Norfolk Board of Education

Norfolk Board of Education
Simcoe, Ontario
Nixon, Delhi, Port Dover, Langton, Walsh, Simcoe, Lynedoch, St. Williams
Coordinates 42°47′43″N 80°18′31″W / 42.795212°N 80.308728°W / 42.795212; -80.308728Coordinates: 42°47′43″N 80°18′31″W / 42.795212°N 80.308728°W / 42.795212; -80.308728
District information
Chair of the board Leon DeWaele
Schools 21
District ID NBE
Students and staff
Students 10000+
Other information

The Norfolk Board of Education (NBE) is a former school district in Norfolk County, Ontario, which merged into the Grand Erie District School Board (known as English-language Public District School Board No. 23 until the 1999-2000 school year).

This defunct school board building is located in the hamlet of Hillcrest, Ontario, Canada on 173 Hillcrest Road South.[1] Government cutbacks eventually forced the school board to amalgamate with the Haldimand Board of Education and the Brant District Board of Education in 1996.

Schools served


* signifies that the school is still active


Defunct schools

Doan's Hollow Public School

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

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.

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.

Nixon Public School

Nixon Public School was an elementary school that was located in Nixon. that started out as a one room schoolhouse in the mid to late 19th century. During the 1950s, the school was moved to a centralized building; both of these buildings were located in the hamlet of Nixon and across the street from each other.

The one-room schoolhouse was sold to become a private residence, and Nixon Public School became a centralized school until it was closed on September 2001 due to cutbacks in education spending. After the property was put up for sale by the Grand Erie District School Board and turned down by the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board,[2] a private agriculture-related business purchased the building from the school board. The former public school was later converted into a craft brewery and pub. "New Limburg" Brewery is owned and operated by a family from the Netherlands, who brew several different Belgian-style beers. They are open daily until 11 pm for samples and sales. [3] Norfolk County council personally had to approve the land's zoning change from educational to light industrial in order for Norfolk County's third microbrewery to be possible according to their set of by-laws.[4]

Most of its students lived an area that surrounded the communities of Lynnville, Atherton, Hillcrest, and Blayney. Children from the communities of Gilbertville and Pine Grove only attended Nixon Public School because Delhi Public School didn't have special education in the 1980s and the 1990s. Standard detentions were rarely used even in the intermediate grades and were never given to special education students. Compared to most elementary schools of its time, Nixon Public School was one of the safest schools when it came to bullying. Mrs. Virginia Chambers was the school's librarian before she was promoted to become the last principal of Nixon Public School. Like most elementary school libraries, the Nixon Public School library had children's books and a limited amount of dictionaries and encyclopedias for the older students. Kindergarten was introduced to Nixon Public School in the 1960s to help better prepare students for the first grade. Special education was introduced in the 1970s when schools began integrating the handicapped students with other children. The last program to be introduced was junior kindergarten in the late 1990s. One of the goals of the junior kindergarten program was to better prepare students for the challenges of kindergarten according to the curriculum of the 21st century.

The other goal of the junior kindergarten program was to ultimately prepare the children for a more competitive workplace environment by offering them more academia at a younger age.

Port Ryerse School

Port Ryerse School is a defunct elementary school that was located in Port Ryerse. The school operated from the year 1830 until the 1950s when it was finally closed by the Norfolk Board of Education due to funding issues. Both Caucasian and African-Canadian students were photographed attending the school in the year 1898.[5] The teacher shown in the 1898 school photograph was Miss A. Exelby and the picture was taken on September 14, 1898.[5]

This form of racial integration was unusual for the 19th century and proved that Canada was becoming a multicultural country at that time. The most logical answer is that these African-Canadian children were the descendants of slaves who ran to Upper Canada around the early 19th century seeking freedom from their abusive masters as a part of the Underground Railroad. Like most schools in its era, it was considered to be a one room schoolhouse and corporal punishment was used by the teacher for disciplinary problems.

Simcoe Lions School

The Simcoe Lions School was operated as a special elementary school for the mentally challenged by the Simcoe Lions Club from 1957 until the 1970s.[6] Until its establishment, mentally challenged people were turned away from area schools by faculty who were unable to understand their needs. The disabled children from this school were partially integrated with the North Public School kids for the afternoon in its final years of operation in an attempt to get the non-handicapped children a chance to accept and appreciate the students' "different abilities." This school was located in Simcoe. Graduates from this school attended Simcoe Composite School along with children from nearby Doan's Hollow Public School. Funding for this school was provided primarily by the Lions Club and by the local association for the mentally retarded.

Graduates from the Simcoe Lions School were denied most of their civil rights until the year 1988 when the mentally challenged people received the right to vote in municipal, provincial, and federal elections.[7] Many great teachers and principals have inspired students to become members of the Norfolk Association for Community Living (NACL). While they spend their time and effort being members of this program, the former students have been known to perform simple tasks of labor at ABEL Enterprises in order to earn money.[8] This encourages them to earn their own money instead of turning to their caregivers or the government for income. Some of the older students who once attended Simcoe Lions School are currently learning new life skills at a group home for the elderly. Prior to 2009, some graduates that were unfortunate enough to be in an institution saw what was supposed to be their "long care facility" shut down on April 1, 2009.[9]

Certain members of the defunct Norfolk Federation of Women Teachers have served here as teachers. They were willing to volunteer in an attempt to teach these "trainable retarded" children and allow them to graduate from elementary school. Once in high school, alumni from this school were usually assigned to basic-level courses of what we would call the "vocational program" in today's society and not in special education programs. Dropout rates in the area high schools were particularly high back then and the disabled high school children had a higher chance of dropping out due to the difficulty level of the assignments. Fortunately, the mentally disabled high school students didn't have to wait until their 21st birthday to "graduate" from high school back then.


  1. "Address". 10 10 City. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  2. "Routine matters" (PDF). Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board. 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  3. Microbrewery Coming to Nixon at The Simcoe Reformer
  4. Third microbrewery coming to Norfolk County at Norfolk Farms
  5. 1 2 "Port Ryerse School 1898". Nornet. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
  6. "Simcoe Lions School operating years". Norfolk Association of Community Living. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  7. "Mentally challenged people gain the right to vote". CBC Archives. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  8. "ABEL Enterprises - ACE Program". HN Jobs. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  9. Ashley House (April 2009). "Citizens celebrate closing of institutions". Simcoe Reformer. Retrieved April 2012. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
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