Provincial plaque commemorates Sydenham Public School



    KINGSTON, ON, June 10 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust and the
Friends of the Sydenham Public School unveiled a provincial plaque
commemorating the Sydenham Public School.
    Formerly the Kingston County Grammar School, the Sydenham Public School
on Clergy Street East has operated as an educational facility since its
construction in 1853. It replaced the earlier Midland District Grammar School,
which was located in a late-18th-century log and frame building on the corner
of King Street East and Gore Street. As the province's economic and social
climate continued to evolve in the mid-19th century, a series of provincial
enactments led to the development of compulsory, publicly-supported education
at the primary level. A reflection of the growing need to improve the
conditions of school buildings, the two-storey Clergy Street East structure
was considered to be architecturally impressive in its time. It could
accommodate over 100 students in each of its two spacious classrooms.
    "We are delighted to commemorate the Sydenham Public School today, an
institution that is integral to the province's educational and architectural
heritage," said The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Chairman of the Ontario
Heritage Trust. "Its continued survival and vitality are a testament to its
significance within the Kingston community."
    Despite its progressive architecture, the building represents a period in
the province's history with radically different educational standards from the
present. Only males destined for university training and professional careers,
rather than farming or industrial labour, were required to attend grammar
school. The largely agrarian and rural society of Upper Canada dictated that
only a small proportion of the population required training in grammar school
subjects. Consequently, the province's grammar schools were few in number. The
school thus provides an important and rare testimony of the development of
Ontario's public education system.
    "This building and the educational institutions housed within it tell the
story of Ontario's educational past," said Culture Minister Aileen Carroll.
"This provincial plaque will serve as a reminder of the Sydenham Public
School's place in the history of our school system."
    The original section of the school was reconstructed following a fire in
1876. It featured architectural elements representative of Kingston's public
buildings of the period, as well as Gothic decorative touches reminiscent of
older English schools. An expanded curriculum and growing student enrolment
necessitated the construction of an additional wing to the rear of the
original structure. Female students were admitted for the first time when the
school reopened in January 1877. After the Kingston Collegiate Institute
opened in the 1890s, the Clergy Street East building became the home of Queens
University's School of Mining and Agriculture. In 1936, the building reverted
back to use as a public school and became known as the Sydenham Public School.
It was renamed for Lord Sydenham, governor general of British North America
from 1839 to 1841. The facility was further expanded in 1952.
    "As we approach the First Capital Days celebrations here in Kingston, we
recognize the architectural and heritage significance of Sydenham Public
School. Both are a reminder as to how fortunate we all are to have this
history surround us, as a school, as a community and as a city," said the
Friends of the Sydenham Public School. "We are so pleased to have the history
of our school recognized within our community today, and we hope it is the
beginning of a new effort towards restoration and revitalization."
    The Sydenham Public School is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act
and is owned and operated by the Limestone District School Board. It houses
students from kindergarten through Grade 8. Distinct among Ontario's
educational institutions in architecture and age, it continues to act as a
symbol of the province's changing educational landscape.

    The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario,
dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's
heritage.

    
    Quick Facts:

    -   The Ontario Heritage Trust's Provincial Plaque Program commemorates
        significant people, places and events in Ontario's history.

    -   Since 1953, over 1,200 provincial plaques have been unveiled.

    -   27 provincial plaques are located in the City of Kingston.


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For further information:

For further information: Liane Nowosielski, Assistant Marketing and
Communications Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust, Telephone: (416) 325-5032,
E-mail: liane.nowosielski@heritagetrust.on.ca


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