Zion Schoolhouse was built in 1869 to provide free public education for the children in the small farming community of L’Amaroux. Children from neighbouring farms came to learn basic reading, writing and arithmetic as well as agriculture, nature study, geography and history.

Program Features:

  • All programs are minimum of 10 students, maximum of 34 students
  • Half-day programs include recess where students will play historic games and enjoy your packed lunch on site

To book a school trip to Historic Zion Schoolhouse, please contact the museum directly:

1091 Finch Avenue
zionschool@toronto.ca
416-395-7435

Experience an unforgettable full-day immersion in the life of a 1910 child.  This unique cross-curricular learning experience brings drama, math, language, music and social studies together under one roof!

  • Experience A Taste of School Life program in the morning
  • Play with toys from 1910 and learn games that children would have played at the Schoolhouse
  • Make a historic craft to take home

4.5 hours / $8.19 per student plus tax

Ontario Curriculum

Subject: Social Studies
Topic: Early Settlements in Upper Canada

This program will transport you back to 1910 for lessons and activities reminiscent of Edwardian school days.

  • Play the part of a former student of Zion Schoolhouse
  • Discover how schools and school life have changed since 1910
  • Figure arithmetic problems on a slate
  • Spell down your classmates in a spelling bee

2 hours / $5 per student plus tax. Add on: enjoy your packed lunch with your class at the Schoolhouse for an additional $50 for a one hour lunch on site.

Ontario Curriculum

Subject: Social Studies
Topic: Early Settlements in Upper Canada

Explore the lives of the children who attended this rural school.  They grew up to become the young men who marched off to the First World War and the young working women of early 20th-century Toronto.

  • Examine historical maps and census records for the local area
  • Role-play a real student who attended Zion Schoolhouse before the war
  • Investigate original artifacts, reproductions and the school building
  • Use slates, slate pencils and steel nib pens to learn about changes in technology

4.5 hours / $8.19 per student plus tax

Ontario Curriculum

Subject: History
Topic: Canada: A Changing Society

Join in the fun of preparing for a Schoolhouse Christmas:

  • Become a 1910 child through role play and imagination
  • Participate in turn-of-the-century lessons
  • Prepare a Christmas poem for the school concert
  • Decorate the classroom with a hand-made ornament and make a craft to take home

4.5 hours / $8.19 per student plus tax

Ontario Curriculum

Subject: Social Studies
Topics: Traditions & Celebrations, Early Settlements in Upper Canada

The Historic Zion Schoolhouse gratefully acknowledges the contributions of past authors and schoolmistresses: Millie J. McClintock, Heather A. Darch, and Barbara Roblin, as well as members of the Toronto District School Board, and the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

Planning your visit to Zion Schoolhouse

Groups participating in a program at the Zion Schoolhouse will receive an orientation at the beginning of their visit before the role playing begins. This guide is intended to help you and your students come better prepared to step into character. The more you and your students know beforehand, the more enjoyable and educational your trip will be.

General Information

Built in 1869 by the citizens of L’Amaroux , Zion Schoolhouse is the last unaltered one-room schoolhouse in the old City of North York. The building was restored in the mid 1980s and furnished to the period of 1910. Today the Schoolhouse serves its community as a museum offering the opportunity for active learning in an historic setting, while forging connections with students of the past.

The schoolhouse is fully wheelchair accessible. The wheelchair approach is by a paved walkway from the small parking lot off Angus Drive directly behind the schoolhouse. There is a ramp to the schoolhouse, and a wheelchair accessible washroom in the modern building to the west of the schoolhouse.

We would like to accommodate all children in the Historic Zion Schoolhouse. Therefore, if you have children in your class who have physical disabilities or other special needs, please contact us prior to your visit and every effort will be made to assist the children. If an aide is required in your classroom to assist a particular child, that person may accompany your class free of charge.

Education in 1910

A typical school day in 1910 followed a pattern of routines, and lessons. The day would begin with the anthem, God Save the King, prayers, and a reading from the Bible. Lessons followed the opening exercises. These lessons continued through the day, broken by a morning recess of ten minutes, one hour for lunch, and another 10 minute recess in the afternoon. The day would close with more prayers and class was dismissed at 4:00 p.m.

The teacher faced the challenge of teaching lessons appropriate to each grade from Grade One to Grade Eight, and sometimes Grade Nine. Children were expected to work independently on the work assigned by the teacher while she taught the other grades.

Reading, Spelling and Writing, English Poetical Literature, English Language, Geography, Arithmetic, Drawing and Music were the core of the “programme of studies” for every student beginning in Grade One. Older grades covered additional subjects, beginning Physiology in Grade Three or Four, and History in Grade Five.

Agriculture was a mandatory subject in rural schools in Grade Seven and Eight, but optional in urban schools. Needlework, Domestic Economy, and Manual Training were to be taken up in urban schools with the approval of the trustees.

Students were expected to supply their own text-books or other supplies required by the course of study, and they could be suspended for failing to provide these or failing to pay the fees imposed by the Trustees to obtain these supplies on behalf of the student.

School supplies were kept to a minimum with slates and slate pencils in use in the lower grades, and pen and ink generally being introduced in Grade Five. Although paper and pencils were available they were slow to replace slates in the classroom because of the costs involved. Slates had the advantage of being reusable. A student could work sums, or copy spelling on the same slate erasing it after each use for years and years, where copy books represented an ongoing expense as students filled them up and needed new ones.

Discipline

Pupils were expected to follow the same rules of proper behaviour and manners that they followed at home. The Public School Daily Register, 1910 includes the following duties for the pupil:

He shall be neat and cleanly in his person and habits, diligent in his studies, kind and courteous to his fellow pupils, obedient and respectful to his teacher, and shall submit to such discipline as would be exercised by a kind, firm and judicious parent.

In an era when “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was a common philosophy, corporal punishment was much more common at home, and corporal punishment was one form of discipline used by teachers.

Former students of Zion Schoolhouse remembered children standing at the front of the class to have their hands strapped. Younger children were sent to stand in the corner for more minor transgressions.

Staff at the Historic Zion Schoolhouse do not encourage playing at 1910 style “punishments” as part of the role playing. It has been our experience that pretending to punish children can lead to attention seeking behaviour among boisterous children, and may cause stress to some sensitive children. Many children lack the empathy to understand that punishments were not meant to be amusing, and treating them as a game diminishes the seriousness of the subject.

The children will have many other opportunities to play their part.

Your Day at Zion Schoolhouse

We will begin our role playing with an abbreviated version of the opening exercises. It would be helpful if you could teach your class God Save the King before their visit.

God Save the King
God save our gracious King, Long live our noble King,
God save the King:
Send him victorious, Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God Save the King

Bible readings and opening and closing prayers were part of the daily routine in schools in 1910. Zion School was non-denominational and children whose parents or guardians objected to prayers or Bible instruction were permitted to be excused or do other work while these took place. We will recite the Lord’s Prayer only if it is appropriate to your group.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
Amen

How your Students Can Prepare

It is much easier (and a lot more fun) to role play if everyone is dressed for the part, and if modern things like chips, pop, and computer games are forgotten for the day. While it is not required, your students can get into character by making some preparations for their trip back in time.

Costume Suggestions

Before coming to the schoolhouse, your students can try to prepare Edwardian costumes from clothes and materials they can find at home. The goal of this preparation is to enhance your experience of the schoolhouse environment and not to create stress for students and their families.

Please Note: Your students should have footwear suitable for the weather and active outdoor games at recess even if this is not part of their costume.

Girls

  • Solid colour, plaid or floral pattern dress (Sailor Style was popular)
  • Pinafores
  • Dark stockings or tights
  • Dark shoes or short boots
  • Long hair should be in braids, bows or ringlets
  • Handkerchief

Boys

  • Cotton or flannel shirt
  • Cardigan sweater, vest, or jacket
  • Braces (suspenders)
  • Cap for outdoor wear
  • Knickerbockers – create the illusion of short pants by tucking long pants into dark coloured knee socks
  • Dark shoes or boots
  • Handkerchief

Female Teachers

  • White cotton blouse (plain or high collar)
  • Solid coloured long skirt
  • Bow tie or pin at neck
  • Cardigan sweater
  • Hair tied back
  • Dark shoes or boots
  • Handkerchief

Male Teachers

  • White cotton shirt
  • Dark suit (coat, vest and trousers)
  • Bow tie
  • Black shoes or boots
  • Handkerchief

You and your students can recreate the flavour of the early twentieth century by packing an authentic 1910 lunch when you visit the Zion Schoolhouse. Most food was grown locally and many fruits and vegetables were only available “in season”, or as pickles or preserves out of season. You may choose to lead your class in a discussion of how lunches would be different in the 1910 classroom even if they are not able to pack appropriate lunches.

Prepare an Historic Lunch

Please help us keep Zion Schoolhouse peanut free!

Typical Lunch Foods

  • Sandwiches made with “homemade” bread
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Apples
  • Cheese, cheese curds
  • Home made cookies, muffins, or cake
  • Preserves or pickles
  • Water, milk, or lemonade to drink

Food was not pre-packaged in 1910. Pop cans, tetra-packs, plastic packaging, and insulated lunch bags were far in the future. Children carried their sandwiches wrapped in wax paper or a clean cloth in a tin dinner pail or a basket. If a student wanted to drink something other than well water from the communal dipper in the schoolhouse they could carry their drink in a glass jar wrapped in a tea towel. Challenge your students to bring an almost litter less lunch by using these packing materials.

Packaging Materials

  • Wax paper
  • Brown paper
  • Tea towel to cover the desk
  • Mason jar for beverage – wrap this in the tea towel
  • Lunch pail, basket, or bucket

Students eat their lunches at the desks. To reduce spills and mess we ask that students stay seated while they are eating, and clean up after themselves when they are done.

Recess

Physical education was not part of the curriculum in 1910. However, the Public School Daily Register directed that “One hour at least shall be allowed for recreation at mid-day, and ten minutes during the forenoon and afternoon terms.” Outdoor play gave the children a break from the controlled atmosphere of the schoolhouse. Many modern students feel this would have been the best part of going to school in 1910.

Today at the Historic Zion Schoolhouse the morning recess marks the break between the modern orientation session, and role playing 1910. This is also an opportunity to use the washrooms, which are located in the modern building across the schoolyard from the historic building. Photographs of former students at Zion Schoolhouse are on display in the lobby of the bathrooms.

At lunch time we make every effort to have a half hour outdoor recess. Stilts and skipping ropes are available for use by the children when weather permits. The schoolmistress will come outside to give instructions on walking on stilts, and to lead period appropriate activities when her duties inside the schoolhouse are complete. Visiting teachers and adults are required to supervise the children when they are outside.

We look forward to welcoming your class back to school in 1910!