Public Talk

Grammar (2)Endangered Schoolhouses: Connaught School and the Disappearing “Palace School” Tradition, 1870 to the Present

Illustrated Public Talk

by Paul W. Bennett, Director, Schoolhouse Consulting, and Adjunct Professor of Education, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

May 20, 7 p.m., Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre – Free of Charge

Historic schoolhouses constructed in late 19th and early 20th century urban Canada will be the focus for this illustrated public talk. Drawing upon current research, the presenter will explore the fascinating history of the so-called “palace schools” and offer a passionate defence of this irreplaceable architectural heritage. Dr. Bennett notes that every city has surviving palace schools and Regina boasts one of the finest — Connaught School, designed by J.H. Puntin and built in 1912.  It remains a classic example of one of these unique architectural landmarks, demonstrating how schoolhouses were once powerful symbols of civic and community pride.

Cast aside as mere relics of a bygone era, historic schoolhouses stand as silent reminders of a post-modern 21st century society that celebrates economic progress, worships gleaming glass enclosed structures, and all too often ignores the lessons of the past. The mythical one-room schoolhouse lives on mostly in the popular imagination, but its urban counterpart, known as the “palace school” and later the “collegiate school” still stand as “splendid little monuments” to a stately Victorian and Edwardian Canadian architectural tradition.  Yet they too are endangered, currently at the mercy of cost-conscious, modernizing school boards, left abandoned and now falling apart, or dependent upon community supporters with a genuine commitment to historical preservation.

About the Guest Lecturer

Dr. Paul W. Bennett is the Founding Director of Schoolhouse Consulting, an independent educational consulting firm, and Adjunct Professor of Education at Saint Mary’s University. Paul is the author of seven books, most recently Vanishing Schools, Threatened Communities: The Contested Schoolhouse in Maritime Canada, 1850-2010 (2011). Since May 2012, he has been a co-founder and leading public advocate for the Nova Scotia Small Schools Initiative.

 Born in Toronto and raised in Thornhill, Ontario, Paul holds an Hons. B.A. and M.A. from York University and completed his Ed.D. at the University of Toronto. Widely recognized as a leading Canadian career educator, Paul is the senior author of three nationally recognized Canadian History textbooks, and a two-time finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Canadian History.  He also serves as a Member of the Halifax Public Library Board and is a regular radio and newspaper commentator on a whole range of education policy issues.

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