Thomas Wells Opens School
The new Bradford District High School was officially opened by Education Minister Thomas Wells last Tuesday in a ceremony involving dignitaries from the province, the county, and the town of Bradford.
About 400 people braved the cold and blowing snow to attend the event, highlighted by a policy statement from the education minister, a tribute to Bradford resident Tom Gardner, and a key presentation from architects Adamson Associates and contractor C.A. Smith to principal Alex Taylor.
A moment of silence was also observed for Simcoe County Board of Education superintendent of planning Syd Owens who died the previous Sunday of a heart attack.
Trustee Sam Neilly said of Mr. Owens, "He was one of the most important men in the planning and design of this school. His sudden passing leaves us saddened."
Addresses followed by MPP George McCague (Dufferin-Simcoe), West Gwillimbury Reeve John Fennell, Bradford Mayor Roy Gordon, and York-Simcoe MPP Arthur Evans who introduced Mr. Wells.
Principal Alex Taylor gave a brief history of education in the Bradford area, which began in 1852 with the opening of a grammar school in Bond Head.
After the railway was opened to Bradford in 1859, Mr. Taylor said, the growth of Bradford warranted the establishment of a school there, and the grammar school was loaded onto wagons and moved to Bradford.
He joked that it was the first portable in the county.
Another school was built in 1890 which burned two years later, and a new brick school was built in 1893, but it too was destroyed by fire in 1923.
In 1923 Bradford District High School was constructed (now the Fred C. Cook Senior Public School) which served as the high school until last year.
Bradford's 1976 citizen of the year Tom Gardner, a long-time member of the school board before his retirement, was honored by the chairman of the Simcoe County Board of Education, C.W. Brown.
Mr. Brown called Tom Gardner "Mr. Education," and described his life-long efforts on behalf of education in the country.
He then presented Mr. Gardner with a plaque naming the resource centre in the school "The T.H. Gardner Resource Centre."
Mr. Gardner received a standing ovation from the assembly, and called the tribute "the highlight of my life."
Director of Education Jack Ramsay pointed out to Mr. Wells that the pressure would soon be on for the go-ahead to an extension for the new school next year.
He laughed, "We are optimistic that there will be no delay for that since Mr. Wells is present here."
Trustee Sam Neilly told the audience that today was Mr. Ramsay's birthday, and everyone promptly broke into a rendition of Happy Birthday.
The program concluded with a guided tour of the new high school.