members were: Mike Smith, Barry Timbers, Larry Manley, and Mike Puterbough.
1965 – The school cross country teams competed in the inter-school events.
1966 – Mr. Korosy began the fencing club.
In the nineteen seventies, all these and the more traditional activities continued, and at least two more inter-school sports were begun. In 1973, a school ski team was formed from members of the ski club, and under Mr. McConney’s leadership, did very well in school competitions. In 1975, the school swimming team began school competition under Mr. Brunne’s leadership. Mr. Morris formed the school team for the “Reach for the Top” television series. Since then, their teams have performed very creditably and have given valuable experience to a number of students. The school mathematics team has competed in the University of Waterloo sponsored mathematical contests and more recently, teams have entered the Stock Market game and made lots of money (on paper).
Encouragement means a great deal to teams – whether they are winning or losing. Uxbridge Secondary School has had many loyal cheerleaders who, with their boundless energy and enthusiasm, have supported the teams and led the spectators in cheering them on. These girls always seemed tireless, immune to weather, and a pleasure to watch. They deserve many thanks.
Through the decades, many fine teachers have come and gone from our school. Some have left for other schools; others, such as Cheryl Henderson, Pat Kerford and Pat McMillan, to raise their families here in Uxbridge. A number have retired from the staff and most of these still reside in the fine town of Uxbridge. These include:
- E.H. Barnhardt, taught science and retired in 1962 after 18 years on staff.
- B.G. Law, after 13 years on staff, moved to Port Perry High School and then retired to live here in Uxbridge.
- D.W. Mattock retired in 1969 after 15 years and moved to England to spend full time on art.
- In 1971, two excellent teachers retired – Miss C. McQuade, who had 28 years on staff, and Mrs. M. Hewitt, with 18 years.
- In 1974 Peter Bernhardt, who had been principal of the school for thirty years, retired. Mr. Ted Smith, with 13 years on staff, and Mrs. H. Holmes, also retired then.
- Norm Brunne, shop director for 17 years, retired in 1979.
- Bob Rattray, after 28 tremendous years of accomplishment on the staff, retired in 1980.
- Pierre Perrault, with 27 years as head of the French department retired in January of this year, 1983,
The school was saddened by the death of two teachers while they were on staff. In January 1973, Al Olding died after 11 years on the staff, and in December 1978, Mrs. Barbara Passmore passed away. She was on our staff for 10 years. Another member of the staff of the school died shortly after she retired. Mrs. Helen Ackney had been in charge of school lunches for 29 years up to her retirement in 1975.
Turner Ashenhurst retired from the custodial staff in 1968 after 13 years; Ernie Paradine in 1979 after 17 years; Geordi Beare in 1981 after 19 years as head custodian. Geordi will be long remembered for his fine work with the dance bands and musicals. Two of our secretaries retired after long service in the office; Mrs. Claire Houck in 1969 after 14 years and Mrs. Winn Taylor after 16 years. Mrs. Taylor died shortly after she retired to Lindsay.
Mr. Sulev arrived in the school in 1975, and the band was continually improved and grown so that it now consists of 81 members, with a training band of 78 grade nine and ten students, and a stage band of 28 students. Among the band’s many fine performances, the Christmas Concert has been outstanding. In 1975 and 1976 it was held in the Music Hall but both the band and the spectators outgrew this hall and it was moved to the high school auditorium. The public school choirs and band participated and it was estimated that, at the 1982 concert, more than 2,000 parents, friends and young people had crowded into the assembly hall. The marching band participates in local events and is an excellent representative for Uxbridge in other municipalities. With 1983, the year of the school reunion, many interesting events are planned for the weekend of June 24.
Getting this brief history together has given me a great deal of pleasure. I enjoyed delving into past information, but especially I have enjoyed the contact with, and the reminiscences of, so many former students and staff. Thank you all for your help.
The Dominion Bank
(became the TD Bank.) Don't neglect to open a savings account because you may not have no large amount of money to deposit.
The Dominion Bank will accept deposits of $1.00 and upwards.
Open an account now and add small amounts regularly. You will be surprised to see how rapidly your savings grow.