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ROOTED: Oldest remaining Newmarket school marks 100 years

Stuart Scott Public School is being celebrated at an anniversary event June 10

As the oldest remaining public school in Newmarket, Stuart Scott Public School has witnessed not only the passage of countless students and teachers through its doors, but the evolution of the town from sleepy to bustling.

Built and officially opened in 1923, 2023 marks a special year for the school: its 100th anniversary, a momentous achievement that no other historic school in the area – including the former Alexander Muir (1891-1976) and King George (1913-1994) schools – have reached.

Only the third public elementary school to be erected in Newmarket, it’s no wonder that more than 500 people turned out to witness the laying of the cornerstone – though the event’s popularity can also be attributed to the attendance of the MPP for York North William Keith, MP for York North Sir William Mulock, and the Honorable William Lyon Mackenzie King, prime minister of Canada.

As a committed member of the Liberal Party, Dr. Stuart Scott, the school’s namesake, may have had something to do with the presence of these high-profile guests.

Scott, a respected medical doctor and longtime community volunteer, had built a healthy reputation for himself through his presidency of the York County Medical Society, as coroner for York County, service on the Methodist Church board, and a 20-year stay as Newmarket's medical health officer by the time of the school’s erection.

However, it was his 30-plus years of service as chairman of the Newmarket Public School Board that earned him the honour of Stuart Scott Public School’s eponymy in 1923. By the end of his life in 1933, Dr. Scott would be responsible for a total of three new schools in the area, demonstrating a true commitment to education.

Today’s Stuart Scott Public School is considerably larger than it was in those early years, first designed by architect O.E. Tench and constructed by builder Edwin Richardson. Originally a two-storey, six-classroom building, the school underwent additions in 1955, 1964 and 1972 to accommodate Newmarket’s bustling manufacturing sector and growing school population.

The school, located at 247 Lorne Ave., remains a picturesque example of early 20th-century school architecture in Ontario.

In recognition of this year’s milestone, Stuart Scott Public School is hosting a 100th anniversary celebration Saturday, June 10 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The event will celebrate each decade over the past 100 years through interactive presentations, historic photographs, student performances, yearbook displays, and music. Visitors to the open house-style event will also be able to enjoy a school tour.

“It will be held at the school so people will be able to walk the hallways and experience the history of the building first-hand,” said Adrian Cammaert, former student and organizer. “The school's history is fascinating, beginning with the cornerstone of the building being laid by Sir William Mulock himself in 1923.”

Organizers are also in the process of researching the location of a long-rumoured time capsule buried somewhere on site, and hope to be able to reveal its contents at the anniversary celebration. If found, they will add to the time capsule and rebury it for another 100 years. 

“For 100 years Stuart Scott school has been preparing our youth for their tomorrows and we should all take a moment to pay homage to what has become a community gem. Along with its two sisters, Alexander Muir school and the King George school, Stuart Scott prepared Newmarket youth for its future and on June 10 we shall stop, just as they did 100 years ago, and contemplate our future while relishing our past,” said Richard MacLeod, organizer and local historian.

“I hope that all the Stuart Scott alumni return to their roots even for a day, and reflect on their own personal history and that of this incredible institution. I and many of my fellow alumni will certainly be doing so.”

Those with a special memory to share from the past 100 years can contribute photos and stories by emailing [email protected] by April 3.