A Long History of Education
Breslau Public School celebrated its 160th anniversary in 2007 – 2008. Our anniversary motto was “Proudly Serving Students of Waterloo Township and Waterloo Region since 1847”. The school predates the original Waterloo Township (which ceased to exist in 1973 as it voted itself out of existence and let itself be annexed by the city of Kitchener, Woolwich Township, and the new city of Cambridge).
Original Breslau School (1847 – 1866)
Breslau Public School originally opened in 1847 as a one room school house on the Kolb
Farm which was situated on the Kitchener side of the Grand River. The school was located approximately in the middle of Centennial Drive – just off Victoria Street. Students from neighboring farms attended the one room log cabin which was located near the family home.
Students from Breslau crossed the river via a shallow portion of the river known as the “Breslau Ford”. The school was named School Section 24 and had been carved from SS 6 (Natchez) – now located on Ottawa Street and Shaftsbury Drive. The school boundaries were (as of 1854):
• SS 11 (Bridgeport) to North – same side of river
• SS 6 (Natchez) to South – same side of River
• SS 15 (Riverbank)to South on Breslau Side of River
• SS 14 (Shantz) to East
In 1864 the School Committee investigated the size of sections 6 24, 14, 17, and 16. Vance – SS 17 would have been abolished, but in the end the only change was to move SS 24 to the hill in Breslau and then make the river the new boundary for SS 6 (Natchez). This school operated in its primitive conditions for 19 years.
SS #24/ SS #26(1866 – 1951)
In 1866, the one room log school house was moved into the village of Breslau due to its growth from the new CNR. The second building is still standing and is now the Dennison Printing Company (some of the old school features are still intact in the building). The school was moved to its second location which was on the Breslau hill (Woolwich Street) and it was the main road between Berlin (Kitchener) and Guelph at the time.
By 1874 any students that went past Senior 4th – the graduation grade to high school went to complete high school entrance exams and then go on to Berlin Central High School (now KCI).
All schools in district except for Nine Pines, Breslau and Centerville were rebuilt in Brick or Stone between 1856 and 1896. (These three buildings were built as brick structures when they were originally constructed). By 1874 Breslau was one of few schools in township (Pinegrove, Crossins, Breslau, and Lexington, Nine Pines, and Erbsville) who had only women teachers on staff. As the area grew, there was a new rule put in place that an additional teacher and room were needed once attendance rose over 50. The original brick school was stuccoed in 1930 after being open for 65 years. It originally opened as a one room school with an addition being built and then finally a third room being added in 1927. It was for a long time was the biggest township school.
SS #26 / Breslau Senior Public School/ Breslau Public School(1951 – present)
The current building opened 1951 (cornerstone says 1950 but stone was commissioned before construction delays caused the school to open late. The first school was three classrooms and a “play room” (or gym) located in the current school library. The main office was the female staff room and the principal’s office was its male staff room. The first office by the front doors was the principal’s office. The school was located in Waterloo Township School Area 1 and did not receive telephone until 1957 as part of the 648 (Midway) exchange
As a school with Grades 7 and 8, Breslau was known as a Senior Public School and still officially carries that name. Many additions were put on the building with classrooms being added in 1952, 1953, 1955 and the big addition of a wing in 1967 that included a modern staff room, two classrooms, and a double gymnasium meant for senior school athletics.
Soon after opening, Breslau became the school designated to take students from the amalgamation of seven other township schools. This began on April 2 1962 with a controversial meeting at Township office (located near Radisson Hotel in Kitchener) with the discussion to close Vance, Kossuth, Riverbank and send them to Breslau or Pinegrove saving one teacher but with a bus increase of $1000 to $6200 after provincial grants. As well, a four room addition would be added to Breslau. The plan was designed to reduce the proportion of pupils in classrooms with triple grades from 50 percent to 25 percent with half of all pupils in a single grade class. There was skepticism around the promise not to increase taxes. Opposition erupted soon afterwards with a delegation alleging that Pinegrove was being “packed” to justify a new gym and kindergarten.
Maple Grove, Shantz Station, Vance, Kossuth and Riverbank threatened to secede from the School Area. Vance and Kossuth seceded from School Area in 1962 and formed school area 3 but by the time it was sorted out the Kossuth School was sold to the Hungarian Home Club.
In 1965 School Section 26 was renamed Breslau Senior Public School during the provincial move to large boards. The new township board designated Breslau, Pine Grove and Lexington as schools taking Grade 7 and 8 students. Breslau would take intermediate students from Bloomingdale, Shantz Station, Vance, Maple Grove, Mackenzie King, and the northern half of SS 5 (formerly Centerville) and Natchez school sections. Kindergarten was also introduced at this time through the township.
The enrollment in September 1965 was 391 students and opened in 1966 with 413 plus Kindergarten. It was the largest Township school. Breslau, Doon, and Lexington became regional centers for special events in the township such as music festivals and these three schools had the same programs as city schools with oral French by 1967. Overhead projectors and filmstrips were purchased to ensure township students had the same opportunities as their city neighbors.
Kitchener, Waterloo Township, and Bridgeport were merged by private members bill in 1967 and became one school board.
Breslau is the last remaining township school in a semi-rural setting. All of the area schools from the Cambridge – Kitchener – Guelph boundaries were amalgamated into Breslau. Their amalgamation dates are listed as follows:
Schools Amalgamated or Partially Amalgamated into Breslau
• Crossins/Vance – SS 17 – 1859 – 1895 (Vance) 1895- 1965
• Shantz Station – SS 14 – 1843 – 1965
• Breslau – SS 24, SS 26 – 1847 – 1950
• Breslau PS – September 1950 – 1965
• Breslau Sr Public School – 1965
• Kossuth – SS 16 – 1844 – 1961
• Maple Grove – SS 20 – 1850 – 1989 students to Breslau/Silverheights
• Bloomingdale – SS 12 – 1826 – 1983 (Grade 7/8 to Breslau in 1965) students to Conestogo