The first school in Summerside was located at the corner of Second and Duke Streets, where a grocery store now stands. This school was opened in August 1853 and the first teacher was Miss Ellen Lawson.
In 1873, a school known as the Old Grammar School was opened on Summer Street near where the Centennial Memorial now stands. This school accommodated the older pupils. Two other schools were erected to house the junior pupils, the Old Eastern School on Ottawa Street – this building was still standing in 1965 and was used as an apartment house – and the Old Western School on Argyle Street to replace the original school at the corner of Second and Duke Streets.
In 1879, a brick schoolhouse was erected for the sum of $5315, replacing all other previous schools. This was the first building in Summerside suitable for a graded school. It contained a total of 8 classrooms. The 4 classrooms on the lower level were allotted to girls while boys climbed the stairway to the upper level. When the brick schoolhouse was opened on January 6th, 1879 it was called “Davies School”.
Davis School at this time employed eleven teachers, six men and five women. The number of children enrolled were 622 but the average daily attendance for the term was only 355. Mr. Neil MacLeod was principal of Davies School and continued to be for 20 years.
An idea of some of the subjects taught and the size of class in 1879 is as follows:
Grade 1 Reading, Spelling, Writing, Arithmetic, Drawing (to be done on their slates), Objects, Colors, Singing and Physical Exercise.
Grade 2 Same as above but more advanced.
Grade 3 Same as above plus Geography, Studying the Habits of Animals, Simple Forms of Matter, and Plants.
Grade 4 Same as above plus Grammar, Studying Plants and Minerals, Simple Properties of Matter and The Theory of Music.
Grade 5 Same as above plus composition. In Geography they studied the Dominion of Canada and Europe, Latin, Science Primer, Agricultural Chemistry and Music with physical and vocal culture.
Grade 6 Reading, Spelling, Writing, Composition, Arithmetic, Geography, History, Grammar, Geometry (Enclids 20 propositions), Algebra, Latin, French, Drawing, Science, Chemistry (oral) Music and Physical Culture.
In 1879, the number of days legally taught from September – December was 80. The classification of the teacher from whose register this information was taken was a “3”.
Ten years after Davis School was opened it was given a new name. It became known as “Summerside High School” even though it did not have Grades 11 and 12.
In 1915, Summerside High School was remodeled and enlarged with the addition of 4 more classes, a large assembly hall, a teacher’s room, cloakrooms and a library. In the basement were two large playrooms and two modern sanitary toilet rooms.
In 1916, Mr. C. B. Jelly became principal of the school. In 1921, an additional classroom was added. The Grades taught were 1-9 but became 1-10 to compete with Charlottetown.
In 1932, under pressure from the ratepayers, Summerside High School really became a high school. Four additional classrooms and a large assembly hall, along with a laboratory and a storage room in the basement were constructed. These changes brought yet another new name to the school – “Summerside High School and County Academy”. Two government Grade 11 teachers were hired in 1932 and a Grade 12 teacher in 1933. The students from outlying areas were required to pay tuition fees in the amount of $12.50.
On July 14, 1935, a fire caused extensive damage to the school. The original “Davies School” was completely destroyed while practically all of the 1915 addition had to be rebuilt. The 1932 addition was salvaged having suffered mainly from smoke and water damage.
On May 22, 1936, the newly renovated school was reopened. It had twenty-six classes, chemistry and physics laboratories, a library, a teachers’ room, and a large assembly hall.
In 1954, the assembly hall was converted into six classrooms to accommodate the growing number of pupils. In 1956 a new High School and County Academy was constructed. The old Summerside High School and County Academy, now housing only lower grade students, became known as “Summer Street Elementary School”.
In 1965, Summer Street School was remodeled during July and August at a cost of $203,000 and was to become known as “Parkside School” in 1966. The principal of the school at this time was Mr. Norman MacDonald. The Superintendent was Mr. Clarence Mercer. In 1966 there were 940 students enrolled. The school population continued to grow to an all-time high of 1040 students.
119 years have come and gone, so have the pupils: in 1879 there were 47 pupils and 1 teacher. During the Centennial Year, 1979, there were 535 pupils and 29 teachers. Presently our school holds 312 students and 20 teachers.
So, as you can see, Parkside School, as we know it today, has had a very interesting an colorful past.
Information for this history was gathered from various sources:
A history compiled for the Centennial Celebration.
An address given by Mr. C. B. Jelly at the reopening of the school in 1936.
A published history of Summerside, Down At The Shore, by Robert Allan Rankins.
Our thanks to them for their contribution.