The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the March 08, 2006 issue. Reprinted with permission.

A principal character in Kingsmere's past

by Catherine Joyce

In 1951, when Janeth McKinley came as a newly-wed to her new home on Booth Road, there were only seven year-round houses in Kingsmere above Dunn's Hill and fifty to sixty cottages. Now, fifty-five years later, the numbers have reversed: there are only four cottages left, with one hundred full-time homes.

"There were so many people here in summer that we warranted newspaper delivery I remember little Jimmy Boland had the route. He'd come riding bareback on one of Hendrick's plough horses - cutting across fields and backyards, clomp, clomp, clomp - right up to your door, where he'd fling the paper onto the stoop. You'd look out and there he was on that great big horse with the reins, and that's all. I'm sure it took him all day to do the rounds of Kingsmere."

In the early years, life in Kingsmere meant party telephone lines, Borden's milk delivery with Lou, the delivery man, wading up the road in winter when there was too much snow to drive, regular power-failures with only the fireplace to keep you warm, skiing across country on magical, moonlit nights, and - the highlight of the year - the annual Kingsmere Regatta in August, which is still going strong.

The Way We Were
Janeth McKinley.

Soon people would come to know Janeth McKinley in her professional capacity as teacher and principal of local schools. She began, when her three children were small, teaching Physical Education part-time at Chelsea School. Marjorie McDougall, then chairperson of the school board, asked Janeth to come down three days a week because the "schoolyard was in a mess with the big boys bullying the little ones. I found I enjoyed the work and the children tremendously."

However, to qualify to teach full-time, Janeth needed a teaching certificate. "I spent three summers in a girls' residence at McGill where no guys were allowed up in the rooms. There I was - age forty with three kids away at camp - for five weeks each summer!"

Upon graduating she taught Grade 5 at Chelsea for five years before the newly amalgamated Greater Hull School Board began seeking candidates for principalships within its huge jurisdiction. Janeth applied and in 1972 was appointed supervisory principal of four schools: Wakefield, Queen Elizabeth in Kazabazua, Poltimore and Maniwaki - a 150 mile round trip. "I divided my week: Tuesdays and Fridays in Wakefield which was my base school, one to two days every two weeks in Maniwaki where I stayed overnight at the Central Motel on school committee Monday nights, then one day in Poltimore and Kaz.

"As a principal I didn't come to know the students as well but I regarded my task as supporting the teachers in delivering their programs. In Quebec curriculum was not handed down from the provincial government as it is in Ontario. We had to develop our programs to answer the needs of the students." Janeth became principal of Chelsea School in 1976 to 1979, of Hull Elementary 1979-82, and again in Chelsea 1982-85, before she retired. "I used to say to my teachers, 'I want to see the kids if they are doing really good work, not just if they are doing something they're not supposed to'. I didn't want 'being sent to the office' to be just a negative thing."

In retirement Janeth McKinley has been writing the history of the old landmark homes in Kingsmere, most notably the Cranall-McKinley house of her husband's family, which still stands majestically on the corner of Booth and Kingsmere Road. Her life, both professional and personal, has deep roots in the community she has helped to create and preserve.

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