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Student conveyance

The idea of providing student transportation is new. Many don’t believe that it can work. There are no hard surface roads in New Brunswick. In winter and spring, overland travel can be challenging. One of the main reasons Kingston is chosen for the school is that the students have no public transportation options. There is no railway here. If the proposed school vans work here, with the rolling hills and high spring freshets, they will work anywhere in the province.

Circa 1900. Rural scene shows a church in the distance at the top of the hill. Homes and farms appear on either side of the steep hill down to the lower part of the town.

The road leading uphill from Lower Kingston to the school in Kingston

Aged handwritten invoice.

A 1905 van driver bill.

Macdonald provides seven horse-drawn wagons called school vans. A shed is furnished to shelter the horses and drivers during school hours. The Macdonald Rural School Fund covers half the cost of the van driver salaries. The drivers receive, on average, $2 a day. For that pay, they have to provide the horses, feed them, and keep them in good health. Drivers have to remain in Kingston during school hours. That often precludes other gainful work.


People stand on school steps. Others look out second storey windows. Students are in four school vans of varying sizes in front of the building. Each van has a driver and is led by two horses.

Students arriving at MCS in school vans.


The first winter the snow is sometimes five to ten feet deep. Special covered sled vans are constructed at a cost of $38 each. Some days the students get out and walk alongside the van to help the horses. There are very few days when the vans don’t make it to school, but some days the journey is difficult.  One February day in 1905 the Clifton van, carrying 28 children, overturns in a snowdrift. While none of the children are hurt, it takes 20 men to clear the road to allow the van to proceed.

Left side view of a covered school van on runners pulled by two horses, buildings in the background.

Winter van

The left view of horse drawn school vans with drivers and children dressed in winter clothing head down a dirt road with snow on either side. The first van is covered and pulled by two horses, the second is uncovered and pulled by one horse.

A school van driven by James Bradley

Officials are happy with the results of the conveyance arrangement. They credit this particular innovation with the doubling of regular school attendance.

In later years, the cost of horse-drawn transportation will be the largest expense of the school.

The school building itself is our next topic.