Heritage School’s Keys
Transferred But Ownership Lost
On Thursday, June 7th the Women’s Institute transferred the key of the Mansur School House to the Stanstead Historical Society at a small ceremony and reception that took place at the school, located on Highway 143 just North of Stanstead.
The Mansur School House is a one room school house that dates back to 1918. It is the oldest standing original school house in Quebec. The original structure, constructed of wood, burned down in the 1920’s. The new building, which still stands, was reconstructed in brick in 1928. The interior of the school remains unchanged from the time of its reconstruction.
The Stanstead Women’s Institute was awarded ‘use at their pleasure’ of the school house by the governing school board in 1929. They have been maintaining and using the building since that time, but have recently sought to transfer responsibility for the building to an organization better able to handle its upkeep. The Women’s Institute has a membership with an average age in the eighties and they were concerned they lacked the resources to properly maintain the building. The Stanstead Historical Society was offered the building by the Women’s Institute and they accepted. When the School Board was approached for permission to transfer ownership they informed the W.I. and the SHS that it would not be possible, as the Board does not have proof of ownership of the school, hence they cannot transfer ownership from any party to another. It was decided the School Board would offer to the SHS the same privileges of use as those offered the Women’s Institute in 1929.
The ceremony took place between 2:00 and 4:00 PM last Thursday. There were approximately 40 people in attendance, although nobody from the School Board was present. Representatives from the
Women’s Institute handed over to the SHS both the keys and a similar letter to that given by the School Board to the Women’s Institute granting the SHS ‘use at your pleasure’ of the school. The SHS is now officially responsible for the upkeep of the heritage building. The WI also awarded a cheque of $2,500 to the SHS for the school’s maintenance. The sum represents the amount the women had previously raised to pay for future upkeep of the school.
According to the SHS, the goal for the school will be for their Society to maintain the integrity of the structure as well as actually use the school in whatever capacity they can. Plans are for the SHS to try to schedule school age children to visit and enjoy the heritage and history of the old school house. In a follow-up letter from Phyllis Dustin, President of the of the Women’s Institute, she stressed her desire to thank the many people involved with the maintenance of the Mansur School over the years it was held by the WI. Specifically she mentioned her appreciation for Elane Wilson’s dedication in keeping alive the public’s interest in the school house, for overseeing the restoration of the structure and maintaining an ongoing scrapbook of the school. Appreciation was also expressed for Gertrude Ketchum’s dedication as the WI’s treasurer and for Harry Isbrucker of the SHS, for attending meetings and helping negotiate with the School Board. A special thank you was also extended to the Colby Curtis staff, namely Ann Montgomery, Pierre Rastoul and Jeanne D’Arc. Most specifically Ms. Dustin wanted to recognize the ladies of the Women’s Institute for their years of work, cleaning, fundraisers and operating open house tours and her husband, Mel Dustin, for being caretaker and mowing the school lawn for over ten years.
The keys to the Mansur Schoolhouse were handed over to the Stanstead Historical Society.