The School Days Museum is alive and well and
continues to grow and improve. Even though it is located in Fredericton, the School Day's Museum
is actually a provincial museum under the sponsorship of the New Brunswick
Retired Teachers Association.
In the 25 years the Museum has existed it has
amassed over 14,000 educational artefacts from schools of earlier years in New Brunswick
textbooks, resource materials, teaching aids, photos, students' work, educational
records and school furniture and fixtures.
Rather than being a museum which concentrates
only on the collection of items, it is hoped the Museum will become more
dynamic in exhibiting its very deep and varied collection. However, as more and
more items continue to be received from caring donors, the space in the
Museum becomes ever more limited.
To envision School Days Museum becoming an
enlarged and more attractive site, a five year long-range plan was developed
in 2004. This plan was largely implemented successfully by the end of 2009.
Phases One and Two consisted of converting one
of the classrooms of the former Model School of the old Provincial Normal
School into a display space for artefacts as well as a replica of a One Room
School in New Brunswick of about 1920. This required dividing the room into
two parts. With a generous Support Grant from the Heritage Branch of the
Province of New Brunswick, School Days was able to employ professional talent
to plan and build a One Room School on one side of the dividing wall and a
display space with shelves and cupboards on the other.
In addition to the generous financial support of
Heritage New Brunswick, Phases One and Two also drew considerable financial donations from individuals
and several groups interested in education: the Provincial Society of Retired
Teachers (NBSRT) and number of its Branches, The Fredericton Community Foundation, and the I.O.D.E.
Phase Three included the construction of a
graphic display honoring three outstanding New Brunswick Educators: Martha
Hamm Lewis, Dr. Fletcher Peacock and Dr. Alphée Belliveau. Ms. Lewis
was the first woman to graduate from the New Brunswick Normal School in 1850; Dr. Peacock brought about
modern school organization during the first half of the twentieth century and
Dr. Belliveau served for four decades as professor of French at the Normal
School until his retirement in 1922.
Again, "School Days" received a
sizable grant from Heritage New Brunswick to undertake and complete this project. Part of this Grant was also used to
begin Phase Four: improving the provenance of the artefact displays,
especially graphic presentations; labeling artefacts properly in both English
and French, and placing Plexi-glass covering over delicate items such as
photographs and reproductions.
2016 saw the continuing of Phase Four with the construction of the Consolidated Schools exhibit. This exhibit focuses on the process of creating one such consolidated school, in Doaktown between 1951 and 1954.
The exhibit is comprised of multiple labels, many poster-sized with interpretation provided via text and images. Display areas, walls and cases extend context by creating a 1950's classroom, featuring a teacher figure, desks, books maps and
other materials. Texts and teaching aids are displayed with accompanying graphic interpretation.
Audio-visual components include recordings played in the classroom and informative, contextual videos displayed on the large exhibit room television. Ultimately, the exhibit will complement and contrast with the
one-room school that preceded consolidated schools. Hands-on or educational components will be developed, implemented by the summer staff.
Phase Five includes cleaning and improving the Workroom where the Board has its Wednesday
afternoon work sessions and monthly business meetings. The Library of over
9,000 textbooks and other educational materials relating to New Brunswick is also located in this
It is the Museum's fervent hope that the
improvements made over the past several years will greatly enhance the
viewing experience for our many visitors from New Brunswick and beyond. New Brunswick has a
rich history of Education, one which deserves its own museum to display and
celebrate this heritage.
Further improvements - above all, the hiring of
staff to have the Museum open many more weeks of the year and enlarging the
space to accommodate the ever growing number of historical items, as well as
the improvement of the environment for the many precious artefacts - await a
second Five Year Plan.
Obviously, new vision and more money will be
required. As a completely volunteer group of retired educators working with
grants and donations from government, organizations and individuals, the
Museum simply cannot meet the costs of this work from its modest operating
budget. These funds are consumed in the expenses for telephone service,
computer and technology supplies, insurance premiums, janitor services,
workshop fees and office supplies among other ongoing costs.
A contribution anyone can make to the Museum
would mean we are that much closer to the goal. Those making personal
donations in the name of "School Days" Museum will receive the
thanks of those who give their time and effort to it, and be issued an Income
May our combined efforts make the School Days Museum
a place of inestimable value and one in which the visitor may enjoy to the
utmost a nostalgic journey down education’s memory lane.