Huronia Museum – Looking Back MPDHS Official Opening Oct 3rd 1956

2006-0020-2834 From sugar bush to super school, only a few short months ago George Ingram’s sugar bush occupied the land on which sits this million dollar building, the new Midland Penetanguishene District High School. Pressed into use last January the building will be officially opened Wednesday (Oct 3, 1956) afternoon and evening.


2006-0020-2841The official opening and laying of the cornerstone by former MHS principal J. J. Robins for the new MPDHS high school in Tay Township just west of Midland.  Mr. Robins had been principal of MHS for 32 years prior to his retirement. At an evening function Mr. Robins was presented with a television set in recognition of his long service to the community. Rev. B. G. Brightling of Penetang conducted the dedication service.2006-0020-2842  J. J. Robins speaks at the official opening.

2006-0020-2843J. J. Robins, retiring principal of MPDHS was once a pupil of the Hon. W. J. Dunlop, minister of education for Ontario. The two men and spouses met again during the official opening of the new MPDHS in Tay Township.

2006-0020-2839 Relaxing on the lawn after the serious business of laying the cornerstone of the new MPDHS, officials are Tom M. McCullough, chairman of the board and W. H. Morrisson vice-chairman; Dr. W. J. Dunlop, minister of education for Ontario; board members, Clarke Edwards and Dr. J. R. Parrott. Facing sideways on the right is Rev. B. G. Brightling of Penetang who conducted the dedication service.

  • Program for the official opening was; Laying of the corner stone before the entire student body at 2:45 PM. Rev Arthur J. Lewis of Penetang to perform the dedication. [He was taken ill and replaced by Rev. B. G. Brightly of Penetang] Ex-principal J. J. Robins will lay the cornerstone followed by the presentation of the trowel by trustee Dr. J. R. Parrott. Following a banquet for invited guests, the evening program begins at 8 p.m. with selections by the school glee club, directed by R. C. Ireland. Guests will be introduced by MPDHS board chairman T. M. McCullough. Trustee Clarke Edwards will make a presentation to J. J. Robins. Trustee W. H. Morrison will introduce the guest speaker, Hon. Dr. W. J. Dunlop, Minister of Education for the province of Ontario. Principal L. M. Johnston will address the gathering, after which the public will have an opportunity to inspect the school. Light refreshments will be served in the cafeteria.
  • Clarke Edwards presented the gift of a TV and Tower TV hookup to retired MHS principal J. J. Robins with these words. “As a representative of the board, it is my pleasure to express appreciation to J. J. Robins, who retired as principal of MPDHS 2 years ago, after 33 years in the position. Mr. Robins began teaching in the MHS in September, 1920. In 1923 he received his high school principal certificate and was appointed principal of the school, the youngest high school principal in the province at that time. In the beginning he had 110 pupils and 5 staff and over the years this increased to 18 teachers and 575 pupils. During this time two additions were built on the school. Mr. Robins achieved the amazing record of not missing one day of school for the first 30 years, and then only due to an operation.”
  • The first high school board in Midland consisted of chairman W. J. Parkhill, and members James Playfair, Peter Potvin, F. J. McCallum, F. W. Jeffery, A. A. Osborne, I Freeman and T. I. Trueman. That was in 1904 when E. Simpson was engaged as the first principal of the new four roomed building on Sixth Street south. Midland’s first venture into secondary education. Eighty-five students enrolled in the first school, built by J. M. Wallace and A. Cook. D. Patchell was supervisor of construction and T. J. Campbell installed the heating and ventilation system. Principal Simpson died in 1909 and was succeeded by W. A. Glass who resigned in 1922. Miss E. M. Boyle , who had been in the school for seven years, was the next principal followed a year later by J. J. Robins. Contractors Webb and Cumming built a new wing on the school in 1923. That year also saw the first edition of the year book the “Tattler”. Never to be forgotten, are the 28 young men who gave their lives in World War II and the scores of former members of the school cadet corps who served in time of war.
  • In June, 1953, Midland and Penetang councils first approved the building of a joint high school for the Georgian Bay area in Tay Township. Strong support in promoting the decision to the councils came from W. H. Morrison and Msgr. J. M. Castex in Penetang, and T. M. McCullough in Midland.
  • School cost estimates close. When the MPDHS board met in mid May of this year, it had about $3,500. “leeway” after raising and spending just over one million dollars on the new school building.

 2006-0020-2775 Jane Lippert, young Toronto artist works on the huge mural that will decorate the main hallway of the new Midland Penetanguishene District High School in Tay township. School board members Tom M. McCullough, chairman Clarke Edwards and Karl Bertrand.


2006-0020-2865We have no names for these five. The photo was used in the paper but the boys were not identified. They may be grade eight students on orientation. Please comment if you know any of them.

2006-0020-2858 Serving counter in the new cafeteria at MPDHS.

 2006-0020-1827 Bright sunny classrooms like this one on the west side of the new Midland Penetang District High School are designed with a new type of move-able desks that add to the adaptability of the room. 

2006-0020-1875Midland Penetang District High School new combination gym and auditorium can seat 1,000 people and be divided in two by giant folding doors for various functions. The fine stage area will feature a grand piano and in the future will host many events. (When I attended we used the gym also as a cafeteria and it was informally called the cafatorium)

 2006-0020-1876 Midland Penetang District High School industrial arts wood working room.

  • Penetang High School, in fifty years, produced its full share of pupils whose names are heard daily in the professions, on Parliament Hill and in many countries of the globe. Set high on a hill to the East of Church Street, the old school commanded a beautiful view of Penetang Bay and the hills beyond. Today (1956) the old school , now owned by the municipality, is still dispensing education. Since September 1955 it has been used to take the overflow of boys from the Public Schools. A Mr. Allingham opened high school classes in the town hall in 1905 while the new school was being built. Mr. Keoh and Mr. Hutchinson were teachers in the new school with Mr. Allingham the first principal. A short time after the opening R. D. Keefe, father of Midland’s Beverley and Neville Keefe, assumed the duties of principal. In the early thirties Mr. Keefe moved on to the Department of Education and W. H. Bolger became principal. He was followed by Emmett Doris. The last principal was R. C. Gauthier, now assistant principal at the new MPDHS.
  • Many contractors and suppliers placed ads in the newspaper congratulating the school board and community on the completion of the new high school. T. G. Wilcox, of Midland, excavating, grading and sodding. Cuthbert Annand of Midland, roofing and flashing. A. Barrie & Sons of Midland, furniture for the ladies staff room and dining area. Sutherland-Schultz Electric Co. of Kitchener, electrical work. Page & Steele architects. Wood’s Sanitation for the Nation, janitorial equipment. Edwards of Midland, flooring, draperies. Preston – Noelting Co. of Stratford, office furniture. National Show Case Co. Ltd., laboratory desks, teachers desks, all office fixtures. George Price & Co. Ltd. of Coldwater, plumbing and heating. Hospital & Kitchen Equipment Co. of Toronto, kitchen and cafeteria equipment. Ball Bros. Ltd. of Kitchener, general contractors. Gestetner Canada Ltd. of Toronto, duplicators. Terrazzo Mosaic & Tile Co. Ltd. of Toronto, tile and terrazzo.

2 thoughts on “Huronia Museum – Looking Back MPDHS Official Opening Oct 3rd 1956

  1. I “think” one of the unidentified boys in the cafeteria-one with the brush cut, “might” be one of the jackson boys?

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