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Port Elmsley School

4962, Highway 43, Township of Drummond/North Elmsley, Ontario, K7A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/07/04

Exterior view; Rideau Heritage Initiative 2006
Port Elmsley School
Exterior view; Rideau Heritage Initiative 2006
Port Elmsley School
Exterior view; Rideau Heritage Initiative 2006
Port Elmsley School

Other Name(s)

Margaret Wicklum House
Port Elmsley School

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/01/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Erected in 1873, the Port Elmsley School (School Section No. 3), also known as the Margaret Wicklum House, is located in Port Elmsley, close to the corner of Highway 43 and Station Road. As the former school house, this two-storey stone structure once played a prominent role in community life.

The Port Elmsley School has been recognized for its heritage value by the Township of North Elmsley, By-law 89-24 on 4 July 1989.

Heritage Value

When the first school in Port Elmsley (formerly Pike Falls), a log building to the west of the village, was too small for the growing community, a larger school in a more central location was planned. On land purchased from the local farmer, Mr. Robert Shaw (later Mayor of Smiths Falls), a frame building was erected on the east side of the village in 1872. Unfortunately, that same year, a terrific windstorm demolished the new school. The two-storey Port Elmsley School (School Section No. 3) was constructed the following year, by Robert Elliott of Perth using sandstone quarried near Westport.

Upon opening, in the Fall of 1873, the upper floor was used as the Presbyterian Church while the lower floor served as the schoolroom under the tutelage of Miss Margaret O'Hara and Miss Marjorie Robinson. Margaret O'Hara's association is significant to the heritage value of this building. A native to Port Elmsley, Miss O'Hara completed her medical and surgical diploma at Queen's University in 1891, and later became a missionary of the Presbyterian Church of Canada in India, where she worked with orphanages for 36 years. King Edward bestowed her with the Kaiser and Hind Medal in 1902 for her work there, much of which she described in her book 'Leaf of the Lotus' published in 1931.

Enrolment at the Port Elmsley School continued to grow and by the 1930s, both floors of the building were used as classrooms for as many as 120 pupils at one point. The school closed in 1967 and stood vacant until 1987, when the interior was renovated by Margaret Wicklum to accommodate apartments. No major alterations have been made to the shape of the exterior of the building, although the roof and windows have been replaced.

Source: Township of Drummond/North Elmsley By-law 89-24.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Port Elmsley School include the:
- arch-headed windows with voussoirs
- gable front with return eaves
- asymmetrically oriented entrance porch with paneled door and transom window
- stone window sills
- locally quarried rubble course stone construction
- orientation in the heart of the village of Port Elmsley




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type


Multiple Dwelling


Primary or Secondary School

Architect / Designer



Robert Elliott

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Drummond/North Elmsley Township Offices, 310 Port Elmsley Road, Perth, Ontario.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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