Chapter 6 – Back To School


September is the month to either start, or return to school. Students are anxious to have “school supplies”, parents shop for new fall clothes and teachers make plans for the new term.

Students have been attending school in Burlington, and the former Wellington Square for over 180 years, and Greenwood Cemetery has been the resting place, for not only many of those students, but also their teachers. For the following teacher profiles,

I have chosen two from the very earliest school in Wellington Square to more recent teachers whom you may have had the opportunity to have known, either as a student yourself, or as a parent.

Greenwood holds the memorials for unknown dozens of former teachers, many women who taught  until marriage and then were required  by custom to retire from the profession.


Barbara Morrison, 1844 -1920 and her husband Richard Bredin M.D., 1833 -1904

Greenwood Cemetery, Block 15


Barbara was born in Wellington Square, her parents arriving there as newly weds in 1836.  Her father died in 1854 leaving his wife with five daughters and one son, he being the youngest.  That son, Barbara’s brother died in 1866 the result of fatigue and exhaustion from his participation in the battle at Ridgeway. He was given a military funeral to St. Luke’s cemetery.

The school that the Morrison children would have attended was built in the 1840’s on the south-east corner of Brant Street at Caroline.  That building still exists, although somewhat altered, at 296 Appleby Line, having been moved there many years ago.

Wellington Square Common School

Records show that Barbara taught at S.S. No. 3, the Appleby school in the 1850’s before becoming the junior teacher at the “Wellington Square Common School”. We know that Barbara was still teaching when the 1871 census was recorded, and that she married Dr. Bredin in 1875. The couple then lived in Michigan where his medical practice was.

Dr. Bredin’s short obituary in the 1904 Burlington Gazette, makes note of the fact that he had taught school here many years ago and would be remembered by residents living in the village at the time of his death.

Barbara returned to live in Burlington after her husband died.  One sister, Mrs. Wm Kerns (Ellen) lived on Water Street and another sister Harriet Lindsay lived in the area. That sister and her husband share a plot at Greenwood with Barbara and Richard.


Daniel E. Smith, B.A.  1852 -1928

Greenwood Cemetery Block 29

Daniel Smith was born in Wentworth County and received his early education there. Daniel taught in the S.S.No.3 school at Appleby during the year 1873, which may have been to earn funds to finish his university degree.  He lived for a number of years in Chicago and then returned to Canada.



S.S. No. 3 Appleby


In 1912, Burlington had built a new Central School, the one that exists today. Two rooms were set aside for continuation classes, the beginning of our Central High School. Daniel Smith was hired as Principal of the continuation classes.  In the summer of 1916, Mr. Smith took a summer course at the Agricultural College in Guelph to improve his science classes.

After Central High School was built in 1919, Mr. Smith continued as teacher of mathematics for another 4 years, when he tendered his resignation. He was then over 70 years of age, yet after moving to Toronto, conducted a night school.  Mr. Smith it seems was well loved and respected, his students achieving success under his guidance.  A group of former Burlington students living in Toronto, paid a visit to his home with a gift, on the occasion of his birthday.

Walter C. Torrance, B.A. 1899 – 2003

Greenwood Cemetery, Block 64

 Walter Torrance was born on a farm in Amaranth Township where he spent his youth. He attended Shelburne High School followed by the University of Toronto where he obtained his B.A. Walter was a teacher of Commercial subject at Central High School from 1939 to 1965. When asked by his principal to coach the junior football team, he agreed. Although he had no experience, he realized with a good “how to” book of instruction, he could handle the job, knowing few of the students had any experience either. He worked them hard with drills and got some extra instruction when needed from the Phys. Ed teacher.  His team enjoyed success.

The Torrance family lived on New Street just west of Drury Lane. Walter used the land and his family, to operate a small market garden, selling the produce at the Kitchener market, and increasing his income during the growing season.

Years after retirement, at the age of 94, he became a published author, writing about  rural life, as he knew it from his youth, and titled “A Land Called Amaranth”

Walter Torrance died in his 104th year.


Stuart Tracy Freeman, 1919 -1997 & Grace Cornell Freeman, 1920 – 1997

Greenwood Cemetery, Block N.

Stuart Freeman was a true Burlingtonian. He was born here, attended school here, and about nine years after graduating from Central High School, and having obtained his B.A. & P.& H. special degrees, came back to the school to teach. He was hired in May of 1948 to teach boy’s Health and Physical Education beginning in September.  This was a natural choice for Stuart Freeman. In his high school years he and his brothers were avid athletes. In 1937 he was Shot-Put Champ and noted in the newspaper as a star of track and field. Stuart and his brothers Douglas and Robert each won the M.M. Robinson Gold Medal for Athletics and Scholarship.

The 1948 sr. football team at Central won the Niagara District Championship, no doubt with some credit given to the coach, Stuart Freeman. Stuart also taught mathematics and geography. While at Central Stuart was actively involved in the cadet program for 10 years. He had served in the Canadian Army during WWII, then continued with the reserve, attaining the rank of Major.  During the summer months, Stuart worked with the cadets at Camp Borden.


1925 Burlington Central Football Team



Stuart moved from Central to the new M.M. Robinson High School which opened in September of 1963, attaining the position of Vice Principal for his last four years there. In 1970 he was appointed principal of the new Valley Heights Secondary School, under construction, in Norfolk County, where he remained until retiring in 1980.


Grace Freeman was a kindergarten teacher. The board pressured her to return to teach at Strathcona School about 1950, by suggesting she take her 4 year old son to class with her.  In 1960, Grace transferred to Maplehurst School in Aldershot where she continued as the kindergarten teacher until she retired to move to Norfolk County, with her husband Stuart.


Stuart and Grace Freeman were both killed in a traffic accident at Panama City Beach, Florida, on 15 January 1997.



Harold Arthur Harrison McCollom, BA, B. Ed, M.Ed, UE   1917 -2004

Greenwood Cemetery Urn Garden V


Harold was born in Regina and obtained his early education there. In 1938 after obtaining his B.A. at the University of Saskatchewan, Harold travelled to Toronto to take teacher training, and try living in Ontario. He was a man who loved learning and spent many future summers taking courses.


His first teaching experience was in the north at Frontier College.  He then taught at Palmerston District High School and Waterford District High School, before being hired in 1950 to set up a woodworking course at Burlington Central High School, where in 1957 he became Vice Principal.  In 1962 he moved to Aldershot High School, as Vice Principal and later Principal. In 1972 Harold moved on for a few years at Alderwood Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, before retiring.

Camping was the family choice for summer vacations. Harold loved trying new ways to do things. In his garden he practiced grafting on his fruit trees, developing several varieties on one tree. Some he espaliered along wires. 

While a “mall walker”, it wasn’t enough just to keep track of the miles, Harold desired to make it more fun and  decided he would use the miles to walk to Regina, and when he got there, went on to the coast and turned around to walk back. He threw in a bonus for himself. Every 200 miles earned him a trip to a favourite restaurant, with no limits on what he could indulge in. Harold was also very proud of his Loyalist roots, and enjoyed participating in Loyalist functions with his wife Phyllis.


©Peggy Armstrong, Researcher


SOURCES:  BHS Archives, Burlington Gazette, Family Members


Burlington High School Teachers



Middle row, left is Mr. Torrance, Business Teacher and standing behind him is Stu Freeman, Phys Ed Teacher