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Lots of memories at schoolhouse market

Max Matthews sits at an antique desk in the Colchester Schoolhouse. Country markets have begun for the 2024 season.
Max Matthews sits at an antique desk in the Colchester Schoolhouse. Country markets have begun for the 2024 season.

Max Matthews and Sandra McKee had lots to reminisce about earlier this month.

The two were just a couple of the many visitors to the Old Colchester Schoolhouse which opened its doors and held its first country market of the year.


“When I was 12, I was in Grade 5 and stayed here until Grade 8,” said McKee.


Now a volunteer with Heritage Colchester, her grandfather and mother both attended the school which opened in 1881 and taught its last students in 1966.

Heritage Colchester has a 10-year lease agreement with the Town of Essex and slowly are preserving and restoring the school that sits in the middle of a heritage district in the Village of Colchester.


“I think it’s important to restore all the historic buildings in Colchester,” said McKee.


Matthews came from Windsor for the day and he had a chance to try out one of the old desks and even ring the bell that echoed through the grounds and could be heard throughout the community.


“You’ve got to keep it. It’s a nice old school,” said Matthews who attended when he was in Grade 4.


There have been significant additions and demolitions to the old brick learning institute and at one time it was someone’s residence. Inside the main classroom there used to be a sleeping loft which has recently been taken down.


“Our volunteers demolished it. It was our first big project. We wanted to bring it back to a one-room schoolhouse,” said Heritage Colchester president Monica Carruthers. “We want to be authentic.”


A couple of months ago volunteers brought their lawn chairs and for five separate evenings at dusk, counted the small bird Swift which are making their homes in the large chimney. Carruthers said that during their counts, the bird which only lives in chimneys, numbered almost 80 each time.


“We don’t know how long the swifts have been using the chimney. When we got our lease, we started counting,” said Carruthers.


That effort helped secure a grant from the town and Birds Canada to be able to fund repointing of the brick on the chimney.


Saturday’s market had over a dozen vendors including the Ontario Purple Martin Association, and local author Nicole Langlois who has published her first book – Millow the Monarch.


The day included a tour of not only the school but Christ Church across the street and the attached cemetery.


There will be more markets this summer – July 20, Aug. 17, and Sept. 20.

Lots of memories at schoolhouse market

By Fred Groves

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