Silvercreek Parkway North – 611

SS #4

By-law: (2006)-17929

Legal Description: Part Lot 2, Concession 4, Division D

Designated Portions

On the exterior:

All original door and window openings, including sills, surrounds, and dressings

  • The front stone façade facing Silvercreek Parkway (excluding wood medallion)
  • The north and south stone sidewalls
  • The bell tower

On the Interior:

  • The interior open layout of main classroom

Property History

An excellent surviving example of mid 19th century one-room schoolhouse architecture with distinctive Gothic corbie-stepped gable façade

  • Fine example of limestone architectural elements – window and door surrounds, as well as gable copings, used in an institutional building
  • Fine example of granite fieldstone masonry
  • An important rural cultural heritage resource for its role as a centre of learning and community life

The site on which the subject property is located was first settled in 1834 by John Shortreed, who arrived in Guelph with his parents from Hawick, Scotland in 1831. In 1846, Shortreed donated land for the construction of the first School Section #4, a log building, just south-east of the present schoolhouse. Sons John Jr. and George became prosperous in both the farming and lumber business.

The first school trustees, Messrs. Alexander White, Wm. Porter and Richard Baker were elected Jan 12, 1847. In 1865, Guelph-based architect Mr. David Murray was selected by the trustees to draw the plans and supervise the construction of a new school at a cost of $764.17. David Murray is most well-known as the architect/builder of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Fergus (1862), and was one of three architects considered for the building of St. George’s Anglican in Guelph. The wood bell tower was added in 1899 at a cost of $47.00 and built by George Steven.

In 1905, an experiment to transport all Guelph Township students to the new MacDonald Consolidated School left the building closed, only to reopen once again in 1907. Electricity was added to the school in 1930. In 1949, a block addition was added to the rear of the main schoolhouse including a teacher’s room, kitchen, two washrooms and a basement with a forced air heating system.

The school was closed in 1962 and sold to Local 541 of the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America. Local 541 is now known as the Canadian Auto Workers Local 541.

School Section #4 was built of local split-faced granite fieldstone. Mortar jointing consisting of heavy over-pointing of the rough blocks, with a ruled white tuckpoint was added to give the appearance of the regular coursed masonry. The front window surrounds, lintels, sills, side elevation window quoins, and gable copings consist of dressed limestone. Notably, the window and door lintels on the front façade are carved in two styles – a neoclassical styled pediment over the central windows, and a curved arch over the entry doors.

The distinctive front façade consists of a corbie-stepped (or crow-stepped) and corbelled gable with a double entrance and unusually tall narrow central windows. Corbie-steps were a medieval Flemish/Dutch element which saw very limited use in Gothic revival architecture in Ontario. Architect David Murray was heavily influenced by Gothic revival styles in the 1860’s, evident in his design of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Fergus. Similar examples of this gable treatment in Guelph could be found on the now-demolished Senior Girls School, formerly at the north side of Central School on Dublin Street and at the Crowe Foundry Building on Norfolk Street.

Throughout its life, and still today, the schoolhouse has been used as a community meeting facility for local events and celebrations.