Hillcrest School Memories

Hillcrest School Memories a look back at my public school days when Owen Sound's Hillcrest Public School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998.

In the years following the Second World War, North American communities experienced dynamic growth and expansion. 

In Owen Sound at this time there was an increase in the construction of housing. These new houses were needed for the families which had resulted from the return of the young men and women who had served in the armed forces during the war. 

By the end of the 1940s, it was apparent that new educational facilities would be necessary to accommodate the needs of the children who were part of the population explosion which would be called the 'baby boom". 

1948: The First Hillcrest School

In 1948, a new school, Hillcrest Public School, was opened on 4th Ave. West, at the top of 8th Street. The physical structure of the school was an amalgamation of military buildings which had been used during the war at a nearby base. The new school was established to serve the educational needs of children from Kindergarten to Grade Four. 

I remember this school very vividly. In 1955, I was enrolled in Mrs. Nystrom's kindergarten class. To a shy five-year-old, that old building was an imposing structure. The creaky, and sometimes uneven floors seemed to slant uphill from my classroom to the rest of the school which was inhabited by the much larger and intimidating students in the other classrooms. 

As if to reinforce this fear, we kindergarten kids had our own section of the playground which was "out of bounds" to the other students. I remember watching them play and feeling a little envious of their freedom, and perhaps their maturity! 

However, my time at this school was to be short lived! In order to accommodate the growing number of "baby boomers", a new Hillcrest School for grades from Kindergarten to Grade Eight was being built around the corner on 8th Street. Just as I was starting to feel comfortable in my new school, I now would have to start all over again. 

The following year, I marched off to Mrs. Breen's Grade One class. At first, I was nervous, but as soon as I saw that all my old friends from Kindergarten, Craig, Allan, "Chuckie", and Bonnie were in my class, the world seemed secure to this six-year-old. 

However, there was an irony for me. The previous year I had longed to be one of the "big" kids. I had been sure that once I was in Grade One, life would be different. But I was wrong! 

I had not counted on the fact that my new school would have even bigger kids, now that the school included Grades Five to Eight! 

I enjoyed my time in Mrs. Breen's class and Mrs. Black's Grade two class, learning to print and read. I was also learning that I had a life away from my family. Sure, there were parent-teacher meetings and report cards, but when I was at school, as long as I stayed out of serious trouble, my time at school was mine. However, Grade Three would be different! 

My Grade Three teacher was Mrs. Hargest. Part way through the year, our teacher told us that she was leaving, and we would have a new teacher. Now Mrs. Walsh was a great teacher, but she posed a problem for me! The new teacher was a friend of my family. When my friends, Craig and Paul, suggested that we get into some mischief, I now had to be careful because the teacher might tell my parents. So much for anonymity! 

Grade Four marked my last year in the junior wing of the school and my teacher was Mrs. MacLeod. I shall be forever grateful to her introducing us to the history of our area and exposing us to many great authors. Each day she read aloud an excerpt from a book and her reading of Ralph Connor's Glengarry Schooldays remains a fond memory. 

Grade Five marked an achievement that I had dreamed of since kindergarten. I was now one of the big kids at Hillcrest. (Anyone who remembers or has pictures from that era will tell you that even in Grade Eight, I was still one of the smaller kids in the senior wing!) I now had to cope with rotary classes. Instead of one teacher, I had many. Mr. Hopper for music, Mr. Miller for art and physical education, and Mr. Wilcox for history and geography. In Grade Eight, Mr. Garvie our principal had the joy of trying to teach me mathematics. 

Unfortunately, there is not enough space in this column to relate all of those wonderful experiences at Hillcrest Public School. Perhaps tomorrow at Hillcrest as we celebrate its 50th anniversary, we can talk about those "Good Old Days"!!

A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on April 24, 1998.

More Great Information Pages
About Owen Sound

Charles Rankin, I Presume: October 7, 1840 marked the meeting of Land Agent John Telfer and surveyor Charles Rankin on the banks of the Sydenham River and the founding of Owen Sound.

Black History: Emancipation Day celebrates the abolition of slavery and it continues to be an annual celebration in many locations that were in some way, or another touched by the impact of slavery.

Black History in Owen Sound: Who was the First Black Citizen in the community is a cause for debate.

Black History: The Underground Railway is an important part not only in terms of black history, but of the history of southwestern Ontario.

Black History of Owen Sound: Version 2: There is some debate about the first black citizen in  the Owen Sound area. Here is more information for your consideration.

A Curvy Route to Toronto provided a rail connection between Owen Sound and Toronto, the curvy part was thrilling, but beautiful for the passengers and strenuous for the crew.

Billy Bishop: Owen Sound Hero earned national and international fame as a World War One Fighter pilot and used his high profile to aid in the World War Two effort.

John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.

Black Clawson Kennedy: An Iconic Owen Sound Industry provided income for area residents and economic development for the community for almost 150 years.

Amalgamation In and Around Owen Sound is not an unusual happening. Some form of boundary changes have occurred at many different times over the years.

Canada' First Pharmacy Chain Store: The Owen Sound-based drug store chain of Parker and Cattle is credited with being the first pharmacy chain store enterprise in Canada.

DC Taylor: Owen Sound Entrepreneur was not only progressive businessman, he was also an important contributor to the social and cultural fabric of his community.

Owen Sound Businesses: 1920s were owned and operated by families whose deep roots in the community and their efforts had created the backbone of the community and brought success to the port city.

Owen Sound: Dry Gulch Canada Learn the reason why Owen Sound was the last city in the grasp of the temperance movement.

First Cars in Owen Sound could be purchased for less than $500.00!

The harbour history of Owen Sound is rich with detail of businesses which were located at various wharves.

Hillcrest School Memories a look back at my public school days when Owen Sound's Hillcrest Public School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998.

News of War: The 1940s was supposed to provide the world with a respite after the hardship of the 1930s depression. However World War Two brought more adversity.

Owen Sound 1840 Onward! From a clearing in the Georgian Bay wilderness to a booming port city the 1800s were a time of growth and prosperity.

Owen Sound's First Newspaper: The Comet came into existence a mere 10 years after the first settlers braved the wilderness that would become the Grey and Bruce region.

Owen Sound's First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.

Owen Sound Tavern Bylaw (1857) tried to tackle the issue of monitoring taverns in the Upper Canadian pioneer wilderness.

Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes even using harsh measures.

Owen Sound CPR Strike in 1908 immobilized harbour activities in that important Georgian Bay port, the CPR's eastern Great Lakes terminus.

Owen Sound CPR Link began with a bang, suffered a setback, and ended with a whimper.

Owen Sound Entrepreneurs: S.J. Parker & Richard Notter used their wealth and their friendships to built many community-oriented businesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Owen Sound 1920 Stories provide an interesting look at the community as it was about to become a city.

Owen Sound 1920s: Optimism abounded in the port city as a new decade began, The town was becoming a city and the economic outlook seemed bright.

Owen Sound Hospital History is one of a community coming together to take care of the medical needs of the entire community.

Owen Sound Softball and Baseball has a Long Tradition From the 1980s Clippers and the Wawanekas to the 1990s Selects, Owen Sound has a been well-represented in these sports.

Owen Sound Stories: On the Attack! Throughout the history of the community, citizens were not afraid to go on the attack to promote the needs of their town.

Owen Sound Street Names honour the individuals who made a contribution to Owen Sound's development. Today the streets are numbered to help visitors find their way.

O.S.C.V.I.: the History of an Owen Sound High School details from the very beginning the establishment of a high school in the community.

Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 Owen Sound details life in the last wilderness in Upper Canada in the 1840s.

Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 (Part 2) continues the memories of Elizabeth Byth as she encountered life in the Upper Canada wilderness that became Owen Sound.

Pioneer Theatre was a big hit in Owen Sound and across southern Ontario, where Vaudevillians like Perth Ontario's Marx Brothers played to full houses.

U.S. President Taft Visited Owen Sound Ontario, a Georgian Bay port in a momentous winter of events in 1920 as Owen Sound celebrated its incorporation as a ci

Some Interesting 20th Century Events in Owen Sound: One, in particular featured a mayor acting to avert a major labour-related confrontation.

The 1940's: An Eventful Decade in Owen Sound and Grey County: A war; a surprising political event; sports celebrations and much more.

Wawanekas: Fastball pioneers who were a legendary women's fastball team from Owen Sound who dominated their sport for a decade or more.

Political Corruption in 1852 Owen Sound? Does it seem possible that this could happen in a pioneer community on the Georgian Bay shores? Read on, and decide.

Emily Pankhurst Visits Owen Sound. The well-known suffragette visited Owen Sound and spoke not only about suffrage, but the bolshevik threat. 

Owen Sound Church History: First United Church was in fact the very first church in the Owen Sound community. It was preceded only Rev Neelands a circuit rider.

Lacrosse History in Owen Sound begins in the late nineteenth century and records the numerous championships that have been captured by Owen Sound teams.

Pioneer Ingenuity: Building Lime Kilns was essential for pioneers as without lime they could not build their brick homes.

Boosterism in 1890s Owen Sound targeted promoting economic development in Owen Sound. The port city showcased what it had to offer investors and visitors alike.

A pioneer home was very utilitarian. It served the pioneer family's essential needs, while the work of clearing the land and planting crops took priority.

Pioneer justice might be described as ruthless. But the question remains, did they always get the right man?

CPR Grain Elevator Fire in 1911 in Owen Sound harbour would have a profound impact on that Georgian Bay community.

Reverend Ryerson Visits Owen Sound and despite a great reception from the citizens of the community, he posts a negative newspaper story of the community.

The Leith Golf Course has provided many families with great memories. The history of this golf course starts, and ends, with the generosity of one family

Fenians: A Threat: The threat of an attack by Fenians was very real in Upper Canada in the 1860s and this was especially true in port communities like Owen Sound.

Inglis Falls is not only a beautiful place to enjoy nature, it is also the home of one of Owen Sound's first industries.

An Owen Sound pioneer, A.M. Stephens  provided us with a story about his early years helping to carve out a community in this part of Georgian Bay.

Pioneer industry: William Kennedy William Kennedy's efforts to build an important foundry and machine shop on the banks of Owen Sound's harbour.

Pioneer Resort: King's Royal Park From 1840 meeting to opulent pioneer resort, the citizens of Owen Sound have always worked hard to promote the economic growth and development of their community, and their part of the Georgian Bay shoreline.

Sailing stories: Owen Sound Shipbuilding from the earliest time of settlement busy shipyards dotted the Owen Sound bay where shipbuilding took place, sometimes at a feverish pace.

Spanish Flu Impacted Owen Sound, Ontario causing illness and death throughout the region. But it also illustrated the strength of the community spirit in the area.

Golf Course Review: Stone Tree Golfing at the Stone Tree Golf Club, a golfer can also enjoy sighting American Goldfinches, Purple Martins and the majestic Blue Heron while they pursue their quest to improve their golf game!

Owen Sound Ontario: A Unique Perspective: Book provides a unique and humorous perspective about this Georgian Bay port and hockey hotbed.

Water Quality in Owen Sound has been an issue since the 1840s, two Owen Sound entrepreneurs in the 1870s attempted to rectify the situation.

Owen Sound, located on beautiful Georgian Bay offers a wide variety of entertainment and shopping delights for visitors of all ages. The city and its surrounding area has a rich history, parks and other natural areas for bird watchers, hikers, cross country skiers, etc.


  1. History Articles
  2. Owen Sound
  3. Owen Sound Businesses in the 1920s were the Backbone of the Community
  1. History Articles
  2. Owen Sound
  3. Hillcrest School Memories