O.S.C.V.I.: the History of an Owen Sound High School 

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.

This week, the city of Owen Sound will welcome home many graduates of the OSWI. They will be returning to celebrate not only the anniversary of that institution, but also to remember that fine old building which has served the educational needs of generations of Owen Sound and area teenagers. 

Educating its youth has always been a priority of the citizens of this community. Few records exist for Owen Sound's early years. Consequently, there is some indecision as to when school classes were first held in the community. 

Some historians suggest that as early as 1841 classes were being held in the log building which served as the headquarters for the government land agent. Others, including T. Arthur Davidson in A New History of the County of Grey, illustrate that a school was built in Newash on 24th Street West in 1842 and a school was opened in the land agent's building in 1843. 

Melba Morris Croft in her book Fourth Entrance to Huronia, relates some of the experiences of James Andrew who attended school in this community in 1849. Not unlike other schools of the era, a rawhide whip was used to enforce discipline in the classroom. 

Croft's book reveals an interesting comment on the purity and taste of the drinking water in Owen Sound. It seems that it was considered quite undesirable. Hence, a hollowed-out log was placed at the door of the school house. 

Whiskey was poured into this vessel and a dipper stood at the ready to quench any thirsty scholars. There is no comment as to the effect this may have had on the debate and demeanor of the students! 

When the Stone School was built, its size made it possible for students from outside of the immediate community to attend. 

In the 1850s, there were no yellow school buses traveling throughout the county each morning and afternoon picking up or dispatching their scholarly riders. Therefore, accommodations had to be found. 

Perhaps picking up on the entrepreneurial spirit which prevailed at the time in Owen Sound, some of the teachers pooled their resources and operated a boarding house, the Clifton House, on Third Avenue East. Among these boarders was a young William Wilfred Campbell who one day would be considered one of Canada's leading poets. 

The Stone School served the community as both a high school and an elementary school. However, after more than two decades, the school was suffering from overcrowding. Therefore, it was decided that the community should have a high school. 

At this time in Owen Sound there were many attempts to improve the economy and lifestyle of the community. A new waterworks and a telephone system were among the innovations which were meant not only to improve the life of the citizenry, but also to entice newcomers, industries and investors to Owen Sound. A new high school fit that criteria. 

Therefore, in 1878, land was purchased, and the corner stone was laid the following year. The reported cost of the building and land was $22,000. This began an era which is ending in the near future but will remain alive forever in the memories of all those who have studied, taught or worked at the OSCVI. 

This weekend marks a milestone in the history of the Owen Sound area. There are not many long-time families in this area who did not have some member of their family attend the OSCVI. 

To all of those people, take a moment this week and remember what I am sure were good times.

A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on May 11, 1996.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  3. Owen Sound Businesses in the 1920s were the Backbone of the Community
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  3. OSCVI: The History of an Owen Sound High School