Earliest School  circa 1830

  • The first school in the area around what was becoming known as Bolton’s Mill (or Bolton Hollow) 1 was built about 1830
  • The school was constructed from hewn logs and had a hole cut in the roof which allowed smoke to escape from the wood stove 2
  • The school was provided by George Bolton and was built on the grist mill property, south of the Humber River and just east of what is now Humber Lea Road 3
  • The teacher was Mr. O’Connor and students came from farms in the surrounding area; the hamlet itself did not yet have any school-age children 4
  • In 1831, William and James Fuller, nephews of George Bolton, started attending the school 5
  • The school accommodated about 20 pupils, all of whom sat on rough benches.  Mr. O’Connor remained as teacher for a few years
  • There wasn’t any government assistance or regulation for schools, it wasn’t compulsory to attend nor was there a system in place to find another teacher 6
  • By 1842 the log school was redundant.  The logs were likely repurposed by 1845 when the new mill owner, James Bolton Jr., relocated the grist mill downstream; the enlarged mill filled the site where the log school once stood 7
What the log school might have looked like.

King Street East School   circa 1842

  • By 1842, Peel County had been newly divided into ‘School Sections’ which were supervised by the government
  • Bolton’s Mill school section was called S.S. No.3 ALBION
  • A new school was built on the south side of what is now King Street East within what was a clergy reserve lot leased by Charles Bolton, George Bolton’s eldest nephew 8It is probable that Charles arranged that the school be built in his role as one of the Common School Commissioners for Albion Township 9 
  • The school was built from mud bricks which were formed from the abundant local clay and left to dry in the sun.  Mud bricks were not as durable as kilned bricks with the result that some early mud brick structures did not last long, including this one
  • Bolton had been without a teacher for some time and the newly appointed school board, which included Charles Bolton, hired Samuel A. Walford for the job 10
  • Samuel Walford, age 26, had been educated in London England until he came to Canada when he was 18. He served as teacher from 1842 to 1844 and then moved to Toronto to continue in the soap and candle making business 11
  • There were initially about 25 pupils in the one room school and they sat on long wooden benches 12
  • Few details are available about the school in the years immediately after Samuel Walford left
  • By 1846, Charles Bolton owned the clergy reserve and was rapidly selling building lots in the vicinity of the school 13 


  • The late 1840s were a period of major economic growth in Bolton.  As demand for flour continued, the mill doubled its size again in 1850 14.  The school-age population also grew, outgrowing the mud brick school
  • In 1848, James Bolton Jr., then the owner of the grist mill, purchased a plot of land on King Street West from Samuel Sterne; ownership was transferred to the District Council of the Home District for a new school that could accommodate the increasing number of children in the school section 15
  • The school was no doubt intended for the Fall 1848 school year and would have been built under a School Board contract 16
  • The school age population was around 135 pupils.  The children were all crammed onto wooden benches in the one-room school
  • Teachers from this era included: John Vert  pre-1854, S.D. Mishaw 1855-1858, S. Arthurton  1858-1859 and Thomas Elliott  1859-1860
  • Older students were accustomed to helping with younger children.  This became a necessity with a rapidly growing student population and only one teacher
  • Despite being noted on Tremaine’s 1859 map, the existence of this school was overlooked and totally forgotten 17
  • The school was, however, also marked on the recently found T.C. Prosser 1854 Map of Bolton, and that discovery in 2013 prompted new research 18

This pre-1911 of the Bolton Wesleyan Methodist Church shows the 1848 school in the background.

This Edwardian Classical style brick building, built in 1911, at the corner of King Street West and Temperance Street, replaced the 1848 school. It, in turn, was demolished in 2015 at which time the school’s original fieldstone foundation was revealed.

This photo, taken in 2015, shows the fieldstone foundation of what was the 1848 school.


  • Bolton’s school age population including those children from the surrounding farm community exploded in the 1850s
  • Sometime in the mid-1850s, a classroom of approximately 100 students was accommodated in the Town Hall of the day on the south side of King Street West.  See 1854 map 19
  • The students sat on rough wood benches 20
  • The proximity of the school to the Town Hall perhaps made this somewhat workable but overcrowding impacted the teacher’s ability to teach as well as the students’ opportunity to learn 21
The Town Hall building (by then a Ford dealership on Queen Street) circa 1930.

Part of the missing map showing a school along King Street West.


  • Between 1855 and 1857, developer John Helliwell built a large timber frame building at the corner of Victoria and John streets 22
  • In 1858, it was purchased by the Temperance Society and became known as their Temperance Hall 23
  • Two years later, the Temperance Society was persuaded to sell their hall to the School Board to provide a larger space as a school
  • Desks were provided for the oldest students in the school 24
  • Thomas Elliott continued as the headmaster and by 1865 Miss Mary Foster was hired as an assistant teacher for the over 200 students housed in one classroom 25
  • The McTavishes, father and daughter, became the headmaster and assistant teacher later in the 1860s 26
  • An additional classroom space was created but overcrowding continued

Photo c 1897, 25 years after Hall was used as the school



  • The student overcrowding issue was resolved with the construction of Bolton Public School, on Albert Street, in 1874 27
  • The magnificent two storey building with four classrooms was built in the Victorian Gothic style of the day by local builder George Watson. Contrasting red and buff coloured brick for the building was produced nearby at Norton’s Brickworks and was laid by expert bricklayer Charles Longbottom
  • Mr. S.B. Westervelt became the principal and was supported by two teachers 28
  • Continuation classes began in 1910 which again caused space constraints. To alleviate the overcrowding, an elementary school classroom was set up in the creamery building (northeast corner of King Street East at Mill Street) for several years 29
  • Two more classrooms were added to Bolton Public School in 1923 and another two in 1957 31
  • As the system of kindergarten, junior and senior public schools was evolving, the large historic brick school burned down on December 27, 1968 32

Map of Bolton’s Earliest Schools

Albert Street School girls classes, circa 1893

  1. Samuel A. Walford Autobiography, reprinted in Esther Heyes, The Story of Albion, published by The Bolton Enterprise, p. 306
  2. Murray Hesp, Bolton School days, The Bolton Enterprise, 1969, p.7
  3. ibid.
  4. Virtual Census 1830 in the Reference Section
  5. Mr. and Mrs. James Fuller, an article in The Toronto Globe 1899.  The Fuller farm was about two km east of the mill site. Maria Bolton Fuller was George Bolton’s sister
  6. Murray Hesp, p.10
  7. Murray Hesp, p.7
  8. Township Papers, Albion Township, Lot 8, Con 7. These Township Papers contain references to Charles Bolton’s lease
  9. Murray Hesp, p.12
  10. A story about Samuel Walford parading in various war medals is not correct.  He was born in 1816 after the Napoleonic Wars ended. The Crimean war only started in 1854
  11. Samuel A. Walford Autobiography, The Story of Albion, ibid. p.310
  12. Murray Hesp, p.12
  13. Abstract Index to Deeds, Albion Township, Reel A and B, Lot 8, Con 7, Region of Peel Archives at PAMA
  14. James H. Bolton History, reprinted in Esther Heyes, The Story of Albion Edition, ibid., p.312
  15. Abstract Index to Deeds, Albion Township, East half of Lot 9 Con 6.  The transaction, however, was incorrectly documented on the west half of that same lot
  16. Nicholas Brooksbank, a paper ‘Bolton’s First Schools’, October 10, 2015
  17. As noted above, the transaction was mis-recorded.  Without documentation, the school was not reported in Murray Hesp’s book Bolton School Days
  18. see information about this under Maps
  19. The Town Hall sat between what would today be #20 and #28 King Street West
  20. Murray Hesp, p.17
  21. There is mention of a ‘private school’ operating in the same Town Hall around 1848. This may have been an offshoot of overcrowding in the earlier small mud-brick school
  22. John Helliwell purchased 75 acres in 1854, Lot 8 Con 7 Inst. #xx925
  23. Abstract Index to Deeds, Albion Township, Reels A and B, Lot 8, Con 7, Region of Peel Archives at PAMA
  24. Murray Hesp, p.17
  25. Murray Hesp, p.19
  26. ibid., p.20
  27. Murray Hesp, p.23
  28. Lists of students, teachers and principals can be found in the book: Bolton School Days by Murray Hesp
  29. Blackboards were discovered behind partitions when the creamery was torn down in 1967

  30. In November 1967, Bolton Public School (or the Albert Street School as it was often called) was renamed as James Bolton Junior Public School 30 Murray Hesp, p.71
  31. ibid. p.72