Doan's Hollow Public School

Doan's Hollow Public School
244-484 St John's Rd E
Simcoe, Ontario, N3Y 4K2
Coordinates 42°48′04″N 80°14′41″W / 42.80116°N 80.24482°W / 42.80116; -80.24482Coordinates: 42°48′04″N 80°14′41″W / 42.80116°N 80.24482°W / 42.80116; -80.24482
School type Public elementary school
Religious affiliation(s) Secular
School board Norfolk Board of Education
Grades 1-8
Enrollment 35[1] (1939[1])
Language English

Doan's Hollow Public School is a defunct public elementary school that existed from the early 20th century until c. 1980.

Due to its status as one of the first two schools that taught the mentally retarded, it was considered to be a "pioneer school" for the disabled population of Norfolk County. Special education programs were eventually introduced to the other elementary schools in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada that allowed children to attend schools that were closer to their homes. Doan's Hollow Public School was a feeder school to Simcoe Composite School during its years of operation although it also shared close proximity to Port Dover Composite School (when it first opened in 1962).


Humble beginnings

Until the other schools were green-lighted to obtain special education programs from the Ontario government, this school and the Simcoe Lions School in Simcoe to the north were the only schools that taught people with special needs. All the other schools would turn away the mentally challenged; parents were forced to either have the child become institutionalized, attempt to home-school their child, or send him/her to Doan's Hollow for his/her basic educational needs. However, even Doan's Hollow Public School and the Simcoe Lions School were forced to turn away people with Down syndrome and epilepsy in the early years of the special education pilot program. Medical research at that time had declared them to be untrainable and this theory would not be reversed until sometime after the 1970s.

From segregation to integration

When the government ordered integration of the mentally challenged children into the other public schools, Doan's Hollow reached a sharp decline in the number of new students. Eventually, the Norfolk Board of Education was forced to shut down this school due to modernization reasons. It started out as a one room schoolhouse but eventually become a centralized school (with the one-room schoolhouse becoming a portable). Doan's Hollow Public School was located northwest of Port Dover within walking distance to the Doan's Hollow Cemetery. The declining enrollment problem faced by the school board was also compounded further with the need to eradicate one room schoolhouses; they became "antiquated forms of education" by the 1970s. In order to divert funding to the modern school structure that had different rooms for each grade, all the one-room schoolhouses were forced to be closed in Norfolk County during that era.

Some of the younger graduates from Doan's Hollow Public School currently perform simple tasks of labor at ABEL Enterprises in order to earn money. In order to get "hired" at ABEL Enterprises, a person must be at least 16 years of age and have some sort of mental disability.[2]

Red Kelly

Red Kelly attended Doan's Hollow Public School during the 1930s.[1] He later became a National Hockey League all-star player, a member of Parliament (representing the York riding for the Liberal Party from 1962 to 1965) and internationally famous in the world of ice hockey. He would forever be known as one of Norfolk County's greatest sons.[1] For a duration of time lasting from the 1960s through the 1970s, he would also temporarily own a bowling alley in Simcoe. It was later burned down to the ground and no bowling venue would replace in Simcoe until the White Horse Lanes in the 1980s and 1990s.

Present day use

The former site of the school is currently being used as a meeting hall for members of the Jehovah's Witness faith; its formal name is the Port Dover Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.[3] The building that once housed the Doan's Hollow Public School can be reached from Simcoe or the surrounding communities by driving along the Queensway (also known as Highway 3) until the driver reaches the Blue Line. Then he/she must turn right (if approaching it eastbound) or left (if approaching it westbound). Then the driver must remain on the Blue Line. After one stop at St. John's Road (also called Red Kelly Line), he/she will see the school on the right. If the driver sees a mausoleum, then he/she has traveled too far and must backtrack to see the old school building.

Since the building has been zoned for religious purposes and is relatively distant from the urban areas of Simcoe and Port Dover, it is highly unlikely that development will force the land to be re-zoned for other purposes without the written consent of the local chapter of Jehovah's Witnesses. Many rural sites like the meeting hall have been idealized as places of worship. Some of the older churches found in major urban population centers have lost their congregations due to Church-related scandals found on all forms of mainstream media in addition to the aspects of conservative morality that most young people find to be unappealing;[4] they get transformed over time into apartments, stores, casinos, and tourist attractions.

With churchgoers becoming more rural and conservative, defunct schools like Doan's Hollow either become agricultural offices, private residences, or religious meeting halls. Women and conservative families are more likely to attend church according to a 2005 European poll.[5]



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