When the Free School Act was passed in 1865, schools in Nova Scotia became open to all children. As a result, hundreds of one-room schools opened in Hants and Kings Counties in the following decades.
Jumping forward to the early 1950s, when school districts were consolidated, many of those community one-roomers became obsolete. More than a hundred one-room schools were affected, for example, by Central Kings opening in Cambridge in 1952. Kings County had 112 school sections at the time and some, such as section number 78 in Aldershot, held two or more one-roomers.
Many of the one-room schools affected by consolidation became obsolete and were sold to private interests, were torn down or became functional as community halls. Typical of what happened to some of the single-room schools is the amazing fate of the Meadowview building in section 78. This section comprised Aldershot, Meadowview and the area that generally has been known as the Pine Woods.
If there ever was a success story for one-room schools in Hants or Kings County, then it belongs to Meadowview. Today the Meadowview Community Hall is a sprawling building on Brooklyn Street that functions as an important social center, one that thanks to volunteers, hosts a variety of popular events throughout the year.
But it wasn’t always that way. Looking back, in the early 1900s a one-room school served an area known as Pine Woods that seated roughly 100 students from Meadowview, Aldershot and areas to the north. Then, for a time, a separate Meadowview school was located in a house on Exhibition Street.
In 1943 a one-room school was opened on Brooklyn Street, the site the updated building occupies today. This school taught students up to Grade 4. After Grade 4, students attended Aldershot school up to Grade 9. Students wishing to continue to high school went to Kentville and after consolidation to Central Kings.
As best as I can determine, the Meadowview school was operational until 1962. My timeline on school changes in Meadowview and Aldershot are inaccurate due to a lack of records. But it is certain that following consolidation, most one-, two- and three-room schools were shut down. And as mentioned, many of them disappeared or found other uses.
Meadowview today is a multifunctional building and an example of the positive things that can happen to old school buildings when a community of volunteers works together. Meadowview school was purchased by the Meadowview Development Association in 1975 and it was a three-room building at the time. Before purchasing the school the Association operated out of the old Salvation Army hall on Exhibition Street in 1969, and then in 1972 out of the residence of Gary and Heather Allen on Tupper Road.
Association president Joe Benjamin said that the move by the organization resulted in a complete overhaul of the old school. “When we were finished it was totally upgraded inside, fully insulated, and a kitchen, canteen and bar added.”
When the Association’s alterations and renovations were completed that little one-room school in Meadowview was ready to take on a new role – that of becoming the social center of the community. Few of the old one, two and three-room schools in the Annapolis Valley made this amazing metamorphosis, let alone survived after the inauspicious start that Meadowview had.
Association president Joe Benjamin notes that the former school, now the heart and soul of the community is an example of what volunteers can do. For example, the Association is busy year-round with dart leagues, crib tournaments, bingo, ongoing country jams, cards, teas and a varierty of fund-raisers that keep all of its volunteers busy.
Looking at the popular Association building today, and the tailored grounds featuring a playground and basketball court, you’d never think that once it was a ramshackle little school with little or no future.