This week’s “Ask Alicia” will take us to Merritt Street in the mid 1930’s when Merritton High School was built. Thank you Joseph Durocher for your query on Merritton Schools.
Ground was broken in 1934 for the building of a new high school in Merritton. The building was completed in 1935. It was designed by architect Lionel Hesson. This first building consisted of only six rooms, three of which were classrooms, one laboratory, one library and classroom and it boasted the largest gymnasium in the Niagara Peninsula at the time.
The school officially opened on January 7, 1935. The first class consisted of 99 students and 7 staff members. The school went from grades 9-13 but also offered a 4 year commercial course. In 1936 home economics and industrial arts facilities were added. These facilities were the first in all of South Western Ontario, aside from Toronto. The first commencement was held in October 1936.
In 1949 a commercial wing consisting of two classrooms was added and in 1951/1952 four classrooms were added to the south end as well as a cafeteria. A short time later a small library was partitioned off on the upper floor. In 1955 a North Wing was constructed which was home to two science labs and two more classrooms.
On December 31, 1960, Merritton High School became part of the St. Catharines school system.
In 1964 the school was completely renovated with new lighting, acoustic ceilings, and the
office was enlarged. 1967 saw the completion of a new wing, which added new commercial facilities, counseling area, double gymnasium and a larger library was put into two expanded classrooms. There was also a new Industrial Arts shop and two new Home Economics areas. All of these expansions enabled the school to accommodate 750 students.
In 1973, Merritton High became one of the first schools in the Lincoln County to have a two semester system.
The school experienced many successful years but unfortunately by 1999, the enrollment was too low for the school to continue. Merritton community members, students and staff tried to save the school but in the end it was forced to close. Most of the remaining students transferred to Sir Winston Churchill High School. The building was sold and remained empty for renovations until 2002 when the private school; Pinehurst, opened. Pinehurst was originally located in Paris, Ontario. The school was specifically designed for students who are not self-motivated. They boasted small class sizes of ten students to one teacher and an annual fee of $25, 000. This school closed in 2014 due to being financially unsustainable because of low enrollment.
Currently the Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada is beginning renovations to the Merritton High School building. This will be another private school geared towards high school aged students which will support students with a strong academic focus.
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