Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Abandonment Issues: Woodview Public School
Woodview Public School was built in 1956. The 6,653 square foot, single storey Masonry structure rests on approximately 9.91 acres in Otonabee South Monaghan Township, just beyond the eastern city limits of Peterborough, Ontario. It contains only 5 classrooms.
It was in these classrooms that my mother and father first met. They are both present in the lead photo above.
In 1990, the school was closed and used as a storage facility for several years.
My mother reminisced aloud about childhood memories as we wandered the property together earlier this year, along with my older brother. She shared stories of pain and pleasure, laughter, lovelessness and fear. She told me things about my estranged father and his family that I never knew, and pointed out the dumpy white house they rented across the street from the school. We walked through the woods, back to the home that she lived in with her stern Dutch immigrant parents and their ever-growing family. Her father, the butcher: just a mere mention of him still brings a look of fear and discomfort to her face, and her body language even more so. Even now, 5 years after his passing, her discomfort is palpable. In front of this old house just north of the school, she speaks solemnly and quietly about her mother: A woman that was incapable of giving motherly love, as she herself was abandoned by her father after her mother passed away giving birth to her. "Your grandmother grew up in foster homes back in Holland, she never learned how to love because she never learned how to be loved" she added. Such a sad story. We saunter back for another lap of the school, where conversation drifts back to my father, whom I haven't spoken to in over 16 years. He chose alcohol and drugs over his wife and children, and their marriage was brief and tumultuous to say the least.
She told me that she still had a class picture including her and my father from their grade 8 graduation year, her diploma and her report cards all still stored at home. And since the interior was not accessible on this day, we planned to head back to her house and check them out. That was, after we explored two abandoned houses together on the other side of Burnham woods, just a few minutes west. One of these homes she used to play in as a little girl, she told us. "Another Dutch family, a really nice young girl." But alas, the story of those two houses is for another day.
Now I had stopped in at Woodview at least a dozen times over the course of the year, hoping for an open entry point, and was continually shut down. But several months after our visit with our mother, my brother and I made a return trip and were pleased to find an accessible entry point. Unfortunately, the desks and chairs and virtually everything else had been removed, but nevertheless it was worth the wait, even if just to show these photographs to our mother.
Upon noticing a motion detector acknowledge our presence in the Principals Office, and an active alarm on a main door, we made quick work of photographing the tiny building and made our way back to those two abandoned houses down the street.
Here are my mother's grade 8 report card and diploma from Woodview Public School...
Thanks for taking the time to explore this old school with my family and I, this building holds a very dear and special place in my mother's heart, and if not for my parents meeting here, I'd never have been born and lived to tell this story.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES