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Kingston circa 1900

We begin our story with a quick overview of life and education on the Kingston Peninsula in south western New Brunswick as the twentieth century begins.

Map of Kingston Peninsula formed by two rivers that flow southwest into Saint John harbour and the Bay of Fundy.

The Saint John and Kennebecasis Rivers flow on either side of this peninsula. The rivers meet at Lands End on Grand Bay.

Kingston Peninsula Map


A three quarter mile (1.2 km) long  causeway with a drawbridge joins the Peninsula to the mainland.

Long narrow causeway crossing wide river with drawbridge close to shore. Light snow on ground and building roof tops.

The Perry Point river crossing

Most river crossing is by ferry or ice road.

A sailing ferry transporting two men and a horse-drawn carriage across a river.

An early sail ferry

When the ice is gone, riverboats move people and cargo to larger centers like Saint John and Fredericton.

Starboard view of a steamboat with passengers on the St. John River

One of several river boats servicing the Peninsula

Overland travel on unpredictable roads and trails is often difficult.

A right side view of a man in a horse-drawn buggy stopped at the foot of a farm laneway.

Horse-drawn transportation

Most people make their living in seasonal work.  Farming, lumbering, and transporting people and products along the river system are most common.

Right side view of man with hat sitting on horse drawn hay cutter.

Horse-drawn haying

Circa 1900, three story hotel close to the river shore and a church with a spire on the hill behind. People in canoes, sailboats and a steamboat on the water in foreground.

The Cedars Hotel

Summer brought recreational visitors to family owned and operated hotels and inns along the waterfront.

What education is available to rural youth happens at home or in a one-room schoolhouse. If there is a local school, students make their own way to it and home again. Each school is considered an independent district by the province. Parents must pay most of the construction and operating costs. The building is likely made of bare boards with no insulation. In winter the wood burning stove that sits in the center of the room is the only source of heat. Wood for the stove is sometimes green and burns poorly. There’s a cup in an open pail for drinking water. Toilet facilities are an outhouse that may also contain unwanted critters. Attendance varies with the season, the family’s labour needs, and their ability to pay for their children to attend.

A young teacher and six elementary students in front of a one-room cedar shingle school at the edge of a river in flood,

Bayswater one-room school

The teacher is usually a woman. She is paid less than a man would be. Room and board is often part of her small salary. She is provided with only the most basic educational tools and must teach youth of all ages and varying abilities in one room. Turnover among teachers is high. There are often vacancies.

School Superintendents and Inspectors see the need to improve the education provided to rural youth. But costly change never comes easily.

Read our story to learn how and why the Kingston Peninsula becomes the leader in the drive to improve the quality of education in early twentieth century rural New Brunswick.