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About Dickson Public School
Dickson Public School is located in what was once known as the of Galt, now the City of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. The school house consists of a two-storey limestone building that was constructed between 1876 and 1877 at a cost of $6,000
Dickson Public School was the first public school on the west side of Galt. It was established when the need for a primary school west of the Grand River became apparent to local citizens. William Dickson Jr., the son of Galt’s founder, was persuaded to sell two lots for the sum of $850, and also allowed the school to bear his family’s name.
The former school was closed in 2014 despite a campaign by parents to save it, the building was deemed too old for modern use, and changing population patterns sealed its fate.
Now, 7 years after being closed and several years sitting vacant, a local developer has purchased the heritage designated building and through adaptive reuse, he will be adding 10 residential units inside while maintaining the features that make this building unique.
Join me as I get a rare opportunity and invitation to tour this 145 year old school house .
Every so often an opportunity comes up that I just can’t pass on. Some of these examples have been access to the master key of an abandoned hospital or a request to feature my work in a major television show.
Another one of these opportunities came to me in late March in the form of a Facebook message:
“Hey man, I follow your work and think it’s really cool. I also own an old school that was built in 1876 in Cambridge Ontario. It is being redeveloped into residences soon, but if you were interested in getting inside for a shoot let me know”
This sounded like a very unique and interesting opportunity so of course I gladly accepted, we found date and time that worked mutually and the date was set.
I made my way to the historic town of Cambridge, Ontario to photograph a heritage designated school house that was built in 1876 on land once owned by the son of the founder of Galt (now Cambridge Ontario)
Built for $6,000 on two lots that were sold for $850, Dickson Public School was the first public school to be build on the west side of Galt.
Sadly after almost 140 years of serving the community and educating its youth, Dickson Public School was forced to close due to the fact that the building was deemed too old for modern use and rapidly changing population patterns.
In 2014, much to the chagrin of local parents Dickson Public School rang its bells for good. On a Facebook group for the school a post on June 27th, 2014 reads:
“Sad to see this part of our history end. Glad that we can say we were there for the final ring of its bell by the students. A fitting tribute!”
The school would not sit vacant for long as within just two years the school and property was purchased by a local developer named Mark McInnes.
Mark is fully aware are respectful of the heritage designation placed on the school in the early 1980’s, in fact it was the heritage designation that attracted him to this building.
Mark plans to build 10 residential units inside the walls of the old school house, while maintaining and preserving all of the historical and heritage elements. For heritage and history buffs out there, this is great news and there is no one better to take on this monumental project than a man like Mark.
As Mark and his wife took me through the building you could see the excitement, passion and enthusiasm that they have for this place and for this project. And while he is well aware of the pain and headaches that have, and
will inevitably come with this project, he takes it with a smile and a positive attitude.
Mark and I have already discussed the idea or me returning when the project is done to capture the new life that he will have breathed into this beautiful old stone school house up on the hill.