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History of the Landmark Stinson School

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Article by historian Murray Aikman and a former teacher at the Stinson School

In May of 1894, the property bounded by Ontario Street, Stinson Street and Grant Avenue was purchased for $5,200. The cost of building the 10 room facility was $21,726.25. The school took its name from the street which, in turn, was named after Ebenezer Stinson who came to Hamilton in the early 1830s. The cornerstone was laid in September of 1894. Designed by Alfred W. Peene, the building measured 93 by 88 feet, being built of brick and brown Credit Valley stone. An attractive arch created a striking entrance way to the school. Each room could accommodate 50 students and was bright and airy due to large windows.

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The school accepted its first pupils on May 20, 1895 when four classes from the Hunter School and one class each from the Victoria Avenue and Queen Victoria School were transferred. Opening day was conducted by G.W. Ross, Minister of Education for Ontario. Stinson, and sister school Strathcona, were the last of the imposing Victorian-style schools erected in Hamilton. The original building had ten rooms, with the Principal’s Office located above the beautiful arched entrance. Each of the five rooms on the first and second floors was situated around a central foyer. The basement contained lavatories, furnaces and large play rooms. The barn-like attic was available for storage or possibly could be utilized for cooking, should that become a portion of the curriculum.

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In September, 1914 the new building was added on the south-side of the land costing $71,820 at the time. In 1959 the gymnasium/assembly hall was added. A school library was created in 1978. By the 1920’s students from the nearby Boys’ Home at 145 Stinson Street were integrated with the regular Stinson School population. An early form of social support, the Boys’ Home ceased operation in 1948 when the Children’s Aid Society developed the policy of placing children in foster homes.

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Also of interest in these early years was the nearby Wentworth Mountain Incline. A small segment of Stinson’s pupils lived on the mountain. The incline was a quick and easy method of getting home at day’s end as most of the students used the stairs to descend the escarpment; thus saving half their day’s fare for something sweet to eat.

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In 1989 Stinson School was designated a historical building. It’s an integral part of Hamilton’s architectural heritage. Renovations occurred during 1989. In the latter 1960’s Stinson was one of the first schools in Hamilton to implement English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. In February, 1986 the first elementary alternate education program (ACES) began upstairs in the north building. The neighbourhood has evolved and changed but Stinson Street School has been a constant; a centre of education which has served its neighbourhood with excellence since 1894. Long may the memories live on of the Stinson Street School.

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