"We encourage you to check this site often. New information will be added monthly"

Current News

Welcome to our website!

news The Friends of the Schoolhouse web site will keep you informed about The Old Britannia Schoolhouse and the activities and events planned by the Friends' organization. We encourage you to check this site often. New information will be added monthly.

COVID 19 Information

All Friends of the Schoolhouse activities are cancelled until further notice. There will be no Open Sundays until September. Watch the Current News page for information in the coming months. The Friends wish everyone good health in these difficult days and weeks We look forward to seeing you at the schoolhouse in the future.

New Year Traditions

What did you do to celebrate the New Year? This year was an unusual one due to COVID. We were encouraged to stay home or get together only with small groups of family members. New Years Eve celebrations normally held in town squares with hundreds of people, were downsized or cancelled altogether. Parties in homes or restaurants were also limited in size or not held at all. Similar restrictions applied to the gathering of family and friends for a New Years dinner. One tradition likely didn’t change much, the making of New Years resolutions. Everyone probably resolved to do everything possible to stop the spread of the virus and end the pandemic.

The New Year was celebrated differently in Victorian times. Here are some ways the folks in the village of Britannia might have ushered in the new year.

If Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Christmas festivities, Queen Victoria, with her Scottish heritage, brought Scottish traditions like Hogmanay to New Years. At midnight on New Years Eve, the front door was thrown open and the owner of the house threw a cake against the wall to symbolize a year without hunger. “First Footing” was important. If the first person to cross the threshold brought gifts such as coal, spices or whiskey, this was seen as good luck. It was also good luck if the first person was a dark-haired male. A blond, or even worse a red head, was sure to bring bad luck.

People often sent New Years cards with good luck symbols to friends. Pigs and clover were popular illustrations on these cards, perhaps representing good luck in an agricultural community.

One important task on New Years Eve was cleaning all the ashes from the fireplace so the new year could start with a clean slate.

At midnight the church bells would ring.

It was customary to wear an article of new clothing on New Years Day to symbolize hope for prosperity in the coming year.

However you celebrated this year, we all hope for health and prosperity in 2022.

All Day Mystery Pot Stew

In the days of wood burning cook stoves that were kept hot al day for heat as well as cooking, a big iron pot was often kept on the back of the stove. Whenever there was leftover meat, vegetables, herbs or broth from the days cooking, they were added to the pot and left to simmer slowly. The result was a rich, delicious stew that changed constantly depending on what was added. A meal was always available. With our modern slow cookers, we can create the same economical and delicious meal.

Here are some ingredients to add to the pot.

  1. Leftover beef or chicken. Or brown raw meat in oil.
  2. Leftover or raw vegetables, any kind: potatoes, onions, carrots, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery, peas
  3. Garlic
  4. Liquid: beef or chicken broth
  5. Beans, lentils
  6. Herbs: thyme, oregano
  7. Salt and pepper

Get creative. Basically, you can use anything you have on hand. Put everything in the slow cooker, set it on low, leave it for 6 or 7 hours. The longer it simmers the better it gets.

Coming Events

No events are planned during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Time to Renew Your Membership

Our membership year runs from January to December. Membership forms for renewal or new membership are on this website. Click here to get the form. Please note that because of the COVID19 pandemic, we are suspending the payment of membership fees for 2021. Our newsletters and website will continue to be available to members. Donations to support the schoolhouse and its programs are always welcome and appreciated.

Echoes of the Past

This book, written and published by Friends of the Schoolhouse, documents the history of all of the rural one room schools that existed in Peel County.
Full colour, 208 pages, $30
It is available at all our events or from any member of the Friends of the Schoolhouse Executive.
There is a $10 charge for mailing.

Book Talks

Since the book, Echoes of The Past, was published in May 2016, the writers have been giving illustrated talks to historical societies and other interested groups. We talk about the book and tailor each presentation to suit the audience and the one room schools that were in their local area.
If your group would be interested in having a presentation, please contact Jean (905 826 3475) jkrob@rogers.com for further information.

Membership Drive

If you haven't already renewed your membership in the Friends of the Schoolhouse, it's time to do so. Our membership year runs from January to December. We welcome new members. Membership forms can be downloaded and printed using this link. Members play a vital part in preserving the schoolhouse and maintaining and expanding the programs for children who spend a day experiencing school life of long ago. Members receive four newsletters a year, additional notices of events, and are invited to an appreciation "Lemonade on the Lawn" event in July. In addition there are opportunities to volunteer on committees and at events.

Come and Join Us

If you have a couple of hours a month or only a few hours once or twice a year you could help us support the schoolhouse and its programs. The executive committee meets on the second Tuesday of the month from September to June to conduct the business of the Friends of the Schoolhouse and to plan programs and events. Our meetings are from 4 to 6 in the afternoon at the schoolhouse. Volunteers help on an occasional basis with our events and in the gardens. Not only do we support a worthwhile cause, we have a lot of fun doing it. Email our Executive Director Shirley Hoad at shoad@bell.net, if you have a few hours to spare and an interest in helping preserve a community treasure for future generations of children.

Open Sundays 2020-2021
Something new every month from September to June.

For more information about our Open Sunday programs go to the Events page.

Mark Your Calendar

To see a list of our year's events go to the Events page.

Researching our Roots

There is still much more to discover about the Old Britannia Schoolhouse and other early one room schools. Read below for a wish list of "Wanted" items that will help us learn more about our historic schoolhouse.

WANTED

For use in a book on one-room schools in Peel County:
  • Minute Books
  • Cash Books
  • Class Photos
  • Report Cards
  • Prize Ribbons
  • Medals
  • Certificates
  • Shields
  • Contracts
  • Trustee Memorabilia
  • Teacher Memorabilia
  • Newspaper Clippings
  • School Registers

Your contribution will be acknowledged. Materials supplied will either be returned to you or donated to the Peel County Archives on your behalf.

SLATE Group

SLATE stands for So Let's All Talk Education (in a one room school), or as one witty person suggested, being truly Canadian, So Let's All Talk Eh! Each year for a day in the spring people involved in working or volunteering in living history one room schoolhouses get together to exchange ideas and learn from each other. We meet at a different schoolhouse location each year which gives everyone the opportunity to experience how living history is presented in a setting different from their own.

If you are a staff member or volunteer in a living history one room schoolhouse and would like more information about SLATE, contact:

Christine Chapel
The Old Britannia Schoolhouse
5576 Hurontario Street
Mississauga, ON
L5R 1B3
905-890-1010 ext 2911