S.S. #11 Colchester Township South

School Section #11 was a rural school built in the early 20th century in a mainly Black school section. As with most “one-room” schools in the province, all grades from one to eight were taught together. It was one of several schools in Essex and Kent that remained under the control of separate boards of trustees elected in predominantly Black areas. Legislation allowing for separate white and Black schools in Canada West (Ontario) was passed in the 1850s, a time when large numbers of formerly enslaved persons sought refuge in southern Ontario. White residents in most districts refused to send their children to integrated schools, so the government was left with little choice but to allow Black persons to organize their own schools. Predominantly Black school sections were often not as well off as the neighbouring white sections and so their schools were often underfunded. As late as the 1960s, this legislation was still on the books in Ontario.
Over 50 students were still attending S.S. #11 in the early 1960s when other one-room schools in the township began to be closed. This period, known as consolidation, saw one-room schools close all over Ontario and the students bussed to a central school in each township. At first it appeared that S.S. #11 would be left out of the process. However, the parents, with the help of the South Essex Citizens’ Advancement Association, led by George McCurdy Jr., brought their case to the township board which also received a visit from then Minister of Education Bill Davis. The board agreed to send the students to the new consolidated school in Harrow which would be opening in September, 1965, along with school’s two teachers, and S.S. #11 was finally closed.
Learn more from this article in Professionally Speaking on Ontario's Last Segregated School.
Learn more from this article in TVO Today.