School & Teaching


S.S. No.4 Class Picture
Agnes Macphail's first school, Proton S.S. No.4

Grade School

Agnes Macphail attended many different local schools throughout her childhood, starting at Proton S.S. No.4 when she was 5 years old. When the McPhail family moved to 6 Corners, the girls attended the Old Durham Road S.S. No.7. Over their childhood, it was routine for Agnes and her younger sisters Gertha and Lilly to walk for miles to get to their local one-room schoolhouses. They all had their own determinations. Lilly and Agnes wanted to teach school and Gertha excelled in music.


High School & Teacher's College

At the age of 14, Agnes was delighted to find out she had passed her high school entrance exam and foresaw the unfolding of her future as a teacher. Her parents, however, denied her their permission and so it was two years before she finally convinced them to fulfill her dream. Agnes moved away from home for the first time in 1906 to attend Owen Sound Collegiate Institute. There she excelled in her classes and was exposed to the social divide between urban and rural girls. Determined to gain a profession outside the home, Agnes carried on in 1908 to attend the Normal School for teachers in Stratford, Ontario where she boarded with her aunt and uncle McGregor.
See images from High School & Normal School


When Agnes graduated in 1910, she landed her first job at Gowanlocks, four miles east of Port Elgin, Ontario, where she earned $500 a year. Her next appointment was at Kinloss, a town located half way between Walkerton and Kincardine, Ontario, and it was here that Agnes was encouraged to voice her political opinions during gatherings of farmers in the local hardware store. Her experiences in Kinloss opened Agnes' mind to the possibility of doing more with her life and her mind than teaching. Agnes traveled to Oyen, Alberta, to visit an aunt and uncle and taught in a summer school there for six months, but was discouraged by the Albertan weather and so returned to Ontario to fill a position in Boothville, Ontario. Her next position at Pegg's School in East Gwillimbury near Sharon, Ontario, was where Agnes Macphail's career shifted dramatically. Agnes taught school children for a total of 10 years then, in 1920, her political career began.

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